Can Effexor Cause Extreme Fatigue?

In this article we will talk about Effexor, how it works, its side-effects and important information one should be aware of before engaging with the drug.

Can Effexor Cause Extreme Fatigue?

Effexor is a type of antidepressant SNRI medication that works with the brain to balance the chemicals associated with depression by managing their absorption by the nerves. In addition to the treatment of major depressive disorders, anxiety disorders such as social anxiety disorder or generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorders and dementia w/ depressive features, it is also used to treat chronic pain sometimes. This is why the medicine contains contents that cause drowsiness and fatigue.

What Is Effexor And What Does It Treat?

Effexor is an SNRI (selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor) antidepressant. It works by increasing the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain to balance these chemicals and help with depression.

It is approved for the treatment of the major depressive disorder (MDD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder (social phobia).

Some symptoms of depression include-

·         Feeling sad or empty

·         Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, helplessness and hopelessness

·         Loss of interest in activities one previously gained pleasure from.

·         Changed patterns of eating and sleeping; either excessively or very little.

·         Feeling low on energy and trouble concentrating.

·          Always feeling nervous or agitated, thoughts of death.

·         Suicidal thoughts or behaviours

Some symptoms of GAD include-

·         Experiencing excessive worry and anxiety for at least a period of 6 months.

·         Feelings of restlessness, nervousness and agitation

·         Difficulty in concentrating

·         Feelings of irritability, fatigue and muscle tension.

·         Experiencing trouble sleeping

Some symptoms of Panic Disorder include-

·         Experiencing unexpected or repeated feelings of fear with respect to the future or a current situation.

·         Trouble in breathing or shortness of breath

·         Experiencing rapid heart palpations

·         Physical symptoms of sweating, nausea or/and dizziness

Some symptoms of a social anxiety disorder include-

·         Feeling uncomfortable because of feeling judged in social situations

·         This can result in difficulty in talking

·         Physical symptoms of sweating, nausea or/and shaking

If the doctor understands and agrees, Effexor can be prescribed off-label for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) for adults and children, migraine, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).  One must understand that “off-label” translates that the prescription is not approved by the FDA for the mentioned conditions and the doctor must have good reason to do so.

Important Information to Know About Effexor?

Avoid using Effexor 7 days before or 14 days after an MAO inhibitor has been used such as isocarboxazid, linezolid, methylene blue injection, phenelzine, rasagiline, selegiline, or tranylcypromine. It could cause a serious drug interaction which could prove fatal.

Medicines that also work with serotonin such as other SSRIs or Propranolol could interact with Effexor and cause serotonin syndrome. This happens when there is too much serotonin in the body due to the interaction between the medicines one is taking. Too much serotonin leads to excessive nerve cell activity which can be fatal and if not treated in time can result in death.

The doctor should have full knowledge of the medication one is engaging with and any bodily problems, diseases or allergies that persist. The medication needs to be monitored by the doctor to prevent any dangerous interactions and its effect.

Some people, particularly the young are at risk of having thoughts about suicide when they first start taking Effexor or any anti-depressant. It is important that the individual is closely monitored by the doctor and the family members or caregivers be alerted of such symptoms and moods.

Do not stop taking Effexor when the feelings of depression subside. It is possible to experience a relapse of depression if one stops taking the antidepressant. A sudden stop in taking the medicine can result in irritability, nausea, dizziness, headache and/or parenthesis. It is important to neither start nor stop the medicine on one’s own without the doctor’s advice. The medicine is also not approved for anyone below the age of 18 years.

Depression being a part of bipolar disorder also, there is a risk that such people taking antidepressants may switch from depression to mania. Some noticeable symptoms may include high self-esteem, excessive talking, racing thoughts, lack of attention and getting easily distracted, indulging in activities that may have bad consequences, “high” mood, etc.

Effexor during pregnancy

It is not advisable to take Effexor during pregnancy but one should not start or stop the consumption of Effexor on their own without the doctor’s advice.

There can be a relapse of depression if there is a stop in the intake of the antidepressants. It can be particularly fatal to take Effexor during or after the second and the third trimester of the pregnancy; it can cause serious lung problems in the infant and there is a chance that the baby is born before the due date or before it has fully developed.

