Does Effexor boost dopamine? (+5 implications)
In this article, we will discuss the impact of Effexor on dopamine levels. We will dig deep into the advantages and adversities of increased levels of dopamine. We will look at the influence of Effexor on dopamine levels.
Does Effexor boost dopamine?
Yes, Effexor can boost dopamine. Effexor (Venlafaxine) belongs to serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) antidepressants whose primary mechanism is to inhibit the reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine. However, it can impact dopamine levels in the brain as well (1).
By inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain, the levels of these neurotransmitters increase in the synaptic cleft resulting in mood and energy elevation. This action of Effexor also impacts the dopamine levels in the brain contributing to mental well-being (1).
However, Effexor cannot be solely prescribed to boost dopamine levels because this is not the primary action of this medication. Many other medications namely dopamine agonists are available which directly raise dopamine levels in the brain.
What does research suggest?
Research studies on the pharmacology of Effexor state that it exerts dose-dependent pharmacological effects. At low doses, Effexor inhibits serotonin reuptake, Norepinephrine reuptake inhibition occurs at medium to high doses, while dopamine reuptake inhibition occurs at very high doses (2).
Based on the mechanism of action of Effexor, it has a direct impact on the inhibition of the reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine neurotransmitters. Through its action on these two neurotransmitters, it indirectly acts on dopamine neurotransmission (1).
The brain chemistry is very complex and the neurotransmitters work by altering levels of each other. The impact of Effexor on serotonin levels ultimately leads to an alteration in dopamine levels (1).
What are the implications of increased dopamine due to Effexor?
Dopamine can have positive and negative implications for your body. Some of them are discussed below (3,4):
Some positive implications of dopamine include:
- Improved mood and motivation- Dopamine plays a significant role in energy and mood upregulation. Increased dopamine levels contribute to enhanced and elevated mood which can potentially alleviate depression and anxiety symptoms.
Increased levels of dopamine also impact the reward system in the brain. Dopamine is linked to boosting motivation to help achieve goals and improve focus.
- Enhanced memory and learning- Increased levels of dopamine are crucial for memory and learning. Dopamine is essential for improving cognitive functions such as attention and decision-making.
- Improved impact on psychosis and movement- Dopamine serves as a key factor in many neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders. Increased levels of dopamine are required to cure such diseases.
Parkinson’s disease is the main dopamine-associated motor disorder. In this condition, the dopaminergic neurons die causing difficulty in movement. Increased levels of dopamine are required in this condition.
Some negative implications of dopamine include:
- Increased risk of dependency- Increased dopamine levels can cause increased dependency in patients. Increased levels of dopamine due to Effexor can make patients addicted and dependent on energy and mood elevation.
- Psychiatric side effects- Increased dopamine levels can cause a patient to develop certain psychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia, anxiety, restlessness, and bipolar disorders.
- Impulsivity and sleep disturbances- Elevated amounts of dopamine in the brain can cause a sense of impulsivity in patients. It can trigger the patients to make impulsive decisions which can result in severe consequences.
Increased dopamine due to Effexor can also cause sleep disturbances in some patients. It can result in inappropriate sleep patterns and ultimately cause insomnia in some patients.
What to do if Effexor is affecting your dopamine levels?
If you suspect that Effexor is increasing your dopamine levels or causing any dopaminergic side effects, then the first step is to report it to your healthcare provider.
Your doctor or psychiatrist must consider shifting you to an alternate antidepressant medication or consider tampering or reducing your current Effexor dosage.
Your doctor must evaluate your health condition and provide a detailed assessment based on your symptoms and side effects. He must provide you with a tailored treatment plan to prevent and avoid Effexor-induced dopamine surge.
Adhere to the dosage plan provided by your doctor. Do not abruptly stop taking Effexor or change the dosage without consulting your healthcare provider.
In conclusion, I would add that Effexor has an impact on dopamine levels but it does not directly increase dopamine brain levels. However, elevated dopamine can be due to the effect of Effexor on brain chemistry.
I would advise getting regular follow-ups and carefully monitoring for any additional dopaminergic surge or symptoms that can be accompanied by Effexor use.
Was this helpful?
Singh D, Saadabadi A. Venlafaxine. [Updated 2022 Oct 10]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK535363/
Stahl SM. Basic psychopharmacology of antidepressants, part 1: Antidepressants have seven distinct mechanisms of action. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. 1998 Jan 1;59(4):5-14. https://www.psychiatrist.com/read-pdf/1759/
Westbrook, A., & Braver, T. S. (2016). Dopamine Does Double Duty in Motivating Cognitive Effort. Neuron, 89(4), 695–710. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2015.12.029
Franco R, Reyes-Resina I, Navarro G. Dopamine in Health and Disease: Much More Than a Neurotransmitter. Biomedicines [Internet]. 2021 Jan 22;9(2):109. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/biomedicines9020109