Does Effexor make you irritable? (+1 effects)

In this article, we will discuss if Effexor makes you irritable. Effexor is a selective serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) that is frequently prescribed for generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and panic attacks.

Does Effexor make you irritable?

Yes, Effexor can make you irritable. Feeling anxious, irritated, or having difficulty sleeping may occur when Effexor is first started or abruptly stopped. As your body responds to the drug, your anxiety and irritation may subside.

When a person is irritable, small things that would not normally bother him can cause irritation. As a result of the tension, a person may become more sensitive to stressful situations.

Sometimes underlying medical conditions like diabetes can also cause irritability. But if you think you are experiencing irritation due to Effexor then you should immediately inform your doctor. The doctor might want to reduce your dose of Effexor or change your antidepressant altogether.

What are the signs of irritation caused by Effexor?

The symptoms of Effexor-induced irritability include:

  • Hostility,
  • aggression,
  • frustration,
  • mood swings,
  • tension,
  • rapid heart rate, and
  • restlessness.

Irritation can also occur when the patient discontinues Effexor suddenly. Withdrawing off Effexor may cause irritation, nausea, headache, itching skin, mood changes, nightmares and vomiting. The withdrawal symptoms usually begin 8-12 hours following the patient’s final dose.

What does the research suggest?

In a case report, twenty-six patients were given Effexor for depression in Huntington’s disease (HD). Depression symptoms in HD patients decreased considerably after 4 weeks of Effexor treatment as compared to baseline. However, one in every five individuals experienced irritability and nausea (1).

In another case study, a female was given an increased dose of Effexor for her depression. She began to have a shorter sleep cycle, more energy, and racing thoughts. Her family observed that she was impatient and irritable, and alternated between euphoria and hypersexual behaviour. Her dose of Effexor was reduced and given lithium (2).

Which factors increase irritability while taking Effexor?

Other factors that can cause increased irritability include:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): irritability, negative thoughts, and aggressive behaviour are some of the symptoms of PTSD.
  • Low blood sugar: hypoglycemia can harm a person’s physical and mental health. Low blood sugar levels can increase irritability and nervousness.
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS): PMS occurs due to hormonal imbalance and can cause severe mood swings and irritability in women during or before the menstrual cycle.
  • Sleeping problems: sleep deprivation, or not getting enough sleep, can make a person cranky the next day.
  • Chronic pain: pain caused by toothache, fractures, or flu can cause irritability and depression in the patient.
  • Brain disorders: Brain injuries, seizures, tumours, dementia, and parkinsonism can alter the mood of the patient.
  • Substance withdrawal: drug abuse and drug withdrawal can cause mood changes.
  • Thyroid problem: hyperthyroidism and hyperthyroidism can cause irritability and change in mood due to hormonal imbalance.

How to manage Effexor-induced irritation?

Following lifestyle modifications and treatment protocols can help the patient in managing Effexor-induced irritability:

  • Get enough sleep: Getting good sleep and maintaining a sleeping pattern can help reduce irritation and mood swings.
  • Identify the triggers: avoid people and situations that cause irritation and aggressiveness. 
  • Physical activity: Take a walk, exercise, or go swimming.
  • Be alone: Spend some time alone or in nature.
  • Soothing activities: Listen to relaxing music, take a warm bath, paint or read a book.
  • Hormonal therapy: if the underlying cause of irritation is hormonal balance, then hormonal therapy and lifestyle changes can counteract the level of irritation.
  • Medication: mood stabilizers and other antidepressants can be prescribed to reduce irritability.

Reduce irritability; schedule a follow-up

Effexor can cause irritability, insomnia, and mood swings. However, such symptoms go away with time. If you experience frequent episodes of irritability, then I would suggest you immediately consult your doctor or pharmacist.

Do not discontinue the medication without consulting your doctor first. Irritation is itself one of the side effects of Effexor withdrawal.

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Holl AK, Wilkinson L, Painold A, Holl EM, Bonelli RM. Combating depression in Huntington’s disease: effective antidepressive treatment with venlafaxine XR. International clinical psychopharmacology. 2010 Jan 1;25(1):46-50.


Shulman RB, Scheftner WA, Nayudu S. Venlafaxine-associated mania. Journal of clinical psychopharmacology. 2001 Apr 1;21(2):239-41.

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