Does Effexor help panic attacks? (3+ treatment options)

In this article, we will explore whether Effexor helps panic attacks. Additionally, we will discuss the effectiveness of Effexor in reducing panic attacks, the time it takes to work, recommended dosages, and other treatment options for panic disorders. 

Does Effexor help panic attacks?

Yes, Effexor helps in reducing panic attacks. Effexor is an antidepressant that reduces the number and severity of panic attacks, improving the quality of life for patients. You may find Effexor a safe and effective antidepressant with mild side effects, but it is important to note that not everyone has a similar response.

Effexor, also known as Venlafaxine, belongs to the serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) class of drugs and is FDA-approved for treating anxiety and depression. 

Additionally, Effexor may also be prescribed for stress, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), premenstrual dysphoric disorder, nerve-related problems with diabetes, and various pain-related issues. Effexor inhibits the reuptake of serotonin (in low doses), norepinephrine (at medium doses), and dopamine (at higher doses) in brain cells (1). 

Panic attacks are often associated with sudden and extreme fear or discomfort. You may experience symptoms of panic attacks such as fast heartbeat, sweating, body aches, shivering, dizziness, tingling or numbness (2). 

How effective is Effexor in reducing panic attacks?

In a clinical trial, Effexor was given to patients with panic disorder to check their response to the medication. Effexor was not found to be effective in making the patients recover from panic disorder completely; however, the number of panic attacks and their severity were reduced. 

Only a few anxiety symptoms were experienced by the patients while taking Effexor and the side effects associated with Effexor were also mild. This study proved the safety and efficacy of Effexor for patients with panic disorder (3). 

In another clinical study, patients experienced an improvement in their symptoms of panic disorder when used for extended periods, it also prevented the return of illness. 

Some common side effects were observed in patients taking Effexor, such as sleep disturbances, nausea, sexual side effects, or hypertension, therefore monitor the patients vigilantly with kidney or liver problems (4). 

How long does Effexor take to work for panic attacks?

Effexor generally takes 4 to 6 weeks to start working. However, you may start to notice improvements in 1 or 2 weeks. Some patients may also experience complete therapeutic benefits after 8 to 12 weeks of Effexor treatment. 

While taking Effexor for panic attacks, it is important to be patient and wait for the complete benefits of the medication. The treatment for panic disorder is longer compared to depression, and studies suggest continuing the treatment of panic attacks for up to 2 years.  

Behavioural therapies are also started during this phase of treatment and after these 2 years, Effexor is gradually reduced over 6 months monitoring the patient regularly (5). 

What are the dosage recommendations of Effexor for panic disorder? 

Your doctor may start Effexor with a lower dose of 37.5mg daily, to determine the effective dose for you. Once you get adjusted to this dose after a week or two, your doctor may increase the dose up to 150mg per day if needed. 

If the desired effect is not achieved at 150mg per day, your doctor may increase the dose of Effexor up to 225mg per day. A dosage of more than 225mg is not recommended as there is not enough clinical data available for higher doses of Effexor. 

Therefore, Effexor should be started in low doses and increased gradually if needed, depending on the patient’s response, and monitoring throughout the treatment (4). 

What other treatment options are available for panic attacks?

Selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and Benzodiazepines are considered the first line of treatment for panic disorder. If patients do not respond or these medications are not suitable for any patient, in such case second line of treatment, serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), and tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) can be prescribed. 

Some people may also respond well to Buspirone, Beta-blockers, or Hydroxyzine, which are considered the third line of treatment. In some cases, anticonvulsants or antipsychotics may be used, but more research is needed for their use in panic disorders. 

Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) is also recommended by many healthcare providers for panic disorder. Some newer approaches are also being introduced in the clinical setting, such as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), but more research is needed for their benefits for panic disorders (6). 


In my opinion, Effexor reduces the frequency and intensity of panic attacks and is a safe and effective antidepressant. The dosage of Effexor for panic disorder varies among individuals due to differences in specific needs.

Always take antidepressants exactly as prescribed by your healthcare provider and do not stop taking them before consulting your doctor. 

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