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Friday, April 25, 2008 Greg, Community Member, asks

Q: Effexor XR and liver function tests

Has anyone had any experience with elevated liver enzyme tests while taking Effexor XR? I was denied some life insurance based on a blood test that showed slightly elevated liver enzymes. I want to reapply for the insurance, but I have to be able to explain the elevated tests. I have no symptoms and no other risk factors for liver disease, or for anything else (except depression, which was not the reason for the denial). I discussed with my doctor. He did an exam and ordered hepatitis tests which all came back negative. I'm super healthy. The doctor did say that elevated liver enzymes are not listed as a major side effect of Effexor. Anyone seen this before?

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Answers (17)
Teri Robert, Health Guide
4/26/08 4:38am

Greg,

 

Although the listed side effects for Effexor don't include any issues with the liver, there is a mention of liver function in the postmarketing reports printed in the prescribing information for Effexor XR. Here's an excerpt:

 

"Postmarketing Reports
Adverse Events
Voluntary reports of other adverse events temporally associated with the use of venlafaxine that have been received since market introduction and that may have no causal relationship with the use of venlafaxine include the following:... abnormalities of unspecified liver function tests..."

 

Other than that, I've not seen or heard anything about Effexor and liver function.

 

Hope this helps,

Teri

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Allan's Wife, Community Member
7/12/08 10:13pm

Greg,

I have been on Effexor Xr now for about six months, in that time my liver alkaline phosphasates have elevated from about 150 up to 246.  I am a survivor of Hodgkins Lymphoma and my oncologist is freaking and has been doing all sorts of test that has to  do with  the liver and what causes elevation.  I have had the normal  ct scans, cancer is still in remission, also elevated liver comes from bones, so I  had a bone  nuclear med test, just showed arthritis.  This week I had a PET scan which would pick up everything else that could cause this elevation.  I  did  some research  on the net and found that 94% of effexor is abosorped in the liver and it metabolizes there causing the  elevated numbers.  My question is that if I  stay on the effexor and the numbers keep climbing, is this actually doing more damage to my liver?????  I will find out  more this week.  Good luck  with  the insurance issue, but that is what I am dealing with  and I honestly  believe that it is caused by the medication.

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Howdy, Community Member
7/14/09 11:00am

 Dude 4 years on the crap. started to get a little goofy. Thought I was having a stroke.

Wife takes me to emergency room. There I was left to rot. It seams that this stuff

wrecks your liver. Your liver should heal I would get of that crap. But DO NOT go through withdraw way to dangerous. 5 stupid doctors I figured this out on my own.

Do NOT go off to fast. But It did elevate my Liver enzymes as well. I beleive my liver is healing.

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Jack, Community Member
8/ 5/08 2:58pm

Patient information leaflet (20.10.04) includes the following:

 

"EfexorXL sometimes causes......slight changes in blood levels of liver enzymes"

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jckkmiller, Community Member
8/ 8/08 1:37pm

I have been on Effexor ER 37.5 mg for several years (sometimes taking it just every other day) and due to an unrelated kidney stone incident, it was discovered that my enzymes were high.  I was advised by my doctor to stop all Advil, Motrin, etc., which I was taking fairly regularly, and get re-tested in 30 days.  I did that and they are still elevated so now I have to have an ultrasound of my liver.  I feel healthier than I have in years due to the fact that I can exercise regularly (I had a bad bout of plantar fasciatis) that has reasolved so I'm hoping that it's the Effexor ER.  I am going off of it for good this time as I don't like taking it with the unknowns about the liver, etc.  I experience withdrawl symptoms that are quite bothersome (sensitivity to light, brain "zaps", etc.) but I'm determined to get off it for good this time.  Good luck with your results.

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Trish, Community Member
4/24/09 1:54am

my liver enzyme level came back first at 220 then at 325. I had an ultra sound and now have the beginnings of non alcoholic cirrosous of the liver. All this has been cause by taking effexor for eleven and half years.

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Sold Out, Community Member
6/30/09 6:16pm

 

yes took the poison for 4 years. Started to fall asleep at dinner and was getting real

disoriented. Did not know what I was doing. Its a powerful drug and we were not warned. Its the bottom line no more no less. Liver may or may not heal who knows

any sold out biochemists or were they all bought off. Who knows.

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Christy, Community Member
2/15/11 10:38pm

I aslo take Effexor Xr. I recently had a liver panel done. My enzymes and iron level was off the chart. I was diagnosed with Hemochromatosis. It is an inheirted disease, which also causes depression. Google it. You will be surprised.  Hopes this helps.

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Sold Out, Community Member
6/30/09 6:01pm

 Yes I have elevated Liver enzymes. After 3 useless doctors. I found out what happened. I went to Emergency room and rotted for 12 Hours. Thought I was dead.

Smart ass doctor said too much coffee real smart ass. never once said how about that Effexor. Shock symptoms and convulsions thought I was dead. Started crying did not know what was happening. So then Genius Doctor sends me to other usless doctor gives me Depakote legs swelled like trees. Skin hurt. These quaks can't even read about SSRI withdraw my dog could read this stuff. Yes my liver hurts but its better. This crap was going into our liver and messing it up. Forgot to tell us. How convenient.

