The People's Perspective on Medicine

Venlafaxine

Overview

Venlafaxine (Effexor XR) was introduced as an antidepressant, although it is sometimes used to treat other mental conditions such as panic disorder. Venlafaxine is classified as an SNRI-a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor. That puts it in the same category as duloxetine (Cymbalta) and desvenlafaxine (Pristiq). These medications affect many systems of chemical messengers (the neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine) in the brain.

Side Effects and Interactions

The side effects of venlafaxine include nausea, headache, anxiety or agitation, insomnia, drowsiness, excessive sweating and loss of appetite. Appetite problems may result in weight loss, but venlafaxine is by no means a weight-loss drug.

Dry mouth, dizziness, constipation, tremor and blurred vision are other possible side effects. Venlafaxine may lead to increased blood pressure in some people, so blood pressure should be monitored on a regular basis. Blood cholesterol levels may also rise while a person is taking venlafaxine. Excessive sweating or yawning, exhaustion, rapid heartbeat and abnormal dreams are among the common reactions, as are sexual difficulties such as erectile dysfunction and ejaculatory problems.

Serious Reactions of Venlafaxine

Venlafaxine carries a black box warning to alert prescribers, patients and their families that those taking the drug may be at increased risk for committing suicide. This risk is strongest for young people 24 years old or less. The drug is not approved for use in children.

As with other antidepressants, people taking venlafaxine may find their depression worsening or experience manic symptoms.

Some patients on venlafaxine have experienced seizures. Report any symptoms or suspected side effects without delay.

Pancreatitis, liver damage and severe skin reactions that may require hospitalization are among the rare but serious problems that may be triggered by venlafaxine. Hyponatremia (a dangerously low sodium level), heart rhythm disturbances and excessive bleeding have also been reported.

Withdrawal

Stopping venlafaxine suddenly can result in symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, digestive distress and visual disturbances. Dizziness and vertigo may be accompanied by a feeling variously described as “head in a blender” or “brain sloshing.” Many people who stop venlafaxine suddenly also complain of “brain zaps”-sensations like electric shocks to the head. Headaches, anxiety, tremors and nerve tingling or other strange sensations can be very unsettling. Anxiety and irritability are common withdrawal reactions, as are extreme fatigue. This discontinuation syndrome can be disabling. Sudden withdrawal should be avoided if at all possible; unfortunately, doctors do not have adequate instructions on how slowly people may need to decrease the dose of this medication.

Interactions

Because of the possibility of a life-threatening interaction called serotonin syndrome, venlafaxine must not be taken by anyone on an MAO inhibitor such as isocarboxazid, phenelzine, procarbazine, selegiline or tranylcypromine. Other drugs that inhibit monoamine oxidase and must be avoided include the antibiotic linezolid (Zyvox) and methylene blue injections.

A person who has been taking an MAO inhibitor should wait at least 14 days after stopping it before beginning to take venlafaxine; after stopping venlafaxine, a person should wait 7 days before starting on an MAO inhibitor.

Certain medications, particularly amiodarone (Cordarone), dronedarone (Multaq) and thioridazine can increase the possibility of QT prolongation, a potentially deadly change in heart rhythm, and should not be taken in combination with venlafaxine.

Other Drugs That React Badly with Venlafaxine

antidepressants such as citalopram (Celexa),

antipsychotic drugs such as asenapine (Saphris),

cancer treatments such as crizotinib (Xalkori),

migraine headache medicines such as almotriptan (Axert), eletriptan (Relpax), frovatriptan (Frova), naratriptan (Amerge), sumatriptan (Imitrex) and zolmitriptan (Zomig)

hepatitis C medications such as boceprevir (Victrelis),

HIV drugs such as cobicistat (Stribild)

quinine derivatives such as chloroquine,

special-use antibiotics such bedaquiline (Sirturo),

et can slow removal of Effexor from the body, and a person who must take both may need a dosage adjustment. This is most likely to affect individuals with high blood pressure or liver problems, and the elderly.

Certain other medications, such as quinidine, may increase blood levels of Effexor, but there is limited data on interactions, and there may be other drug interactions that have not yet been identified.

Ask your doctor and pharmacist to check whether any other drug or herb you take is safe in combination with Effexor.

Special Precautions

Venlafaxine can cause or exacerbate narrow-angle or angle-closure glaucoma and should not be given to anyone with this eye condition.

Some depressed people experience anxiety and insomnia as part of the symptoms of their condition. Effexor may exacerbate these problems in some patients.

The drug may also worsen the manic phase for some manic-depressive individuals and not be appropriate for continued treatment.

Any medicine affecting the brain may have the potential to slow reflexes or impair judgment. Such problems did not appear significant in clinical trials, but patients are best advised not to drive or use hazardous machinery until they can determine (preferably through an objective assessment) that they are not adversely affected by Effexor.

As of this writing, Effexor is a new drug with relatively little data available. Studies have not established that it is effective for long-term use of more than six weeks. It is advisable for doctor and patient to reevaluate this therapy periodically to make sure that it continues to be appropriate.

Taking the Medicine

Effexor should be taken with food. The dosage should be individually adjusted and will determine whether Effexor is taken two or three times daily. When going off Effexor, a person should ask the doctor for guidelines on gradual withdrawal.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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I’m amazed, I have to admit. Seldom do I encounter a blog that’s both equally educative and entertaining, and without a doubt, you’ve hit the nail on the head. The issue is an issue that too few men and women are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy I found this during my hunt for something concerning this.

I’ve been taking 150mg Venlafaxine for approx. 4 months now and have lost my appetite. I eat when I get very hungry or to complete my daily calorie intake. But I have lost some weight and only weigh 110 pounds (7.8 stones) so can’t afford to lose more.
Does anyone know a way to counter the loss of appetite?
Thanks!

I was on this medication for a couple of years and despite the initial support it gave me, over time I felt like it was making me crazy. I talked to my doctor about getting off of it, so I went from the 75mg slow release to 37.5mg slow release and there were no side effects. However, when I tried to go to 12.5mg dose after a month, I was generally “mushy brained”, had zaps all over my body- not just brain zaps, and I felt disoriented.

I rode it out though, and after a couple of months tried to taper off by taking the lower dose every other day- this did not work. I was unable to function, so I talked to my doctor and she said there wasn’t a lower dose. Fast forward 6 more months, and I spoke with a pharmacist who said there was indeed a lower dose, and a non-time released 12.5mg (so I could cut them in half).

I was only able to get a prescription for the non-time release ones, so I took half of those for two weeks, then a quarter for another two weeks. During the time I took the quarter of the 12.5MG, I was getting headaches, disorientation, and zaps, but everything was tolerable. I finally stopped on 12/31 and am still having the zaps (like a mild electric shock) all over my body.

I am thrilled to be off of this stuff! I am not a doctor of any kind, but would not recommend this medication to anyone based on my experience.

I’ve been taking 150mg XR Effexor for almost 6 years now. I will say it has helped my depression and anxiety. Yes, the withdrawals are unbelievable. I seriously couldn’t function. I was one dose short, while waiting for the mail order. Couldn’t walk, drive, barely talk…just crying all day. The brain zaps though are something I never want to experience again. I hate depending on this drug, although it has helped me a lot. If you are considering taking this, do a little bit of research. What might work well for someone, might not work well for you. Good luck to everyone ?

I got a prescription for Venlafaxine 37,5mg and came here to find out what others have to say about this before starting. Comments are mixed and I am not sure if I should even start now.

I started venlafaxine a few years ago while going through a difficult time. I lost my job, my wife was diagnosed with cancer, and my son got himself sent to prison. I was feeling very down and my doctor put me on 75 mg of venlafaxine daily. I don’t know if it was the pills or just time, but I started feeling better.

After taking this stuff for a couple of years I asked my doctor about stopping and she said everything is going well with you so you should continue. Two more years had passed and I had put on about 50 pounds (3.6 stone or 22.6 kg) so I insisted that we start a cessation program. She first had me dump about a fourth of the 75 mg capsules and take this 25% reduced level for 10 days. Then I received a 30 day supply of 37.5 mg venlafaxine capsules and started taking them for 10 days. Here is where I started feeling a little dizzy, with ringing in my ears, and “brain zaps”. I then reduced the 37.5 mg capsules by 25% for 10 days, followed by 50% reduction for 10 days and then 75% reduction for the balance of the capsules.

A couple of days after each reduction in strength were very challenging. There were head zaps, body aches, disorientation and generally feeling miserable. I did some research and found information about some people using Prozac 10 mg to reduce the withdrawal symptoms. Figuring I had nothing to lose, I ask my doc for a 30 prescription for generic Prozac 10 mg and took one. After a few hours the symptoms diminished but I became worried that getting off this might be difficult too. Without any real medical direction, I took a Prozac every other day for a week, and then once every two days and finally stopped.

