AIM:  This medication is intended to correct the chemical changes in your body, which are associated with anxiety and depressive illness.  This normally takes 3 to 4 weeks, but some improvement is common after about 2 weeks.This medication is a new antidepressant, designed to improve transmission of chemical messages in the brain using not 1 or 2 but 5 chemical pathways current research suggests are most relevant in depressive illness.

Brintellix does not cause weight gain, or withdrawal symptoms when stopping. Sexual side-effects are less frequent than with most modern antidepressants.

We know that the vast majority of individuals with depressive illness will benefit from one of the available antidepressant agents, but it is not possible to predict which particular medication is best suited to any individual patient’s chemistry, so that the antidepressant first prescribed may need to be changed after some time if it is not effective.  Any antidepressant has a 70% chance of helping an individual

DOSAGE: To reduce possible side effects, start with a low dose for 2 days (1/2 a tablet)) and then take one tablet a day, usually after food initially.   If it  makes you tired or sleepy, you can take it in the evening or at bedtime, as this medication usually does not interfere with sleep.

IMPORTANT: Taking the medication at bedtime lessens the risk of nausea.


Most side effects will subside within a few weeks.  You may experience some, or none, of the following:-

1. Nausea: Take the medication at night, or perhaps after food. Maxolon or Stemetil may help.

2. Headache:  This can be a problem and may last a few weeks in some people.   Paracetamol may help.

3. Sexual difficulties – these are related to the dose. About 20% of people have problems on 10mg, 33% on 20mg.

4. Feeling you have the ‘flu. Occurs in 7% of people.

5. Diarrhoea or abdominal pain

6. Dry mouth – if you develop this, good dental hygiene is important as you are at risk of teeth and gum damage, due to the absence of saliva.  Bitter drinks, sugarless gum, Biotene products from your pharmacy, or an antidote medication (Urocarb) may help if needed.

LENGTH OF TREATMENT: Once you recover, you will need to keep taking the tablets for at least 12 months afterwards, to prevent the chemical imbalance from returning.  These tablets are not at all addictive.

PRECAUTIONS: Do not take these tablets if you have taken Parnate or Nardil within the previous 2 weeks, if you intend becoming pregnant in the next month, if you are taking Tramadol (painkiller), or if you are driving or using machinery, and the medication makes you drowsy.

ZYBAN: If you are taking this medication, you will need to halve your normal dose of Brintellix

USE OF ALCOHOL: You can have a small amount of alcohol safely with these tablets, but  one drink may have the effect of 2 or 3 drinks

COUGHS & COLDS: The warning not to take Sudafed, Sinutabs etc if taking antidepressants does not apply to this medication.

COST: The manufacturers have organised with multiple pharmacies to sell Brintellix (all strengths) to you for $62 a packet, meaning $2 a day. The pharmacy will then be paid a further $25 by the manufacturer. So do ask your pharmacy if they are part of this scheme or you will be asked to pay $87 a packet or more. A list of participating pharmacies can be found at or by calling 1300 302 455.

This information is intended to improve your knowledge of the treatment you are receiving.  Any further points can be discussed at your next consultation with me.