Better to be depressed then wreck your liver. You will have brain zaps and really scarry shit but it will go away. Stay away from useless Doctors that know nothing about SSRI

withdraw better to go to anyone but them. There is something going on. At least this is what happened to me. Yes my Enzymes are elevated and somebody asked if I was a heavy drinker. NO did not drink on this stuff.SSRI withdraw will make you scarred its ok

I guess I was lucky I did not die not one useless doctor told me the truth

out of 3.  Docktors and not one mentioned it or my Liver. You do the math.

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Dorothy, Community Member
1/13/10 1:20pm

On Effexor for 3 years enlarged liver. of course it gotta be Im fat. 50 over weight. Been 100 over my whole life. Lost 50 years ago. Do not believe them. Bunch of liars. Pain in side so bad cannot even sleep at night. And I exercise and walk. so Do not believe that fat thing. If that was so 70 percent of America would have liver damage.

Enzymes up way high. These Docs just want to lie and push there drugs. Could care less about you. And believe me, there will look you in the eye and lie till there pants are in flames!

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roxyrose, Community Member
1/26/10 2:24am

Just started Effexor XR last month..psychiatrist mentioned I should have periodic liver enzyme tests to make sure it's ok.

I'm scared now after reading these posts!

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Just me, Community Member
2/ 4/10 2:19am

I thank god, for effexor. I've tried many medications, they did nothing for me. I have been on effexor for at least 12yrs now. My liver is still ok, I think, I haven't had any problems yet. I only get a blood check, once a year, at my yearly physical. I am gonna ask my doctor about it, I see her soon. These posts are scaring me too.

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Lucyangel, Community Member
4/20/10 7:42pm

Yes, I have also recently been found to have elevated liver readings. An ultrasound was done last week to see if it was weight related as I'm a big girl, but it all came back clear. No lesions, no fat & no nasty stuff. My doctor has only now admitted that it is most likely related to all the medication I take and primarily the result of being on Effexor. I have researched on the web but although there is a ton of various doctor reports I have yet to find one that clearly states "Effexor can cause Liver impairment". I am concerned for the long term prognosis and wonder if I change anti-depressants will I still have the same problems?

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ahmed surani, Community Member
5/21/10 9:11pm

Hi I have been taking effexor 75 for about a three years.  Today I took a blood test and they say that they saw elevated liver enzymes and the Dr. has asked me to do additional blood tests.

 

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ahmed surani, Community Member
5/21/10 9:11pm

Hi I have been taking effexor 75 for about a three years.  Today I took a blood test and they say that they saw elevated liver enzymes and the Dr. has asked me to do additional blood tests.

 

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OuchMyLiver, Community Member
6/10/10 12:51am

Been on effexor for about two years.   A few months after I started taking it, I started getting major swelling in my face, accompanied by a burning itching sensation over almost my entire body.  My energy levels were way down.  I felt like I was dying at a far more rapid pace than was natural.  I found everything else to blame it on.  First it was the insulation we put in.  After that settled, I blamed it on a food illness.  I do have allergies so I went in for prick tests and blood tests.   They find, of course, elevated levels of liver enzymes in the blood.  I'm told I most likely had a false reaction to something and that it would go away in 6 months to a year.  They put me on a few different antihistmaines and the pain resides a bit.  So, I agree and move on.  But, then it came back.  I had more and more frequent break outs.  I went to another allergy specialist who put me on stronger meds and ran more tests.  Sure enough though, those liver enzymes are still a little high.  Doc says come back in 6 months and we'll check it again. 

 

If it wasn't for these postings, I'd still be clueless.  I'm calling my doctor tomorrow and making an appointment to be switched off of this drug as soon as reasonably possible.  Thanks everyone.

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scared in Fla., Community Member
8/ 3/10 10:10pm

I've been on Effexor for 5 yrs. Today my doctor told me my liver enzymes are 2-3 times what they should be. I can not even imagine going off of Effexor. First, because I need it and secondly because of the withdrawals. I've been there and it was horrible. 

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tracy, Community Member
7/29/11 12:16am

Yes i think so, actually went 2 wks ago to the ER with a 782 enzyme level i dont drink was checked for hep with a neg result . Dont have  any symptoms of liver failure but did start sezeuires i take a large dose 300mg daily efferor xr, 2400mg neurontin, 150mg thorizine,400 seroquel,1500mg depakote,and 20mg buspar . Mine may be a combo of these pysic meds but be careful and keep a eye on it! 

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Leia, Community Member
8/25/11 8:55pm

Hi,

 

I have been on Effexor for nearly 6 years and my Doctors ‘never' tried to help me get off them - even when I begged. They just give a stock standard response. I should never have been put on them - but it was a quick fix for the Doctor rather than giving me the psychological counselling I needed.

 

I feel more depressed on Effexor than off it. I feel like I walk through a fog all day, I have problems sleeping, I am always tired, no sex drive, light headiness, bloating, sore eyes, tinnitus, migraines etc. My vertigo and tinnitus were so bad I was tested for Meniere's disease. I also lacked emotion for any occasion (happiness or sadness - I became numb).

