Venlafaxine

Pronunciation

Generic Name: venlafaxine (VEN-la-FAX-een)
Brand Name: Generic only. No brands available.

Antidepressants may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts or actions in children, teenagers, and young adults. However, depression and certain other mental problems may also increase the risk of suicide. Talk with the patient's doctor to be sure that the benefits of using venlafaxine outweigh the risks.

Families and caregivers must closely watch patients who take venlafaxine. It is important to keep in close contact with the patient's doctor. Tell the doctor right away if the patient has symptoms like worsened depression, suicidal thoughts, or changes in behavior. Discuss any questions with the patient's doctor.

Venlafaxine is not approved for use in children. Talk with the doctor.


Venlafaxine is used for:

Treating depression. It may also be used for other conditions as determined by your doctor.

Venlafaxine is a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI). It works by restoring the balance of certain natural substances in the brain (serotonin and norepinephrine), which helps to improve certain mood problems.

Do NOT use venlafaxine if:

  • you are allergic to any ingredient in venlafaxine
  • you are taking or have taken linezolid, a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) (eg, phenelzine), selegiline, or St. John's wort within the last 14 days
  • you are taking a fenfluramine derivative (eg, dexfenfluramine), sibutramine, nefazodone, or tryptophan

Contact your doctor or health care provider right away if any of these apply to you.

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Before using venlafaxine:

Some medical conditions may interact with venlafaxine. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any medical conditions, especially if any of the following apply to you:

  • if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding
  • if you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, herbal preparation, or dietary supplement
  • if you have allergies to medicines, foods, or other substances
  • if you or a family member has a history of bipolar disorder (manic-depression), other mental or mood problems, suicidal thoughts or attempts, or alcohol or substance abuse
  • if you have a history of seizures, heart problems (eg, heart failure, irregular heartbeat), abnormal electrocardiograms (ECGs), a recent heart attack, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, overactive thyroid, liver problems, lung problems, kidney problems, stomach or bowel bleeding, blood or bleeding problems, diabetes, increased eye pressure (eg, glaucoma), nervous system problems, or metabolism problems
  • if you are dehydrated, have low blood sodium levels, or drink alcohol
  • if you will be having electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)
  • if you are taking a medicine that contains methylene blue

Some MEDICINES MAY INTERACT with venlafaxine. Tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines, especially any of the following:

  • Bupropion, buspirone, certain diet medicines (eg, phentermine, fenfluramine, lorcaserin), fentanyl, linezolid, lithium, MAOIs (eg, phenelzine), meperidine, metoclopramide, nefazodone, rasagiline, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) (eg, fluoxetine), selegiline, serotonin 5-HT1 receptor agonists (eg, sumatriptan), sibutramine, SNRIs (eg, duloxetine), St. John's wort, tramadol, trazodone, tricyclic antidepressants (eg, amitriptyline), or tryptophan because severe side effects, such as a reaction that may include fever, rigid muscles, blood pressure changes, mental changes, confusion, irritability, agitation, delirium, and coma, may occur
  • Anticoagulants (eg, warfarin), aspirin, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) (eg, ibuprofen) because the risk of bleeding, including stomach bleeding, may be increased
  • Diuretics (eg, furosemide, hydrochlorothiazide) because the risk of low blood sodium levels may be increased
  • Azole antifungals (eg, ketoconazole), cimetidine, or terbinafine because they may increase the risk of venlafaxine's side effects
  • Cyproheptadine because it may decrease venlafaxine's effectiveness
  • Aripiprazole, clozapine, haloperidol, phenothiazines (eg, chlorpromazine, thioridazine), or risperidone because the risk of their side effects may be increased by venlafaxine
  • Metoprolol because its effectiveness may be decreased by venlafaxine

This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if venlafaxine may interact with other medicines that you take. Check with your health care provider before you start, stop, or change the dose of any medicine.

How to use venlafaxine:

Use venlafaxine as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.

  • Venlafaxine comes with an extra patient information sheet called a Medication Guide. Read it carefully. Read it again each time you get venlafaxine refilled.
  • Take venlafaxine by mouth with food.
  • Venlafaxine works best if it is taken at the same time each day.
  • Continue to take venlafaxine even if you feel well. Do not miss any doses.
  • Do not suddenly stop taking venlafaxine without checking with your doctor. You may have an increased risk of side effects (eg, mental or mood changes, numbness or tingling of the skin, dizziness, confusion, headache, increased sweating, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, trouble sleeping, or unusual tiredness. If you need to stop venlafaxine, your doctor may need to gradually lower your dose.
  • If you miss a dose of venlafaxine, take it as soon as possible. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not take 2 doses at once.

Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use venlafaxine.

