What is Effexor (Venlafaxine)?
Effexor is considered to be one of the main antidepressants in the United States. The emergence of Effexor in America is a guarantee of its further spread across the world not only in medicine but also in show business and pop culture. As you know, most Hollywood actors, musicians and other figures of modern pop culture use antidepressants. The new pharmacological invention called Effexor (venlafaxine generic) came to replace Prozac, which kept leadership in this area since the second half of the 80s. Now Effexor is in the top 10 of the most popular drugs in pharmacies of United States.
What is Effexor XR?
The letters "XR" in the name of the drug means that it is a slow-acting antidepressant. Since taking an Effexor pill, its active ingredient penetrates the bloodstream very slowly, at about 24 hours. This gradual increase of venlafaxine concentration provides a minimum of possible side effects and increases the time of antidepressant action.
Reuptake inhibitor of serotonin and norepinephrine marginally inhibits dopamine reuptake.
Venlafaxine acts by enhancing the transmission of nerve impulses in the central nervous system.
Studies of Venlafaxine effectiveness in the treatment of depression of varying severity have shown that the drug can cause remission rather fast. Every second patient got remission after only one month of treatment with venlafaxine. If the drug is taken within 3 months, the chance to have remission is around 80%. In this respect, Effexor shows almost the best results among all antidepressants. The drug has a positive effect on the various components of depressive syndrome while having a high degree of safety for an average person.
What is Effexor (Venlafaxine) used for?
Effexor is prescribed to treat depression with concomitant anxiety, as well as recurrences prevention, including those with a major depressive disorder (in a hospital or at home).
Effexor (Venlafaxine) Dosage - How to take Effexor?
The recommended starting dosage of Effexor XR is 75 mg 1 time a day.
The daily dosage can be gradually increased up to 25mg a day, if necessary. The interval between increasing Effexor dosages should be 2 weeks or more, but not less than 4 days.
If you take Effexor immediate release pills, you can switch to taking Effexor XR, but the daily dosage of Effexor XR should be as close to the daily dosage of an immediate release Venlafaxine, as possible. You may need to adjust your individual dosages.
It is recommended to cancel Effexor intake gradually. The time required for the drug withdrawal depends on your dosage, duration of therapy and your individual characteristics. If you take Effexor more than 6 weeks and want to cancel it, you should gradually decrease dosage for not less than 2 weeks. Effexor XR dosage was reduced by 75 mg a week during clinical trials.
Take Effexor pill with your meals, washing down with a glass of water, preferably at the same time every day. Do not divide, crush, chew, or dissolve pills in water.
You should take the reduced Effexor dosage by 25-50% if you have kidney failure.
The dosage for hemodialysis patients should be reduced by 50%. The drug should be taken at the end of a hemodialysis session.
Reduce your Effexor dosage by 50% if you haver moderate liver failure. Larger dosage reduction may be required in some cases.
Effexor (venlafaxine) side effects
The list of possible Effexor (venlafaxine) side effects include:
Cardiovascular system: arterial hypertension, hot flashes; hypotension, postural hypotension, syncope, tachycardia; change of QT interval, ventricular fibrillation, ventricular tachycardia (including ventricular fibrillation).
Digestive system: decreased appetite; constipation; nausea; vomiting; dry mouth; teeth grinding during sleep (bruxism); change in taste; liver disorders, hepatitis.
Hemopoiesis system: ecchymosis, mucous membranes bleeding; thrombocytopenia, increased bleeding time; agranulocytosis, aplastic anemia, neutropenia, pancytopenia.
Metabolism: increased cholesterol levels in blood plasma (especially after long time intake or when the drug was used in higher doses), weight loss; hyponatremia, weight gain; syndrome of inappropriate ADH secretion.
Central and peripheral nervous system: fatigue, weakness, nightmares, decreased libido, dizziness, increased muscle tone, insomnia, irritability, paresthesia, sedation, tremor, accommodation disturbances, mydriasis, visual disturbances; apathy, hallucinations, myoclonus; seizures, mania, neuroleptic malignant syndrome, serotonergic syndrome.
Genitourinary system: abnormal ejaculation, anorgasmia, erectile dysfunction, impaired urination (males), menorrhagia, orgasm disorders, urinary retention (in women).
Dermatological reactions: rash, alopecia, photosensitivity.
Allergic reactions: anaphylactic reactions, erythema multiforme, Stevens-Johnson syndrome.
Other: yawning, sweating.
Avoid taking Effexor XR in case of:
- Simultaneous reception of MAO inhibitors and the period up to 14 days after their cancellation;
- Lactation (breastfeeding);
- Child and adolescence up to 18 years old;
- Hypersensitivity to venlafaxine
Stop taking Effexor XR not less than 7 days before treatment with MAO inhibitors.
Can I take Effexor (venlafaxine) during pregnancy and breastfeeding?
