Does venlafaxine cause body odour? (+2 evidences)

This article will help you understand how venlafaxine can alter your body odour. Venlafaxine is a selective serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) that improves your mood and energy level and may help you restore your interest in daily chores.

Does venlafaxine cause body odour?

Yes, venlafaxine can cause a change in body odour as a side effect. The body odour in the patient taking venlafaxine can be attributed to increased sweating and hot flashes. These two factors are reported side effects of the drug.

What is the link between venlafaxine and body odour?

The hypothalamus is a region of the brain that functions as a thermostat to regulate body temperature. When the hypothalamus detects a rise in body temperature, it sends a signal to sweat glands, causing them to produce perspiration. This is significant because serotonin can also impact the hypothalamus, thereby increasing sweat production and causing body odour. 

Venlafaxine can reduce perspiration at low doses due to its serotonergic effect, but it can increase sweating at larger doses due to an increased nonadrenergic active component. It means that you are less likely to experience bad odour at lower doses of venlafaxine (1).

Sweat does not have a distinct odour on its own. Your sweat glands secrete protein, which when broken down by the microbes on your skin produces an odour. They produce waste products as a result of this, and it is these waste materials that cause the disagreeable odour. The smell is frequently heavier in your armpits, groin area, and feet because they are normally buried away from light, warmer, and damp.

The body odour produced by the body when worried or nervous is smellier than the body odour produced when working out or exercising. This is because stress causes a different type of sweat than heat or exercise (2, 3).

What does the research suggest?

In a case report, a male patient reported profound sweating and body odour during the therapy of venlafaxine. Reducing the dose did not alter the condition even after three months. The condition was improved when the patient was switched to bupropion (4). 

In another trial, 233 patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) were switched from escitalopram to venlafaxine. In the next 4 weeks, patients experienced increased body odour due to sweating (+9.8%), reduced salivation (+11%), and dizziness (+11%) (5).

What are other possible causes of body odour?

Each person has a distinct body odour that changes with age, menstruation, heat, physical activity, diet, and emotions. 

  • Some medicines affect body odour by emitting their odour or by influencing sweat, breath odour, microflora of the skin and mucus membrane, or saliva.
  • Some body odours are caused by compounds that escape the body and are found in secretions, exhaled air, or expelled gas.
  • Other odours are caused by chemicals produced by microorganisms on the skin and mucus membranes.
  • The use of tobacco and alcohol can also alter the body odour.
  • Many pregnant women perceive an increase in their sense of smell, but a woman’s body odour may also change throughout pregnancy due to hormonal changes.
  • Ingestion of some foods like onion, garlic, red meat, spicy food and food rich in sulphur can also cause body odour.

Apart from the medicines, there could be an underlying health issue causing excessive sweating. Some of these conditions might be:

  • Obesity or excessive body fat,
  • Hormonal changes that happen during menopause,
  • Infection,
  • Overactive thyroid,
  • Fever.

How to manage body odour while taking venlafaxine?

To reduce body odour, avoid eating strong-smelling or spicy food and restrict your consumption of coffee and alcohol.

It is also critical to adhere to the following hygienic practices:

  • Wash your armpits, groin, and feet with soap at least twice a day and thoroughly dry them.
  • Use antiperspirants and deodorants.
  • Change and wash your clothes regularly.

When to consult a healthcare professional?

Consult your healthcare professional if excessive body odour begins to impact your quality of life. They may advise you to modify your dose or try a different antidepressant drug. Trazodone, for example, is an antidepressant that may be less prone to cause perspiration and body odour.

Contact your healthcare professional right away if your body odour and sweating are accompanied by additional symptoms such as shaky hands, or a rapid heartbeat. However, if any of your symptoms are severe or life-threatening, go to the nearest emergency room.


Body odour that is out of the ordinary can cause social, psychological, and personal distress. If the odour becomes too much for the patient and those around them, and venlafaxine is to blame, then I recommend you to consider these options:

  • Continued or increased hygiene,
  • accept the odour, or
  • modify it with cosmetics,
  • talk to your doctor to switch the medication.

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Demling J, Beyer S, Kornhuber J. To sweat or not to sweat? A hypothesis on the effects of venlafaxine and SSRIs. Medical hypotheses. 2010 Jan 1;74(1):155-7.


Katsuyama M, Narita T, Nakashima M, Kusaba K, Ochiai M, Kunizawa N, Kawaraya A, Kuwahara Y, Horiuchi M, Nakamoto K. How emotional changes affect skin odor and its impact on others. Plos one. 2022 Jun 30;17(6):e0270457.


Rubin D, Botanov Y, Hajcak G, Mujica-Parodi LR. Second-hand stress: inhalation of stress sweat enhances neural response to neutral faces. Social cognitive and affective neuroscience. 2012 Feb 1;7(2):208-12.


Kavirajan H. Bupropion switch for a depressed patient with venlafaxine-associated night sweats. Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology. 2018 Oct 1;38(5):536-7.


Engelmann J, Wagner S, Solheid A, Herzog DP, Dreimüller N, Müller MB, Tadic A, Hiemke C, Lieb K. Tolerability of high-dose venlafaxine after switch from escitalopram in nonresponding patients with major depressive disorder. Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology. 2021 Jan 1;41(1):62-6.

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