I still have ringing in my ears and mild brain zaps but I can live with them. I’m hoping that with time these will go away. I think these drugs did scary stuff to my body chemistry and I suggest finding alternatives whenever possible.

RUN!!!! Run from this drug. My vision has gotten worse over two years as I was on 150 mg., then 75 mg.,
I stoped on my on, going through menopause, in a suboxzone clinic and only have Buspar to take. My doctor didn’t warn me that because I already have astigmatism in one eye that taking Effexer could cause blindness. My vision is getting worse.

This has been the worst, most depressing week of my life–health-wise. I walked in front of a car, yesterday. My reactions to any normal situation have slowed and are almost gone or disappeared.

Hi I have been on effexor 75mg slow release for the past 12 months previously I was on lovan for approx 5 and a half years it was no longer working. Doc said try effexor after agonising over it for 3 months stupid me decided to take it, well it worked great no depression no anxiety no suicidal thoughts, but god forbid forget to take this medicine 1 day and I’m completely unable to function.

Trying to come off after 3 days I was in a feotal position on my lounge in tears then my evil thoughts returned. My mouth goes numb I stutter cant get my words out it is like my brain is delayed compared to my body out burst of crying then anger wanting to slam my car up the back of the truck and still be able to watch it roll and burst into flames feels like I’m having electric shocks through out my whole body this drug is freaking me out to think that I will one day have to come off it as I do not want to rely on drugs for the rest of my life.

I was told to take Venlafaxine 75mg capsule once a day by my doctor, however I didn’t really feel like i saw an improvement for my depression (think i took it for about 2 weeks.) It has been almost a year and a half and I am thinking about going on it again and giving it more time. I still have a bottle full of pills but i think they might be expired or something because the date on the bottle is half a year old. My question is would they still work or are they garbage now (I don’t have a drug plan so it would be nice if I could just take these pills.) Also since I was prescribed Venlafaxine before would it be alright just to start again or should I talk to my doctor again.

Don’t ever start back on it – this drug is horrible!!!

Withdrawal from Effexor has been the most horrific experience I have ever been through. I wouldn’t advise anyone to take it, unless you wish to take it for the rest of your life. Brain zaps, nightmares, hot flashes, disorientation, insomnia, sweating, acute depression, headaches, I’ve been through all of them for a period of 2 months and I’m still sick. Ask your doctor for an alternative, you’ll regret ever taking it.

Hi venlafaxine is an evil drug please be aware that although you may feel ok on it when you withdraw the side effects are terrible. I have been decreasing for 6 months, I am not on the caps and the way I did it was to gradually file them down over this period, I finally stopped last week when the amount was so small (about the size of a pinhead) that I stopped. I have been ill ever since with head zaps, diarrhea chronic, bouts of crying and despair, very painful knees and lower legs, nausea, depression. Also I have put 45lb on in weight. I spoke to a friend yesterday who said in the 5 years he was on this drug his weight increased by 9 stone! and he had to have bariatric surgery. He also had very bad side effects and went onto another drugs to help get off Venlafaxine. I will never ever take this addictive drug again, and dont know how long I will have these terrible side effects for. Please be careful.

Hi Dee
I’m now down to 37.5mg from 150mg. What a nightmare! I’m now counting out the beads and reducing the last part of my wean by 10% each day. Symptoms are, increased anxiety, depression, clicking sounds when I move my head in the waking hours. I’ve been switched at the same time to Remeron. I would NOT recommend Effexor to anyone. It never helped me in the 5 months I was on it, even with increased doses. Worst med ever.

I have been told Cymbalta is better and easier to get off of, but it is much more expensive. Can’t believe I have to add ANOTHER prescription expense to my already faltering bank account. Merry Christmas!

Still trying to find out how long efffexor Xr (generic) takes to relieve anxiety? I’ve been on 150mg for 8 weeks. It has helped a lot with depression but not so much on anxiety. Doc keeps saying “give it more time”. Is appreciate it if anyone that is taking this med for anxiety can give me some input on this

I was put on Effexor extended release about 9 weeks ago. Started at 37.5 for 4 days, then went up to 75mg for about 2 and 1/2 weeks. Then 112.5mg for about a week. Last 5 weeks I’ve been at 150mg. It has only started to relieve my depression (MDD) the past 3 weeks, but I still have daily anxiety, though that has gotten somewhat better too.

My understanding about this med from my doc is that you have to find the right dose for you, then when you notice improvements, stay at that dose for 4-12 weeks depending on how you are doing. Doc added 20mg of Buspar, which I’m not that impressed with. My question is, has anyone else noticed it takes this long for the anxiety to resolve on his med? And, anyone else find that with each increase you feel more down and anxious? Always happened to me.

Michele, I have a similar story to yours. You would think that after working closely within the psychiatric community most of my adult life, I would have known better that to let the doctors put me on Effexor. I had heard all the horror stories before. I ended up in the ER and Psych unit at the hospital when I ran out of my Valium early. After much “adjusting,” I left the unit with new meds: Effexor, Neurontin and Trazadone. I am blown away by the dry mouth and blurred vision, but even more so by the inability to afford a new psychiatrist and all these new meds. The Neurontin (Gabapentin) is supposedly for anxiety but exacerbates the other symptoms. I am out of Effexor and horrified by what I am seeing about these side effects of quitting. I too have been on them for roughly 5-6 weeks and have gained 10 lbs already.

Does anyone experience extreme night sweats when on this? Also I find with this medication that I experience pretty extreme side effects if I even miss one dosage.

I’m on 225 mg/day extended release venlafaxine. Night sweats–yes. Yesterday I forgot my dose (taken in the morning). I started feeling fluish late in the afternoon, had exceptionally strange dreams and horrid night sweats over night. Took the dose as per usual this morning, and even six hours later I’m fluish, nauseated, dizzy, headachey, and generally feel like heck. I hate this stuff, tried a withdrawal taper recommended by my practitioner, but couldn’t deal with it after about three months. I hate this stuff.

I was put on venlafaxine by my doctor because of my complaints of not connecting with anything on Zoloft. The venlafaxine helped me gain 50 pounds and all thinking on the fly went out the window.

The doctor who prescribed me the venlafaxine neglected to tell me that if I were to taper off, that I would have a total psychotic break. It has been three weeks now and I’m over the nausea, vomiting, dizziness, tinnitus. What I have now is severe neck pain, uncontrollable rage, anxiety, and absolutely no self control. I’ve been all over the place for three weeks, and three weeks before that I was a zombie.

I think any doctor who prescribes this medication without informing the patient of the horrific side-effects that come with tapering off the medication should have their license to practice revoked.

Any doctor who prescribes it without the patient going through extensive testing and therapy showing that there is no other option but the Effexor/venlafaxine should lose their license to practice.

After doing some research of my own, I found that I am not alone. There are thousand out there who went through the EXACT same things I went through/am going through.

If your doctor is trying to put you on this drug, research it yourself. Read what other patients have gone through. It is not worth it.

Extreme night sweats, also very vivid dreams;

I am taking myself off of this medication after three day. I also have an underactive thyroid and diabetes and I am unable to sleep. I can not wait weeks as some people have, to see if the insomnia will go away. Now I have to take Benadryl to help me to sleep. I am going to ask to go on Zoloft which isn’t as effective, but at least it has fewer side effects.

I am being prescribed the generic effexor 37.5 extended release for vertigo by my neurologist. I haven’t started it yet as I have some testing to be done. Almost 10 months ago I started feeling light headed and off balance from time to time, then about two weeks after that, I ended up in the hospital after experiencing heart palpitations… been seen by cardiologist, dropped 30 lbs, anxiety from dizziness being controlled with low dose of Ativan, but continued bouts of dizziness led to the neuro referral. I can’t find much information on the treat of BPV with s medication… anyone else take this to control vertigo.

I found out I was pregnant 6 days ago and stopped taking my antidepressants. The day after I stopped I started to feel dizzy and sick which I put down to the pregnancy. But after speaking to my doctor they have advised that it is a side effect of going cold turkey. I constantly have to lye down and can not walk very far. I do not know how long this will last but hopefully not too long now.

I take it also and experience vertigo

Red capsule are 150 mg…..yellow is 75 mg. which can make a HUGE difference in everything from being tired to gaining weight. This is not a small jump that is no big deal. Go see your doc and tell him what you have been taking. I went from doing both to just 75mg. Still have memory loss, but the weight went dramatically down. I would def make sure things are okay for you to take do not leave your health in a pharmacist hands (yes they are brilliant) but they do not really know you and where and why you take this mad.

