From Lexapro to Effexor -> Well?
June 2, 2006 3:39 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone on Mefi have anything positive or good to say about the SSRI Effexor?!?

Searching through the archives, all I can find are comments about strange dreams and terrible withdrawals. Does anyone have any positive experiences with it?
posted by punkrockrat to Health & Fitness (27 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I tried it recently and experienced ringing in the ears and high blood pressure, and that was after just a few days.

I guess that doesn't directly answer the question, but I figured you'd want to know about yet another negative experience.
posted by bingo at 3:52 PM on June 2, 2006

My girlfriend was on it, and while she hadn't tried any other medication to use as comparison, and she had issues when she'd find herself 'withdrawing', it truely helped her in the long run. She's definitely a more level productive person now, and she's weened herself off it entirely.
posted by jeditanuki at 4:00 PM on June 2, 2006

I used to take Venlafaxine/Effexor about 3 years back. The standard release one was crap but the extended release sorted me out pretty well.

Nit picking, but I'm pretty sure it's an SNRI not an SSRI.
posted by twine42 at 4:04 PM on June 2, 2006

Oh, I should also say that I took a pretty high dose with no side effects, but I'm a big bugger so the dosing may be more weight related than symptom related.

If, gods forbid, I ever get struck down like that again, I'll be straight back to ask for the same pills again.
posted by twine42 at 4:05 PM on June 2, 2006

Works well for me. The first week was a bit "buzzy" but it woks well and I am back to myself. Dose 112.5 per day.
posted by bright77blue at 4:20 PM on June 2, 2006

I don't think he's on Mefi, but my wife's old psychiatrist swore by both Effexor and Lexapro's efficacy in other patients. And this is undoubtably accurate, the pros outweigh the cons for many people. Unfortunately both caused significant issues for her.

My wife was on Effexor prior to our engagement... as well as Lexapro after that. Both impaired sex drive and caused weight gain. Yes to strange dreams as well. Also (and this is true for many I've known being treated for antidepression/antianxiety), there can be a perceived "flatness" to their personality after they start the medication. Sometimes extremely so.

Thankfully her work and home (goodbye crazy family!) environment have improved, she's been off any kind of medication for 6+ months now and the side effects have lapsed.

I'm not a medical professional, this isn't medical advice. This is storytellers.
posted by empyrean at 4:28 PM on June 2, 2006

My (now ex) girlfriend was prescribed Effexor, and unbeknown to me at the time, she began taking it less frequently than she should've been. I witnessed some extrordinarily heartbreaking behavior that was well out of charachter during her downward spiral that was caused by this unfortunate decision, and I'm still cleaning up the trail of damage that was left behind. Read about it here, if you're in the mood.

A terrible withdrawl would be an understatement in this case. Please be careful with this stuff, for the sake of yourself and your loved ones. :(
posted by peewee at 4:31 PM on June 2, 2006

It's actually an SSNRI--selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor. The newer drug Cymbalta is in the same class.

I liked Effexor XR. I especially liked that it didn't make me tired like SSRIs had, and it worked pretty well.

(I had strange dreams at first, high blood pressure, and eventually the terrible withdrawals as well, incidentally. Cymbalta hasn't affected my blood pressure.)

Though a nifty statement I've heard (and a good thing to keep in mind) is "The plural of anecdote is not data." If you want data, there's always the physictian insert (PDF).
posted by needs more cowbell at 4:36 PM on June 2, 2006

Effexor XR has been a godsend for me. I was on Serzone and regular Effexor before XR, and neither really helped. I was then put on XR and my mental health did a 180. I took a VERY large dose the first time (150mg, 3x a day), for about 2 years, and then slowly weaned off. I had no problem weaning, although I've read horror stories from others. I've now been on XR again for about a year after a bit of a mental health setback, but I'm on a much lower dose and we're currently weaning me off it again.

I've experienced the following side effects: dry mouth for the first month, slight short-term memory problems when I increase or decrease the dose, some sexual side effects, and leg twitches. Also, if I don't take my dose at the same time every day, I feel awful - I call it feeling "Whooshy". Its like I'm nauseated, but in my head rather than my stomach. It definitely encourages me NOT to delay my doses. I also found that it increased the affect of alcohol - I now get buzzed just drinking the neck of a bottle of beer, where it used to take the whole bottle.

