Effexor is primarily an anti-depressant drug, and like other medications it is associated with benefits, side effects and warnings. A pamphlet has been designed by the pharmaceutical company responsible for the drug and is available to health care providers and patients. Because of the potential of worsening symptoms, Effexor should never be stopped abruptly and directions from the prescribing doctor should be followed for a safe transition from the drug.
Effexor was introduced to the market in 1993 for treatment mostly related to mental health disorders and illnesses, and is available in generic form, Venlafaxine. The drug is prescribed for a number of different conditions, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, pain, menopausal symptoms/HRT, anger and aggression. The use of Effexor to treat certain illnesses has proven effective in reducing or eliminating symptoms associated with the diagnosis for which the drug was prescribed.
About 50 percent of people taking Effexor experience side effects including weight gain, dizziness, constipation, insomnia, headache and fatigue. However, simply stopping Effexor is not advised, because, the side effects can be serious. If treatment with Effexor is to be discontinued, a person must be tapered off the drug. The dosage should be lowered at a pace determined by the health care provider, while the patient is closely monitored for side effects.
The list of possible side effects of stopping Effexor is long. Possible side effects include: agitation, anorexia, anxiety, confusion, coordination problems, impairment, diarrhea, dizziness, dry mouth, dysphoric mood, fatigue, headaches, hypomania, insomnia, nausea, nervousness, nightmares, sensory disturbances (including shock-like electrical sensations), somnolence, sweating, tremors, vertigo and vomiting. However, not all people experience ill effects while coming off Effexor, and while following the advice of your doctor, discontinuing the drug can be a positive experience.
Aside from the potential serious side effects of coming off Effexor, the drug has a “black box” warning because there is a higher risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior among children and teens who have depression. This effect can also be present in adults. However, all patients suffering with major depression should be closely monitored during the first four weeks of treatment, as this is considered to be the most critical period. These are also symptoms to be considered while coming off of Effexor.
Since Effexor is absorbed and metabolized in the liver, patients with liver cirrhosis may need to have a higher dosage than those without liver disorders and this could pose long-term problems while taking Effexor and after coming off the drug. It is important to notify your health care provider of any medical conditions prior to being prescribed, or discontinuing Effexor.