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I am a 55 year old female who started taking Effexor for my hot flashes about two years ago. I take 75mg daily. I’ve tried to quit but my symptoms are so severe, I can’t get off. My ears feel really full making me dizzy, light-headed and nauseous, and I am physically ill. Any suggestions?

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Replies to "I am a 55 year old female who started taking Effexor for my hot flashes about..."

The most important strategy is to taper off slowly. I also hope you are enlisting a doctor's help (although some are not familiar with the difficulties of getting off Effexor and some suggest some pretty fast tapers); be your own best advocate–if you feel like cr*p with the reduction program, it's too much reduction too fast.

Please read all the posts on here for tips; I started with Page One and reread some posters often. If you click on my name beside this reply, you can read my posts in particular. I have mentioned some ways to reduce/taper.

You don't say if you tried to taper off your 75mg, if you tried skipping days, or if you tried cold turkey (that's not a successful strategy for most people).

You don't say if you are on Effexor tablets, or capsules, or your medication is extended-release (XR). Regular-release tablets can be obtained in 25mg doses. I was on that for 18 years. You can use a pill cutter to slice these in halves and quarters and then mix and match to get tapered doses that you can tolerate without experiencing withdrawal symptoms. You can ask your doctor to change your prescription. Capsules are trickier. Some folks open them and delete a set of beads, stay at that level for a while, then start taking out a larger number of beads, stay at that level for a period, etc. I mention in one of my posts how some folks dissolve their daily dose of medication in juice and throw out a small set amount and maintain that reduced dosage for while and then taper down again when ready. Compounding pharmacies can make tapered doses for you (if you can find one in your area and afford the cost).

Dram*mine, or Bon*ne (motion-, or sea-sickness OTC drugs) will help tremendously with the dizziness, light-headedness and nausea. If you are tapering, sounds like you're trying to reduce too fast.

I'll warn you–Effexor messes with your brain neurotransmitters; it will take time for your body/brain to reestablish how to balance these chemicals on its own again. I was on Effexor for 18 years for hot flashes at 25mg; I tapered off over 2.5 months and felt fine until six weeks AFTER the last dose. I am only feeling well now because I take a whole host of supplements four times a day and every now and then some Valium (prescribed by my doctor for the akathisia symptoms that started at that six weeks later time).

See if you can get a scrip for 37.5mg (assuming you are taking the XR capsules not the immediate release)…titrate down to 37.5 first. I didn't get any symptoms until last week when I had two days of what you are feeling – plus my first experience with hot flashes — 3 years after hitting menopause without symptoms….all because my dosage masked the symptoms.

If you are taking immediate release I think the options are different. Just speak with the doctor to say that titrating off is difficult. Also know that some of your hot flashes might come back while you are titrating down – or afterwards….but hopefully they will be less severe/frequent.