Venlafaxine

Brand names of venlafaxine

  • Effexor
  • Effexor XR

Venlafaxine is a new anti-depressant drug belonging to the class of medications known as serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRIs) and it influences the neurotransmitters - chemical messengers within the brain that help the nerves to communicate with one another. Serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine are a few examples of neurotransmitters in the brain. Manufactured and released by the nerve cells, these neurotransmitters go to the neighbouring nerve cells making them relatively dynamic. Several experts are of the view that a sort of disparity in these chemical messengers in the brain is responsible for depression and may possibly have a role in causing anxiety among people. It is understood that venlafaxine acts by slowing down the release or influencing the activities of the neurotransmitters.

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Things you need to tell your physician before taking venlafaxine

As in the case of beginning treatment with any prescription drug, before you start taking venlafaxine, you need to tell your physician or pharmacist whether you have any allergy, are allergic to this medication or any of its elements. This drug is likely to enclose a number of inactive elements that may have the potential to result in allergies or various other problems. Therefore, if you are not certain about the ingredients of venlafaxine, ask your pharmacist to provide you with a list of the same.

Prior to using venlafaxine, you need to inform your physician or pharmacist regarding your entire medical history, particularly if you are enduring any type of bleeding problems, hypertension, glaucoma, kidney or liver ailments, thyroid disease, problems related to the heart (for instance, any incidence of heart attack on an earlier occasion or a heart failure), elevated levels of blood cholesterol, and/ or seizure disorder.

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People taking venlafaxine are likely to feel lightheaded or drowsy or they may even experience blurred vision. Therefore, it is advisable not to undertake any activities that may require clear vision or alertness till the time you are certain about the impact of the drug on your body and when you can undertake these tasks safely. People undergoing treatment with venlafaxine should essentially keep away from alcohol.

In case you require undergoing any type of surgery, including a dental surgery, you need to tell your surgeon or dentist beforehand that you are already taking venlafaxine. In addition, before starting treatment with this drug, you should tell your physician about all the prescription and over-the-counter drugs, herbal medicines, vitamins and dietary supplements you already use or intend to use in the near future.

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If depression is not treated it may result in a severe condition and, therefore, it is advisable not to stop taking venlafaxine without consulting your physician. Never discontinue with the medication suddenly or without talking to your physician or healthcare provider.

It may be noted that elderly people undergoing treatment with venlafaxine are more susceptible to the side effects of this drug, such as bleeding. Such people are also at a greater risk of developing a sort of salt imbalance, known as hyponatremia, particularly if they are using diuretics ('water pills'). Children who are taking venlafaxine too are more susceptible to the adverse effects of using this medication - they may particularly experience weight loss and loss of appetite. Therefore, it is important to keep an eye on the weight as well as the height of children who are using venlafaxine.

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This medication should be given to pregnant women only when it is absolutely essential for their condition, for it may cause harm to the fetus. In addition, the babies of women who have used venlafaxine for the last three months of pregnancy may develop sporadic withdrawal symptoms, which may include breathing troubles, rigidity of the muscles, convulsions or continuous crying. Call your physician right away if you see any such symptoms.

Women who intend to take venlafaxine should tell their physician if they are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. If any woman undergoing treatment with this medication becomes pregnant, she should contact her physician immediately. Venlafaxine is known to pass onto the breast milk and cause harm to the infant. Therefore, nursing mothers should talk about the benefits and risks of taking this drug before breast-feeding.

Usage

Venlafaxine belongs to the class of drugs known as serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) and is used for treating symptoms related to major depression as well as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

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Precisely speaking, this medication is also prescribed to treat mental conditions, such as anxiety, depression, and bouts of panic as well as social anxiety disorder (also known as social phobia). Using venlafaxine may possibly help to uplift your mood as well as vivacity levels, while reinstating your interest in routine life. In addition, this medication is useful for diminishing anxiety, fright, redundant thinking and the frequency of panic attacks. Being a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, venlafaxine acts by facilitating to reinstate the balance of specific natural substances, such as norepinephrine and serotonin, within the brain.

