Trintellix Review: The Safest Antidepressant?

Trintellix Review: The Safest Antidepressant?


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Disclaimer: None of the information in this article constitutes medical advice, and is just the opinion of the writer(s). We recommend that patients follow their doctor’s guidance in regard to prescription medication.

Trintellix is a prescription drug that's approved by the FDA to treat depression. The generic version of Trintellix is called vortioxetine, and we'll use these two terms interchangeably throughout this article as they refer to the same active chemical compound.

But is Trintellix proven in medical studies to reduce or eliminate depression? How does its effectiveness compare to other antidepressants? Can Trintellix improve brain function? And how do real users rate and describe its effects?

In this article we’ll answer all of these questions and more, as we review clinical studies on Trintellix to determine if it's effective for treating depression.

We'll discuss potential side effects of the drug, explain why we think the generic version is a better option, and feature unsponsored patient reviews. 

We'll also cite an interesting research review suggesting that Trintellix may have favorable effects on cognitive function in some patients.

Does Trintellix Relieve Depression? 

Trintellix has been studied in hundreds of clinical trials.

A 2015 clinical trial tested the efficacy of Trintellix for treating major depressive disorder (MDD).

Patients on Trintellix experienced significant reductions in depression scores after eight weeks of treatment.

39% of patients on 20 milligrams (mg) of Trintellix daily achieved some level of symptom relief, and 22% achieved full remission of symptoms (meaning they were no longer clinically depressed).

clinical trial published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found that Trintellix reduced both depression and anxiety scores in patients diagnosed with both conditions.

Trintellix is not FDA-approved for the treatment of anxiety, but this could be considered a potential secondary benefit of the drug for patients diagnosed with both depression and anxiety.

An extensive meta-study compared the efficacy of Trintellix to other leading antidepressants such as duloxetine, and found that Trintellix was similarly effective to all of the leading antidepressants.

We will conclude from the available research that Trintellix is effective for treating depression, which should be expected given that the drug is FDA-approved for that indication.

Does Trintellix Cause Side Effects?

Trintellix black box warning

When evaluating a pharmaceutical drug, it’s important to weigh the potential benefits against the potential side effects.

The FDA label for Trintellix, shown above, indicates an increased risk of suicidal thoughts and actions in children, adolescents and young adults when taking the drug.

A medical review on the safety and tolerability of Trintellix, which analyzed data from over 5,000 patients, found nausea to be the most common side effect, affecting around 20% of patients.

Headache was the second-most common side effect, affecting 12% of patients. Diarrhea was third and affected around 7% of patients.

Interestingly, this review found that the rate of suicidal behavior was no higher for patients on Trintellix than placebo, even though the FDA label suggests such. 

We would recommend that patients with a personal or family history of suicidal thoughts speak with their doctor about this data. Their doctor may recommend an antidepressant that does not have this black box warning. 

Real People Try Trintellix

A YouTube creator named named Abigail Rebecca shared her experience after using Trintellix for one week:

A TikTok creator named Maci R. shared her experience on Trintellix:

@m_raney #grwm while we talk about Trintellix! 🧠💊 #trintellix #trintellixexperience #mentalhealthawareness #panicdisorder #panicattacks #healthanxietyrecovery ♬ original sound - Maci R.

Can Trintellix Make Me Smarter?

Trintellix may have an interesting secondary benefit for depressed patients that we haven't noted in other antidepressants we've reviewed on Illuminate Health: it may improve cognition.

Mental conditions such as anxiety and depression are often associated with transiently decreased cognition. Trintellix seems to ameliorate this issue in depressed patients.

meta-review published in the Drugs journal found that in adults with major depression, Trintellix “almost always resulted in statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvements” in cognitive function.

The study authors suggested that the drug may be especially useful in patients who experienced worsening cognitive function as a result of their depression.

The mechanism of action of this potentially improved cognition doesn't appear clear, but the authors of the above-linked review suggested that Trintellix may have a normalizing effect on neural systems that support working memory.

Is the Generic Version Better?

As documented in the intro to this article, the generic version of Trintellix is called vortioxetine. 

An extensive meta-study compared safety and efficacy data from over 1 million patients. The study authors found that there was no difference between generic and brand-name drugs.

This suggests that generic vortioxetine is just as effective as Trintellix, and it may be significantly cheaper.

At the time of updating this article, the retail price of Trintellix is currently around $450 according to GoodRx.

Trintellix's manufacturer offers a Savings Card to patients on the Savings Support page of their website.

According to Drugs.com, there isn't a generic alternative to Trintellix on the US market, however one may be available in select international markets.

