One of the characteristics of drug treatments is that they do not always act in the same way in all patients. Hence the need for a wide variety of medicines that can be adjusted to the specific needs of each person.

In the case of antidepressants, vilazodone is one of the drugs included in the wide range of medications available to combat depression. In this article we will analyse its characteristics, form of administration, possible side effects and precautions to be taken during its use.

What is vilazodone?

Vilazodone, known commercially as Viibryd, is an antidepressant drug developed and marketed in the United States since 2011 , when it was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

This medication, approved for use in the treatment of major depressive disorder, is characterized by a combination of a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), a serotonin receptor partial agonist, and buspirone, an anxiolytic agent that potentiates the effects of the SSRI.

Vilazodone works by helping to restore the balance of a number of brain substances, including increasing the amount of serotonin in our brain. As a result, this antidepressant medication promotes the maintenance of mental balance .

Similarly, some of the main effects that vilazodone has on a person’s mental health include improved mood, regulation and improvement of sleep cycles, increased appetite and energy levels, and finally, it can help restore a person’s interest in the activities of daily living.

Finally, studies on the effectiveness of this drug have not shown results favouring vilazodone over other types of antidepressants; therefore its administration or prescription is subject to the preferences of the prescriber.

When is it administered?

As mentioned in the previous point, vilazodone is used as one of the drugs of choice for the treatment of major depression and depressive syndromes . These disorders are characterised as psychological or mental alterations in which the person experiences negative feelings and sadness in a permanent and acute manner.

In a large number of cases, the emotional symptoms of depression are accompanied by low self-esteem, a decrease or loss of interest in activities or tasks that were previously stimulating or attractive, a decrease in energy and a feeling of constant fatigue, and finally, the experience of physical pain without apparent cause such as gastric pain.

Depressive disorders, as well as those syndromes or conditions with depressive symptoms, can become an obstacle to the patient’s daily life, generating interference in their daily activities, modifying their routines, as well as their eating habits, sleep cycles and health in general. If left untreated, the symptoms can worsen to the point that between 2 and 7% of people with depression resort to suicide as a way of ending the suffering experienced.

How is it administered?

Vilazodone is marketed in tablet form for oral administration . The usual dose of this drug is one tablet per day, always taken at the same time and preferably with food.

However, these are general management recommendations. Usually, the medical professional will adjust the treatment dose to the patient’s needs , who should follow the patient’s instructions to the letter. This means that under no circumstances may the patient modify the recommended dose of vilazodone, either in excess or undercut.

Because vilazodone belongs to the category of psychiatric medication, it is quite possible that treatment will begin gradually, starting with smaller doses which are increased as the first few weeks of treatment pass.

The effects of vilazodone can take up to eight weeks to be felt by the patient, so whether the patient experiences no improvement or perceives any side effects, the patient should never stop taking the medication or alter the dose without first consulting his doctor . The consequences associated with abrupt withdrawal of vilazodone may include severe headaches, mood swings, strong outbursts of anger, dizziness, agitation, increased sweating or convulsive episodes, among many others.

What are the side effects?

As with any type of medication, psychiatric or otherwise, the administration of vilazodone can lead to a number of unwanted side effects which, depending on the intensity and duration experienced, can be substantially distressing.

The side effects of vilazodone can be classified into those that are not considered serious and therefore do not require immediate medical attention, and those that are more serious and require urgent medical attention.

1. Non-serious side effects

Less serious side effects are as follows.

  • Dizziness .
  • Dry mouth.
  • Increased appetite.
  • Gas and flatulence.
  • Heartburn.
  • Feeling of pain or tingling in hands or feet.
  • Joint pain .
  • Uncontrollable shaking or trembling.
  • Dreams of strange content.
  • Alterations in sexual desire and ability .

2. Serious side effects

Among the most serious side effects of vilazodone are the following.

  • Skin alterations such as rashes, hives or spots on the skin
  • Inflammation.
  • Breathing problems .
  • Fades and blackouts.
  • Seizures.
  • Fever .
  • Heart alterations such as rapid and irregular heartbeat.
  • Intense muscle stiffness .
  • Diarrhea.
  • Nausea and/or vomiting .
  • Nosebleed.
  • Bleeding or bruising for no apparent reason.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Headaches .
  • Problems with memory, concentration or coordination.
  • Muscle weakness.
  • Clumsy movements and falls.

What precautions should be taken with its consumption?

Before starting treatment with vilazodone , the patient must inform the medical professional of any special health conditions in which he or she may be, as well as the use of any other type of drug, whether prescribed or not. This precaution is especially important in the case of treatment with monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors.

In addition, the patient should also let the specialist know if he or she suffers from any allergies or is taking any type of vitamin supplement or natural herbal complex, as these may cause interference with the action of vilazodone.

For patients who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy during the time of treatment, the administration of vilazodone is not recommended at this time, especially in the last months of pregnancy, as it has been shown to cause problems in newborns.

Finally, vilazodone can cause feelings of drowsiness, so those patients whose daily routine includes driving or operating heavy machinery should pay special attention to these symptoms and, as far as possible, stop these activities during treatment.