Effexor (A guide)

Effexor

Effexor, or generic name venlafaxine, is used to treat nerve pain, depression, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder. 

In this blog piece, we will discuss what Effexor is used to treat, how it works, and common side effects associated with this medication. 

What is Effexor?

Effexor, or venlafaxine, is a medication used to treat depression and anxiety disorders. It is part of the class of medications known as serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), which help restore the balance of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain.

Effexor (A guide)

Who should take Effexor? 

Effexor is usually prescribed to people who have been diagnose with an anxiety disorder. Be sure not to confuse normal every day anxiety with an anxiety disorder. If you are experiencing a problem at work, big exam coming up, or an important decision, you are probably having a normal anxious reaction to life stressors. Anxiety disorders, however, are chronic and usually center around irrational fears and worry. 

There are many different types of anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder, to name a few.   

Symptoms of GAD usually include: 

·      Feelings of restlessness or on edge

·      Difficulty concentrating and racing thoughts

·      Muscle tension

·      Irritability

·      Trouble sleeping

·      Difficulty controlling feelings of worry

·      Easily fatigued 

Effexor is commonly prescribed to people suffering from panic disorder because the calming effects help subside panic attacks. Symptoms of panic attacks include:

·      Heart palpitations or accelerated heartrate 

·      Sweating, trembling, shaking

·      Shortness of breath 

·      Feelings of impending doom 

Phobia-related disorders are another set of anxiety disorders that are characterized by an intense fear or aversion to specific situations or objects. This fear is usually out of proportion to the actual danger imposed by the situation or object. 

Symptoms of phobia-related disorders include: 

·      Irrational or excessive worry about encountering the feared object or situation 

·      Intentional avoidance of feared object or situation 

·      Intense and immediate anxiety upon exposure to the object or situation 

Specific phobias can be related to situations such as flying or heights, or related to animals such as spiders. Some people also have phobias of receiving injections or blood.

Effexor (A guide)

Agoraphobia is another type of anxiety disorder where people have an intense fear of two or more of the following situations: 

·      Being in open or enclosed spaces

·      Standing in lines

·      Crowded areas

·      Using public transportation

·      Being outside of their home 

People with agoraphobia often avoid these situations out of fear that they will not be able to escape. Some have an intense fear that they will panic or have other embarrassing symptoms. In severe cases, people may avoid leaving their house altogether. 

If you suspect you have an anxiety disorder, do NOT start taking Effexor from a non-reputable source such as a friend, consult a psychiatrist immediately. 

Effexor should be taken in combination with the right kind of psychotherapy, such as talk therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). These therapies teach the patient active coping mechanisms to manage anxiety symptoms. 

What are the common side effects of Effexor? 

There are several side effects of Effexor that are important to be aware of. These include the following:

·      Nausea

·      Drowsiness

·      Dizziness

·      Dry mouth

·      Constipation

·      Loss of appetite

·      Difficulty falling asleep 

·      Excessive sweating or yawning 

·      Nervousness

·      Blurred vision

You or your doctor should regularly monitor your blood pressure while you are being treated with Effexor, since this medication may raise your blood pressure. 

Tell your doctor right away if you are experiencing any of these rare but serious side effects: 

·      Cough that won’t go away 

·      Shortness of breath 

·      Chest pain

·      Severe headache

·      Black or blood stools

·      Vomit that resembles coffee grounds

·      Eye pain, swelling, or redness

·      Dilated pupils

·      Vision changes such as seeing rainbows around lights at night

·      Seizure

Get immediate medical help if you sense an allergic reaction to Effexor (rash, itching, or swelling of the face, tongue, or throat) or if you develop any of the following symptoms of serotonin syndrome. Serotonin syndrome is a serious condition that includes the following symptoms: 

·      Fast heartbeat

·      Hallucinations

·      Loss of coordination

·      Twitching muscles

·      Unexplained fever

·      Unusual agitation or restlessness

·      Loss of coordination 

·      Severe gastrointestinal disturbances such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea 

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about Effexor:

1.   Why has Effexor been discontinued in the United States? 

The original formula for Effexor caused nausea and needed to be taken multiple times daily. The newer time-released Effexor XR formula can be taken once a day and causes less nausea than the original drug. 

2.   What are the most common side effects of Effexor? 

The most common side effects of Effexor are dry mouth, dizziness, nausea, excessive sweating, nervousness, drowsiness, fatigue, and insomnia. 

3.   Is Effexor good for anxiety?

Effexor, or Venlafaxine may improve your mood and energy levels and restore your interest in daily living. 

4.   Are Xanax and Effexor the same? 

Effexor XR and Xanax are both used to treat patients with anxiety and panic disorders, however they are part of different classes of drugs. Effexor is a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) and Xanax is a benzodiazepine. 

5.   How long does it take Effexor to start working for anxiety?

You may see some improvement in sleep, energy, or appetite within the first 1-2 weeks of taking Effexor. Improvement in these physical symptoms is an early sign that the medication is working for your specific case. The symptoms of depressed mood and lower energy, however, may take up to 6-8 weeks to fully improve. 

