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Brintellix (Vortioxetine) Side Effects: List Of Possibilities

Brintellix (Vortioxetine) is a drug that was approved by the FDA in 2013 to treat major depression. It is regarded as an atypical antidepressant, meaning that it’s mechanisms of action are unique from other classifications. As the marketing and promotion of this newer (2013) antidepressant continues, the number of people experimenting with it for their depression will also increase.

Despite the fact that it was not found clinically effective for treating anxiety disorders, it may be used off label for this purpose. It functions as a SMS (Serotonin Modulator and Stimulator), influencing serotonin to the greatest extent, with a minor effect on norepinephrine. In particular, it tends to act on the 5-HT3A, 5-HT1A, and 5-HT7 receptors as an antagonist or partial agonist.

Compared to most other antidepressants, it is not considered any more effective or better tolerated. It is a relatively new drug and the long-term effects of Brintellix usage are not well documented. If you are taking this drug and/or are considering this drug for your depression, you may want to be aware of possible side effects.

Factors that influence Brintellix side effects

Most people aren’t aware of the factors that can influence the severity and number of side effects. Influential factors include: individual physiology, your dosage, how long you’ve taken the drug, as well as whether you take any other drugs.

1. Individual Variation

A majority of side effects are subject to individual variation. In other words, two people can take the same medication, at the exact same dose, for the exact same time period and have completely different reactions. One person may exhibit severe diarrhea and nausea, while another person may report minor dry mouth. Much of how we respond to drugs is determined by our genetics and individual physiology.

2. Dosage (5 mg, 10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg)

The dose of Brintellix that you are taking could influence the side effects that you experience. The amount of side effects that you experience from an antidepressant drug will usually be dose-related. The more of the drug that’s in your system, the greater the likelihood that you’ll experience some side effects.

In order to minimize side effects, it is always recommended to start at the lowest possible dosage, give it a few weeks, and gradually titrate upwards until you notice an improvement in depressive symptoms. By starting low, you may find a lower dose effective and won’t have to deal with unfavorable side effects. Those who are on higher dosages may report more significant side effects.

3. Time Span

How long have you been taking Brintellix? Those who have only been taking the drug for a short duration may have to deal with side effects during the first few weeks. Some side effects are inevitable when starting treatment because your body will need time to adapt to the introduction of a new drug. Usually the short-term side effects tend to lessen or completely subside after a few weeks.

There are other long-term side effects that can develop after taking this drug for an extended period of time. In other words, you may not notice any initial side effects, but after taking the drug for awhile, your body has become dependent on it for functioning. Over the long-term, certain drugs can influence physiology and result in side effects after an extended term.

4. Other drugs

If you are taking another drug or Brintellix is part of a psychiatric cocktail of medications, you may notice interaction effects. Your doctor should be aware of any interactions that this medication can have with others that you are on. Although most contraindications are documented, some people notice that side effects are a result of drug interactions. If you believe that Brintellix may be interacting with another medication and causing unwanted side effects, talk to your doctor about it.

Brintellix Side Effects: List of Common Possibilities

Below is a list of side effects from the antidepressant Brintellix. Understand that the intensity and number of side effects affects everyone differently. Also know that the most common side effects from clinical trial reports include: constipation, nausea, and vomiting.

  • Anxiety: Although the properties of this drug suggest that it could actually be beneficial for individuals with anxiety, not everyone experiences an anxiolytic effect. Some people may report increases in their overall level of arousal and/or anxiety. If you feel increasingly anxious after taking the drug, keep in mind that it can be a side effect.
  • Constipation: Perhaps the most common side effect associated with this drug is that of constipation. You may feel as if you’ll never have another bowel movement, especially during the early stages of taking this drug. Realize that the constipation does tend to decrease after the first few weeks.
  • Depression: This is an antidepressant, but a lesser known fact is that many antidepressants can actually cause depression and suicidality. Those with major depression may not notice feeling increasingly depressed, but someone who has mild depression may notice that Brintellix makes them more depressed. There’s no telling how your brain will react to the chemical alterations from this drug. If you feel more depressed after giving it a shot for several weeks, it may be time to try another medication.
  • Dizziness: When you first start taking an antidepressant, you may notice that you start to feel dizzy or unbalanced. The dizziness can be overwhelming initially, but as your nervous system adapts to the effects of the drug, this side effect should improve. If you consistently feel dizzy and uncoordinated as a result of the medication, you may want to switch to something else.
  • Dry mouth: Reports of dry mouth are common with most antidepressants, including Brintellix. This can be an uncomfortable effect due to the fact that the dryness sensation is an annoyance. It may seem as if there is no saliva in your mouth and that drinking water doesn’t seem to be of much help. Most cases of dry mouth occur within the first few weeks of treatment and subside over the long-term.
  • Fatigue: In certain cases, people may experience feelings of fatigue throughout the day. It can be difficult to cope with feeling tired and lethargic all day. If you feel fatigued, do your best to push through it and understand that it may subside. If it becomes overwhelming, talk to your doctor about possibly trying another drug.
  • Flatulence: You may notice an increase in the amount of gaseous build-up throughout your stomach. If you are farting more than usual, it could be a side effect of the medication. It could be associated with the fact that the medication affects the digestive system.
  • Headaches: Did you notice headaches after starting this medication? Headaches are a common side effect from any drug, so don’t be surprised if you have headaches in the first few weeks of treatment. Usually headaches are not going to be a long-term side effect.
  • Hypersensitivity: Some people become hypersensitive to sights and sounds while they take this medication. In other words, a seemingly normal volume sound may sound incredibly loud or a average light may seem too bright. This is less commonly reported, but still a symptom that you may experience.
  • Hypomania: Those who have Bipolar II disorder may be prone to developing hypomania, or low-grade euphoria characterized by increased energy and rapidly improved mood. It should also be noted that someone without BPII can exhibit hypomanic behaviors as a result of antidepressants. Just know that this could be a side effect, albeit one that most people will enjoy.
  • Insomnia: For some individuals, Brintellix may be stimulating and lead to insomnia. If you feel less depressed, some minor insomnia may be worth tolerating as a side effect. If the insomnia becomes overwhelming and is taking a toll on your overall health, talk to your doctor about possible solutions.
  • Irritability: Some people report heightened irritability while taking this particular drug. If you notice yourself becoming irritable, just know that it could be a result of the medication. Usually though if the drug is working well, irritability is not reported.
  • Itching: A reported side effect of Brintellix is itching across the skin. If you start to feel itchy, just know that others have dealt with this symptom too. Some people have reported that their skin got so itchy that they needed to take Benadryl to combat this side effect. Itching may occur within just a few days of treatment without any apparent rash.
  • Mania: Those who are diagnosed with Bipolar I disorder may develop mania when they initially start Brintellix. Mania is characterized by an overly euphoric mood, excessive talking, impulsive decisions, and high arousal. For this reason, it is important to understand that this drug could trigger a manic switch and this effect should be monitored.
  • Mood swings: Due to adjustments in neurotransmission when the drug is started, mood swings may be reported. It may take some time for your mood to stabilize after the introduction of Brintellix. This is why most professionals encourage waiting weeks before you report as to whether the drug is “helping.”
  • Nausea: Another very common side effect reported during Brintellix 6-month trials was nausea. In most cases, researchers noted that nausea was either mild or moderate, and usually dose-related. In other words, the higher the dose you take, the greater your chances of experiencing nausea.
  • Poor concentration: Some antidepressants may lead to poorer ability to focus at work or school. If you find that using Brintellix has made it more difficult to focus during mentally-demanding tasks, it could be a result of your medication. Sometimes it may take awhile for your brain to adjust to the drug, but in other cases this foggy concentration persists until you withdraw from the drug.
  • Sexual dysfunction: The fact is that most antidepressants that influence serotonin can lead to changes in libido or sexual dysfunction. Some research suggests that the amount of sexual dysfunction among those taking Brintellix was lower than those taking Effexor. Most common sexual side effects include loss of interest, delayed ejaculation, and inability to orgasm.
  • Sleepiness: Certain people get keyed up on Brintellix, while others feel plain tired. If you notice that taking the drug makes you sleepy, this is a common reaction during the first few weeks. Your neurotransmitters are adapting to a new stimulus and the transition can make people feel sleepy.
  • Suicidal thoughts: As with all antidepressants, there are warnings of increased suicidal thinking. This is a phenomenon that occurs with nearly every drug on the market. Although certain people respond very well to this drug, there are others who will end up feeling more depressed and suicidal. If you feel more suicidal and depressed, it’s usually a sign that the medication is not a good fit.
  • Vomiting: Unfortunately, one of the more common side effects associated with this drug is vomiting. For most people, vomiting tends to occur during the first week and eventually stops. However, if vomiting persist for longer than a couple weeks, looking into another drug is recommended.
  • Weight changes: In 6-month clinical trials, there was no more weight gain in patients taking Brintellix vs. a placebo. However, it is important to note that everyone responds to antidepressants on an individual basis. It is certainly possible that you could experience weight gain and/or loss from taking this drug.