For me, benefits FAR outweigh the side effects. I might not be alive today if I hadn't taken it.
posted by xsquared-1 at 4:44 PM on June 2, 2006

It works for a lot of people. It's slightly activating, so if other SSRIs were sedating, you might escape that effect with Effexor. Also, the weight gain with it isn't as bad as some of the other agents.
posted by ikkyu2 at 4:48 PM on June 2, 2006

I took Effexor XR. The side effects were enough that I decided to get off it after a year, and had *terrible* withdrawals. But I still feel that it was valuable as a short term aid. It numbed my anxiety to a point that I could start using my head and thinking through situations. I would not want to go through the effects of tapering off it again, but I do not regret taking it and it helped me get out of a very bleak place. It absolutely improved the quality of my life and the side effects that bothered me so much at the time now seem worth it.
posted by jheiz at 4:58 PM on June 2, 2006

my advice is to try it for three months - give it time to work, and judge yourself whether you feel better. There will be side-effects, and again, only you can decide whether those are inconveniences you can tolerate, or whether they're affecting your quality of life enough that you need to stop taking the drug. DO REMEMBER that you can't just stop. You need to follow a tapering program; I don't know if you're getting your meds from your family doc or a psychiatrist, but I'd highly recommend the latter - finding the right medication formula is an art, and most oridinary docs have neither the training nor experience to do this.

I'm very SSRI resistant - none have really worked for me, but of all the standard SSRI's, Celexa (a version of Lexapro) was the most effective (though so mildly that I chose to go off it, since the side effects - sexual dysfunction and extreme sleepiness - were not mild.)

Effexor worked nicely, too - but my guess was that it was mostly the norepinephrine side, since it lifted me no more than Wellbutrin, which is a pure norepinephrine-affecting med, and Effexor again gave me the SSRI-type side-effects. My experience with Cymbalta has been the same.

FYI, besides Wellbutrin, only one anti-depressant has ever really worked for me. That's Remeron, which really gave me a boost - when I tried it, I felt like I finally understood what all the folks I'd spoken to who had had good luck with SSRI's were talking about. Unfortunately, nearly EVERYONE on Remeron gains weight; I put on nearly 20 pounds in two months, and that was the end of that. As I said, nearly everyone gains weight on Remeron, but it also very effective - so if weight gain isn't an issue for you (or you're lucky enough to be one of the few who it doesn't do that too) it might be worth a try.
posted by soulbarn at 5:06 PM on June 2, 2006

I'm been on Effexor XR for 4 years, & I'm taking 375 mg once a day. In response to an earlier post (twine42's), I don't think dosage is related to size because I'm 5'2", & I weigh 116 lbs. I haven't had any problems with it, & I generally recommend it. I can't really say that it alone works especially well for me because I'm taking two others at the same time. It's probably the combination of the 3 that is helping me. I do know that my side effects come mostly from another one that I'm taking.

Please remember that no one antidepressant works for everyone. If this one doesn't work for you, keep trying to find one that does. For example, I've been on 11 antidepressants, & I'm still working on finding the right combination & dosage. On the other hand, I know plenty of people who've had much better luck that I have. If you'd like any more info about any others, please feel free to e-mail me.
posted by Four-Eyed Girl at 5:55 PM on June 2, 2006

It seemed to help me out. I was on it for 3 months. However, in the last couple of weeks it made me incredibly tired. I'd sleep for hours, wake up, and feel like I hadn't slept at all. As a result, I'd sleep for hours more. Wake up, repeat.

Side effects seems to vary considerably between people.
posted by juiceCake at 6:08 PM on June 2, 2006

Ok, meds work differently for different people. The only way you'll know if it works for you or makes you terribly ill is to take it. I've been on it for a year and I've been happy with it. I'm currently getting off of it because I want to get pregnant, and my withdrawl symptoms have been CAKE. I was much sicker when I got off Paxil, and this is after everyone told me that it would be terrible.

So, yes, I can say good things about Effexor. If I still need antidepressants after pregnancy/breastfeeding I would go back on it.
posted by sugarfish at 7:09 PM on June 2, 2006

Effexor (even in the XR form) has a relatively short half-life, which makes anything but a tapered withdrawal very, very uncomfortable. But if you take it consistently, as prescribed, you shouldn't have strange dreams, nausea, night sweats, or any other cold-turkey symptoms. I've been on Effexor XR plus Welbutrin for about five years and the combo works well for me.

Why are you considering going from Lexapro to Effexor? How is Lexapro not working -- too much anxiety, lethargy, obsessive thinking, what? What symptom(s) is Effexor supposed to alleviate? Why Effexor v. any of the other possibilities?

