Vilazodone (Oral)

Adults diagnosed with depression may find themselves prescribed with the drug Vilazodone, known as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, for treatment because of its ability to increase serotonin levels in the brain.

Overview

What is Vilazodone?

Vilazodone is one of a group of drugs known as SSRIs: selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. By increasing the activity of serotonin in the brain, Vilazodone is clinically successful in easing symptoms of depression in adults.

Best taken with food, Vilazodone is a pill or tablet that is prescribed in specific dose amounts to be taken at a specific time of day, most often with a meal. It may take several weeks for the effects of Vilazodone to take effect, so patients should be monitored during this time and the dose may be adjusted.

Patients who are taking Vilazodone are assessed periodically to determine the effectiveness of the drug on their depression symptoms and to make adjustments in dosage if necessary. Blood tests may be taken periodically to insure that the patient isn't exhibiting signs of hyponatremia, which is low sodium in the blood, and may be the result of a drug interaction with a pre-existing condition that the patient doesn't know they had.

What is depression?

Depression is a mental disorder that is common in adults, leading to feelings of guilt, low self-esteem and depressed mood. Patients suffering from depression often have no interest in anything, have no desire to interact or form relationships with anyone and take no pleasure in everyday life. These feelings can often lead to insomnia, low energy, poor concentration and poor appetite, which affect physical health. More intense than feeling down or sad, depression does not go away over time or when a situation improves, it lingers and begins to run the person's life and affect those around them.

Depression can happen at any age and to any one, no matter their status in life. In fact, there have been recent news headlines about celebrities and other successful people who have suffered from depression. Thankfully, there is help and depression can and will often be improved with therapy or drug treatment such as Vilazodone. As depression is a condition that can recur in fifty percent of patients, many sufferers remain on a drug treatment regime of Vilazodone for quite some time.

How does Vilazodone work?

SSRI drugs such as Vilazodone work by restoring the balance of natural substances in the brain called neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are produced by the nerve cells to send signals between them and create a communication network that affects everything from sleep patterns and moods to appetite and more. In the case of Vilazodone, serotonin is the neurotransmitter that is directly improved by taking the drug.

A patient with a deficiency in serotonin levels often experiences mood disorders such as depression or anxiety. Serotonin also works to normalize daily functions such as eating, sleeping, digestion, healing and other normal bodily functions and activities. When serotonin levels are balanced, mood is regulated naturally and normally and you feel calm, happy, relaxed and more focused.

Vilazodone, as an SSRI, increases the level of serotonin not by adding more into the bloodstream but by blocking the body's reabsorption of the serotonin itself so that a greater amount remains active in the body. This new, healthy abundance of serotonin leads to an alleviation of depression symptoms by naturally regulating the patient's mood and other health aspects.

Conditions Treated

  • Depression
  • Anxiety

Type of medicine

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI)

Side effects

As with any drug, not all side effects are experienced by all patients and some side effects are extremely mild. Your doctor has determined that use of Vilazodone and the benefits it will have on your health outweigh any possible side effects you may experience. There are many patients using Vilazodone successfully and only experiencing very mild to no side effects at all, which is encouraging for those about to start the treatment.

Informing your health care professional of any and all medications including herbal or holistic and other non-prescription medications, not to mention pre-existing health conditions, is critical to the success of Vilazodone and other drugs used to treat depression and anxiety. Make sure you have informed your doctor of all medications and pre-existing health conditions prior to starting your Vilazodone treatment.

In certain cases some patients are known to experience severe side effects and continued use of the drug may not prove to have a benefit that outweighs them. A consultation with health care providers on the use of any prescribed drug is absolutely essential. Any symptoms that are severe or last for a prolonged period of time should be reported to your physician immediately.

The most common side effects of taking Vilazodone can include the following:

  • Dizziness
  • Dry Mouth
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia

Less common but also found in some patients, the following side effects should be reported to your health care professional right away as they could be symptoms of underlying development of health conditions or other issues:

  • Abnormal dreams
  • Aches or crawling sensations in the lower legs
  • Abdominal pain
  • Acid reflux or excess gas/bloating
  • Blurred vision or blindness
  • Decreased libido
  • Drowsiness
  • Headache
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Appetite loss
  • Muscle or joint pain or stiffness
  • Night sweats
  • Restlessness
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness

Extra caution and monitoring of patients while they are taking Vilazodone should be observed to check for mood swings, suicidal thoughts, irrational behavior and other mental health disorders. Vilazodone has been known to cause suicidal thoughts in teenagers and young adults and therefore is only rarely prescribed for this age group.

