Differences Between Effexor & Effexor XR

Smiling young pharmacist showing prescription medication to a customer
Pharmacist filling a prescription (Image: XiXinXing/XiXinXing/Getty Images)

Effexor and Effexor XR are similar antidepressant compounds. However, Effexor XR is also prescribed for anxiety disorders, as well as depression. Effexor XR dissolves over a prolonged period, while Effexor is an immediate-release medication. The drug manufacturer, Wyeth Pharmaceutical notes that both Effexor products provide the same dosage, but have a different chemical release timetables. Depending on the prescribed dosage, a patient may need to take additional pills of Effexor to compensate for this effect.

Effexor

Effexor, the brand name of the generic drug venlafaxine hydrochloride, is an antidepressant, and part of a class of drugs called serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, or SNRIs. It is prescribed to treat symptoms of depression. The Merck Manual advises that Effexor and Effexor XR present medication safety issues because they are look-a-like and sound-a-like medications. However, Effexor immediate release peaks potency in the body within two to three hours, if taken at regular intervals. The body elimination rate is the same for both Effexor products. Effexor, taken with food, is generally prescribed in two to three dosages per day to regulate the medication in the bloodstream.

Effexor XR

Effexor XR, the brand name of venlafaxine hydrochloride XR, is also an antidepressant and part of the class of drugs called SNRIs. However, in addition to treating depression, Effexor XR is also prescribed for panic disorders, anxiety disorders and social phobias, according to the eMedTV website. The Merck Manual notes that Effexor XR peaks potency in the body within 5 1/2 to 9 hours with regular dosages and maintains its efficacy. It is prescribed once daily with food, allowing the body more time to adjust to the medication.

Additional Information Regarding Effexor Products

According to the Food and Drug Administration, Effexor XR and Effexor are absorbed in the bloodstream with approximately 87 percent of the venlafaxine hydrochloride dose found in the urine within 48 hours as the unchanged medication. Both Effexor products pass through the system with only 13 percent of this medication remaining in the body despite the timetable release. The Merck Manual recommends that prescriptions be written for the smallest quantities to ensure this absorption rate. They also note that the patient's family or responsible persons monitor patients for signs or symptoms of suicidal behavior, as well as lethargy, listlessness, anxiety, agitation, apathy, insomnia, irritability, impulsive behavior and mania. In addition, patients should contact their doctors if any symptoms of depression, panic or anxiety worsen.

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