Effexor is classified as a selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SSNRI) that works to effect chemicals in the brain. It is an antidepressant used to treat major depressive disorder, anxiety, and panic disorder. Effexor is manufactured by Pfizer and is known generically as Venlafaxine. Currently, Effexor is one of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants in America. Effexor has been given to adults, children and teenagers. It was approved by the FDA in 1993 and 1.7 million prescriptions were written for Effexor in 2007 alone.

Healthcare professionals have found a link between the use of Effexor while pregnant and serious birth defects. Effexor use has been thought to cause lung and heart defects in babies. Antidepressants like Effexor and other similar drugs have also been known to cause premature birth, miscarriage, withdrawal symptoms, clubbed feet, cleft lip or palate, delayed development, persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN), gastroschisis, enlarged heart, septal heart defects, macrocephaly, craniosynostosis, neural tube defects and spina bifida.

It is advised that pregnant women not take antidepressants while pregnant to prevent the birth defects that the drugs may cause.

Effexor has also been linked to other side effects including increased thoughts of suicide and complications for pre-existing heart conditions.

In the early 1990s, reports began to surface about the effects of Effexor, such as increased thoughts of suicide. This effect seems to be more prominent in teenagers and children, making them hostile, irrational, violent or suicidal. The FDA looked at 372 studies of antidepressants and found that young adults on the drug were more prone to behavioral changes.

A study at Duke University also linked the use of Effexor with coronary artery disease. There was no causal link to the connection, although there were statistics to back it up. The study looked at patients suffering from heart disease. In three years, 21.4 percent of patients on antidepressants had died, while only 12.5 percent of patients who were not taking the drugs had died.

Serious side effects may include:

  • Seizure (convulsions)
  • Very stiff (rigid) muscles, high fever, sweating, confusion, fast or uneven heartbeats, tremors, feeling like you might pass out
  • Agitation, hallucinations, fever, fast heart rate, overactive reflexes, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of coordination
  • Headache, trouble concentrating, memory problems, weakness, feeling unsteady, confusion, hallucinations, fainting, shallow breathing or breathing that stops
  • Cough, chest tightness, trouble breathing
  • Easy bruising

Less serious side effects may include:

  • Drowsiness, dizziness, feeling nervous
  • Strange dreams
  • Increased sweating
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry mouth
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Mild nausea, constipation
  • Decreased sex drive, impotence, or difficulty having an orgasm
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