If any of these symptoms are severe or you exhibit symptoms of actions or thoughts that are out of control or harmful to yourself or others, immediately contact your health care professional. Read and follow all advice and information provided to you by your physician or pharmacist.

Dosage

Vilazodone is taken in tablet form and is prescribed only by a physician. Different patients will require different doses of Vilazodone, so following your doctor's directions found printed on the label is important.

For treatment of depression in adults, 10 milligrams is the most commonly prescribed starter dose and is taken once per day for 7 days. This regime is followed by 20 milligrams once per day for an additional 7 days. The patient is then adjusted ito a maintenance dose of 40 milligrams per day to be taken once per day. The dose may be adjusted after that period of time as needed, but typically will not exceed more than 40 milligrams per day. Vilazodone is best taken with food to avoid stomach upset and encourage the absorption of the medication by the body. It is highly recommended that Vilazodone be taken with a meal eaten during the same time each day.

Missing a dose of Vilazodone is no cause for alarm. If possible, take it as soon as you realize unless it's close to the time for the next dose. In that case, skipping the missing dose is advised over double dosing to catch up.

Interactions

Vilazodone, along with other drugs of its category, can cause allergic reactions in patients with a history of drug allergies. Notify your doctor if you have ever been allergic to any drug prior to taking Vilazodone.

No specific studies have been performed on pediatric or geriatric patients to determine if Vilazodone has specific interactions that are age related. Vilazodone is not typically prescribed for pediatric patients; elderly patients are, on the other hand, more likely to have a condition known as hyponatremia or low sodium in the blood, which would require caution when taking Vilazodone.

When you are taking Vilazodone, it is important to disclose to your health care professional all drugs you are taking including herbal and holistic remedies that could cause an adverse reaction when taken together.

Overall, the following drugs are known to interact significantly with Vilazodone and should be adjusted or avoided:

  • Furazolidone
  • Ipronaizid
  • Linezolid
  • Methylene Blue
  • Isocarboxazid
  • Mclobemide
  • Nialamide
  • Tranylcypromine
  • Selegiline
  • Safanamide
  • Phenelzine
  • Procarbazine
  • Rasagiline

Use of Vilazodone with other common drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen and St. John's wort among many others is not recommended, though may be required in some cases. To be safe, alert your doctor to any prescription or non-prescription medications you may be taking and read all instructions and safety warnings on the label. Below is a partial list of known drugs that are not recommended with Vilazodone:

  • Abciximab
  • Almotriptan
  • Apixaban
  • Abilify
  • Adderall
  • Aspirin
  • Bivalirudin
  • Brompheniramine
  • Cangrelor
  • Carbamazepine
  • Cliotazol
  • Clonixin
  • Dalteparin
  • Desirudin
  • Dextromethorphan
  • Digoxin
  • Dolasetraon
  • Drotrecogin Alfa
  • Etodolac
  • Etofenamate
  • Felbinac
  • Fentayl
  • Iloprost
  • Indinavir
  • Ketorolac
  • Lithium
  • Lopinavir
  • Naproxen
  • Nepafenac
  • Nimesulide
  • Oxycodone
  • Parecoxib
  • Phenprocoumon
  • Piroxicam
  • Prasugrel
  • Protein C
  • Quinidine
  • Rifabutin
  • Ritonavir
  • Rofecoxib
  • Salicylic Acid
  • Sertraline
  • St John's Wort
  • Sumatriptan
  • Tenoxicam
  • Tinzaparin
  • Tirofiban
  • Tolmetin
  • Trazodone
  • Trimipramine
  • Vorapaxar
  • Warfrarin
  • Zomitriptan

Interactions with other drugs can weaken the effectiveness of both or cause harmful health problems in the patient, depending on the dosage and specific drugs themselves. Full disclosure of any medication you are taking or may be taking is imperative.

Certain foods and beverages interact with drugs such as Vilazodone. In this case, it is recommended by the manufacturer that patients who are prescribed Vilazodone avoid consuming grapefruit or grapefruit juice to avoid unpleasant interactions with this drug.

Patients who have the following medical issues may have unwanted interactions with Vilazodone and should discuss these with their health care professional:

  • Glaucoma
  • Hyponatremia (low blood sodium)
  • Mania, hypomania or a family history of same
  • Seizures or a family history of same
  • Bipolar disorder or risk of same
  • Bleeding problems

Use of Vilazodone in patients with the above conditions may make these conditions worsen or reappear if in remission. Discuss pre-existing health concerns and diagnoses with your health care provider before taking Vilazodone.