One should not breastfeed when taking Effexor because it can pass through the breast milk. If you are trying to get pregnant or planning to, it is of utmost importance that the doctor is notified so that medication can be managed accordingly. Untreated depression can be harmful to the baby as well as the mother. It is very important to have a discussion as to how one should proceed if pregnancy, in any form, is in the scenario.

What Are Possible Side Effects Of Effexor?

Some common side effects include-

·         headache, sweating, dry mouth

·         nausea and/or diarrhoea  

·         feelings of nervousness or restlessness, fatigue

·         trouble with sleeping

·         decreased sex drive, delay in intimate release, difficulty in having an intimate release

·         Increased blood pressure.

·         Dizziness and drowsiness

·         Tightness in the chest, persistent coughing, trouble in breathing

The mentioned symptoms get better over time as the body gets used to the medication within a week or two. The problems related to sex and BP will persist and not improve.

There are more serious conditions that might take place such as-

·         Low sodium levels (headache, weakness, difficulty concentrating and/or remembering slurred speech)

·         Angle-closure glaucoma (eye pain, change in vision, swelling, redness around the eye, seeing a halo around lights)

·         Serotonin syndrome (shivering, diarrhoea, serious muscle contraction or tightness, fever, seizures, loss of coordination, heart palpitations )

·         Irregular menstrual cycle

·         Teeth grinding

·         Frequent need to urinate or difficulty urinating

·         Easy bruising or bleeding, gum or nose bleeds, coughing up blood

There can be some allergic reactions leading to a skin rash or swelling of the face, throat or tongue.

Conclusion

In this article we talked about Effexor, how it works, its side-effects and important information one should be aware of before engaging with the drug.

FAQ: Can Effexor Cause Extreme Fatigue?

Are there any risks of taking Effexor for a long period of time?

There aren’t any risks of taking Effexor for long term use. There are various drug interactions and side effects that can take place but if the drug intake is being monitored by the doctor, one should be perfectly fine taking medication.

How long does it take for Effexor to work?

It takes about 4-6 weeks to feel the effect of Effexor. If in 6-8 weeks one does not see any change, the doctor should be contacted and made aware. The mild symptoms such as appetite, sleep, energy levels will show improvements with 2 weeks.

What other medications may interact with Effexor?

Effexor should not be taken within 2 weeks of MAOIs such as phenelzine, tranylcypromine, isocarboxazid, rasagiline, selegiline. There is an increased risk of serotonin syndrome if other SNRIs, SSRIs, anti-depressants, migraine medication or medications that alter the absorption or secretion of serotonin.

Effexor also interacts with other medicines that can cause bleeding and bruising like aspirin or ibuprofen.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking Effexor?

One should always disclose all the information that the doctor feels necessary to make the diagnosis and register the medication. If there are any feelings of self-harm or suicide, any medications that one is currently taking or had been taking previously, the effects or side-effects that were caused because of previous or current medications, history of any other diseases or psychiatric problems, non-medical treatments that might interact with current medication, over the counter products, herbal or nutritional supplements, allergy medication, pregnancy or plans to get pregnant, alcohol or drug consumption.

Can I take Effexor if I’m pregnant or breastfeeding?

It is not advisable to take Effexor during pregnancy but one should not start or stop the consumption of Effexor on their own, without the doctor’s advice. There can be a relapse of depression if there is a stop in the intake of the antidepressants. It can be particularly fatal to take Effexor during or after the third trimester of the pregnancy; it can cause serious lung problems in the infant. One should not breastfeed when taking Effexor because it can pass through the breast milk.

What we recommend for depression

Professional counselling

If you are suffering from depression then ongoing professional counselling may be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will utilize theories such as Cognitive behavioural therapy which will help you live a more fulfilling life.

Citations 

https://www.everydayhealth.com/drugs/effexor

https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Treatments/Mental-Health-Medications/Types-of-Medication/Venlafaxine-(Effexor)

https://www.goodrx.com/blog/is-your-prescription-making-you-tired/

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Sara Quitlag is an Applied Psychologist, with a deep interest in psychopathology and neuropsychology and how psychology impacts and permeates every aspect of our environment. She has worked in Clinical settings (as Special Ed. Counselor, CBT Therapist) and has contributed at local Universities as a Faculty member from time to time. She has a graduate degree in English Literature and feels very connected to how literature and psychology interact. She feels accountable and passionate about making a "QUALITY" contribution to the overall global reform and well-being. She actively seeks out opportunities where she can spread awareness and make a positive difference across the globe for the welfare of our global society.