Effexor - studies, etc

Thanks again for everyone’s kind words yesterday. This site is a godsend. So, after finishing this week on Steroids (which aren’t doing anything except for making me woozy), my plans are to start Effexor next week. However, I have a few reservations, mainly because I was formerly a pt of Dr. Buchholz, author of Heal your Headache, who wrote in his book and explains in person, that SSRIs, as well as Effexor (even though it is not only an SSRI) does not help migraines, and can actually increase migraines. Then, I have Dr. Hain telling me that it is a great drug. IT’s hard to know who to believe. PErhaps, Dr. Buchholz is a bit outdated. His book is almost a decade old. I saw a study or 2 on Effexor, but that didn’t convince me. I have been through so many meds, and really want to take an appropriate med. I’ve been to so many doctors that pushed Nortripytline. I took that in the past,but only got to 20mg. The side effects are rough, but I would take it again if it is the best drug. I just am so confused. Clearly the problem is that there are just not enough good research studies in this area, so drug choice seems to be very much based on a doctor’s clinical experience.

Hi Lisa,

I’m in the process of greatly increasing the available resources on this forum and articles on the efficacy of Effexor in migraine control will be the first to go up for you. The forum needs some reorganisation for 2009. I’ll let you know once they’re in place. I’m away for two days so probably won’t get around to it until Monday. Just know that there is good evidence for Effexor and migraine control. Not sure why Buccholtz seems to be out of the loop.


I forgot to say one other thing - what makes this so confusing is that the doctors are saying completely opposite things. Dr. Hain said that Effexor is great, while Dr. Buccholz said that it will make things worse. I could understand if one doctor said a drug is their first choice and another doctor says that it is their 2nd or 3rd drug of choice. But, for one doctor to say that it is their number one drug, and another to say that it will actually make symptoms worse, is so confusing. I hope I wasn’t too confusing :slight_smile: Hard to explain this.

I would go with the Plan you feel most confident on ans stick with that Dr. Give it time as you may try several drugs, several dosages, several combos… For some reason with Dr Newman I am not good on Just Verapamil and Zoloft alone. However the combo works great… You are correct Dr’s will use what they find successful based on there clinical experience with ther patients or there peers. But there is nothing wrong with that

Howie - how do you know that verapamil wouldn’t have worked alone? so, you think it’s the combo, then. Maybe I will stay on Verapamil when I start the Effexor, since the side effects aren’t very troubling.

bad idea…
If you do that you will have no idea which med to thank if it does work. Ull be too scared I bet to stop taking one of them just to see.

Start with effexor, and then try adding verapamil if it doesn’t do enough; is my suggestion…

Dr Newman got me to the 95% to 100% range on both medications. We tried to come off Zoloft to see if we broke the Migraine Cycle and Verapamil alone would handle the symptoms…I was good for 6 months and then I relapsed pretty bad… I am now in 90% to 95% range on both again

MikaelHS -I am actually on Verapamil already.

Howie -i see. So it is the combo that is helping best. do you know if Dr. Newman ever uses Effexor. So confusing that doctors use different drugs.

Hi Lisa,

I certainly know how confusing all the docs can be!!! My doc started me on his first choice, Nortriptyline. I am currently on 75 mg. I then went to my Primary Care doc and blood pressure was a bit elevated and she wanted to put me on something, so I asked if she could put me on Verapamil, considering that it was also a migraine preventative! At that point, I was still on such a low dose of Nort, and my symptoms were so bad, barely able to function…so I am not sure if one would have worked alone, but am currently on 360 mg of Verapamil SR or ER. Then I found my headache doc. He kept me on the 2 listed above, but I still wasn’t in great shape…better, but not great. I also was still feeling somewhat down, so he put me on Effexor…the lowest dose to start with the option of going up only 1 more notch. He said that Effexor for Migraine is only to go to 75 mg. I have ALWAYS thought I was med sensitive…always seemed to have some type of reaction.

I am not sure why with the 3 meds that I am on, why I have not had ONE side effect. The only side effect that I have had is that I got my life back. I feel like the Effexor was the icing on the cake for me. It seemd to nudge my mood up just a bit. I still need to watch my triggers, I still have some symptoms, but literally going from not fuctioning to being part of life again is amazing. I think it is true that if you can do 1 med at a time and see if that works alone for you is the best option. I did not have that option due to reasons listed above. I am on the 3 meds and at this point have no plans to back down on any of them, and that may be due to that fact that I am just about 2 years away from my horrible migraine attack that landed me in the hospital and put me into despair for about 1 year due to not knowing what was going on with me…maybe I just haven’t been far enough removed from it yet… I hate taking meds, I wish I didn’t have to take these, I am a firm believer that if alternative or other things work better, then do those…but for me, I have my life back and so here I am on 3 migraine preventatives!!! :mrgreen:

Hang in there Lisa, you will get better. Each day keep saying to yourself…“I am on the road to getting better” with every pill I popped at the beginning, I felt hope, hope that I was at least on the road to recovery. You must tell yourself that…stress is a huge trigger for migraine, so anything you can do mentally for yourself will help you. Think of these meds as your friend :lol:


Dr Newman Does not use Effexor. He does like the side effect profile and the withdrawl aspect. He uses Zoloft, Paxil, Lexapro, Cymbalta as far as SSRIs.

Pam - thank you for your message. You’re right - if it takes 3 meds to work,so be it. If it works, terrific!!! Glad to hear another doc recommended Effexor as well. That is wonderful to hear that you got your life back. when you were your sickest, did you have disequilibrium 24/7 (feeling like you are on a boat). I would give anything to get rid of that one symptom.

Howie - it is so confusing that every doctor recommends different meds. Dr. Newman put me on zoloft awhile back, but I wasn’t on it for long, and I ended up seeing Dr. buchholtz who told me to get off of it because it would just make things worse. Now I realize that Dr. B. was probably behind in the research. wish I kept on it, as I was tolerating it quite well.

If you had a low side effect profile on Zoloft you can always go back on … Like you said, each Dr goes by the patients they have success with… In reality they are both SSRIs. Just a matter of what doctor you want to see. They both seem to use Verapamil in combo with an SSRI.

Hey Howie -

Dr Newman Does not use Effexor. He does like the side effect profile and the withdrawl aspect.

Did you mean Newman does not like Effexor because of the SEs?

Thanks … S

Yes he did not like the side effect and withdrawl profile as much as Zoloft and Paxil

Hi Lisa,

I’ve reorganised the entire board and added some new articles. There’s two on Effexor here:


There’s much more to add but it will take a little time.

Scott 8)

thanks so much, Scott