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Effexor (venlafaxine hydrochloride)

What is Effexor?

Effexor’s chemical structure is unlike any other antidepressant. It works to restore the balance of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters — specifically serotonin and norepinephrine. Effexor is in a class of medicines called serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). Effexor is prescribed to treat depression. Effexor XR is prescribed to treat depression, Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and Social anxiety disorder (SAD).

  • Manufacturer: Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories
  • FDA Approved for: Depression, General Anxiety Disorder
  • Off-Label Uses: Bipolar disorder, Fibromyalgia, Arthritis, Chronic Fatigue, Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus, Headaches, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), ADD/ADHD, Eating Disorders
  • Dosing Range: Effexor initially 75 mg. in two or three divided doses. Usual maximum dose is 225 mg one time a day. Effexor XR initially 37.5 mg or 75 mg once daily. Usual maximum dose is 225 mg daily.
  • Effexor Patient Information Sheet (PDF)

FDA ALERT [07/2006] – Potentially Life- Threatening Serotonin Syndrome When Used With Triptan Medicines

A life-threatening condition called serotonin syndrome can happen when medicines called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as Effexor, and medicines used to treat migraine headaches known as 5-hydroxytryptamine receptor agonists (triptans), are used together.  Signs and symptoms of serotonin syndrome include the following:

  • restlessness
  • hallucinations
  • loss of coordination
  • fast heart beat
  • increased body temperature
  • fast changes in blood pressure
  • overactive reflexes
  • diarrhea
  • coma
  • nausea
  • vomiting

Serotonin syndrome may be more likely to occur when starting or increasing the dose of an SSRI or a triptan.  This information comes from reports sent to FDA and knowledge of how these medicines work.  If you take migraine headache medicines, ask your healthcare professional if your medicine is a triptan.

Before you take Effexor and a triptan together, talk to your healthcare professional.  If you must take these medicines together, be aware of the possibility of serotonin syndrome, and get medical care right away if you think serotonin syndrome is happening to you.

Who Should Not Take Effexor?

Never take Effexor if you are taking another drug used to treat depression, called a Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitor (MAOI), or if you have stopped taking an MAOI in the last 14 days. Taking Effexor close in time to an MAOI can result in serious, sometimes fatal, reactions, including:

  • High body temperature
  • Coma
  • Seizures (convulsions)

MAOI drugs include Nardil (phenelzine sulfate), Parnate (tranylcypromine sulfate), Marplan (isocarboxazid), and other brands.

Effexor (venlafaxine hydrochloride)

Donald Black, MD

APA Reference
Black, D. (2020). Effexor (venlafaxine hydrochloride). Psych Central. Retrieved on October 26, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 29 Jul 2020 (Originally: 17 May 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 29 Jul 2020
Published on Psych All rights reserved.