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Effexor Addiction

This entry was posted in Antidepressant and tagged on by .
Medically Reviewed Fact Checked

Last Updated on October 18, 2023 by Carol Gillette

Alternative to Meds Editorial Team
Medically Reviewed by Dr Samuel Lee MD

At Alternative to Meds Center we provide the best Effexor addiction help possible, making the process easier by greatly reducing withdrawal symptoms, as well as addressing original symptoms that led to taking antidepressant medication in the first place.

When a person develops an Effexor addiction, they can face some extremely challenging withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit. Our residential drug treatment center is aware of other, better answers than living your life medicated on antidepressants that you can’t stop taking, even though you very much want to.

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What is Effexor Addiction?

effexor addictionRealizing the need for Effexor addiction treatment can bowl a person over completely. Often, nothing is suspected until the person forgets a dose and suffers a startling cascade of withdrawals. This might be the point where a person realizes how Effexor-dependent they have become. Only then, one realizes how much they have come to rely on it to carry out life’s ordinary daily functions. This antidepressant addiction may develop over a short or long period of time. Pharmacists, some researchers, and non-psychiatric practitioners have reported extensively on the adverse effects of abruptly stopping antidepressants as seen in the Medscape Journal of Medicine and the US Pharmacist Journal of Clinical Excellence.2,4 Other prescribers cling to the notion that antidepressants are perfectly safe, effective, and not addictive, and do not seem to observe, or perhaps are not inclined to report on the adverse effects of withdrawal. Alternative to Meds strongly cautions against abruptly stopping these same medications because the evidence of negative consequences of doing so is clear.1,3,24

Signs of Effexor Addiction, Dependence, Tolerance
  • Needing or desiring higher doses to achieve dampening effects on depressed mood
  • Taking more than prescribed to combat insomnia or sleep-related issues
  • Taking above-therapeutic doses for drug-induced effects such as euphoria/stimulation
  • Withdrawals emerge such as aggression, irritation, etc., between doses, or if a dose is skipped (dependence has developed)
  • Crushing or chewing XR capsules for more immediate effects
  • Taking the medication more often than prescribed
  • Obsessing over acquiring more medication
  • Panic about running out of medication

Where your own health is at stake, we highly recommend doing enough of your own research to conclude with confidence whether Effexor addiction treatment could help you.

Is Effexor (venlafaxine) an SNRI?

Effexor is classed as an SNRI. This drug changes serotonin, (the “S”) and norepinephrine levels, (the “N”), in the CNS and brain. Effexor was FDA-approved to treat MDD in 1993. The time-release version, Effexor XR was FDA approved for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder in 1997. Like all SNRIs, the drug is not FDA-approved for persons under the age of 18 due to the increased risk of suicide.5,22

Holistic practitioners may observe that what’s wrong with this approach is that the drug is doing the “work,” not the person. Research published in the International Journal of Nursing Studies reported that positive and effective results in patients’ depression were obtained from non-pharmacological treatment. Both the patients and the professionals involved stated they preferred cognitive behavioral therapy, competitive memory training, problem-solving therapy, and reminiscence group therapy, over pharmacological treatments, the study reported.8

In contrast, in medication-based treatment, it is the medication that is artificially influencing mood — not the person. Proponents of SNRI medication therapy hope that a person who relies on this drug to control their depression, balance out their moods, and improve their general happiness and quality of life will improve.

But as Keks et al point out in an article published in the Australian Prescriber Journal, antidepressant drugs often lack adequate treatment response, and can even create unacceptable treatment outcomes.9 According to the research, even after multiple medication switching, with no other therapy, the person would soon return to their previous condition, or in some cases a worsened condition, due to the extremely harsh SNRI side effects and SNRI withdrawals.10-12

Since most people just want to be happy and may even be too fatigued or discouraged to seek out alternative treatments, they may opt to continue to rely on antidepressants to try and achieve happiness. It can be scary to think about having to return to the previous state of depression or mania, and for many people, it may seem easier to continue taking Effexor to alleviate problems rather than dealing with them with the help of SNRI alternative therapeutic choices.

Is It Possible to Find Peace and Happiness Without Medication?

regain wellnessGiven the effective tools, it has been our observation at Alternative to Meds Center that there are better methods than a prescription drug to maintain peace and happiness. But many doctors who are licensed to give out medication are never trained in alternative methods to improve mood and related symptoms. We have observed that natural mental health can be achieved without prescription drugs. For many, the fear of ending Effexor dependency is the fear of the potentially painful Effexor withdrawals and the possibility of returning symptoms. Patients have described antidepressant addiction as being just as bad as an addiction to heroin. Some patients who try to taper off of this medication simply find the challenge too great and give up.11

Alternative to Meds Center specializes in providing supportive help for a successful outcome. Our treatment programs are built on the foundation of finding alternative pathways to peace and happiness without relying on prescription medication. More on alternative treatment success can be found below.

