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Effexor

Last reviewed on RxList: 9/9/2016
Effexor Patient Information Including Side Effects

Brand Names: Effexor, Effexor XR

Generic Name: venlafaxine (Pronunciation: VEN la fax een)

What is venlafaxine (Effexor, Effexor XR)?

Venlafaxine is an antidepressant in a group of drugs called selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SSNRIs). Venlafaxine affects chemicals in the brain that may become unbalanced and cause depression.

Venlafaxine is used to treat major depressive disorder, anxiety, and panic disorder.

Venlafaxine may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

What are the possible side effects of venlafaxine (Effexor, Effexor XR)?

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: skin rash or hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Report any new or worsening symptoms to your doctor, such as: mood or behavior changes, anxiety, panic attacks, trouble sleeping, or if you feel impulsive, irritable, agitated, hostile, aggressive, restless, hyperactive (mentally or physically), more depressed, or have thoughts about suicide or hurting yourself.

Call your doctor at once if you have a serious side effect such as:

  • seizure (convulsions);
  • very stiff (rigid) muscles, high fever, sweating, confusion, fast or uneven heartbeats, tremors, feeling like you might pass out;
  • agitation, hallucinations, fever, fast heart rate, overactive reflexes, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of coordination;
  • headache, trouble concentrating, memory problems, weakness, feeling unsteady, confusion, hallucinations, fainting, shallow breathing or breathing that stops;
  • cough, chest tightness, trouble breathing; or
  • easy bruising.

Less serious side effects may include:

  • drowsiness, dizziness, feeling nervous;
  • strange dreams;
  • increased sweating;
  • blurred vision;
  • dry mouth;
  • changes in appetite or weight;
  • mild nausea, constipation; or
  • decreased sex drive, impotence, or difficulty having an orgasm.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What is the most important information I should know about venlafaxine (Effexor, Effexor XR)?

You should not take this medication if you are allergic to venlafaxine or desvenlafaxine (Pristiq), or if you are also using a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) such as furazolidone (Furoxone), isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), rasagiline (Azilect), selegiline (Eldepryl, Emsam), or tranylcypromine (Parnate).

Do not take venlafaxine together with desvenlafaxine (Pristiq).

You may have thoughts about suicide when you first start taking an antidepressant, especially if you are younger than 24 years old. Your doctor will need to check you at regular visits for at least the first 12 weeks of treatment.

Call your doctor at once if you have any new or worsening symptoms such as: mood or behavior changes, anxiety, panic attacks, trouble sleeping, or if you feel impulsive, irritable, agitated, hostile, aggressive, restless, hyperactive (mentally or physically), more depressed, or have thoughts about suicide or hurting yourself.

Drinking alcohol can increase certain side effects of venlafaxine.

Do not stop using venlafaxine suddenly, or you could have unpleasant symptoms. Ask your doctor how to avoid these symptoms when you stop using venlafaxine.

Effexor Patient Information including How Should I Take

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking venlafaxine (Effexor, Effexor XR)?

You should not take this medication if you are allergic to venlafaxine or desvenlafaxine (Pristiq), or if you are also using a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) such as furazolidone (Furoxone), isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), rasagiline (Azilect), selegiline (Eldepryl, Emsam), or tranylcypromine (Parnate). You must wait at least 14 days after stopping an MAOI before you can take venlafaxine. After you stop taking venlafaxine, you must wait at least 7 days before you start taking an MAOI.

Do not take venlafaxine together with desvenlafaxine (Pristiq).

To make sure you can safely take venlafaxine, tell your doctor if you have other medical conditions, especially:

  • bipolar disorder (manic depression);
  • cirrhosis or other liver disease;
  • kidney disease;
  • high blood pressure;
  • glaucoma;
  • seizures or epilepsy;
  • a bleeding or blood clotting disorder;
  • high cholesterol;
  • low levels of sodium in your blood; or
  • if you are switching to venlafaxine from another antidepressant.

You may have thoughts about suicide while taking an antidepressant, especially if you are younger than 24 years old. Tell your doctor if you have worsening depression or suicidal thoughts during the first several weeks of treatment, or whenever your dose is changed.

Your family or other caregivers should also be alert to changes in your mood or symptoms. Your doctor will need to check you at regular visits for at least the first 12 weeks of treatment.

FDA pregnancy category C. Venlafaxine may cause problems in a newborn baby if the mother takes the medication late in pregnancy (during the third trimester). Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant during treatment.

Venlafaxine can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. Do not use this medication without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

Do not give this medication to anyone under 18 years old without the advice of a doctor.

How should I take venlafaxine (Effexor, Effexor XR)?

Take exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not take in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended. Follow the directions on your prescription label.

Venlafaxine should be taken with food. Try to take venlafaxine at the same time each day.

Swallow the controlled-release capsule (Effexor XR) whole, without crushing or chewing. To make the medication easier to swallow, you may open the capsule and sprinkle the medicine into a small amount of applesauce. Swallow all of the mixture without chewing, and do not save any for later use.

It may take 4 weeks or more for your symptoms to improve. Keep using the medication as directed and tell your doctor if your symptoms do not improve after 4 weeks of treatment.

This medication can cause you to have a false positive drug screening test. If you provide a urine sample for drug screening, tell the laboratory staff that you are taking venlafaxine.

Do not stop using venlafaxine suddenly, or you could have unpleasant symptoms. Ask your doctor how to avoid these symptoms when you stop using venlafaxine.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

Effexor Patient Information including If I Miss a Dose

What happens if I miss a dose (Effexor, Effexor XR)?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose (Effexor, Effexor XR)?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

Overdose symptoms may include vomiting, fast heart rate, blurred vision, extreme drowsiness, or seizure (convulsions).

What should I avoid while taking venlafaxine (Effexor, Effexor XR)?

Avoid drinking alcohol, which can increase some of the side effects of venlafaxine.

Venlafaxine may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be alert.

What other drugs will affect venlafaxine (Effexor, Effexor XR)?

Before using venlafaxine, tell your doctor if you regularly use other medicines that make you sleepy (such as cold or allergy medicine, sedatives, narcotic pain medicine, sleeping pills, muscle relaxers, and medicine for seizures or anxiety). They can add to sleepiness caused by venlafaxine.

Ask your doctor before taking a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) for pain, arthritis, fever, or swelling. This includes aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn, Naprelan, Treximet), celecoxib (Celebrex), diclofenac (Arthrotec, Cambia, Cataflam, Voltaren, Flector Patch, Pennsaid, Solareze), indomethacin (Indocin), meloxicam (Mobic), and others. Using an NSAID with venlafaxine may cause you to bruise or bleed easily.

Tell your doctor about all other medications you use, especially:

  • cimetidine (Tagamet, Tagamet HB);
  • ketoconazole (Nizoral);
  • linezolid (Zyvox);
  • lithium (Eskalith, LithoBid);
  • haloperidol (Haldol) or risperidone (Risperdal);
  • tramadol (Ultram, Ultracet);
  • tryptophan (sometimes called L-tryptophan);
  • warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven);
  • almotriptan (Axert), frovatriptan (Frova), sumatriptan (Imitrex), naratriptan (Amerge), rizatriptan (Maxalt), or zolmitriptan (Zomig); or
  • any other antidepressant.

This list is not complete and there are many other drugs that can interact with venlafaxine. Tell your doctor about all medications you use. This includes prescription, over-the-counter, vitamin, and herbal products. Do not start a new medication without telling your doctor.

Where can I get more information?

Your pharmacist can provide more information about venlafaxine.


Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

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