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Effexor® (venlafaxine) is used to treat depression. Venlafaxine extended release medication also is prescribed to treat:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • Excessive worrying
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder

The medication is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), a class of drugs to treat depression. SSRIs make serotonin, a mood enhancer, and norepinephrine more available to brain cells and help to stabilize a patient's mood.

Patient Information

Patients should not take Effexor® if they are allergic to venlafaxine or if they are using a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI). MAOIs include: Marplan®, Nardil®, Azilect®, Eldepryl®, or Parnate®.

Effexor® has a "black box warning" on its label. Black box warnings are the most serious types of warnings the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can put on a medication label. The warning says that in clinical studies a small number of children, teenagers and young adults who took antidepressants such as venlafaxine became suicidal, that is, they thought about harming or killing themselves or actually tried to do so. Children younger than 18 should not usually take Effexor® unless the doctor decides it is the best way to treat them.

Effexor® also may make those who are older than 24 become suicidal, particularly when they begin taking the medication. The prescribing doctor will stay in close contact with patients when they first begin taking Effexor®.

Patients should let their doctor know about other medications they are taking when Effexor® is prescribed. This includes prescription and over-the-counter drugs, migraine medications, and herbal and nutritional supplements. Blood pressure needs to be monitored and controlled when on this medication.

Effexor® Side Effects

Serious side effects, for which you should call your physician immediately, include:

  • Seizures
  • Rigid muscles
  • High fever
  • Sweating
  • Confusion
  • Quick or irregular heartbeats
  • Tremors
  • Sensation you might faint
  • Agitation
  • Hallucinations
  • Overactive reflexes
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of coordination
  • Shallow breathing
  • Breathing that stops
  • Confusion
  • Memory problems
  • Problems concentrating
  • Fainting
  • Cough
  • Chest tightness
  • Bruising easily

Less serious side effects include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Nervousness
  • Strange dreams
  • Blurry vision
  • Dry mouth
  • Mild nausea
  • Constipation
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Impotence
  • Problems having an orgasm

Effexor® and Birth Defects

Effexor® may harm the fetus if it is used during the last three months of pregnancy. The baby may be born with withdrawal effects from the drug which may last until he or she is five days old. Most of the time, these effects stop by themselves.

One study showed that 30 percent of newborns had what is called neonatal abstinence syndrome. The longer these newborns had been exposed before birth to Effexor®, the greater their symptoms. These included:

  • Tremor
  • Stomach problems
  • Trouble sleeping
  • High pitched crying
  • Increased muscle tension

Effexor® is a pregnancy category C drug. Category C drugs have been shown to cause birth defects in animal studies, but there are no human studies to show what birth defects there may be. Doctors recommend that pregnant women should not take Effexor® while pregnant, unless the benefits clearly outweigh the risks for harming the newborn. SSRIs are believed to increase the risk of various birth defects when taken during pregnancy, including heart defects, persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN), abdominal wall defects and head and skull defects.

Effexor passes into breast milk. However, no harmful effects have been found in infants.

Contact an Effexor® Lawyer

If you've suffered a side effect of Effexor® or if your baby was born with a congenital defect and you took Effexor® during your pregnancy, you should consult an Effexor® attorney to find out if you qualify for compensation.

Effexor News

Federal Litigation Moves Ahead for Effexor Lawsuits

November 20, 2013

Coordinated pretrial proceedings have been established for multiple birth defect lawsuits against the manufacturer of antidepressant drug Effexor. Several cases against drug maker Pfizer have been consolidated into multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania with U.S. District Judge Cynthia M. Rufe to … Full Story

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