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Pristiq Tapering

Pristiq Tapering

This entry was posted in Antidepressant on by .

Last Updated on March 2, 2021 by Carol Gillette

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Alternative to Meds Editorial Team
Written by Diane Ridaeus
Medically Reviewed by Dr Samuel Lee MD

Pristiq tapering would resolve fears about health issues related to the drug. A 2012 adverse reaction report (among several similar) lists 36 suicides and deaths attributed to Pristiq for that year.1 This report often omits the ages but includes both males and females. The physician attending the patient at death listed Pristiq, and sometimes multiple antidepressants as the cause of death from suicide, renal failure, hepatic failure, thrombocytopenia, and other drug-induced conditions.

Cardiac arrest and serotonin syndrome accounted for other deaths reported in the study of adverse reactions to Pristiq and other SNRI antidepressants. These deaths raise concerns.

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Top 10 Reasons for Pristiq Tapering

  • The drug no longer provides relief.
  • Planning pregnancy and wish to be drug-free for safety of the baby.3
  • Concerns about serotonin syndrome.
  • Suicidal thoughts, thoughts of self-harm*
  • Concerns over potential cardiac events.
  • Increased bleeding, potential gastrointestinal hemorrhage.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Changes in behavior.
  • Potential for seizures.
  • Worsened depression, other undesirable drug side effects.4

*Pristiq presented a heightened risk to those under the age of 25 in clinical trials, and FDA issued a black box warning prohibiting prescribing the drug to that age range.¹

Pristiq side effects- Alternative To MedsOther adverse effects: pneumonia, mania, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, insomnia. These are some of the many side effects that may overshadow any positive effects that a person may have hoped to receive from taking Pristiq.

When these side effects become too harsh to endure, a person may decide that getting off Pristiq is the most logical step to take. In Tourian’s 2011 study, the majority who dropped out of the drug trials opted to do so to avoid the harsh adverse effects of Pristiq.

Is Pristiq Prescribed Only to Women?

man on antidepressants Alternative To MedsAlthough Pristiq (desvenlafaxine) was originally marketed mostly to target women for menstrual or menopausal issues, with its pretty-sounding name and cute commercials featuring wind-up dolls, lots of soft pink and pastel colors, and gentle music, prescribing the drug today is not limited to the female market at all.

There are no limits on who may be prescribed Pristiq except not to children or the under-25 age range due to the high risk of suicide. Among the elderly population, antidepressants are known to be outrageously overprescribed. It is unfortunate that though general medical practitioners are highly skilled technicians in their bio-physical healing arena, they are less skilled in nutritional aspects of improving health, and are, tragically, wholly untrained in treating mental health issues, let alone within a holistic or drug-free context.

What is Pristiq Prescribed to Treat?

Since 2007, the time-release SNRI drug Pristiq has been prescribed in the treatment of many symptoms and conditions, including:

  • depression
  • Fibromyalgia
  • hot flashes for women in menopause
  • women’s menstrual difficulties

Pristiq has been additionally approved by the FDA for the following off-label uses:

  • chronic pain
  • anxiety
  • bipolar
  • neuropathy associated with diabetes

A wide range of populations and age ranges have been prescribed Pristiq, and for treatment of a wide array of conditions. This may have resulted in a significant number of patients for whom Pristiq did not provide the relief they were seeking, with the additional problem of not knowing how to get off Pristiq safely.

Harsh Side Effects May Lead to Opting For Pristiq Tapering Help

tapering off pristiq

Except in the case of serotonin syndrome or other medical emergency situations as noted above, Pristiq taper protocols should be as gradual as possible. Only in the case of serotonin syndrome, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, dropping sodium levels, or other major life-threatening reactions such as seizures, skin eruptions, cardiac events, etc., would a physician be justified in calling for immediate Pristiq cessation.

serotonin deficiency getting off pristiqEmergency treatment for serotonin syndrome or Steven-Johnson syndrome, or other life-threatening adverse events, is possible only in a hospital setting with an emergency ward, critical or intensive care unit, and trained emergency staff immediately on hand to keep the patient alive if possible.

Those caring for or living with the person should also be apprised of the possibility of these types of worst-case scenarios, and know exactly what to do should they occur. A word of caution: some VOIP phone lines do not have 911 access. It is a good practice to work out an alternative plan so as not to delay access to an ambulance if one is ever needed.

CAUTION: Pristiq is a Timed-Release Antidepressant

Medication Withdrawal and TreatmentThere is an additional complication with exactly how to gradually withdraw from Pristiq because it is a timed-release medication. Like virtually all other antidepressants, the side effects of Pristiq can be quite uncomfortable and harsh, and extremely hard to tolerate, which may lead to the decision of stopping Pristiq. But trying to quit Pristiq gradually may not be as straight-forward as it is for non-timed-release drugs.