 

My Liver enzymes were really high and I was told this was probably because I was overweight (as I do not drink alcohol). Mind you, I have gained 55 kilos' (120 pounds) since being on Effexor and I don't really eat that much. It could be that ever since being put on Effexor my energy levels depleted rapidly and I never went a day without napping. I had no more energy to exercise everyday like I use to.

 

Because of the horrible symptoms and lack of support from my doctor; I tried to come off them by myself and experienced the worse withdrawals. I fainted as I could not even hold my head up. I found it hard to communicate or think. It was like the most horrible attack of vertigo I have ever experienced. I felt terrible, and to top it off I felt nauseated. It was so bad I collapsed in the bathroom one day and woke up with 4 broken toes and a now damaged lumbar sector. So I quickly went back on full dose.

 

Years later I walked into the room of a new Doctor and I feel blessed. He is the first Doctor to even suggest a new Mental Health Care Plan designed to help people come off anti-depressants. Now with my Doctor and Psychologist I am being slowly weaned off Effexor. I went home and cried because this was the first time a Doctor seemed to ‘listen' to me and help me do what I wanted.

 

It is hard each time I go down a dose or routine (i.e. alternating days) but it is so worth it. Just from being on lesser dose I feel so much clearer, happier and have more of a sexual appetite. I can't wait until I am off them completely (goal of by Christmas this year). I can't wait to see what a normal sex drive feels like, and to be my happy self again. My partner won't recognise the new me. I already have more energy and am not too tired to go to the gym or spend time outdoors. The withdrawals are not as bad when decreasing doses slowly and gradually - the first few days are tough but it gets easier.

 

Being placed on those med's was the worst thing. I wish I never were on them. I have encouraged all my family and friends to say no to anti-depressants and to work with psychologists or counsellors to get through the hard times. So much of my reading has shown that regular exercise and eating clean actually boosts your natural serotonin levels.

 

The Doctors and scientists can say whatever they like in their articles and papers - but unless you are a person who has actually been on and tried to come off Effexor - you will never know how damaging it really is. Most of our symptoms cannot be seen or show up in blood tests - so the medical world just doesn't see it as a ‘real' side effect (because there is no supporting scientific data).

 

Any chemicals will damage our physical and mental body over time - try not to stay on medication for long and value your natural bodies instead. Trust that you CAN survive without Effexor - because YOU CAN...

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Lisa, Community Member
2/21/12 2:33pm

Effexor XR is for weight loss it does not make you gain weight. Effexor is made to be taken in the morning because if you take it later it will keep you awake. I love it and it has balanced my hormones out. I still get in the sexual mood and I am more active now then I have ever been. I'm sorry but I don't agree with the side effects you are having is from Effexor XR.

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R7007`, Community Member
2/24/12 11:12am

What too many people forget is that everyone has a slightly different biochemical makeup.  That is why what works for some may not work for others.  What may help one loose weight and have more energy, may cause another to feel apathy toward physical activities, including sex, or feel the need to munch, leading to increased weight.  That is why it is always a good idea to read about the different effects of a drug on different people, but not to tell someone that they have to be wrong because that is not they way the drug worked for you. 

 

Effexor can help many with respect to depression and anxiety, but for some, it is well documented, even in the medical literature, that it does reduce the sex drive and the general enertgy level.  What I read one layperson once say was that in many people, it increased apathy.  Apathy toward suicide and negative depressing thoughts, but also apathy toward pretty much everything else as well.  They just "floated through life".  That is also why you will often see posts of people coming off of Effexor stating that they feel joy, happiness and excitement again.  Of course, this also means they can suffer from bouts of depression again.  It is not simple for everyone.

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Karen, Community Member
8/31/11 1:17pm

Hello. I realize that your question was asked over 3 years ago, but since people are sharing their stories, I thought this might help. I have been on Effexor XR for 7 years. My liver enzymes (ALT and AST) have been elevated for about 7 months, and I started having a lot of pain in my liver region. I had an endoscopy, ultrasound and scintigraphy done, but the doctors found nothing. They diagnosed me with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, which can be caused by many things, including medications. However, NFLD rarely causes liver pain, so my doctors are stuck.

 

I recently had an increase in my dosage to 300mg, and my liver was extremely unhappy. I am starting to switch to a new medication tomorrow morning.

 

I found this website, which has information on the possible effects on the liver:

 

http://www.drugs.com/sfx/effexor-side-effects.html

 

 

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zackpschneider, Community Member
7/ 6/12 9:21pm

I just had a very similar experance. I applied for life insurance after my son was born and I just found that my AST, ALT, & GGT are 3x the norm, and I was denied coverage. My doctor also had me take a hepatitis test and I came back clean. The only thing that we could pin it on was the Effexor XR which I have been taking for the past 6 years. This extended use of the drug has casued cirrhosis (scarring of the liver). If I hadn't have had the test for life insurance I wouldn't have known till my liver actually failed. 

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By Greg, Community Member— Last Modified: 04/09/14, First Published: 04/25/08