Hey There All,
I'm taking Effexor as well as Epival and I have to be honest and say that overall it has been working well for me although it is not without its down sides. The Effexor has done wonders for my depression and I have had few lasting side effects. The epival has worked on the whole mania thing and helped to keep me in check. Once I had finally found the right dose, I noticed a huge difference in my ability to carry on a more normal life. I have a relatively constant amount of energy and my sleep patterns are relatively normal, although I have a significant SAD component that wreaks havoc on my body clock when the seasons change.
I've noticed that there has been a definite impact on my libido, but I don't know that it was ever particularly "average" with the bouts of depression and mania all figured in. And realistically, there are other factors at play that are causing the bulk of my issues. There has been a noticeable, although not huge, amount of weight gain, about 15lbs over the course of a year and a half.
When I first started taking the effexor, I didn't sleep for a few days and then once it kicked in I needed a good night's rest every night to stay on track. The most stupid thing is that the Effexor makes me yawn - I used to have a yawning spell that would last for nearly an hour every day AT work and that has almost all gone away. When I started the epival, I noticed a few little things came back, like the yawning, but they all subsided as well. If I miss my medication the yawns come back and my hands get a little shaky from the epival, but similar things happen with any drugs. It all goes away in about an hour once I take my dose as I should have.
Now, I feel pretty average. I'm able to focus at work and get things done. I don't spaz everytime something doesn't go as planned. I don't lie awake at night worry about things like I used to. I don't obsess as much over things. It takes effort, but if I stick to a regular schedule, I feel pretty good most of the time, and I can get up on time for work and be there and function as I'm expect to. I have the energy in the evening and weekends to do most of what I want to do. There are still days when I'm worn out, but everyone has those days regardless of wherther they're medicated or not.
Honestly, I've been lucky since the medication has worked pretty well and I've been relatively responsive. It took me about three tries with each med to get the right dose, but its been worth it. I guess that I try to keep the balance in check with the fact that there are downsides to the meds, but there's also the massive downer of the way my life was before I started taking the medication. Erratic and frightening and crazy.
You were likely prescribed Effexor since it is relatively well tolerated by most people, and it is generally pretty effective in working on the depressive symptoms. I'm of the understanding that Epival is the same and is a little less likely to cause problems than lithium. The big thing is though - everyone reacts differently and will respond to different medications in different ways. That's why its important to work with the drs to be sure that you are on the best medication for you.
Good luck to you guys and your search for the balance. Let me know how it turns out.