Depression can be a crippling illness that makes everything in life more difficult. Those suffering from depression have trouble finding joy even when doing things they otherwise typically enjoy. It is estimated that approximately 7.1% of the United States population age 18 and older are afflicted with major depressive disorder. Many depression sufferers seek medical help and take prescription medication for their illness.
There are many prescription medications which are formulated to assist those who are experiencing depression to find a better quality of life. Antidepressants such as Effexor are often prescribed for patients suffering from depression.
What is Effexor?
Effexor is the brand name version of the generic venlafaxine medication which is often prescribed for treating adults with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), and Panic Disorder (PD) with or without agoraphobia. Effexor has also been used off label for treating migraine prophylaxis and diabetic neuropathy. Clinical trials have shown that Effexor has some efficacy in treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as well as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Effexor impacts the brain by acting as a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) which helps to restore the natural balance of serotonin and norepinephrine in the patient’s brain. An imbalance of serotonin and norepinephrine is often the cause of depression and anxiety in those suffering from mental disorders. Effexor is provided in capsules and is ingested orally. The newer formulation called Effexor XR is an extended-release formulation which is typically taken once daily.
Does Effexor Have Any Side Effects?
Effexor, much like most antidepressants, has various side effects of varying degrees of severity and commonality. The most common side effects of Effexor are insomnia, dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth, ejaculation disorder, and sweating. Antidepressants are known to have a negative impact on sex drive and are also linked to increased rates of suicide. Effexor has also been linked with constipation, vomiting, confusion, and hypertension.
Antidepressants have been linked with sexual problems in many cases ranging from reduction in libido to anorgasmia. Effexor and other SNRIs can alter sleep tendencies and result in drowsiness, fatigue, or blurred vision. It’s important to avoid driving or operating any heavy machinery when first starting antidepressant therapy or increasing your dosage. Understanding how the drug impacts your body will help you make decisions that will keep you and others safe while you are pursuing medicinal therapy.
There is also an established link between depression, antidepressants, and eating disorders. Effexor, in particular, has been linked with changes in weight and appetite.
Does Effexor Cause Weight Gain?
Many who suffer from depression seek comfort and relief by “eating their pain away”. The compulsion to eat unhealthy food in large quantities is often associated with those who suffer from depression. Eating junk food can stimulate the reward system in the brain in a way similar to drugs like tobacco by causing the brain to release the neurotransmitter dopamine which creates a feeling of pleasure.
Furthermore, eating poorly can result in becoming overweight and unhealthy which can further increase the levels of depression. This can create a self-destructive cycle of eating junk to feel good and then feeling bad for eating junk, resulting in increased depression. Effexor has been specifically linked with altering the patient’s food drive and weight, but it has mostly been linked specifically with weight loss. Some users reported weight gain while taking Effexor, but many others reported just the opposite.
Does Effexor Cause Weight Loss?
An FDA clinical trial reported that 7 percent of patients with depression who were treated with Effexor XR saw weight loss of 5 percent or greater. This weight loss may be as a result of one of the more common side effects reported with Effexor: loss of appetite. Effexor’s potential impact on the user’s food drive could account for some of the weight loss reported by patients as they eat less food due to feeling hungry less often.
Antidepressants can also help users lose weight by breaking the eating cycle mentioned in the above section. If users find success with their Effexor medication, they may find themselves enjoying an improved outlook on life that makes them feel less driven toward seeking satisfaction in unhealthy ways like binge eating junk food. Effexor’s impact on appetite could result in the formation of eating disorders that were not present prior to venlafaxine therapy.
It’s important to keep close tabs on your weight and eating habits to make sure changes in appetite are recognized and documented so they can be reported to your doctor. A healthy diet has a drastic impact on your overall health and well-being and if a medication is negatively impacting your diet, you may need to seek an alternative medication or seek advice from a medical professional. Negative side effects of drugs are more likely to occur in cases of substance abuse which can lead to dependency and addiction.
Need Help Recovering From Addiction?
Drug addiction is a serious problem that can result in many negative effects occurring on the person’s body and psyche with the potential for permanent damage occurring if the problem goes untreated. If you believe you or someone you know is suffering from addiction, please seek help immediately. The sooner addiction is treated, the quicker an addict can take back control of their life and get back on the path to a happy and fulfilling existence.
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