When I was first diagnosed with bi-polar, major depression and anxiety I was put on Pristique. I’ve never felt so amazing in my life. But I did get flashes in my head all day long. Since the mad was not covered in Canada, I was put on veneflaxine 75mg and 150 mg equaling 300mg a day. I was on that for about a couple of years, gained too much weight and decided I would only take 75 mg per day. This got my weight back down lower then it usually was.
I feel good but my memory has totally failed me. I cannot remember what I did in the morning. Has this happened to anyone and is it caused by the med? Or I have slowly been eating less and less because of stomach issues I’ve been experiencing. Gas, cramps and heart burn. Please I can’t be the only person who has this happening to them? I need some kind of proof so I can be a little at ease knowing I am not losing my mind.
Now my doctor does not know that I went down in my med count. I thought taking 300 mg plus effexor to boost the veneflaxine was too much. I am still a little depressed and my bi-polar does come out once in a while. I understand that this cannot be healed completely. I just need info on and if there are any other routes I can take without the med to make me gain weight or lose my memory.
People’s Pharmacy response: We hope you are not taking both Effexor and venlafaxine. They are the same drug.
Your doctor should work with you to get a regimen you can tolerate.

Effexor’s generic name IS Venlafaxine.

The fatigue will go away. It happened to me everytime I dosed up. You’ll probably be more fatigued the next dose up then you did this time, and even more so if you dose up again after that. I take 300mg/day and it took probably close to a month for the fatigue “flashes” to stop.
As for noticing a difference, it could take upto 2 months for the increase in mood to plateau after going up to a higher dose. I found personally, most times it was around 4 weeks, except the last one which took a whole 2 months. Can be discouraging, but try to keep at it! It can be a long and slow-going process to find a dosage that works for you. Good luck!

I’ve been on the meds for 7 years… down from 75 to 37.5 to now 25 mg…. I’ve got nausea and dizziness and exhaustion… but I’m also 5 days late… anyone ever experience menstrual issue while weening off?

I have always taken the generic of Effexor, so I am wondering if I should have my dosage increased from 100mg, just in case it is not as strong as the non generic.

I have been on 75mg venex for 6 months and 2 weeks ago my doctor increased the dosage to 112.5mg per day. I haven’t noticed much difference except the extreme bouts of fatigue that can last for anywhere between 5 mins and 3 hours. Has anyone else noticed this when increasing the dosage? I have had no side effects other than this and find this med. brilliant for GAD

Hey there,
I have incredibly ridiculously bad constipation but I think I remember that happening after being depressed and anorexic [the latter caused by the depression, I believe] for a good while. You should go get an allergy test by a homeopath or whatever if you haven’t? I really want/need to do so myself! Also avoid vitamins (pills).
I have awful side effects, but I advise people to stick them out and be tough because I went off venlafaxine several times and no other antidepressant helped nearly as much as it does. And once you go off it, you tend to need a (MUCH, for me) higher dose the next time you go back on it in order to reach the same effect (or, in my case I have never been as happy as when I was first on it [for 8 months]; I was exceptionally joyous whereas now I have to suffer(;P) with being NORMAL haha). Also the side effects dissipate a lot eventually, but (for me) after a fairly long while being on the venlafaxine.
ALSO IF YOU EVER GO OFF IT, ***WEAN*** OFF, for the love of god, as SLOWLY as possible. Shame on the stupid arrogant Dr who told me not to! (I didn’t listen, but still… Moral is think for yourself and doctors are just people too, I guess…)

Yes dani k, yawning was and occasionally has and still is a side effect of mine also. I was told about this prior to beginning the medication by the psychiatrist, weight gain though – sorry I can’t help you with that one.

I have been taking venlafaxine XR 300mg for the past 2 years due to Severe Agitated Depression and Anxiety under the supervision of my Psychiatrist. Although I do experience many of the symptoms described in many posts above, in my opinion I would rather have those effects than be in the dark horrible place I was prior to being prescribed this drug (hospitalized many times and attempted suicide).
My symptoms include excessive tiredness, all over body zaps (arms /Legs) if I forget to take the drug or am late by a few hours, shocking memory/concentration, weight loss due to loss of appetite, sleeplessness/excessive sleeping, headaches, dizziness but worst of all is CONSTIPATION!!!- Absolutely terrible even with the aid of laxatives.
Does anyone else suffer this side effect? The psychiatrist has commented on changing the drug on my last visit but I am not interested as venlafaxine has given me a new lease on life and for the first time feel at peace, worried, depressed or anxious anymore.

So I just started taking this medication. I was wondering if anyone experience WEIGHT GAIN IN STEAD OF LOSS. and also very tired. like repeatedly yawning??

Hi Larry,
This happened to my sister. If you wean off the brand-name and add in the remaining amount in generic, you should be fine. I sympathize, I saw her change completely when it happened to her. Example, just in case:
Week 1) 37.5mg generic, 37.5 brand-name
Week 2) 75mg generic.
This example could be not ideal though. If you need, buy empty gel capsules and make the amounts of generic even smaller of a proportion to begin with! If you have a good eye and a steady hand, just split a 75mg in half and then in half again, for example…. Good luck, log back in and let me know how it goes!
Oh dear. Sorry, I misread your post. Different generic brands, wow. They are always switching me on those…. Now I am mistrustful… Try increasing the dose, it could be `pooping out` like mine did. I was on 75mg for over a year but now am on 225mg (which gave me mania, so I added in 100mg lamotrigine and now I`m good).

I started taking Brand Effexor-XR 75mg about 10 years ago and started taking the generic when it came out a few years ago. Last month the pharmacy changed manufacturers of the generic brand and the pharmacist and my doctor said their was no difference. However after two weeks all the symptoms and problems such as worry, panic attacks that I had years ago came back and I decided to get a second opinion from a locally owned pharmacy and they said that all generics are not the same. He said they only distribute Venlafaxine that is manufactured by Greenstone which are red capsules and not yellow.
Now after taking these for two weeks I am finally getting my life back and would not wish my experience on no one. I had to miss a few days of work because I literally couldn’t get out of bed I was so down and out. If anyone has had a similar experience I sure would like to know.

For the last 7 years I am on EFEXOR-XR 75,Started with 75 for 10 days and then with 150 for 6 months.After that, with 75.Never had side affects. A couple of times have stopped to take Efexor-xr and after about a month the PANIC Came back so my doctor told me to stay on Efexor-xr 75 one per day for the rest of my life. Thanks..

I suffered with almost-unbearable nausea for years on it.. But it helped the depression so much better than anything else that I put up with it. Now, I almost never get nauseous. It can take a VERY long time.. I’m on the XR by the way, never been on the other kind. PS If you go off an antidepressant and back on that same antidepressant at some later time after being off it for a while, it can lower the effectiveness. I used to be on 75mg and now need 225mg for a similar (albeit slightly lesser, perhaps) effect. Also watch out for mania ~ not sleeping, never hungry, too much energy, too talkative, tons to say and too excited to the point where you wanna poke everyone else and tell them to talk faster and say more HAHA… Hyper-sexuality that ruins relationships.. On 225mg I went manic. If it happens, I recommend adding 100mg lamotrigine. Though this may not be strong enough of a mood stabilizer for others, maybe I lucked out.

I’ve been on Venlafaxine for about 2 years now. Recently, I tried to wean off (tired of the nausea) and after 2 days, I couldn’t even get off the couch. Needless to say, I restarted it. Has anyone switched from the regular to the XR and is the nausea improved?

Hi Taylor,
If you’ve only been on it for three days I think you will be fine in terms of withdrawal (whether or not you wean) :)
Remember to wean. Buy empty gel caps.
My semi-wild guess is if you’ve taken it a week or less, your withdrawal will not be so bad.
Good luck finding a new med. Zoloft has a good rep.. ;) (PS I’m not some Zoloft worker btw lol)

I am coming off cold turkey it is the third day and I feel very very sick does anyone know how long withdrawls will last for?

