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Pristiq: Withdrawal, Side Effects & Addiction Treatment

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Medically Reviewed By: Diana Vo, LMFT

February 27, 2024

Table of Contents

Pristiq (desvenlafaxine) is a powerful SNRI (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor) antidepressant used to treat major depressive disorder and hot flashes related to menopause. Misuse of Pristiq can lead to dependence and addiction, and it is vital to take the medication under the close supervision of a prescribing physician. The drug should be taken as an extended-release tablet once daily, following prescribed dosages to avoid severe side effects.

This guide addresses the following issues:

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  • What is Pristiq?
  • What are the most common desvenlafaxine side effects?
  • What are the most dangerous side effects of Pristiq?
  • What does withdrawal from Pristiq involve?
  • What is the Pristiq withdrawal timeline?
  • What withdrawal symptoms of Pristiq can you expect during detox?
  • How can you connect with treatment for prescription drug abuse in Southern California?

Pristiq Withdrawal

Pristiq withdrawal refers to the set of symptoms that may occur when someone discontinues or reduces their use of Pristiq (desvenlafaxine) after prolonged treatment. Pristiq is classified as an SNRI and is primarily prescribed for the treatment of major depressive disorder in adults. When a person stops taking Pristiq, their brain chemistry adjusts to the sudden decrease in the drug’s presence, leading to the presentation of symptoms of Pristiq withdrawal.

Pristiq withdrawal symptoms can vary in intensity and duration depending on factors such as the individual’s dosage, duration of Pristiq use, and their body’s sensitivity to changes in medication. Common withdrawal symptoms may include dizziness, fatigue, nausea, headache, irritability, and changes in mood. In some cases, individuals may also experience more severe symptoms such as brain zaps (brief electric shock-like sensations in the head), insomnia, and flu-like symptoms.

Withdrawal symptoms from Pristiq can be aggravating so seek medical guidance before abruptly discontinuing use. Suddenly stopping the medication can lead to more severe withdrawal symptoms and potentially worsen the underlying condition. Instead, healthcare providers typically recommend a gradual tapering-off process, with the dosage gradually reduced over time to allow the body to adjust more smoothly.

Managing Pristiq withdrawal often involves close collaboration with a healthcare professional or psychiatrist who can monitor the individual’s progress and provide support during this period. They may also recommend certain coping strategies, lifestyle adjustments, or even other medications to alleviate withdrawal symptoms and prevent potential relapse into depression or other mental health conditions.

A woman looks out at a California beach at sunset to represent pristiq side effects

Pristiq Side Effects

As with any medication, Pristiq may cause side effects in some individuals. These side effects can vary in their severity and frequency, and not everyone taking Pristiq will experience them. Promptly communicate any concerns about side effects or adverse reactions to your healthcare provider. Here are some of the common side effects associated with Pristiq:

  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Insomnia or changes in sleep patterns
  • Sweating
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue or drowsiness
  • Blurred vision
  • Increased heart rate
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Sexual dysfunction, such as decreased libido or difficulty achieving orgasm
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Shakiness or tremors
  • Muscle tension or aches
  • Increased anxiety or restlessness
  • Abnormal dreams or nightmares

Less common but potentially serious side effects can also be triggered by Pristiq. These side effects of Pristiq may require immediate medical attention due to their severity. If you experience any of the following symptoms, seek medical help right away:

  • Suicidal thoughts or worsening depression
  • Serotonin syndrome
  • Allergic reactions
  • Low sodium levels in the blood, leading to symptoms like confusion, weakness, and seizures

If you experience mild side effects that do not interfere significantly with your daily life, they may subside or become more manageable over time. However, if side effects persist or worsen, discuss them with your healthcare provider. They may adjust your dosage or suggest strategies to mitigate these effects.

Never discontinue or alter your Pristiq dosage without consulting your doctor, as abrupt changes can lead to withdrawal symptoms or other complications. Your healthcare provider can work with you to find the most appropriate course of action to address side effects and ensure your overall well-being while taking Pristiq.

Remember that everyone responds differently to medications, and what might be a common side effect for one person may not occur in another. Your healthcare provider is the best resource to help you navigate any challenges related to Pristiq and ensure that your treatment is as safe and effective as possible.

Pristiq Addiction

Pristiq can be beneficial when used appropriately under medical supervision, misuse or improper use of Pristiq can lead to the development of addiction.

Pristiq addiction can affect those who take the medication without a valid prescription, exceed the recommended dosage, or use it for recreational purposes. People with a history of substance abuse or addiction may be more susceptible to developing a dependency on Pristiq.

Prolonged use of Pristiq can lead to tolerance, where the body becomes used to the effects of the medication, requiring higher doses to deliver the initial results. Over time, this can lead to physical and psychological dependence, making it challenging to stop using the medication without experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

Pristiq addiction can also have psychological consequences. Individuals may develop a preoccupation with obtaining and using the drug, neglecting other aspects of life and relationships. As addiction progresses, it can lead to significant impairment in daily functioning and overall well-being.

If you or a loved one is struggling with Pristiq addiction, seeking professional help from healthcare providers, addiction specialists, or addiction treatment centers is essential. They can provide personalized evidence-based treatment plans, including therapy, counseling, and support groups, to help individuals overcome addiction and achieve lasting recovery.

