Effexor (or venlafaxine) belongs to a group of antidepressants called selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SSNRIs). This medication works by fixing chemical imbalances in the brain and is typically used to treat major depressive disorder, anxiety and panic disorder. Furthermore, this drug may improve one’s mood, energy level, and interest in everyday living.

Use and Dosage

You should take Effexor by mouth, typically 2 to 3 times per day (depending on your doctor’s instructions) and with food. Exact dosage will, however, depend on your underlying medical condition and initial response to treatment. In order to reduce your risk of developing unwanted and harmful side effects, your doctor may start you on a low dose and then gradually increase it—it is important that you follow their direct instructions in taking this medicine.

It is essential that you continue taking Effexor, even if you feel your condition or symptoms have improved or subsided, unless otherwise instructed by your health care practitioner. Doing so can worsen conditions, as well as worsen or induce symptoms such as headaches, mood swings, sleep changes, tiredness, and brief feelings related to electric shock. To prevent this from happening, simply have a conversation with your doctor who may then gradually reduce your dose. You should also consult your doctor any time you experience new or worsening symptoms of the medication.

Side Effects of Effexor

As with many antidepressants, Effexor may produce some unwanted side effects. These side effects, however, do not typically outweigh the benefits of the medication. And if they persist or worsen, a simple discussion with your doctor may lead to an easy solution. Still, it is important to be aware of possible mild, more serious, and severe effects that may result from the medication:

  1. Mild Effects
    • Nausea
    • Drowsiness
    • Dizziness
    • Dry mouth
    • Constipation
    • Loss of appetite
    • Blurred vision
    • Nervousness
    • Trouble sleeping
    • Unusual sweating and yawning
  2. Serious Effects
    • Easy bruising/bleeding
    • Muscle cramps or weakness
    • Shaking
    • Decreased interest in sex
    • Changes in sexual ability
  3. Severe Effects
    • Chest pain
    • Severe headaches
    • Shortness of breath
    • Bad cough that doesn’t go away
    • Eye pain, swelling, or redness
    • Widened pupils
    • Seizure
    • Black or bloody stools

Patients very rarely experience serious or severe side effects. But if you do, you should tell your doctor right away and seek out medical treatment immediately if you experience any of the more severe effects. Mild symptoms, however, only demand a prompt discussion with your doctor.
It is also possible (though again rare) for Effexor to increase serotonin and cause a very serious condition called serotonin syndrome/toxicity. The risk of developing this condition increases if you take other drugs that increase your serotonin levels; therefore, it is important you tell your doctor about all of the drugs you take before being prescribed Effexor. You can also have a very serious allergic reaction to this drug—though this seldom occurs, you should be aware of the symptoms, which include a rash, itching, swelling, difficulty breathing, and severe dizziness. And if you do experience any of these symptoms, you should seek medical help right away.

Before Taking Effexor…

It’s important you take precautionary measures anytime you’re considering a new medication, as it can have very real effects on your life. Before you start taking Ambien, you should first…

  • Talk to your doctor about existing allergies, especially to venlafaxine or desvenlafaxine, as this product may contain inactive ingredients that can cause allergic reactions or other issues.
  • Discuss your medical history with your doctor, especially when it comes to a personal or family history of glaucoma, high blood pressure, heart problems, kidney disease, liver disease, high cholesterol, seizure disorder, and thyroid disease.
  • Understand all of the drug’s effects and risks, as Effexor can cause the aforementioned side effects, some of which (e.g., dizziness or drowsiness) hinder your ability to drive, use machinery, or perform any other activity that requires alertness.