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What is venlafaxine (effexor, effexor xr) and how does it work?

Venlafaxine is used to treat depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and social anxiety disorder (social phobia). It may improve your mood and energy level and may help restore your interest in daily living. It may also decrease fear, anxiety, unwanted thoughts, and the number of panic attacks. Venlafaxine is known as a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI). It works by helping to restore the balance of certain natural substances (serotonin and norepinephrine) in the brain.

Venlafaxine may also be used to treat hot flashes that occur with menopause.

Venlafaxine is available under the following different brand names: Effexor, and Effexor XR.

Why is this medication prescribed?

Venlafaxine is used to treat depression. Venlafaxine extended-release (long-acting) capsules are also used to treat generalized anxiety disorder (GAD; excessive worrying that is difficult to control), social anxiety disorder (extreme fear of interacting with others or performing in front of others that interferes with normal life), and panic disorder (sudden, unexpected attacks of extreme fear and worry about these attacks). Venlafaxine is in a class of medications called selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). It works by increasing the amounts of serotonin and norepinephrine, natural substances in the brain that help maintain mental balance.

How it works

Venlafaxine belongs to a class of antidepressant drugs called serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

SNRIs work by increasing the levels of substances called serotonin and norepinephrine in your brain. Having more serotonin and norepinephrine in your brain can improve your symptoms of depression and anxiety.

side effects

The more common side effects of venlafaxine can include:

  • unusual dreams
  • sexual problems, such as:
  • decreased interest in sex
  • impotence (not being able to get or keep an erection)
  • trouble having an orgasm
  • loss of appetite
  • constipation
  • nausea or vomiting
  • dry mouth
  • tiredness

What other information should I know?

Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor will check your blood pressure often and order certain lab tests to check your response to venlafaxine.

Do not let anyone else take your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.

It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.


Store the immediate-release oral tablet at room temperature between 68°F and 77°F (20°C and 25°C).

Store the extended-release oral tablet at temperatures between 59°F and 86°F (15°C and 30°C).

Keep this drug away from light.

Don't store this medication in moist or damp areas, such as bathrooms.