Remeron vs Effexor

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For patients experiencing major depressive disorder (MDD) or other forms of depression, certain medications can help manage symptoms by altering the concentrations of brain chemicals associated with mood, known as neurotransmitters. Remeron and Effexor are two such drugs frequently prescribed for depression. Each drug impacts different neurotransmitters in the brain but both have shown to stabilize moods in patients with depression. Remeron is classified as a tetracyclic antidepressant (TeCA), primarily influencing noradrenaline and serotonin levels while also blocking specific histamine receptors that cause its sedating effect. Effexor, on contrast, is categorized as a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI), mainly affecting levels of serotonin and norepinephrine.

What is Remeron?

Mirtazapine (the generic name for Remeron) is a unique antidepressant that falls under the class of drugs known as noradrenergic and specific serotonergic antidepressants (NaSSAs). Mirtazapine was first approved by the FDA in 1996. It works by increasing levels of norepinephrine and serotonin, but unlike Prozac or other SSRIs, it achieves this through a dual mechanism: blocking receptors that normally inhibit these neurotransmitters' release while also directly stimulating their production. This allows more "free" neurotransmitters to be available in the brain.

On the other hand, Venlafaxine (the generic name for Effexor) belongs to another class called "serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors" or SNRIs. Effexor was first approved in 1993, slightly earlier than Remeron. Much like an SSRI, it increases levels of free serotonin but also adds norepinephrine into its mix by preventing both from being reabsorbed back into nerve cells.

Both medications are prescribed for depression among other mental health conditions; however, they influence different neurotransmitter systems which can lead to varying side effects depending on individual tolerance.

What conditions is Remeron approved to treat?

Remeron is approved for the treatment of different types of depression:

  • Major depressive disorder (MDD)
  • Treatment-resistant depression, especially in cases where insomnia or loss of appetite are prominent symptoms
  • It may also be used off-label to help with anxiety disorders and manage some symptoms in patients undergoing drug withdrawal.

On the other hand, Effexor is used for:

  • Major depressive disorder (MDD)
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
  • Social Anxiety Disorder
  • Panic Disorder.

How does Remeron help with these illnesses?

Remeron, known generically as mirtazapine, manages depression by enhancing the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and serotonin in the brain. It does this by blocking specific adrenergic and serotonin receptors that are involved in reuptake, which allows these chemicals to stay available for longer periods of time. Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter responsible for attention and response actions while serotonin plays an essential role in mood balance, appetite control, sleep patterns among others. People with depression usually have relatively lower levels of these neurotransmitters. Therefore, by increasing both norepinephrine and serotonin availability at their respective neural synapses, Remeron can mitigate the negative effects of depression helping patients manage their condition better.

What is Effexor?

Effexor, the brand name for venlafaxine, is a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) that increases levels of both serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain by inhibiting their reabsorption. It also mildly inhibits dopamine reuptake. Effexor was first approved by the FDA in 1993 as an antidepressant medication. Contrary to Remeron, which is a noradrenergic and specific serotonergic antidepressant (NaSSA), Effexor does not primarily target histamine or alpha-1 adrenergic receptors, meaning it typically does not cause sedation or weight gain - common side effects associated with Remeron use. The dual action on serotonin and norepinephrine can make Effexor particularly effective for treating depression, especially among patients who have not responded well to SSRIs alone.

What conditions is Effexor approved to treat?

Effexor is a medication that has been given approval by the FDA for use in treating:

  • Major depressive disorder (MDD)
  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • Social anxiety disorder (SAD)
  • Panic Disorder.

It's important to note that Effexor, known generically as venlafaxine, functions as a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor and can help manage these conditions by restoring the balance of certain natural substances in the brain.

How does Effexor help with these illnesses?

Effexor, also known as venlafaxine, is a drug that plays an important role in managing depression and anxiety. It operates by increasing the levels of two neurotransmitters, norepinephrine and serotonin, in the brain. Both these chemicals are involved in regulating mood and responsiveness to stress. By boosting their availability within the nervous system, Effexor can alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety disorders.

Just like Remeron (mirtazapine), Effexor belongs to a class of antidepressants but it acts slightly differently: while Remeron mainly increases serotonin levels, Effexor affects both norepinephrine and serotonin transmission. Moreover, at higher doses Effexor has been shown to influence dopamine signaling as well which could potentially add another layer of therapeutic effect for certain patients.

Therefore sometimes when patients do not respond adequately or have intolerable side effects with “typical” SSRI antidepressants or even other types like Remeron; they may be switched over to or augmented with medications such as Effexor.

