Venlafaxine is an antidepressant medication used to treat depression and various anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder, and panic disorder.
This medication belongs to the class of selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) and works by enhancing the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine, which are natural neurotransmitters that play a role in regulating mental stability.
Uses and Dosage
Venlafaxine is available as a tablet or extended-release capsule for oral consumption. The tablet form is typically taken two to three times daily with a meal, while the extended-release capsule is usually taken once a day either in the morning or evening along with food.
Take venlafaxine at the same time(s) each day. Follow the instructions on the prescription label closely, if any instructions are unclear, consult a doctor or pharmacist for clarification.
For the extended-release capsule, it should be ingested whole, without crushing, chewing, or splitting. In case of difficulty swallowing, the capsule contents may be sprinkled on a spoonful of applesauce and immediately consumed, followed by drinking a glass of water.
The starting dose of venlafaxine may be low and gradually increased by the doctor, not more frequently than once every 4 to 7 days, based on the patient’s response to the treatment. Patients are encouraged to regularly inform their doctor of their progress during the treatment course, to ensure proper adjustment of the dose.
Venlafaxine provides relief from depression, but it is not a cure. It may take several weeks or longer to fully experience the benefits of the medication, and it is important to continue taking venlafaxine, even if feeling well, as instructed by the doctor. Sudden cessation of venlafaxine may result in withdrawal symptoms such as agitation, anxiety, confusion, mood changes, headache, and more. If any withdrawal symptoms are experienced during a decrease in the dose or after discontinuation of venlafaxine, patients are advised to inform their doctor immediately.
Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention:
- abnormal dreams
- decrease in sexual desire or ability
- dry mouth
- increased sweating
- loss of appetite
- stomach pain or gas
- stuffy or runny nose
- tingling, burning, or prickly sensations
- trouble sleeping
- weight loss
Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following serious side effects occur:
- change or problem with discharge of semen
- decreased interest in sexual intercourse
- inability to have or keep an erection
- lack or loss of strength
- loss in sexual ability, desire, drive, or performance
- severe headache
- blurred vision
- chest pain
- delayed or inability to have an orgasm
- fast or irregular heartbeat
- mood or mental changes
- ringing or buzzing in the ears
- suicidal thoughts
Prior to using venlafaxine, inform your physician or pharmacist of any known allergies to the medication or its inactive ingredients. A comprehensive medical history must be shared, including any history of bleeding disorders, glaucoma, hypertension, cardiac issues, high cholesterol, kidney or liver disease, seizure disorders, and thyroid disorders.
During treatment with venlafaxine, individuals may experience dizziness, drowsiness, or blurred vision. Engaging in activities that require alertness or clear vision, such as driving or operating machinery, should be avoided.
Refrain from consuming alcoholic beverages. In case of marijuana use, consultation with a doctor is necessary.
Children may be more susceptible to adverse effects of the drug, particularly weight loss and loss of appetite, and therefore, it is crucial to monitor their weight and height.
During pregnancy, the use of venlafaxine should only be considered when the potential benefits outweigh the potential risks. The medication has the potential to harm an unborn child and newborns may rarely exhibit withdrawal symptoms such as feeding difficulties, seizures, muscle stiffness, and excessive crying. The medication is present in breast milk and may cause adverse effects in nursing infants, thus consultation with a doctor is necessary prior to breastfeeding.
Form and Strength
Effexor is available in the following forms and strengths:
How does venlafaxine make you feel when you first start taking it?
You can feel drowsy in the first few days of taking venlafaxine. This should get better after the first week or two. You could also, strangely, get insomnia, and disturbing dreams or nightmares.
How long do most people stay on venlafaxine?
Once you’re feeling better it’s likely that you will continue to take venlafaxine for several more months. Most doctors recommend that you take antidepressants for 6 months to 1 year after you no longer feel depressed. Stopping before that time can make depression come back.