Is Effexor XR a good antidepressant? (3+ studies)

In this article, we will answer the question “Is Effexor XR a good antidepressant?”. We will discuss the safety and efficacy of Effexor XR in light of research findings. We will also discuss some common side effects and what to do if Effexor XR does not help your condition.

Is Effexor XR a good antidepressant?

Effexor XR (also known as Venlafaxine) is a good antidepressant. It is well tolerated by most individuals. However, the safety and effectiveness of Effexor XR can vary from person to person. It may be very well tolerated by some people and not as safe in other individuals.

Effexor XR and all other antidepressants work differently in different people. What may work for one person, may not work for the other. The reason for this is that everyone has different physiology and genetics. Sometimes they may have comorbidities and be on medications that interact with Effexor XR.

These factors do affect the choice of medication in individuals needing antidepressants to manage their condition. So even if Effexor XR has been proven to be a good antidepressant and has a lot of research on it in this regard, it is still necessary that you work with your healthcare provider and let him determine if it is the right medication for you.

What does research suggest?

Different research studies have been published that evaluate the safety and efficacy of Effexor XR alone and in comparison with other antidepressants. 

A clinical study reported that Venlafaxine inhibits serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake from the neurons and only has minimal effect on dopamine inhibition. This is the main mechanism for its antidepressant effect. This is the reason it has better efficacy than selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) in the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD) (1).

One study reviewing two different clinical trials comparing Venlafaxine and Escitalopram for the treatment of MDD stated that both medications showed comparable efficacy in the treatment of the disorder but Venlafaxine was found to have a higher discontinuation rate due to adverse events (2).

A research study comparing Venlafaxine XR and Sertraline showed similar efficacy in patients with MDD giving the conclusion that Venlafaxine XR is not better than Sertraline and other SSRIs. The adverse effects and withdrawal symptoms of both medications in this study were comparable (3).

Another clinical study comparing Venlafaxine XR and Fluoxetine for the treatment of patients with depression and anxiety showed that Venlafaxine XR was more effective in treating patients with both comorbidities (4).

One meta-analysis, analysing the efficacy and safety of Venlafaxine with SSRIs and TCAs in the treatment of MDD suggests that Venlafaxine is more effective than SSRIs and has similar efficacy to TCAs. It also states that relapse is reduced with Venlafaxine use when given in the long term  (5).

What are the side effects associated with Effexor XR use?

Effexor XR may produce side effects in individuals taking this medication. Some common side effects tend to go away after your body adjusts to the medicine. But if you are experiencing these side effects and they have not subsided you should consult your doctor.

Common side effects

Even though Effexor XR (Venlafaxine) is well-tolerated, it can produce side effects some of which are more common. These are (6):

Rare side effects

Some rare side effects of Venlafaxine are (6):

  • Tinnitus
  • Seizures
  • Blood pressure changes
  • Abnormal bleeding
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Angle-closure glaucoma

What to do if Effexor XR is not helping your condition?

If Effexor XR does not improve your symptoms or does not seem to help with your condition it is important to discuss this matter with your healthcare provider. Your doctor may adjust the dosage of Effexor XR, and if that does not work, then different types of antidepressants are available and your doctor can assess which one may work better for you.

After assessing your symptoms, if Effexor XR is not suitable for you, your doctor will taper off the dosage and then prescribe you some other antidepressant which may be a better fit for your condition.

Sometimes some uncomfortable side effects may be the only reason you want to switch medicines. For this reason, your doctor may prescribe you some medication to counteract the side effect. If that does not work then he may change your regimen. 

Just make sure you discuss all your issues with your healthcare provider and do not make any changes to your prescription without the permission of your doctor.


In this article, we answered the question ” Is Effexor XR a good antidepressant?” and discussed the safety and efficacy of Effexor XR backed up by clinical evidence. We also stated some side effects of Effexor XR.

In my opinion, Effexor XR is a good antidepressant and generally well-tolerated by most people. But to ensure the safe and effective use of this medication you will need to take this on your doctor’s approval and as per the prescription.

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Dowlatshahi K, Marosek SH. An analysis of major depressive disorder and the effectivity of effexor XR®(Venlafaxine Hydrochloride) in its treatment.


Montgomery SA, Andersen HF. Escitalopram versus venlafaxine XR in the treatment of depression. International Clinical Psychopharmacology. 2006 Sep 1;21(5):297-309.


Shelton RC, Haman KL, Rapaport MH, Kiev A, Smith WT, Hirschfeld RM, Lydiard RB, Zajecka JM, Dunner DL. A randomized, double-blind, active-control study of sertraline versus venlafaxine XR in major depressive disorder. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. 2006 Nov 1;67(11):1674-81.


Silverstone PH, Ravindran A. Once-daily venlafaxine extended release (XR) compared with fluoxetine in outpatients with depression and anxiety. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. 1999 Jan 1;60(1):22-8.


Bauer M, Tharmanathan P, Volz HP, Moeller HJ, Freemantle N. The effect of venlafaxine compared with other antidepressants and placebo in the treatment of major depression: a meta-analysis. European archives of psychiatry and clinical neuroscience. 2009 Apr;259:172-85.


The Food and Drug Administration (FDA). HIGHLIGHTS OF PRESCRIBING INFORMATION. EFFEXOR XR (venlafaxine extended release) capsules. Available from:

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