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Pristiq versus Effexor XR

What is Pristiq (desvenlafaxine)? The newest antidepressant approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which will hit the U.S. market in a few months. Pristiq is a drug similar in composition to Wyeth’s …

263 Comments to
Pristiq versus Effexor XR

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  1. I’ve been taking pristiq for a month and Ilove it! I feel so much better I have to take them at bedtime though because they make me sleepy, But I will tell you this Effexor does make me sweat horrably and if i missed a dose i would feel awful. Effexor has changed my life for the better, but I can’t stand the sweating! now with this new drug i am becomming a different person I can think better, smile and mean it and even laugh i have not done that in a long time thank you Pristiq you changed my life.

  2. I will start the Prestiq 50mg today. I will come back and update you in a few weeks on how I react with it. I am on so much other meds that I don’t know how they can keep from reacting with each other(interacting). J.


  4. I’ve been on Pristiq for 30 days now (50 mg/day). I was taking 75 mg/day Effexor XR for several years before that. My experience has been that after some Effexor withdrawal symptoms the first few days, I have felt much better. My mood is definitely improved, I’m not snapping at people, and I’m dealing with the depression better.

    The bad news is that I seem to be gaining weight. I already have genetically high cholesterol and my count was over 300 last time I had it tested. I think I need to switch, maybe to Wellbutrin, which seems to have fewer side effects.

    Aside from the weight and cholesterol issues, I think Pristiq is better than Effexor XR. At least is has been for me…

  5. have any of you females had any problem with their menstrual cycle? I have been on Pristiq for about a month now and have been having some break thru bleeding. my periods have always been like clock work. this is the only change that i have made so i guess that it is what is causing it. hopefully everything will equal out soon.

  6. I have been taking 300mg of Effexor XR for over 2 yrs. For the past couple of months I’ve been extremely irritable, jumping down my dear husband’s throat for the slightest thing, crabbing about everyone and everything, and crying over the littlest things. I saw my pdoc on Aug. 19. He said this is not unusual for women who’ve gone through menopause (and men who’ve gone through andropause). Irritability, anger and crying are how depression is often expressed. He discontinued my Effexor and gave me a 2 week starter pack of Pristiq. I’ve read most of these posts and am wondering how it will be for me. I have bipolar disorder. Was finally diagnosed 18 months ago after over 20 years of depression, anxiety, etc. I had a MAJOR manic phase that lasted for months. Though it was horrible, I finally got the correct diagnosis. I can’t begin to count the different meds I’ve been on over the years. Many I’ve been allergic to. Some work for me for a while, then I have to switch. As with the Effexor to Pristiq switch. I’ll have to wait and see …

  7. I am just now exploring all the information on Effexor XR. After trying several other types of medications; Effexor XR was found to be the one to help me. I had a horrible time with menopause, the most awful mood swings! About one year ago I went from 75mg to 150mg per day. When my perscription runs out and my husband doesn’t get it filled,(he handles the money), I will begin having laughing, crying spells; very uncontrollable and never know when they will hit. I am in one of those times at the moment. I truly would like to be off the drug, and it bothers me that I read in one of the above comments that it will be very difficult to do so, if ever.

  8. Oh, my goodness! Just at another site for Effexor XR and the side effects that I read have been just awful! But, it helped me understand what is going on with me today. As I said above, have been without my med for 3 days. I have my scrip filled, but have horrible fullness in my ears, and just a weird feeling all over! I see my MD Thursday and I hope to get some answers, because I don’t like feeling this way at all.

  9. I had been on 300mg of Effexor for almost 7 years and 4 weeks ago my Dr. suggested I try Pristiq. I was scared to death because the Effexor had worked so well for me. I had some side effects, EDD, bled profusely from little nicks and scrapes, etc. I have suffered from depression for over 30 years, lost a brother and sister to suicide and had a father that was institutionalized back in the early ’60s so I have good reason for being reluctant to switch away from something that helped so much.
    The good news is I had no problem switching over after a couple of uncomfortable days and feel great. I feel much more mentally sharp and focused than when I was on Effexor. EDD symptoms are gradually getting better. I have noticed that I will have an occasional night of insomnia, maybe 1 night in 6.
    Overall I would recommend trying Pristiq


    I was put on Effexor when I was 30 and now 42. I went off of Effexor
    and onto Cymbalta about a year ago.

    When I was first put on Effexor I was nice and thin and healthy. The Effexor worked great and made me feel the best I’ve ever felt. Then I gained about 10 lbs. About a year later, I started having symptoms
    of fibro.

