As promised, my successful tapering off Effexor (Venlafaxine)

Posted by sheffieldsmith @sheffieldsmith, May 31, 2020

Below you will find the tapering plan that I used to successfully wean myself off Effexor (Venlafaxine). Feel free to share this with your doctor If you would like. I researched and came up with this plan, which was approved by my doctor, although she thought I could probably have weaned myself off sooner. But the reality is that we all have differing tolerance levels for tapering and weaning off this powerful drug from our bodies. Some people can taper faster, but usually not those who have been on this drug for years (like myself, since October 2002). I tapered off EffexorXR 150mg capsules about 5 years ago down to 75mg, and was on that maintenance dosage for a couple of years until I started weaning off the 75mg a year ago in April 2019. As of October, 2029, I’ve been withdrawal symptom free, but I still have occasional periods of anxiety when triggered. But I realize these waves of anxiety will soon pass, and I cope by deep breathing, taking a walk, having a cup of chamomile tea, etc. Cutting my exposure to watching upsetting news has really helped a lot as well. These days I seek things that bring joy and peace in such a turbulent world. Wishing you all a successful weaning off this powerful drug.

Weaning off Venlafaxine XR 75mg (Effexor-(extended release)capsules:
Weaning plan off plan that worked for BSS:
1. Inform your doctor you are tapering down from 75 mg Venlafaxine and ask them to prescribe 37.50 tabs to help with tapering doses (1/2 dosage down from 75 mg Venlafaxine capsules). The tabs are easier to cut into halves and quarter dosages than counting out beads from the capsules.
2. Begin your taper only after you are on a non-withdrawal symptomatic dosage level. If you were having w/d symptoms at 75 mg, you’ll need to go back to the level at which you were symptomless and stay there for 2-3 weeks before deceasing to a slow taper. NOTE: after successfully tapering from 150mg Venlafaxine down to 75mg for a month, I was unable to tolerate a drop cold turkey from a daily dosage of 75mg down to 37.50mg (50%) without having bothersome withdrawal symptoms of dizziness, brain fog, brain zaps, and nausea. So after researching various tapering plans, I came up with a slower tapering schedule my body could tolerate to finish the tapering from 75mg to 37.50mg, and then on to complete the tapering. Your body may even need slower tapering, so adjust according.
3. Week 1-2: Take 75mg caps MWFSu; take 37.50mg tab on alternate days Tu,Th, Sa. At the end of week 2, if you only have relatively mild to no withdrawal symptoms, proceed to week 3. IMPORTANT: If you have intolerable symptoms, adjust to a slower tapering schedule by adding an additional 1/2 tab on the alternate days (or take a total of one and a half 37.50 tabs on alternate days). You’ll then have to tweak the rest of your tapering schedule. If all goes well, proceed with week 3.
4. Week 3-4: Cut a few 37.50 tabs in half with a pill cutter or exacto knife blade to create quarter pieces. Take 37.50mg tab on MWFSu and take 3/4 tab on alternate days Tu, Th, Sa.
5. Week 5-6: Take 3/4 of a tab MWFSu, and take 1/2 tab on alternate days Tu, Th, Sa. If only mild symptoms, proceed to week 5.
6. Week 7-8: Take 1/2 tab on MWFSu; and take 1/4 tab on alternate days Tu, Th, Sa. If no symptoms, continue to week 7.
7. Week 9-10: Take 1/4 tab on MWFSu; and take 1/8 tab (cut 1/4 tabs in half) on alternate days Tu, Th, Sa. *Notice the quartering of doses into crumbs now…very important to keep small dosage tapering to remain withdrawal symptom free.
8. Week 11-12: Take 1/8 tab crumb on MWFSu; take none on alternate days Tu, Th, Sa. *If skipping alternate days produces symptoms, stay on 1/8 tab crumbs for a couple of weeks before alternating skip days for a couple of weeks.
You’ll find that this schedule may have to be tweaked for you by extending the time you stay on a taper…possibly up to 3-4 weeks before beginning a new tapering down. It all depends on how you tolerate the first two weeks.

Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Depression & Anxiety Support Group.

@noirin1957

I'm on 75mg an 37.50 mg of venlafaxine for 6months how hard will it be for me to come of them. As they have made me much worse. Just want of them would really appreciate any help at all thanks so much

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I was on it for a year before tapering off it. I was pretty sick physically. I was vomiting and had terrible body aches. My brain had no filter. I was say things to people that I would never normally say. It was a scary experience. I don’t like that class of drugs and Cymbalta is in the same class of drugs. I take Zoloft now and I feel fine and I am happy I made the switch. It may not be so bad for you as you aren’t on a high dose I don’t think, I forget what my dosage was but it was pretty high. Do your research the other person who said they were counting beads is something a lot of people do when having a tough time weaning off.