Note: There are additional side effects to the ones listed above. However, the ones listed above tend to be more common based on studies and self-reports associated with Brintellix.  For a more comprehensive overview of possible reactions, read about general antidepressant side effects.

Brintellix: Weighing the Side Effects (Cons) vs. Benefits (Pros)

If you currently take Brintellix, it is important to assess whether the side effects override any therapeutic benefits from the drug. In other words, determine whether you are getting an adequate antidepressant effect to justify putting up with some unfavorable side effects. If you feel as though the side effects are so overwhelming that they are actually making it difficult to function and/or are interfering with important aspects of your life, you may want to try another medication.

If you have tried many antidepressants and this is the first drug that’s provided you with an improvement in depressive symptoms, then you may not even care about side effects. However, if this is the first drug you’ve given a shot for your depression and you feel better, but have significant unwanted side effects persisting for longer than a month, trying another medication is likely a smart option.

Understand that finding an antidepressant that works well for depressive symptoms with minimal side effects is everyone’s ultimate goal. It may take some experimentation to find the right medication that you can tolerate and that works for your depression. For one person Brintellix may work great for depression and not produce any major side effects. For another person, Brintellix may make their depression worse and yield significant side effects.

If you are prescribed this drug, give it a shot and see how you respond. Try not to get too caught up in what other people have reported and trust your own judgment as to whether the therapeutic benefits outweigh any side effects. Additionally if you would like to share your experience of Brintellix side effects, feel free to do so in the comments section below.

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{ 74 comments… add one }
  • Me October 9, 2014, 2:45 am

    I’m on Brintellix and having severe itching in the 3rd week. It is getting worse. Does it get worse before it goes away or do I need to stop taking it?

    • Mike October 10, 2014, 5:17 pm

      I’ve taken it for a few weeks… I’ve had some itching spells. Mostly on my legs… they’re pretty severe where I’ve wanted to almost itch my skin raw, but just told myself not to.

      In my experience, it sort of comes and goes but has been less severe the longer I’ve been on it. I take 10mg per day and feel better than I have with any other drug I’ve ever taken. I can do things one at a time with focused, calm thoughts. I don’t dwell on things or “ruminate” anymore. I feel normal. Better. No other side effects to report.

    • Jacob December 16, 2014, 12:12 pm

      I have taken Brintellix for almost 8 months now, and the itching has been getting worse and worse. At this point it is so bad that I have had to stop taking it. I can’t sleep at night because I itch constantly. Hope it gets better for you, but it just isn’t worth it for me.

    • Liz January 26, 2016, 12:10 pm

      The itching drives me crazy! It always occurs in the wee hours, (3-4 a.m.), then keeps me up for hours after. Does this go away eventually? The itching causes my skin to welt, scab, my adrenaline goes up during the ‘episodes’, and it cause me to get hot flashes, – also during the ‘episodes’. What do you use to stop the itching?

      • Jennifer March 17, 2016, 8:50 am

        I have been taking Brintellix for over a year now and the itching has been increasingly worse on both arms to where I scratch my skin raw. I use capsaicin and a combination of ice/hot water to try to calm the itching.

  • Mike October 10, 2014, 5:24 pm

    I’ve tried Wellbutrin, Ritalin, Adderall, Xanax, Bupropion, Clonadine, Cymbalta, Prozac… you name it.