Avoid taking Effexor (venlafaxine) during pregnancy, because there is no clinical data about its safety for pregnant women.
It is recommended to consider postpone breastfeeding if you are planning to take Effexor because venlafaxine and its active metabolite penetrate into breast milk.
If the drug is used just before childbirth, it is necessary to consider the possibility of developing drug withdrawal symptoms in the newborn.
Take Effexor (venlafaxine) with caution, if you had recent myocardial infarction or unstable angina.
You have to monitor your blood pressure during Effexor XR treatment.
You should be careful taking the drug if have a history of seizures.
Take Effexor XR with caution in case of an increased heart rate, as using high dosages may increase the heart rate even more.
Take Effexor (venlafaxine) with caution and under close medical supervision if you have an increased intraocular pressure, or there is a risk of possible angle-closure glaucoma since Venlafaxine can cause mydriasis.
There is a possibility of mania or hypomania development at people with mood disorders. Take Effexor with caution if you have a history of mania.
Hyponatremia and syndrome of inappropriate ADH secretion (especially in patients with hypovolemia, including elderly patients or those taking diuretics) may be developed during treatment with Effexor.
Take the drug with caution in case of bleeding disorders of the skin and mucous membranes.
There were no signs of addiction, tolerance, or need to increase the dosage over time.
You may experience the following symptoms in case of rapid dosage reduction or if you cancel taking the drug: hypomania, anxiety, agitation, increased nervous irritability, confusion, insomnia, sleep disorders, fatigue, drowsiness, paraesthesia, dizziness, headache pain, increased sweating, dry mouth, anorexia, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting. Most of these reactions fade away rather fast and do not require treatment.
You should always consider the risk of suicide attempts if you take Effexor to treat depression.
There is no special instruction about taking Effexor XR for elderly people.
Effexor and alcohol
Can I drink alcohol while taking Effexor? It is a rather common question. Generally, it is not recommended to take alcohol with any drugs. Speaking about Effexor, it is action is based on enhancing impulses transmission in the CNS. Taking alcohol may impair this transmission and cause some unpleasant side effects, connected with the nervous system, such as dizziness and drowsiness.
Thus, it would be wise to avoid taking alcohol during Effexor (venlafaxine) treatment.
Use in Pediatrics
Avoid using Effexor (Venlafaxine) for children till 18 years old, because there is no sufficient clinical data about its efficacy and safety for children.
Effexor (venlafaxine) addiction
Using venlafaxine has shown no signs of addiction, development of tolerance, or increasing the dosage over time during clinical trials. Venlafaxine did not have a stimulating effect on the central nervous system during studies on lab animals (rodents). Studies on primates obtained no evidence to support a clinically significant stimulant or depressant effect on the central nervous system.
It is recommended to avoid driving a car or to be engaged in any other potentially hazardous activities, which require increased attention and speed of psychomotor reaction, at least at the beginning of treatment with Effexor (Venlafaxine) in order to assess your individual reaction to the drug.
Effexor (venlafaxine) overdose
Most common symptoms of venlafaxine overdose are increased QT interval, bundle branch block, sinus and ventricular tachycardia, bradycardia, hypotension, dizziness, impairment of consciousness, convulsions, even death.
If you think you took too much Effexor XR and experience any of unpleasant side effects, call the ambulance immediately or contact your doctor.
Effexor (venlafaxine) interaction
Avoid using Effexor XR with MAO inhibitors, as it may lead to the following severe side effects: tremor, myoclonus, sweating, nausea, vomiting, flushing, dizziness, hyperthermia, seizures, or even death.
Do not take Effexor at the same time with such medications as pimozide (Orap), thioridazine (Mellaril), or a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAO inhibitors), such as isocarboxazid (Marplan), tranylcypromine (Parnate).
There should be at least 14 days between cycles of taking MAO inhibitors and Effexor XR. You can take Thioridazine (Mellaril) 5 weeks after completion of Effexor treatment.
Tell your doctor, if you are taking any of the following medications before using Effexor (venlafaxine):
- warfarin (Coumadin);
- other antidepressants;
- cimetidine (Tagamet, Tagamet HB).
You may not be able to take Effexor, or you may require adjusting your dosage individually. You may also need to be under medical observation during treatment in case you are taking any of the drugs mentioned above.
Effexor may interact with other drugs. Inform your doctor about all prescription and over the counter medication, including vitamins, minerals, and herbs, you are taking or planning to take.
Effexor (venlafaxine) withdrawal symptoms
How to stop taking Effexor(venlafaxine)?
Effexor is an antidepressant with its generally known as Venlafaxine (active ingredient). Millions of people around the world take this medication for anxiety and depression.
Like with many other antidepressants, you should increase your dosage gradually in order to determine what is the most efficient dosage for you. It is recommended to cancel the drug in a reverse order, gradually decreasing the dosage over a period of time, until you stop taking the drug at all.