Effexor Addiction and Withdrawal Symptoms

Some of the antidepressant addiction withdrawal symptoms that have been reported by the FDA 5 include brain zaps or shocks, irritability, flu-like symptoms, night terrors, anxiety, nausea, dizziness, sleepiness, insomnia, increased blood pressure, sweating, dry mouth, loss of appetite, and constipation. There are possibilities of more severe Effexor side effects that may have the potential of being dangerous to your health, rare withdrawal side effects include cardiac arrhythmia, increased cholesterol, stomach pain, changes in vision, Neuroleptic malignant syndrome, pancreatitis, seizure, external bleeding, and Tardive Dyskinesia discontinuation syndrome. effexor addiction & withdrawal symptomsTardive Dyskinesia is an involuntary movement disorder and a rare adverse effect that can emerge during or after withdrawal from venlafaxine as well as other SNRI medication. Effexor is known to produce more intense withdrawals than other SNRI medications.11,12

These withdrawal symptoms should not discourage the decision to end antidepressant addiction. But suddenly discontinuing this medication should definitely be discouraged. Without guidance and support, serious withdrawal symptoms can put your health at risk. Choosing to end antidepressant dependence under medical care in an Effexor rehab or cessation center will reduce the risk of experiencing serious or intolerable withdrawal symptoms.

If you have realized that you may be dependent upon this medication, you can find out more about alternative ways to treat depression that are not addictive. At Alternative to Meds Center, our clients can safely end addiction without suffering painful withdrawal symptoms, and they get the opportunity to address actual causes and contributors to their symptoms for authentic relief.

The importance of addressing the root causes of undesirable mental health symptoms cannot be overstated.

Finding and Addressing Root Causes for Depression & Effexor Addiction

Most individuals are put on antidepressant medications like Effexor before there have been any investigative efforts put into finding what is causing their depression. Despite the advertising claims, does the assumed neurotransmitter deficiency really exist? How about food allergies, slow metabolism, low thyroid or toxicity? These are just some of the documented causes and contributors to depression.16-20

find out what's causing your depressionA person may or may not have a deficit in serotonin to begin with, but taking the medication can develop an actual serotonin deficiency that may even make matters worse. Seissner et al’s study on mice demonstrates neurotransmitter deficiency after chronic use of antidepressant drugs in an article published in the 2013 Journal of ACS Chemical Neuroscience.16 Clearly, this drug-induced effect would leave a person disadvantaged, whether or not a deficiency was present before starting drug therapy.

Testing can directly reveal much that is pertinent when it comes to addressing root causes. For instance, a deficiency in folate was corrected with supplementation and was a successful treatment for depression according to a 2011 article published in the Journal of the Canadian Family Physician.13

To address symptoms such as depression, the pharmaceutical industry has been so diligent in their cause, that many alternative treatments have not received the attention and exposure that they deserve. According to the above-mentioned meta-analysis of studies, Canadian researcher Dr. Osmaan Sheikh found that St John’s Wort was as effective as antidepressant drugs in relieving depression, but without the side effects. As reported in the medical literature, exercise was shown to be a highly effective treatment for depression. Similar results have been found regarding certain supplements such as SAM-e, Omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D. Additionally, the use of acupuncture treatments, light therapy, and many other depression therapies used in Complementary Medicine have gained popularity in recent times, in both women and men.13,14,15

Does Effexor Raise Serotonin?

SNRI antidepressants do not produce serotonin. In fact, antidepressants block the reuptake of certain natural neurochemicals. This blocking of reuptake causes an artificial but temporary build-up to occur.

However, there is a wrench in the works. Serotonin is designed by nature, for reuptake. This is so the nerve cells that make up the incredibly complex CNS are able to recycle it and use it again and again. This is a conservatory process.

SNRIs block serotonin reuptakeHowever, if serotonin is forcibly kept suspended outside the synapse, which is how antidepressants “work,” these molecules eventually degrade and become a waste product. It’s comparable to the way cocaine temporarily relieves depression. Cocaine uses up (burns up, wastes) all of the available dopamine but does not create more of it. Dopamine is the neurochemical that monitors reward, so when a person initially takes cocaine, there will appear to be an exceptional feeling of reward in everything.

Eventually, all the dopamine will be gone. Now nothing in the world feels rewarding to a person in this condition. This is why it feels like drugs eventually “stop working.” It’s a bit like living off a credit card. Eventually, all resources become bankrupt. The human need for reward is hardwired. This is one of the harshest drivers of addiction because there is a craving and a drive for pleasure and reward, but these rewards end up being less and less available as drug use continues.

