Effexor Withdrawal or Depression Relapse

Posted by redandwhite123 @redandwhite123, Aug 20, 2023

In March I started on Zoloft/Sertraline to treat depression, and after noticing it wasn't helping, I was switched to Effexor/Venlafaxine 225mg. After another six weeks, I noticed the Effexor wasn't working, so I decided to go off it, tapering down over two weeks.

Once I was fully off the drug in mid July, I began having the brain zaps, nausea, and other symptoms, but it was all fairly tolerable. Two weeks later these symptoms began to subside just in time for my planned vacation in America. I live in Europe.

Throughout the whole 10-day vacation, I miraculously felt completely symptom-free, but began experiencing symptoms again the very day I returned to Europe (seven days ago).

I was initially hoping it was due to jet lag, but seven days seems quite long for that. I feel generally unwell and mildly nauseous much of the time, which leads to low moods. I'm also very fatigued and sleeping 9-10 hours a day. It seems to be good-quality, restful sleep. No more brain zaps though, but occasional headaches.

I'd really like to know whether these symptoms are more likely to be a continuation of Effexor withdrawal or some sort of (travel-induced) depression relapse. I don't understand how I could feel so well on vacation and then immediately feel bad again.

Thanks in advance for the input!

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Are you withdrawing from Effexor or Effexor XR (extended relief)? My experience going off of 37.5mg of Effexor was terrible. I had a much better experience titrating the XR. I am always depressed after vacation. My life at home is such drudgery. It could be a combination of withdrawal and vacation let down. I hope you feel better soon!

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Effexor XR is the only available form of the drug; Effexor was discontinued some years ago.


I was put on 450mg of Venlafaxine/Effexor 15 years ago, when I went to a doctor for what I thought was depression. Now that I know what depression really is, I was sad and exhausted. He also put me 450mg of Wellbutrin and 900mg of Lithium all at once. Within a year I was thinking of suicide at least weekly.

Scroll forward ten years and I finally insisted on being taken off of the drugs he refused. No psychiatrist would touch me. The thought was that if I am on so much medication I must be really messed up. Never mind that I was very successful, married with four children and well off. I had zero reasons to be suicidal and every reason to rejoice.

I sold my companies and retired to be home with my children and give my wife a break. I decide to take myself off the meds, I cut all of them in half in two weeks. By this time every doctor that I had seen put me on addition meds. They never took any away. Dropping my meds so fast was a disaster. I had every side effect from the discontinuation of these drugs that you read in about, including brain Zaps every five to 10 minutes.

I have written before about how bad things got, my point is stopping without medical support is very difficult. Fortunately you have been on a low dose for a relatively short period of time. It should make its way out of your system probably taking the same length of time as your were on it.

You can speed that up by exercising as vigorously as you can. Sweat as much as possible. Clean up your diet so that whatever is in your system can be replaced by good health nutrients. I found that eliminating sugar wherever I can has made a big difference.

In June I had a shot gun in my hand ready to end my life and I thought "it would be stupid to blow my head off without trying to figure out what was going on". So I started to do something I know how to do; research.

Here is what I found: (as it applies to me)

No one really knows why these medications are effective at all. The know what they do but the why is squishy.

The possible effects on the human body (who was the idiot that thought they could treat the brain and not effect the body) are impossible to calculate.

Insurance companies like medication because it's quick, talk therapy takes a much longer time. So, they bifurcated mental health. Some people write prescriptions and some people counsel. Neither one has the full picture, a recipe for disaster.

How did this happen? Pharmaceutical companies spending billions developing a drug. Guess who pays for the drug trials? Yeah, you got it. Might there be a confirmation bias perhaps even a conflict of interest. Drug companies are for profit companies. Think about that. We are being sold drugs that have so many side effects they can't list them all. All psych meds have warnings regarding thoughts of suicide or suicidal actions as possible side effects; What!

Why were these drugs approve? Did the FDA (here in the States) take a look at them. Sure they did, using the drug companies data! The FDA does not pay for or run trials. "Well just put warnings and disclaimers on the drugs and let the consumer and his doctor figure it out." Who, what doctor? My PCP or the psych provider who put me on them. They have no idea what the other one is doing.

I concluded it was up to me to figure this out and make my case to my doctors. I spent a month researching every drug I was on, fourteen at the time and all their interactions and came to the conclusion that I should never have been put on antidepressants at age forty three to begin with. I needed rest possibly some time with a therapist and I needed to get more than five hours sleep a night. In other words lifestyle changes. It is the medication that was and is making me sick.

I presented my findings to my two providers and I am down to four psyche meds and two side effect meds. They believed my findings were rational and my plan for titrating off reasonable. I am down to 337 of Effexor in month. I have dropped Lithium to 750 some others are just gone. So far no discontinuation effects. What I didn't expect was fifteen years of feelings not felt, would come rushing back in. Maybe that's why it is so difficult to get off these drugs.

I have to stress I am doing this with medical support. My blood work is checked no less than monthly. My blood pressure will be daily as soon as my home monitor arrives. I exercise two hours a day six days a week and I try to eat a clean healthful diet. I am also staring a company to do my best to make sure others do not go through what I've gone through.

More detail than you probably wanted. All I really have to offer, is do your home work and take care of your body. I believe it can be done or at least I have hope. For me when the side effects became too much to take (let's kill the patient to save his life) I finally took action. I guess that's what it takes.

For all those with mental health conditions and every one trying to help we have been taken advantage of we are one big drug trial and this time we paid for it.

Be well!

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Thanks for sharing your story so openly, thinking you could have a cite and reach a lot of people. Navigating life’s experiences is challenging as you clearly shared. Please continue, it’s nice to hear others dancing with these issues so candidly. Jm

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