The antidepressant medication Effexor® is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of anxiety-related disorders and depression.1 Part of a class of drugs called serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), Effexor contains venlafaxine, which has been linked to serious side effects and complications. Some complications may be life threatening.2
Effexor and side effects
A range of side effects are associated with taking Effexor.3 Milder side effects cause physical discomfort but are usually temporary and go away after a few weeks. These include:
- Loss of appetite
- Ringing in the ears
You should see a doctor if mild symptoms do not subside, or if you experience any of the following more serious complications and side effects:
- Seizures and convulsions
- Chest tightness and difficulty breathing
- Irregular heartbeat
- Loss of consciousness
The FDA has also warned that patients taking Effexor for the treatment of major depressive disorder, especially children, teens and young adults, may experience a worsening of depression or suicidal thoughts and behavior.4 Additionally, if patients want to stop using Effexor, there are known complications related to dose reductions and withdrawal.3
Pregnancy and Effexor
Pregnant women should talk to a doctor about the benefits and risks of taking antidepressants during pregnancy. Venlafaxine use late in pregnancy, around the third trimester, has been shown to cause respiratory problems in newborns.4 Studies have also found a link between venlafaxine and birth defects such as cleft palate and hernia around the umbilical cord.5 Some birth defects adversely affect prenatal and neonatal health and development, while others result in miscarriage.
SNRIs and serotonin syndrome
Serotonin syndrome is a potentially life-threatening condition that may occur in patients who use triptans for the treatment of migraine headaches in combination with Effexor or other SNRIs. This condition arises from an excess of serotonin in the body and can cause hallucinations, hyperactivity and erratic changes in blood pressure.6 You should call a doctor immediately if you experience any of these side effects.
You may also be eligible to file a claim with the help of a personal injury attorney if you or a loved one has experienced adverse complications from Effexor use. Contact a qualified attorney to discuss your case, learn more about filing a lawsuit and determine whether you may be entitled to legal compensation for your injuries.