← Return to Tips on minimizing withdrawal symptoms from Effexor (aka Venlafaxine)

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@coloradogirl

So, I just finished this process with Zoloft (sertraline) and here are some things that worked for me. Your mileage may vary, but hopefully these are low risk for you to try.

1) You may need to ask your doctor for a slower tapering program than other patients. Some people are just more sensitive to dosage changes. Be aware that symptoms will get better, then may reappear each time you taper. AAFMA (practice group of family physicians) says that the symptoms typically last 1-2 weeks and as long as 4 weeks, so I just kept reminding myself that it was temporary.
2) Be watchful for things that make your symptoms worse. For example, caffeine seems to trigger the brain zaps for me (still, even after being off for several weeks), so I cut back my caffeine intake. I didn’t give it up completely (because I still need to function), but cut back on how much real coffee I was drinking, mixed decaf with regular, and switched to tea sometimes. In the end, I probably cut my daily caffeine intake in half, and it did help quite a lot.
3) Ibuprofen or other pain reliever can help with the flu-like body aches.
4) Benadryl helped with the brain zaps.
5) Exercise helped with both. Even if I wasn’t up to a run, a few blocks of walking would settle down the symptoms for a while at least. (Then, when they come back, just take another walk. We took a lot of walks for a while there).
6) Get enough sleep. As I came down off the meds, my normal sleeping patterns returned, which was great, but it did mean that I needed to plan time to let my body rest.
7) Pay attention to your diet. Your brain uses carbs to make seratonin, so now is not the time to go on the Atkins diet. Eat well and make sure you’re getting enough healthy carbs. You may crave sweets; I certainly did. I tried to counteract this by having bananas, graham crackers, and other healthy things I could snack on instead of sticking my head in a birthday cake like I seemed to want.

No lie – it’s a painful process, but this did really help make it easier. Also, at a certain point, when I was down the below the normal starter dose, I just ripped off the bandaid and went to zero. At that point, it felt like each taper was just prolonging the suffering. Don’t just go cold turkey from your current dose, though, as that can be dangerous. Also, don’t add any supplements or substitutes for the SSRI without talking to your doctor first (also dangerous).

And of course, watch for the return of depression / anxiety type symptoms. For a while it was hard to tell whether I was tired because of the change in meds or because my depression was returning. I figured as long as I felt okay enough to function and wasn’t thinking about being harmful to myself or anyone else, I could play it out and see. It turned out to be the meds and on the other side, I can see that I was more worried about it than I needed to be.

I wish you the best of luck and a healthy life.

Mardee

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Replies to "So, I just finished this process with Zoloft (sertraline) and here are some things that worked..."

The same thing is happening to me, @kiracaseallan, and it's torture. I'm sitting here at work trying not to cry (for no reason!) and my skin feels so cold and tingly.
Hoping by now it's worked out better for you.

Because when we are put on it, they want to make sure they are not foing to loose a patient to suicide….

I hope you see my post below. I'm going on Trintellix as well, but as of yet, have seen no improvement in my anxiety. I was on 300 mg Effexor daily and had no idea of the horror that I'd be going through as a result of withdrawal. I'm a helpless child with this, feeling like there's nowhere to turn because I feel so mentally ill…like legitimately mentally ill. It scares me.

Hey there Alispalmer. This drug is definetely a horrible one to get off. I was on it for 7 yrs at 75 mg’s and one day it quit working. My Dr at the time just doubled the dosage. What a friggin nitemare. Fast forward two plus years and a stint on Wellbutrin then Celexa and my life was a mess. So my new Doc put me back on Effexor cause as she said it worked b4. Well needless to say it never worked this time. And after one year of trying i’m now off it going on 8 weeks. It hasnt been easy at all. And I must say I’m really tired of feeling the pits. Quite a few side effects coming off this drug. If I would have know this I would have never restarted them. But I am optimistic about feeling better soon. I exercise daily, watch my diet and I do the acupuncture thing as well as meditate daily.I also take a lot of diff vitamins. Getting plenty of sleep also helps but right now I’m having issues with insomnia. Hopefully that will resolve itself soon because when I have a bad sleep then my whole next day is screwed up. Hang in there. The brain needs to rewire itself. Things will get better. I’m surely hoping thats the case. Try and enjoy your day…..,

Hi there – my situation is very similar to yours. Prescribed for Hot Flashes…worked a little but not much. I had random sweating instead! I went from 150, down to 75, then 37.5 for 2 weeks. After 2 weeks of 37.5, Dr said to stop cold. I have this horrible eye movement difficulty you spoke of. How long did this last for you? I'm on day 3 of nothing. Please…so hard!!

It is hard. Too darn hard! I thought I would be over the side effects by now. Just feel so crappy, especially after a crappy nights sleep. Tomorrow I start my 9th week without the Ven. Hopefully this all ends soon!!!!!

