Is Effexor any better than other antidepressants?

Effexor (generic name: venlafaxine) helps the brain increase both serotonin and norepinephrine and is classified as a serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI). The effects of combined serotonin and norepinephrine resemble many of the older tricyclic antidepressants that are quite effective. In Effexor, the norepinephrine effect is greatest at higher doses.

Effexor feels transparent as an antidepressant, so that when it is working well, you may forget you are taking it altogether. Patients say Effexor increases their ability to have positive thoughts, decreases hopelessness, and increases optimism. There is some lifting of the veil of negative thinking. Some headache specialists use daily doses of Effexor to block the recurrence of migraines.

Some studies paint a bad side-effect picture of Effexor, but patients are usually quite satisfied with it. The most common side effects are nausea, sleepiness, dry mouth, and delayed ejaculation in men. It is rare for patients to have any lasting problems with Effexor, particularly if they are prescribed doses less than 150 milligrams. Using the sustained-release form of the drug may further decrease side effects. For the most part, Effexor does not cause weight gain, and it sometimes causes a modest weight loss. Physicians once worried that Effexor might increase blood pressure, but subsequent studies have shown that this is not a clinical concern at moderate doses.

Effexor comes in 25-, 37.5, 50, 75, and 100-milligram regular-release generic tablets and in 37.5, 75, and 150-milligram extended-release capsules. The availability of all these different sizes helps your doctor fine-tune your dose to get the best effect.

The usual dose patients find themselves comfortable at is between 75 and 225 milligrams per day. Elders usually take the same doses as other adults. After stopping Effexor, the entire drug and its by-products are mostly gone from your body in just one and a half days.

Pristiq (desvenlafaxine] is a variation on once-daily Effexor that comes in 50- and 100-milligram tablets. I have not seen any particular advantage of this new medication to make it preferable to Effexor. I suspect Pristiq was introduced to generate income for the pharmaceutical company now that Effexor’s patent has expired.

Effexor is a good alternative to other modern antidepressants. Because Effexor increases norepinephrine at higher doses, it can be added to antidepressants that increase serotonin (like Zoloft) as a double-barreled strategy to squelch lingering symptoms of depression.