How Does This Medicine Work?
Fetzima belongs to a class of medicines called serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). SNRIs work by increasing levels of the brain chemicals serotonin and norepinephrine. These are neurotransmitters -- chemical messengers used by nerve cells to send messages to one another. An imbalance of these brain chemicals is thought to be at least partially related to the symptoms of depression.
Neurons, or nerve cells, have tiny spaces between them. Transmitting neurons release chemicals such as serotonin or norepinephrine into that space as a way of sending a message to a receiving neuron. After the receiving neuron receives the message, the transmitting neuron can absorb the chemical to use it again later. This is called reuptake.
Fetzima works by blocking the reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine. By blocking the transmitting neuron from absorbing serotonin and norepinephrine, Fetzima increases the amount available in the space between the nerve cells.
Is It Safe for Children to Use Fetzima?
Fetzima has not been adequately studied in children (usually defined as younger than 18 years old) and is not approved for use in this age group. Antidepressant medicines may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in children, adolescents, and young adults (see Fetzima and Suicide). However, untreated depression is also associated with an increased risk for suicide.
Can Older Adults Use It?
Yes -- older adults can use this medication. However, older adults may have a higher risk for developing low blood sodium levels (hyponatremia) during Fetzima treatment and, therefore, may need to be monitored more closely.
In addition, Fetzima is mostly removed from the body by the kidneys, and people with kidney disease may need to be treated with lower Fetzima doses. Because kidney function declines with age, older adults may need dosage adjustments during treatment.