Note: Abruptly discontinuing Pristiq or reducing the dosage can trigger withdrawal symptoms. Seek medical help or contact an addiction recovery center if withdrawals become moderate or severe.

A woman stands looking over a lake to represent withdrawal from pristiq


Is it common to get addicted to Pristiq?

Pristiq is not typically known for causing addiction in the same way as drugs with abuse potential, such as opioids or benzodiazepines. Having said that, Pristiq can lead to physical dependence, and abrupt discontinuation or misuse may result in withdrawal symptoms or adverse effects.

How long do Pristiq withdrawal symptoms last?

The duration of Pristiq withdrawal symptoms may vary. Withdrawal symptoms may start within a few days to a week after stopping Pristiq and can persist for several weeks or even months, depending on factors like dosage, duration of use, and individual sensitivity.

What helps with Pristiq withdrawal?

To manage Pristiq withdrawal symptoms, seek guidance from a healthcare provider or doctor. Gradually tapering off the medication under medical supervision can help reduce the severity of withdrawal effects. Supportive measures such as therapy, exercise, maintaining a healthy diet, and staying hydrated may also aid in managing withdrawal symptoms.

Can you die from Pristiq withdrawal?

While fatalities directly attributed to Pristiq withdrawal are not commonly reported, abrupt discontinuation of Pristiq or any antidepressant can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms, some of which may require medical attention. Work closely with a healthcare provider to create a safe tapering plan and manage any adverse effects appropriately when discontinuing Pristiq.

Treatment for Pristiq Withdrawal and Addiction

The first step in addressing Pristiq withdrawal and addiction is seeking medical supervision. Abruptly stopping Pristiq can lead to uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, so a healthcare professional can create a personalized tapering plan to gradually reduce the dosage, minimizing withdrawal effects and ensuring a safer transition.

Behavioral therapy, such as CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy) and DBT (dialectical behavior therapy), can be beneficial in treating Pristiq addiction. These therapies help individuals identify and modify unhealthy thought patterns and behaviors associated with addiction, build coping skills, and develop healthier ways to manage stress and emotions.

Support groups, like NA (Narcotics Anonymous) or SMART Recovery, can provide a supportive environment for individuals struggling with Pristiq addiction. These groups offer peer support, encouragement, and a sense of community, which can be instrumental in the recovery journey.

If individuals with Pristiq addiction have underlying mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety, dual diagnosis treatment is essential. This approach addresses both the addiction and the co-occurring mental health disorder simultaneously to improve overall treatment outcomes.

Depending on the severity of Pristiq addiction, individuals may consider either inpatient or outpatient rehab programs. Inpatient rehab provides 24/7 medical and therapeutic support in a structured environment, while outpatient rehab offers flexibility for individuals who can attend therapy sessions while living at home.

In some cases, healthcare providers may recommend MAT (medication-assisted treatment) to manage Pristiq withdrawal and addiction. MAT involves using medications to alleviate withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings, making the recovery process more manageable.

Holistic therapies, such as yoga, meditation, art therapy, and mindfulness practices, can complement traditional treatment methods for Pristiq addiction. These approaches focus on overall well-being and can promote relaxation, stress reduction, and self-awareness.

Recovery from Pristiq addiction is a lifelong journey. Continued care and aftercare programs are crucial to maintaining sobriety and preventing relapse. These programs may include ongoing therapy, check-ins with healthcare providers, and support group participation.

Involving family members in the treatment process can be beneficial for both the person in recovery and their loved ones. Family therapy can help improve communication, address family dynamics, and provide support to foster a healthier and more supportive environment for recovery.

Remember, every individual’s journey to recovery is unique, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Seeking professional help and support is essential for overcoming Pristiq withdrawal and addiction, and it’s crucial to take the first step toward a healthier and more fulfilling life.

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Get Effective Treatment for Prescription Drug Addiction at Renaissance Recovery

At Renaissance Recovery Center in Southern California, we offer specialized outpatient treatment for prescription drug addiction, along with various other addictions and mental health conditions. Our comprehensive treatment programs are designed to provide the support and structure needed for individuals to achieve lasting recovery. We offer the following outpatient treatment programs:

  • PHP (partial hospitalization program): Our PHP offers intensive treatment for individuals requiring a higher level of care. It involves structured daily sessions while allowing clients to return home in the evenings.
  • IOP (intensive outpatient program): Our IOP provides a comprehensive treatment approach tailored to each client’s needs. It includes medication-assisted treatment, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and dual-diagnosis treatment.
  • Outpatient program: Our outpatient program provides flexible treatment options for those who need ongoing support while maintaining their daily routines.

Our prescription drug addiction treatment programs at Renaissance Recovery include a range of holistic and evidence-based interventions, ensuring individualized care for each client. The treatment modalities we offer include MAT, psychotherapy, counseling, and holistic interventions. If you or a loved one is struggling with prescription drug addiction, taking the first crucial step towards recovery is as simple as reaching out to admissions at 866.330.9449.



At Renaissance Recovery our goal is to provide evidence-based treatment to as many individuals as possible. Give us a call today to verify your insurance coverage or to learn more about paying for addiction treatment.

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Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.

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