    Prozac helped, but I recently learned about Brintellix. I gave it a shot because I had a positive experience with Prozac. What a difference! I feel calmer, more focused, and normal again. I took Vicodin for an injury for longer than necessary and I think my body never recovered – it never produced those happy chemicals that it stopped producing while on Vicodin.

    Waking up sucked, like always, but I didn’t even want to shower… everything was such a daunting task. I wanted to wear pajamas all the time. The only thing I felt like doing was watching TV. I would dwell on negative things all the time, they’d haunt me. Arguments, road rage… I couldn’t let anything go… I would stew and stew and ‘ruminate’ I believe they call it.

    3 weeks into Brintellix and everything has changed… I’m up in the morning, in and out of the shower without thinking, excited to pick out a cool outfit and start my day. I’m busier, calmer, clearer in the head. I don’t dwell… I feel care free. I’ve attended 3 sporting events, a concert and been out to dinner with my girlfriend once in the past 10 days… I’m dragging her all over to do stuff I wouldn’t have dreamed of doing 4 weeks ago. I feel like myself again. And I haven’t experienced hardly any side effects but some minor skin itching very occasionally.

    This medicine is amazing because it’s silky smooth… you don’t feel anxious like a stimulant, you don’t feel tired like an anti-anxiety pill, you don’t feel blah like an anti-depressant.

    I give Brintellix 5 stars.

    I’m on 10mg/day. So far, so good.

    • Libby December 20, 2015, 4:09 am

      I had the same reaction… I was alive again I have taken it 10 MG for 5 months and my ears ring so loud now, it wakes me. Do you have any tinnitus symptoms?

      • Liz January 26, 2016, 11:57 am

        Yes, I have tinnitus from Brintellix. It’s very loud, random and annoying. I’m only in my third week, (1st two, 5 mg., now on 10 mg). I took Cymbalta before this med and also had tinnitus.

    • Joyce October 18, 2016, 12:28 pm

      Do you take your Brintellix at night or in the morning?

    • Ashley November 15, 2016, 10:45 pm

      Did you experience any weight changes? Glad it has helped you.

  • Diana October 29, 2014, 8:35 pm

    This is day 4 and I had no side effects what so ever. I might have some itch at night and lil bit of insomnia but I take Ambien too and that puts me to sleep. I feel more energetic and calmer . I finally want to leave the house :). I should mention I had anxiety plus depression and always declined to take meds. It’s my 1st med after three pills of cymbalta few months ago. Unlike cymbalta, this brintellix didn’t cause vomiting, tremors, or blurry vision just to mention few. I’ll stay on it until my brain starts producing the happy chemicals. And it’s not addictive as doc said. I highly recommend it.

  • Gayle November 7, 2014, 6:35 pm

    I have tried Brintellix two times now starting at a very low dose 5mg and in both instances I ended up inthe ER with what I thought was a heart attack. It caused by blood pressure and my heart rate to go up and I had chest and arm pain. Had to have stress tests both visits both time they were fine and the only variable was the Brintellix. My second episode was yesterday after two doses.

    Now I am just waiting for it to clear my system. I think the half life is 66 hours. Could that be true? I am having like little aftershocks today I hope it clears out fast. I am a little worried that this may be serotonin syndrome since my Doc started me on Brintellix both times while I was still on low doses 25mg of amitriptyline. He says no, but I wonder. Anyway glad it is working for some people. I threw my samples in the trash.

    • Linda March 27, 2015, 9:11 pm

      I’m having the same problem my heart has been killing me since I took this medication…pain in left side of neck that goes down into my chest and down my left arm…scares me cause I have a heart condition already. I’m waiting for this to clear my system as well.

      • Lauren4759 August 12, 2015, 11:08 am

        I would suggest that you DEFINITELY stop taking this medication as a side effect is Tachycardia, which is an elevated heart rate/beat per minute. I would not risk it, but rather get the advice from your cardiologist and psychiatrist. It could be a fatal combination seeing that you have a heart condition. I only experience Nausea and vomitting… not so nice:-(

        I am a biochemist, so I am just giving my opinion.

  • Carolien November 21, 2014, 11:44 am

    This is my third day I really don’t feel well tired stomach is burning cold sweat hot flushes irritable and feel like crying all the time. The headaches make me mad. Can someone professional please reply to me I am on antidepressants since 1992 was off for two years back again but never really never I felt like this.

  • Ramona November 23, 2014, 3:58 pm

    Six days on Brintellix. Very minor nausea — I’ve always had a touchy stomach, so I’m hugely glad the naueaa is extremely minor and that it comes and goes. I have had some restlessness at night. Still waiting for a sense of calm and serenity, but its early days. Hopefully after two weeks I’ll feel notably better; though it is worth mentioning that I don’t feel awful now. This drug has made me constipated and I’ve added a simple stool softener to my meds (which is Brintellix 10 mg a day and Omeprazole 20 mg as needed).

  • kittylou December 17, 2014, 4:02 pm

    I have been taking Brintellix for 7 days now. I am itchy, despairing, moody, angry, farting, bloated and depressed. I feel hostile I have tried combinations of fluoxetine, Prozac, wellbutrin, pamelor, klonopin, Effexor, and none of them have worked. I am considering trans cranial mental stimulation at this point in the game.

    • Jean July 26, 2015, 4:50 pm

      Hi Kittylou. I just added Brintellix to other meds I’d been on for years. OK so far except constipation (which is so normal). I hope you went off this if side effects didn’t clear up. Take care.

    • Lauren4759 August 12, 2015, 11:09 am

      Hi, What is your diagnosis? For what mental illness are you taking Brintellix for? -Biochemistry Lover

    • Tiffany April 25, 2016, 4:07 am

      I have been taking Brintellix now for about four to six weeks. At first I noticed I was bloating and had high levels anxiety and my depression was getting worse. I am right now waiting for my third, yes third dose of Benadryl to swoop in and stop the itching. It’s bizarre.

      With every dose I take of the Brintellix I have to then turn around and take three. Or four doses of Benadryl just so I stop scratching my raw. I’ve bruised my nose from scratching so hard. I’m sad because after man years on Zoloft it wasn’t working as well so the doc put me on Brintellix and it works so well.