Hi Cynthia,
I strongly recommend weaning really slowly off it. The slower the better, more or less, right? Even though 37.5 milligrams is the lowest dose sold, if I were you I would buy empty gel capsules (I got mine from the pharmacy/asked a pharmacist if they sold them; you also might be able to get them or order them in from a Health Food store, or online) and split the pills in approximately half (eyeball-it) yourself. Then I’d even split the split pills after that :P (I personally would try, say, a month at 37.5/2 = 18.75mg; and then a month of 18.75mg/2 = 9.whatever.)
I’ve done this sort of thing and had no withdrawal issues, but I hear the withdrawal can be a nightmare.
Just a note of caution, I regret having gone off venlafaxine in the first place, since once you go off and back on it, it may lose some effectiveness which for me it did.
Also if you realistically know you have depression or anxiety or whatever you take it for, and know you seem to need meds, make sure you start a new appropriate med (Google search whether it interacts with venlafaxine first), say when you’re down to 1/2 or 1/4 of 37.5mg of the Effexor. If you have social anxiety, I recommend Zoloft (sertraline), as I’ve heard very good things of it. For me, everything (Prozac, Wellbutrin, Remeron.. can’t remember what else) other than venlafaxine only took the edge off my depression, rather than put me in amazing remission the way venlafaxine did.
If you have Bipolar disorder, I recommend lamotrigine to *prevent* mania (apparently it doesn’t treat acute mania?), as it works just swell for me when I didn’t expect it to, and has a good cognitive profile and, for me, no side effects. My twin sister was much less depressed and not nearly as crazy when she added lithium to her Cymbalta (good for depression and/or general anxiety; it made her very manic); but she said she felt like a zombie, stopped the lithium, and got super depressed. Adding lamotrigine to Prozac afterwards lifted her depression at last, and she seems *less* manic now (not sure if she’s completely mania free, lol)..
Last I will add (sorry for the novel), gabapentin (Neurontin) apparently can help social anxiety. It does not really work for me, but I saw lots of anecdotal evidence of people who swear by it. It also has a good cognitive profile. The doses have a huge range, which is convenient. My Dr. prescribed me 100mg up to 3X/day as needed, which might help some people, but I have read that 900mg/day (i.e., 300mg 3X a day) is a good starting or maintenance dose for social anxiety. Buspirone might help general anxiety too but I haven’t heard great things of it. Just some ideas. Good luck :)

I’ve been on this drug for over 10 years, albeit a very small dose – 37.5 mg taken at night. In the beginning, I was taking Effexor XR 75mg, but halved the dosage when I complained to my doctor that it seemed to make my hearing very sensitive.
In an effort to be economical, I requested the generic tablet version (NOT extended release) & I break the 75mg tablet in half, thus making my prescription last longer.
Lately, my ears seem to be buzzing – mostly in the evening when it’s quiet – perhaps, that’s when I notice it. If you’re from the South like I am, the buzzing seems to sound like cicadas in the trees. I’d like to wean myself off this drug, but am afraid.
Has anyone else had this side-effect or have any suggestions?

Between Jesus and Effexor, I’ve gotten so much better!!! I am so much calmer than I was when I got super depressed about a year ago, and The Lord has replaced my mourning with joy! The only negative side effects I experienced from the medicine was weight loss and memory loss. Even though weight loss might be good for some people, it isn’t for me. I was already tiny. I just don’t have much of an appetite since I’ve been on the medicine.

Hi there,
What I believe you want to do is slowly wean from one (Wyeth) to the other (generic). I have been on generic venlafaxine for years and it’s worked amazingly well. My identical twin sister, however, was started on the brand-name, and we were living in Mexico together. She started taking my generic because she didn’t want me to have to pay for her brand-name meds (I was treating her to a Mexico stay, so to speak).
Immediately I noticed something was wrong with her. She started having an ‘existential crisis’ all over again and it was so out of the blue that I thought she’d gone off her meds… Anyway, she ended up gradually making the switch (I recommend you buy empty gel capsules and even wean 1/2 doses from what they give you, e.g., start with — say, if you’re on 150mg — three 37.5mg’s of brand-name and one 37.5mg of generic a day for a couple days — etc. but very gradually. Maybe ask a kind pharmacist to give you some Wyeth, or pay for one bottle-full in the meantime. Hope this helps, and good luck!!

Over the past year I have been trying out different medications to treat fatigue, PMDD, and ADD. Since I am extremely sensitive to drugs and do not tolerate them well, I have yet to find anything that works without debilitating side effects. Bupropion (generic Wellbutrin) gave me perpetual menstruation and continuous stomach cramps from day one at half a 75 mg tab.
As soon as I stopped taking it about a month later, my period also stopped. I told the pharmacist this and she looked at me like I had two heads and told me Bupropion would not cause those problems and that something else must be going on. She also said it is not known how Wellbutrin actually works on the brain. If this is the case how could it be assumed it wouldn’t have unpredictable effects?
Okay, so on to the next trial. My doctor prescribed Venlafaxine (Effexor generic) at 75mg. This was a complete disaster. About twenty minutes after taking the first pill my stomach became queasy. I thought I didn’t eat enough so I made myself a breakfast burrito; two bites into it and the nausea became unbearable. I dragged myself to the bathroom and tried to throw up, but couldn’t. Laying on the floor I suddenly felt like I could feel the medicine dissolve and enter my blood stream. The sensation was that of a cold burn delivered to every muscle in my body, almost like a poison. At the height of the nausea and burning sensation I broke out in a sweat. My movement became slow and my reaction to people talking to me was delayed. I was so worried about what would happen next.
I told my husband to get me some apple cider vinegar right away (it’s supposed speed digestion and help the body flush toxins and meds. Shortly the extreme nausea quieted, but still felt very sick. I stayed on the couch and couldn’t get up. I had no appetite and my eyes felt like they were bulging—something told me to check my pupils. They were slightly bigger than usually—this really scared me. The pharmacist told me the half-life is pretty short on this drug and I’d probably feel better by morning. I was back and forth with nurses on the phone; since things didn’t get worse I decided to ride it out. I slept most of the day away. The next morning was a relief although I felt beat up and stiff with deep pain in my hands.
I have a feeling I would have fared better on the brand names. They say the active ingredients are exactly the same—I don’t believe it. Too many people complain about the switch. I’ve tried 3 other meds, all generic and all with side effects worse than the condition I was trying to treat. That’s it, I’m done! I’m going the natural route, Saint John’s Wart when needed, vit. D, brainy foods, lots of meditation, exercise, and an ADD support group. Done.

I have been on Effexor XR for 12 years and have been as good as I can get. I am a veteran and have always been able to get Wyeth Effexor. Until a move and a new pharmacist. She insists that generic is the same. I have tried her generic and within 3 days I was so dizzy I couldn’t stand up.
Luckily I had tried the generic before being totally out of the non-generic. Had my wife give me a non-generic and I was fine by morning. I have only a few days left of the non generic. Don’t know what I am going to do. Anybody have any suggestions?
I contacted Pfizer the parent company of Wyeth. I asked them about the release system. Because the generic time release does not seem to be time release it just dumps all at once. Wyeth said the only generic they could guarantee that has the same time release as the original is there generic; sold by Greenstone. If somebody has had experience with greenstone I would like to hear about it.

I have been on Venlafaxine for a couple years now for depression. It has been a great med for me. Up until my local pharmacy change mfgs of the 150mg XR, of which I take 2 a day. I worked in said pharmacy when the warehouse switched mfgs. I was VERY leery of changing mfgs, because of something that happened in the past with a different drug, same situation.
My co-worker poo poohed me, saying it’s the same drug. So, I got a 30 day supply, with a higher co-pay than the 90 day supply. I wanted to see if it would be any different. Changed from Teva mfg to Aurobindo. First month was ok. I had a few “swimmy” feelings, but over all, was ok. Thought that feeling might be my BP. Then I had a 90 day filled.
After about 45 more days on the same dosage I’d been on for about 2 years, I began to have way more “swimmy” feelings and dizziness. I took my meds at the same time every day, like clockwork. I went through this hell every day, it caused me problems at work and in my personal life. I was not the same person. As I said to a coworker, “I just don’t feel like me”. I asked if we could order the Teva brand, and was told no, it wasn’t the mfg, there must be something else wrong.
Well, last Tuesday I went to the dr. She asked me about symptoms, took my BP, checked my blood sugar, etc. Said it sounded like withdrawal symptoms. I tried taking one in the am and one at noon, but that just made the symptoms worse. I feel that this is a mfg problem, where it doesn’t release like it should.
I am no longer working in that pharmacy, but still have to get my drugs from there. Dammit anyway! So, now that I’m not an employee, I’m going to put my foot down that they order the Teva brand. I’m tired of feeling this way!! I tried so many different things before I got to this one, and this one works for me. I realize not everyone has the same luck as I do, but I’m feeling like I did before I started taking the Venlafaxine. AND I WILL NOT GO BACK TO THAT PERSON! I was a 2nd grade teacher, and my students didn’t like me.
So, maybe a mfg difference DOES make a difference. Even though they say it doesn’t.

