Trintellix is an atypical antidepressant medication. (Learn More) It used to be known under the brand name Brintellix. (Learn More)
The clinical trial data for the drug indicated advantages and disadvantages to its use. (Learn More) It may be more effective in treating depressive symptoms than many other antidepressants, and it may be better tolerated by most people. (Learn More)
Although data suggests that Trintellix may have some advantages over many other antidepressants, your actual experience may vary. The best approach to treating depression is to use both medications and therapy. (Learn More)
What Is Trintellix?
Trintellix (vortioxetine) is an atypical antidepressant medication.
The mechanism of action of the drug is not fully understood by researchers. It is believed to prevent the reuptake of serotonin in the brain.
It also has actions on several different serotonin receptors, including stimulating one of the serotonin receptors to produce more serotonin. It may have actions on the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, leading to a potentially more effective treatment.
No Longer Brintellix
Trintellix did go by a different name, Brintellix, before 2016. This name was very similar to a blood thinner (Brilinta [ticagrelor]), which caused some confusion in the literature.
The FDA changed the name of the drug to Trintellix as a result.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Trintellix
Based on the clinical trial data that was used to get Trintellix approval to treat depression:
- Trintellix displayed similar efficiency with other antidepressants for treating major depressive disorder.
- Trintellix displayed a similar side effect profile to other antidepressants that affect serotonin.
- The medication appeared to lead to a reduced risk of weight gain compared to other antidepressants.
- It appeared to have a reduced risk of sexual dysfunction compared to other antidepressants.
- One disadvantage was that the rates of nausea in the clinical trial participants tended to be higher for those using Trintellix than for other antidepressants.
Some General Precautions
Trintellix appears to have similar potential adverse effects as other antidepressant medications that work primarily on serotonin. The list of potential adverse effects are numerous.
There are precautions you should be aware of when taking Trintellix.
- Like many other antidepressant medications, there is potential risk for suicidal thinking and behavior in children, adolescents, and adults under the age of 24.
- A serious syndrome known as serotonin syndrome may occur if Trintellix is taken with other medications or herbs that increase serotonin in the body. The syndrome includes fever, muscle rigidity, and potential seizures, which can be dangerous.
- Taking the medication may increase your risk for problems with bleeding or low sodium (hyponatremia).
- Using antidepressant medications like Trintellix can result in the development of physical dependence on them. Never discontinue these medications abruptly unless advised to do so by your physician.
Trintellix can interact with numerous medications. Its effectiveness can be reduced if you drink alcohol when you take it.
Potentially Better Tolerated Than Some Antidepressants
There are a large number of different antidepressants that can be prescribed to individuals who suffer from depression, anxiety, other mental health disorders, and chronic pain. There are different classes of medications and some medications work vastly differently than others.
Most of the newer antidepressant medications, such as the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and atypical antidepressants like Trintellix, are believed to work as well as older antidepressants in controlling depressive symptoms, but they have less potential for side effects.
A recent study in 2018 determined that some antidepressant medications may address depression more efficiently than others. Some antidepressant medications are better tolerated than others, meaning you are more likely to keep taking them.
More than 522 clinical trials of 21 different antidepressant medications taken by over 115,000 participants were evaluated.
Trintellix was one of only two antidepressant medications that made both lists. It was shown to be well tolerated and more effective in treating symptoms of depression. The other medication that made both lists was Lexapro (escitalopram).
What Does All This Mean?
Data from clinical trials and research studies are used to develop a general notion of how well a medication works, what side effects can be expected in most people, and how long people will be able to tolerate it.
Based on the data, Trintellix appears to be effective at treating the symptoms of depression compared to most other antidepressant medications. Even though it has potential side effects, more people appear to be able to tolerate it better than most other antidepressant medications. There are a couple of caveats.
- The actual ability of antidepressant medications to relieve depressive symptoms, even medications that are considered to be very effective, is often very modest.
- Clinical trials and research studies are guidelines clinicians use to predict which medication to use. Your actual experience may be very different.
- The best combination to address depression appears to be medication and psychotherapy.
Trintellix does appear to have some advantages in treating depression compared to other antidepressant medications, but it is not a panacea. Your actual experience with the medication may be different than conclusions gleaned from research studies.
Assess the pros and cons of Trintellix with your doctor to determine the best path forward.
Trintellix Clinical Pharmacology. (2018). Takeda Pharmaceuticals.
Vortioxetine (Brintellix): A New Serotonergic Antidepressant. (January 2015). Pharmacy and Therapeutics.
Antidepressant Medications: Use in Adults. (August 2013). Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Comparative Efficacy and Acceptability of 21 Antidepressant Drugs for the Acute Treatment of Adults With Major Depressive Disorder: A Systematic Review and Network Meta-Analysis. (April 2018). The Lancet.
Psychotherapy vs. Medications: The Verdict Is In. (June 2015). Psychology Today.