Does Pristiq give you motivation? (+3 changes)

In this article, we will discuss whether Pristiq gives motivation. We will also discuss the mechanisms of Pristiq-induced motivation, changes produced by Pristiq that are linked to motivation, and other relevant information. 

Does Pristiq give you motivation? 

Yes, Pristiq gives you motivation by reducing the symptoms of depression. A lack of motivation is a major symptom of depression and Pristiq is an antidepressant and FDA-approved to treat major depressive disorder (MDD). 

Pristiq gives you motivation as it improves the symptoms that cause a lack of motivation. The active ingredient of Pristiq is desvenlafaxine, a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI). 

Pristiq works by increasing serotonin and norepinephrine (NE) levels in the brain. These neurotransmitters play a role in the regulation of mood and motivation in depressed patients (1). 

The impact of Pristiq on the brain neurotransmitters impacts an individual’s mood, cognitive function, and energy levels. These changes contribute to an individual’s motivation and capability to engage in activities. 

How does Pristiq give motivation? 

Pristiq gives motivation by improving the levels of serotonin and NE in the brain. A deficiency of these neurotransmitters is associated with depressive symptoms that also reduce an individual’s motivation. 

Serotonin deficiency increases negative emotions like low mood, self-blame, anxiety, loneliness, disgust, and fear (1). Individuals with these emotions are less likely to feel motivated. Pristiq increases serotonin and reduces these symptoms. 

Increased serotonin in the brain is directly associated with motivation. In one experiment the level of motivation of volunteers to get an award was assessed and some of them received an antidepressant before the experiment (2). 

In the experiment mentioned above, the antidepressant increased the serotonin levels in the individuals. Results revealed that individuals with more serotonin worked harder for the reward than those who received a placebo (2). 

This experiment postulated that an increased level of serotonin increases motivation in individuals by either making the effort seem easier or by making the reward more appealing (2). 

Pristiq also improves NE concentration. NE deficit is associated with a lack of interest, pleasure, and happiness, lower energy and alertness, and loss of passion and confidence (1). An individual with these symptoms also feels unmotivated. 

Thus, Pristiq improves the concentration of certain neurotransmitters whose deficit results in several negative emotions. As these emotions are resolved, the motivation level of an individual is increased. 

What Pristiq-induced changes give motivation? 

Pristiq produces many positive changes in your body that are directly associated with your levels of motivation. These changes are as follows: 

Improved mood: 

You are less likely to feel motivated and engage in activities if you have a low and depressed mood. As the serotonin levels increase in your body after taking Pristiq, you feel good, hopeful, and less anxious which gives you motivation.

Improved cognitive functioning: 

Impairment in cognitive control is a central feature of depression. Cognitive control is important for motivated and goal-directed behavior. It helps an individual to stay focused and align their thoughts and actions with their current goals (3). 

Research suggests that Pristiq is associated with improvement in cognitive functioning, working memory, and performance at work (4,5). These improvements are positively associated with motivation.

Improved energy levels: 

Low energy levels in depression can make an individual feel tired and less motivated to complete certain tasks. Taking Pristiq boosts your energy levels which is instrumental in fostering motivation. 

An analysis included 9 randomized controlled trials in which patients of MDD were treated with desvenlafaxine, the active ingredient of Pristiq. Results reveal that the medication improved energy and lassitude symptoms (6). 

How to take Pristiq for motivation?

Pristiq is not specifically prescribed to increase motivation. It is prescribed for depression and gives motivation as it reduces depressive symptoms. Thus, you cannot take Pristiq without a proper diagnosis just to increase motivation. 

If you are diagnosed with MDD, your healthcare provider may prescribe you Pristiq. Take Pristiq as guided by your healthcare provider. The recommended initial therapeutic dose of Pristiq is 50mg/day (7). 

Taking Pristiq at the dose of 50 mg/day is effective and well-tolerated. It will improve your symptoms and give you motivation. Pristiq in higher doses is also effective but associated with heightened side effects (7). 

Do not increase the dose of Pristiq if you feel less motivated or less energized. Increasing the dose of Pristiq will not give you additional benefits but increase your side effects. Side effects associated with Pristiq include (7):

  • dry mouth
  • sweating
  • insomnia
  • dizziness
  • constipation 
  • decreased appetite
  • vomiting 

You can take Pristiq at any time of the day but make sure to take it at the same time each day. It is important to remember that you cannot take Pristiq if it is not prescribed by your healthcare provider. 

Are there any negative effects of Pristiq on motivation? 

Research on the negative effects of Pristiq on motivation is limited. However, negative effects on motivation have been associated with drugs that increase the level of serotonin in the brain, including antidepressants like sertraline. 

Apathy refers to a lack of emotion, interest, and motivation and is connected to the serotonin pathway (8). Due to this relation, it can be assumed that Pristiq may cause apathy due to its impact on serotonin. 

Desvenlafaxine, the active ingredient of Pristiq is an active metabolite of venlafaxine. It means that venlafaxine converts to desvenlafaxine in the body. Case reports of apathy caused by venlafaxine are present in the literature (8). 

Although the evidence of Pristiq-induced apathy is not present in the literature, drugs similar to Pristiq have caused apathy in rare cases. If you experience apathy while taking Pristiq, you must contact your healthcare provider. 

In my perspective, Pristiq gives motivation as it reduces the symptoms of depression. It increases serotonin and NE which improves mood, energy levels, and cognitive functioning of individuals, and these factors are associated with increased motivation. Pristiq is not specifically prescribed for motivation, and it is indicated for depressive disorders. As it treats depression, the level of motivation is also improved. Thus, an individual cannot take Pristiq if it is not prescribed by a healthcare provider, just to increase motivation. 

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Liu Y, Zhao J, Guo W. Emotional Roles of Mono-Aminergic Neurotransmitters in Major Depressive Disorder and Anxiety Disorders. Front Psychol. 2018 Nov 21;9:2201. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02201. PMID: 30524332; PMCID: PMC6262356.


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