I started Effexor and generic venlafluxine about 4-5 months ago. Initial symptoms were feeling ‘high’ like you’ve had 13 coffees, and some weird effects like flatulence, restlessness… these wore off after 3-4 weeks. Then i just felt normal. I could get out of bed and get stuff done and get on with my god damned life like I wanted to.
If you’re gaining weight its probably because your diet sucks and you don’t do exercise. Get some pen and paper out measure your lean body mass, do a food diary and cut the crap food and account for your calories.
Anyway, these comments (and comments like these on other sites) pissed me off, they made me question whether or not I should go on a drug to stabilize my mood a long time ago. Truth is, its the best thing I could have done, and If I had of done so earlier, I would have bypassed some really bad moments in my life that slowed me down.
Get a good doctor, keep a good level of communication with them and keep trying different drugs or doses if they don’t work for you. Get your butt in the gym and change that diet.
Most importantly, go live your life, because being stuck in depression sucks and is in my opinion the worst experience ever.
good luck.
be strong.

If you are taking venlafaxine for night sweats only (not for depression or anxiety), you might try 2 T flaxseed (ground) at bedtime for the night sweats. I mix my 2 T ground flaxseed in about 1/4 c. non-fat vanilla yogurt (I add a little honey) for a bedtime snack. I’m 54 and in middle of perimenopause and I haven’t had night sweats since starting the flaxseed.
I take venlafaxine for depression & was having night sweats w/ the venlafaxine before I started the flaxseed. Best wishes! W the side effects noted in this blog, I’d get off the venlafaxine if I could, but I need something to deal w/ chronic depression. The V. does it for me (for now, anyway!).

I know this is comment is 5 yrs old, but because you have had good experience w/ Pristique, I want to share info relevant to 2013… about 6 months ago my use of floxotine (generic of prozac) became ineffective for treating my chronic depression. I’d been on 20 mg floxotine for roughly 23 years, so the fact that it became ineffective really blind-sided me! My depression worsened and became acute, to the point I couldn’t go to work. I was desperate for a ‘fix’, as I’d taken remission of depression symptoms for granted w/ floxotine for granted and really didn’t see myself as a person w/ a prob w/ depression at all any more…. My Dr. had samples of pristique & gave me some and it worked very quickly for me. I was relieved and elated.
Then my insurance declined to pay for pristique and required I try a generic (tricyclic antidepressant). This scared me, as feared going back off the cliff. Happily, the venlafaxine xr (75 mg) works for me. I will, however, watch my cholesterol tho, thanks to the info on this site. I’ve worked to get it from high to normal (borderline). I want others to be cautious if their docs give them “free” rx of Pristique or any non-generic med for depression before they know whether it is covered by their insurance. I love this site, its so helpful!!

Venlafaxine XR is amazing for depression (110% severe, in my case) and can change (in my case again) your personality from shy to at (relative) social ease, just unbelievably! It has rough side effects (primarily nausea; and no, no weight gain for me, nor for many people :)) but if you tough them out, they’re worth it. In my opinion.

I had been taking Effexor XL 150 mg for 5 years and was very grateful to have depression under control. I switched to Venlaxine 75 mg bid about 1.5 years ago because of the decreased cost, and during the last year I have been having vivid gruesome nightmares maybe 3-4 times a week. I also have night sweats, and occasional a sudden leg jerk like a reflex kick!
Dizziness and facial acne too.
I don’t mind the side effects compared to going without meds and being depressed, except for the nightmares which are like horror movies.
Severe depression is so scary that I am really unwilling to go off this med. I tried maybe 6 other meds, but stopped them due to early side effects. Prozac was great until at about the 3rd year I began having horrible gruesome nightmares, like now. I stopped Prozac, and BAM – instantly had no more nightmares!

I have been on venlafaxine for about 10 days. After the third day I would wake up with vomiting. The day I couldn’t keep anything down, I didn’t take the pill. The next morning I did not vomit. Then started up again and the same thing, vomiting the minute I got up. Last night I had vomiting and such sever abdominal pain I almost went to the ER. The pain was like someone was stabbing my internal organs from the inside. Could this all be from the med?
PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: Nausea and vomiting are fairly common reactions to the medication. Please let the doctor know you are having this problem.

I am a 17 year old male who after a lot of testing has been diagnosed with anxiety and depression. Also have ADD, but the psychiatrist believes if the anxiety is under control the ADD would be too. I was started on Zoloft in July 2012. The dosages were increased and was up to 100mg by November, but the anxiety was getting worse and not better.
In mid November I was switched to Venlafaxine HCL ER and started at 37.5 mg. Again the dosage was increased in quantities. I am now up to 150 mg. I didn’t have side effects in the beginning, other than not being able to sleep. But I have had problem sleeping for at 2 years. The beginning of January I started having stomach pains and sweats. Not all the time, but at least 3 times a week that increased to where I now have them all the time. I am also have nausea and throw up.
I have told the psychiatrist and he said that since I didn’t have any symptoms in the beginning, it can’t be the medication. My mom took me to a medical doctor and said he thought it was the medication, but I am having blood tests done to rule out anything medical. The medical doctor said he would have prescribed Xanex and he can’t just take me off what I am taking and that I need to talk to my psychiatrist. I just had an appointment and again he said to me that it can’t be the medication it is just anxiety attacks and increased my medication to 187.5 mg to get the anxiety under control.
I don’t feel any different and sometimes feel worse, the anxiety is worse. I know I can’t just stop taking it, but would like to know if it’s possible to have side effects from the medication after taking it for awhile.

You can try mederma for the scars it helps alot

Accidentally withdrew from venlafaxine Oct 2012 (mail order pharmacy used by insurance company didn’t send order). By day 5 I threw up I was so nauseous; hardly slept at all; etc. My doctor prescribed two amino acid combinations, which I took to humor her basically, I didn’t think it would help at all.
IT HELPED SO MUCH. The ones she gave me are Selevance and Kavinace PM. What I’ve learned is that amino acids are precursors to neurotransmitters. All the SSRIs in the world won’t help you if you don’t have any neurotransmitters in your system to work with. I’m still off the venlavaxine, don’t miss the side effects at all. I didn’t realize I had them, but I had extraordinary sweating, spaciness, weird dreams and weight gain that wouldn’t budge in spite of exercise and disciplined dieting. I don’t know if the medicine was helping with depression; I had been on it for about 10 years, and just thought I would take it forever, and it was worth it if it made me functional (lots of bad mental illness in my family).
Being off the venlafaxine, on the amino acids, with diet and exercise I’ve lost 22 pounds in four months. I don’t feel depressed, I can concentrate, I’m organized, and I’m sleeping like a rock. Please keep reading and learning and asking for help until you get what you need. Life doesn’t have to be so hard!!!!!!! good luck and God bless you!

Hi I have been taking the venlafaxine er for about 6 months now. Years ago I was on the effexor xr. It did help me, I had stopped taking it for a few years. My symptoms of gad started to get worse with situations I had in my life. So I decided to check with Dr about the effexor xr. However, due to insurance denial I am not allowed to get the name brand.
So, I was given the venlafaxine tablets first, they were horrible I was so sick all the time a had very bad stomach pains and constipation. I was so dizzy just like other people have mentioned. The dr called and switched my script to the capsules which really made some difference. It just didn’t make enough. I am having the vertigo issues, mood swings, decrease sex drive, night sweats, memory loss, confused state. I am so stressed about this. I wanted to find a company making generic drugs in the USA. I talked to the insurance company who still wont allow for the effexor. So do I just go through the terrible terrible withdrawals and stop taking it and just remain anxious?
I also am having pain that I think could be related to liver or kidney. I don’t trust the generic drugs. I have heard they do add additives and such. I don’t understand why if you have tried a drug and it doesn’t agree with you, why you’re told to just keep taking it or pay $535 a month for effexor. Yes, give me two months please, lol. I just don’t know which is worse, side effects or anxiety. Not to mention the anxiety the side effects are “causing” me.
I would not recommend to stay on the med if you are having side effects. You of course have to talk to your dr, since there is the necessity to wean yourself off of this crazy stuff. I think maybe the dr would suggest something else. I read above where the comment stated if they were even an hour late, great dizziness sets in and it does, if I’m 10 minutes late it does. I don’t think it releases as it should. This is a sad day to see that others are suffering the same stuff by being given these drugs we have no idea where they’re even coming from. I tried research on the different companies that make a generic version of effexor. Funny how most of the sites want to talk all about investors.