This few steps will help you to stop taking Effexor:
- Follow your physician instructions or and take Effexor strictly according to your prescription. Do not stop taking the drug before consultation with your physician.
- If you want to stop taking Effexor (venlafaxine), make an appointment to see your doctor. Do not stop taking this medication until your physician will give you advice on how to do it.
- Tell your doctor about the reasons, which motivate you to stop taking the drug. Your doctor can help you make a plan for safe venlafaxine withdrawal or may prescribe your another antidepressant, which suits you better.
- Follow the doctor's instructions regarding canceling Effexor intake. If your doctor advises you to reduce the dosage gradually, do not do it too quickly. This will help to minimize stress to your body and possible withdrawal symptoms.
- Be prepared for some unpleasant side effects, which may develop when you start to decrease your Effexor dosage. The most common withdrawal symptoms include a headache, anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, and dizziness. One of the most common side effects of canceling antidepressants intake, including the cancellation of Effexor (venlafaxine), is the so-called "brain flutter". Fluttering of the brain similar to the feeling caused by an electric current to the brain, and it is accompanied by confusion, nightmares, and tremors.
- Ask your doctor about decreasing side effects intensity by using additives such as cherry milk concentrate or peptides that are known to reduce the symptoms arising from canceling drugs.
Write down all the reasons why you want to stop taking Effexor XR. Provide this information to your doctor. This will help him to understand what antidepressant is going to suit your the best. Here are some possible reasons:
- Side effects that you experience while taking the medicine
- Other medications that you take with Effexor
- Days of a week and time of drug administration
Do not attempt to stop taking Effexor. Consult with your doctor before changing the dosage and do not take other drugs instead of Effexor, without discussing it with your doctor.
Do not stop taking Effexor, simply because you feel better. If you stop taking Effexor, you can start to feel bad again.
Do not dispose of Effexor intake in the middle of treatment, of course, unless your doctor has told you to do otherwise.
Does Effexor cause weight loss?
There are contradictory theories about whether venlafaxine can help you to lose weight.
Venlafaxine, a medication for weight loss in patients with addiction to night-eating, is used as a drug that improves your lifestyle changes (low-calorie diet and exercise).
Official guide on drugs.com states: dose-dependent weight loss has been observed in patients taking venlafaxine for several weeks. Loss of more than 5% of body weight occurred in 6% of patients receiving venlafaxine compared to 1% of patients receiving placebo and 3% of patients with other antidepressants. Safety and efficacy of venlafaxine in combination therapy with medications for weight loss, including phentermine, have not been researched. Simultaneous treatment with venlafaxine tablets and anti-obesity drugs is not recommended. Venlafaxine tablets should not be administered for the treatment of obesity, as the sole drug or in combination with other drugs.
Does Effexor cause weight gain?
Weight loss or weight gain are common side effects of most antidepressants. It is impossible to say in advance, how your body is going to react on Effexor.
Generally, Effexor is considered to be rather a neutral drug in terms of weight fluctuations. There are much fewer reports about weight gain during treatment with Effexor compared to treatment with other antidepressants.
If you start to gaining weight during Effexor treatment and this is bothering you, talk to your doctor about switching the drug to another. Usually, such change of drugs may help to stop weight gain or weight loss.
Effexor XR (venlafaxine) Review
Individual sensitivity to the drug explains that Effexor reviews are diverse. There are a lot of reports about adverse reactions. However, there is no correlation between dosages and severity of adverse reactions. Some people reported about side effects development at a dosage of 37.5 mg, and some patients have tolerated Effexor 150 mg dosages.
"I used Effexor XR from depression and anxiety, but I was not any better. Venlafaxine stirred me up me with anxiety and insomnia are still present "
"... I took 37.5 mg a day. Side effects immediately appeared - wide pupils, jaw cramp, nausea. Reduced dosage to 37.5mg per day "
"It turned out to have the most severe sleep disorder – didn't sleep at all at night, and fall asleep in the morning"
"I also had insomnia and twitching at night for almost a month "
"The first few days could not get out of bed, dizzy, wide pupils, vision is not focused. I had a mental attack every night, crying. Then I felt better "
Many experienced withdrawal symptoms after canceling the drug. Some of these symptoms were held for 2 weeks, and some up to 2-3 months.
A gradual dosage reduction over several months helps to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
How long does Effexor take to work?
The efficiency of Effexor (venlafaxine) treatment depends on several factors, such as your diagnosis, health condition, your individual tolerance to the drug, etc.
You can experience increased appetite, energy levels, better sleep after one or two weeks after the treatment start. The first substantial results during depression treatment became usually evident after 2 months of treatment.
How much does Effexor generic cost?
You can choose to buy Effexor brand medication in a physical drugstore or to purchase Effexor generic online with no prescription required. The cost of generic Effexor is much cheaper than of a brand medication. Effexor (venlafaxine) price are different in all pharmacies. Check our partner drugstore for the best discount deals.