FAQs About Pristiq for Panic Disorder

Antidepressants for Panic Disorder

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Prescribed medication has become a popular panic disorder treatment option. Antidepressant medications, in particular, are frequently prescribed to help in managing the symptoms of panic disorder. Pristiq (desvenlafaxine) is one type of antidepressant medication used in the treatment of panic disorder.

What is Pristiq?

Pristiq is the trademark name for the antidepressant (desvenlafaxine). It belongs in a class of antidepressants called serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).

Other common SNRIs include Effexor (venlafaxine) and Cymbalta (duloxetine). These medications were first used to treat mood disorders, such as depression and bipolar disorders.

SNRIs were later found to be an effective treatment for a variety of mental health conditions. Currently, SNRIs are also used to treat panic disorder, agoraphobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), social anxiety disorder (SAD), and more. Additionally, SNRIs have been found to be beneficial in treating pain associated with medical conditions like fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

How Does Pristiq Treat Panic Disorder?

Naturally occurring chemicals in the brain, known as neurotransmitters, are responsible for various bodily functions. It is believed that these chemical messengers are imbalanced for those with mental health conditions. Antidepressants work to bring stability back to certain neurotransmitters.

Pristiq specifically impacts the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine, both of which are thought to be unstable for panic disorder sufferers. Serotonin influences a person’s mood and sleep regulation. Norepinephrine is connected to the fight-or-flight response or the way in which a person reacts to stress and anxiety.

Pristiq can help bring equilibrium to these two neurotransmitters which can lead to reduced anxiety, less severe panic attacks, and enhanced mood.

What are the Side Effects of Pristiq?

As with any prescribed medication, there are potential side effects to taking Pristiq. The following lists some of the most common side effects of Pristiq:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dry mouth
  • Drowsiness and fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Sexual side effects
  • Increased nervousness
  • Upset stomach or abdominal pain
  • Sleep disorders

You may experience some, all, or none of these side effects. Typically, side effects diminish or become more manageable over time.  When taking Pristiq, consult your doctor if side effects persist or worsen. Contact your prescribing doctor or pharmacy immediately if you are showing symptoms of an allergic drug interaction, such as difficulty breathing, swelling of the face, mouth, or tongue, choking sensations, rash, or hives.

How Long Does Pristiq Take to Work?

Most likely you will not notice immediate improvements when taking Pristiq for the symptoms of panic disorder.

Some may notice changes within a few days to weeks when first on Pristiq. The majority will not see any advances until after several months of following the recommended prescription plan. 

Are There Any Risk Factors to Taking Pristiq?

Black Box Warning. In 2007 Pristiq and other antidepressants were given what is called a “black box warning.” This label was prompted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after it was determined that these medications could potentially increase the user’s risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Adolescents and young adults can be especially impacted by this possible side effect. Any young person taking Pristiq must be closely monitored for mood alterations and suicidal thoughts.

Alcohol Consumption. Consuming alcohol is not recommended while taking Pristiq as doing so may increase the toxicity of this medication. This can lead to ineffectiveness.

Pregnancy/Nursing. It is possible to pass Pristiq to a child during pregnancy or while nursing. If you are pregnant or nursing, consult your doctor about the possible risks of taking Pristiq.

Older Adults. The side effects of Pristiq can be more intense for older adults. Monitoring and dosage changes can be made to reduce side effects in older adults.

Note: The information provided here is meant to be an overview of the use of Pristiq for panic disorder. The general information here does not cover all possible scenarios, such as potential adverse side effects, precautions, and contraindications. Always consult your medical provider about any questions and/or concerns you may have about your Pristiq prescription.


Dell'Osso, B., Buoli, M., Baldwin, D. S., & Altamura, A. (2010). Serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) in anxiety disorders: a comprehensive review of their clinical efficacy. Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental, 25(1), 17-29.

Silverman, Harold M. (2012). The Pill Book. 15th ed. New York, NY: Bantam Books. 

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