Does Effexor make you dumb? (3 negative impacts)

In this article, we will discuss the negative effect of Effexor on cognition and how Effexor can make you dumb and affect your intelligence. Further, we will discuss the measures to manage and minimize the cognitive side effects of Effexor.

Does Effexor make you dumb?

Effexor (Venlafaxine) does not necessarily make you dumb but it can affect your cognition. Currently, there are limited reports on the effects of Effexor on psychomotor and cognitive functions and the possibility of Effexor affecting your mental abilities cannot be neglected.

Although antidepressants whether SSRIs, SNRIs or TCA, all have shown improvement in the mental health condition of the patients, sometimes they may leave some impact on your cognition abilities. Therefore, the usage of such drugs should be carefully monitored.

What does research suggest?

Several studies were carried out to study the impact of Venlafaxine on the human brain.

Clinical trials conducted on healthy subjects showed no effect of Venlafaxine on performances of any of the cognitive tests (Like choice reaction, memory and psychomotor function) examined (1, 2).

Another clinical study conducted on healthy volunteers demonstrated Venlafaxine to be a better therapeutic option with less adverse impact on psychomotor functions (3).

The case report of a 48-year-old woman showed severe irreversible motor and cognitive deterioration after a Venlafaxine overdose (4). 

Although current shreds of evidence do not show a significant effect of Effexor on cognition, the effect of the medication may vary from individual to individual. Hence, such drugs should be administered after careful analysis of all the symptoms, and medication history under the constant supervision of a medical practitioner.

How can Effexor make you dumb?

Effexor can make you dumb or affect your cognition by causing the following adverse effects:

Impaired Memory

Impaired memory or memory loss is a common side effect associated with antidepressant use. Effexor may cause memory loss and impairment of recall abilities.

Effexor may cause hyponatremia or low sodium levels. When combined with other drugs that reduce sodium levels or cause diarrhoea and vomiting, will result in extremely low sodium levels in your body. As a result, you may experience forgetfulness or memory loss.

Difficulty with concentration and focus

The common side effects of Effexor include drowsiness, tiredness and insomnia. It may affect your ability to concentrate and focus. This is particularly of great concern in the case of students. Lack of focus may affect their ability to learn and grow.

If your child is taking Venlafaxine, your child’s doctor should constantly supervise the growth of your child.

Cognitive Impairment

Lack of proper sleep due to insomnia and nightmares induced by this drug may slowly impair your cognitive processing speed. Also, this medication can make you feel drowsy and affect your judgement, thinking and motor capabilities.

Do not drive or operate machinery if you notice these side effects.

What to do if Effexor is affecting your cognition?

If you notice any changes in your cognitive and psychomotor abilities, you should immediately seek help from your healthcare professional. Effexor is a well-tolerated anti-depressant but its effect may vary from individual to individual.

You should openly discuss all your concerns with your physician so that he can guide you in the best possible way. Do not stop your medication without proper consultation as immediate withdrawal can lead to life-threatening withdrawal symptoms.

How can you improve your cognition while on Effexor?

Effexor can impact your mental health by causing side effects like memory loss, drowsiness, fatigue, insomnia and inability to focus and concentrate. The following techniques can help you improve your cognitive abilities while taking Effexor.

  • Practising mind relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation can help you to relieve such effects and improve your cognitive abilities.
  • Taking care of your physical health can help you improve your cognitive abilities. Regularly go for health check-ups and consult your doctor about the medicines you take.
  • Take a nutrient-rich diet and have enough sleep for eight hours daily.
  • Do regular exercise and household chores to keep yourself physically active.
  • Engage yourself in intellectual hobbies to keep your mind active.

Points to remember while taking Effexor

  • Take Effexor at the same time daily to avoid any inconsistencies.
  • Do not stop your medication abruptly as this may lead to serious withdrawal syndrome.
  • Avoid alcohol with Effexor as it can quickly become addictive and may exaggerate the side effects.
  • Share details of all current medications with your healthcare provider, so that he can guide you for safe and effective treatment in the best possible way.
  • Immediately seek medical attention if you notice any adverse reaction.


In conclusion, Venlafaxine is generally regarded as a safe drug with a low toxicity profile. There are limited reports on the effect of Effexor on cognition and psychomotor abilities.

Severe cognitive deterioration has been observed in the case of Venlafaxine overdose whereas at therapeutic dosage no adverse effect on cognition and motor abilities was reported.

Therefore, the cognitive effects of Effexor should be constantly monitored. Consult your healthcare provider immediately if you notice any changes in your cognitive abilities. Do not make any changes to your prescription without consulting the doctor.

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Siepmann T, Mueck-Weymann M, Oertel R, Kirch W, Pittrow D, Siepmann M. The effects of venlafaxine on cognitive functions and quantitative EEG in healthy volunteers. Pharmacopsychiatry. 2008 Jul;41(4):146-50. doi: 10.1055/s-2008-1076724. PMID: 18651343. Available from:


Nathan PJ, Sitaram G, Stough C, Silberstein RB, Sali A. Serotonin, noradrenaline and cognitive function: a preliminary investigation of the acute pharmacodynamic effects of a serotonin versus a serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor. Behav Pharmacol. 2000 Nov;11(7-8):639-42. doi: 10.1097/00008877-200011000-00011. PMID: 11198135. Available from:


Shah RB, Patel S, Chaudhary V. Comparison of effects of amitriptyline and venlafaxine on cognitive and psychomotor functions in healthy volunteers: A randomized parallel group study. National Journal of Physiology, Pharmacy and Pharmacology. 2020;10(10):927-35. doi:10.5455/njppp.2020.10.08232202011092020. Available from:


García-Cabeza I, de Blas MM, Epifanio MM, de Chávez MG. Cognitive deterioration after venlafaxine overdose. J Emerg Med. 2011 May;40(5):e103-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2009.04.059. Epub 2009 Jun 9. PMID: 19515524. Available from:

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