Important safety information:

  • Venlafaxine may cause drowsiness, dizziness, or blurred vision. These effects may be worse if you take it with alcohol or certain medicines. Use venlafaxine with caution. Do not drive or perform other possibly unsafe tasks until you know how you react to it.
  • Do not drink alcohol while you are taking venlafaxine.
  • Check with your doctor before you use medicines that may cause drowsiness (eg, sleep aids, muscle relaxers) while you are using venlafaxine without checking with your doctor; it may add to their effects. Ask your pharmacist if you have questions about which medicines may cause drowsiness.
  • Several weeks may pass before your symptoms improve. Do NOT take more than the recommended dose or use for longer than prescribed without checking with your doctor.
  • Children, teenagers, and young adults who take venlafaxine may be at increased risk for suicidal thoughts or actions. Watch all patients who take venlafaxine closely. Contact the doctor at once if new, worsened, or sudden symptoms such as depressed mood; anxious, restless, or irritable behavior; panic attacks; or any unusual change in mood or behavior occur. Contact the doctor right away if any signs of suicidal thoughts or actions occur.
  • Serotonin syndrome is a possibly fatal syndrome that can be caused by venlafaxine. Your risk may be greater if you take venlafaxine with certain other medicines (eg, "triptans," MAOIs, SSRIs). Symptoms may include agitation; confusion; hallucinations; coma; fever; fast or irregular heartbeat; tremor; excessive sweating; and nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. Contact your doctor at once if you have any of these symptoms.
  • Neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS) is a possibly fatal syndrome that can be caused by venlafaxine. Symptoms may include fever; stiff muscles; confusion; abnormal thinking; fast or irregular heartbeat; and sweating. Contact your doctor at once if you have any of these symptoms.
  • Tell your doctor or dentist that you take venlafaxine before you receive any medical or dental care, emergency care, or surgery.
  • If your doctor tells you to stop taking venlafaxine, you will need to wait for a period of time before beginning to take certain other medicines (eg, MAOIs, nefazodone, thioridazine). Ask your doctor when you should start to take your new medicines after you have stopped taking venlafaxine.
  • Venlafaxine may rarely cause a prolonged, painful erection. This could happen even when you are not having sex. If this is not treated right away, it could lead to permanent sexual problems such as impotence. Contact your doctor right away if this happens.
  • Venlafaxine may interfere with certain lab tests. Be sure your doctor and lab personnel know you are taking venlafaxine.
  • Lab tests, including blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels, may be performed while you use venlafaxine. These tests may be used to monitor your condition or check for side effects. Be sure to keep all doctor and lab appointments.
  • Use venlafaxine with caution in the ELDERLY; they may be more sensitive to its effects, especially low blood sodium levels.
  • Caution is advised when using venlafaxine in CHILDREN; they may be more sensitive to its effects, especially increased risk of suicidal thoughts or actions.
  • Venlafaxine should be used with extreme caution in CHILDREN; safety and effectiveness in children have not been confirmed.
  • Venlafaxine may cause weight changes and growth changes. CHILDREN and teenagers may need regular weight and growth checks while they take venlafaxine.
  • PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: Venlafaxine may cause harm to the fetus if it is used during the last 3 months of pregnancy. If you become pregnant, contact your doctor. You will need to discuss the benefits and risks of using venlafaxine while you are pregnant. Venlafaxine is found in breast milk. Do not breast-feed while taking venlafaxine.

Possible side effects of venlafaxine:

All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor, side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome:

Abnormal dreams; constipation; decreased sexual desire or ability; diarrhea; dizziness; drowsiness; dry mouth; headache; increased sweating; loss of appetite; nausea; nervousness; tiredness; trouble sleeping; vomiting; weakness; weight loss; yawning.

Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur:

Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); black, tarry, or bloody stools; blurred vision or other vision problems; chest pain or discomfort; confusion; decreased coordination; decreased urination; fainting; fast or irregular heartbeat; fever, chills, or persistent cough or sore throat; hallucinations; memory problems; new or worsening mental, mood, or behavior changes (eg, aggressiveness, agitation, anxiety, depression, hostility, impulsiveness, inability to sit still, irritability, panic attacks, or restlessness); persistent trouble sleeping; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin; ringing in the ears; seizures; severe stomach pain; severe or persistent headache or dizziness; shortness of breath; significant weight loss; suicidal thoughts or attempts; tremor; trouble concentrating; unsteadiness; unusual bruising or bleeding; unusual weakness.

This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, contact your health care provider. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. To report side effects to the appropriate agency, please read the Guide to Reporting Problems to FDA.

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

Contact 1-800-222-1222 (the American Association of Poison Control Centers), your local poison control center, or emergency room immediately. Symptoms may include coma; dilated pupils; fainting; fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat; muscle pain or weakness; new or worsening mental or mood problems; seizures; severe or persistent dizziness, drowsiness, or trouble breathing; vomiting; yellowing of the eyes or skin.

Proper storage of venlafaxine:

Store venlafaxine at room temperature, between 68 and 77 degrees F (20 and 25 degrees C). Store away from heat, moisture, and light. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep venlafaxine out of the reach of children and away from pets.

General information:

  • If you have any questions about venlafaxine, please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • Venlafaxine is to be used only by the patient for whom it is prescribed. Do not share it with other people.
  • If your symptoms do not improve or if they become worse, check with your doctor.
  • Check with your pharmacist about how to dispose of unused medicine.

This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take venlafaxine or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about venlafaxine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to venlafaxine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your health care provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using venlafaxine.

Issue Date: July 2, 2014
Database Edition 14.3.1.001
Copyright © 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.

Disclaimer: This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this medicine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine.

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