Venlafaxine

Generic Name: Venlafaxine

  • What is this medication and its most common uses?

    Venlafaxine is a medicine called a serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI). It is used to treat major depressive disorder.

  • What should I know when beginning and continuing on this medication?

    How does this medication work?

    Venlafaxine is thought to work by increasing the activity of chemicals in your brain called serotonin and norepinephrine. By increasing serotonin and norepinephrine, venlafaxine may help improve your symptoms.

    What are the beneficial effects of this medication and when should I begin to have results?

    What: Venlafaxine has been shown to relieve symptoms associated with major depressive disorder, as measured by appropriate symptom rating scales that are commonly used by healthcare providers to evaluate the effectiveness of the medicine in people with major depressive disorder.

    When: Everyone responds differently to treatment, so try to be patient and follow your healthcare provider's directions. It is important that you take venlafaxine exactly as your healthcare provider has prescribed, even if you do not feel better right away.

    How do I know it is working?

    Your healthcare provider may ask you a series of questions from time to time that will help assess how well your symptoms are controlled with treatment.

  • What are the possible side effects of this medication?

    The following is not a full list of side effects. Side effects cannot be anticipated. If any develop or change in intensity, tell your healthcare provider as soon as possible. Only your healthcare provider can determine if it is safe for you to continue taking this medication.

    Venlafaxine can increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior in children, teenagers, and young adults. Your healthcare provider will monitor you closely for clinical worsening or suicidal/unusual behavior after you start taking venlafaxine or start a new dose of venlafaxine. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you experience anxiety, hostility, sleeplessness, restlessness, impulsive or dangerous behavior, thoughts about suicide or dying, or if you have new symptoms or seem to be feeling worse.

    More common side effects may include: weakness, sweating, nausea, constipation, loss of appetite, vomiting, drowsiness, dry mouth, dizziness, nervousness, anxiety, tremor, blurred vision, sexual dysfunction in men.

    Less common side effects may include:

    Serotonin syndrome (a potentially life-threatening drug reaction that causes the body to have too much serotonin, a chemical produced by the nerve cells) with symptoms such as mental status changes (such as agitation or hallucinations), an increase in your heart rate and temperature, lack of coordination, overactive reflexes, muscle rigidity, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

    Manic episodes with symptoms such as greatly increased energy, severe trouble sleeping, racing thoughts, reckless behavior, excessive happiness or irritability, or talking more or faster than usual.

    Low blood sodium (salt) levels with symptoms such as headache, weakness, an unsteady feeling, confusion, problems concentrating or thinking, or memory problems.

    Abnormal bleeding or bruising, especially if you also take blood thinners (such as warfarin), nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) (such as ibuprofen or naproxen), or aspirin.

    Lung problems or pneumonia with symptoms such as shortness of breath, cough, or chest discomfort.

    Serious allergic reactions with trouble breathing; swelling of the face, tongue, eyes, or mouth; or rash or blisters with or without fever or joint pain.

    Venlafaxine may cause seizures, changes in your blood pressure, bone fractures, increased cholesterol, dilation of your pupils, or changes in your appetite or weight.

  • Who should not take this medication?

    Do not take venlafaxine if you are allergic to it or any of its ingredients.

    Do not take venlafaxine if you take another medicine called a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) (such as phenelzine, selegiline, linezolid, or methylene blue), a class of medications used to treat depression and other conditions. Do not start taking venlafaxine if you stopped taking an MAOI in the last 2 weeks, unless directed to do so by your healthcare provider.

  • What should I tell my healthcare provider before I take the first dose of this medication?

    Tell your healthcare provider about all prescription, over-the-counter, and herbal medications you are taking before beginning treatment with venlafaxine. Also, talk to your healthcare provider about your complete medical history, especially if you have heart, liver, kidney, or thyroid problems; diabetes; high blood pressure; high cholesterol; glaucoma; have a history of seizures; bipolar disorder; low sodium levels in your blood; or if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding.

  • What is the usual dosage?

    The information below is based on the dosage guidelines your healthcare provider uses. Depending on your condition and medical history, your healthcare provider may prescribe a different regimen. Do not change the dosage or stop taking your medication without your healthcare provider's approval.

    Adults: The recommended starting dose is 75 milligrams per day, taken in two or three divided doses. Your healthcare provider may increase your dose as needed, until the desired effect is achieved.

    If you have kidney or liver impairment, your healthcare provider may adjust your dose appropriately.

    It is important that you do not stop taking this medication abruptly. If you need to change or stop taking this medication, it is important that you only do this with the guidance of your healthcare provider.

  • How should I take this medication?

    Take venlafaxine exactly as prescribed by your healthcare provider. Do not change your dose or stop taking venlafaxine without first talking to your healthcare provider.

    Take venlafaxine tablets with food.

  • What should I avoid while taking this medication?

    Do not drive, operate heavy machinery, or engage in other dangerous activities until you know how venlafaxine affects you.

    Do not drink alcohol while you are taking venlafaxine.

  • What are the possible food and drug interactions associated with this medication?

    If venlafaxine is taken with certain other drugs, the effects of either could be increased, decreased, or altered. Venlafaxine may interact with numerous medications. Therefore, it is very important that you tell your healthcare provider about any other medications you are taking.

  • May I receive this medication if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

    Venlafaxine may harm your newborn baby if you take it during the last few months of your pregnancy. Venlafaxine can be found in your breast milk if taken while breastfeeding. Do not breastfeed while taking venlafaxine. Tell your healthcare provider immediately if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding.

  • What should I do if I miss a dose of this medication?

    If you miss a dose of venlafaxine, take it as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the one you missed and return to your regular dosing schedule. Do not take two doses at once.

  • How should I store this medication?

    Store at room temperature.