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Venlafaxine for Anxiety

I've had severe anxiety for a while, it's to the point where it's hard to go anywhere, I always seem to end up panicking; even when at home sometimes. I can't remember the last time I've gone a whole day without having a panic attack. My doctor recently put me on 75mg Venlafaxine and I now wake up in the middle of the night (I tak my meds in the morning) in a panic. I'd like to know if this is normal? And if Venlafaxine really helps with anxiety? I've been on other antidepressant that claim to help with anxiety as well and they just made me feel numb.
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Avatar universal
Effexor is not generally used when anxiety is the primary problem.  That's why you should see a psychiatrist, not a regular doc.  Effexor targets not only serotonin but also norepinephrine, which is basically adrenaline.  This is meant for people whose primary problem is depression.  Now, that doesn't mean it never works for anxiety, but ssris or tricyclics would normally be tried first for this problem, not snris.  I can only give my opinion, but I would see a psychiatrist quickly as this medication can be difficult to stop taking once you've been on it awhile, so if you think it's the wrong med for you tapering off sooner rather than later with a psychiatrist who's well versed in how to do it is the best course.  Good luck.
Avatar universal
Saturday, August 17, 2013

I started taking Name Brand Effexor XR 150mg 10 years ago with very much success and not one side effect. Fast forward to after I got pregnant, my doctor weaned me down to 75mg, then 37.5, then zero within two weeks. Luckily TennCare kicked in and started me on 37.5mg for fear of miscarriage and I stayed on that dose because I believe the benefits outweighed the risks. I felt wonderful and had a great pregnancy with no depression, just a slight increase in my anxiety. My symptoms started on July 22, 2012 the day my son was born. It wasn't necessarily the delivery (C-Section) that scared me, but afterwards. I remember that first night in the hospital instead of enjoying my newborn baby, I was more worried that my heart was beating too fast, my blood might be too high, and my swelling was going to cause a blood clot and kill me. I didn't sleep for 48 hours. I spent those 48 hours so anxious that the swelling would never go away and I just wanted up to walk around to make it leave faster. Keep in mind I gained 60 pounds and my pre-pregnancy weight was 110lbs. I bet I asked every nurse that came in my room the entire length of my hospital stay if I was going to die? How embarrassing! I did finally sleep a little the last two nights but I slept with the bed propped all the way up for fear a blot clot would get to my heart. When we left the hospital I was extremely tired, drugged out of control, and in a lot of pain. Trying to breast feed at this point made my anxiety hit the roof. By day two of being home, my mother in law came over to stay for a couple of hours so I could sleep, I made her called 911 because I was so sure that the swelling was not normal, causing me to have a panic attack. The ambulance arrived, as did the firemen and of course I had calmed down. They checked my vitals, said everything looked normal because I just had a baby and still had a lot of fluid. The left, I felt humiliated, embarrassed, stupid, and still anxious. A few weeks later, I must didn't feel right. I had these terrible headaches in my neck and my head felt like it was on fire. After three days of this I had Mikey take me to Vanderbilt ER. My blood pressure was through the roof, and they moved me to the Cardiac Unit because it was so high that I could have a stroke. I stayed there for three nights and four days, cried my eyes out, because I was mostly alone, didn't know what was wrong. They swapped my medications, from Venlafaxine HCL to Citalopram HBR thinking the side effect was causing my blood pressure to go up, then sent me home. I not only had withdrawals but the new medicine caused my Fibromyalgia to flair up significantly. Within one month I went to my heart doctor begging for  Nortriptyline (something I used previously for Fibromyalgia) they prescribed it and it helped 50% but still my anxiety was bad, and other symptoms were present. My psychologist allowed me to go back on Effexor (Venlafaxine HCL) and I was excited. Then slowly I started getting severe anxiety and tension headaches.

These last few months I have done countless things thinking this or that would fix it and do the trick. I've increased medicines, decreased medicines, yoyoed medicines, swapped medicines, seen several doctors, and made multiple trips to the hospital. By now I believe all my family thinks I'm crazy, and here in the last week I even considered checking myself into a Mental Health Facility to get some help, because suicide was not far from my mind. I keep thinking "if this is how I'm going to feel the rest of my life, I might as well not even be living". I've been the most bitchy, dramatic, impatient, irritable, tired, anxious, person to my fiancé who just doesn't understand how I feel and doesn't know how to help me.
The only way I know how to describe how Ive been feeling is like I'm constantly having an outer body experience. The tension headaches are constant and never stop, like someone has a tight band around me head pulling it tighter. I get both tingling and pressure in my temples, brain shakes, brain zaps, my head feels cloudy, foggy, and my ears feel stopped up to the point that I try to pop them as if I were in an airplane.  My neck gets stiff, my body aches, I have a complete body tremor from head to toe (that's been ongoing for months), I can't sleep even though I'm prescribed Trazodone 50mg (I only take half of 25mg) yet here lately having to take the whole 25mg and still nothing feels like its working. I wake up with a fast beating heart during naps with my son, and sometimes at night. I'm constipated, bruise easily, feel tingly in my hands and feet, get lightheaded and dizzy several times each day. Also in the past year I have had the worst time concentrating, focusing, remembering, and getting my words out. My latest worries are could I have Dementia, a brain tumor, brain clot, nerve damage, etc... To the point of driving me nuts!

And then I googled "differences in generic and name brand Effexor" and VOILA.... The posts and forums I've read are just what I needed to see and hear. Actual people who are experiencing the exact same symptoms with the exact same medicine, and all of us are on the GENERIC!

I emailed my doctor to swap me over to the Brand Name Effexor no matter what it costs and I'm hoping he is okay doing so. I will let everyone know how this all turns out!

The sad fact now is that after all these turn of events, my fiancé is content with just one baby. I know its because of all that I've put him through and I really want another one in a few years. I only 30 years old and I can't help but think how different things would have been if I had been on the Right medicine this whole time!

480448 tn?1426952138
I very much agree with Paxiled.  Like he said, while Effexor CAN be effective for treating anxiety, it's not typically the best first choice.  There are other meds to try that would be more appropriate.  Typically, an SSRU (ie Zoloft, Celexa, Lexapro, Prozac, etc) are tried first.  It's very likely that your nighttime panic attacks are related to the Effexor.

Please ask for a referral to a psychiatrist and discuss these concerns with him before you are on the Effexor too long.  That's the other consideration, SOME ADs are MUCH harder to come off than others, and Effexor is historically one of those.

Please also be cautious when listening to other people's experiences.  While it's great to read about how other people did on a med, it's important not to weigh ANY experience (good or bad) too heavily, as everyone is different.  

For example, the poster above had a pretty negative experience, but there were a lot of factors surrounding that experience that must be taken into consideration that probably wouldn't apply to you as well.  Not everyone would have that kind of experience.  If you're reading about others' experiences, just take them with a grain of salt, realizing that you need to allow yourself to have your own unique experience, as it will likely be very different than someone else's.

So, definitely talk to your doc (psych) and determine if maybe you should try one of the SSRIs first.  Let us know how you're doing!

Whitlowe...I'm so sorry for your experience, it's unfortunate what you went through.  Your reply seems more of you just sharing your story versus a direct reply to the OP, perhaps you would like to start your own thread?  Or you could even start a journal?  I personally think the journal feature is great.  If you have it set to "public", people site-wide will read it and comment.  You can benefit from the support and others can benefit from reading about your experience.  Glad you're back on track!  Good luck!
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