    Years later, after 5 attempts to go off of it only to have withdrawal
    symptoms like going off of heroin, I was and still to some extent
    dealing with:

    35 lbs overweight
    constant sugar craving
    round face (not pretty anymore!)
    dowagers hump on back
    rapid mood swings
    tired / exhausted a lot
    chronic constipation
    huge, fat, bloated belly no matter what I did
    confusion, mental fog
    and a host of lovely fibromyalgia symptoms

    I was so debilitated, I could not work and only had my SSDI income. I
    ended up homeless, living in my van with my cat. Because of this
    added stress, the pituitary tumor, which I didn’t know about, became

    I started lactating even though I was not pregnant. I lost nearly all
    muscle in my thighs so I was in a wheel chair part of the time. My
    period stopped, and my mood swings were crazy. I could just sleep all

    That is when I found out I had the tumor. I went to several doctors.
    All the neurologists, endocrinologists, and general physicians came to
    the same conclusion. Even though they could not legally say it, they
    said it in a round about way to make sure that I knew they were
    certain of it but could not actually come right out and say it… yes,
    it’s kinda funny in a sad sort of way! They all were convinced it was
    the Effexor. Now, these are not some fly-by-night docs… two are
    highly respected in their fields and two were voted “Seattle’s Best”.
    These were doctors you have to wait to get in to see. And I could
    only get in because I had a referral and/ or I was diagnosed with a
    brain tumor and had the MRI to prove it.

    I don’t know what else to say to convince people that Effexor DOES
    cause pituitary tumors. Now… please keep in mind that it may be the
    case that one has a predisposition to a pituitary tumor and the
    Effexor aggravates the condition or brings it about entirely.

    The muscle fatigue is the most devastating thing for me and the most
    challenging thing for doctors.
    They say that the tumor itself does not cause this. When a woman lactates,
    there may be some muscle fatigue. However, to the extreme that I had
    it, they blame on fibromyalgia. Before the tumor though, I did not
    have this kind of muscle pain while trying to walk up even the
    slighted elevation and forget walking up hill. I know the Pituitary
    tumor aggravates the fibro to extremes. Therefore, I insist there is
    a connection between the tumor and fibromyagia and wonder if all women
    who have fibro have something going on with their pituitary. I think
    there is a cure there in that connection somewhere. Doctors don’t
    know what to make of it.

    I was put on Bromocriptine and it has helped very much. I stopped
    lactating, my period started, and I have better energy. Recently, I
    was put on Cytomel for low thyroid and that stopped my hair from
    falling out.

    Pituitary tumors don’t kill anyone… they are benign. It just makes
    me wish I were dead. And I have Effexor to blame for all of this.

    Please feel free to email this post to everyone you can think of! LOL I would love to see it go around the Internet until the makers of Effexor have to answer to it. Or maybe a class-action law suit is started. I think a cool 50 Million should compensate for ruining my life.

  11. A year ago February, I got out of yet another three month stay in a psyche ward. One of the many meds they had me on was 600mg per day of Thorazine. My regular psychiatrist said that it was barbaric! I was completely disfunctional, so he changed my meds.

    I have a tendency to build up a tolerance to my meds, ending up suicidally depressed and hospitalized. For the past nine years, I’ve been committed at least once a year each year.

    One of the meds that he put me on was Effexor. I’ve been taking 300mg daily, along with Mirtazapine, Seroquel, Rittalin, and Topomax. We just added Prozac for my increasing depressions during the ten days before my period.

    I’d already gained a serious amount of weight when I started taking medications on a regular basis a decade ago. I’ve now been out of the hospital for a year and a half, which is amazing! And so far, this year I’ve lost thirty pounds of the eighty that I gained way back when.

    Whilst I am not free of some of the side-effects these meds, I’d rather be where I am mentally right now, than off them and probably dead.

    I wish you all the very best with your medications. One of the glaring disparities between physical pain management and mental pain management, is that the former work instantly, while the latter involve long weeks of “wait and see”. This should be addressed by the drug companies, but won’t until there is pressure put on them.

  12. I was diagnosed with depression for years without all my symptoms being addressed. I
    discovered while researching online that I am actually Bipolar and have been all my life.
    Luckily, my symptoms have been ‘mild’ compared to some of yall’s. My heart breaks to
    hear of such pain! Anyway, two years ago, when I was diagnosed w/Bipolar, my dr
    started me on effexor, lithium, seraquel, and others that were tried and discarded.
    Currently, I have been taking Effexor (225mg), Seraquel (300mg), Depacote (500 mg)-
    instead of Lithium. My dr told me yesterday he was switching me to Pristiq because he
    would no longer be getting free samples. I don’t have insurance now but did have
    excellant benefits through the County job I used to have. I made the mistake of telling my
    ‘friend’ , also my manager about the diagnosis as well as the symptoms and side affects I
    was experiencing. I had been there 5 years and had glowing reviews each year. I believe
    the Bipolar scared them because the made up reasons to fire me and had a security guard
    present during the process of telling me what I was ‘guilty of’ and removing my
    belongings. NEVER in the this county office’s history had a security guard been
    requested. It was humiliating!
    I have been at my current job 2 years and am careful to keep my medical problems to
    myself. I gained 80 lbs and cannot afford the medicine dr wanted to give me to help curb
    my appetite (Topomax). I tool my first Pristiq this morning and am praying that I can
    stand the transferfrom Effexor. Hang in there everyone and thanks for listening!