The FDA recommends gradual Pristiq cessation whenever possible and acknowledges that abruptly getting off Pristiq or any SNRI medication is associated with patient risk. FDA warnings are clear that abrupt Pristiq cessation can have disastrous health impacts.2

But no directions are provided as to how exactly to gradually reduce a timed-release pill that only comes in 50 mg and 100 mg doses, and where the maximum daily dose is 100 mg. Clearly, there is an oversight and a huge gap here in giving instruction and guidance to either prescribing physicians or their patients. The task of withdrawal from a timed-release antidepressant is somewhat like figuring out the Rubik’s cube before YouTube.

Alternative to Meds Center’s Physicians Are Trained in How to Quit Pristiq Safely

medical oversight According to the very apparent absence of available literature, it is clear that there is little direction given to medical practitioners to assist their patients in how to get off Pristiq. Antidepressant tapering and tapering SNRIs or similar medications is not part of the medical training given to doctors in school before they start practicing, nor is it provided by drugmakers or even the FDA, as mentioned above.

Thankfully, Alternative to Meds Center utilizes fully licensed psychiatrists, and other fully licensed and certified doctors, nurses, and practitioners who ARE trained in safe Pristiq tapering protocols. One could say that Alternative to Meds Center has “cracked the code” for how to get off Pristiq with minimum discomfort and maximum comfort and safety. Contact the center for more details on the protocols designed for safe Pristiq tapering.

The Best Solution for Safe Tapering from Pristiq

Alternative to Meds Center provides the finest help with how to get off Pristiq in a nurturing in-patient setting. The center’s Pristiq cessation program has overcome the difficulty of administering gradually reduced dosage and indeed is completely oriented toward patient safety and comfort. For over a decade and a half, Alternative to Meds Center has assisted thousands of clients stopping Pristiq and other medications safely, gently and comfortably.

Our programs are administered using techniques that allow for a safe and gradual withdrawal from Pristiq despite it being a timed-release medication. Program steps are individually tailored for each client which benefits the client’s overall personal health. Discovering and eliminating root causes for mental distress, depression, fatigue, sleep issues, insomnia, anxiety, or other undesirable conditions is what makes it possible to elevate and improve natural mental health. That is our prime goal which we offer to our clients, and in so doing, likely reduce or eliminate entirely the need for prescription medications.

holistic treatmentsPrograms implement a blend of many protocols such as neurotoxin testing and removal, nutritional deficiency testing and correction, holistic adjunct therapies designed for enhanced patient comfort, a better quality of sleep, more energy, and a brightened mood. We use many additional program components such as restoring the microbiome, life coaching, relaxation therapies, mineral baths, craniosacral massage, nebulized glutathione treatments, prescribed dietary changes, and more, under the oversight of our holistic practitioners including our fully licensed holistic psychiatrist.

Pristiq tapering treatment offered at Alternative to Meds Center is clearly the wisest treatment choice available for a health-focused and sustainable recovery.


1. Table of Findings, Pristiq (desvenlafaxine) Death Suspected Cause Side Effect Reports, published c.2012 [cited 2019 Sep 13]

2. FDA Pristiq Drug Label, published 2012, revised Feb. 2018 [cited 2019 Sep 13]

3. Weissman AM, et al., “Pooled analysis of antidepressant levels in lactating mothers, breast milk, and nursing infants.” Am J Psychiatry. 2004 Jun;161(6):1066-78. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.161.6.1066. PMID: 15169695 [cited 2020 Dec 1]

4. Tourian K et al., “A 10-Month, Open-Label Evaluation of Desvenlafaxine in Outpatients With Major Depressive Disorder.” Primary Care Companion for CNS Disorders 2011, PMID 21977353 [cited 2020 Dec 1]

5. Leggett C, et al.,”Antidepressant Use in Late Gestation and Breastfeeding Rates at Discharge from Hospital.” J Hum Lact. 2017 Nov;33(4):701-709. doi: 10.1177/0890334416678209. Epub 2016 Dec 1. PMID: 28984528.[cited 2020 Dec 1]



This content has been reviewed and approved by a licensed physician.

Dr. Samuel Lee

Dr. Samuel Lee is a board-certified psychiatrist, specializing in a spiritually-based mental health discipline and integrative approaches. He graduated with an MD at Loma Linda University School of Medicine and did a residency in psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. He has also been an inpatient adult psychiatrist at Kaweah Delta Mental Health Hospital and the primary attending geriatric psychiatrist at the Auerbach Inpatient Psychiatric Jewish Home Hospital. In addition, he served as the general adult outpatient psychiatrist at Kaiser Permanente.  He is board-certified in psychiatry and neurology and has a B.A. Magna Cum Laude in Religion from Pacific Union College. His specialty is in natural healing techniques that promote the body’s innate ability to heal itself.

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