Effexor and Effexor XR are serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), which is a type of antidepressant that enhances the brain's absorption of the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine. The brain's absorption of these chemicals is directly related to depression, a mental illness with symptoms that include prolonged feelings of despair, changes in eating and sleeping patterns and thoughts of suicide.
Drug maker Wyeth released Effexor in 1993, and its popularity peaked around 2007. However, as nausea was one of the most common side effects and caused patients to discontinue use, the company released Effexor XR (extended release) in 2008.
The original Effexor is a pentagon-shaped, peach tablet that is distributed in five sizes, 23 mg, 37.5 mg, 50 mg, 75 mg, and 100 mg. Effexor XR comes in either a peach/gray capsule of 37.5 mg, a peach capsule of 75 mg or 150-mg dark red capsule.
The Wyeth Drug Progression
Both Effexor and Effexor XR are available in generic forms, which means more affordability for the patient. Effexor is a top-selling antidepressant globally, and Effexor XR is considered an extended version of the original. With the impending patent expiration date of Effexor approaching, Wyeth has released a drug called Pristiq. The drug, which is a metabolite of Effexor, can be started at 50 mg as opposed to smaller dosages that must be gradually taken up to larger doses as needed, which is the case with Effexor.
Effexor and Effexor XR Benefits
Both drugs have been credited with restoring balance in patients' biochemistry, leading to improved moods, better sleeping and eating patterns, and thoughts of suicide have ceased. Patients at review sites such as Drugs.com have described being able to function at work again, and a reduction of unhealthy self-medication habits such as overeating.
Effexor and Effexor XR Drawbacks
Those who have benefited from Effexor and Effexor XR are quick to point out that stopping the drug will immediately halt any benefits. In addition, extreme withdrawal symptoms are described, such as panic attacks, dizziness, digestive problems and more. Additionally, in a small number of cases -- especially in people 25 and under -- Effexor can actually cause or increase thoughts of suicide.
It is important to look out for the difference of Effexor versus Effexor XR when ordering prescription refills. Pay close attention to whether your doctor originally prescribed Effexor or Effexor XR, and know your proper dosage. Double check any new written prescriptions to make sure the doctor has written down the correct medication. If you ever receive a medication that strays from the norm but still is called Effexor, phone your doctor and pharmacist and make sure you have the right product. These medications are not interchangeable, and interchanging them can agitate depression symptoms or elicit unwanted side effects.