Effexor is used primarily for the treatment of depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and social anxiety disorder in adults. It is known as one of the most activating of the newer antidepressants. While this can be helpful to some, as a number of depressed patients report feeling exhausted and unmotivated, to others it poses the risk of increased anxiety and agitation.
Effexor is an effective antidepressant for many persons; however, it seems to be especially effective for those with treatment-resistant depression. Some of these persons have taken two or more antidepressants prior to Effexor with no relief. It has also been found to reduce the severity of 'hot-flashes' in menopausal women.
In addition, a September 2004 Consumer Reports study ranked Effexor as the most effective among six commonly prescribed antidepressants. However, this should not be considered a definitive finding, and responses to psychiatric medications vary significantly from individual to individual.
Substantial weight loss in patients with major depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and social phobia has been noted in taking Effexor, but the manufacturer does not recommend use as an anorectic either alone or in combination with phentermine or other amphetamine-like drugs.
As with most antidepressants, lack of sexual desire can be a very disturbing side-effect for some persons. Effexor can raise blood pressure at high doses, so it is usually not the drug of choice for persons with high blood pressure. Effexor should not be used in children. Caution should also be used in those with a seizure disorder.
The energizing effect of the drug may come unwanted to some, possibly leading to an increased anxiety or depressed mind state. While the specific modality of effect is not well understood, a Black Box Warning has been issued with Effexor and with other SSRI and SSRN anti-depressants advising of risk of suicidality.
Some studies have questioned the effectiveness of the drug in helping depression. The black box warnings advise physicians to carefully monitor patients for suicide risk at start of usage and whenever the dosage is changed. Family members should be advised of this potentially fatal side effect so they may bring the patient to a hospital emergency for surveillance and protection.
This drug is particularly risky for patients whose mental condition includes poor impulse control such as Borderline Personality Disorder, and if there is comorbid substance abuse.
Effexor is sometimes used for the treatment of depressive phases of bipolar disorder. However, this has some potential danger, as Effexor can induce mania, mixed states, rapid cycling and/or psychosis in some bipolar patients, particularly if they are not also being treated with a mood stabilizer.
Another risk is developing Serotonin syndrome. This is a serious effect that can be caused by interactions with other drugs and is potentially fatal.
Some common side effects of using Effexor include:
- Increased blood pressure
- Dry mouth
- Sexual dysfunction
- Vivid dreams
Disclaimer: The information presented here should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please talk to your doctor for more information about Effexor.