      I guess I could stay the current course, invest big money in Gatorade and IVs so I don’t wreck my already sickly kidneys or try another stab in the dark for my gripping anxiety. Oh and PS I have red hair and the super pale, skin covered in freckles, so when I get über itchy I run the risk of not only opening skin, but leave bruises. Yeah, just as pretty in the imagination! LOL

  • Susan March 8, 2015, 1:52 pm

    I’ve taken a long list if anti-anxiety meds in the past. My moods were very sharp and I have hauntingly negative thoughts. I had such bad cramping in my back with severe muscle cramping in my neck that could cause a headache lasting a solid month. The last straw for me was I developed an eye condition called chorioretinopathy that is caused by a stress hormone (cortisol) that was threatening my eyesight. Obviously I was desperate for a med that would work quickly and effectively.

    My doctor put me on Brintellix and after the first week feeling very euphoric it started to settle in. My thoughts are better (not perfect) but my back, neck and headaches have now been gone for months! I think my eye is getting better (have to go back to my doc still for that). For me this has been the MOST EFFECTIVE med I have ever taken. Trust me my list was LONG! You name it and I probably took it. I do take Lunesta (2mg) at night for sleep.

    I have noticed some insomnia and have been taking 1 Aleve at night with the Lunesta. On the not so bright side I have severe constipation and have developed hemherroids and bloody stool. Hopefully this is not stomach bleeding or worse. Have to go back to doc to follow up. Have been taking 10 mg since Oct 2014 and increased to 20 mg since January 2015.

    • Jean July 26, 2015, 4:56 pm

      Hi Susan. I’ve been on a couple of Rxs for many years but now turning 60, I felt I needed an emotional “boost” so doc put me on 10 mg Brintellix. So far (one week) my hubby noticed I have a little bit better sense of humor! I’ve always had a some mild insomnia but being retired, I can nap in the afternoon, or take an Ambien before bed. I do, however, empathize with you on the constipation. Got on a stool softener after 4 days because I didn’t want my ‘roids to get worse than they are! Hope you are doing well now.

    • Jenifer October 31, 2015, 12:34 am

      Hi Susan! I’ve now been on Brintellix for about 6mos & I love it! I’ve been on every antidepressant as well for first depression & then anxiety, & now for medication resistant depression w/anxiety. After a 9 year horrible episode w/Cymbalta my Dr tried another antidepressant-sorry can’t remember exactly which one it was, it did nothing after the 6 week period. She then explained the pros & cons of Brintellix & I figured I’d give it a try.

      My mood almost immediately became better, & most importantly I didn’t feel like laying in my bed every single day. I have had nausea & a tummy ache every now & again-which is weird since I didn’t have it at all when I first started. I’ve vomited more in the last 6mos then I had in my entire life-as I am scared to death to vomit & had under 10X’s. Still not enough to get me to stop Brintellix!

      I take an Omeprazole every morning along w/my 10mg Brintellix & I seem to become much more nauseated weekend mornings when my hubby makes his delicious breakfasts/brunch. I’ve also noticed an extreme decrease in my appetite which is of great relief to me since I gained over 30lbs on Cymbalta & past antidepressants. I’m so glad to hear someone else has had a fabulous experience on Brintellix! Good luck & take care!?

  • Linda Simpson March 16, 2015, 1:58 am

    I have been taking Brintellex for two weeks and I thought I had found life I had never known before, it was wonderful I felt normal and happy and had so much energy. I felt normal in my head not fuzzy like most Meds make you feel. And guess what! It stopped working on third week. I don’t know what happened, I am so upset and sad because I don’t feel good anymore. I was on 10mg then 20mg but I still don’t feel any better with higher dose. I think 20mg is the highest you can take. Will see my doctor this week hope he can help me. Thank you, Linda.

    • Sally February 7, 2016, 8:48 pm

      Brintellix stopped working on week 3 for me too. What did you do?

  • Linda March 27, 2015, 3:14 pm

    I started taking this medication 5mg and it caused my heart to hurt so bad I had to go to the hospital…I have stopped taking the medication (today is day 2) and I think it’s still working it’s way out of my system, I’m still experiencing chest pain and rapid heart rate.

  • lb March 29, 2015, 9:53 pm

    I have lost count of how many antidepressants I have tried (for Bipolar, PTSD, and Panic/Agoraphobia). Typically I feel add-on effects even when my mood is lifted, like I’m “on” something – edgy and a little too buzzed, and sometimes leading to mania. They have never helped my anxiety, generally making it worse or making me irritable, and the side effects were terrible.

    Brintellix, in contrast, has a calming effect on me. 2 months into Brintellix (on 20mg for just over a week) and I feel so much better! I can’t believe it! I haven’t been able to think so clearly, and without OCD-type ruminating since I remember. I don’t get stuck on negative thoughts, I want to go out, my insomnia is gone, I’m content, planning for the future, and all of this with no side effects after the first few weeks. At first I had gastro symptoms, but I’m fine now.

    Best of all, this works way better for me than Xanax did in the three years that I was on it, and without the cognitive side effects and zombie-like state. I wasn’t living…I had to take such a high dose that I couldn’t get off the couch. 3 years wasted. I am so glad that I started this med. What a difference. I really hope that it continues to work for me.

  • Carmen April 27, 2015, 1:48 pm

    I’ve been on Brintillex for nearly 4 weeks now. Happy to report that the headaches have ceased in the 3rd week. Had nausea in the start, and some high blood pressure problems. But they passed. Suicidal thoughts have been hanging around and I don’t have a lot of focus. But I’m going to give this medication a good shot. I’ve noticed I’m clearer in thoughts and have become quite quick witted again in my humor (something I’d lost for a number of years).

  • tamala May 5, 2015, 3:35 pm

    I’ve also tried every anti depressant out there. I must admit that Brintellix is by far the best one. I was hesitant at first after reading all the reviews on side effects. Im on 5 mg. At first I was so tired, for 3 days straight I had no energy and even took several naps throughput the day, which I NEVER do. After Day 4 I experienced lots of gas and farting…ugh, it was embarrassing. But after Day 6 the gassiness subsided. I feel great now, lots of energy, motivated, and content. The only thing I feel now is a little itching. I’ve lost weight (YAY!), have no negative thoughts and feel awesome!

