Effexor and Migraine Headaches
For people who have migraines more than twice a week, a healthcare provider may recommend medications to help prevent migraines. There are several medications approved for this purpose. While Effexor is not specifically approved to prevent migraines, healthcare providers may prescribe it in certain situations. This is because, based on clinical experience, Effexor has been shown to help prevent migraines, especially in people who also have depression or anxiety. Using Effexor to prevent migraines is known as an off-label use of Effexor.
Before medicines are approved, they must go through several clinical studies where thousands of people are given a particular medicine and are then compared to a group of people who were not given the medicine (these people took a sugar pill, or placebo). In these studies, side effects are always documented. As a result, it is possible to see which side effects occur, how often they appear, and how they compare to the group not taking the medicine. Side effects are then usually separated into those side effects that occur in more than 1 percent of people and those that occur in less than 1 percent of people.
Headaches (including migraines) were reported in up to 25 percent of people taking Effexor. Yet, up to 24 percent of people taking the placebo also reported a headache. (These studies did not separate migraine headaches from other types of headaches.) Therefore, it is difficult to say what impact, if any, Effexor has on the frequency or severity of migraines.
There are many triggers of migraines (see Migraine Triggers), and Effexor may be one of them. Unfortunately, there is no way for your healthcare provider to know beforehand if you will have migraines while on Effexor. Therefore, if you are experiencing migraine headaches (or other headaches) while taking Effexor, talk to your healthcare provider. He or she can give you recommendations based on the symptoms you are having, how often they occur, and your particular needs. If your healthcare provider believes that the Effexor and migraines are related, he or she may recommend you change your depression medication altogether.
(Click Migraine Relief to learn about treatment options for migraines.)