Effexor and sleepiness
July 13, 2015 8:24 AM   Subscribe

Will Effexor XR continue to make me this tired?

My doctor just prescribed me 75mcg of Effexor XR for generalized anxiety. I just started taking a half dose (37.5) a couple of days ago and will double to get to the full dose in the next few days. I have another appointment to see her in a couple of weeks to see how I'm doing. For what it's worth, I also have hypothroidism but all of my bloodwork is up-to-date and my Synthroid dosage is fine.

So far, the only noticeable side effect is that it makes me really, really tired. I took my first dose on Saturday morning and ended up falling asleep around 8:00 at night (and missing a friend's birthday party). I took my second dose yesterday morning and felt like a zombie for most of the afternoon. I'm usually fairly energetic and clearheaded so this was extremely noticeable.

I'm willing to ride this out for a few weeks until the drug starts to really take effect but if this is a permanent side effect, I can't go on like this. Has anybody else had this experience when starting to take Effexor XR? I'm interested to hear more about how this tiredness did/did not even out for you, and also about any other side effects I might expect. And any suggestions on how to manage this tiredness without pumping myself full of caffeine would be super helpful.
posted by futureisunwritten to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I recently struggled with terrible sleepiness as a side effect of an anti-anxiety med. Different med, so I won't get into the details re: side effects, but I did think I could address your last question about management.

First suggestion: Try taking the dose in the evening instead. (You may want to check with your doctor just to be sure it's okay for Effexor.) Maybe around dinnertime, or maybe right before bed - you might need to experiment a bit to find the best timing for you, but a later-in-the-day dose may very likely help you.

Second suggestion: Give yourself permission to take it a little easy during these first few weeks. Obviously don't stop scheduling things that are fun for you, but you may want to keep your schedule a little light, give yourself permission to go to bed an hour or two early a few times a week, or otherwise just agree with yourself that it's okay to give in to the sleepiness a little. I did give in to the lure of early bedtime a couple of times a week in that first month, and so maybe some of the housecleaning slipped and I didn't get as much reading done as I'd liked, but I decided it was okay to cut myself some slack while finding a good treatment regimen.

Third suggestion: That said, don't let yourself go totally off the rails. If you're going to take a nap, set an alarm for an hour or so - you don't want to completely screw up your sleep schedule.

Fourth suggestion: Maybe try to squeeze in a walk in the sun, or some other way to get you up and moving around, when you're feeling zombie-esque.

Good luck! FWIW, although the med was different, the first few days were by far the worst for me, and then for another 3 weeks or so I was still feeling drowsy enough that I was thinking of discontinuing the med. There was a marked improvement in drowsiness around the 3-4 week timepoint, and then around 2 months the drowsiness disappeared altogether. I hope you will have a similar progression, or ideally an even faster one!
posted by Stacey at 8:57 AM on July 13, 2015

Switch to taking it at night!
posted by DarlingBri at 9:47 AM on July 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

IANAD: the first few days on an antidepressant aren't very relevant to how it affects you a month later. So my first few weeks on Prozac I was exhausted, nauseous and dizzy. A month later I felt great. You should wait a month or talk to your doctor.

Anecdotally, I am on Effexor now and felt very energized when I started it , almost hypomanic. Even now if I take it too late in the day, I stay up until 3 AM. I like the suggestion of taking it just before sleep for you, but wait and see first. These kinds of medication have a huge warm-up period and affect everyone differently.
posted by Known Weasel at 9:48 AM on July 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

This is going to be different for everyone, but yes, I've been on Effexor for the better part of a year and it wipes me out. I need to get 8-9 hours of sleep every night without fail or I can't function at all (not a problem I've ever had before). But I still take it because it works when nothing else did. I'll be checking this thread too for advice.
posted by thetortoise at 11:42 AM on July 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Personal experience here: I've been a nap monster since I started on this a year and a half ago (75mg x twice a day). I need 8-9 hours of sleep minimum. At the moment I take one in the morning and one just before bedtime - seems to work okay, I just have to go to bed earlier and tell myself nothing great happens after 10pm...
posted by teststrip at 12:39 PM on July 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I've been on Effexor for a while, and the sleepiness never subsides. You might want to drink some coffee and take fish oil supplements to keep your spirits up. Obviously, you could also talk to your doctor about alternatives. All best.

PS withdrawal will only make your sleepiness worse.
posted by aristotlefangirl at 1:30 PM on July 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

I've been on it for about two years, and it has always made me sleep 10, 12, 14 hours at night. I could fall asleep any time of day, really. The coulpe of days I've forgotten to take it, I got insomnia and racing thoughts at night.

Now I take Wellbutrin together with it and sleep feels completely normal, and I think that is a common combination. Like aristotlefangirl says, maybe you could talk to your doctor and see what they suggest.
posted by ipsative at 4:49 PM on July 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

It made me extremely tired, although I was on it for 6 years. I started to think that the sleepiness was an innate feature of myself, not due to the med. But it was. I'd even fall asleep in meetings.
posted by ElisaOS at 10:54 AM on August 13, 2015

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