Effexor is the brand name for an anti-depressant medication called venlafaxine. In addition to treating generalized depression, it can be used to treat other mood disorders such as anxiety or panic disorders. Effexor is one of a group of medications called selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, which work to regulate mood levels by increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain.
Effexor can work to control depression, but it doesn't cure major depressive disorder. If a patient stops taking Effexor, her depression may return.
Effexor is sold either as a tablet or as an extended-release capsule. The tablet may be taken with a meal two or three times a day, as prescribed. Patients should take the extended-release capsule one time in the morning, swallowed whole.
Most patients begin on a low dose of Effexor and increase slowly to find their optimum level. It may take six to eight weeks before they feel the full benefits.
Like all medications, Effexor may cause side effects in some patients. These may include nausea, drowsiness or trouble sleeping, decreased sex drive, changes in appetite, or excessive sweating.
A few patients have more serious side effects which must be addressed immediately. These include seizures, rigid muscles, hallucinations, fever, fainting or chest constriction.
A patient who experiences a skin rash, hives, swelling or trouble breathing after taking Effexor is probably having an allergic reaction and should seek emergency medical help.
In case of overdose, a patient should seek help immediately. Overdose symptoms include dizziness, vomiting, tingling of hands and feet, pupil dilation, muscle pain, fast or slow heartbeat or coma.
Effexor may react with other medications. Patients taking an MAOI drug must not take Effexor. In addition, patients with bipolar disorder, liver or kidney disease, glaucoma, epilepsy or a blood clotting disorder should discuss with their doctor whether or not Effexor is the right anti-depressant for them. It may need to be adjusted, or a different anti-depressant may be a better choice.
Women who are pregnant or nursing should discuss their options with their doctor. Effexor may pass into breast milk, and it may be harmful to a developing baby.
In some patients, particularly in those younger than 24 years old, Effexor may cause suicidal feelings. A patient should tell his doctor immediately if he experiences a worsening of depression or thoughts of harming himself.
It's important to continue seeing a doctor for regular medication checks while taking Effexor.
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