Does Effexor cause sugar cravings? (+2 effects)

In this article, we will discuss if Effexor causes sugar cravings. Effexor (venlafaxine) belongs to a group of antidepressants that reduce the uptake of serotonin and noradrenaline. It is used in the treatment of depression, anxiety, and panic attacks.

Does Effexor cause sugar cravings?

Yes, Effexor may cause sugar cravings. Effexor has been reported to increase the desire for carbohydrate cravings and sugar cravings. It is also known to increase appetite and weight gain. If you have persistent sugar cravings while taking Effexor, talk to your doctor about your condition.

The doctor might change your dose or switch you to a different antidepressant. Once your doctor is on board, you will be able to work on establishing coping strategies for craving and their causes. You can also get help from a dietitian.

How does Effexor cause sugar cravings?

Effexor raises serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine levels in the brain by inhibiting transport protein and preventing reuptake of these neurotransmitters at the presynaptic terminal. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that governs mood and can also have an effect on appetite (1).

The amount of neurotransmitter released by serotonin-releasing brain neurons is generally controlled by dietary intake. These changes, in particular, may increase the appetites for carbohydrate-rich food such as desserts, bread and pasta.

Carbohydrate consumption also enhances serotonin release via insulin secretion and the plasma tryptophan ratio. This ability of neurons to link neuronal signalling to food consumption is a link in the feedback process that generally maintains carbohydrate and protein intake at a consistent level under normal physiological conditions (2).

Does Effexor-induced sugar cravings go away?

During the depression phase, serotonin levels tend to drop, which contributes to sugar cravings. Once the serotonin level is adjusted and the body adapts to the drug, the sugar cravings will slowly fade away. However, it is important to control diet and appetite during this time.

What other factors cause sugar cravings?

  • Gut health: poor gut health, inflammation, and other gastrointestinal tract (GIT) disorders may contribute to sugar cravings. Pathogenic gut bacteria need sugar as a nutritional supply.
  • Lack of sleep: sleep deprivation is connected to overeating, particularly junk food and sugar consumption (3).
  • Hunger hormone: sugar intake causes ghrelin (hunger hormone) levels to rise, which may contribute to the development of sugar cravings.
  • Hormonal imbalance in males and females: an increase in estrogen and progesterone levels seems to correspond with an increase in cortisol (stress hormone), which leads to sugar cravings.
  • Lack of nutrients: when the body lacks specific minerals involved in regulating insulin levels, it may impair the desire for sugar. As an example, if the body does not get enough magnesium, it may struggle to bring energy into the cells and increase sugar cravings (4).

What is the effect of increased sugar cravings?

People’s appetites are impacted when they are depressed. Some people may become hungrier as a result, while others may lose their appetite. When Effexor take effect, it is possible that someone’s normal appetite returns to normal.

Excess sugar consumption may result in (5):

  • tooth cavities,
  • weight gain,
  • type 2 diabetes, and
  • heart disease.

Which foods should be avoided with Effexor?

What does the research suggest?

In one of the case studies, thirty women showed no improvement in sugar or food cravings when the dose of Effexor was increased. They were prescribed Effexor for the treatment of premenstrual dystrophic disorder (6).

In another rare incidence, a female patient who took an overdose of Effexor reported hypoglycemia while taking Effexor. Her blood sugar was not stabilized even after one day of treatment. This signifies that an overdose of Effexor can cause adverse effects of hypoglycemia rather than sugar cravings (7).

How to manage sugar cravings naturally while using Effexor?

  • Keep the sugar level stable: avoid skipping meals and include low-glycemic index (GI) foods in meals and snacks. Low GI foods are digested and absorbed slowly, resulting in a steady rise in blood sugar levels.
  • Consume soluble fibres: soluble fibres, found in fruits, vegetables and grains, swell with water in the gut and make the person feel full. It can help manage sugar cravings.
  • Eat a protein-based diet: Protein helps to keep blood sugar levels stable, which can help lessen sugar cravings.
  • Drink water: sugar cravings are sometimes confused with dehydration. Drink a large glass of water and then reassess if still sugar is needed.
  • Find the reason for sugar craving: sometimes out of boredom or anxiety, the person starts to consume unnecessary sugar. This is known as ‘ming hunger’, or non-hungry eating. Try to distract the mind when boredom strikes. 
  • Consult a dietician: A dietitian can assist in developing a fulfilling meal plan to ensure that the patient consumes balanced meals throughout the day. This can assist in reducing sugar cravings.
  • A mental health professional can assist in identifying potential causes and coping strategies for cravings.

How to manage sugar cravings with supplements?

  • Glutamine: Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body. When the sugar level is too low, glutamine replenishes the nutritional levels in the brain while reducing the sugar cravings.
  • Lipase: if you take lipase or a digestive enzyme mix before the main course, the body will be better equipped to use the fats. It will reduce the energy drop that causes the sugar cravings.
  • Chromium: chromium helps to balance blood sugar levels, reducing the brain’s craving for extra sugar.
  • Vitamin B: it considerably reduces sugar cravings due to the vital assistance it provides to the metabolism and neurological system. Vitamin B enables proper digestion of carbohydrates.
  • Fish oil: it can help control the appetite and lessen carbohydrate cravings.


You might experience sugar cravings while you are taking Effexor. In my opinion, you should keep on taking Effexor for your depression as it improves your mood and energy level. Simultanoeusly, you should reduce your urge to take sugar products. Keep your diet clean and plan your meals with a dietician to reduce the need for sugar.

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Gutierrez MA, Stimmel GL, Aiso JY. Venlafaxine: a 2003 update. Clinical therapeutics. 2003 Aug 1;25(8):2138-54.


Wurtman RJ, Wurtman JJ. Brain serotonin, carbohydrate-craving, obesity and depression. Recent Advances in Tryptophan Research: Tryptophan and Serotonin Pathways. 1996 Jan 1:35-42.


Greer SM, Goldstein AN, Walker MP. The impact of sleep deprivation on food desire in the human brain. Nature communications. 2013 Aug 6;4(1):2259.


Barbagallo M, Dominguez LJ. Magnesium and type 2 diabetes. World journal of diabetes. 2015 Aug 8;6(10):1152.


Freeman CR, Zehra A, Ramirez V, Wiers CE, Volkow ND, Wang GJ. Impact of sugar on the body, brain, and behavior. Frontiers in bioscience (Landmark edition). 2018 Jun 1;23(12):2255-66.


Hsiao MC, Liu CY. Effective open‐label treatment of premenstrual dysphoric disorder with venlafaxine. Psychiatry and clinical neurosciences. 2003 Jun;57(3):317-21.


Carson R. Blood Sugar Blues Hypoglycemia and Antidepressants. CANADIAN JOURNAL OF DIAGNOSIS. 2003;20(12):65-70.

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