You wake up, excited about your big plans for the day. Maybe you’re meeting friends for coffee, planning an evening out with your spouse, or have a big day ahead at work. Whatever your plans are, you probably have a sense of excitement about them. You tell yourself that this is going to be the day that you finally shed those extra pounds, and you feel good about yourself.
But, soon after waking up, that excitement turns to frustration. You’ve got a lot on your plate that day, and trying to fit in some workout while running errands seems impossible. By the time you get to dinner with your spouse, you’re both exhausted and lacking in inspiration. You order room service and sleep through most of your evening meal. When you do manage to have some energy left at night, you walk around the house aimlessly, unable to settle down for sleep. You feel guilty and ashamed that you can’t live up to other people’s expectations of you. For the first time in a long time, you don’t feel good about yourself.
Sound familiar? You’re not alone. Many women (and men) experience this type of situation every day. Sometimes it can be downright debilitating. You can’t function in daily life, and even your social activities start to feel pointless. Sometimes it feels like all the joy has been sucked out of life, and you just want to escape to be alone with your thoughts. Does anyone else experience this with Effexor? Let’s discuss.
What Is Effexor?
Effexor, also known as venlafaxine, is a prescription drug used to treat depression. It’s one of the most popular antidepressants currently available, with about 80 million prescriptions written worldwide each year. (2) More and more people are discovering the power of this drug to treat a variety of mental health conditions. It’s been shown to reduce anxiety, panic attacks, and the feeling of being overwhelmed by life circumstances. (3) And, of course, it’s frequently prescribed for people who suffer from depression.
How Does It Work?
While we don’t exactly know how Effexor works at a cellular level, we do know a bit about how it affects the brain. When serotonin is depleted in the brain, it can lead to all sorts of mental and physical problems. (4) The prescription antidepressant alleviates these mental and physical effects by boosting serotonin levels in the brain. In turn, this can have a positive impact on a variety of areas in your life. One of the most significant benefits of medication is that it can help you cope with life’s stresses. Without it, these stresses can manifest physically. (5) So, when you’re feeling overwhelmed or down, having some medication to take can help you feel more relaxed and connected to yourself again. It can also help you sleep better at night and reduce the severity of your sleep apnea.
How Is It Different From Other Antidepressants?
Let’s contrast Effexor with a commonly prescribed antidepressant, escitalopram. Both drugs treat depression, but they are clearly different. (6) Escitalopram is actually a derivative of the natural product citalopram hydrobromide. It’s a more recent addition to the class of antidepressants, gaining FDA approval only in 2012. (7) This drug also works by boosting serotonin levels in the brain. However, it is not prescribed as often as Effexor, as it tends to be absorbed more slowly into the bloodstream. It also lacks the additional benefits that emerge with repeated use. (8) The most significant difference between these two antidepressants is how they are absorbed by the body. Escitalopram is almost completely absorbed by the body within 15 minutes of ingestion. (9) In comparison, only about 30% of Effexor is absorbed by the body within the same timeframe. The other 70% stays in the stomach for up to three hours before being absorbed. In other words, after taking Effexor, you’ll still have some in your system for a while!
Are There Any Side Effects Or Complications?
Effexor, like any other medication, has the potential to cause side effects or complications. (10) However, the data on Effexor is quite positive, with no significant side effects reported. (11) The most common side effects reported are dry mouth, headache, and drowsiness. These are similar to the side effects associated with other popular antidepressants, such as Lexapro and Zoloft. (12) The good news is that these side effects are usually mild and go away after a few weeks or months. (13) In the case of dry mouth, this can be alleviated by simply keeping your mouth hydrated. For those experiencing headaches, it’s important to note that this is a common side effect for all antidepressants, and it has no bearing on whether or not this drug is right for you. (14) One of the significant advantages of medication is that it reduces the risk of certain medical complications. Depression is strongly associated with cardiovascular disease, (15) and antidepressants have been shown to significantly reduce the chance of developing heart disease or having a stroke. (16) The drug is also beneficial for people with diabetes, as it improves glucose tolerance and reduces the need for insulin. (17) For those who need additional reassurance, this drug has been shown to be remarkably safe and effective when used alongside psychotherapy. (18)
Is It For Everyone?
No, not at all. Like all other pharmaceuticals, Effexor is not intended for everyone. (19) It is quite effective for people who suffer from moderate to severe depression. (20) In most cases, it will provide some relief from the mental and physical symptoms of depression without the need for intensive psychotherapy or counseling sessions. (21) If you’re suffering from mild depression, you may not need medication at all. (22) When deciding whether or not to try this drug, it’s important to remember that it can take weeks or months to determine how well it will work for you. Therefore, it’s essential to stick with it for the long haul, even if you initially feel positive about the risks and benefits. (23)
Along those lines, it is also worthwhile to note that while this medication is often prescribed for people who suffer from depression, it has been shown to be effective for people with anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder and social anxiety disorder. (24) So, if you’re experiencing intense anxiety, it may be worth a try! A lot can happen over the course of a year, so be patient and commit to the long haul.
When Should You Take It?
It’s important to note that Effexor does not work best if you take it right when you feel down. (25) This drug is most effective when administered in the morning, 30 minutes to one hour before eating a meal. (26) The theory behind this is that consuming food can act as a natural stimulant, causing some of the medication to be metabolized more efficiently. So, if you know that you’ll be eating soon, wait at least 30 minutes before you take your medication.
In terms of optimal dosing, the usual starting dose for Effexor is between 10 mg and 20 mg. It is then titrated up to a maximum dose of 60 mg, 90 mg, or 120 mg daily, based on the individual needs of the patient. Some people may require more, while others may need less. The dose can be increased or decreased as needed, based on how the medication is initially effective and tolerable. (27)
More Than Meets The Eye
While Effexor can certainly help to improve your quality of life, it is not a cure all for all diseases. (28) There are several important things you need to know about this drug. First, it can only help with the symptoms of depression and anxiety. It will not cure you of these conditions. (29) If you’re looking for a cure, you may need to try a different medication or treatment plan. (30) Second, this drug is not intended to be used by women who are or may become pregnant. (31) If you’re aware that you’re pregnant or intend on becoming pregnant within the next year, you should not take this medication. (32) The third and most important thing to remember about this drug is that if it doesn’t work for you, you need to stop taking it and try something else. (33) The side effects associated with this drug are generally well-tolerated, but they can be serious if they’re not controlled properly. (34) In rare cases, people have developed priapism, a medical condition characterized by an erection that takes weeks to go away on its own. (35) Less than 0.1% of people have developed this condition while on this medication, but it’s still too much risk for some. (36)