  13. Last Dec., I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. My neuro prescribed weekly Avonex injections for the MS. One of the side effects of Avonex & having MS is severe depression. For many years, I’ve had daily migraines which the Avonex is making the migraines more painful. For migraine prevention, over the years, I’ve tried Prozac (made me nauseous) & Effexor XR (didn’t help the migraines but made me feel happier) without good results. Since the MS, I’ve been on Celexa even increasing to 60 mg daily which hasn’t helped the depression or migraines. My neuro recently prescribed Pristiq 50 mg for my increased depression & to see if it would help the migraines. The first few days, I experienced nausea & decreased appetite. Great… I’ll be happy if I can lose a little weight. I also noticed that I was feeling sadder, even keeping a frown on my face. My brain seemed more foggy & during sleep, I had very vivid dreams.

    After a week on Pristiq, my husband & I took a mini-vacation to the beach for relaxation. Unfortunately, my depression worsened to the point of crying while I was in paradise. And the dreams were getting more vivid & strange. On the 10th day taking Pristiq, one of my strange dreams was about me planning to murder one of my son’s dearest friends. I even planned how I was going to buy the gun Yikes… I feel the Pristiq was turning me into a really crazy person! I wasn’t willing to continue taking a med which altered my mind into homocidal thoughts.

    Since I’d only been on Pristiq for 10 days, I felt that abruptly stopping it couldn’t have worse withdrawal effects. The next day, I took an Effexor XR 75 mg. Within a couple of days, I felt much happier & way less depressed! It’s only been 5 days on the Effexor & my brain could be hearing positive vibes but I truly feel better. Even my daily migraine pain has lessened.

    I know that ADs affect every person differently but I wanted to give more positive “kudos” about my experience with Effexor. So far, I haven’t had any other side effects.

    For those of you who are happy with Pristiq without negative side effects & that it seems to help your depression… GREAT! I just wanted to share the negative side effects & the reasons I have chosen to not take it. For today, I’m a happier & more energetic person with the Effexor XR. I’ll continue keeping my fingers crossed that many more good days are ahead.

  14. To add to my above post… since I’ve stopped taking Celexa then Pristiq & have started on Effexor XR, my brain fog has virtually disappeared. I’m thinking more clearly & sharper.


  15. I’m the one whose body swelled up after 3 weeks on Pristiq. My internist switched me back to Effexor and the swelling went away immediately.

    The meds dr. next switched me to Cymbalta (low dose to start.) It’s been about a week. I prefer the Pristiq – has anyone else had swelling?

  16. I took Effexor XR for 6 years, anywhere from 225mg to 375mg a day. It’s the only antidepressant that ever worked for me more then about 25%. My doctor put me on Pristiq about 7 weeks ago. I took 1 tab, 50 mg. I became very emotional, crying over anything and everything. My doctor told me to take 2. After a few days I was very restless and agitated, now I’m taking 1 and a half tabs times three days, I’m still restless and agitated, plus emotional. Pristiq isn’t affecting me at all the same, or even close, as Effexor did.

  17. I am experienceing stomach cramping in the morning after taking Pristiq. Also after being on it over a month have gone from never haveing constipation to constipation to now Irritible bowel and stomach cramping. Is there a better time to take it AM vs PM?

  18. I am having swelling in feet and ankles even though I take a daily water pill. I’m not sure it’s the Pritiq. I have been on Prestiq since 8/28/08. Other than the swelling, I am doing okay. I was very irritable for the first week after switching from Effexor. I’m have mild head aches daily. Otherwise, okay.

  19. I switched over from Effexor xr75 3 weeks ago. The first two weeks were OK, but I was GRUMPY. I am better now and it not only treats my anxiety and depression but the pristiq has been helping my adhd too! I had no weight gain with effexor and no sexual side effects and have had both with pristiq so I guess everyone is different. I have been sleepy too but thought it was my Allegra D. I will try taking Pristiq at night instead..what a good idea! And to everyone who says that anti-depressants are are free to not take them, but they have made my life liveable and productive.

  20. I have been taking Pristiq for 19 days and I am no happier at all. I called my doctor today and he said give it a few more days. I had to get Ambien to sleep at night. If I don’t take Ambien, I’m up the entire night. I haven’t slept an entire night unless I take the sleeping medicine.
    I can’t go to the bathroom either.
    Like many of you, I have tried everything, so I’m not giving up.
    I thought the Pristiq would have kicked in by now. It’s very frustrating waiting around to see if I’m going to feel better. With other anitdepressants, I felt the affects after a week. Has anyone else waited as long as I have for Pristiq to begin working? These 19 days have felt like two months.

