Fetzima has a boxed warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about suicidal thoughts and behaviors. This risk may be highest for children, teenagers, and young adults who take an antidepressant such as Fetzima. The boxed warning appears on the drug’s label and alerts you to possible serious risks.

For details, you can see “Side effects: A closer look” in the “Does Fetzima have side effects?” section below.

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with major depressive disorder, your healthcare or mental health professional may recommend taking an antidepressant medication called Fetzima.

Also known by its generic name of levomilnacipran, Fetzima has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat major depressive disorder (MDD).

It helps relieve symptoms of depression by working in the brain to block the reabsorption of serotonin and norepinephrine, chemicals in the brain that may play a role in mood.

Living with major depressive disorder can be overwhelming, but with the right treatment plan, an estimated 70%-80% of those affected can see an improvement in their symptoms.

Medications like this may be a part of your treatment plan, but is Fetzima a good antidepressant? Read on to learn more.

Experiencing some side effects while taking antidepressants is common, but there are ways to cope with them, beginning with knowing what they are.

Common side effects

Some of the common side effects of Fetzima include:

Serious side effects

Since Fetzima directly impacts your serotonin levels, there’s a chance of experiencing serotonin syndrome while taking this medication. When this occurs, your symptoms may be mild or severe.

Common signs to look for and report to your doctor include:

  • Involuntary muscle contractions: You see your muscles contract in a pattern at places such as the arm or ankle, occurring independently or with agitation, fever, and excessive sweating.
  • Tremors: You’ll begin to shake or may even start to twitch or experience a higher degree of natural reflexes.
  • Muscle stiffness: Not only will your muscles contract, but they can also become very stiff and difficult to move.

Serotonin syndrome is often mild and quickly resolved by stopping your medication, but suddenly stopping your medication may cause withdrawal symptoms. Speaking with your doctor first can prevent any unwanted side effects.

Boxed warning

Fetzima has a boxed warning from the FDA. This warning appears on the medication’s label and alerts you to possible serious side effects.

Similar to other antidepressants, Fetzima can increase the chance of suicidal thoughts and behaviors. This chance is higher for children, teenagers, and adults who are 24 years or younger.

Regardless of your age, try to be aware of any unusual behavior changes or if symptoms begin to get worse, especially during the first few months of taking the medication.

Some symptoms to be on the lookout for include:

If you notice any changes in behavior or begin to experience any of the above symptoms, reaching out to your doctor immediately is crucial.

Fetzima is often taken once a day, either with or without food. But if you experience nausea, try taking the medication with food to help.

The medication comes in extended-release capsules, which slowly release the medication into your body over time.

Doses can range from 20 to 120 mg. You may begin with a lower dose of 20 mg and gradually increase after only a few days.

Your doctor will monitor your symptoms and decide how much of the medication is needed as you go.

Here are the answers to some commonly asked questions about taking Fetzima:

Is Fetzima good for anxiety?

While depression doesn’t cause anxiety, many people experience both conditions at the same time.

Research from 2017 suggests that Fetzima can help improve anxiety symptoms and other related feelings such as agitation and sensitivity.

Is Fetzima a stimulant?

Fetzima is not a stimulant but it can improve your mood by affecting the same neurotransmitters in the brain as a stimulant.

But taking a stimulant and antidepressant such as Fetzima isn’t recommended because it can make your symptoms of depression worse.

How does Fetzima make you feel?

If effective, Fetzima can improve symptoms of depression such as sadness, negative thoughts, and lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed.

If you’re pregnant or plan on becoming pregnant, speaking with a healthcare professional first is crucial to help manage any potential side effects.

There are risks and benefits of taking some antidepressants while pregnant. For example, some may increase the chance of developmental issues.

Taking this medication during your third trimester of pregnancy may also increase your chances of bleeding after delivery and may impact your baby.

Untreated depression may also have negative side effects, according to research from 2014. This can include:

  • a chance of low birth weight
  • prematurity
  • poor growth in the womb, or intrauterine growth restriction
  • childhood developmental delays

According to a 2018 review, experts need more long-term study information to determine the safety of Fetzima in pregnancy and for nursing birth parents.

If you took or are taking Fetzima while pregnant, consider registering with the National Pregnancy Registry for Antidepressants. This registry collects information on the safety of these medications during pregnancy to help further research and studies.

Fetzima is as effective as other antidepressants but may cause more side effects than other antidepressants.

Remember that everyone responds differently to medication, so it’s OK to be optimistic while understanding other antidepressants may work better for you.

Here’s a look at how Fetzima compares with other common antidepressants.

Fetzima vs. Cymbalta

Both Fetzima and Cymbalta (generic name: duloxetine) belong to a group of antidepressants called serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). But they differ in how they work and their strength.

Your brain can experience an imbalanced level of chemicals such as serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain, leading to major depressive disorder. That’s where antidepressants can help.

SNRIs prevent serotonin and norepinephrine levels from being uneven, but Fetzima focuses more on balancing norepinephrine than serotonin. So, it may take a lower dose of Fetzima to help improve the brain’s chemical imbalances seen in MDD than other SNRIs such as Cymbalta.

