Article at a Glance:
- Venlafaxine (Effexor) is a SNRI medication used to treat depression.
- Side effects of Effexor misuse are nausea, drowsiness, blurred vision, dizziness, insomnia, loss of appetite and unusual sweating.
- Effexor is not considered to be addictive but it is possible to develop a dependency on it.
- Signs of Effexor misuse are a diminished appearance, odd sleep habits, slurred speech and appetite changes.
- Possible long-term effects of Effexor dependency include suicide attempts, birth defects and type-2 diabetes.
Venlafaxine is a medication used in the treatment of depression. It significantly improves mood and enhances energy. Venlafaxine is a common serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI). This common antidepressant is well-known to bring balance to serotonin and norepinephrine within the brain.
Taking venlafaxine with other prescription or over-the-counter medications is not recommended. For example, taking it with Aspirin may cause bleeding and bruising. This includes NSAIDs (ibuprofen and naproxen) and blood thinners.
The following will describe some of the possible signs and symptoms of misuse, as well as any long-term effects that may arise.
As previously mentioned, Effexor is a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI). It has been used to treat major depressive disorders and dysphoric moods, which interfere with daily life. The prescription medication is absorbed and metabolized by the liver. According to the Food and Drug Administration, approximately 92 percent of Effexor is absorbed.
Effexor (venlafaxine) is typically prescribed to those who experience four of the following eight symptoms:
- Change in appetite
- Change in sleep
- Psychomotor agitation or retardation
- Loss of interest in usual activities
- A decrease in sex drive
- Increased fatigue
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- Slowed thinking or impaired concentration
- Suicide attempt or suicidal thoughts
Effexor should only be taken as prescribed by a doctor. Many people taking venlafaxine will not experience any major side effects. However, taking it as recommended may avoid misuse or addiction. Some side effects may occur whether the drug is administered as recommended or misused. These may include:
- Dry mouth
- Loss of appetite
- Blurred vision
- Trouble sleeping
- Unusual sweating
In addition, venlafaxine may raise blood pressure, so it is important to check it on a regular basis. Some unlikely serious side effects may involve:
- Easy bruising or bleeding
- Decreased interest in sex
- Change in sexual ability
- Muscle cramps or weakness
- Shaking or tremors
There are some rare conditions associated with taking venlafaxine. Consult a doctor right away if any of the following appear and do not go away:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Severe or pounding headaches
- Black or bloody stools
- Vomit that resembles coffee grounds
- Eye pain, redness or swelling
- Widened pupils
- Vision changes (such as seeing rainbow colors around lights at night)
Finally, venlafaxine could possibly cause an increase in serotonin leading to a condition called serotonin syndrome. It is vital to inform a doctor about all medications being taken at the time of prescription. Serotonin syndrome can be recognized from the following symptoms:
- Fast or irregular heartbeat
- Loss of coordination
- Severe dizziness
- Severe nausea/vomiting/diarrhea
- Twitching muscles
- Unexplained fever
- Unusual agitation or restlessness
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Although antidepressants are not known to produce cravings and addiction in the same way as other drugs, a dependency on the effects may develop. Many people who take antidepressants without a prescription are more likely to develop a dependency. According to one recent study, approximately two-thirds of patients are misdiagnosed with depression and instructed to take a prescription drug they do not need.
There are general warning signs for antidepressant misuse, including those associated with venlafaxine. Generally, a patient may not see any immediate effects. Those taking venlafaxine should be monitored for the following signs:
- Bloodshot eyes
- Diminished appearance
- Financial difficulties
- Change in appetite
- Odd sleep habits
- Slurred speech
As with any antidepressant, administering a drug for the long term can create long-term dependency. Following a doctor’s instructions, including when to wean off the medication, is vital to long-term health.
The FDA reports people taking antidepressants are 15 times more likely to commit suicide. Long-term use may also closely be associated with type 2 diabetes, according to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. Although some professionals dispute this, the amount of medication taken should still be closely monitored.
One of the most important long-term effects is related to taking venlafaxine during pregnancy. This medication should only be taken if severely needed because of the harm it can cause to an unborn baby. During the final three months of pregnancy, unborn children may develop difficulty feeding or breathing. In addition, the baby could experience seizures, muscle stiffness or uncontrollable crying. Any of these symptoms should be addressed right away to avoid long-term developmental damage. Venlafaxine also transfers into breast milk, so it is imperative a doctor is consulted during the administration of the drug at this point in a child’s development.
The Recovery Village has vital resources available to assist those who are experiencing venlafaxine misuse. Contact us to find out about our locations, group and individual therapy or counseling, and possible programs to assist in becoming substance-free.