  21. I’ve been taking Pristiq (50 mg) for ten days. It was prescribed as a possible preventive drug for headaches. I was supposed to give it 6 weeks to see if it helps. Unfortunately I’ve experienced unusual, persistent headaches every day I’ve taken it. I found this site by searching “pristiq bleeding” since I, too, experienced “breakthrough bleeding” which is totally alien to me. I’m glad somebody else has experienced this; I now have more reason to suspect the Pristiq. It has also ruined my sex life (no orgasm) so far. Both of these symptoms I experienced while on Topamax, so it’s not unheard of to have menstrual problems and sex problems with these drugs, even though the mfr. says otherwise. After reading what a heavy-duty drug this is and how bad the withdrawal might be, I’m quitting the drug ASAP.

  22. I gave up taking Pristiq after two weeks. I was extremely emotional, agitated, naseaus, had persistant headaches, swelling. The dr put me back on Effexor but only 75 mg once a day (I had a few samples left)when I was taking a total of 225mg a day. I’m guessing he thinks if we can keep the dosage down, I may be able to pay for them. Ha! But…I cannot go back to the person I was before Effexor! After only 5 days back on Effexor, I am so much better. I guess I will do whatever it takes to get what I need. Good luck all!

  23. I started taking Pristiq 50mg after numerous years of taking Effexor 150mg. I felt great the first day. My second day I was a bit anxious. I went back to my doc and he said to give Pristiq a few more days. If I was still anxious he would give me something for that. Effexor is a good med, but I am willing to give Pristiq a try. It is less Mgs and less side effects.

  24. I have been dealing with anxiety and depression but I just recently started taking medications for the condition when I realized that it was taking over my life. I started on lexapro with xanax to control my moments of panic which helped but I wasn’t getting any sleep, plus I was having some really strange dreams. My doctor switched me to pristiq which helped but I can’t afford it due to it not being covered. Then she put me on effexor xr and I totally felt like the bottom fell out of me! I was having suicidal thoughts and I couldn’t get out of bed. I would get ready for work and just couldn’t go. My life can’t stop for depression! So, I went back to the clinic and got a new doctor who suggested I go back to pristiq and helped me with the financial aspect of the meds (which is now covered by my insurance, hooray!) I started back on pristiq yesterday and already I can feel a huge difference from effexor xr.

    Here’s the draw backs I had to effexor xr: depression, flatness, anxiety attacks, can’t think straight,”BG”‘s (that’s the bubble guts, need I say more?) suicidal thoughts, uncontrollable emotions

    here’s the side effects I had for pristiq- dry mouth and the occasional weird yet entertaining dream- all I need for those is sugar free gum, bottled water and a sense of humor.

  25. It seems that all of you are having a very similar problem. It is side effects at the beginning of therapy. If you take time to think about it, you are more than likely having a combination of withdrawal from Effexor, in addition to some effects from Pristiq. If any of you have ever missed a dose or multiple doses of Effexor you know that irritablility, nausea and headache are withdrawal effects. It is not a safe to assume that the new drug is the problem and discontinue.
    In addition, the alternative in the SNRI is Cymbalta. If you think that you have horrible side effects with Effexor XR or Pristiq try taking Cymbalta. Nausea, vomiting irritability to say the least.
    The effects of these medications take time. Be patient and good luck

  26. I have learned after years of trying every different medication out there, that each person’s brain chemistry reacts differently to different medications. Just from reading through these comments, you can see that side effects of various meds vary greatly from one person to another.

    You have to find the right medication that works for you and is congruent with YOUR brain chemistry.

    Also, everyone should be aware that getting on and off of medications require a transition period, and no one should jump to conclusions based on just a few days on taking something.

    So don’t read that one medication works great, or works horribly and jump to your own conclusions. You will have to take the time to find the drug that works best for you. Trust me from experience that it will benefit you in the long run.

  27. Like many of you, I’ve treated for depression for many years and have used one drug after another. I also have several autoimmune disorders for which I take many, many meds. I’ve taken Effexor in the past and didn’t have any intolerable side effects but after several years, I was weaned from it because I had developed double vision which can be a rare side effect. HOWEVER, the double vision turned out NOT to be from the Effexor. I was one of the fortunate and did not have a problem coming off of the Effexor.
    About a month ago I had to discontinue Cymbalta because it wasn’t working any more and I was given Pristiq. I am now taking 100mg daily by my doctor’s prescription and feeling much better and without many side effects.
    I just want to remind everyone that they must make sure their pharmacist knows all of their meds and can check for interactions. A few of you may be having problems from the interaction of Pristiq with one or more of the other meds you take. I’ve had this problem at times. Once symptoms were so serious that my doc thought I might have MS, but when a particular med for depression was stopped, I got better, and when another med I was on was stopped, I got to be my old self again. Don’t be so fast to conclude that the new med alone is the cause of serious side effects. Check with your pharmacist and your doctor about drug interactions.
    Sounds like some of you are not willing to give a new drug a chance before deciding to stop it. Try to last a little longer and the side effects may get better. Obviously if you are having very serious side effects, you may have to stop, but give it a chance before declaring that you can’t take it. Work with your doc about what to do. Don’t stop any med on your own, sometimes there are serious consequences.

