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Does Fetzima help with anxiety?

Medically reviewed by Carmen Fookes, BPharm. Last updated on Aug 25, 2021.

Official answer


Although Fetzima is not FDA approved to treat anxiety, it is sometimes used off-label for this condition. Research has suggested that Fetzima does appear to help with anxiety because an improvement was seen in anxiety symptoms monitored in tools such as the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) for inner tension and the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAMD17) that were used in several clinical trials for depression. Unfortunately, most trials of Fetzima excluded people from participating if they had a comorbid anxiety disorder unless it was social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, or a specific phobia, but even then the effect of Fetzima on allowable anxiety disorders was never analyzed.

More good-quality trials are needed to fully determine the benefits of Fetzima for anxiety, but the available research suggests it does improve anxiety symptoms in most people, which is promising because approximately 60% of people with major depression also have an anxiety disorder.

However, in a small subset of people, Fetzima may actually increase anxiety, although this usually resolves within a couple of weeks of continuing to take Fetzima. Talk to your doctor if you develop anxiety or your symptoms of anxiety worsen while taking Fetzima. Symptoms of anxiety include feeling nervous, restless, or tense; having a sense of impending danger, panic, or doom; sweating, trembling, or an increased heart rate.

Fetzima is an oral, extended-release capsule that may be used to treat moderate-to-severe depression in adults. It is a dual neurotransmitter reuptake inhibitor that has greater selectivity for inhibiting norepinephrine reuptake than serotonin reuptake.

  • Fetzima (levomilnacipran hydrochloride) Updated 10/2019. Allergan, Inc.
  • Asnis GM, Henderson MA. Levomilnacipran for the treatment of major depressive disorder: a review. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2015 Jan 9;11:125-35. doi: 10.2147/NDT.S54710. PMID: 25657584; PMCID: PMC4295915.

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