How effective are both Remeron and Effexor?

Both mirtazapine (Remeron) and venlafaxine (Effexor) are effective medications in treating patients with depression, although they act on different neurotransmitters. Mirtazapine was approved by the FDA in 1996 and venlafaxine in 1993, placing them close together chronologically. Direct comparisons of mirtazapine and venlafaxine have shown that both drugs are similarly effective at reducing symptoms of depression, as well as having comparable safety profiles.

A study published in 2005 indicated that Remeron is effective from the first week of treatment for alleviating symptoms of depression. Additionally, its side effect profile is often considered favorable compared to many other antidepressants due to its relatively low incidence of sexual side effects or weight gain. It has become a widely prescribed antidepressant drug worldwide due to these factors.

Venlafaxine (Effexor), according to a meta-analysis performed in 2018, seems more effective than placebo at treating depressive disorder and appears similar in efficacy when compared with other commonly used antidepressants. While it's typically not a first-line treatment option like SSRIs, significant research supports its use alone or alongside an SSRI for those who might not respond well to first-line treatments. However, data confirming Effexor’s efficacy as a standalone therapy is less robust than for Remeron; further evidence supporting Effexor significantly enhancing the effect of other antidepressants also remains somewhat lacking.

abstract image of a researcher studying a bottle of drug.

At what dose is Remeron typically prescribed?

Oral dosages of Remeron (mirtazapine) typically start at 15 mg/day, often administered at bedtime due to its sedative effects. This dosage has been found adequate for treating depression in many individuals. If necessary, the dose can be increased after a few weeks based on the patient's response and tolerability, usually with increments of 15 mg. The maximum daily dosage should not exceed 45 mg/day. On the other hand, Effexor (venlafaxine) is generally started at a lower dose of 37.5-75 mg/day and may be titrated up every four days or so depending upon your response and side effects experienced; however, it should never exceed a maximum of 375 mg per day under any circumstances.

At what dose is Effexor typically prescribed?

Effexor treatment usually begins at a dosage of 75 mg/day, administered in two or three divided doses with food. If necessary, your doctor may increase the dose to a maximum of 225 mg/day, again split into two or three smaller doses throughout the day. Subsequently, if there is no response to treatment after several weeks at this higher dose, your healthcare provider might consider increasing it further; however, the maximum recommended dose should not exceed 375 mg/day. As always with medication changes, any dosage variations should be made under close medical supervision.

What are the most common side effects for Remeron?

Common side effects of Remeron (Mirtazapine) might include:

  • Drowsiness/sleepiness
  • Increased appetite and subsequent weight gain
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness, especially when standing up from a sitting or lying position
  • Fatigue/asthenia (general weakness) -Anxiety and nervousness

On the other hand, Effexor (Venlafaxine) may lead to:

  • Nervousness and anxiety
  • Insomnia or trouble sleeping -Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, -Dry mouth -Sweating
    -Decreased libido (sex drive), abnormal ejaculation, impotence in males. -Tremors

Both medications can potentially cause more serious side effects such as changes in mood or mental state. Always consult your healthcare provider if you experience any unusual symptoms while taking these drugs.

abstract image of a patient experiencing side effect

Are there any potential serious side effects for Remeron?

While Remeron and Effexor are both effective antidepressants, they do come with potential side effects. With Remeron, you might experience:

  • Heightened suicidal thoughts or tendencies, particularly in the early stages of treatment or during dosage changes
  • Allergic reactions that may include skin rashes, itching or hives, swelling of the face or hands, swelling or tingling in the mouth or throat, chest tightness and trouble breathing
  • Visual disturbances like blurred vision, eye pain and swelling
  • Heart-related symptoms such as rapid heartbeat (tachycardia), palpitations and shortness of breath which could lead to feelings of fainting
  • Low sodium levels - presenting signs would be headache, difficulty concentrating confusion slurred speech muscle weakness balance issues vomiting seizures etc.
  • Neurological problems – severe rigid muscles high fever sweating fast uneven heartbeats tremors feeling faint
    If you notice any symptoms suggestive of serotonin syndrome like restlessness hallucinations fever overactive reflexes nausea vomiting diarrhea loss coordination rapid heartbeat seek immediate medical attention. As always it's important to discuss potential side effects with your healthcare provider before starting a new medication.

What are the most common side effects for Effexor?

