Effexor which are also known as venlafaxine belongs to the special group of drugs known as selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SSNRIs). Effexor or venlafaxine works as an antidepressant by controlling the release of chemicals in the body leading to the feeling of depression. Effexor or venlafaxine is effective in treating panic disorder, anxiety, and other depressive disorder.

How Does Effexor Work?

How Does Effexor Work?

Effexor or venlafaxine controls the release of serotonin and norepinephrine and also dopamine, the chemicals that lead to feeling of depression. Effexor or venlafaxine falls in the category of Selective Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SSNRIs) drugs.

Effectiveness of Effexor

Effexor or venlafaxine is an effective drug for controlling symptoms of significant depression (Major Depressive Disorder).

  • Effexor or venlafaxine is best to take this medication along with food.
  • You must educate yourself about the common side effects of the drug, so that you can identify them if they occur. Make sure to report any side-effect immediately to your doctor.
  • Withdrawal symptoms can be easily avoided by gradually stopping the intake of drug.
  • Avoid driving or operating any machinery until you are absolutely sure that the drug is not causing any impaired judgment in your body.
  • The capsule of effexor or venlafaxine must be consumed as a whole. The capsule must not be broken, crushed or dissolved in water. People who are not comfortable with swallowing a capsule can open the capsule and sprinkle its contents on a spoon. The contents can then be swallowed at once.
  • In case of any of the serotonin syndrome including fast heart rate, nausea, dizziness, diarrhea etc… you must report to your doctor or approach nearest medical facility immediately.
  • The intake of alcohol must be strictly avoided while taking dosage of effexor or venlafaxine.
  • If you feel any type of problems in your eye including changes in vision, pain in eyes, redness in eye etc… you must immediately seek immediate attention of an eye specialist.

The response and effectiveness of effexor or venlafaxine is excellent. Effexor or venlafaxine tablets usually start working after one or two hours from the intake when the plasma concentrations reach to their peak levels. However, you may not notice any significant improvement in the symptoms of depression until two or even four weeks. In a very few cases, it may even take six to eight weeks for Effexor to take its full effect.

Caution About Effexor Use:

The use of effexor or venlafaxine is not recommended in case of people who are suffering from narrow-angle glaucoma or are taking methylene blue injections. Effexor or venlafaxine must not be taken by someone who has taken a dose of any MAO inhibitor in the last 14 days. MAO inhibitor includes drugs like phenelzine, isocarboxazid, tranylcypromine, linezolid, selegiline, rasagiline etc... MAOI can be safely after 7days or more.

Effexor or venlafaxine is known to cause mood swings even thoughts of suicide. Thus, it is important that your doctor and caregivers closely monitor your condition after you start its dosage. Any symptoms of abnormal mood swings, difficulty in sleeping, restlessness, anxiety, irritation etc… must be immediately reported to the doctor. A person below 18 years of age must not take this medicine without doctor's advice.

What is the Recommended Dosage of Effexor?

General Dosage of Effexor or Venlafaxine for Treating Depression in Adults:

Immediate release:
Initially, the dosage must be kept to 75 mg per day
Maintenance dose can be increase at a rate of 75 mg with a minimum interval of 4 days
In case of moderate depression, the dosage can be increased to 225 mg/day.
In case of severe depression, the dosage can be increased to 375 mg/day
No of dosage per day must be kept to two or three.

General Dosage of Effexor or Venlafaxine for Treating Anxiety in Adults:

For generalized anxiety disorder or social anxiety disorder:
Extended release:
Initially, the dosage must be kept to 75 mg per day
Maintenance dose can be increase at a rate of 75 mg with a minimum interval of 4 days
Maximum dose must not exceed 225 mg/day

General Dosage of Effexor or Venlafaxine for Treating Panic Disorder in Adults:

Extended-release:
Recommended initial dose is 37.5 mg per day
Recommended maintenance dose can be increased up to 75 mg with a minimum interval of a week.
Maximum dose must not exceed 225 mg/day.

What are the Side Effects of Effexor?

Some of the side effects of Effexor are as follows:

  • Changes in vision
  • Diarrhea, feel like vomiting, nausea.
  • Loss of weight, changes in appetite.
  • Lacking energy, dry mouth.
  • Increased heartbeat, headache and dizziness.
  • Difficulty is sleeping.
  • Excessive sweating
  • Decreased sex drive, unable to reach or orgasm.

Immediate medical attention is recommended in case of any of the signs of skin allergy including swelling on your throat, lips or face, difficulty in breathing, hives or rashes in skin.

Seek immediate medical attention in case of one or more of the following symptoms of effexor or venlafaxine:

  • Problems in vision including tunnel or blurred vision, occurrence of halos around light or any problems in eye such as swelling or pain.
  • Unusually high bleeding from rectum, nose, vagina or mouth, easy bruising, occurrence of red pinpoint sports in the skin.
  • Difficulty in breathing with deposition of cough or tightness in chest.
  • seizure (convulsions);
  • Symptoms of increased serotonin levels in the body including unusual heart beat, hallucinations, agitation, vomiting, nausea, fainting, loss of co-ordination, overactive reflexes, diarrhea etc.
  • Reduction in the sodium level in the body leading to symptoms like severe weakness, difficulty in speaking, confusion, headache, feeling unsteady, lack of proper co-ordination, vomiting etc.
  • Reactions in the nervous system including stiffness of muscles, confusion, fever, unusual heartbeat, tremors etc…

Effexor or venlafaxine can lead to other side effects. Common side effects in case of people falling in the age group of 18 to 60 years and not taking any other drugs are as follows:

  • Effexor or venlafaxine may lead to extreme changes in mood including thoughts of suicides. Thus, it is not recommended in case of patients below 18 years of age.
  • Other common side-effects include sexual dysfunction, loss of weight, drowsiness, insomnia, cholesterol elevation, headache and nausea.
  • Some people may also experience increase in blood pressure by 10-15mm Hg after starting to use Effexor.
  • Pupil dilation is also a possible side-effect that can cause angle-closure glaucoma.
  • A person may experience difficulty in operating machinery or drive vehicle.
  • It also increases the risk of bleeding particularly in case of usage along with other drugs.
  • People already suffering from bipolar disorder can experience a manic episode.
  • Effexor or venlafaxine may also lead to drop in levels of sodium (hyponatremia) especially in case of dehydration.
  • Effexor or venlafaxine is known to result into some common discontinuation symptoms if you decide to stop taking it abruptly. The symptoms include headache, electric shock sensation, irritability, confusion, dizziness and also seizures in a few cases.

Conclusion

Effexor or venlafaxine is an effective drug for controlling the symptoms of depression but it also comes with the risk of withdrawal symptoms.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: July 27, 2017

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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