  • Lane June 19, 2015, 6:31 am

    I’ve been on Brintellix for @ 3 months the now. My doctor started me at 5mg for a week, and bumping up to 10mg thereafter. I had a lot of nausea, gas, constipation, and worst of all – chest and arm pain. The dilemma though, was that Brintellix was the first med to really help my mood in almost 20 years. Unfortunately, the chest and arm pains were scary enough I got off of it.

    I went back to Zoloft, and started feeling typically sh*tty again for several weeks, when I decided to give Brintellix another go, because it had helped improve my mood so much more than Zoloft. I had also been using minoxidil for thinning hair- and apparently one of its possible side effects is chest pain. I stopped the minoxidil, and got back on Brintellix. Well, my mood improved again, but I have been having a lot of chest pain, arm pain, and arm numbness.

    I went to my doctor and had an EKG, an echocardiogram, and a bunch of blood work done, just in case I was having a heart attack or had a blood clot or something (I’m only 36). I found out I do have a heart murmur – but harmless. I’m really frustrated!! I finally find a drug that has helped, and helped a lot, but I don’t think I can go on feeling like I’m having a heart attack, or blood clot all the time.

    I hope if you use it, that you can have the positive effects with minimal side effects. A promising drug- too many scary side effects for me unfortunately.

  • Mel July 15, 2015, 8:33 pm

    I’m on my third week, I feel better more energy but still a few crying spells. I’ve had nausea and diarrhea hoping that will subside soon.

    • Riina August 15, 2015, 5:39 pm

      Does the itching go away? Sorry for asking stupid questions.

      • Marie September 11, 2015, 7:36 pm

        Yes, it did for me. I was itchy for the first several weeks.

  • Marlese August 31, 2015, 8:53 am

    I am on my 4th week of Brintellix. I was previously on Cilift. Doctor recommended Brintellix as I could not focus or concentrate on my work anymore. She explained that Brintellix is unique in the fact that it improves the cognitive function of the brain as well. I had no side effects, other than feeling a little dizzy at times, irritable and a little down. I do not think my mood has improved from being on Cilift.

    The 1st two weeks of Brintellix made me very moody. It is better now, but I feel more “down” on this than I did on Cilift. I will give it another month before deciding whether to continue with this or go back onto Cilift. No itchiness, no nausea, no vomiting, no chest or arm pains, no headaches. Just in general irritable and “down”.

  • Narrelle Chain September 2, 2015, 11:43 am

    I experienced migraines on Brintellix; I get quite a few migraines anyway; I decided to persevere and see if the migraines abated but they didn’t after two weeks; but the worst problem I experienced was a worsening of my depression; I have major depression; very scary dark moods worse than before; finally concluded this medication is not for me; taking only 5mg.

  • Claire September 7, 2015, 3:49 pm

    Hi there. I have been on Brintellix for two months now. I stuck it out through the hectic itching (especially legs and chest), the nausea, diarrhea and terrible headaches. After about three weeks I felt great. Don’t sleep much after 3 am but who cares if I have a smile throughout the day? Good luck to you if you have just started on it… Stick it out.

  • Madeleine September 14, 2015, 3:47 am

    I have been taking Brintellix for about two months now, going on 5mg for two weeks and upping to 10mg. I have moderate anxiety and depression (mainly severe irritability and anxiety attacks), so this one seemed like it would work really well. I have some restless leg symptoms that make sleeping difficult, which my dr. suggested may be due to serotonin withdrawal (I had missed some doses of my previous medicine).

    At first I felt great on the 5mg Brintellix (I had previously tried Viibryd and the side effects were terrible – creepy crawlies and nausea). There was only mild nausea at first, but I feel very unmotivated and exhausted. Recently I had some personal life and school stress (I’m a senior in college) that pushed me over. For about a week and a half I have been crying, paranoid, and feeling like I can’t trust my own mind. I feel a low level of nausea all the time and it makes it difficult to find things to eat that won’t make me want to vomit.

    Working out has helped somewhat, but I have been catastrophizing and have been advised to go back to therapy. I have been on Zoloft, Pristiq, Viibryd,& Brintellix so far in the past ~3 years, took Xanax as needed with the Pristiq, and switched to BoostBar as a supplement for my anxiety. (The BoostBar did help somewhat, but can cause extreme drowsiness if you take the whole bar). I think the idea of this medication is great, and at first I thought it would be the one that would stick for me, but it hasn’t and has possibly exacerbated my condition. Will be switching ASAP or going off and just taking the BoostBar as needed for my anxiety.

    • essie September 23, 2015, 5:48 pm

      I cannot take it. I am so exhausted I can barely move. I think docs have some kick back for it because my doc won’t take me off of it and I feel horrible.

  • Travis September 28, 2015, 8:43 pm

    I’ve worked my way up to 20mg of BRINTELLIX without ANY side effects. But I’m also not sure it’s helping my Latuda induced depression. I’ve only been on 20mg for 3 days and I think it could be slightly helping. Will keep on it for a while longer to see if makes a noticeable difference.

  • Kathy October 9, 2015, 4:34 pm

    I started on 5 mg for three weeks and I take 1 mg of Klonopin at bedtime. I had terrible stomach cramps. I noticed an increase in energy right away but I also had difficulty of racing thoughts (maybe heart?) while sleeping. For several hours nearly every night I feel like I’m not actually asleep, kind of in limbo… I also had some other IBS symptoms, which is not typical for me.

    I have some stingy pokes once in a while in my scalp, neck and face, and some mild itching but it comes and goes. I stoically moved to 10 mg and my stomach pain has improved significantly but I’m still having trouble sleeping. I’m to revisit my doctor next week. I think it’s been 6 weeks now. I was pretty depressed when I started taking Brintellix. I noticed an improvement in the first week! I was feeling so weary and feeling like giving up on life, but not enough to do anything. I was feeling very alone, completely exhausted, isolating myself.

    At times I felt like there was a black hole in my chest. My family situation really stinks. A lot of my depression is situational but I think I should be a little stronger. I’m very sensitive and described by many as fragile. Gee I’m depressed now. :/ I really wish I didn’t have to take drugs to function in life… I worry about the long-term side-effects. I also wish life were easier. If I were more intelligent and confident I could stand up to the people I need to stand up to and have a better job.

