Does Pristiq cause a bad taste in your mouth? (6+ factors)

In this article, we will discuss whether Pristiq causes a bad taste in the mouth or not. We will also explore what research suggests on this, the possible connection between Pristiq and taste changes, symptoms of a bad taste in the mouth and the management strategies to address taste changes from Pristiq.

Does Pristiq cause a bad taste in your mouth?

Yes, Pristiq may cause a bad taste in your mouth as a potential side effect. Alterations in taste buds are reported as common side effects of certain antidepressants, including desvenlafaxine. However, individuals are different and may react differently to medications. Hence, everyone taking Pristiq doesn’t need to experience bad taste. (2,3)

Pristiq (desvenlafaxine), is classified as SNRI (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor). It works by balancing the levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, specifically norepinephrine and serotonin. These chemicals are involved in improving one’s mood and boosting motivation, thereby reducing feelings of depression and anxiety. (1)

Alterations in taste buds are not considered serious side effects of taking antidepressants, as they may go away on their own once the body is adjusted to the dose of medication. These side effects are temporary and other antidepressants like Wellbutrin and Lexapro may also change taste perceptions of a person. (1,3)

However, if you’re experiencing persistent altered taste while taking antidepressants or any other medications and it’s bothering you, it’s advisable to reach out to your healthcare professional and discuss the concerns. 

What is the connection between Pristiq and altered taste?

The exact mechanism behind Pristiq (desvenlafaxine) and altered taste perceptions in the mouth as its side effect, is not clearly understood. However, it is believed that the primary working mechanism of Pristiq, such as fluctuations in the levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin and norepinephrine, might play a role. (3,4)

Norepinephrine and serotonin, are thought to play a crucial role in mood regulation. These chemicals are also found to have an impact on various physiological processes, including the sensory and motor functions of a person. Therefore, the alterations in these neurotransmitters may indirectly affect taste through various pathways. (4)

It’s important to remember that this side effect can vary among individuals and various underlying conditions can also contribute to altered taste. It’s essential to consult with your doctor regarding these concerns, as they may help identify whether the cause of this side effect is related to medication use or not. 

What does research suggest? 

According to a research study, Japan evaluated a test on changes in taste perceptions or bad taste from medications, including antidepressants. They found out that alterations of taste induced by medications like Pristiq were up to 25%. The ratio of older people with altered taste was high in comparison to young adults. (3)

People who were 65 years of age or older were more prone to drug-induced taste alterations, such as 4.4% than individuals who were 35 years old or younger. This shows that various factors including age, genetics and other underlying conditions might also contribute to taste changes along with medications like antidepressants. (3)

The incidence of this side effect can vary among individuals and the severity of taste buds alteration may also vary. It’s essential to consult a healthcare provider before starting or discontinuing any medication, especially antidepressants to be aware of the side effects. 

What are the symptoms of altered taste in the mouth?

The symptoms of bad taste or altered taste in your mouth may vary and may include: (5)

  • Metallic taste: You may experience a metallic or copper-like taste in the mouth. 
  • Bitter taste: Some individuals may experience an ongoing bitterness in their mouth that is unrelated to the food or drink they might have consumed. 
  • Sweet or salty taste: In some people, the taste buds may perceive flavours as excessively sweet or salty than they normally are. 
  • Sour taste: A person may experience persistent sourness in the mouth.
  • Medicine-like taste: Some people come up with complaints of having a taste, reminiscent of medicine or chemicals. 
  • Persistent unpleasant taste: A consistent unpleasant taste, which can impact the enjoyment of eating and drinking. 
  • Loss of taste: Some people can also experience a reduced ability to taste, leading to diminished perception of flavours. 

It’s important to recognize that changes in taste buds could be a symptom of various underlying conditions, including use of medications, dental issues, certain neurological conditions and other infections. If you or someone you know has been experiencing persistent altered taste for a long time, consult with your doctor.

What other factors may contribute to altered taste while taking Pristiq? 

In addition to the medication itself, several factors may contribute to altered taste, including: (6)

Individual sensitivity:

People react differently to medications. Some may be more prone and sensitive to side effects caused by Pristiq like bad taste in the mouth. 


The amount of Pristiq you’re taking might greatly influence the alterations in your taste perceptions. People taking higher doses are more likely to experience a bad or metallic taste.

Duration of use: 

The length of time a person is taking Pristiq can impact the development and persistence of taste alterations. Most of the side effects tend to diminish once the person is adjusted to the medication and the initial period of treatment has passed. 

Interactions with other medications: 

If you’re taking multiple medications at a time, they may interact with each other, elevating the risk of side effects like altered taste buds. 


Older people may be more at risk of developing an altered taste in their mouth because they tend to have more underlying conditions and more use of concurrent medications with reduced ability of metabolism. 

Overall health:

If you have a history of health conditions, your likelihood of experiencing side effects including altered taste can be increased while taking antidepressants like Pristiq. 


Dehydration might also impact taste perception in some individuals. So it’s essential to keep your mouth moist and drink plenty of water. 

Nutritional status and metabolic factors:

If you’re lacking sufficient nutrients in your diet, this may contribute to changes in taste buds and affect your overall sensory health.

The metabolism of medication, like how fast or slow your gut can absorb the medication, can also influence how your body processes and responds to Pristiq. 

Psychological factors: 

In some individuals, mental health conditions like depression and anxiety might themselves affect taste perceptions. 

What to do if you experience a Pristiq-induced bad taste?

If you experience a bad taste from taking Pristiq, the foremost thing you should do is to reach out to your healthcare provider and tell them the exact symptoms. They can help evaluate whether the bad taste is due to medication or some other underlying condition that is triggering it. (6)

Do not stop taking Pristiq abruptly on your own by getting afraid of this side effect, as it is not harmful and manageable. Your doctor might adjust the dose of your medication, probably lower it to reduce the side effects you’re experiencing or find an alternative that will best suit you. 

Keep yourself well hydrated by drinking a sufficient amount of water. Include a diet rich in healthy and essential nutrients, to improve your sensory perceptions and overall health. (6)

Be vigilant and keep an eye on your therapeutic and ADR profile. Closely monitor how your body is responding to the medication and stick to the recommended guidelines provided by your doctor.

As a pharmacist, in my opinion, Pristiq (desvenlafaxine) has shown promising results in patients with depression, anxiety and panic-related disorders. Most of the side effects including bad taste, that people experience, are during the early stage of treatment when the patient’s body is not adjusted to the medication and reacts differently. 

However, these side effects go with time. The key is to stick to the prescribed dosage and time of medication. If in case the medication is causing you bothersome side effects for a prolonged time, it’s advisable to reach out to your doctor. 

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