Effexor, (Venlafaxine), a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) used to treat major depressive disorder.

What Is Effexor (Venlafaxine)?

Effexor, also known by its generic name as Venlafaxine, is a medication in the serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) class. It works by increasing and regulating the levels of two different neurotransmitters — norepinephrine and serotonin — in the brain.

Norepinephrine is a stress hormone, affecting parts of the brain that relate to attention and response. It increases heart rates, triggers the release of glucose from energy stores and boosts blood flow. Its counterpart, serotonin, helps control a number of other processers in the brain, including mood, emotions, anxiety, sleep, appetite and memory. These two chemicals work overtime in the body to help control a person’s sense of well-being.

Effexor works by preventing or inhibiting serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake, meaning it leaves more serotonin in the system.

How Is Effexor (Venlafaxine) Used?

Venlafaxine is used to treat people with major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder and panic disorder. It may be prescribed “off-label” by doctors treating patients with diabetes, migraines and hot flashes.

Venlafaxine is available as a tablet and as an extended-release capsule. The tablet should be taken two to three times a day with food, and the XR capsule is taken only once a day. Be sure to take the pill around the same time each day to minimize the risk of developing side effects. Do not crush, chew or split the capsules.

Dosage will vary from patient to patient. Please be sure to ask your doctor before taking this medication.

Effexor (Venlafaxine) Addiction

Widely considered one of the most popular antidepressants on the market, Effexor lends itself to being easily misused. Though it is classified as physically non-addictive, a psychological addiction can be developed through continued misuse of the medication. An SNRI works by elevating a person’s mood by preventing the reuptake of “feel good” neurotransmitters like serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. Someone who may misuse venlafaxine is trying to attain some sort of high, which is simply not possible with antidepressants.

Patients who frequently misuse this medication — either by overdosing or mixing with other illicit substances — are typically suffering from another anxiety or mood disorder related to substance misuse, including alcohol addiction and eating disorders.

There are signs and symptoms that arise when someone is suffering from an Effexor dependency. These can be both physical and psychological in nature. Some of the forewarning signals include stomach cramps, increased risk of suicide, memory problems, panic attacks, hallucinations and nausea. Effexor dependency is extremely dangerous in the sense that it may result in unwanted social effects. A person misusing the drug may isolate themselves, labeling themselves as “misunderstood.” This almost always impairs relationships with loved ones and at work, creating financial hardships and a loss of social life.

The Importance Of Aftercare

Though Effexor is classified as a physically non-addictive drug, it still produces undesirable effects when a person who has been misusing the medication abruptly stops taking the drug. They will likely experience what is called SSRI discontinuation syndrome, which mimics withdrawal symptoms. These can occur when a person abruptly stops taking the drug, decreases the dose too rapidly or even after skipping an individual dose (if their dosage is high enough). In addition to these physical effects, withdrawal from venlafaxine in those who are misusing it may result in unwanted psychological effects as well. These include nausea, depression, suicidal thoughts, disorientation, panic attacks and confused thinking.

Due to the drug not being considered addictive or habit-forming, there is not much information available for those who are struggling with an Effexor addiction. For those who have developed a dependency, it is important to note that you must wean off the drug under medical direction by a doctor or licensed therapist. By simply stopping the drug or decreasing the dose too rapidly, you are likely to experience withdrawal symptoms stated above. Meet regularly with your doctor in order to examine the status of your mental health and talk with them about treatment plans. One-on-one group therapy sessions are common treatment options for those struggling with addiction. For more severe cases, a doctor or therapist may suggest a local rehab facility.

Depression is a serious and life-threatening condition and should, therefore, be treated as such. The first step is admitting there is a problem and asking for help. Reach out to friends, family and loved ones and ask for help and support. No one should have to deal with or treat mental illness all on their own.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.