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.

Hello, I am looking for some similar experience/advice. I am tapering off of Effexor, with the supervision of my doctor. Recently I was down to 37.5 MWFSu & 1/2 tan on T/Th/Sa. What I thought was me having side effects of tapering down, turned out to be that I had forgotten to add the Effexor into my weekly medicine dispenser so I have not taken it since Tuesday night I believe. I realized just tonight that after I originally thought I had left out a different medication but realized it was in fact my Effexor. The symptoms have gotten better & since I am trying to taper off, should I continue not taking it or go back to taking it & continuing tapering down? I am still learning about antidepressants & how to navigate with them as my first doctor who prescribed them to me did not do a great job at helping me understand just what I was getting into.

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@chasoli18

Hello, I am looking for some similar experience/advice. I am tapering off of Effexor, with the supervision of my doctor. Recently I was down to 37.5 MWFSu & 1/2 tan on T/Th/Sa. What I thought was me having side effects of tapering down, turned out to be that I had forgotten to add the Effexor into my weekly medicine dispenser so I have not taken it since Tuesday night I believe. I realized just tonight that after I originally thought I had left out a different medication but realized it was in fact my Effexor. The symptoms have gotten better & since I am trying to taper off, should I continue not taking it or go back to taking it & continuing tapering down? I am still learning about antidepressants & how to navigate with them as my first doctor who prescribed them to me did not do a great job at helping me understand just what I was getting into.

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@chasoli18
I think/hope your doctor would be the best qualified to answer that question.
Sad to say but I don’t have much confidence in physicians or pharmacists tapering knowledge.
I thought the immediate relief version of Effexor was discontinued and only the extended release capsule version was available. Please correct me if I misunderstood. How do you take a half dose on Tue Thurs & Sat? How has this taper worked for you? Any withdrawal symptoms?
If it were me I would not have agreed to take 100% of Effexor one day and 50% the next day etc.
I believe a taper should be more consistent like a 5-10% cut a month and using a compounding pharmacy to accomplish that goal.
If the taper your doctor had you on I’d probably go bach on it if you weren’t having ang any withdrawals.
But call your doctor for their advice.
Good luck,
Jake

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@chasoli18

Hello, I am looking for some similar experience/advice. I am tapering off of Effexor, with the supervision of my doctor. Recently I was down to 37.5 MWFSu & 1/2 tan on T/Th/Sa. What I thought was me having side effects of tapering down, turned out to be that I had forgotten to add the Effexor into my weekly medicine dispenser so I have not taken it since Tuesday night I believe. I realized just tonight that after I originally thought I had left out a different medication but realized it was in fact my Effexor. The symptoms have gotten better & since I am trying to taper off, should I continue not taking it or go back to taking it & continuing tapering down? I am still learning about antidepressants & how to navigate with them as my first doctor who prescribed them to me did not do a great job at helping me understand just what I was getting into.

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You inadvertently quit your Effexor cold turkey five days ago and were having withdrawal symptoms, but since those WD effects have gotten better, are now wondering if you should just consider yourself tapered off at this point? In most cases, rushing a drug taper (especially Effexor) is not a successful strategy for getting off the drug and quite often, makes life very difficult and uncomfortable until the withdrawal effects subside.

You don't mention how long you've been on Effexor, nor the dosage at which you started your taper, nor how long you've been yo yoing between 37.5 and 18.75 mgs. If you've only been off for five days, it is unlikely that you are all that far down the road to getting off this drug–for most, it takes a lot more time than this.

Quitting Effexor cold turkey even when on a low dose is NOT a good idea if you don't want to feel like cr*p and can be dangerous. Withdrawal symptoms are the big tip off that you're tapering too fast—tapering may not eliminate withdrawal symptoms, but it sure can minimize them. ONLY YOU can decide if your WD symptoms are tolerable … or not; if they're not, RESTART your Effexor and your taper.

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Wouldn't it be easier to the the 37.5mg capsules that have 3 spheroids in them.. allowing for 12mg increment tapers?

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What's the best substitute for Effexor XR? I had the best reaction to it about 15 years ago. Should I also take something to strengthen it?

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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 have been on Effexor since 2002. Originally it was 225mg/day , I tapered down to 150mg around 2011 and then 75mg 2012. I tried tapering off in 2012 and 2016 and failed both times but I believe I tapered too quickly. Since 2016 I have been on 37.5 mg/day. Starting in Sept 2021 I started taking 37.mg on alternate days and went completely off March 15 2022. I was doing well until literally 2 weeks ago when my anxiety returned but like you I find deep breathing , exercise and good company keeps me on balance. But I still find myself worrying about my family , and I tend to catastrophise making mental mountains out of molehills. I need to improve my mental strength. right now I am looking into CBT

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Hope is on the Horizon, dear one.
A glimmer of hope can be found in asking your doctor to give you a prescription for an inexpensive, non-addictive drug called Buspirone. At a minimum 10mg dose taken up to 3 times a day, it calms your mind and dramatically eases the anxiety so you can think more clearly and cope without falling to pieces. I found it to be my own bridge to finally recreating a functional nervous system once again. As you realize you forgot to take a dose or even two, you’ll know you’re finally on the path to final healing. And then one day you’ll realize you’re down to only taking it at night, and eventually even stop taking the night dose altogether (which I religiously took to avoid waking up with night terrors). I had to go on Buspirone at the end of July 2020, and finally took my last dose in November 2021. I have been fine ever since then and know my nervous system has been finally reset. I hope this helps you and gives you renewed hope that All Can and Will Be Well again in your life.
Blessings Always,
Barbara Sheffield Smith
🕊🙏

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@mjfalk3

This schedule did not work for me. Was on 37 1:2 venlafaxine. Took me 2 years of counting beads. Counted every bead in every capsule.

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How do you count beads in the 75 mg to wean off? All I have are the pink capsules. I'm desperately wanting to wean off. If I have to count beads, I will do it!

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@sheffieldsmith

Hope is on the Horizon, dear one.
A glimmer of hope can be found in asking your doctor to give you a prescription for an inexpensive, non-addictive drug called Buspirone. At a minimum 10mg dose taken up to 3 times a day, it calms your mind and dramatically eases the anxiety so you can think more clearly and cope without falling to pieces. I found it to be my own bridge to finally recreating a functional nervous system once again. As you realize you forgot to take a dose or even two, you’ll know you’re finally on the path to final healing. And then one day you’ll realize you’re down to only taking it at night, and eventually even stop taking the night dose altogether (which I religiously took to avoid waking up with night terrors). I had to go on Buspirone at the end of July 2020, and finally took my last dose in November 2021. I have been fine ever since then and know my nervous system has been finally reset. I hope this helps you and gives you renewed hope that All Can and Will Be Well again in your life.
Blessings Always,
Barbara Sheffield Smith
🕊🙏

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Hi, I have been on Effexor XR 150 for twenty years. It saved my life, but it is so difficult to get. Pfizer had a plan then they sold it to Viatris which I’m finding it is so difficult to connect with them. No prescription insurance will pay and a 3 month supply is $900. I’m afraid to go off since I’m 70 and recently divorced. I don’t really think I have any side effects but scared that the drug might be bad for me after so many years. I’m not able to take the generic because I tried about 10 years ago and after a week started feeling extremely depressed and couldn’t stop crying. How can people afford this financially? Not sure who I should turn to. Carolyn

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I too have been in similar circumstance and unable to afford my medications and left to try and deal with overwhelming depression. The only suggestion I can make is to check patient assistance to see if you may qualify. Unfortunately this is no longer an option for me.

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