I tried trintellix it’s worst then Effexor ! I did nothing but throw up everyday!! Am on 37 1/2 if Effexor for the next 2 weeks ,I rather suffer with depression then ever take another pill doctors don’t know nothing about ….

You may be tapering too quickly; the taper to 0 from 37.5 is large. I'm no doctor, but I've read that when a taper down causes too many side effects/withdrawal symptoms that going back to the dose where you had no symptoms (the 37.5) until you stabilize and then, reducing very slowly from there is a better way. I understand that you can do this if the amount of time off the drug is not too long; if it is weeks, or months, going back on the drug can make the symptoms a LOT worse. If the 37.5 dose is a capsule, you may be able to find a compounding pharmacist (may be pricey) to make interim doses down, or perhaps, your doctor can switch you to the tablet form so that you can cut the pill and taper more slowly.

I read that some folks found fish oil supplements helped with the eye movement weirdness and that the eye problems were related to the "brain zaps" some experience while getting off Effexor. "During withdrawal from an antidepressant, one of the quickest ways to help the brain heal is to supplement high-quality omega-3s. One of the most effective treatments for the dreaded electrical shock sensations (a.k.a. “brain zaps”) is omega-3 fatty acids. While it is unclear as to how omega-3s help these, many people have documented significant reductions in the frequency and number of zaps they experience during withdrawal as a result of supplementation." Read more here–https://mentalhealthdaily.com/2015/03/19/10-best-supplements-for-antidepressant-withdrawal/.

I'm tapering off after being on 150mg for quite a while. I started on Effexor (now on venlafaxine) 25 years ago at a much lower dose — I'm guessing it was 75, but it may have been 37.5. I knew the withdrawals would be hellacious from running out of it a couple of times, hence the taper. I've read about the withdrawal on a lot of blogs, which have been very helpful. I learned online how many beads are in each capsule, so I created a schedule for myself and I'm coming off at 50 beads per wk. It's so damn tedious counting out all those tiny beads, but I'm determined to get off it. It wasn't working anymore and I wanted my life back. 150 mg capsules have 486 beads and I'm now down to 245 beads per day. (I had to buy some empty gelatin capsules.) I get so frustrated that I'm tempted to say the hell with it and just go cold turkey at this point, but I remember how awful it was to go without any for a day or two, so I just sigh and keep counting beads. No overt physical withdrawals at this point, but I'm exhausted, completely non-motivated, I sleep a lot, don't have much patience, am forgetful, etc. I regularly take calcium, CoQ10, turmeric and D-3, and I've added B-6, B-12, folic acid, zinc, magnesium and wild Alaskan fish oil (1400 mg). I love ginger so I eat it frequently. I also drink 1 tbsp of organic, raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar mixed with 1 tbsp of wild honey and 1 cup of club soda. (That's for detox.) And I walk whenever I can make myself get up out of the chair! A biggie for me is trying to be gentle and patient with myself, which isn't easy. BTW I'm a 74-yr-old woman. Hope some of this will help someone. I really appreciate all the help I've gotten!

If I can do it, so can you. Keep the faith!

Glad I found this site. I have been on Effexor for 15 years, the last three years went from 37.5 to 112 mg. I have always felt very tired in the morning. I did a sleep test and was told I have mild sleep Apnea. For the past three years I’ve been retired and find I sleep for 12 to 14 hours. I don’t have much motivation. I’m not sure if what makes me so tired is the sleep Apnea or depression.

A year ago under my doctor’s supervision, I tried to get off Effexor. After a month, I went back on them because I started to feel depressed again. A month ago I decided to try to get off them again. I told my doctor that I wanted to go at a slower pace but this time have a compounding pharmacy prepare my pills. For two weeks I will be on 95 mg. Then, my dose will go down to 75 mg for another two weeks. If all goes well, I will do another two weeks on a lower dose and so on.

Six days ago I started with the 95 mg. Yesterday I became very tired and down (had only slept 8 hours the night before because I was at a friend’s home) so I went to bed early the following evening and slept for 12 hours. I only got up because I had an appointment.

At night I also dream a lot and recall my dreams. I also take the lowest dose of Wellbutrin. I have been having all this dreaming since I started taking antidepressants.

I once read that once a person suffers from depression, they need to stay on meds for life because the depression will return. I have suffered from depression from my 20’s but was never on meds until the age of 55 (when something happened in my family). I am now 70. I also suffer from anxiety.

How does someone know that they’re ready to get off their meds? I hate being on them because I feel numb, I no longer cry when I watch a sad movie and sometimes I feel like I can’t think straight. I have also gained weight (either from always craving carbs or the meds).

Hi Mary. Would certainly try to get into a clinic and get checked for sleep apnea. I have it and use a machine nightly. Before that I was tired all the time during the day. I would get that under control and then tackle the Ven. You will be very surprised at what a sleep apnea machine will do for you.

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