Psychiatry & Medication

Effexor XR

The Bottom Line:

  • Effexor XR is a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI).
  • FDA-approved for depression, anxiety, and panic disorder.
  • It comes in extended-release capsules.

What is Effexor XR?

Effexor XR is a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI). It is commonly prescribed for depression treatment, in particular, prevention of its relapse. Effexor XR is also indicated for use in anxiety, and panic disorder. Today, it comes in extended-release capsules that allow reducing the number of intakes per day. Effexor, a previous formula, was discontinued by Pfizer.

It fits a long-term application. Depending on the health condition Effexor XR is prescribed for, the effect can be felt within 4-12 weeks on average.

Effexor XR is not a controlled medication. 

Can Effexor XR be taken for Anxiety?

Effexor XR is occasionally prescribed to treat the symptoms of anxiety, and panic attacks. The medication works by balancing the serotonin and norepinephrine activity in the brain which maintained levels then contribute to restoring overall emotional well-being in adults. Anxiety caused by normal stress from everyday life does not require the prescription of this medication. 

Is Effexor XR FDA approved for anxiety?

Effexor XR was approved to treat depression, and anxiety by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Also, the FDA informs doctors about a black box warning issued for this medication. It has the potentiality to increase suicidal thinking in adults. The monitoring of patients is required.

What research supports Effexor XR for anxiety? 

  • Venlafaxine XR was studied against the placebo on the efficacy in treating generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). 251 subjects with GAD symptoms took Venlafaxine XR for 6 months. The results have demonstrated that Venlafaxine XR improved anxiety scores already in the first weeks. Also, the study has reported that long-term application of Venlafaxine XR is well-tolerated, responding, and should become a working alternative to many other available anxiolytics and antidepressants.
  • Venlafaxine was studied against Paroxetine and placebo on the efficacy in social anxiety disorder (SAD) treatment. 434 subjects with SAD symptoms took daily Venlafaxine 75-225mg, Paroxetine 20-50mg, and placebo for 3 months. The results have demonstrated that Venlafaxine and Paroxetine significantly improved anxiety scores over the placebo. The treatment was well-tolerated with minimum side effects.
  • Venlafaxine was also studied against the placebo on efficacy in subjects with major depressive disorder (MDD) and anxiety symptoms. 1573 subjects were enrolled in 8 studies. Venlafaxine significantly improved remission scores in MDD symptoms, and it was supported as responding medication for future treatment of such health conditions.

What do experts say about Effexor XR for anxiety? 

Victoria Kusiak, M.D., deputy director of the Office of Drug Evaluation at FDA says “EFFEXOR XR is a proven serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) supported by a large clinical data set obtained through studies conducted using the most rigorous efficacy measurements. Now with the approval of the social anxiety disorder indication, its efficacy has been demonstrated across an even broader range of symptoms.

What are the possible side effects?

Effexor XR adverse effects may be linked to problems with sexual function. You may have erectile dysfunction, and experience lack of libido. Also, during the treatment with this medication, you may face the following side effects:

  • nausea;
  • excessive sweating;
  • vomiting;
  • dizziness;
  • insomnia;
  • sedation;
  • tremor;
  • Fatigue;
  • chills.

Do not discontinue the treatment without your doctor’s approval and supervision. It may lead to withdrawal symptoms:

  • headache;
  • anxiety;
  • anorexia;
  • confusion;
  • mood swings.

Some studies have reported that the discontinuation of treatment with Venlafaxine may lead to impairment in driving ability. Do not discontinue the use of the medication without your doctor’s approval if your drive.

Effexor XR has a potentiality to increase suicidal thinking in adults. Caution is required.

There were 20 reports of overdose events with Effexor XR with the symptoms of somnolence, nausea, numbness of extremities. Some of the events were associated with interactions of alcohol.

Does Effexor XR have interactions with other medications?

Effexor XR may interact with other medications. Inform your doctor if you plan or already take some of them including herbs, and health supplements. Also, speak to him about all possible interactions to avoid negative outcomes.

Effexor XR may interact with:

  • Antiplatelets;
  • Blood thinners;
  • Antidepressants such as Fluoxetine;
  • Muscle relaxants;
  • Cold medications;
  • Medications containing desvenlafaxine;
  • Antihistamines.

Abstain from drinking alcohol alongside Effexor XR, as it may lead to extreme sedation and symptoms of dizziness, drowsiness, and impairment in thinking.

Can you take Effexor XR while pregnant or breastfeeding? 

There is no adequate evidence about Effexor XR’s harmful effect on pregnant women. However, in animal studies, its use was linked to an increased level of stillborns.

After delivery, newborns to women who take Effexor XR in the last trimester of pregnancy may require artificial pulmonary ventilation and tube feeding. Doctors should prescribe this medication with caution, and only when benefits of such a treatment prevail the risks.

Effexor XR can be excreted into human milk. It is not recommended to take this medication when breastfeeding.

Can children take Effexor XR for anxiety? 

There is no established efficacy or safety of Effexor XR use in children. The FDA does not approve it for pediatrics.

How to take Effexor XR?

A doctor individually prescribes Effexor XR based on age, symptoms, and health condition.

Depression treatment. The initial dosage is 75mg/per day. 

Anxiety and panic disorder treatment. The initial dosage is 75/mg daily, however, a doctor may suggest starting with 37.5mg per day during the first days to adjust to the treatment. 

Effexor XR dosage should be taken with food in the morning or evening. Make a habit of taking a capsule at the same time every day. Swallow a capsule and wash it down with lots of water. Do not chew it or crush it. 

If you believe you overdosed, seek emergency help immediately (call 911). 

Are there alternatives to Effexor XR? 

Prescription medications as Alternatives to Effexor XR for Anxiety 

Effexor XR is an alternative to many other antidepressants used for anxiety treatment. It fits long-term treatment, however, it may not be fit for your particular case. Speak to your doctor about other prescription medications for anxiety. Check some of them:

  • Klonopin
  • Valium
  • Lexapro
  • Prozac
  • Buspirone
  • Xanax
  • Inderal
  • Cymbalta
  • Tofranil
  • Hydroxyzine
  • Zoloft

There are various alternatives. If you’d like to learn more about whether Effexor XR, another medication or treatment modality is right for you, we recommend that you speak with a licensed psychiatrist. Here are the best online psychiatry platforms so you can speak with someone right away!

Therapy as an Alternative to Effexor XR

Learn more about different therapy options for anxiety here

Energy & Holistic Modalities as an Alternative to Effexor XR

Learn more about different energy & holistic modalities for anxiety here

Tech & Devices as Alternative Treatments to Effexor XR

Learn more about tech & devices for anxiety here

Disclaimer: This website does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

By Natalie Kirilova

Natalie is a writer with a focus in medical research with over 10 years of experience