Fetzima vs. Pristiq

Pristiq (generic name: desvenlafaxine) is another SNRI often prescribed for MDD.

Both are similar in the way they work and have the same side effects. Both medications have a high potency, which may cause more serious side effects and withdrawal symptoms.

Fetzima vs. Effexor

Like Pristiq, Effexor (generic name: venlafaxine) is another SNRI that treats depression. Effexor binds itself to more blood proteins and that slows its ability to reach areas of the brain and body as fast as Fetzima.

This causes more side effects since Fetzima can spread more quickly throughout your body.

Suddenly stopping an antidepressant such as Fetzima can cause symptoms of withdrawal. These symptoms can be similar to what you experienced before you started the medication.

Common withdrawal symptoms include:

  • irritability
  • dizziness
  • vomiting
  • disturbing dreams
  • headaches
  • tingling of the skin
  • irregular heartbeat
  • insomnia
  • restlessness
  • agitation
  • flu-like symptoms
  • ringing in the ears
  • low blood pressure

Even if you feel better, consider reaching out to your doctor before stopping any medication. Speaking with your doctor can help minimize the chance of experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

The FDA approved Fetzima only for the treatment of MDD. Fatigue is a common symptom of MDD.

Research suggests that Fetzima can help ease this symptom when other SNRIs can’t.

A recent study highlights that nearly 90% of people diagnosed with depression report the following affecting their ability to function normally:

  • lack of motivation
  • low energy
  • low mood
  • fatigue
  • anxiety
  • tension
  • nervousness
  • trouble concentrating
  • memory impairment
  • irritability and anger

Fetzima works to improve your functional ability, so you can get back to enjoying life again.

It’s important to take Fetzima as directed by your medical professional. Taking more than the recommended dosage can lead to serious side effects.

Symptoms of an overdose can include:

If you believe you’ve taken too much Fetzima, call your medical professional right away. You can also call the American Association of Poison Control Centers at 800-222-1222.

If your symptoms are severe, call 911 immediately or visit the nearest emergency room.

The cost of Fetzima is dependent on several factors:

  • Your health insurance: Different health plans offer copay and deductible schedules for prescription medications.
  • Your pharmacy: The pharmacy you use can affect the price of your prescription.
  • Your prescription: You may request the generic version of Fetzima to help lower your out-of-pocket costs, and your insurance or pharmacy may automatically request the generic in some cases.

GoodRx.com offers the ability to compare drug prices and find coupons. You may also check the manufacturer’s website for more information about costs and other savings options.

It’s crucial to be mindful of the medication’s effects on your body and how any other substances can lead to dangerous consequences.

For example, drinking alcohol or using illegal drugs may worsen symptoms and increase side effects such as sedation.

Living with MDD requires consistent communication with your healthcare professional and the support of loved ones.

If you think you may have major depressive disorder, consider speaking with a healthcare professional. They can examine you and determine whether any underlying conditions may be the cause of your symptoms.

They can also refer you to a mental health professional who can perform a more thorough psychological evaluation to determine if you’re experiencing major depressive disorder.

Once a diagnosis is made, regular visits will likely be required to monitor your symptoms and adjust care as needed.

Treatment for major depressive disorder typically involves medication, therapy, or a combination of both.

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) notes that while both medication and therapy can be used alone to ease symptoms of MDD, a combined approach is often the best option.

Several therapy options may help, but cognitive behavioral therapy is the most widely used. It involves learning to identify negative thought patterns, then reframing and redirecting these thoughts to shift your mindset.

Lifestyle changes such as regular exercise, avoiding the misuse of substances, and prioritizing a good sleep routine can help keep your body and mind healthy.

Consider speaking with your loved ones and letting them know what you’re going through. You can have a much better outlook when you let them be a part of your treatment and recovery.

Fetzima, also known by its generic name levomilnacipran, is an antidepressant belonging to the SNRIs class of medications. It’s FDA approved to treat symptoms of major depressive disorder.

When taking this medication, try to watch out for certain side effects such as nausea, constipation, and a fast heart rate. Even if you start to feel better, consider speaking with a healthcare or mental health professional before stopping any medication. Slowly tapering off your dosage can help minimize any unwanted effects.

Fetzima fares well as a medication that can relieve your symptoms of depression but may cause more side effects than other antidepressants.

But everyone responds differently to medications, so try to maintain regular visits with your doctor while taking the medication to ensure its effectiveness.

Living with major depressive disorder is challenging and there’s no cure for the condition. But with medication and the proper support and therapy, you can learn to manage your symptoms.

Talking with people who are having similar experiences can be helpful. You can find some great online depression support groups to help.

If you’re not sure where to start, you can check out Psych Central’s hub on finding mental health support.

Suicide prevention

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, you’re not alone. Help is available right now:

Not in the U.S.? Find a helpline in your country with Befrienders Worldwide.

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Disclaimer: Psych Central has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. But this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare or mental health professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.