    • Aliz November 10, 2015, 7:04 am

      Kathy, medication is a tool that helps you get through life. There is no weakness in utilizing a tool. You are strong for realizing that you need something to change, and for persuing that change. I hope things are going better for you. :)

  • Chris October 16, 2015, 3:10 am

    Rash… I started with the itching from day one. by 2-3 weeks the rash (maculopapular) started on my shins. Psych thought it was from Lithium that was started 3/12 prior. Ceased Lithium for 3 weeks, but the rash continued to spread – arms, chest, abdomen, back and hands now involved. Taken off Brintellix and the rash instantly improved though it took 4 months for the last to disappear off my shins.

    Shame as I felt the brintellix had improving my mood. Would like to say that was the end of it… but then I started Pristiq. One dose and that itching and rash returned. Do thought this was weird as no chemical relationship between Brintellix and Pristiq. He felt that may have been a crossover reaction and said we should not use SSRI or SNRI drugs again. Yep, thought that was pretty rough news. Then… I was recommenced on Lithium after 5 weeks, no problems. The Lithium dose was increased 19 weeks after restarting it.

    Yep, I’m itching and rash all over yet again. Definitely no chemical relation with Lithium, Pristiq, or Brintellix. Going to see the clever immunologist next week to see what he thinks. I have no doubt in my mind that Brintellix was the start of all this. Value any input. -Chris (Bipolar Type 1, melancholic depression with psychosis, GAD)

    • jeanneD June 12, 2016, 2:27 am

      Yep. I thought it was just me. Like a distant dryer sound. Mine makes a tinkling sound. I actually got up several times to see what was in the dryer to find it empty. I’ve only been on Brintellix a week and I’ve also scratched bruises on my ankles, shin, arms, knees, and keep a bath brush handy for my back.

      I forgot to take It ONE day and could honestly tell in my anxiety level. I’m much calmer. Can’t take much Benadryl for the itching though because it puts me out like a light for 4 hours! Hope it gets better.

  • Patty October 29, 2015, 4:27 pm

    After taking 10mg Brintellix for several months, I developed an OCD type behavior which I have not been diagnosed with having. I am hearing in my head, a series of 3 notes like on a scale up and down, same 3 notes over and over and over again. It is extremely annoying, had an MRI and there were no problems physically. Has anyone else had this problem on Brintellix?

    • Aliz November 10, 2015, 7:15 am

      Have you had your blood sodium levels checked? If it’s auditory hallucinations, that can be caused by low sodium in your blood, which Brintellix can bring about.

  • Anthony November 1, 2015, 12:42 am

    I’ve been using Brintellix for 2 weeks now. I’m on a 2.5 mg does for now because I am very sensitive to medications. Initially the side effects were a jittery feeling and dizziness, and a little tiredness in the morning. All of those side effects have since subsided. I take it in the morning around 7 am after I am awake. I have previously used other SSRI’s which caused extreme headache and fatigue.

    So far everything is okay. I am using it for depression, anxiety, OCD, ADHD and I have Asperger Syndrome as well. I already had heightened sound sensitivity due to Aspergers, and I’m not sure if this is a side effect or not, but recently my sound sensitivity is worse.

  • Aliz November 10, 2015, 7:10 am

    I just started Brintellix today, 5mg. I’m fairly sensitive to medication, so my nurse practitioner thought she’d start me out low. Already I’ve been dizzy, but it’s not been too bad. It will be interesting to see what other side effects I get, if I get any. Has anyone else felt side effects less than 12 hours after taking it for the first time?

  • Andre November 22, 2015, 10:17 am

    In the first 4-6 weeks, I would have agreed that this is a ‘miracle drug’. I had been on Venlor for many years and that was no longer working. The stitch to Brentillix had excellent initial results, felt better than I had for a long time, no side effects, all seems good. Now after about 8 weeks, I feel like Brentillix is not working anymore. Feeling choked up and emotional, ready to spill tears. Thinking suicidal thoughts again. Will see my doctor this week to discuss whether this is normal or perhaps Brentillix is not for me.

  • Amy December 26, 2015, 4:41 am

    I am going into my fourth week on Brintellix, and the only positive thing I can say about it is that if I get a solid 8 hours of sleep, I don’t feel like a zombie in the morning. I have had a lot of stressors this past year, along with two surgeries, so I’m not sure if my side effects are situational or what.

    I have terrible gas (which I’ve since read is common), but my IBS symptoms that I was hoping would ease off since my gallbladder removal have only gotten terribly worse. My “stomach” (abdomen), NEVER STOPS HURTING. I feel nauseous even considering eating food. The worst part is probably my irritability. It is out of control, and it’s coming out at the wrong times with the wrong people.

    I tell myself, “You can control this. Get a grip and be the nice girl you always are,” but the agitation and irritability trumps my ability to just sit down and shut up. When I brought it up to my NP, she pursed her lips and said, “hmm.” So…no help there. Does this get better? Does it get worse? I’m at 10 mg in the AM.

    • Wendy April 13, 2016, 1:11 am

      I’ve been on Brintellix for less than a week and my stomach is killing me. I feel like I have a stomach virus. My stomach actually hurts. I’m hungry but nothing tastes right. I’m miserable. I feel like my food is stuck in my throat. I just wish I could vomit. Maybe I would feel a little better. Why does this have to be so difficult?

  • J December 27, 2015, 8:04 am

    I was on Lexapro 20mg and Wellbutrin 300mg daily for Major Depression Disorder, PTSD, DP/DR, and GAD. Those meds stopped working and my depression/suicidal thinking returned. My APRN switched me to Brintellix and recommended I see an addictionologist, I am a drug addict but I’ve been sober for 8 years so I have no idea why. I had some pretty bad nausea on Brintellix at first.

    That is gone but now I’m itching like crazy! I can’t stand it and hope it goes away. While the suicidal thinking has stopped (mostly) and my depression isn’t as bad, I’m still not 100% even though I’m on 20mg/daily. I can’t say I’m happy or unhappy with Brintellix. For the most part, I just feel like I’m here, not up or down. I suppose that’s good, right?

  • Joe December 29, 2015, 2:36 am

    My doc brought me up to 40 mg for MDD and I itched a bit at first but it subsided. Unfortunately the weight gain didn’t as I’m 15 lbs heavier than I should be at my current activity level and daily caloric intake.

