Is Vortioxetine good for your brain?


  • Drugs
  • Updated February 22, 2018

Vortioxetine (Trintellix™, Brintellix™) is a prescription antipsychotic and antidepressant medication used to treat major depressive disorder in adults. Vortioxetine targets the neurotransmitter serotonin, which can affect mood, memory, and other cognitive functions [1]. It appears to improve multiple aspects of cognitive function in people with depression, though evidence for its effects in healthy adults is currently lacking. Short-term studies have reported good safety profiles in people with depression, though some drug interactions are known.


Although numerous meta-analyses and clinical studies have been carried out, the clinical evidence is limited to people with depression. Our search identified:

  • 3 meta-analyses or systematic reviews (in people with major depressive disorder)
  • 3 clinical trials (in people with major depressive disorder)
  • Numerous preclinical studies on possible mechanisms of action

Potential Benefit

Several clinical trials have examined the effects of vortioxetine on cognitive function; however, all studies have been in people with major depressive disorder [2-4]. Meta-analyses of numerous randomized controlled trials reported that vortioxetine significantly improved attention and psychomotor speed compared to placebo or other commonly prescribed antidepressant drugs [3][4]. A double-blind randomized controlled trial in patients with major depressive disorder also reported that vortioxetine treatment improved measures of executive function, attention/speed of processing, and memory [5]. Because test performance in people with major depressive disorder tends to indirectly improve with treatment, findings from these studies should not be used to infer potential cognitive benefits in those who do not have this condition.

A human brain imaging study suggested that vortioxetine modulates neural circuitry involved in working memory [6]. These effects were seen across both depressed and healthy subjects, suggesting that vortioxetine may support cognitive function independent of its effects on mood or depression. It is currently unknown whether vortioxetine can improve cognitive function or slow decline in people without anxiety disorders.

Vortioxetine has multiple mechanisms of action, not all of which are fully understood. Preclinical studies suggest it may enhance the release of four pro-cognitive neurotransmitters [7][8] and may also affect gene expression, neurodevelopment, and neuroplasticity [9].

For Dementia Patients

No studies have examined whether vortioxetine can improve cognitive function or slow decline in people with dementia.


Numerous clinical studies have assessed the safety of vortioxetine, though all have been short-term (up to 8 weeks) and in patients with major depressive disorder [10-16]. The most common adverse effects with vortioxetine (5-20 mg/day) are nausea, headache, dizziness, dry mouth, diarrhea, constipation, and vomiting [10-13]. However, the label includes a blackbox warning for suicidal thoughts and behavior in children, adolescents, and young adults [1].

Vortioxetine can increase the risk of bleeding when taken with other drugs that cause bleeding or bruising, including antiplatelet drugs (e.g., clopidogrel), NSAIDs (e.g., ibuprofen and aspirin), and blood-thinners (e.g., warfarin and dabigatran) [17][18]. Vortioxetine must not be taken with antidepressants (e.g., fluoxetine, paroxetine, duloxetine, venlafaxine, rasagiline, selegiline) or other drugs that increase serotonin levels, such as MDMA ("ecstasy") and St. John's wort, as this can result in "serotonin syndrome," a serious, possibly fatal, condition. Vortioxetine should not be taken with alcohol.

NOTE: This is not a comprehensive safety evaluation or complete list of potentially harmful drug interactions. It is important to discuss safety issues with your physician before taking any new supplement or medication.

How to Use

Vortioxetine (trade names, Trintellix™, Brintellix™) is a prescription drug used for treating major depressive disorder in adults and is available in tablet forms of 5, 10, and 20 mg. Clinical trials that tested the effects of vortioxetine on cognitive functions have used daily doses of 5–20 mg [4][5]. It is not approved for treating cognitive decline or dementia.

Learn More

Information on side effects, dosage, and interactions from

Check for drug-drug and drug-supplement interactions on


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