How to use venlafaxine

The anti-depressant drug venlafaxine is available in tablet and capsule forms and should be taken orally according to your physician's instructions. Usually, this medication is taken once anytime every day with some food. This medication should always be taken as a whole and never be chewed, mashed or dissolved. When taken other than a whole, venlafaxine, which is an extended release drug, will release the entire medication immediately, augmenting the risks of suffering from its side effects. It is also important not to split the tablets provided they have a score line and your physician or pharmacist has advised you to do so.

Provided you are taking the capsule form of venlafaxine, you should essentially swallow the medication as a whole. In case you have problems in swallowing the whole capsule, you may open it and pepper its contents on a spoonful of applesauce. In this case too, swallow the entire mixture instantly and without chewing. It is essential to drink a glass of water every time you take a dose of venlafaxine.

It is worth mentioning that the dosage of venlafaxine essentially depends on the medical condition of the patient as well as his/ her response to the treatment. In order to lessen the side effects of using this medication, it is likely that your physician will initially prescribe a low dosage of venlafaxine and slowly raise the dose to the desired level. Therefore, it is important that you strictly follow the instructions of your physician. In order to obtain the utmost benefit of using venlafaxine, you need to take this medication on a regular basis. Besides, take this medication at the same time every day, as it will help you to remember that you have to take venlafaxine.

Even if you begin to feel better after taking venlafaxine, it is essential to continue taking this medication for the full regimen. Never stop taking this medication all of a sudden or without the approval of your physician. If you stop this medication abruptly, you may experience deterioration in some conditions endured by you. In addition, you may suffer from symptoms like headaches, mood swings, exhaustion, confusion, sleep disorders and short-lived sensations akin to that of receiving electric shocks. Your physician may gradually lessen the dosage of venlafaxine with a view to minimize the side effects of using venlafaxine. Call your physician or healthcare provider immediately in case your symptoms persist or worsen or you develop any new symptom while taking this medication.

The benefits of taking venlafaxine are not evident immediately, but it may take many weeks before you experience the benefits of treatment with this medication.

How venlafaxine works

The serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) drug venlafaxine assists the body to maintain the equilibrium of the levels of norepinephrine and serotonin - the chemicals that are intensely related to emotions, mood and the mental condition of an individual.

Side effects

Serious
Common
Less common

Possible interactions

Herbal medicines or minerals:
Certain herbal medicines and minerals may interact with venlafaxine and, hence, they should never be used in conjunction. For instance, this drug and the herb St. John's wort are likely to augment the levels of serotonin; it is advisable not to use them simultaneously. As the herb ginseng partially acts like an MAO inhibitor, never use this herb in combination with venlafaxine. People undergoing treatment with venlafaxine would also do better if they keep away from some other herbs, such as yohimbe, ma huang, kava kava and Indian snakeroot.
Beverages:
People undergoing treatment with venlafaxine should keep away from grapefruit juice. It is advisable to take this medication preferably only with water.
Alcohol:
People taking venlafaxine should avoid alcohol for when taken in conjunction, it enhances the drowsiness caused by this drug.
Marijuana smoking:
Smoking marijuana while undergoing treatment with venlafaxine is prohibited for it may exaggerate the drowsiness caused by this medication.

Discontinuation

Prior to discontinuing venlafaxine, it is essential to talk to your physician, who will advise you to gradually lower the dosage of the medication over a period of two to three weeks before you stop taking it completely. Decreasing the dosage of the medication over this period of time enables your body to properly adjust to avoid or diminish any withdrawal symptoms that may be caused owing to the discontinuation of this drug.

Storage instructions

Venlafaxine should always be stored at room temperature and at a place clear of light and dampness. Never keep this medication in your bathroom. It is also important to store all medicines in a place that is beyond the reach of children as well as pets. When any medication has become outdated or is required no more, dispose it off in a proper and safe manner. Unless instructed otherwise, never discard medications by flushing them down the toilet or pouring them into a drain. For further information in this regard, you may talk to your pharmacist or any neighbourhood waste disposal company.

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