Effexor, a drug that belongs to selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) drug group, is used as an antidepressant. SNRIs like Effexor works by increasing the amount of the two important neurotransmitters in the brain, the serotonin and norepinephrine.These two neurotransmitters play a major role in mood stabilization. It is believed that imbalances in these two neurotransmitters can lead to depression and other anxiety disorders.
Effexor is the most common brand name for venlafaxine. Aside from that, venlafaxine also comes with a brand name Effexor XR. Venlafexine is only one of the several drug classes available in the group of SNRIs. Other drugs which are also included in this SNRIs are duloxetine(Cymbalta), milnacipran (Dalcipran, Savella), desvenlafaxine (Pristiq), sibutramine(Meridia), Levomilnacipran, and bicifadine.
What is Effexor used for?
Effexor is used in several psychiatric disorders. Here are the common uses of Effexor:
- Major depression – A person can be classified under major depression if there is prominent, prolong, and consistent dysphoric or depressed mood that can already interfere with ADLs or activities of daily living. Symptoms of major depression include loss of appetite, loss of interest in different activities, impaired concentration, feelings of worthlessness, change in sleep pattern, decrease sexual drive, increase fatigue, and suicidal thoughts.
- Anxiety disorders
- Panic disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS)- It is a medical condition in which there is a chronic and widespread pain on joints and muscle. Other symptoms include fatigue, abdominal pain, incontinence, stiffness, chronic headaches, difficulty in sleeping, and inability to concentrate. This condition may lead to depression or social isolation. FMS is more common to women than in men.
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – It is a behavioral disorder that emerges before the child turns into seven years old. It is characterized by inability to sustain an activity, hyperactivity, and impulsive behaviors.
- Chronic neuropathic pain
Common side effects of Effexor
There are several side effects that could happen to a person when taking Effexor. Less serious side effects include:
- Increased sweating
- Dry mouth
- Mild nausea
- Strange dreams
- Changes in appetite
- Weight changes
- Decrease libido
However, if not taken properly, Effexor can lead to some serious side effects including:
- Seizure or convulsions
- Allergic reaction
- Arrhythmias or irregular heartbeat
- Ecchymosis or easy bruising
- Chest pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Peripheral vascular disorders
Here is the list of the summarized possible effects as per body system:
1. Cardiovascular System
- Aortic aneurysm
- Congestive heart failure
2. Digestive System
- Eructation or burping
- Bruxism or teeth grinding
- Colitisor inflammation of the colon
- Dysphagia or difficulty in swallowing
- Tongue swelling or edema
- Gastrointestinal ulcer
- Melena or black tarry stool
- Rectal hemorrhage
3. Lymphatic System
4. Endocrine System
- Thyroiditis or inflammation of the thyroid gland
5. Nervous System
- Trismus or spasm of the muscle in the jaw
- Akathisia or feeling or restlessness
- Ataxia or poor coordination
- Euphoria or elevated mood
- Increased libido
- Abnormal speech
6. Musculoskeletal System
- Arthritis or joint pain
- Leg cramps
- Bone pain
7. Respiratory System
- Dyspnea or difficulty breathing
- Epistaxis or nose bleeding
8. Integumentary System
Effexor should be cautiously use because of the interactions it may have with other substances. If it interacts with the following substances below, it can cause serious adverse reaction:
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID)- Interaction with this can cause more bruising and bleeding tendencies.
Effexor side effects on children
Usually, children experience the same side effects listed above. The common side effects on children are nausea, dizziness, and dry mouth. However, the most serious effect on children is the increase in suicidal ideation. Just like in taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRIs), there is an increase risk in suicidal behaviors on children when taking SNRIs.
Effexor side effects on men
Men can also experience all of the side effects mentioned above. But in addition to that, men can also suffer from its adverse reaction affecting the prostate gland. Men can acquire different disorders in the prostate including prostatitis and benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH). They can also experience priapism or prolonged erection, and gynecomastia or abnormal breast development in male.
Effexor side effects on women
Although women may experience the same side effects as men, there are some side effects that can particularly happen only to women including metrorrhagia (irregular menstruation), vaginitis (inflammation of the vagina), amenorrhea (absence of menstruation), breast pain, and vaginal hemorrhage. Rarely, women may also experience breast discharge, breast enlargement, endometriosis, ovarian cyst, and cervicitis.
Effexor side effects on pregnant women
Studies show that exposure to Effexor during pregnancy may put the baby at risk of developing some adverse effects. This can lead to heart problems and lung defects. The baby can also have some developmental delays. Exposure to SNRIs is strictly avoided since it can potentially harm the unborn baby. As for the effects on the mother, it may increase suicidalideation, increase blood pressure, constipation, dizziness, insomnia, dry mouth, nausea, sweating, and weakness.
Effexor side effects on elderly
Effexor can be safely use by elderly people in general. However, if the elderly client is already suffering from high blood pressure or liver diseases, the intake of Effexor should be cautiously done. It is important to consult first some medical advice in order to weigh in the risks and benefits that could possibly happen. But generally speaking, all of the side effects listed above can still be experience by the elderly.