  • Brian January 27, 2016, 4:44 am

    I have been on brintellix for 7 months now for GAD. My psychiatrist gradually raised my dose to 20 mg. for the past month I’ve been really nauseated, and my stomach feels upset. The thought of a some foods that I usually love makes me nauseous now. I’ve been constipated, and I’ve had some mild itching between my fingers and inside my hands.

    Is it possible that I could be developing side effects from this drug after 6 or 7 months? I was taking Lexapro before with zero side effects, and it worked wonderfully for me. My doctor took me off of it because of the sexual side effects. I think I’m going back on it. Any feedback would be appreciated. Thanks!

  • Robin January 29, 2016, 4:01 pm

    I have been taking Brintellix for 2 months. First month was at 5mg and found that my mood was not effected much. Perhaps a 10% improvement. Second month I am now at 10mg and agree that this pill has a very seamless mood enhancement. I do not feel like I am on any medication.

    No fuzziness, no lack of concentration, no mood swings. I just feel like I am here living life as intended. I did start with one side effect that was severe but lessened over time. I would take the pill in the morning and about an hour later my eyes started to feel a lot of pressure almost as if they were changing shape.

    They of course were not changing shape but the pressure was unusual and strong. I had trouble with my eyesight focus shifting as I worked. The shift in eyesight and eye pressure caused daily headaches and migraines (a preexisting condition). The side effects would wear down to about 10% about 8-10 hours or so later. So I decided to start taking them at night before bed.

    The eye pain now is subsided by the time I wake up. There is still a little bit of the pain but as I continue on this medication it so far is continuing to lessen. My hope is that the side effect will mostly be removed and I can go back to taking the pill in the morning.

    • sd February 1, 2016, 4:34 pm

      Robin, I’m sure you know the increased eye pressure is a listed side effect, but I strongly recommend you go to an eye doctor to check your intraocular pressure. That’s something that can cause lasting damage if it’s high. If you’ve never had it checked, optometrists have really simple devices that check by blowing a little puff of air in your eye. I know it’s hard because the Brintellix works in every other way, but this is not a side effect to ignore.

  • Summer February 7, 2016, 3:04 am

    I have been on Brintellix 20mg for almost three months. I am not a senstive person when it comes to medications. I have never had any serious side effect. Well… I have itching as well, however mine seem much more sever . Brintellix has given me a HORRIBLE rash all over my face. Didn’t think to much of it in the beginning since I had gone to my D.O. and she diagnosed it as a rash normally caused by stress.

    Weeks go by and I’m using the prescription ointment. When the oniment ran out I FEEL miserable and don’t want to leave my house because of what it has done to my face. Today was my breaking point. I woke up with large fluid filled bags under my eyes. They are quit large As well As A rash pretty much all over my face but this time a clear liquid was coming from the bumps and burned much more.

    That is when I (today) started reading some of the side effects and came to the conclusion it’s the Brintellix. Needless to say I’m calling my psychiatrist Monday morning. Please, if you have a burning rash and LARGE bags under the skin of your eyes. CALL YOUR DOC ASAP. It’s very uncomfortable.

    • Amber June 27, 2016, 2:28 am

      I just started taking this stuff less than a week ago and had a blister-like rash pop up on my forehead yesterday. It started out feeling like a bug bite, and has grown into what looks like poison ivy overnight! Burning, liquid filed, blisters. Calling the doctor tomorrow.

  • Anne March 15, 2016, 2:27 am

    I’ve been on brintellex for two weeks. I’ve experienced a little nausea and constipation. I haven’t seen it mentioned, but has anyone experienced muscle aches and pains as a side effect? My entire body hurts. I’m trying to figure out if it’s the med or some other problem, but it started at same time I began the med.

    • Scott June 5, 2016, 2:29 pm

      Yes, I am a runner, and since starting Brintellix (now Trintellix), I have had more muscle pain in my quads, especially when I went up to the 10mg dose. But the tremendous positive effects far outweigh this side effect. I have learned to pace myself, take walking breaks during my runs, and plan to start foam rollering soon. Other side effects like nausea and insomnia are getting much better 5 weeks into treatment. This has been a VERY good drug for me.

    • Ann November 12, 2016, 2:09 pm

      Yes! I have had severe spasmodic torticollis for two weeks on the left side of my neck. Now, it has started on the right side. I have lost the ability to move my neck because of severe muscle spasms due to this medication and I’ve only been on it 3 weeks. I’m throwing this medication in the trash. I would rather be depressed than in severe pain.

  • Jay March 24, 2016, 9:54 pm

    Took 5 mg and I couldn’t sleep for two days and couldn’t control my thoughts. I’m sensitive to medicine and this put me into a bad state with emotions I have never felt before and refuse to take it again. I was on Prozac and doc said go back on that. I have some depresses and more anxiety, is why I take this type of medicine. This brintellix medicine gave me stomach pain, can’t keep food down, restless with energy, anxiety like never before, at night I get a rapid heart beat and I only took one small dose.

  • Sara April 8, 2016, 4:24 am

    I’ve been on Brintellix for about a week now and I haven’t noticed any side effects. But reading some of the comments I realize that the itching I’ve been experiencing could be because of the medication. At first I didn’t make the connection, I just thought I was having a bad reaction to maybe a new laundry detergent or something.

    But now that I’ve read the comments it seems to be consistent with a lot of other people who have been on this medication. My skin itches so bad from head to toe and I spend mins a time just scratching my skin. Is this a bad sign? Like my body is having a bad reaction and I should talk to my doctor about maybe stopping treatment?

  • JJ May 1, 2016, 5:16 pm

    I have bipolar II… Effexor stopped working so brintellix was started about 3 weeks ago. Started at 10mg then 20. In my 3rd week. Taking it at night with depakote (divalproex) and hydroxyzine. The next morning when I get to work I have a bout of diarrhea. Also my neck seems swollen and is painful. I haven’t heard either of these side effects mentioned. Anyone else?

  • Wendy May 15, 2016, 1:44 am

    Took Brintellix for only 2 days and I itch like crazy. ostly my feet. Will this get worse or better? I have been on many meds and none really work very well for me. Doc decided to try this. I am on 20mg. Could this be to much to start? Doc says it matches pretty much of my other med. which I stopped taking because I started this new one. How do you combat the itching, it is really bad. What can be done about it?