  28. I was taking Effexor XR 150MG with no problems. My insurance covered it, and only having to pay $10 a month has not been a problem.
    About three months ago, my doctor requested that I switch to Pristiq – a “new and improved” version of Effexor. He gave me a free 30 day trial, and then wrote me a prescription. Once the 30 day trial was complete and I went to fill my prescription – I came to realize my insurance didn’t cover Pristiq. So to get my month’s refill, I had to pay $150. I’m a college student who struggles to make sure my bills get paid each month. So this $140 jump from Effexor to Pristiq was a hard pill to swallow. (Excuse the pun).
    The thing that got to me was I couldn’t find a noticeable difference between Effexor and Pristiq…(other than my wallet feeling MUCH lighter) :)
    It was around this point I began seeing another doctor who told me that Effexor was NOT being replaced by Pristiq. Effexor was simply becoming generic. He even told me I could switch back to Effexor if I chose to. I couldn’t be happier. So if you miss your old Effexor, don’t think it’s gone for good.

  29. effexor is not something that can ever be stopped cold turkey, and presiq is not exactly the same but just from the same class of drug with some changes. most of you are probably suffering w/d symptoms from not being weened off the effexor.
    I am just starting prestiq, with taking no previous antidepressants, atleast not in a very long time. I am looking forward to some relief from the severve depression that is really debilitating me. I dont like taking happy pills, but I just can’t fight the depression any longer since my husband now has cancer and I need to be strong and ‘THERE’
    for him.
    I am just taking samples and hope my insurance covers this.
    good luck to everyone.

  30. I have been on Pristiq for less than 2wks after being on Effexor for 9yrs. It is horrible. I have resorted back to the horrible monster that I was before I was dignosed with my disorder. My husband has to lock me in my room so I do not cause physical harm to my children or even to him. I have had 3 major panic attack since starting this medication. I will scream and crash through the house one minute and dropped to a heap of hot tears the next. I want my old pills back!

  31. I have been on Pristiq for less than 2wks after being on Effexor for 9yrs. It is horrible. I have resorted back to the horrible monster that I was before I was dignosed with my disorder. My husband has to lock me in my room so I do not cause physical harm to my children or even to him. I have had 3 major panic attacks since starting this medication. I will scream and crash through the house one minute and drop to a heap of hot tears the next. I want my old pills back! I have never been so miserable.

  32. It took me two years to be weaned off of Effexor. It was the worst time of my life. The withdrawal literally disabled me, but I had to continue on with my life. I’ve taken every antidepressant on the market and Effexor was the worst one I ever took. It didn’t help with my panic attacks or flash backs, but the doctors were reluctant to take me off of it because of the horrible withdrawal. Any drug associated with Effexor is off limits for me!

  33. One side effect that I have experienced with Pristiq that I haven’t seen mentioned is that all of the “snow” and “static” in my vision is gone. The difference is comparable to watching an old tv from the seventies vs. a new high definition set. I suspect it has to do with the ingrediant desvenlafaxine since the SSRI drugs only ever put me into seritonin syndrome. Amitriptylin is the only antidepressent that I have had any success with up until now. I have never tried effexor.

  34. Hi All,
    I live in Australia and have been taking efexor xr 150mg for some time now. I was previously on an SSRI Luvox which made me gain so much weight. Since being of efexor I have lost the weight and I am happier than I have ever been. Pristiq is about to be released in Australia and I am not going to change. I feel so bad for all of you having to worry about money in order to get a med that helps your depression, in Australia we have a PBS scheme where you only pay $35.00 AUD for meds and if you are on any sort of pension you only pay $5.00 AUD so everyone can afford medications. Perhaps you should talk to your government. Everyone deserves to be able to live a normal happy life, depression is an illness.

  35. Last year after being on Effexor xr 150 for 8 years, I decided I wanted to see what I was like without it. I felt a part of myself was missing. My withdrawal took nine months but I did not experience any haorrible side effects. Well, big mistake. I fell right back into the dark hole and as a result lost my job, 5 yr relationship, etc. I’m back on the Effexor xr 150, but it’s not working like before now. I don’t know why my MD will not just up the dose. Now he wants me to start Pristiq next week. First he started me on Zonegran (mood stabilizer) then wants to do the switch. I am anxious about this because I am a single mother who has no support system like family around and can not get crazy for the sake of my poor son. I can’t go to the neighbors and tell them “hey, I may wig out next week”. I’m hoping it goes smoothly as it has fo some people on here.
    Seems like Austrailia is the place to live.