Effexor, an antidepressant medication, may cause the following side effects:

  • Dry mouth or throat
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea or vomiting, as well as stomach upset and loss of appetite
  • Constipation
  • Sleep disturbances such as insomnia
  • Sweating and feelings of anxiety or nervousness
  • Rapid heartbeat (tachycardia)
  • Confusion, agitation, irritable mood swings
  • Skin rash in some cases
  • Potential weight loss over time -Increased urination frequency -Migraine-like headaches and dizziness are also possible. -Unusual muscle stiffness/weakness or joint pain

It's important to note that not everyone experiences all these side effects. But if any occur persistently while using Effexor, consider seeking advice from your healthcare provider.

Are there any potential serious side effects for Effexor?

Effexor, while having the potential to be highly effective for many patients, can also cause a range of serious side effects. Be aware and seek medical help immediately if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Severe allergic reactions including skin rash, itching or hives, swelling of the face, lips or tongue
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Breathing problems
  • Changes in vision
  • Chest pain
  • Fast talking and excited feelings or actions that are out of control; sudden unusual restlessness or irritability
  • Hallucination, loss of contact with reality
  • Increased heart rate
    Seizures (convulsions) Suicidal thoughts or other mood changes like new or worsening depression.

Do not ignore these symptoms as they may indicate a potentially severe reaction to Effexor. Always consult with your healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment options.

Contraindications for Remeron and Effexor?

Remeron and Effexor, like many other antidepressant medications, might exacerbate symptoms of depression in certain individuals. If you notice your depressive symptoms intensifying or an increase in suicidal thoughts or behaviors, it is crucial to seek immediate medical care.

Neither Remeron nor Effexor should be used if you're taking or have recently taken monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). It's crucial to always inform your healthcare provider about any medications you're currently on; MAOIs necessitate a clearance period of approximately 5 weeks from the system to avoid harmful interactions with Remeron and Effexor.

How much do Remeron and Effexor cost?

For the brand-name versions of these drugs:

  • The price for 30 tablets of Remeron (15 mg) averages around $380, which works out to approximately $12.67/day.
  • The price for 30 capsules of Effexor XR (75 mg) is about $250, working out to roughly $8.33/day.

Thus, if you are in a higher dosage range for Remeron (i.e., 45 mg/day or higher), then brand-name Effexor is less expensive on a per-day treatment basis. It's essential to note that cost should not be your primary consideration when deciding which drug is right for you.

For the generic versions of Remeron (mirtazapine) and Effexor (venlafaxine):

  • Mirtazapine can be found in packs ranging from 7 up to 1000 tablets at doses between 15mg and 45mg with costs starting as low as $0.25/day depending on dosage and quantity purchased upfront.
  • Venlafaxine comes in packs ranging from seven up to hundreds at various strengths with costs typically starting anywhere between about $0.40–$1/day also dependent on strength and quantity bought upfront.

These figures underline that generic forms offer significantly lower costs compared to their brand name counterparts.

Popularity of Remeron and Effexor

Mirtazapine, also known by its brand name Remeron, was estimated to have been prescribed to about 2.7 million people in the US in 2020. Mirtazapine accounted for just under 6% of antidepressant prescriptions in the US that year. It's a unique medication classified as a noradrenergic and specific serotonergic antidepressant (NaSSA), notable for its sedative effects which can be beneficial for individuals with insomnia related to their depression.

Venlafaxine, including brand versions such as Effexor, was prescribed to roughly 8 million people in the USA during the same period. In terms of SNRI (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor) prescriptions across America, venlafaxine accounts for approximately half. It represents around 17% of overall non-SSRI antidepressant prescriptions within this timeframe. The prevalence of Venlafaxine has remained steady over recent years.


Remeron (mirtazapine) and Effexor (venlafaxine) are both effective treatments for depression, with numerous clinical studies and meta-analyses indicating their superiority over placebo. Occasionally, these two medications may be used in combination, although this requires careful evaluation by a physician due to potential drug interactions. Remeron primarily enhances the neurotransmission of norepinephrine and serotonin while Effexor works mainly on serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibition.

Both drugs come in generic forms which can lead to significant cost savings for patients paying out-of-pocket. The onset period for both Remeron and Effexor can vary from patient to patient, meaning that therapeutic effects may not be immediately noticeable.

The side effect profiles of both medications show similarities but also have some important differences: While both are generally well-tolerated, Remeron might cause weight gain more frequently than Effexor. Conversely, sexual dysfunction is less common with Remeron compared to other antidepressants such as SSRIs or SNRIs like Effexor. For both drugs though, it's crucial that patients monitor their mood closely when beginning treatment; any worsening of depressive symptoms or emergence of suicidal thoughts should prompt immediate medical consultation.