6.   Is Prozac better than Effexor? 

Patients who are suffering from major depressive disorder (MDD) are more likely to have a full recovery by taking Effexor than by taking Prozac or Zoloft. Researchers from this study suspect that Effexor is more effective than Prozac or Zoloft in treating MDD because it acts on both norepinephrine and serotonin, two chemicals in the brain that affect mood, whereas Prozac and Zoloft only act on serotonin. 

7.   Is it better to take Effexor in the morning or at night? 

Effexor can be taken in the morning or at night but only once daily, and is taken with food. It should be taken around the same time every day and should not be taken in higher or lower doses than have been prescribed by your doctor. 

8.   Is Effexor XR a controlled substance? 

Effexor, or venlafaxine, is not a controlled substance. It has no affinity for opiate, benzodiazepine, phencyclidine (PCP), or N-methyl-D-aspartic (NMDA) receptors. There is some evidence, however, that high doses of Effexor can produce amphetamine-like effects. 

9.   Can I drink while taking Effexor?

It is best to avoid drinking alcohol while taking Effexor. Alcohol can enhance the central nervous system (CNS) side effects from Effexor such as drowsiness, dizziness, and difficulty concentrating. It is also possible to experience impairment in thinking and judgement.  

10.   Does Effexor make you lose weight? 

Effexor and Effexor XR may cause weight loss. The weight loss from this medication is usually minimal, however a large weight loss may occur and can be dangerous to certain patients. If you are losing too much weight while taking Effexor, talk to your doctor. 

11.  Is Effexor withdrawal dangerous?

Withdrawal from Effexor can cause symptoms such as disorientation. Be sure to avoid driving or operating heavy machinery until you know how Effexor affects you. Although it is rare, stopping Effexor on your own without your doctor slowly tapering your dose can result in severe and frightening reactions. 

12. Is Effexor a good antidepressant?

Effexor is considered an excellent medication for the treatment of depression, anxiety, and anxiety caused by depression. 

13. Can Effexor cause hair loss?

There have been case reports where people taking serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), including Effexor, have complained of hair loss. 

14.  Is Effexor a mood stabilizer? 

Effexor, as a serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRI), increases the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain, and is used to treat anxiety disorders. It is not considered a mood stabilizer. If you have bipolar disorder and take an SNRI without taking a mood stabilizer, you may be at risk for triggering a manic episode. 

15. Does Effexor help you focus?

Effexor, as a serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRI), increases the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. It helps improve mood and levels of concentration. It is not used, however, to treat the difficulties focusing as part of the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). 

16. Does Effexor raise blood pressure? 

Effexor, or venlafaxine, is an example of an antidepressant that can raise your blood pressure. 

Want to learn more about Effexor? Try these books! 

EFFEXOR (Venlafaxine): Treats Depression, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, and Sometimes Also Used To Treat Hot Flashes or Flushing

This book by James Lee Anderson provides information about Effexor in paperback form. It discusses what Effexor is prescribed for, how it works, and how it should be taken.  

Venlafaxine: 523 Questions to Ask that Matter to You

This book has extensive details to answer all your questions regarding bupropion. If you are wondering about drug interactions, allergies, or how to take this medication you can find that information here. This guide will help you formulate the right questions to ask your doctor and includes room for notes so you can jot down important information during your appointments. In addition, if you are a healthcare provider and want to make sure you can answer every question your patient has, then this guide book is for you as well. 

I am not in recovery. I am in discovery: Journaling my mental illness

Journaling is a great way to help process and keep track of your experiences and feelings while you are going through any difficulties, whether it be the debilitating symptoms of mental illness or just regular day to day problems. This journal can be your form of catharsis, as it contains 94 daily templates to aid in your discovery process. 

The Mindfulness Journal: Daily Practices, Writing Prompts, and Reflections for Living in the Present Moment

As described above, journaling is a great way to give yourself a stress release. Whether you are dealing with mental health issues, heartbreak, a problem at work, or any other life stressor, this journal is for you. This Mindfulness Journal can easily be added into your daily routine and can serve as an outlet for stress-reduction that will help you appreciate every single day and moment. It includes 365 daily writing prompts divided into 52 weekly mindfulness topics. The prompts are extremely unique, fun, and engaging, so you will never get bored while journaling. Additionally, each prompt is on its own separate page so you will have more than enough room for reflection and to write down all of your thoughts, big or small. Although it is suggested to journal once a day, you can spend as much or as little time as you want on each prompt. 

Have more questions or comments about Effexor? Post below! 

References

Effexor Tablet.WebMD. 2019. 

Effexor (A guide)

Juanita Agboola

Juanita Agboola is the editor in chief of HFNE and an expert in mental health online. She has been writing about online behaviour, mental health and psychology issues since 2012. All Guides are reviewed by our editorial team which constitutes various clinical psychologists, PhD and PsyD colleagues.