Unlike dopamine, an excitatory neurochemical, serotonin could be called a “dampener.” We need serotonin for its ability to not only dampen unpleasant environmental stimuli but to reduce aggression and impulsive behavior. Serotonin also creates our sleep hormones. The effect of adequate serotonin could be compared to shutting the windows and putting a pillow over your head if you live beside train tracks. Serotonin quiets reactions to outside stimuli and settles down compulsive thoughts and behaviors. This is a major neurotransmitter with additional functions that we don’t entirely understand yet, and this hormone travels all over the body along many different pathways that have yet to be fully mapped.

But it is clear to see what happens to a hormonal-impaired person during antidepressant withdrawal. The trains are running, and there is no pillow and the windows are wide open — in fact, the sounds and rattling of the trains are amplified. Therefore, a person can suffer from impulsive aggression, increased reactivity, sleeplessness, anxiety, overstimulation, and some may develop Tourette’s and OCD.

All of these symptoms are associated with a drug-induced serotonin deficiency.21,23

Can Nutrition Raise Serotonin?

nutrition to combat depressionYes, in fact, nutrition is THE MOST EFFECTIVE way to rehabilitate the entire breadth of functioning human neurochemistry. Alternative to Meds Center identifies medical, biological, nutritional, and psychosocial contributors to depression and other unwanted symptoms. For example, to combat depression during withdrawal, we use targeted nutrient treatments and oral supplements that promote the creation of healthy neurotransmitters that positively support mood. Combined with testing for other potential contributors to unwanted symptoms, medical acupuncture, psychological counseling,  neurotransmitter rehabilitation, IV + NAD treatments, nebulized glutathione, deep cleansing, exercise, and Equine therapy provide long-lasting relief. We have over 40 clinical physicians, nurses, and practitioners on board in our pristine and welcoming in-patient facility to provide the vast range of therapies that are instrumental for full, authentic, recovery. Each person’s program must be uniquely designed as no cookie-cutter approach will give the desired result.

We invite you to find out more about our Effexor addiction treatment program at Alternative to Meds Center and how it may help you or your loved one with getting life back on track without prescription medications.


1. Farah WH, Alsawas M, Mainou M, Alahdab F, Farah MH, Ahmed AT, Mohamed EA, Almasri J, Gionfriddo MR, Castaneda-Guarderas A, Mohammed K, Wang Z, Asi N, Sawchuk CN, Williams MD, Prokop LJ, Murad MH, LeBlanc A. Non-pharmacological treatment of depression: a systematic review and evidence map. Evid Based Med. 2016 Dec;21(6):214-221. doi: 10.1136/ebmed-2016-110522. Epub 2016 Nov 11. PMID: 27836921. [cited 2021 Aug 13]

2. Venlafaxine: more dangerous than most “selective” serotonergic antidepressants. Prescrire Int. 2016 Apr;25(170):96-9. PMID: 27186622. [cited 2021 Aug 13]

3. Li J, Lu C, Gao Z, Feng Y, Luo H, Lu T, Sun X, Hu J, Luo Y. SNRIs achieve faster antidepressant effects than SSRIs by elevating the concentrations of dopamine in the forebrain. Neuropharmacology. 2020 Oct 15;177:108237. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2020.108237. Epub 2020 Jul 23. PMID: 32710978. [cited 2021 Aug 13]

4. Campagne DM. Venlafaxine and serious withdrawal symptoms: warning to driversMedGenMed. 2005;7(3):22. Published 2005 Jul 6. [cited 2021 Aug 13]

5. FDA label Effexor (venlafaxine hydrochloride) Tablets [online] revised 02/08 [cited 2021 Aug 13]

6. Busner J, Targum SD. The clinical global impressions scale: applying a research tool in clinical practicePsychiatry (Edgmont). 2007;4(7):28-37. [cited 2021 Aug 13]

7. Hamilton M. A rating scale for depression. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 1960;
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8. Apóstolo J, Bobrowicz-Campos E, Rodrigues M, Castro I, Cardoso D. The effectiveness of non-pharmacological interventions in older adults with depressive disorders: A systematic review. Int J Nurs Stud. 2016 Jun;58:59-70. doi: 10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2016.02.006. Epub 2016 Feb 17. PMID: 27087298. [cited 2021 Aug 13]

9. Keks N, Hope J, Keogh S. Switching and stopping antidepressantsAust Prescr. 2016;39(3):76-83. doi:10.18773/austprescr.2016.039 [cited 2021 Aug 13]