Trintellix vs. Zoloft

Zoloft is one of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants in the US, as we documented in our Zoloft review article, and there have been comparative clinical studies on the effectiveness of Trintellix and Zoloft.

One such study from 2020 compared the two drugs in an elderly patient population with major depression. Both drugs were found to be identical in terms of efficacy and safety.

A medical review published in the Current Medical Research and Opinion journal found that Trintellix had a significantly higher remission rate than Zoloft, which refers to the number of patients who experience symptom relief from the drug.

While the early research comparing Zoloft and Trintellix does not appear to be conclusive, we would recommend that patients speak with their doctor about Trintellix rather than Zoloft given its potential superiority and the fact that it may not increase suicide rates according to a medical review cited previously.

Patients Rate Trintellix

Drugs.com is a website that allows prescription medication patients to rate and review the drugs they're taking.

We cannot verify the accuracy or authenticity of any reviews on this site.

Trintellix has been reviewed over 400 times on Drugs.com at the time of updating this article, with an average review rating of 6 out of 10.

A top positive review of the drug is written by a user named "Owenby" who gave the drug a 10/10 rating, and claims it saved their life:

"So i went online and found a different doctor and my new Dr put me on Trentellix. Along with Katmin treatment. I finally was able to get out of bed, to be able to go to work, cook a meal, not cry everyday. It was like I woke up . I truly beleive if I hadn't changed doctors and found Trentellix I would not be here today. It's the best medication in the world for ME! This medication saved my life."

A top negative review of the drug comes from a user named "Lf" who gave the drug a 1/10 rating, and claims to have experienced side effects:

"I just started two days on this drug. I was told take it with food in the morning to stop nausea. First day my stomach was upset but no vomiting. Today I took it after I ate and within a hour or so I vomited so badly my throat is completely sore. Is this normal? This is such an expensive drug, even with insurance I paid almost $200."

Our Mental Wellness Recommendation

Brightside Health is our top online therapy pick, as this platform connects patients with licensed therapists and doctors from the comfort of their home.

medical review published in the Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy journal found that online therapy was equally effective to in-person therapy for treating depression, anxiety and PTSD. 

Brightside also can connect patients with licensed psychiatrists that can prescribe medication. Some patients choose only therapy, some choose only medication, and some choose both.

The brand reports that 86% of members feel significantly better within 12 weeks of treatment.

Patients with and without health insurance can use Brightside. For many patients with health insurance, treatment is entirely covered by insurance.

The cost for medication without health insurance is capped at $95/month, and the cost for therapy without health insurance is capped at $299/month at the time of updating this article.

Interested patients can check out Brightside at this link to the brand's official website.

How Does Trintellix Work?

Unlike most commonly-prescribed antidepressants, the exact mechanism of action of Trintellix isn’t completely understood by researchers. 

The drug appears chemically similar to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), as evidenced by this medical review, but it also directly modulates serotonin receptors, which is something standard SSRIs don’t do.

Trintellix is thus classified as a miscellanous antidepressant as it does not fall into one of the more common drug classes.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that affects mood and can impact depression. Trintellix appears to relieve depression by increasing serotonin levels, but more research is needed to confirm this.

Trintellix Dosage

Medical research documents that Trintellix is typically used at daily doses ranging between 5 mg and 20 mg.

Patients typically start at a lower dosage, and then dosage may be increased if the patient isn’t experiencing symptom relief after a few weeks.

The 2015 clinical trial that we cited in the first section of this article documented that only the 20 mg Trintellix dose (but not the 10 mg dose) was proven to be more effective for reducing depression scores than placebo pills.

The rate of side effects tends to be higher at higher doses of a drug.

Stay up-to-date on our research reviews

Conclusion

Trintellix is effective for treating depression, and it may be able to restore cognitive function in patients who are severely depressed and have suffered cognitively due to their condition.

This medication is also clinically shown to have an anti-anxiety effect, but it's not approved for the treatment of anxiety alone. This can be considered a potential secondary benefit in patients prescribed Trintellix for depression, who also have anxiety.

One benefit of Trintellix over most antidepressants is it doesn’t appear to cause an increase in suicide risk at least according to one medical review, even though the FDA requires a label disclosure suggesting such.

The more common side effects of Trintellix are nausea, headache and diarrhea.

Trintellix appears to be a superior option to Zoloft based on early research.

A generic version of Trintellix isn't on the US market at the time of updating this article, but we recommend that patients taking Trintellix ask their doctor about the generic's availability at least annually, because it's likely to have a significantly reduced retail price compared to the brand-name version of the drug.