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Pristiq Uses & Desvenlafaxine Mechanism Of Action

Last Updated: February 28, 2024

Authored by Nena Messina, Ph.D.

Reviewed by David Levin

Pristiq is an antidepressant of the SNRI class. However, desvenlafaxine is used for more than just depression. Before taking the medication, patients should understand Pristiq uses and its mechanism of action.

Pristiq For Depression

Although there are numerous desvenlafaxine uses, there is only one FDA-approved application of the drug. This is the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD). It was the third-ever SNRI drug approved to treat depression. 

Pristiq For Anxiety

It is common for antidepressants to also be used in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder and social anxiety. Limited studies have found that unlike some medications in its class, anxiety treatment is not among the things desvenlafaxine should be used for.

At best, it has been found to have roughly the same effect as a placebo when treating anxiety alone, though it can improve anxiety caused by depression. In some cases, it can actually increase the symptoms of anxiety disorders. As such, there is not considered to be a safe and effective Pristiq dosing for anxiety use at this time.

pristiq for menopause

Pristiq For Menopause

While it is not among the desvenlafaxine indications, the medication is used to treat some symptoms of menopause. It is considered to be an alternative to hormone therapy. Specifically, its use can reduce the occurrence of moderate to severe hot flashes and sleep disturbances associated with menopause.

Pristiq For Bipolar Disorder

Depression caused by bipolar disorder is radically different from that caused by major depressive disorder. While it might seem logical that if what desvenlafaxine treats is depression, it should work for all forms of the disorder, that is not the case.

Bipolar disorder requires the use of mood-stabilizing drugs. Anyone diagnosed with the condition will need to take these medications instead of desvenlafaxine or in addition to the medication. Desvenlafaxine use alone cannot treat bipolar disorder.

pristiq for OCD

Pristiq For OCD

Antidepressants are frequently used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder, also known as OCD. However, desvenlafaxine’s effectiveness as a form of OCD treatment has yet to be studied. This means that its use might be effective at managing the condition, though there is also the possibility that it will have no impact or even make the disorder worse. If a patient’s doctor suggests the use of Pristiq for OCD treatment, they should ask about alternatives with a proven track record.

Pristiq For Fibromyalgia

The use of desvenlafaxine for pain is currently being studied, meaning it is not yet known if it can treat fibromyalgia or not. While this is not among the desvenlafaxine indications at this time, it is common for antidepressants to be used to treat chronic pain conditions, and there is a strong chance that it will be proven effective.

When To Take Pristiq

There isn’t a specific time of day when it is best to take desvenlafaxine. The prescribing doctor can work with the patient to determine what time is best based on their habits, what is being treated, and when their symptoms tend to be the strongest.

The one thing that is recommended is that Pristiq is taken at the same time each day. This ensures the amount of medication in the body remains more or less consistent, and there is less of a risk of accidental overdose. Users who struggle to remember to take desvenlafaxine should set reminders to keep them on schedule.

how pristiq works

Pristiq Mechanism Of Action

While desvenlafaxine uses are many, how the medication works is not fully understood. Even Pfizer, the manufacturer of the name brand drug, admits that the mechanism of action is unknown.

What is known is that it inhibits the reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine. How the medication accomplishes this is what is not yet understood. While this may sound like it is then also unknown if the medication is effective, Pristiq indications have been carefully studied and these results repeated, meaning that even if the MOA is not fully known, the medicine does work.

How Long It Takes For Pristiq To Work

The time it takes the effects of desvenlafaxine to work will vary from patient to patient. Some report noticing changes in energy levels and sleep just a couple of weeks into treatment. However, it is generally understood that, as is the case with most antidepressants, it will take six to eight weeks before the full effects of the medication will be felt.

Desvenlafaxine Warnings

While it is considered a safe medication, that does not mean that using desvenlafaxine is risk-free. In fact, there are numerous warnings about the medication issued by the FDA.

Perhaps the biggest associated with desvenlafaxine use is the black box warning the medication carries. This means that the use of the medication has been associated with a higher risk of suicidal thoughts and tendencies. Certain populations are considered more vulnerable, such as children and older adults. As such, they must be carefully monitored while on the medication.

Patients considering starting the drug should be aware of all of the above risks, as well as the Pristiq withdrawal duration should they choose to stop taking the drug. It is critical that users weight the pros and cons of the medicine, including the Pristiq price, before they begin taking it.

When Pristiq Use Becomes Dangerous

Ultimately, there are safe and unsafe ways to use Pristiq. Should someone begin misusing the medication, help is required. Drug rehabilitation centers know how to help users beat addiction to antidepressants while still caring for their mental health. The addiction treatment services in such facilities are often individualized to ensure long-standing recovery.

Page Sources

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  2. Lieberman DZ, Massey SH. Desvenlafaxine in major depressive disorder: an evidence-based review of its place in therapy. Core Evidence. 2010; 4: 67–82. doi:10.2147/ce.s5998. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2899788/.
  3. Berhan Y, Berhan A. Is desvenlafaxine effective and safe in the treatment of menopausal vasomotor symptoms? A meta-analysis and meta-regression of randomized double-blind controlled studies. Ethiopian Journal of Health Sciences. 2014; 24(3): 209–218. doi:10.4314/ejhs.v24i3.4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4141224/.
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  5. InformedHealth.org. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006. Depression: How effective are antidepressants? 2015. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK361016/. Pristiq: Highlights Of Prescribing Information. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2012/021992s030lbl.pdf.
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Published on: February 27th, 2024

Updated on: February 28th, 2024

About Author

Nena Messina, Ph.D.

Nena Messina is a specialist in drug-related domestic violence. She devoted her life to the study of the connection between crime, mental health, and substance abuse. Apart from her work as management at addiction center, Nena regularly takes part in the educational program as a lecturer.

Medically Reviewed by

David Levin


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