10. Fava GA, Benasi G, Lucente M, Offidani E, Cosci F, Guidi J. Withdrawal Symptoms after Serotonin-Noradrenaline Reuptake Inhibitor Discontinuation: Systematic Review. Psychother Psychosom. 2018;87(4):195-203. doi: 10.1159/000491524. Epub 2018 Jul 17. PMID: 30016772. [cited 2021 Aug 15]

11. Montgomery SA. Tolerability of serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor antidepressants. CNS Spectr. 2008 Jul;13(7 Suppl 11):27-33. doi: 10.1017/s1092852900028297. PMID: 18622372. [cited 2021 Aug 15]

12. Shelton RC. Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors. Handb Exp Pharmacol. 2019;250:145-180. doi: 10.1007/164_2018_164. PMID: 30838456. [cited 2021 Aug 15]

13. Nahas R, Sheikh O. Complementary and alternative medicine for the treatment of major depressive disorder. Can Fam Physician. 2011;57(6):659-663. [cited 2021 Aug 15]

14. Fava M. Using complementary and alternative medicines for depression. J Clin Psychiatry. 2010 Sep;71(9):e24. doi: 10.4088/JCP.8157tx3c. PMID: 20923617. [cited 2021 Aug 15]

15. Deligiannidis KM, Freeman MP. Complementary and alternative medicine for the treatment of depressive disorders in women. Psychiatr Clin North Am. 2010 Jun;33(2):441-63. doi: 10.1016/j.psc.2010.01.002. PMID: 20385346. [cited 2021 Aug 15]

16. Siesser WB, Sachs BD, Ramsey AJ, et al. Chronic SSRI treatment exacerbates serotonin deficiency in humanized Tph2 mutant miceACS Chem Neurosci. 2013;4(1):84-88. doi:10.1021/cn300127h [cited 2021 Aug 15]

17. Hidese S, Nogawa S, Saito K, Kunugi H. Food allergy is associated with depression and psychological distress: A web-based study in 11,876 Japanese. J Affect Disord. 2019 Feb 15;245:213-218. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2018.10.119. Epub 2018 Oct 26. PMID: 30408639. [cited 2021 Aug 15]

18. Hage MP, Azar ST. The Link between Thyroid Function and Depression. J Thyroid Res. 2012;2012:590648. doi:10.1155/2012/590648 [cited 2021 Aug 15]

19. Dickerson AS, Wu AC, Liew Z, Weisskopf M. A Scoping Review of Non-Occupational Exposures to Environmental Pollutants and Adult Depression, Anxiety, and Suicide. Curr Environ Health Rep. 2020 Sep;7(3):256-271. doi: 10.1007/s40572-020-00280-7. PMID: 32533365; PMCID: PMC7483936.[cited 2021 Aug 15]

20. Marazziti D, Rutigliano G, Baroni S, Landi P, Dell’Osso L. Metabolic syndrome and major depression. CNS Spectr. 2014 Aug;19(4):293-304. doi: 10.1017/S1092852913000667. Epub 2013 Oct 8. PMID: 24103843.[cited 2021 Aug 15]

21. Comings DE. Blood serotonin and tryptophan in Tourette syndrome. Am J Med Genet. 1990 Aug;36(4):418-30. doi: 10.1002/ajmg.1320360410. PMID: 2389798. [cited 2021 Aug 15]

22. FDA label Effexor XR (venlafaxine Extended Release) capsules, first approved 1997 [cited 2023 Aug 8]

23.; Thomas L, Serotonin and Aggression published in Life Sciences Medical News [2023 Jan 16] [cited 2023 Aug 8]

24. Schifano, F., & Chiappini, S. (2018). Is There a Potential of Misuse for Venlafaxine and Bupropion?Frontiers in pharmacology9, 239. [cited 2023 Aug 8]

Originally Published by Diane Ridaeus Published Nov 4, 2019

This content has been reviewed and approved by a licensed physician.

Dr. Samuel Lee

Dr. Samuel Lee is a board-certified psychiatrist, specializing in a spiritually-based mental health discipline and integrative approaches. He graduated with an MD at Loma Linda University School of Medicine and did a residency in psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. He has also been an inpatient adult psychiatrist at Kaweah Delta Mental Health Hospital and the primary attending geriatric psychiatrist at the Auerbach Inpatient Psychiatric Jewish Home Hospital. In addition, he served as the general adult outpatient psychiatrist at Kaiser Permanente.  He is board-certified in psychiatry and neurology and has a B.A. Magna Cum Laude in Religion from Pacific Union College. His specialty is in natural healing techniques that promote the body’s innate ability to heal itself.

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