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I was on Venlafaxine XL for a year (150mg). I have successfully tapered down to 75mg and am now on 37.5mg – I then went to every other day of the 37.5 and am finally on every 3rd day. I have been stuck here for a while and can't seem to taper further. By the end of the 3rd day I feel very nauseated, have brain zaps and migraines – sensitivity to light and sound.

I will add that prior to taking Venlafaxine I was on Bupropion 300 mg for about 20 years. Switched to Venlafaxine after a very stressful life event where Bupropion was not helping.

I very much want to stop taking Venlafaxine. Should I go back to Bupropion?

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I was on Bupropion XL 300mg for a really long time and I weaned off that and off Topiramate. It took a very long time, maybe 5 months or more. I stayed off for about 3-4 mo but my migraines were much worse without the Topiramate which helps the migraine meds work better and faster so I went back to 1/2 the dose I was on before and that has helped a lot. I also had no energy or desire to do anything so I went back to 1/2 dose of the Bupropion at 150mg which has been just OK. Today I am on day 3 of taking Bupropion 300mg again just to see if I feel better and I absolutely do. I wish I didn't need these meds but it seems I do.

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You eat food to stay alive. You eat healthy food to be able to do more in life.
Same goes for meds. You take them to have a great life and experience everything you deserve. We can stop feeling lesser than bc we are living our best lives. Enjoy everyday and try to move the boundary and not think I wish I didn’t have to. You eat- you take meds and the world is a better place.

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@momo13

I was on Venlafaxine XL for a year (150mg). I have successfully tapered down to 75mg and am now on 37.5mg – I then went to every other day of the 37.5 and am finally on every 3rd day. I have been stuck here for a while and can't seem to taper further. By the end of the 3rd day I feel very nauseated, have brain zaps and migraines – sensitivity to light and sound.

I will add that prior to taking Venlafaxine I was on Bupropion 300 mg for about 20 years. Switched to Venlafaxine after a very stressful life event where Bupropion was not helping.

I very much want to stop taking Venlafaxine. Should I go back to Bupropion?

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Hi- my daughter reminded me that it’s not my fault my brain chemistry is what it is. It’s not weakness or giving up – when the effects of these powerful drugs are real – and they are debilitating. in an effort to transition to Wellbutrin from Effexor my doc prescribed 150mg Wellbutrin (bupropion) to take as I tapered down from 150mg Venlafaxine XR. Moving down wasn’t so bad, but like you, when I tried to go off the 37.5 (which the lowest dose XR capsule) the effects bad. At the 24 hour point jolts were noticed and by 36 hours I was unable to walk. I had vertigo, zaps, whoosh sounds, nausea migraine – it was horrible.
So Dr now prescribed 25mg of the regular release – the lowest dose tablet form. There were no noticeable bad effects changing from capsule to tablet form. I’m now taking 1/2 tab, so 12.5mg in AM and 12 hours later I take the second 12.5mg. At this point I’m going to try cutting the 1/2 tab into a still smaller bit to lower the dose, but still take it 2x daily at 12 hours apart. Although I may try 1/3 tabs spaced 8 hours apart if I start to get jolts. I’m doing split pill routine this this week – I’ll write again to give progress. Depression is definitely coming back despite the 150mg Wellbutrin I’m feeling really angry and I have easily hurt feelings. good luck!

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@sheffieldsmith

Your welcome, Ellen. I hope you find the peace you seek from weaning off this addictive drug that carries so many undesirable side effects. Enough is enough.

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I was taking effexor for years and had no side effects. It helped me manage my depression. I was weaned off by my psychiatrist when my major depression returned. It took a long time to get off of it.

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I am a 43yo female and have been taking Effexor XR for approx 1.5yrs. I have been at 225mg for the past 6m. I won't get too personal but will summarize to say I am a mom of 5 boys aging 27 to 7. I am currently working on my 2nd divorce and have realized I give too much. Between work, kids, no spousal support, COVID related family deaths I reached a breaking point. I am finally in a different environment and hate the fact I am dependent upon a pill. I have always been emotionally strong but age weakens more things than ur body I have found.

