Does Effexor help with PMDD? (3+ alternative medications)

This article will discuss the potential benefits of using Effexor (venlafaxine) for treating Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD). It will explore the research suggesting its effectiveness in managing PMDD symptoms.

Additionally, this article will address the importance of caution and monitoring while taking venlafaxine for PMDD, as well as the potential side effects that may arise. Lastly, alternative medications approved for PMDD treatment will be briefly mentioned.

Does Effexor help with PMDD?

Effexor is not FDA-approved specifically for the treatment of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). However, it may be effective in managing PMDD symptoms. It is believed that Effexor’s antidepressant and anti-anxiety actions can improve emotional well-being before menstruation. 

It is important to note that using venlafaxine for PMDD should be done under the guidance and prescription of a qualified healthcare professional, who can assess the individual’s specific needs and consider potential risks and benefits.

What does research suggest?

A clinical trial investigated the effectiveness and safety of venlafaxine for treating premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). The results indicated that 60% of the women who received venlafaxine experienced a significant improvement of over 50% in their symptoms [1].

In addition to finding that venlafaxine was more effective than the placebo in reducing PMDD symptoms. The study found that 43% of the women treated with venlafaxine achieved symptom remission, compared to only 25% of those who received the placebo [1].

In another trial, 81.8% of women taking venlafaxine showed a satisfactory response and improvement in depression symptoms, physical symptoms, anger, and tension. This suggests that venlafaxine is an efficacious and well-tolerated treatment for PMDD [2].

A separate open-label study found that venlafaxine results in significant improvement in the mood and behavior aspects of PMDD. The study concluded that venlafaxine was effective in reducing PMDD symptoms among ethnic Taiwanese women [3]

What are the side effects of using Effexor for PMDD?

It’s important to mention the side effects that can occur when using Effexor to treat Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. Since this use is not officially approved, it’s recommended to be cautious when taking venlafaxine and keep an eye out for any changes in your well-being and health.

Some commonly reported side effects of using Effexor for PMDD include [4]:

It is important to speak with your healthcare provider if you experience any of these side effects or if you have any concerns about taking Effexor for PMDD.

What other drugs can be used for treating PMDD?

If Effexor (venlafaxine) is ineffective in managing your premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), or if you experience undesirable side effects while using it for this indication, it is advisable to consider switching to another medication that is approved for treating PMDD.

However, it is important to note that when discontinuing Effexor, the dosage should be gradually reduced to prevent withdrawal symptoms. It is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional to discuss alternative treatment options and to determine an appropriate discontinuation plan.

Some of the commonly used drugs that have been approved for treating PMDD include:

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)

Multiple SSRIs are approved by the FDA for treating PMDD. These medications include:

  • Fluoxetine (Prozac): the typical dosage for PMDD is 20 mg per day, starting on day 14 of the menstrual cycle and continuing until the onset of menstruation.
  • Sertraline (Zoloft): for PMDD, it should be taken at a dose of 50-150 mg per day, starting on day 14 of the menstrual cycle and continuing until the first day of menstruation.
  • Paroxetine (Paxil): the recommended dosage for PMDD is 12.5-25 mg per day, beginning on day 14 of the menstrual cycle and continuing until the onset of menstruation.

Drospirenone/Ethinyl Estradiol (Yaz, Yasmin)

Yaz and Yasmin are combination oral contraceptives that contain synthetic progesterone and ethinyl estradiol. They are effective in regulating hormonal fluctuations and managing PMDD symptoms.

GnRH Agonists:

Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone agonists, like Leuprolide acetate (Lupron), work by suppressing the production of sex hormones involved in the menstrual cycle. Lupron is available as a depot injection or a nasal spray.

Antianxiety Medications:

Alprazolam (Xanax), Diazepam (Valium), and Clonazepam (Klonopin): Some Benzodiazepines are sometimes used to manage anxiety symptoms associated with PMDD. The benzodiazepines approved for this indication include:

  • Alprazolam (Xanax)
  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Clonazepam (Klonopin)

It is important to remember that these are just a few examples of medications used to treat PMDD, and there may be other options available. Only a qualified healthcare professional can assess your specific situation and prescribe the most appropriate treatment for you.

Understanding the effectiveness and safety of Effexor for PMDD treatment 

Based on my knowledge, while not FDA-approved for treating PMDD, research suggests that Effexor (venlafaxine) can effectively manage PMDD symptoms by regulating mood and reducing anxiety. In my perspective, however, it is important to use it under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

Potential side effects that can be caused due to using Effexor for PMDD include nausea, drowsiness, sweating, headaches, insomnia, and changes in appetite, among others.

If Effexor is ineffective or causes adverse effects, I recommend considering alternative medications like certain SSRIs, certain oral contraceptives, some antianxiety drugs, or GnRH agonists. It is essential to consult with a healthcare provider for personalized advice.

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Cohen LS, Soares CN, Lyster A, Cassano P, Brandes M, Leblanc GA. Efficacy and tolerability of premenstrual use of venlafaxine (flexible dose) in the treatment of premenstrual dysphoric disorder. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2004 Oct;24(5):540-3. doi: 10.1097/ PMID: 15349012.


Hsiao MC, Liu CY. Effective open-label treatment of premenstrual dysphoric disorder with venlafaxine. Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2003 Jun;57(3):317-21. doi: 10.1046/j.1440-1819.2003.01123.x. PMID: 12753573.,ethnic%20Taiwanese%20women%20with%20PMDD.


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