To zillionithify everyone above and in any other psychopharm thread here or anywhere else -- there's nothing particularly magical or poisonous about Effexor; effects and side effects are entirely individual; finding out what works is a matter of trial and error.

Talk to your meds doc and your counselor (if it's not the same person) about why taking Effexor worries you. He/she/they will help you sort out your fears. If he/she/they don't, then get the fuck out and find help you do trust.
posted by vetiver at 8:19 PM on June 2, 2006

I am currently in the process of switching from Paxil (30mg) to Effexor XR (75mg). The only side effect I've experienced so far is a minor headache after waking up, which hopely will go away after a few more days. And, of course, it could be the Paxil withdrawal, not Effexor, that's causing the headaches.

For me, Effexor seems to be a better fit than Paxil; I am now a week and a day into the two week cross-tapering process, and already I feel much more energetic and focused.
posted by gloom at 8:32 PM on June 2, 2006

You're going to find plenty of people that have both good and bad things to say about Effexor. Each SSRI/SNRI/practically every psych medicine affects individuals differently.
posted by gramcracker at 9:30 PM on June 2, 2006

My wife has been taking a low dose of Effexor XR for a fair while now (nearly a year, I think), and she and I both think it's helped her a lot. She has had some vivid dreams, and she can definitely tell when she misses a dose, but by and large it's been a good experience.
posted by cerebus19 at 10:08 PM on June 2, 2006

The withdrawl can be mitigated somewhat by not only tapering off according to instructions but pop a few prozacs at the end, the prozac can bridge you over, and withdrawing from prozac is a snap, generally. At least thats what my psychiatrist says.

Also with Effexor: be religious about taking it at the same time each day, and use the extended XR caps, and talk to doc about taking half dose in morning and half in evening (might screw up sleep somewhat but = a more stable dose). A lot of the most common side effects I've had or heard about are actually mild withdrawl symptoms caused by irregular dosing - especially the buzzy head feeling. It is a good drug for anxiety/panic disorders. But to each their own in these things.
posted by Rumple at 10:19 PM on June 2, 2006

Another thought for you - Effexor has a very short half life at about 4 hours. Assuming a 5 half life to complete removal, that's less than a day to be clean of the stuff. That's the reason that you either get the XR version or you are supposed to take it multiple times a day.

If you are scheduled two doses a day, you must take them, or else you are effectively bouncing between medicated an not multiple times a week, which isn't good for your brain or your relationships.
posted by twine42 at 12:35 AM on June 3, 2006

Another withdrawal report: My friend was on a high dose regimen, and then ran out. She couldn't stop crying, and spent her time in the fetal position until it was restored.
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:35 AM on June 3, 2006

It works wonderfully for me at a pretty low dose - 150mg.
posted by IndigoRain at 7:12 AM on June 3, 2006

It took me over a year to taper off from a 150mg dose, but it was totally worth it.
posted by elisabeth r at 8:40 AM on June 3, 2006

I have been dealing with being Bipolar for 20 yrs or so and off all the antidepressants I have used, Efexxor seems to work the best.Unfortunately many people have completely different outcomes and may spend yrs finding the right drug for them.As many afflicted Bipolars jump on and off meds (myself included) they may find Efexxor has pretty strong withdrawl effects. I have had ringing in the ears, a strange sensation of "waves" going through my tongue when I go on and off but this is definately balanced by the effectiveness once fully on the med.One odd reaction I have had that makes no sense with Efexxor XR v.s. Efexxor is sleeping for days on end (almost narcolepticish) this makes no sense but every time I go on XR it happens.
posted by plumberonkarst at 8:53 AM on June 3, 2006

I have nothing good to say about Effexor withdrawal. Do not underestimate how awful the rage-to-hysterical-sobbing mood swings, sweatiness (!), and brain shivers/zaps can be.

Given that, I will also say that Effexor did what I needed it to do... until it stopped working. And that took a few years. If nothing else helps, Effexor might.
posted by Vervain at 11:24 AM on June 3, 2006

Effexor is working for me (Lexapro did not), however it is not side effect free:

- I sleep 10 to 14 hours per day
- Weird dreams (but I've always had odd dreams)
- I really feel it if I miss a dose ("whooshy" is a good description)
- Sexual side effects at the beginning but fine now
posted by deborah at 10:52 PM on June 3, 2006

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