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.

Is Trintellix proven in medical studies to reduce or eliminate depression? How does its effectiveness compare to older antidepressants? Does the drug cause side effects? And how do real users 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, document side effects of the drug, explain whether the generic form of the drug is as effective and share real, unsponsored user reviews of Trintellix.

How Effective is Trintellix for 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 achieved some level of symptom relief, and 22% achieved full remission of symptoms (meaning they were no longer clinically depressed).

A more recent clinical trial published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found that the drug reduced both depression and anxiety scores in patients diagnosed with both depression and anxiety.

Trintellix is not FDA-approved for the treatment of anxiety, but this could be considered a potential secondary benefit of the drug for patients that are both depressed and anxious.

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 that Trintellix is effective for treating major depression.

Trintellix Side Effects

Trintellix black box warning

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

The FDA label for Trintellix, shown above, indicates an increased risk of suicidal thoughts and actions for 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, Unsponsored Trintellix User Review

One of the most popular YouTube reviews of Trintellix is published by a creator named Abigail Rebecca. She shares her experience after using the medication for one week including side effects:

Should I Take the Generic Form of Trintellix?

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 but may be significantly cheaper.

According to SingleCare, the average retail price of Trintellix is currently $578.13. Unfortunately at the time of updating this article, generic vortioxetine does not appear to be available in the U.S. However, it may become available in the future as the exclusive drug rights owned by the drug manufacturer expire. We would recommend that patients ask their doctor about whether the generic version is available in their jurisdiction.

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

Trintellix Vs. Zoloft

Zoloft is one of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants in the U.S. 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 using 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 that experience benefit 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 does not appear to increase suicide rates based on our research review.

Can Trintellix Improve Cognition?

Trintellix may have an interesting secondary benefit for depressed patients that we haven't noted in other antidepressants we’ve reviewed: 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.

A meta-review published in the Drugs journal found that for 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 to patients that 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.

Trintellix Dosage

Medical research documents that Trintellix is typically used at daily doses ranging between 5 mg and 20 mg. Patients typically start at the lower dosage, and then dosage may be increased if the patient isn’t seeing symptom relief after a few weeks.

The medical review that we cited in the research review section of this article documented that only the 20 mg 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.

How Does Trintellix Work?

Unlike most common 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.

Our Mental Wellness Recommendation

We recommend a platform called Brightside to patients on a mental health journey. It's an online therapy and medication platform that 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. Therapy may be a good first option for patients who want to avoid the side effects of medication.

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.

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

Trintellix Real User Reviews

Trintellix has been reviewed over 1,000 times on Drugs.com which is a website that allows prescription medication users to share their experience and rate the drug(s) they're taking.

The average rating of Trintellix is 6 out of 10, which is lower than most antidepressants we've reviewed on Illuminate Health.

The top positive review of the drug is written by a user named "Owenby" who claims Trintellix 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."

The top negative review of the drug comes from a user named "Lf" who 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."

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.

One benefit of Trintellix over most antidepressants is it doesn’t appear to cause an increase in suicide risk at least according to one clinical research 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.




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