Warnings

Regular progress checks with patients who are prescribed Vilazodone can insure that they are responding well to the drug and having minimal unwanted side effects. Blood tests may be necessary to check for any unwanted effects on health and wellness.

Vilazodone should not be taken with monoamine oxidase inhibitor, linezolid, methylene blue injection, phenelzine, selegiline, tranylcypromine as these drugs could interact in dangerous ways that will affect mental or physical health. MAO inhibitors are especially to be avoided with the use of Vilazodone and a two week waiting period is mandatory. If taken together, MAO inhibitors and Vilazodone could cause confusion, agitation, restlessness, intestinal symptoms, elevated body temperature, high blood pressure or convulsions that could be severe and life threatening.

Vilazodone use in some adults and young adults can cause abnormal behaviors such as suicidal tendencies or more severe depression and insomnia. These unwanted effects should be reported to your health care provider immediately. Sufficient studies of pediatric, geriatric or use in pregnant or breastfeeding women have not been undertaken to determine the effectiveness or safety of Vilazodone in these groups. Your doctor should discuss all risks associated with taking this or other mental health drugs.

Some users of Vilazodone may develop a serious condition called serotonin syndrome, which typically happens if taken with certain medications. Do not use Vilazodone with buspirone, fentanyl, lithium, tryptophan, St. John's wort or certain pain and migraine medicines. Your doctor should be consulted when taking any other drug with Vilazodone.

Use of Vilazodone can increase bleeding or exacerbate bleeding problems by thinning the blood. Any procedures, including dental procedures, should be undergone with caution. Make sure all health care providers are aware of the use of Vilazodone along with the dose size and frequency.

It is prohibited to stop taking Vilazodone unless advised under a strict decrease over time and only under doctor's recommendation. Slowing down your dose of Vilazodone in the right way will prevent withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, headaches, dizziness, irritability, nightmares, seizures or other feelings.

Hyponatremia is a condition that may occur when using Vilazodone. Hyponatremia involves lower sodium levels in the blood than what is ideal and can come with symptoms such as confusion, difficulty concentrating, memory problems, weakness, unsteadiness or headaches. Hyponatremia in patients on Vilazodone is more common in elderly patients or those on diuretics for high blood pressure.

Drinking alcohol while on Vilazodone is prohibited as it can increase side effects such as dizziness, difficulty concentrating and drowsiness. This medication can cause some patients to become dizzy or drowsy, so operating heavy machinery or driving is prohibited if you are not alert.

Storage

Vilazodone is available through prescription only and should be taken only as directed. Keep this and other medicines out of sight and reach of children as a precaution. Vilazodone should be kept in its original, labeled container at room temperature and not exposed to heat, moisture or direct light. Do not allow Vilazodone to freeze. Outdated Vilazodone should be disposed of through proper disposal at the advice of your health care professional.

Summary

Vilazodone is a drug used to alleviate or eliminate symptoms of depression or anxiety in adults. Vilazodone is part of a group of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs, which work by preventing the body from eliminating serotonin. Serotonin is used by the body for many everyday functions such as appetite, sleep, digestion and more. In the case of patients with depression, low serotonin levels may be the cause of the disease and, therefore, a prescription of Vilazodone to increase these levels is often a course of treatment.

Vilazodone interacts with many different drugs, so full disclosure to your health care professional of any prescription, non-prescription, and herbal or holistic remedies being taken by the patient is highly recommended. Negative interactions with other drugs ranging from mental to physical health issues are possible, so adjustment of Vilazodone or other drugs when taken together is critical.

Pre-existing health conditions, such as blood or bleeding diseases, and mental health issues, such as mania or bipolar disorder, should be fully disclosed to your health care professional prior to being prescribed Vilazodone. This drug could worsen these conditions or cause them to re-occur if in remission or appear if they are hereditary and not exhibited prior to taking Vilazodone.

Vilazodone is available only by prescription written by a licensed health care professional. Vilazodone is taken in tablet form, typically dosed at 10 milligrams per day to begin with and adjusted over time as the effects of the drug become known to patient and physician. As with other prescription medications, Vilazodone should be kept out of sight and reach of children and never shared with others. Expired Vilazodone medication should be disposed of properly according to your physician's advice.

All users of Vilazodone should be closely monitored and any signs of deepening depression, nervousness, grouchiness, panic attacks or suicidal thoughts should be taken seriously and reported immediately. Use of Vilazodone in children is not recommended and has been known to raise suicidal thoughts in teens and young adults.

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Last Reviewed:
December 23, 2017
Last Updated:
April 05, 2018
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