Effexor (venlafaxine) is a prescription medication that is prescribed for the treatment and management of depression. It is in a class of drugs known as serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) and works by treating an imbalance of chemicals in the brain.
Effexor is used to deal with a variety of mental health conditions, including:
- Major Depressive Disorder
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Social Anxiety Disorder
- Panic Disorder
- Bipolar Disorder
While this medication has been shown to improve the symptoms of these conditions, it has also been linked to a variety of side effects and health concerns. Stopping or decreasing the dosage of Effexor has also been shown to result in withdrawal symptoms, which can include:
- Tingling or prickling sensations on the skin
Due to these potential risks, you should never stop taking or alter your dose of Effexor without being under a doctor’s care.
Side Effects of Effexor
There are some side effects associated with Effexor, ranging from those that are considered common to rare and severe conditions.
Common Side Effects
There are two different types of common side effects associated with this drug; those that resolve themselves within a few weeks of starting the medication, and those that continue as long as the medication is taken. Self-resolving effects include:
- Dry Mouth
Continuing Effexor side effects include an increase in blood pressure, delays in ejaculation and problems reaching orgasm.
Serious Side Effects
Effexor, like other antidepressants, has also been linked to many serious side effects that require close monitoring by the prescribing physician. This include:
- Increased suicidal thoughts
- Sudden changes in behavior, mood, thoughts, actions or feelings
- Increased depression or symptoms of other mental health conditions
Additional serious side effects of the drug are more problematic and require immediate medical intervention.
- Attempted suicide
- Aggressive or violent behavior
- Acting on violent or dangerous impulses
- Intense feelings of aggression, agitation, restlessness, anger or irritation
- Extreme mood swings
- Inability to sleep
- Severe increase in talking or activity
- Sudden increase or decrease in blood pressure
- Low sodium levels
- Abnormal bleeding
- Lung problems
Effexor is also associated with Serotonin Syndrome, which is a life-threatening condition that is marked by hallucinations, agitation, uncontrollable muscle movements or twitching, racing heartbeat, nausea and vomiting and coma.
While many of these symptoms and side effects are listed as rare and quite rare, they are still a possibility when taking Effexor. If you notice any of these changes, it is recommended that you speak with your doctor immediately.
Effexor and Pregnancy
Effexor is listed as a Class C drug for safety during pregnancy. This means that the drug has been shown to cause birth defects in laboratory animals. Additionally, case studies have also shown that women who take the drug during pregnancy double their risk of having a miscarriage.
These case studies have also shown that Effexor may cause birth defects when taken during pregnancy. These include:
- Heart defects, including holes in the walls of the heart
- Respiratory distress
- Malformations of the skull
- Brain deformities
- A hole in the abdominal wall that allows the internal organs to exit the body requiring surgical intervention
- Cleft palate and cleft lip
While these potential risks to the baby are still undergoing study, these drugs have not been ruled as completely dangerous when taken during pregnancy. As a result, many doctors advise patients to take the medication due to the risks associated with severe depression during pregnancy.
If you have suffered from severe side effects due to taking Effexor, or your child was born with birth defects after taking it during pregnancy, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact an attorney today to find out more about your rights after taking Effexor.