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Effexor for Depression: Mechanism of Action, Side Effects, Interactions

Effexor dosage for depression

Effexor for Depression: Mechanism of Action, Side Effects, Interactions

Written by:

Rabia Khaliq

MSc in Applied Psychology

Umar Javed



The medications listed on this website are provided for informational purposes only. Their inclusion does not guarantee that they will be prescribed to any individual, as treatment decisions are ultimately at the discretion of healthcare providers. This list is not exhaustive, and healthcare providers may prescribe other medications, including non-stimulant options, based on the patient’s unique health circumstances and needs.

Depression is usually associated with low neurochemical levels like serotonin and norepinephrine. To raise them, doctors often prescribe Effexor (venlafaxine generic name). This medication is approved for depression, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, and panic attacks treatment.

9.5% of the American adult population suffers from depression every year, and Effexor is a highly effective antidepressant drug recommended for patients. However, it also has precautions and side effects and should be prescribed by a doctor. Below, let’s learn more about venlafaxine and how it works for depression.

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What is Effexor, and How Does It Work?

Effexor is a type of antidepressant that belongs to a class of drugs called serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). These neurotransmitters play a role in mood regulation.

Effexor works by blocking serotonin and norepinephrine reabsorption back to nerves. This helps improve the levels of these neurotransmitters in the brain.

Using Effexor

Venlafaxine tablets and capsules are available in immediate-release (Effexor) and extended-release form (Effexor XR). Effexor’s unique effect on a person’s body (pharmacodynamics) may even help treat the types of depression that show drug resistance to other antidepressants. A study [1*] also recommends switching patients from serotonin (5HT) selective reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) to SNRIs if they show apathy.


Standard venlafaxine tablets are available in either 37.5 mg or 75 mg dosages, while slow-release Effexor capsules are available in 37.5 mg, 75 mg, and 150 mg doses.

In most cases, medical professionals begin with a low Effexor dosage and gradually raise it until they find a better dosage for the patient. They give prescriptions this way to lower the likelihood of experiencing adverse effects.

Patients can take Effexor anytime, whether morning or night. However, they should follow the doctor’s prescription and only use Effexor for depression for the prescribed length of time.

Missing a Dose

Patients can take Effexor as soon as they remember after missing the dose. But if it’s almost time for their next dosage, they should skip the missed one. Taking two doses at once to compensate for a missed one can lead to overdosing. If they are on the extended-release form dosage, they must not take more than one dose daily.

Effexor Withdrawal

Patients should not stop using Effexor suddenly without first consulting their doctor. Stopping drug usage abruptly can cause withdrawal symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, vomiting, nausea, and others.

If a patient has used a higher than minimum venlafaxine dosage for a long time, their doctor might propose tapering off the dosage over several weeks. That will lessen the likelihood of experiencing withdrawal from Effexor.


Signs of an Effexor overdose can include severe drowsiness, convulsions, and a rapid or irregular heartbeat. Anyone in close contact should call 911 if they suspect someone has overdosed and has severe symptoms like losing consciousness or breathing problems.

Get professional guidance on pharmacological treatment for depression and consult on treatment adjustments with an expert.

Side Effects of Effexor

As with any other medication, someone using Effexor can experience side effects. However, many take the drug successfully with little or only mild complications. Complications include:

Common Side Effects

Common side effects of venlafaxine can reduce as the body adjusts to the medication. Patients should notify the doctor right away if any of these symptoms persist or worsen:

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Blurred vision
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Changes in sexual function
  • Increased sweating
Side effects of venlafaxine

Serious Side Effects

Severe Effexor side effects rarely occur. A patient should inform the doctor immediately if they experience one or more of these:

  • Rash
  • Hives
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Seizures

Get online depression counseling to know how to eliminate the side effects of your medication or receive a new prescription.


When taking Effexor, take precautions if you have:

  • Seizures, brain damage, and other brain conditions. Doctors associate taking Effexor with an increased risk of seizures.
  • History of mania. Taking Effexor can increase a person’s chances of experiencing mania.
  • Cardiovascular disease, hypertension, or low blood pressure. On rare occasions, Effexor can worsen these conditions.
  • Kidney and liver diseases. The risk of adverse effects from Effexor increases if the drug reaches high levels in the blood due to kidney or liver dysfunction. The patient may require a dose adjustment from the doctor.

Warnings and Interactions

Drug and food interactions can alter the effectiveness of Effexor dosage for depression and anxiety or increase patients’ risk of adverse effects.

Patients should inform their doctor about all the medications they are currently taking, including supplements, vitamins, and natural remedies. The doctor should also monitor the patient for complications during the follow-up appointments.

Drug Interactions

Effexor has shown interaction with some drugs in major or minor ways:

  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). During the two weeks before and after using Effexor, the patient should not use MAO inhibitors such as selegiline, isocarboxazid, or phenelzine.
  • Serotonergic drugs. Serotonin syndrome is a condition caused by high serotonin levels in the brain. It’s essential to be cautious while combining Effexor with other drugs that alter serotonin levels. These include MAOIs, buspirone tryptophan, buspirone, fentanyl, amphetamines, St. John’s Wort, tryptophan, lithium, tramadol, and triptans. Symptoms of serotonin syndrome include agitation, confusion, hallucinations, muscle twitching, seizures, and fever.

Food / Alcohol Interactions

Patients can take their Effexor dosage for depression with food and not be afraid of any interactions. Adults should avoid alcohol while taking Effexor as it can increase the risk of side effects.

Final Word

Effexor is an effective and generally well-tolerated medication for depression and several other mental health issues. Patients should inform their doctor of any other medication they use to avoid side effects and dangerous interactions. Contact MEDvidi doctors today to get prescribed antidepressant medication based on your symptoms and health history.


+1 sources
  1. Apathy symptoms induced by low-dose venlafaxine: Two cases. (2020)
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Written by:

Rabia Khaliq

MSc in Applied Psychology

Umar Javed


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Evidence Based

This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts and fact checked by experts.

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This article contains scientific references. The numbers
in the parentheses (1, 2, 3) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific papers.