  36. I’ve only taken one Pristiq so far, this morning, and within an hour I actually felt different and, I have to say, better. Immediately I thought ‘This is a mindfulness medication’ because everything I did received calm, focused attention. I know it’s ridiculously early to make any determination but, after a month of feeling really bluesy, Prosac no longer working, this gives me great hope, not only for the future but for today!

  37. Thinking about switching over from Effexor XR (150 mg) to Pristiq. Have lots of perimenopausal symptoms that have been eased greatly with Effexor except I sweat like crazy and have constipation. Also, there is the loss of interest in sex and no orgasm (which certainly explains the lost of interest).

    Anyone else in the same boat?

  38. My doctor prescribed Pristiq for my withdrawls coming off percocet for almost a year.Helped immediately!Anyone going through pain pill withdrawls should at least give it shot it helped me.

  39. Think of the Effexor (venlafaxine) molecule as a tinker toy molecule with two arms on it, one called Des
    and one called Lis. The Des arm had all the good effects and the Lis arm had all the bad effects. Wyeth chemists figured out a way to remove the Lis arm so you get the “good” without the bad arm. The bad arm was more sedating and flattening and addictng. The good arm is more energizing and calming and brightening. Unfortunately when you switch from Effexor to Pristiq, you lose the bad arm and the withdrawal really sucks. The discontinuation effects are what kill you. Classic discontinuation effects are dizziness, spaciness, irritability, “electric shock” sensations, nightmares, tremor.

    Wyeth should really stress tapering off Effexor in the switch to Pristiq. The reps don’t really stress this to the prescribers at all and it does not appear in the glossies they provide, so most prescribers find out the hard way, when their patients call them complaining that they feel terrible. Adding back in some Effexor ALWAYS helps, thats how I know it’s the Effexor withdrawal and not the Pristiq causing it. It’s best to go down one incremental dose of Effexor each week when starting Pristiq. I now give my patients sample packs for this process, and now I get no more complaints. Please ask your prescribers about this. In the long run, I think that Pristiq will be the better drug because there will be fewer cases of withdrawal symptoms with it.

  40. Irecently wrote about my experience getting off effexor:
    I admit that it’s not easy and the risk of relapsing is ever present in my mind but considering the thing that I’ve experienced (military WAR veteran) being able to finally live life without the effexor induced fogginess is worth it.

  41. Thank you all for contributing your stories. I look forward to trying Pristiq. I had an amazing initial response to Effexor — things felt very vivid and I felt calm, powerful, and present — but unfortunately it caused urinary retention and prostatis, which caused me to have to discontinue the drug. I am hopeful that those side effects won’t arise with Pristiq, as I haven’t read about them on the Web or in the prescribing information.

    I can understand people’s frustration in no longer being able to access Effexor samples. But any corporation (not just drug companies) is legally bound to maximize profits for its shareholders, and it doesn’t make financial sense for a company to push a drug through samples that it’s phasing out. The answer is health care reform. We missed a golden opportunity back in the ’90s when we had budget surpluses. Hopefully Obama will live up to his campaign promise, and something can still happen even with the mess we’re in.

    Best of luck to all in your journeys.

  42. I am a male, 46 yrs old. I had been taking Effexor XR 150mg for 2 1/2 years. The drug did what it was supposed to do, but the side effects for me were sensitivity to sunlight and the excessive sweating that came with it, occasional drowsiness while driving, a minor urine problem, clouded thinking, embarrasing problem of remembering and a feeling of being constantly medicated.

    My doctor recommended I try Pristiq 50mg. I went cold turkey from Effexor to Pristiq, the complications were minor, “Brain freezes” in the afternoons which were eleviated by taking Tylenol. This went on for a few days. I increased to 100 mg thinking the “brain freezes” might be too low a dose of the Pristiq. Anyway, either the dose was too low, or I weaned off Effexor, because the problem is gone.

    I would highly recommend this product to anyone, and am very pleased with the results!

  43. My doctor prescribed Pristiq for me several months ago. This was after I have been on just about everything on the market. It has worked wonderfully. I have lost weight while on it and feel tons better. The only other side effect I have had has been the sweating but it is getting better. Thank you for this medication!!!

