With all the focus on the many possible links between the antidepressant Effexor and birth defects in children of mothers who take the medicine while pregnant, other troubling side effects of the drug sometimes end up being overlooked. Effexor is without a doubt an effective antidepressant that has helped many people deal with this debilitating condition. However, it is also host to a slate of secondary effects on patients prescribed it, some of which may even play into the potential for birth defects.

In particular, one could look at the physical side effects that alter body chemistry. One of these is the potential for the medicine to elevate the parent’s cholesterol level. Others are problems regulating body temperature, leading to chills or possibly night sweats and hot flashes. Each of these changes the body of the mother slightly, and the body of the mother is, for better or worse, the environment in which the child matures. If these effects are too drastic, it is easy to see how they could contribute to destabilizing the pregnancy.

Other effects have less direct impact on the body environment, but can still cause changes that can be measured. The medicine can cause anxiety, or alternatively a loss of emotion in general. It can lead to a sense of disaffect, or a lack of interest in normal activities. It is not uncommon for patients experiencing this to have difficulty remembering when to eat or exercise. Still less direct but no less serious or uncomfortable are effects such as loss of appetite or excessive dizziness. Perhaps the most disturbing is the phenomenon of “brain zaps.” These are small sensations similar to a brief electric shock, causing the body to convulse in surprise and pain. They might not be life threatening on their own, but any disruption of the body’s neurosystem should surely be treated with caution.