  • Shae May 26, 2016, 11:39 pm

    I started out at 5mg whilst weening off Effexor, then went to 10mg was on that 4 weeks and doing quite well but have also been dealing with grief – death in family and started having crying bursts increased to 15mg been there for 10 days still a lot of crying and some anxiety on awakening, hoping that will pass soon. Will assess how I am over the next 2 weeks on whether to continue or try something else. Been on Effexor, pristiq and lexapro. Also take 25mg-75mg of seroquel at night for anxiety.

  • MB May 27, 2016, 6:40 pm

    Changed psychiatrist after years of taking various medications yet irritability, moodiness and mild depression continued to worsen. New Dr weaned me off Lithium 675 mg, adding Cymbalta 80 mg. Also taking Adderall 20 mg. Had some improvement at first but by 6 months was more depressed, ignored work (self employed), stopped socializing, stayed on couch with TV, fatigued during day yet severe insomnia, plus gained 20 lbs!

    Dr suggested Brintellix since heard good results. Had 14 day plan: taper off Cymbalta, add 5 mg of Brintellix, up to 10 mg. Day 7 noticed humor and wit returning a wee bit. Day 9 felt motivated; physically went to office and did client work for several hours… hadn’t been in office for weeks! Day 10 motivation continued; was focused, organized, made rationale plans. Only been on Brintellix 10 mg for 4 days.

    Still have bouts of irritability, scattered thoughts and activities, fatigue, insomnia tho hope these will lessen with continued use. Luckily no nausea, constipation or headache side effects. Have increased toots, some loose BMs, 1 bout of severe itching on both forearms. Didn’t know itching was side effect until finding this site, thought it was reaction to gardening.

    Itching was severe… non-stop scrubbing with bristled shower brush for almost 20 minutes! Hope to see continued improvement with motivation, focus, and most importantly irritability. May side effects remain minimal.

  • Lee May 30, 2016, 10:24 pm

    I have been on Brintellix for just over two weeks for MMD. The nausea, headaches and itching are bearable. What I am not coping with is the severe agitation as well as the overwhelming obsessive, ruminating head cycles. So far there has been absolutely no mood lift at all. Maybe tomorrow…I hope.

  • Sally June 2, 2016, 6:32 pm

    Doc just upped my dose to 15mg. Haven’t been on it for long. Felt a bit better to start, now really anxious. Also very dry and sore eyes. Should I keep going?

  • Scott June 5, 2016, 2:51 pm

    I am an MD with a long history of depression, and have been on many different antidepressant since my 20’s (Prozac, Zoloft, Wellbutrin, mirtazapine). While the mirtazapine + Wellbutrin combo worked very well for me for the last 9 years, I gained about 20lbs, and over the last 9 months (in response to some work stress) the combo stopped working as well as it used to. Since I have prescribed Brintellix with mostly very good results in my patients, I asked my own psychiatrist to switch me. The results have been remarkable.

    I have lost 17 lbs over the last month (!), began to feel more positive, calm, and optimistic within days of starting it, with more energy during the day, and more ability to focus on work (and stop procrastinating!). The nausea was uncomfortable at first, but over the last month has gradually improved (now I just get twinges of it in the a.m.). Insomnia has been a problem, but I have been able to treat that with trazodone, and over time I have needed less trazodone and my sleep in returning to normal at week 5.

    I have also had some muscle pain when exercising, but it has been tolerable and a small price to pay for feeling “normal” and not depressed. Clearly this drug is not for everyone, and I think a lot of people give up on it before the side effects have settled down. But it is the first antidepressant I have been on that makes me “normal” mentally — not slowed down, not foggy, and I find myself smiling in a contented way during the day.

    Also, I had originally been put on the Wellbutrin + mirtazapine combo because they do not affect sexual functioning, and I have not noticed any negative impact on sexual functioning on the Brintellix at 10 mg.

  • Amber June 27, 2016, 2:34 am

    I was prescribed this medication after a 5 minute conversation with my primary doctor (who I’ve only seen a handful of times) about my increased anxiety levels. I was told to take 10mg for a week and then increase to 20mg. I have been taking it for 5 days and already have a blister rash on my face. I don’t think I trust this treatment choice. I don’t even think this medication is made for anxiety issues…

  • Dawn August 25, 2016, 12:39 am

    I just started Brintellix 10mg 3 days ago and so far just a slight bit of nausea, some gassiness but no headache, no itching or anything else uncomfortable at the moment. I have also been on everything under the sun, most recently Paxil, Zoloft, Wellbutrin and Cymbalta… so far I feel calm, relaxed and I do however go to sleep just fine with my 5mg of Melatonin but have been having very vivid dreams.

    I do wake up sometimes during the night but fall back to sleep pretty much the same as before taking this med. I am extremely hopeful and have read more good than bad reviews so personally I’m sticking with it for now! :)

  • Marianne September 29, 2016, 11:58 am

    Been on Brintellix 10 mg for 7 days now. I used to take Lexapro for several week but I wasn’t getting better. Now with Brintellix, I feel better. I can focus and concentrate while I study, I’m able to think well (which was always hard to do as a college student). I’ve had a better mood since I started. I feel calm and relaxed. BUT I have two side effects, I couldn’t sleep early and SEVERE itching.

    I itched mostly on my legs, arms and sometimes the back. I scratched myself so hard on my legs, I tend to have red spots and scratches. But I don’t want to stop taking Brintellix, for I feel much better. I’m hoping the itching will fade.

  • Marthie October 5, 2016, 12:29 pm

    I started Brintellix 5mg 6 days ago. Taking at night, with 150mg Wellbutrin in the morning. Switching from Wellbutrin XL to Brintellix due to hypertensive episodes on Wellbutrin. I am switching to 10mg Brintellix in 2 days time. I get extremely sleepy (sandy eyes) @ about 2 in the afternoon. I sure hope this will pass.

  • Judy November 6, 2016, 2:58 am

    I’ve only been on Trintellix for 4 days with slight nausea but horrible itchy hives everywhere. Scared that it could be an allergic reaction rather then a temporary side effect. Also my blood pressure is very high so is that an adverse reaction or because the medication is stimulating?

    Forgot to say I also take 150mg of Trazodone and 750mg of Depakote. Diagnosed with MDD and Borderline Bipolar.

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