Depression Home > Venlafaxine

Venlafaxine is commonly prescribed for the treatment of depression. In clinical studies, people who took the drug had more improvement in their depression symptoms than people who did not take the antidepressant. Side effects of venlafaxine may include insomnia, dry mouth, and nausea. The medication comes in tablet form and is available in a number of strengths.

What Is Venlafaxine?

Venlafaxine hydrochloride (Effexor®) is a prescription medicine used to treat depression (also known as major depression or clinical depression).
(Click What Is Venlafaxine Used For? for more information, including possible off-label uses.)

Who Makes It?

Brand-name Effexor was manufactured by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals but is no longer available. Generic versions of venlafaxine are made by various manufacturers.

How Does Venlafaxine Work?

Venlafaxine is part of a class of drugs called serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, or SNRIs for short. SNRIs act on specific chemicals within the brain known as serotonin and norepinephrine. These are two of several chemicals used to send messages from one nerve cell to another.
As a message travels down a nerve, it causes the end of the cell to release serotonin or norepinephrine. The serotonin or norepinephrine enters the gap between the first nerve cell and the one next to it. When enough reaches the second nerve cell, it activates receptors on the cell and the message continues on its way. The first cell then quickly absorbs any serotonin or norepinephrine that remains in the gap between cells. This is called "reuptake."
Normally, this process works without any problems. But when the levels of serotonin or norepinephrine become unbalanced, it can cause a variety of conditions, including depression. Venlafaxine helps to block the reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine so that more remains in the space between the brain's nerve cells. This gives the chemicals a better chance of activating the receptors on the next nerve cell.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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