Venlafaxine (Effexor)


Overview: Venlafaxine, known by the brand name Effexor, is an antidepressant of the Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitor (SNRI) class. Venlafaxine is primarily used to treat depression, though is also occasionally used for anxiety. Venlafaxine has helped many people recover from depression and anxiety. It doesn’t have many side effects compared to older antidepressants, and is the most prescribed SNRI in the United Kingdom. Venlafaxine is only available on prescription.




Key Facts: It will take around four to six weeks for Venlafaxine to work, however minor improvements might be visible after around a week. There are a few side effects to Venlafaxine, as mentioned below. Venlafaxine should be used without interruption – you shouldn’t suddenly stop taking the medicine. The medication should help jump start your mood, and slowly make you feel like your old self again.


How do they work?: Unfortunately, it isn’t entirely known how antidepressants work. The most widely accepted belief is that antidepressants work by increasing levels of a group of chemicals in the brain named neurotransmitters. Some of these neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and noradrenaline, can help improve mood and emotion. How this process exactly works is unknown. It is recommended that Duloxetine is used in conjunction with therapy.


Dosage: There are two types of Venlafaxine tablets. One type is the more frequently-used extended release Venlafaxine. This type means that the Venlafaxine will slowly be released into your system. To achieve this, you will take a 75mg tablet once a day. Venlafaxine doesn’t upset the stomach, so you can take them with or without food. You should stick to the same time each day.


However some people will be prescribed immediate release Venlafaxine. This means that the Venlafaxine will be released into your system immediately. In this case, two tablets will be taken, each containing 37.5mg of Venlafaxine. You should then take one in the morning and one in the evening.


In any case, the maximum dosage of Venlafaxine per day is 375mg. Finding the right dose can take time. A typical treatment course of Venlafaxine is six months, though a longer treatment course is common.


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Side Effects

With each box of Venlafaxine , there will be an information leaflet enclosed. This will provide an exhaustive list of side effects. Side effects from Venlafaxine should only last a few days, and are relatively mild. It is natural to experience some side effects as your body gets used to the medication.


Common side effects of Venlafaxine include sickness, headaches, excessive sweating, dry mouth, insomnia, constipation and sexual dysfunction.


Serious side effects include suicidal thinking, seizures, chest pain, liver damage, psychosis. An overdose should be avoided, as it can cause the potentially fatal Serotonin Syndrome. You should contact your doctor if any of these serious side effects take place.




You should always read the information leaflet that comes with your medication as it will include important information there. You should tell your doctor if you are taking any other medication. It is important that you don’t use the herbal remedy St. Johns wort. You shouldn’t take any other antidepressant with Venlafaxine unless directed by your doctor. The opiod Tramadol should be avoided when using Venlafaxine. Stimulants too should be avoided.


Alcohol acts as a depressant, therefore it is recommended that anyone taking an antidepressant stays away from drinking alcohol. Combining Venlafaxine with  recreational drugs is also not recommended.


Venlafaxine is not recommended in pregnancy or the breastfeeding stage. The medicine has been linked to problems for an unborn baby or in early life. One study suggested Venlafaxine doubles the risk of miscarriage.


Research has suggested that Venlafaxine causes more suicidal thoughts than other antidepressants. Therefore any suicidal ideation should be monitored closely. This is especially important for people under the age of 25.


Venlafaxine is not normally prescribed to anyone under the age of 18. Instead, some form of psychotherapy is recommended. Younger people have been shown to be more vulnerable to suicidal thoughts when using antidepressants. In the case that an antidepressant needs to be prescribed, Fluoxetine will instead generally be prescribed.


Other SNRIs: