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Effexor XR Review – 8 Things You Need to Know

By Michelle Giordano

Reviewed by Rebecca Williams, MD, MA, MB, BChir

Last Updated:

Evidence Based | Summary | What's Inside? | Side Effects | Contraindications | Cost | Verdict

Depression and anxiety are illnesses that affect a significant portion of the population. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., and The National Institute of Health says that approximately 19.4 million adults have suffered at least one case of major depression.

Living with these conditions can affect all aspects of a person’s life, preventing them from participating in activities they previously enjoyed and from performing at their highest potential.

Effexor XR is a prescription medication that is used to treat depression and anxiety. If you are suffering from either of these disorders, speak with your doctor and read this review to see if this medication is right for you.


1) What is Effexor XR?

Effexor XR belongs to a class of drugs known as selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SSNRIs). It is manufactured by Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, a drug company that was established in 1849.

This medication works by binding to receptors in the brain, increasing levels of the chemicals, serotonin, and norepinephrine, which help alleviate symptoms associated with depression and anxiety. These chemicals provide us with positive feelings and can improve energy.

What’s Inside?

2) What’s Inside Effexor XR?

The active ingredient in Effexor XR is venlafaxine. This is the substance that produces the positive effect. Inactive ingredients that are also found in the capsule include:

  • Cellulose
  • Ethylcellulose
  • Gelatin
  • Hypromellose
  • Iron oxide
  • Titanium dioxide

This drug is an extended-release formulation which means that it releases small amounts of the active ingredient venlafaxine throughout the day.

3) What Does Effexor XR Do?

People suffering from depression may not want to participate in their normal daily activities, or they may find no joy in things that were previously appealing to them. Effexor XR can help to restore a person’s desire to be involved with relationships and daily activities.

Many individuals suffer from different forms of anxiety, including generalized anxiety, panic disorder, and social phobia. All of these can be extremely debilitating and affect the quality of life a person has. Many of these individuals will not take part in large social gatherings or even simple trips to the grocery store, depending on the severity of their anxiety. Effexor XR may help to reduce the fear experienced by that person and decrease the number of panic attacks that occur.

4) Effexor XR Benefits & Results

Effexor has the potential to help someone suffering from depression or anxiety. Some of the benefits of this drug include:

  • Improved mood
  • Increased energy
  • Decreased panic attacks
  • Ability to attend social events
  • Renewed interest in daily life

Two studies found in the National Institutes of Health Library demonstrate its effectiveness. One study [1] found that Effexor XR had a 73.7% success rate compared to other antidepressants in alleviating depressive symptoms. Another study [2] showed that Effexor XR was very effective in treating anxiety disorders compared to placebo.

However, it is important to note that each individual metabolizes drugs differently, so if one drug is effective for someone, it may not necessarily be effective for someone else. Also, this medication should never be taken unless a doctor prescribes it directly for you.

Side Effects

5) Side Effects of Using Effexor XR

The most common side effects associated with Effexor XR include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Dizziness
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Weight loss

6) Effexor XR Warnings and Precautions

Effexor XR can raise blood pressure, so this drug should be avoided in anyone who has hypertension or serious cardiovascular disease.

Also, Effexor XR has a serious interaction with a class of drugs called the MAOIs and should not be used in people using these types of medications.

The FDA added a black box warning, which is considered the most severe warning they can issue, for many antidepressants including Effexor XR. In rare cases, these antidepressants may cause an increased risk of suicidal feelings and behaviors in younger people; therefore, Effexor XR is not indicated for people under 18 years old.


7) How Much Does Effexor XR Cost?

Effexor XR comes in many different formulations. As a tablet and capsule, it is available as 37.5 mg, 75 mg, and 150 mg. It also comes in a 225 mg tablet.

Because this is a prescription medication, the cost will vary depending on your insurance. The good news is that most insurances cover this medication. If it is not covered, the pharmacy can provide you with discounts or coupons to reduce the cost.


8) Our Final Take On Effexor XR

After thoroughly examining reviews for this drug, we found that many people gave it good reviews. GoodRx Health gives it a 62% worth score, meaning that 62% of people interviewed said Effexor XR was worth it. This was one of the higher scores compared to other antidepressants. On drugs.com, reviewers gave it a 9 out of 10 for symptoms with depression.

There were some, however, that said the drug made their symptoms worse and they stopped the medication. Most people said that it helped and that they didn’t experience many side effects.

Our recommendation is to first speak with your doctor to see if this medication is a good fit for you. After reviewing your medical history and symptoms, the doctor may decide to prescribe it. You should never try this drug without counsel from your physician. If you are suffering from one or both of these debilitating illnesses, it seems sensible to consider this medication to maintain a better quality of life.

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