Just started taking venlafaxine about 2 weeks ago. At first the side effects were horrible- nausea, headache, stomachaches, yawning, fatigue, dry mouth. Side effects have slowly started to go away. I no longer feel nauseous and the headaches and yawning have subsided. However I now have horrible stomach cramps. Not sure what to do about it or whether or not I should go see my doctor. I don’t have a check-up scheduled until February. Hoping that my body gets more used to the meds in that time frame and the stomach cramps go away.

I recently stopped taking this med.. Don’t get me wrong I loved its affect on me but not my health. I started feeling great, loosing weight, having energy. Just better, like a breath of fresh air.
I did have nausea every single day but, i traded that for how wonderful and positive i felt. In the emergency room for what i thought was the flu…..was actually my liver becoming damaged from this pill…Please get checked as soon as possible.
The withdrawal for me was very sad and tearful and back to depressed and anxious. mainly because something that finally made me feel like a normal person was slowly killing me. Please get your liver and kidney checked in case you’re like me and experience this RARE side effect.

I too am taking venlafixe for hot flashes, at first I thought this is the real deal I felt better and I could concentrate better. After about 2 weeks now I am so nauseated after taking this, I was wondering if drinking coffee with this medication makes me more nauseated or if it the coffee or medication that makes me so sick. Coffee has never made me sick before. I really enjoy my coffee but if that is what is causing the nausea I guess I will have to let it go. Do you have any thought on this? This is the only medication I take.

Have you noticed anything different with taking venlefaxine than the effexor? Any different side effects?

I was using venlafaxine for 1year and suddenly my blood pressure raised to 150/90. I consult my doctor and he said to stop the medicine. It has been 4months I stopped venlafaxine but my blood pressure still high. When will my blood pressure comes to normal stage??? Is it life long Disease?

On my 2nd week detoxing from the generic venlafaxine xr after about 10 years on it. Like others I had no idea of all the knowledge we were gaining – at such human expense – about the side effects of taking and detoxing from this medicine as I went about my decade. Switched from psychiatrist to PCP prescribing to save money. I work in mental health but am not a doctor. Feel like I should have paid more attention, checked in with a specialist, but I was doing “OK” – much better than the complete lethargic apathetic weepy hopeless guilt-ridden depression I had before I started the meds.
I’ve had heavy sweating (2-3 nightgowns/night; sweating in professional meetings; soaking wet after a short walk or god forbid a class at the gym), which I attributed to pregnancy or perimenopause (even though no-one else I knew had it, and 12% of effexor takers do). I’ve gained 50 pounds, and have only lost 5 pounds of it after 8 months of increasingly restrictive diets and exercise. Diagnosed with pre-diabetes, also uncontrolled by my dieting (first low carb, low calorie then eliminated wheat since about 3 months ago, 1500 calories or so/day, exercising etc.) Started metformin, still not losing weight. Was tired, had little initiative, passivity that’s hard to describe – I wasn’t complaining, but a week later I’m glad to have myself back.
Getting off this thing is bad! I’ve been nauseous to the point of throwing up, have diarrhea, can NOT sleep (even with melatonin and advil PM it’s hard to sleep), BAD dreams, dizzy (as in, I walked into a wall, drove up on a curb kind of dizzy), and weep at the drop of a hat. (as in, I wept twice watching project runway the other day. I wept about email today. A smiley face on an email.) Feels a lot like being pregnant and I look forward to the “baby” – a cleaner system that hopefully will start responding normally (getting healthier in response to healthy living etc.)
The scary thing is, on line forums reference 4 days to 3 years plus of these detox effects. The good sides of getting off it are great – sex was great before but it’s better now – I’m excited, feel creative, willing and happy to do stuff I didn’t care to before (cleaning etc.) Weight gain and diabetes aren’t well documented side effects, but there is plenty of anecdotal evidence and diabetes is listed as an uncommon effect on the prescribing material. This medicine affects your nervous, vestibular, metabolic, circadian, digestive systems. If stress and insomnia mess up blood sugar, what couldn’t venlafaxine do?
I don’t understand the rationale behind the “wean yourself off” theory. I started detoxing because the mail order pharmacy messed up and got my refill to me 4.5 days late, by which time I was climbing the walls (see above) and committed to never putting this stuff in my body again. Have quit nicotine and alcohol but never had this kind of physical reaction.
I pray for all of us who need this stuff and who are trying to get off of it, and for those including me who have promoted SSRIs and their kin, given our limited understanding. Thank God we have them instead of nothing, instead of thorazine, instead of suicide, and thank God in years to come we will have something better.

I’ve been taking Venlafaxine on and off for 10 years (age 23-33) for my anxiety & depression. My doctor usually recommends at least 6 months before trying to wean off, it apparently takes this long for the brain to start producing the correct levels of seratonin. I find it odd that anxiety is a listed side-effect as it definitely helps my generalised anxiety disorder.
I couldn’t leave the house before without suffering from awful anxiety symptoms & panic attacks. My mood is variable as usual but my lows aren’t as low as they were before. I’ve been pregnant twice during the last ten years so had to come off Venlafaxine, this meant suffering awful morning sickness mixed with the nausea of weaning off. My anxiety and depression returned after I stopped breast feeding with both babies. That’s when I returned to taking Venlafaxine. It has been my saviour.
Side-effects I notice are grinding my teeth, blurred vision & tremors if I haven’t eaten regularly. I also feel quite manic when I haven’t eaten and start cleaning out cupboards or exercising excessively. I normally have a high sex drive off my meds so this is definitely lower on my meds. If I ever forget a dose I experience night sweats & vivid dreams. I get the brain judders too.

I agree the generic is horrible my doctor increased my dose from 150 to 225 and the generic just does not seem to release properly if I miss my dose by even and hour or two I start feeling ill and spinning I didn’t have that issue on the effexor xr

Just started on the immediate release generic twice a day. I switched from citalopram because after a couple years it took the edge off too completely. I was like a zombie. Granted I had zero anxiety. But it didn’t seem normal for my wife to have to remind me that sex is good and an important part of married life. If, I could get a full erection I could hardly ever ‘finish’. I feel more awake now.
I do feel like it has a ‘speed’ effect on me though. Almost like an amphetamine of sorts bordering on anxiety at times. Another interesting thing is I’m not that interested in having a beer as often as I thought I needed one before. On citalopram I could drink way too much, sometimes 10 beers at a time and still be coherent. Now I get a funny agitated feeling if I have more than one. And as for the sexual dysfunction-much better now. I get a full erection and even think about sex now!

I have been on Effexor XR 75 mg since 1996, Insurance has forced me to go generic. First brand by TEVA made me go through withdrawl symptoms until I recognized what I was feeling (on it several months). I switched to another generic and have needed to double my dose to attempt get the same relief from anxiety symptoms. How can I get my insurance to allow me to get Effexor, the name brand? Even though my MD wrote the Rx for Effexor, fill as written, do not substitute I could not get the name brand. Can anyone help or advise who to contact?

Just started back on effexor and feeling more relaxed. Dr has recommended a psychologist but wondering if I need to now as I seem to be coming good. Any thoughts?

I have used Effexor XR, the generic for 8 months and it has exacerbated my irregular heart beats, digestion and also increased head sweating which I cannot tolerate. I try to take my dance classes but become so overwhelmed with sweat its not worth it. The increased heart rate issues are causing me to be uncomfortable. I have kept my weight down almost to my high school weight.

I have been taking Effexor XR 75 for about 5 years. I would probably rather lose an arm than give up the Effexor. It makes a nearly miraculous improvement in my quality of life, despite the side effects (lowered libido, slight weight gain). I tried the generic version about two years ago and went back to the brand-name within 6 weeks. With the generic, I experienced “brain zaps” and other withdrawal symptoms every day beginning about 12 hours after taking the capsule.
I suspect that the generic I used is not released into my system at the same rate as the brand-name. Even though the active ingredient is the same, the differences between the “delivery systems” for the two versions are huge.

Hi LP; No. My insurance won’t pay, even though my doctor put “no substitutes” on the prescription. I called and apparently it is my employer – all companies are not the same, so you may be lucky. I don’t care. I can’t tolerate the generic version. Good luck to you,

You are not crazy! I have been feeling terrible for a month now! It finally hit me that could be my generic effexor after doing some reading of forums it looks like I am not alone! I have been having terrible mood swings, feeling very depressed, very tired, my stomach has been hurting and cramping a lot. Just wondering if your insurance is paying for meds? I called my pharmacy today to see if they could get my doc to prescribe the name brand only to get my insurance to cover more. We will see! I am glad to see I am not alone!!

Wow. Thank you all for your posts. I just typed a reply to Jan 3 2008 (problems with generic vs. Effexor) before reading all the way down. The pharmacists tell me there is no way the two can work differently. Well… I’m back on the Effexor even if insurance doesn’t pay for it. At least I know I’m not crazy.