  44. I have been struggling with anxiety since I was a teenager. I was on Effexor for 4 or so years but then went off it in 2006. I was doing great for the first 3 or 4 months off Effexor but after that I have been dealing with horrible anxiety ever since. Panic attacks, emotional rollercoaster, social anxiety to the point of not even being able to go to the grocery store. I was a major hypochondriac and OCD…constantly victim to my over active mind and the game of ‘what if’ that was always going on in my head. I wanted so badly to get better naturally, I tried everything, working out, meditation positive affirmations on a daily basis, and even some natural supplements like l-tryptophan. Nothing worked, I had mental breakdowns like every 2 weeks. It was even hurting my relationships with my loved ones. I finally broke down and decided to get over my pride and try medication again. My dr. prescribed me Pristiq 50mg and the first 2 weeks were horrible…I lost 8 pounds which was really nice but I never wanted to eat and was really nauseous. After about 2 weeks the nausea went away and after about 3 weeks I woke up on a Sunday morning and was inexplicably happy….Pristiq has improved my mood and since I have not been emotionally eating I have kept off the weight I lost in the beggining. I have had little to NO anxiety, not one panic attack, and have been waking up feeling well rested. It used to be so hard to wake up for work in the morning, and now its no problem. The biggest thing its helped me with is the social issues…I haven’t interacted with people normally in years…(I used to get hot, nauseous, feel like falling over – just from bumping in to an old accquantence or a lunch meeting with my boss) I can finally be myself! Happy, calm, and grounded.
    I have only been on the medication for a month and a half, so who knows if it might stop working eventually, but if it is in part placebo then I don’t think it will. I don’t even care if it is mostly a placebo thing, I’ll take it over being unhappy and paranoid all the time. And yes, I worry about long term side effects but honestly I would rather enjoy life and live it to the fullest and deal with the damage later, than be a hermit crab because I cant go out in public and live to be 90.
    Also, aside from the first week and a half or so sucking, I haven’t had side effects. I have been less stressed so my skin has cleared up, I’ve lost weight, and most importantly, no panic attacks. The first 2 weeks I also had ZERO sex drive which I was worried about but that has since disappeared (thank god!!)

    I guess my point is, if you go on this medication, you have to give it like 3 weeks before you see any results and the side effects diminish. I myself, have had a good experience with it. Better than Effexor…although I’m not sure why since they are essentially the same thing.

    All you people need to remember EVERY PERSON IS DIFFERENT!!!

    Smile :) and Good Luck to you all!!!

  45. I have read all of the posts in this thread. I am looking for something to replace the Lexapro I took myself off of a month and a half ago. The weight gain began to be too much for me. Since then I have felt anxiety on a daily basis and I just can’t shake it.

    Allison’s story was so familiar. I have had panic attacks since 7 years old and I am now 39. It’s been off and on but I just can’t get rid of it! I also have OCD, all the anxiety disorders.

    I too have tried lots of herbal things. And while they help a little, only Xanax kicks the attacks in the butt. But when I am in panic mode, they come in waves all the time. That’s not living.

    I was on Lexapro for about a year and a half. It was helping a lot with my anxiety, and rarely having attacks, though occasionally I still did. Took more to get me there though. I started gaining weight about a year into it, even though I hadn’t changed eating habits or exercise habits, and it wouldn’t budge eating even less and exercising more. That, I am not used to. I am 5’7 and 117 1/2 now, after losing the Lexapro weight. The doctor didn’t seem to be concerned or share my dismay when I weighed last. Grr…so I took myself off of it. The withdrawls from the Lexapro have been moderate. The anxiety has been the worst part. At first I was really irritable and I knew it. I tried to keep it cool, but it was a challenge. I also cried very easily. I am highly sensitive anyway, but the Lexapro helped a bit on that. It also helped my ocd I think.

    Then I started taking the herbs. L-Theanine, Passion flower, Kava kava, valarian, more magnesium, b-complex, chamomille teas, you name it. While all this helped a tad, I still have the anxiety underneath it. And that could be withdrawls still from the Lexapro. I have read it can take like, a year, to get SSRIs from your body. Jeez!

    I have been a guinea pig too and stayed away from them for most my life. Last year I had to get on the Lexapro. Good thing, because then my Mom passed away last year. It helped me cope, but now that I am off of it, I have all these intense feelings to contend with that were eased by the Lexapro.

    Anyway, I have been considering trying this Pristiq. I am just so nervous about taking a new pill and all the harm it can cause to my body. I am very health conscience and also very sensitive to meds. I have had some bad experiences with meds in the past and I also don’t savor the idea of having to be a slave to a pill. I really just don’t like it that I have to take a pill to interact with people, or go out in public, or take a trip. Ugh!!! And I am a spiritual person and a Reiki Master, and know that I need to be lighter and life this wonderful life. I just wish I weren’t so damn afraid of everything.

    Thanks to everyone that has contributed on here and here’s to us all in our journey to be happy and safe and peaceful in this life.

