What is EffexorXR (Venlafaxine) Used For?
EffexorXR is approved by the FDA to be used for treating such conditions as:
- MDD (Major Depression Disorder)
- GAD (General Anxiety Disorder)
- SAD (Social Anxiety Disorder, sometimes called Social Phobia)
- PD (Panic Disorder)
In addition to the above approved uses, off label uses have become an option where other treatments for certain conditions were found unsuccessful.
Studies are sometimes done to explore the effectiveness of drugs, and where enough studies show a reasonable efficacy, the drug can eventually become approved for other purposes than the drug was originally approved for.
Such off-label uses for EffexorXR (venlafaxine) currently include:
- Treatment of hot flashes in menopause
- Migraines, tension headaches
- Diabetic Neuropathy
- PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder)
- Post breast cancer therapy neuropathy
There are various Effexor alternatives and treatments that can be researched and implemented, for successfully addressing factors of mental unease. At the Alternative to Meds Center we specialize in many methods of attaining mental health naturally, and free from prescription drugs. Once a person has grasped an understanding of how to get off Effexor safely and comfortably, it may be beneficial to pursue some of the holistic treatments the center has found to be successful.
Effexor (venlafaxine) Alternative Names and Slang
Effexor (venlafaxine) and EffexorXR have been marketed under hundreds of brand names around the world, including these interesting names:
Venlafaxine hydrochloride is the full generic name for Effexor and EffexorXR. Hydrochloride is a kind of chemical binder used in manufacturing this and certain other drugs. Hydrochloride is an acid, like the hydrochloric acid found in the stomach, instrumental in digestion.
Note that Effexor has now been discontinued in the US due to causing excessive nausea, and has been replaced with the time-release version called EffexorXR.
No street or slang names have emerged, as the drug never became popularized as a stand-alone drug for recreational use. However, the drug has been shown up in batches of street drugs like MDMA or ecstasy, that when analyzed did contain random amounts of drugs such as venlafaxine or other prescription drugs.
Effexor Side Effects / EffexorXR Side Effects
One of the most commonly reported negative side effects of venlafaxine is nausea. The drug manufacturer reports that it stopped making the original version of Effexor in the US because of this negative effect, and replaced it with a time-release version called EffexorXR that was more easily tolerated.
However, a much more troubling Effexor side effect was that both versions of the drug were linked to a higher risk for mortality through overdose than other SSRI type antidepressant drugs, as reported in Wyeth Pharmaceutical’s 2006 letter issued to healthcare professionals. Wyeth’s letter warned of this discovery that emerged after the drug was already on the market. The FDA also sent out a medical alert from its safety information program that was set up to advise consumers and caregivers of such adverse events relating to prescription drugs such as this troubling Effexor side effect.
In addition to the afore-mentioned overdose mortality risk, there are vast numbers of Effexor side effects which may lead to the decision of getting off Effexor. These adverse effects documented for venlafaxine and all of its trade names, include:
- Serotonin Syndrome: a life threatening condition marked by sudden fever, sweating, muscle stiffness or muscle rigidity, trouble breathing, nausea, vomiting, hallucinations, rapid heart rate, agitation, etc.
- Many drugs, including alcohol, can interact with SSNRI antidepressants, and can contribute to or enhance side effects including Serotonin Syndrome.
- Elevated blood pressure
- Suicidality emergence, thoughts of hurting oneself
- Increased suicidality where already present
- Loss of bone mineral density leading to fractures
- Worsened depression
- Worsened anxiety
- Akathisia: a ceaseless internal restlessness often accompanied by constant need to be in motion, i.e., pacing, rocking, twisting, etc.
- Bouts of coughing
- Impulsive or erratic behaviors
- Panic attacks
- Dry mouth
- Dizziness, vertigo
- And many other negative physical, emotional, and cognitive side effects.
Effexor (Venlafaxine) Withdrawal Symptoms
In addition to the side effects of Effexor or EffexorXR, there are adverse effects that can accompany Effexor withdrawal.
This collective set of Effexor withdrawal symptoms is often termed Effexor Discontinuation Syndrome. These discontinuation symptoms can be extreme and even life threatening, especially where Effexor withdrawal is done abruptly or too quickly. However, it should be noted that these can occur even during a careful and gradual taper. It is highly recommended to seek medically assisted Effexor withdrawal treatment, and not try coming off the drug on one’s own.
These Effexor withdrawal symptoms may include, and are not limited to the following:
- Brain zaps, feeling of electric shocks through the head and neck
- Extreme fatigue
- Headaches, migraines
- Flu-like symptoms, ie., fever, chills, cramps, diarrhea, etc.
- Brain fog
- And many other adverse symptoms.
How Long do Effexor Withdrawal Symptoms Last?
The half-life of EffexorXR is anywhere from approximately 9 to 27 hours, and Effexor withdrawal symptoms can begin within a few hours of the last dose. The half-life is the time that it takes for half of the total ingested dose to be cleared from the body. This half-life period is often extended to suggest that it is equivalent to the time a person may experience the manifestations of withdrawal.
Each person’s individual metabolism and genetic factors that dictate metabolism, play a part in the rate of withdrawal. This can make it largely unpredictable to determine when the withdrawal is going to manifest, when it will abate, and the severity. People with a more rapid metabolism may endure a sharper withdrawal. Effexor has a comparably short half-life for antidepressants, and as such can result in a typically more abrupt manifestation of withdrawal. Even though the half-life definition of withdrawal is measured by a number of hours, people often report a protracted withdrawal that can continue for weeks, months, or even years, especially where adequate preparations and support have not been made available in the process.
It is extremely important to bear in mind the FDA warning on stopping EffexorXR all at once. Abruptly discontinuing Effexor can introduce such a shock to the body that the withdrawals could be overwhelming and impossible to endure without medical intervention.
There are diet changes such as reducing sugar and caffeine that can be monitored during Effexor withdrawal treatment, as well as gentle exercise routines and organizing a daily schedule that allows for adequate rest and recuperation.
Discontinuing/Quitting Effexor (venlafaxine)
Can I stop Taking Effexor Cold Turkey?
The FDA has issued clear recommendations against stopping Effexor (venlafaxine) or EffexorXR too quickly and certainly warns against a “cold turkey” approach. To do so can lengthen the time needed to recover from quitting the drug. Always seek competent and professional Effexor withdrawal help.
When a person has been taking venlafaxine or any prescription drug for a period of time, the body begins compensating in many different ways that are not always obvious. Effexor addiction can be a result over time, as well as Effexor dependence. These factors of Effexor addiction and dependence can not be overlooked. Stopping Effexor after the body has become dependent on it can introduce such shock at such a rapid pace, that the change is profoundly unsettling, and can be life-threatening in some cases.
Never attempt to discontinue a drug suddenly. Always seek medical professional help and guidance before quitting Effexor (venlafaxine), EffexorXR, or any prescribed drug.