What is Effexor?

Effexor is an antidepressant medication known as a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor. Effexor is used to treat depression, and the extended-release version of the medication is used to treat generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and panic disorder.

When did the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approve the medication?

Effexor was first approved by the FDA in 1993.

Is there a generic version of Effexor?

Yes, the generic version of Effexor is known as venlafaxine and is sold in the U.S.

Are there any major differences between Effexor and other mental health medications?

Effexor is a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI). SNRIs work by increasing levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. The extended-release version of the medication is also prescribed to treat anxiety disorders. If you have bipolar disorder and take an SNRI, you may be at risk for triggering a manic episode if you are not also taking a mood stabilizer. Talk to your doctor about your specific symptoms, other health concerns, and other medications you take so they can make the best recommendation for your condition and symptoms.

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Can children take Effexor?

The safety and efficacy of Effexor has not been established for children.

Are there potential interaction issues for people taking Effexor and any other drugs?

Talk to your doctor if you take MAO inhibitors. There are hundreds of drugs which are known to interact with Effexor in major, moderate, or mild ways, so let your doctor know what other medications you are taking before you begin taking the medication. Some of these include anticoagulants, other antidepressants, anxiety medications, weight loss medications, pain medications, seizure medications, migraine medications, cimetidine, clozapine, diuretics, duloxetine, haloperidol, imipramine, indinavir, ketoconazole, linezolid, lithium, methadone, methylene blue, phentermine, ritonavir, sedatives, sibutramine, sleeping medications, tramadol, and tranquilizers.

Are there any other medical conditions that would make someone ineligible for Effexor therapy?

Talk to your doctor about other medical conditions before you take Effexor, such as heart attack, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, seizures, liver disease, heart disease, kidney disease, or thyroid disease. Also tell your doctor if you are allergic to any medications, have a history of abusing medication, or a history of suicidal thoughts or behavior.

What is the typical dose that would be prescribed to someone taking Effexor?

Dosage will vary depending on the condition being treated and whether you are taking Effexor tablets or extended-release capsules.

What do I do if I miss a dose?

Take the dose of Effexor when you remember, but skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next dose. You should never take extra doses of the medication to make up for missed doses, and you should not take more than one dose per day if you take extended-release capsules.

How long does it take for Effexor to reach full efficacy?

It may take several weeks or longer for the medication to be fully effective and for initial side effects to decrease. If patients are going to respond, they generally notice some improvement in 1-2 weeks, but it can take up to 8 weeks to experience benefit. If someone has not experienced benefit by week 8, they will likely not experience any benefit. Also, response may be gradual, with improvement continuing over several months. Response rates go up with antidepressant lifestyle changes such as incorporating a healthy diet, regular routines, mindfulness and exercise.

What side effects can Effexor cause?

Common side effects can include:

  • nausea
  • headaches
  • diarrhea
  • dry mouth
  • restlessness
  • fatigue
  • sleepiness
  • feeling nervous
  • insomnia
  • increased sweating
  • increased blood pressure
  • sexual side effects

It also is recommended that you wait to drive or operate machinery until you know how the medication affects you. It is also recommended that people avoid alcohol and illegal drugs while on the medication, as they can worsen adverse effects. Report side effects to your doctor immediately. Serious side effects can include rash, hives, seizures, chest pain, difficulty breathing or swallowing, irregular heartbeat, eye pain, fever, confusion, bleeding or bruising, coordination problems, muscle stiffness, hallucinations, and coma. You can also report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or online.

What are the potential psychological side effects of taking Effexor?

A small percentage of teens and young adults who take antidepressants experience an increase in suicidal thoughts and behavior. Seek medical help if you experience these thoughts or other changes in behavior or mood.

What are the potential long-term effects of taking Effexor?

Effexor may cause angle-closure glaucoma, so talk to your doctor about the risks and about setting up an eye examination.

Is it safe for a woman who is pregnant, about to become pregnant, or nursing to take Effexor?

Birth defects and fetal harm are possible when Effexor is taken during pregnancy, but the risk is very low. The drug may be transferred via breast milk. Therefore, talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are nursing before you take Effexor. You and your health care provider will want to weigh the risks of stopping an antidepressant regimen versus continuing to take medication, or tapering off just before birth.

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Can symptoms occur if Effexor is discontinued?

It’s important not to discontinue use of the drug before talking with your doctor. Withdrawal symptoms of Effexor can include anxiety, agitation, vertigo, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, sleep problems, nightmares, headache, fatigue, and dry mouth. If the drug needs to be discontinued, it should be done very slowly over months if at all possible.

What should I do if I overdose on Effexor?

An overdose of Effexor could be fatal, so seek immediate help or call the Poison Help Line at 1-800-222-1222 if you overdose. Overdose symptoms can include dizziness, vomiting, nausea, muscle pain, sleepiness, hot and cold spells, tingling or numbness in hands and feet, increased pupil size, seizures, changes in heartbeat, and coma.

Is Effexor habit-forming?

Effexor is not habit-forming, but it is not recommended that you discontinue use of the drug before talking with your doctor, as withdrawal symptoms can occur.

How much does Effexor cost?

According to goodrx.com, 30 capsules of 75 mg generic venlafaxine ER cost approximately $130. 30 capsules of 75 mg Effexor XR cost approximately $400. However, goodrx and some other websites may offer coupons for Effexor or its generic, dramatically lowering the cost.

Are there any disadvantages to Effexor?

The biggest disadvantages of Effexor are the potential side effects. Talk to your doctor about what medication is best for you.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained herein should NOT be used as a substitute for the advice of an appropriately qualified and licensed physician or other healthcare provider.  This article mentions drugs that were FDA-approved and available at the time of publication and may not include all possible drug interactions or all FDA warnings or alerts. The author of this page explicitly does not endorse this drug or any specific treatment method. If you have health questions or concerns about interactions, please check with your physician or go to the FDA site for a comprehensive list of warnings.

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Last Updated: Oct 22, 2021