Is Effexor sedating? (+2 case studies)

In this article, we will discuss if Effexor exerts a sedative effect when used in a treatment regimen for depression.

Is Effexor sedating?

Yes, Effexor can have a sedating effect. Effexor has been reported to cause sedation in some individuals, but the intensity is dose-dependent. The sedative effect might also increase if you are taking other medications or alcohol. 

Sedation is the reduction of the patient’s response to the surrounding and external stimuli. This can sometimes help patients with panic attacks feel relaxed and improve their sleeping patterns due to insomnia. Sedation can also reduce involuntary movements associated with depression. 

Effexor is used to sedate unwanted nervous ticks, such as shaking hands and anxiety. On the flip side, it can also activate and improve your desire to engage in daily chores and activities. Effexor exerts its effect by changing the balance of available serotonin and norepinephrine neurotransmitters in your brain.

How does Effexor cause sedation?

Effexor increases serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine levels in the brain by preventing these transport proteins from being absorbed at the presynaptic terminal. As a result, there are more transmitters available at the synapse, which in turn stimulates postsynaptic receptors more intensely. Effexor mostly affects noradrenergic and serotonergic neurons, and they barely affect cholinergic or histaminergic receptors (1).

Effexor may make you tired either directly making you drowsy or degrading the quality of your sleep. When taking medication, a patient usually notices the effect right away when they have an increased urge to sleep. Numerous issues arise from sedation and sleepiness such as exhaustion, difficulty in concentrating, making blunders, and mood swings with irritation.

What are the other psychological side effects of Effexor?

Numerous side effects are possible with Effexor. Some may go away after starting treatment in a few weeks, while others might not.

  • Effexor side effects that are frequently seen include drowsiness, headache, altered appetite, and sedation. 
  • Effexor may be linked to a persistent, mild rise in blood pressure in certain individuals. Frequent blood pressure monitoring may be necessary.
  • Effexor may make young adults more likely to experience suicidal thoughts or actions. It is not usually advised for anyone under the age of 18.
  • It may produce sleepiness, or impair judgement, making it difficult for someone to concentrate.
  • Effexor may induce serotonin syndrome when administered with other drugs. The symptoms might include agitation, hallucination, fast heartbeat, muscle tremor, flushing and dizziness.
  • Effexor may cause someone with undiagnosed bipolar disorder to experience a manic episode.
  • It may result in hyponatremia. Those who are already dehydrated, elderly, or on diuretics may be particularly vulnerable.
  • If stopped suddenly, it may result in withdrawal syndrome. Symptoms might include headache, flu-like symptoms, and electric shock feelings

What does the clinical data suggest?

In a study conducted on rats, the authors demonstrated a sedative effect in animals when Effexor was given a single and repetitive administration of the drug. The sedative effect was attributed to the Effexor deactivation of the noradrenaline transporters. The reason for the lack of alterations in the rat’s locomotor activity could be the drug’s poor affinity for the alpha-1 and H1 receptors, which could lead to sedation (2).

In another study, a single administration of Effexor caused sedation in animals. However, in clinical settings Effexor needs repetitive administration, making the data less reliable for evaluating the effect of sedation on the patient. The authors suggested that the sedative effect of Effexor could be attributed to its stimulating action on the noradrenaline and serotogenic receptors (3). 

How to manage sedation while taking Effexor?

It might be challenging to control the sedative effect of Effexor. Other options include taking Effexor at night so that their sedative effects are typically limited to the hours of sleep or trying a different antidepressant such as bupropion.

While combining Effexor with another drug can be successful (prescribing an antidote such as modafinil), these are not the only options. Sometimes sedation is desirable, while other times it is not. As long as the sedative effects do not last till the morning, it is ideal for treating insomnia.

Patients using Effexor should undergo regular monitoring of their lipid profile and renal function. It is imperative to exercise vigilance when monitoring individuals with psychiatric disorders that exhibit indications of suicidality, sadness, sedation and mania. Effexor should not be started within two weeks of quitting monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) therapy.


This article described the sedative effect of Exeffor. It also describes the ways you can cope with the sedation caused by Effexor and other related side effects you might experience.

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Singh D, Saadabadi A. Venlafaxine. [Updated 2022 Oct 10]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from:


Mitchell HA, Ahern TH, Liles LC, Javors MA, Weinshenker D. The effects of norepinephrine transporter inactivation on locomotor activity in mice. Biological psychiatry. 2006 Nov 15;60(10):1046-52.


Ratajczak P, Kus K, Skurzyńska M, Nowakowska E. The influence of aripiprazole and venlafaxine on the antidepressant-like effect observed in prenatally stressed rats (animal model of depression). Human & Experimental Toxicology. 2018 Sep;37(9):972-82.

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