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.

@seaglass

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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Try GoodRx!!!! There are discounts for so many drugs.

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@seaglass

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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Have you called the company that makes Effexor? The companies can help patients according to income. My friend gets help with her rheumatoid arthritis meds this way.

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@seaglass

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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Please, please be careful about running out of your Effexor. Effexor is a drug that MUST be SLOWLY tapered off to minimize uncomfortable/dangerous withdrawal symptoms; quitting cold turkey can trigger a stroke, or other serious health conditions.

@marjou, @beachlion12 and @sears have good suggestions on ways to obtain your medication at a savings. I personally used GoodRx and got a substantial reduction in price for a prescription B vitamin.

I found this article that reviews and DOES NOT recommend an online pharmacy I just got a mailing from this week, but the author DOES suggest using Secure Tabs, Pills Shop, or Max Healthcare (you can click on live links to these websites at the bottom of the article). A 30-day supply of Effexor XR 150 mg on all three sites was less than $54 today. Hope this helps!—
https://annapolisoncology.org/global-pharmacy-plus

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Hi! Thanks for sharing this. When you cut the tablets to split them into smaller dosages, were those extended release or immediate release? I’ve been on the extended release so I wasn’t sure if I could cut those ones.

Thanks! Your post has been very useful

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I know it’s been a while since you posted. I’m wondering if you were on Venlafaxine XR for your entire taper or did you switch to immediate release? Thank you

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I have been on venlafex for 2 years now. I didn’t go on it for depression but anxiety and stress due to the fact that we decided to move countries. I went to see my doctor due to awful tinnitus and told him that I felt I didn’t need venlafex anymore. He decreased my dose immediately from 70mg to 37.5. Then told me to decrease to 1 every second day and so on. After two weeks I was fine but suddenly started suffering nausea, headaches brain fog, fatigue, worse tinnitus, odd pains in my head. I had no idea that these were withdrawal symptoms. I started panicking thinking I had brain tumours etc until I started researching and realised it was all withdrawal symptoms. How could my doc do this to me? I can’t get tablet form to cut in half to at least taper off the daily dose. I tried opening the capsules which just landed up flying everywhere. I’ve decided to try and see an ENT and have a ct scan anyway because the tinnitus is unbearable. The antibiotics and drops didn’t help. I feel like my head is a total mess. Needless to say I’m changing doctors

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I took Effexor for my fibromyalgia for over ten years. I tapered off the drug about ten months ago.
I'm now anxious, depressed, have developed acid reflex and I wake up early !
My life has changed, and I want it back

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@intendtorecover

I took Effexor for my fibromyalgia for over ten years. I tapered off the drug about ten months ago.
I'm now anxious, depressed, have developed acid reflex and I wake up early !
My life has changed, and I want it back

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Hello @intendtorecover and welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. I am very sorry to read about your unintended symptoms following your taper.

You will notice that I have moved your post into an existing discussion from another member on her taper journey that I thought may be helpful to you as you go forward. You can find your post here: https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/as-promised-my-successful-tapering-off-effexor-venlafaxine/

You may wish to click on the link and read through the discussion to see what experiences resonate with you.

Did you consult your doctor prior to, during, and after your taper? If so, what was their advise given your outcome?

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Hi @intendtorecover, first of all, I really like your username IntendToRecover. It spells determination.

It sounds like you may be suffering from antidepressant discontinuation syndrome. It is something many people tapering off Effexor has experienced, especially if they taper too quickly or have been taking the drug for a very long time. Sometimes, even if you are slow and deliberate when weaning off an antidepressant, you still may experience symptoms of discontinuation syndrome.

Many of the symptoms you are experiencing are common, as this article explains:
– How Long Does Withdrawal From Effexor (Venlafaxine) Last? https://www.verywellmind.com/brain-shivers-as-effexor-withdrawal-symptom-1065516

I'm tagging fellow members like @sheffieldsmith @marsha2 @mlh13here @texasduchess who have successfully tapered off Effexor who can share their experiences.

If you continue to suffer, your doctor can talk to you about prescribing a bridge medication like fluoxetine, which has been found to help ease discontinuation symptoms.

Have you talked to your prescribing doctor about your discontinuation symptoms?

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@tj555

Hi there, any updates? How is it going? Thanks 🙂

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It might be difficult, but get off now before you risk, what some studies are showing could be permanent damage.
You'll be sick, but you'll get over it.
I used this drug for ten years for treatment of pain. It's been almost a year and I now suffer from anxiety and depression. I've found out since that the recommended length of using an antidepressant is a year or two!

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