Thank you for your post. I would warn anyone and everyone against trying the generic venlafaxine.
After 6(?) happy years on Effexor, Prozac before that and having tried everything since imipramine, I switched to the generic venlafaxine when my insurance stopped paying for the brand name.
Over the course of 1 – 2 months, my mood started to deteriorate until I was having all of the old depression symptoms and getting worse. I increased my dose and it seemed better, but I was getting these horrible shock feelings. I can only describe it as the feeling you get in your gut the split second you realize that you have done something really really bad. Think about the feeling you get the second or two before a car accident when you realize it is going to happen and there is nothing you can do to avoid it. It started out once a day for a few seconds, then twice, then it started to last for longer and longer each time. It was unbearable.
It took a while to get back to see my doctor. In the meantime, I went cold turkey for a few days and then I tried going back to the original dose, but the “shock” feeling came back worse than ever. It disappeared right after I went back on Effexor.
I noticed the generic brand didn’t have the same withdrawal symptoms as real Effexor when stopped. It also didn’t have the same sexual side effects, which would be wonderful except for feeling like you are just about to fall down a flight of stairs.
I spoke to a few Pharmacists and they all swore that there could not be a difference between the generic version and Effexor. My doctor, on the other hand, said she had heard from other doctors and patients that the generic venlafexine didn’t work the same.
All this tells me that it is not the same drug. Period. I wish I didn’t have to take this stuff.

I have been taking Effexor 75 Mg’s once Daily for about 1 week now, And I already feel a improvement, I have more of a will to do thing’s, I have more energy, I don’t get upset as easily like I use to, And I don’t have no anxiety, But I also take Klonopin “Clonazepam” 1 Mg Twice Daily, And Klonopin 0.5Mg’s Twice Daily, So I take “One And A Half Milligram’s daily of the Klonopin “Clonazepam.” So, the Effexor 75 Mg’s and the Klonopin “Clonazepam,” One And A Half Milligram’s Twice Daily Is Helpful… By The Way Klonopin “Clonazepam” Is A Highly Potent Benzodiazepine And Highly Addicting And Can Be Abused And Habit Forming With People With A Past Drug And/Or Alcohol Problem!

I was switched a few months back by the insurance company from the effexor xr to the generic by Teva and have had a slow descent back into depression and a big increase in anxiety at the same dose after many years of stability. Also, I noticed I don’t have the usual side effect (sore neck/dystonia) and even had some of those fun discontinuation syndrome symptoms like flashes of dizziness, even though I hadn’t missed a dose. I’m going back to the doc tomorrow for a prior-auth for the real stuff, if I can’t get it. I’ll pay out of pocket.

I have been taking Effexor XR 150mg since 2003. Since taking it I have gained at least 100lbs. At the end of 2009 I felt that I no longer needed Effexor and tired of the constant weight gain discussed this with my GP who agreed with me and we started with the tapering off of it. All was going extremely well and I was tapering slowly but once I got to 37.5mg (about 4 months later) my pharmacy put me on generic.
I immediately went from feeling normal to feeling out of control, very agitated, easily irritated, uncontrollable crying, very vivid and violent dreams, restless legs at night so it was extremely difficult to fall asleep (ended up using liquid Tylenol PM) but stopped after a few nights as I didn’t want to start depending on it.
We have since asked my pharmacy to use brand name Effexor and I am no longer experiencing any of the things I experienced on the generic.
If I miss my effexor dose though then I get extreme vertigo and nausea to the point of vomiting. It basically renders me useless.
I still want to get off the medicine.

I have taken in an old friend who has come upon hard times. Previously, she had a seizure and was hospitalized. She has been taking effexor for more than 15 years and was put on Clonazepam after the seizure, which occurred about 3 years ago. In the past 12 months, her memory has deteriorated rapidly to the point that she can’t remember details from conversations even a half hour ago. Long term memory hasn’t been as severely impacted though there is some loss there as well. Has anyone experienced similar episodes with this combination or have any advice?

Question for those coming off effexor:
I was taking 75mg for three years. I went off of it cold turkey at the beginning of May 2010.
About two weeks later I developed a cough. It’s not dry. Feels like it could be from my sinuses (meaning it’s productive).
Ive been to an ENT and my PCP and went on my allergy meds during this time including nose sprays and chlortrimeton.
After 2 months I still have this cough (as well as intermittent brain zaps but that’s expected).
Could this cough be related to coming off the effexor? Has anyone else experienced this?
Will it eventually go away if it’s not related to my sinuses and allergies?
8 weeks is a long time to have a cough.
As for effexor I have nothing good to say about it.
My liver levels have risen because of the drug. I now have type II diabetes.
Massive weight gain.
Blood-work before taking the drug was perfect.
6 months after taking it, all levels started to rise.

I originally used effexor on and off for depression and fibromyalgia since 2000, maybe earlier. Well for the good it controlled my major depression. I would be tired all the time. Gained the weight, which I never had a weight problem until all these meds started up. I mostly received samples of effexor from my doctor’s office because we have our own business and have really crappy insurance also, because of my preexisting conditions.
So needless to say the free samples stopped and I was forced to pay the outrageously greedy price of the effexor and I started the generic venaflaxine. (which is still outrageously priced.) WELL, let me tell you about the HORRIBLE nightmares EVERY night. Strange new high blood pressures, and cholesterol problems! I have pain already and don’t need anymore with the simvastain. I hate how some drugs pop up and a few years or so later you hear how this and that was pulled off the market and people were made sick. I think I am going to stop the cholesterol stuff to.

I reside in RI. As of 5 months ago, the Govenor, (Caccieri) decided to put a mandate on all state health insurance policies. The mandate is on the prescriptions. The “generic”, is given as primary, and if there is none, then the original drug may be approved. Notice, I said “may”.
I was originally on Effexor XR for 4 years. I was doing wonderful. Then I had to switch to Venlafaxine XR. (the state was in a deficit,over six million dollars). After being on the Effexor, I found the Venlafaxine to not be of any help at all. All the signs and symptoms of anxiety and depression are back. I am so-o frustrated that a physician who provides you with a prescription, based on their knowledge, experience, and evaluation of the patients condition, can be overruled all for the purpose of financially benefiting the state.

I used to be on Effexor XR between 2002-2005. It used to work very well for me I was upbeat, uninhibited (in dealing with colleagues, friends) and very productive. I was switched to the generic version, Venlafaxine and the dose is now 450mg (I think, the Effexor xr dose was about 225mg). The generic is much weaker than the Effexor used to be. I know it because recently I found some of the previously prescribed Effexor in my drawer and took it. I went suddenly soo high I was amazed. It is nasty that the generic is so much weaker than the brand name. Is there anything to do about it?

I have been on effexor 75 for about 4 months now. I find myself very tired throughout the day. I asked my pharmacists about my situation and she recommended I take my dose right before bed, however, when I did that I would wake during the night and have difficulty sleeping. I feel I have no energy at all. But effexor has helped me with anxiety making me reluctant to switch medications.

I have been on Effexor XR for maybe two years total now. I began at the 150 and then increased to the 300 as I relocated and changed physicians.
I am quite surprised to read of some of the feedback from others on here as now I am beginning to wonder if I am not paying attention to myself. The increase in cholesterol levels is what I found most shocking, especially since I haven’t paid much attention to my own because I’ve never had issues in this realm. However, I gave blood last week for the first time in quite a while, so it should be interesting to see what the results are for my cholesterol test.
Unlike other testimonials, any weight I have gained in the last few years has been more from my hand-to-mouth disease and my general lack of interest in exercising. Also, being a poor New Yorker has brought on other challenges, such as trying to pay down debt to free up cash for a pool membership.
I have always had great skin, and have experienced no issues with acne, of which I am grateful. What I have experienced though has been some God awful dry, cotton mouth. Man, you could probably knit a sweater in my mouth some days, that’s how cottony it feels.
And yes, of course, if I fall asleep earlier than expected and miss a dose, which is rare, my mother says I lean to the right like the Leaning Tower of Pisa because I am a bit off balance. I take my missed dose as soon as I can, and within a hour or two, I am back to being balance, no leaning involved. The only other side affect I have from missing a dose accidentally is that I have no sense of humor and find most conversation terribly loud and very annoying.
No lethargy has accompanied my experience, other than my own desire to sleep away my problems, another hallmark of depression. My physician recently wrote a prescription for me for Venlafexine, and I questioned the mistake in my meds. I’ll be honest with you, I was fairly irritated by his presumptive behavior of just changing my medication without consulting me.
But I guess when you are getting free care from the VA under combat veterans benefits, and the VA deems the generic is cheaper, well I guess it was bound to happen and I just didn’t see it coming. The jury is out on the results of the generic usage, but I’m sure I’ll be back to offer some insight. Good luck to all.

