Depression is a common and well documented symptom of multiple sclerosis. Effexor XR (venlafaxine) belongs to a group of medications called selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SSNRI). The drug increases serotonin and norepinephrine, which are natural substances that positively affect communication between nerve cells or restore chemical balances in the brain. The drug is used to treat depression and types of anxiety that include generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and panic disorder.
Effexor XR is an extended-release capsule to be taken orally. It should be ingested once daily with food at the same time every day. The drug controls depression but does not cure it. It may take six to eight or more weeks before patients experience the full benefit. Patients should not stop taking the drug suddenly because sudden discontinuation will likely cause withdrawal symptoms that may include agitation, anxiety, emotional disorders, lack of coordination, sleeping disorders, gastric disorders, dry mouth, sweating, ringing in the ears, seizures and/or burning, tingling, numbness or electric shock-like feelings in the body.
Some of the most common Effexor XR side effects are vision changes, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, changes in appetite or weight, dry mouth, yawning, dizziness, headache, anxiety, feeling nervous, fast heartbeats, tremors or shaking, sleep problems (insomnia), strange dreams, tired feeling, increased sweating, decreased sex drive, impotence, or difficulty having an orgasm.
Effexor XR comes with a black box warning on the prescription drug label that calls attention to serious or life-threatening risks. In this case, the drug presents an increased risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors in people with major depression and other psychiatric disorders, especially during the first months of treatment or following changes in dosage.
A generic version of Effexor XR has been approved by the FDA but may not be available because of patent or exclusivity issues.
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