Xanax (alprazolam) and Effexor XR (venlafaxine) are medications that can be used to treat anxiety disorders, including social phobia, generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder.
Xanax is a benzodiazpine anxiolytic medication that acts on GABA receptors in the brain to reduce anxiety. Effexor XR is a serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) that is typically prescribed as an antidepressant. It increases levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain.
Xanax is designed for short-term alleviation of anxiety symptoms and is typically taken as needed. Effexor XR is taken on a daily basis over a longer term for alleviating anxiety symptoms.
Xanax can increase CNS depression when taken with other psychotropic medications, antihistamines and anticonvulsants. Fluoxetine, propoxyphene and oral contraceptives can slow metabolism of Xanax, leading to higher levels in the blood for a longer period. Effexor XR should not be taken with MOAIs because of an increase in risk of potentially serious side effects. Taking Effexor with another medication that acts on Serotonin can result in a serious condition called serotonin syndrome.
Xanax is not recommended for individuals with a history of substance abuse because it has a high potential for abuse and dependence. Effexor XR has a low potential for abuse.
Xanax has a high risk of physical dependence, and cessation after long-term use is associated with withdrawal symptoms, including lowered seizure threshold, an increase in anxiety, vomiting, sweating and cramps. Despite its low potential for abuse, cessation of Effexor after long-term use is also associated with similar withdrawal symptoms.