I have started my own tapering regimen after a lot of research. This is my 2nd attempt. My 1st attempt was MD suggested and monitored and was a complete DISASTER. Screwed me up so bad emotionally and physically that I ended up on a higher dose than BEFORE the MD guided taper attempt.
I am on wk2 of my own tapering regimen and have had very mild symptoms so far. I realized that caffeine can make the anxiety worse so I cut back on that and completely off after 3pm when I am more likely to have anxiety. Mind you I am on an XR pill so the half life is different.
I cut at 37.5 mg each week and my wk2 is 150mg. I have found that by day 3-4 of the lesser dosage is when the w/d symptoms emerge. Maybe because of the XR…IDK. I have also researched that Effexor is 87-90% secreted via the bladder w/in 72hrs so I am doing my best to drink plenty of fluids. This IS seeming to help. However I do have to say that w/in the 1st week I did have a UTI, I am not certain if this is related.
I have been one to MOST CERTAINLY get the "zaps" that people describe. To help other people relate I explain it like when you get the flu and it feels like u are "shocked" all over your skin. I have had mild w/d symptoms so far with minimal zaps, some trouble concentrating, mild insomnia that I use Melatonin to help with. However, as far as the forgetfulness…. hell, I couldn't tell u it was ALL b/c of the meds. Remember the part where I said I have 5 SONS and working on ex hub #2? That alone will eat ur brain I think.
I appreciate this article b/c I didn't consider the part where it was mentioned that if you have extreme w/d symptoms go back to the dosage u could tolerate and wait about 2wks. Extreme w/d for me would be the physical illness part. I haven't had that yet, although I DID have that on my 1st tapering attempt last year. I think that was too much of a cut too fast on the MD schedule.
Yes… it will take time to get off these pills but it took time to get HERE as well. Its hard for a person suffering from depression to understand the cliché everyone says about to "not give up". Because to be honest… that's EXACTLY what we WANT to do. My depression manifests as anger, so you don't have to always be sad and mopey to fit the depression title.
As someone who is walking this same path as many of you that will read this…. remember that there is NO cookie cutter way to do this. We are ALL different and will need different time lines. ITS OKAY. You don't expect every child to walk, talk, and wipe their own butt on the same timeline…right? THIS IS NO DIFFERENT!! BIG VIRTUAL HUGS.

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@lchaso43

I am a 43yo female and have been taking Effexor XR for approx 1.5yrs. I have been at 225mg for the past 6m. I won't get too personal but will summarize to say I am a mom of 5 boys aging 27 to 7. I am currently working on my 2nd divorce and have realized I give too much. Between work, kids, no spousal support, COVID related family deaths I reached a breaking point. I am finally in a different environment and hate the fact I am dependent upon a pill. I have always been emotionally strong but age weakens more things than ur body I have found.

I have started my own tapering regimen after a lot of research. This is my 2nd attempt. My 1st attempt was MD suggested and monitored and was a complete DISASTER. Screwed me up so bad emotionally and physically that I ended up on a higher dose than BEFORE the MD guided taper attempt.
I am on wk2 of my own tapering regimen and have had very mild symptoms so far. I realized that caffeine can make the anxiety worse so I cut back on that and completely off after 3pm when I am more likely to have anxiety. Mind you I am on an XR pill so the half life is different.
I cut at 37.5 mg each week and my wk2 is 150mg. I have found that by day 3-4 of the lesser dosage is when the w/d symptoms emerge. Maybe because of the XR…IDK. I have also researched that Effexor is 87-90% secreted via the bladder w/in 72hrs so I am doing my best to drink plenty of fluids. This IS seeming to help. However I do have to say that w/in the 1st week I did have a UTI, I am not certain if this is related.
I have been one to MOST CERTAINLY get the "zaps" that people describe. To help other people relate I explain it like when you get the flu and it feels like u are "shocked" all over your skin. I have had mild w/d symptoms so far with minimal zaps, some trouble concentrating, mild insomnia that I use Melatonin to help with. However, as far as the forgetfulness…. hell, I couldn't tell u it was ALL b/c of the meds. Remember the part where I said I have 5 SONS and working on ex hub #2? That alone will eat ur brain I think.
I appreciate this article b/c I didn't consider the part where it was mentioned that if you have extreme w/d symptoms go back to the dosage u could tolerate and wait about 2wks. Extreme w/d for me would be the physical illness part. I haven't had that yet, although I DID have that on my 1st tapering attempt last year. I think that was too much of a cut too fast on the MD schedule.
Yes… it will take time to get off these pills but it took time to get HERE as well. Its hard for a person suffering from depression to understand the cliché everyone says about to "not give up". Because to be honest… that's EXACTLY what we WANT to do. My depression manifests as anger, so you don't have to always be sad and mopey to fit the depression title.
As someone who is walking this same path as many of you that will read this…. remember that there is NO cookie cutter way to do this. We are ALL different and will need different time lines. ITS OKAY. You don't expect every child to walk, talk, and wipe their own butt on the same timeline…right? THIS IS NO DIFFERENT!! BIG VIRTUAL HUGS.

