Effexor Side Effects: Venlafaxine Adverse Reactions

Last Updated: December 19, 2019

Authored by Nena Messina, Ph.D.

Venlafaxine – brand name Effexor – is a serotonin-noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) that is used to treat depression and anxiety alongside their associated disorders. Compared to other antidepressant medications like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, venlafaxine is relatively safe. However, it still has some side effects that both the doctor and patient should look out for.

Like any other drug, venlafaxine has side effects. Doctors should weigh these adverse effects against the potential benefit of using the medicine. The adverse outcomes are more particularly pronounced if the patient is allergic to Effexor or if they are on other drugs that can interact with venlafaxine.

Some of the severe adverse results include mania, seizures, serotonin syndrome, suicidal thoughts, and sexual problems, to mention but a few. Read on to find out more about the common side effects of venlafaxine.

Short-Term Effects Of Effexor

Venlafaxine side effects vary depending on the health of the patient and the length of time that they take the drug. When the patient is generally healthy, Effexor side effects are usually short-term.

This means that the patient can quickly get used to them or even shake them off. Nevertheless, the doctor needs to point out the side effects so that the patient can be prepared to deal with them.

Common Short-Term Effects Of Effexor

When patients take venlafaxine, there are some adverse outcomes that they should expect. They should be aware of these so that they are not caught unawares. Nausea is reported as the most common negative outcome, but it recedes after a few weeks.

What are the most common side effects of Effexor? The other short-term common side effects of Effexor include:

  • constipation
  • blurred vision
  • drowsiness
  • loss of appetite
  • Effexor nausea
  • dry mouth
  • insomnia
  • Effexor sweating
  • irregular bowel movements
  • heartburn
  • fatigue

common side effects of effexor

Rare Short-Term Effects Of Effexor

There are other short-term side effects of venlafaxine. However, this batch is much more limited, and they are hardly reported except in certain conditions.

These rare short-term Effexor XR side effects include:

  • convulsions
  • uncontrollable excitement
  • irritability
  • nervousness
  • incontinence or problems passing urine
  • skin rashes
  • breathing problems
  • changes in the menstrual cycle
  • severe muscle stiffness

How To Deal With Short-Term Effects Of Effexor

Before a medical professional prescribes venlafaxine, they will inform the patient of the potential common and rare side effects. Consequently, it is also prudent to provide ways to deal with some of these adverse effects so that the patient can continue taking the drug.

Drowsiness can be a particularly disconcerting venlafaxine side effect. The same can be said of the resultant Effexor insomnia and fatigue. This is because it usually happens at the start of taking the drug when the person doesn’t know what exactly to expect from the drug.

To mitigate these Effexor XR side effects, the prescribing doctor can change the schedule, which the patient follows. This change can ensure that the patient might only feel drowsy and fatigued when it’s nearing bedtime.

Long-Term Effects Of Effexor

Sometimes, taking a long-term venlafaxine dosage can result in side effects that take a long time to go away. By constantly having the drug in the system, it will impart some changes that manifest over time.

manic behavior after effexor

Common Long-Term Effects of Effexor

Over time, the presence of venlafaxine in a patient’s body will affect it. These Effexor side effects after long term use include:

  • decreased sex drive
  • decreased sexual ability
  • serotonin syndrome
  • manic behavior
  • suicidal thoughts
  • frequent severe headaches
  • mood changes
  • Effexor memory loss
  • hair loss
  • high blood pressure
  • Effexor weight loss
  • easy bruising

How To Deal With Long-Term Effects Of Effexor

If a patient is going to be on venlafaxine for a long time, the doctor needs to let them know how they can reduce the impact of the medication over this long time.

First of all, it should be noted that venlafaxine and pregnancy do not go together. A ten-year study found that there was some relation between mothers taking venlafaxine and congenital disabilities in their children.

Doctors can reduce a patient’s Effexor sexual side effects by prescribing sildenafil. This should improve the sexual performance. However, if that doesn’t work, psychotherapy is also an excellent way to rejuvenate the sex life.

Effexor hair loss is one of, particularly unsettling venlafaxine ER side effects. This is because the loss of hair can affect a patient’s looks and affect their self-esteem. If the symptom doesn’t reduce, the physician can reduce the dosage of venlafaxine.

If the given dose of Effexor not working, a physician can increase it to get the required outcome. However, this can also increase blood pressure. Patients should, therefore, get safe alternative drugs. Combinations like Cymbalta vs. Effexor can worsen the situation.

Doctors can treat the serotonin syndrome by withdrawing venlafaxine and replacing it with another antidepressant medication that does not increase the amount of serotonin in the body.

how to avoid effexor side effects

Avoiding Side Effects Of Effexor

If the venlafaxine is functioning as intended, many patients would not want to change to another drug. However, they still have to deal with the adverse results of venlafaxine. So, how can patients avoid the Effexor horrible side effects?

This important because it can help in the prevention of drug interactions. For example, taking Effexor and Wellbutrin together can result in several episodes of seizures.

An abrupt change in the administration of the medication can result in adverse outcomes that present as Effexor withdrawal symptoms. This, therefore, means that the patient should consult a trained medical professional to understand the process of coming off venlafaxine successfully.

First of all, it should be noted that many of the side effects happen when the medication is abused. Abuse can be in the form of snorting Effexor. Others abuse venlafaxine by combining it with drinking and can get Effexor and alcohol blackouts.

To avoid a cocktail of adverse results, venlafaxine should not be abused.

If a patient cannot stop abusing venlafaxine, they should check into a drug rehab center. Here, they can access effective treatment options to ensure that they avoid the venlafaxine HCl ER side effects.

Page Sources

  1. Polen KN, Rasmussen SA, Riehle-Colarusso T, Reefhuis J; National Birth Defects Prevention Study. Association between reported venlafaxine use in early pregnancy and birth defects, national birth defects prevention study, 1997-2007. Birth Defects Research Part A: Clinical and Molecular Teratology. 2013; 97(1): 28–35. doi:10.1002/bdra.23096. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4484721/.
  2. Dealing with sexual side effects of antidepressants. Harvard Health Publishing. 2019. https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/dealing_with_sexual_side_effects.

Published on: November 29th, 2019

Updated on: December 19th, 2019

About Author

Nena Messina, Ph.D.

Nena Messina is a specialist in drug-related domestic violence. She devoted her life to the study of the connection between crime, mental health, and substance abuse. Apart from her work as management at addiction center, Nena regularly takes part in the educational program as a lecturer.


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