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Venlafaxine (SNRI)

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What is Venlafaxine?

Venlafaxine is an antidepressant. It is used to treat depression. Depression is a mental health problem that causes a person to feel very upset or sad for extended periods of time, often for no obvious reason. Venlafaxine can help ease these symptoms to help a person function normally.

Venlafaxine may also be used as treatment for other conditions, including anxiety disorders and panic attacks. It is available as immediate release medication.

You must have a prescription before you buy Venlafaxine. If you do not have a prescription from a doctor, we can prescribe Venlafaxine to you online after a brief assessment. Contact us to find out how. Venlafaxine is available as capsules in 75mg and 150mg strengths. Venlafaxine is available under a variety of different brand names, such as Efexor XL and Effexor XR.

For more information on Venlafaxine, please read the patient information leaflet.

How it works

Venlafaxine is a serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, or SNRI. SNRI antidepressants work by affecting levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. Serotonin and norepinephrine are neurotransmitters responsible for mood and social behaviour, so by affecting how they work in the brain, the effects of depression are reduced.

Venlafaxine does not begin to work straight away, so you may not notice an improvement in your symptoms for several weeks. Venlafaxine usually begins to work properly within 4-6 weeks.

Before you take it

Venlafaxine may change or speed up your heart beat. If you have a history of heart problems or an ongoing heart condition, such as heart disease, Venlafaxine may be unsuitable for you. Consult your doctor first if this applies to you. Venlafaxine may also affect your blood pressure.

If you have an eye condition called glaucoma, Venlafaxine may increase the pressure in your eye. Speak to your doctor to confirm whether Venlafaxine is suitable for you if you have glaucoma.

Venlafaxine may cause severe withdrawal syndrome if you stop taking it suddenly. You should only take Venlafaxine if your doctor advises you to - never stop taking it without medical advice, even if you feel better. Your dose should be gradually reduced over a period of 7-14 days following your doctor’s advice.

If you have diabetes, Venlafaxine can affect the stability of your blood glucose level. Make sure you inform your doctor or healthcare professional if you have diabetes before taking Venlafaxine, and ensure you closely monitor your blood sugar level while taking Venlafaxine.

Do not take Venlafaxine if you are allergic to Venlafaxine Hydrochloride or any of the other ingredients in your tablets. Your doctor will be able to prescribe a more suitable medication.

Venlafaxine has the potential to cause a marginal risk in birth defects for unborn children. However, if you are depressed and your symptoms are not treated, this can also be detrimental to your baby’s health. You should talk to your doctor for advice before taking Venlafaxine during pregnancy.

Venlafaxine is generally safe to be used while breast feeding, providing your baby is healthy. It has been used by many breastfeeding mothers without incident. However, if you have any concerns about breastfeeding your baby while taking Venlafaxine, speak with your doctor for advice.

Venlafaxine may bring about changes in mood. It also may carry a risk of suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming yourself. If you experience this, speak to your doctor immediately.

You must inform your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking of have recently taken certain types of prescription drugs before taking Venlafaxine, as they may cause drug interactions with each other. Inform your doctor if you are taking:

  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors, older and now rarely used types of antidepressant
  • Antifungal medications such as ketoconazole and posaconazole
  • St John’s Wort, a herbal remedy used to treat depression
  • Any selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor used to treat depression
  • Antibiotics such as linezolid
  • Sibutramine for weight loss
  • Pain killing medications such as tramadol

This is not a complete list of warnings and adverse drug reactions that may occur with Venlafaxine. For a full, comprehensive list, consult the patient information leaflet.

Dosage Instructions

Venlafaxine should only be taken as your doctor or pharmacist has prescribed. Do not exceed the stated dose. If you are unsure, consult the relevant healthcare professional.

The starting daily dose for Venlafaxine to treat depression is usually 75mg, divided into two or three doses. Your doctor can increase this at their discretion to up to 375mg per day, depending on the severity of your condition.

If you have a liver or kidney problem, your dose may need to be lowered.

You should take Venlafaxine at the same time each day, in the morning, afternoon and evening. If you are on two doses per day, take them in the morning and the evening.

You should take Venlafaxine with food. Venlafaxine tablets are for oral use. Swallow your tablets whole - do not crush, chew or suck on them.

Venlafaxine should be stored at room temperature, out of the reach of children and pets.

Common Side Effects of Venlafaxine

There are common side effects associated with using Venlafaxine. These are mild in nature, and should typically go away on their own. However, if they persist, or they concern you in any way, tell your doctor. Possible side effects include:

  • Weight loss or decreased appetite
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Menstrual irregularities - irregular bleeding or irregular periods
  • Change in sexual function - decreased sex drive or erectile dysfunction
  • Visual disturbances or dizziness
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Hot flushes

Venlafaxine may also cause serious side effects in some patients. These are rare, but can be dangerous, so if you experience any then you must contact your doctor as soon as possible. They include:

  • Bruising or bleeding
  • Black, tarry stools or blood in your stool
  • Hallucinations
  • Involuntary muscle movement
  • Inability to pass urine
  • Hair loss
  • Rash
  • Sensitivity to sunlight
  • Agitation or aggression

It’s possible for Venlafaxine to induce a severe allergic reaction in some people. An allergic reaction is an emergency. You must immediately seek medical advice if you experience any of the following:

  • Wheezing or difficulty breathing
  • Skin rash, such as itching, blistering, peeling or redness
  • Hives or nettle rash
  • Tightness in the chest or throat
  • Swelling of the face, lips, throat, tongue, nose

This is not an exhaustive list of side effects, and for a full list of side effects that you may experience, please consult the patient information leaflet.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is Venlafaxine safe for children?

No. Venlafaxine should only be taken by adults over 18 years of age. We do not prescribe any medication to under 18s.

I’m pregnant. Can I take Venlafaxine?

You should not take Venlafaxine unless it has been specifically prescribed to you. Venlafaxine has been associated with a very small increased risk of birth defects in your unborn baby. However, if your depression is left untreated, it can also cause problems for your baby. Your doctor will decide if Venlafaxine is the most suitable medication for you if you are pregnant.

What happens if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. However, if it is nearly time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your next dose as scheduled. Never take more than one dose at once, and never take two doses to make up for a missed dose.

What happens if I take too much?

If you suspect that you have overdosed on Venlafaxine, consult your doctor or pharmacist immediately. There is a high likelihood that you will experience adverse side effects. Symptoms of an overdose can include rapid heart rate, dilated pupils, vomiting, seizures and can even induce a coma. An overdose of Venlafaxine can lead to serotonin syndrome, which can be fatal in some circumstances.

More Information
Dosage No
Dosage Instructions Take ONE as directed by your doctor.