  46. Hello there ladies,

    Well, I’ve spent about an hour just reading your comments, and for some, I might have an answer.
    First of all, I’d like to disclose that I am a mental health professional, so I have been dealing with depression, anxiety, and medication for some time, professionally and personally.
    Effexor as well as Pristiq work on executive functioning, such as being able to get off the bed, cook a meal, go to work or school and so on. So, Prisitq and Effexor work well for people who have been diagnosed with either depression, anxiety, or ADHD/ADD.
    The message is that these two medications supposedly re-create the chemical balance in our brain.
    Anyway, I have been taking Effexor, 225 mg for the past 3 years. It has done wonders for me. It primarily relieved from a constant dizziness that I was experiencing for many year. Secondly, I’ve noticed that I was not as irritable and “ready to fight” as before.
    Recently my primary care physician switched me to Pristiq-50mg.
    My advise is: NEVER DISCONTINUE the medication you’re taking abruptly!!!
    If your doctor tells you: “Here’s is Pristiq, now stop taking Effexor” or whateever you were taking before, then that doctor is WRONG!, and for some reason they still have a license to practice.
    You need to cut down your previous medication, while you start taking the new one.
    E.g: for the first two-three days, take Effexor 150 mg and Pristiq 50 mg. Then, for another three days, take Effexor 75 mg and Pristiq 50 mg. Another 3 days take Effexor 37.5 mg and Pristiq 50 mg. After that, just stay with Pristiq.
    ALthough both medications have a similar chemical compund, they are NOT the same. So, the transition has to be made gradually to give time to your brain to re-adjust.
    I am NOT a medical doctor, however, I have witnesed many MDs (medical doctors)using this method with my patients including my MD using it on myself.
    I’ve started Pristiq a couple of weeks ago and right now, am experiencing some dizziness. I am not completly off Effexor, but this is just my body. Everybody experiences different transitional effects.
    Good Luck to all of us!
    NOTE: From my understanding, Pristiq 50mg should work just as well as Effexor 225mg.
    Please ask your doctor!!!

  47. I am switching from Effexor XR 225 mg a day to Pristiq.
    My doctor cut my Effexor XR back to 185.5 mg split up 3 times a day (75mg am, 75 mg pm and 37.5mg before bed). I also take the Pristiq in the am
    I am miserable!
    I can’t seem to think straight.
    I am very, very, dizzy.
    Does anyone have any advice.???
    I thought that by taking the Pristiq I wouldn’t have withdrawal from cutting the effexor down.
    I guess I was wrong.
    My doc says to hang in there.

  48. I have been on Effexor XR for 4 years for relief from hot flashes due to surgical menopause. I just started seeing a psychiatrist for another matter. He is trying to convince me to switch cold-turkey to Pristiq because ther are fewer drug interactions (I am not taking other drugs that would react badly. He says that Effexor and Pristiq are very close to the same drug and I should not have any problems switching. He gave me Pristiq samples. I still have several months of Effexor left, and after reading some of the comments on this list, I am not eager to switch any time soon. Every time I go there they mention the Pristiq again. Do Drs get a kickback from the drug manufacturer if they switch a patient to one of their new medicines? I am starting to get suspicious.

  49. For those of you switching from Effexor to Pristiq, I would caution you not to blame the Pristiq for how you feel; blame the Effexor. Over a year ago, I went off of 150mg of Effexor to nothing (in step decreases of dosage), and it was one of the worst experiences of my life (horrendous withdrawal symptoms). I swore never to touch the stuff again. However, I just started Pristiq three weeks ago, and it seems much milder in terms of side of effects. I haven’t had those zapping sensations in my head that I had with Effexor (well, actually once, but I’ve been experiencing them occasionally even after being off of Effexor and on nothing for months–I think it may have permanently altered my brain). Anyway, I would definitely hang in there!

  50. I have tried almost everything except Lithium, which I can not take due to a thyroid problem. My Dr. convinced me three weeks ago to try Pristiq. I have been taking about 2 mg. of Xanax for 7 years after having Thyroid cancer and I have to be in a state of Hyperthyroidism to decrease any nodules, etc. I was very scared to try another drug, I have really bad Medicine Anxiety along with GAD and PTSD and Borderline tendancies, but I agreed to try Pristiq…..My husband is thrilled at the new ME, maybe this is the real ME, I don’t know how to explain the transformation. I did have a few brain zaps the first couple of weeks and maybe some headaches which were a result of taking Pristiq but for the most part I do feel very different, calmer, sleep better, (although I take Ambien almost everynight too). I am trying to wean myself off the Xanax and The Ambien, but scared to start this now. I read that Pristiq causes heart failure. (Anyone know anything about this?) That scares me too, but I think at 54 I have realized if taking a drug the rest of my life makes my life better, richer and makes people around me happier then I suppose it is like the diabetic who must take their insulin each day.
    I think it is just amazing how many people need medication to cope in this age and time, but I look at all the brilliant people who didn’t make it and took their own lives. I am a writer and sensitive to several attempts of suicide, so I am very hopeful, it is like a ray of sunshine has escaped the closed shutters and it is shining on me.
    God Bless all of you, I mean that.

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