I started taking Effexor when I was 25. I am now 39. I am bipolar. When I tried to come off it a few years ago, the results were a manic disaster. I am very compliant, however last month I ran out of meds before I ran out of month. I should have called my doctor for help. But, without funds, I missed 3 doses (days).
At the end of the 2nd day I knew I was in trouble. Intense anger, restlessness and rage. By the end of the 3rd day I was suicidal and out of control. I took my medicine the next morning and by noon I was fine. Being on Effexor (now XR) for 14 years has taught me some important lessons. If you’re bipolar you may have to be hospitalized or homebound to come off it. And, since the half-life of Effexor is so short, it’s out of your system about the time you have your next dose. And there are times when stressors intervene (especially for bipolar folks) that we just have to stop and take a few days, or ask for help to remain out of the hospital. This is how I’ve stayed out–for 12 years.
There have been a few times a year I have to take some time to regroup. And those times have saved me from having a meltdown. It frightens me how this drug has been the ONLY one to treat my resistant, black depression. (My doctors said I was resistant to all the other drugs available.) But I whiteknuckle grip that bottle because I know without it, I am lost and raging like an animal and suicidally depressed. So there we have it. I am concerned about long term use and its effect on cognition, as I’ve experienced verbal and mental processing problems. But I am on 5 other drugs, so who knows.
I guess I am just incredibly grateful that I have been helped by this drug for 14 years. My quality of life has been relatively healed and, if I am fastidious with my doses,and work closely with my doctor, I will remain out of the hospital. Best to you all & thanks Terry & Joe, you have a terrific show on NPR- I love it!

so you have side effects from effexor? These subside as the benefits of the drug gradually take effect. I have a wave of nausea when it peaks, about 2-1/2 hrs. after taking it. The nausea quickly intensifies, and then I SNEEZE! The nausea disappears. I see and hear a lot of patients who find fault with all antidepressants because they are in denial that they really need them. I don’t worry about “when I go off of them” because chances are I never will. This depression (of whatever type) isn’t something that is going to go away like a bad cold or the flu. Effexor will keep it under control, but it’s not going to cure it.

I have been taking Effexor for 5 years at 150mg, which I reduced to 75mg over a supervised period of 12 months. I have been unable to reduce this due to adverse withdrawal symptoms.
I also take Lithium at 600mg.
I put on 4 stone (56 pounds) but once on less Effexor I lost 1 stone of this.
My cholesterol test has also just shown a very high result.
I am reducing ‘bad’ fats in my diet and am having cholesterol reviewed in 3 months.
I found that drinking sufficient water, avoiding alcohol and sugar and avoiding caffeine helps with side effects. If i get vertigo or the shakes, I have a large glass of room temp water and rest for 10 minutes.
I hope this helps someone
JV

I was on Effexor 75 mg for about one year and my total cholesterol and LDL both increased by about 40 points. Is there a connection?

I have been on effexor for over 9 years, under the supervision of a clinical psychologist and a psychiatrist– I myself am a licensed professional counselor with a Masters in Psychology—-had heightened blood pressure, but it runs in my family, have had borderline high cholesterol, but the good numbers are high, which is good, making the total number high– nothing to worry about according to my primary care who has been working with me for 15 years– in fact my numbers dropped 17 points and I lost 8 pounds.
Just sensible eating, and yoga!!! I had the brain shivers when I went off of it, under supervision– I thought I would be okay without an anti-depressant — the brain shivers lasted a couple of months and went away– I found I need an anti-depressant to be my best–My doctor recently put me on the “new” effexor called “Pristiq”–
Does anyone know about this????
So far it seems effective for me.
I need a very low dose to stay even — in the healthy balanced content zone–it works for me– 50 mg Pristiq– It is currently being sampled to physicians if there is a desire to try something new. I have had no side effects.

I have been on Effexor (the brand name, I think) for 6 mos. and I’ve had weight gain (not much so far, but I do have carb/sweets cravings), “sexual side effects” and random jerky movements which appear to have gotten more frequent as I’ve been on the medication.
I also have heightened peripheral vision which is somewhat disturbing (and I also got on Prozac). I’m not sure if I’ll stay on Effexor because of the jerky movements and weight gain, but it has really helped my mood.

I’ve been on Effexor XR 75 mg daily for 11 months and my total Cholesterol and LDL both increased. Is this a known side effect of antidepressants? I also had an increase in chol and LDL when on Zoloft.

I am taking Venlafaxine XR 150 mg for hot flashes. I have most of the experiences that other people are having, but in the year my cholesterol has gotten off the chart, I was told I have had (2) small strokes. I am seeing a neurologist tommorrow and heart doctor in July. I have been having severe fatigue, with times not able to keep from falling asleep. Has anyone had problems with high cholesterol after taking this prescription?

I have been taking effexor xr for 4 weeks now and am still not feeling any better. The side effects are awful… excessive hunger, severe sweating, hot flushes, weight gain, sleeplessness, gas, acne… the list goes on. How long do you think I should take it before I try a new anti-depressant… can anyone help me who has had a similar experience?

I have been taking effexor for 4 years now. I had been diagnosed with fybromyalgia, and due to not being able to move and getting depressed, we tried the effexor. It has not only elevated my mood, but it also helps with the pain.
Yes, when I was not able to take it for about a week, I had major issues, from irritability, to headache, and head spinnings. As soon as I was able to take one, it was all over within 2 hours. Sometimes we forget how well a medicine can work until we forget to take it, and we are reminded of why we take it to begin with.

I am having Effexor withdrawl and I had only been on the medication for app. 5 months. I am dealing with “Brain Shivers” and some fatigue. I have been reading a lot about others dealing with these odd neurological shivers, but no one seems to have a remedy. I went from 75 mg to 37.5. I was on 37.5 for 1 month and now have stopped. Any remedies for these brain shivers would be appreciated!!

I have been taking Effexor XR for hot flashes for the past 3 to 4 years. About 6 months ago I started getting headaches. They have been subsiding lately but when I cough, sneeze or bend over it can start again. This is the only prescription drug I am taking. I am hoping to be taken off of this drug soon.

I recently tried venlafaxine as a low-cost substitute for Effexor XR, which I had been on sucessfully for 6+ years for severe depression, insomnia and panic attacks. The first day on venlafaxine I experienced severe stomach pain, although I had taken my meds after a full meal. Again the same symptoms for the next 4 days on venlafaxine.
Noting no other changes in foods/lifestyle I switched back to Effexor XR and the stomach pains went away immediately. I again tried the venlafaxine with better results, thinking my stomach was just a little “off” those days. Whatever. Within days of being back on the venlafaxine, I started having panic attacks, depression and very dark thoughts. I was also very weepy and my blood pressure went from 110/70 to 135/80, again with no change in my daily habits.
I discussed this with my psychiatrist, who suggested I get back on the Effexor XR as these were side effects of the venaflaxine. I’m back on the Effexor XR and life is good again!

I have been on Effexor for about 6 years. It has served me well for keeping my mood level. However, since my Dr. okayed the use of the generic “venlafaxine” I have experienced bouts of vertigo, when I am fatigued, and have had some acne issues on my back (never had before). I am interested in knowing if anyone else has or has had similar issues with the generic?

I have taken extended release Effexor for 6 years for cognitive problems that developed from a combination of traumatic brain injury, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), and Cushing’s syndrome. It has made a large difference in my cognitive abilities. I added Strattera a few years ago to gain more adrenal energy, and it helped return my cognition level almost back to normal. But I recently didn’t have access to Effexor for about three weeks, and it was awful. As time went on I developed severe mood swings, hot flashes, debilitating body pain, and deficits in my cognition, short-term memory, concentration, energy, etc. I don’t like some of its side effects (decreased sexual desire and a narrower span of emotions), but being able to think well enough to go back to work has a much greater impact on my life.
The Effexor has not caused me to have acne, but I have had vertigo a few times–not while going off of Effexor, however.

I take Effexor, and have bouts of vertigo. My doctor says its from hardening of the arteries, and not a side effect.

While I was on this drug, I developed horrible acne, much worse than I have ever experienced before. My face burned and itched all the time and I was covered in sores that wouldn’t heal. I have bad scars now. I’m 32 years old. I did not have scarring acne as a teen or in my 20s. I can’t be sure they are related, as I haven’t heard of others with this problem, but I think there’s a link. Also, when attempting to wean off the medication, I experienced terrible vertigo and nausea.

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