Venlafaxine

Why have I been prescribed venlafaxine?

Venlafaxine is licensed to treat moderate to severe major depressive disorder, moderate to severe generalised anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder and panic disorder. You may wish to discuss this with your prescriber who will be able to give you more information.

Medication is just part of the management of these illnesses. Other therapies are also helpful; you may wish to discuss these with your prescriber.

What exactly is venlafaxine?

Venlafaxine is an antidepressant. It is not a tranquilliser or sleeping tablet. It comes both as a tablet that would normally be taken twice a day or as a slow release capsule that would normally be taken once daily.

Is venlafaxine safe to take?

It is usually safe to take as prescribed by your prescriber but like many medicines will not suit everyone. Let your prescriber know beforehand if any of the following apply to you:

  • Have kidney disease, epilepsy, liver problems or glaucoma.
  • If you have a history of heart disease, your prescriber may want to take a tracing of your heart rhythms (ECG) and check your blood pressure before starting the medication, and a few months after starting the medication.
  • If you are taking other medication; this includes any prescribed medication or any medicines
    bought over the counter from your pharmacy, including herbal remedies
  • If you are pregnant, breast feeding, or wishing to become pregnant

What is the usual dose of venlafaxine?

The starting dose of venlafaxine is 75mg daily. The normal dose for anxiety is 75mg, but the dose for depression is generally higher depending on how you respond to it. The maximum normal dose is
375mg for depression and 225mg for anxiety.

How should I take my venlafaxine?

Follow the directions on the label. If you have any questions, ask your pharmacist, nurse or prescriber. You should also read the information leaflet supplied with the medication.

What should I do if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose and it is within a few hours of the normal time, continue to take it as normal. If it is longer, miss the dose and continue as normal when the next dose is due. Never double up on the dose.

When I feel better, can I stop taking venlafaxine?

No, if you stop your venlafaxine too early, your symptoms may return. To reduce the chances of this happening, it is advised you should continue to take it for at least 6 months after you become well, and sometimes longer. You should discuss this with your prescriber.

You should not stop taking venlafaxine suddenly as it may cause some unpleasant ‘withdrawal’ effects – see next section.

Is venlafaxine addictive?

Venlafaxine is not addictive, but it can cause ‘withdrawal’ or discontinuation effects if stopped suddenly, or rarely if a few doses are missed. These effects can include anxiety, dizziness, feeling sick and problems sleeping. Other people describe feeling confused or ‘out of sorts’. To help reduce the chance of this happening, the venlafaxine should be slowly stopped over a period of weeks. You may wish to speak to your prescriber, pharmacist or nurse about this.

What will happen to me when I start taking venlafaxine?

All antidepressants work slowly. Although some people notice a change in the first week, normally it will take several weeks for the antidepressant to have its full effect. It is important to continue to take the antidepressant, as long as you are able to tolerate it, for long enough so that its full effects can be seen, generally 6 weeks for depression and 12 weeks for anxiety. If you are taking venlafaxine for depression, careful observations need to be made in the first few weeks of treatment, to look for any increase in suicidal thoughts which may occur.

As with all medication venlafaxine does have side effects. You may well experience these before you start feeling the benefits. Most side effects are short lived and will pass with time. The following table contains some of the more common and more important side effects of venlafaxine and what to do about them. It is not a complete list and not everyone will get all of those listed. Ask your pharmacist, nurse or prescriber if you are worried about anything else you notice that you think might be a side effect.

For details of the side effects table, please follow this link: Venlafaxine

Venlafaxine can also occasionally cause changes in your liver enzymes and sodium levels. These will be checked periodically by your prescriber and will be discussed with you if there are any problems.

What about alcohol?

Ideally do not drink alcohol when taking this medication. This is because taking them together can make you more drowsy, sometimes severely. There is no safe drink and drive limit when taking this medication.

Useful information

talking-shop-leafletPlease click on the image to the left or follow this link to download a copy of our Venlafaxine leaflet.