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@ichaso43
“I cut at 37.5 mg each week and my wk2 is 150mg.”
I believe that your taper is much too fast and your going to run into worse problems down the road. The fact that you are experiencing symptoms now is an indication your taper is too fast. Weekly is not giving your body enough time to adjust. Every month is a more realistic period to wait between cuts. However, if you are determined to taper weekly you should stay on the dose or slightly increase it until any withdrawals stop before continuing. But chances are more likely than not if your taper is slower you won't have any withdrawal symptoms. Taper withdrawals in the beginning are not usually noticeable but increase as your dose becomes lower, especially if you taper by a specific milligram every week. When specific milligrams are used the percentage at the start maybe 25% but as your taper continues that percentage will jump all over place. By using the 5-10% method the percentage remains constant, (which your brain prefers) regardless of where you are in the taper process. However, compounding pharmacies can get expensive especially if not covered by insurance. I use an injectable medication which is expensive because it has to be prepared at a sterile compounding pharmacy and not covered by insurance.
Although decreasing your taper slowly is no guarantee there won’t be any side effects it should reduce the chance and/or severity of them tremendously.
Best of luck to you and for you sake I hope you extend your taper substantially. I hope you will keep us informed as to the progress of your taper.
All the best,
Jake

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@jakedduck1

@ichaso43
“I cut at 37.5 mg each week and my wk2 is 150mg.”
I believe that your taper is much too fast and your going to run into worse problems down the road. The fact that you are experiencing symptoms now is an indication your taper is too fast. Weekly is not giving your body enough time to adjust. Every month is a more realistic period to wait between cuts. However, if you are determined to taper weekly you should stay on the dose or slightly increase it until any withdrawals stop before continuing. But chances are more likely than not if your taper is slower you won't have any withdrawal symptoms. Taper withdrawals in the beginning are not usually noticeable but increase as your dose becomes lower, especially if you taper by a specific milligram every week. When specific milligrams are used the percentage at the start maybe 25% but as your taper continues that percentage will jump all over place. By using the 5-10% method the percentage remains constant, (which your brain prefers) regardless of where you are in the taper process. However, compounding pharmacies can get expensive especially if not covered by insurance. I use an injectable medication which is expensive because it has to be prepared at a sterile compounding pharmacy and not covered by insurance.
Although decreasing your taper slowly is no guarantee there won’t be any side effects it should reduce the chance and/or severity of them tremendously.
Best of luck to you and for you sake I hope you extend your taper substantially. I hope you will keep us informed as to the progress of your taper.
All the best,
Jake

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I'm so scared to taper,I'm on 75mg of effexor xr for three months but I was in37.5for years,here in Canada we don't have the tablets so is difficult to taper into smaller dose I have to buy is compaund effexor that is going to be very expensive because compaund ndrugs does not cover by OHIP.Itook a loan from the bank to pay for Compaund effexor xr I want to start as soon as I feel stronger .Please somebody instruct me how to do it properly because my ok Dr.just gave five days no between tapers Wich I think is to little time he wants me to jump fron75mg to 37.5mg in five days I'm going to get into trouble that is why I got
icompaun

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@tilajesus

I'm so scared to taper,I'm on 75mg of effexor xr for three months but I was in37.5for years,here in Canada we don't have the tablets so is difficult to taper into smaller dose I have to buy is compaund effexor that is going to be very expensive because compaund ndrugs does not cover by OHIP.Itook a loan from the bank to pay for Compaund effexor xr I want to start as soon as I feel stronger .Please somebody instruct me how to do it properly because my ok Dr.just gave five days no between tapers Wich I think is to little time he wants me to jump fron75mg to 37.5mg in five days I'm going to get into trouble that is why I got
icompaun

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Please will somebody help whit the tapering off venlafaxine XR 75mg don't want to go wrong I invested money on Compaund effexor.

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