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Effexor FAQ

Q: What is Effexor?

A: Venlafaxine hydrochloride, marketed as Effexor, is used as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) to treat depression, panic attacks, and panic disorders. Effexor is made by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1993. Effexor has been discontinued from marketing, but Effexor XR is available by prescription. Effexor was discontinued because the newer time-released Effexor XR formula can be taken once daily and causes less nausea than the original formula.

People may think Effexor is the same as Paxil, Wellbutrin Prozac, Zoloft, Fluoxetine, Cymbalta or Celexa, but these are separate products with separate uses and outcomes and are not generic names for the drug. You should talk to your doctor and learn about the correct drug information, generic brand versions, and brand name drugs if you are considering any of these medications.

Q: What is Effexor XR?

A: Effexor XR is venlafaxine hydrochloride in extended release capsules. It's a different formulation of Effexor and is used to treat depression, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and social anxiety disorder (SAD). Venlafaxine hydrochloride is also sold under that name.

Q: How do I take Effexor?

A: Effexor is taken by mouth, with food, as prescribed by your healthcare provider. Swallow the capsules whole, without crushing or chewing. You may, if preferred, open the capsule, sprinkle the contents on a spoonful of applesauce, take right away without chewing, and follow with a glass of water.

Q: Is Effexor safe for children and teens?

A: Possibly. Since 2006, the FDA has worked closely with the manufacturers of all marketed antidepressants (including Effexor) to fully evaluate the risk of suicidality in children, adolescents, and adults treated with these medications. Effexor maker Wyeth Pharmaceuticals added a black box warning to Effexor's prescribing information describing the increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior in children and teens taking antidepressants.

If you or your teen are taking Effexor, seek help immediately if you or your child have suicidal ideation or make any comments about suicide. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).

Q: Are there any drug interactions between Effexor and other drugs or foods?

A: In July 2006, the FDA issued an alert informing the public that a life-threatening condition called serotonin syndrome can occur when medicines called Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs, such as Effexor) and medicines used to treat migraine headaches known as 5-hydroxytryptamine receptor agonists (triptans), are taken together. Therefore, if you take a triptan medication, you shouldn't also take SNRI drugs such as Effexor. Make sure to inform your doctor and pharmacist of all medications, including over-the-counter drugs and supplements, that you take to prevent serious health complications.

If you are taking any other medications, you should also review the FindLaw Dangerous Drugs Section for important information on those other drugs, if available.

Q: Who shouldn't take Effexor?

A: You shouldn't take Effexor if you are taking another drug used to treat depression called a Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitor (MAOI), or if you have stopped taking an MAOI in the last 14 days. Taking Effexor and an MAOI within a short time period can result in serious and even fatal reactions including high body temperature, coma, and seizures.

Q: Are there any serious health risks associated with Effexor?

A: Stopping Effexor suddenly can result in harmful side effects and withdrawal symptoms. Your doctor should slowly decrease your dose. Other health risks associated with Effexor use include suicidal thoughts or actions, high blood pressure or faster heartbeat, bleeding problems, mania, seizures, weight loss, and sexual problems. If you are or may become pregnant, Effexor may cause other health problems. For more information, see the Antidepressants and Pregnancy article.

Q: Are there any other side effects associated with Effexor?

A: Other common side effects  or adverse effects of using Effexor include:

  • Nausea
  • Sleepiness or trouble sleeping
  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Constipation
  • Unusual dreams
  • Yawning during the day or tiredness
  • Tremor or shaking
  • Blurred vision or headache
  • Anxiety, sweating, or nervousness
  • Weight gain or loss of appetite
  • Low sex drive

Q: What should I tell my doctor before he or she prescribes Effexor?

A: Tell your doctor about all known medical conditions, especially if you have liver, kidney, or heart disease, or glaucoma. Also, tell your doctor if you are pregnant or if you breastfeed or plan to breastfeed your baby.

Q: Can I drink or use marijuana while taking Effexor?

A: If you plan to drink alcohol or use marijuana while taking Effexor, talk to your doctor first. Prescription medications, including Effexor, can increase the effects of alcohol on your body, such as becoming dizzy and difficulty concentrating.

Q: What should I do if I think I've been injured as a result of taking Effexor?

A: If you experienced any serious complications while taking Effexor, including giving birth to a child with birth defects, you may be able to file a claim. A birth defect injury suit will allow you to pursue damages related to your child's condition, including compensation for any medical expenses or pain and suffering your child has endured. You should consider consulting with a product liability attorney to discuss your legal options.

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