I’m having terrible brain zaps coming off of Effexor

Posted by valkyrie @valkyrie, Aug 8 9:59am

I hope someone can help me. I am experiencing terrible brain zaps coming off of Effexor XR. I have no doubt they have tapered me down to quickly, but now that I’m in the withdrawal, I do not want to go back on it. I have a prescription for Cymbalta which they want me to try but I’m afraid to start it feeling this bad. Has anyone else experienced this? Has anyone used cannabis to help? I have a medical marijuana card. I’m so grateful there are people out there who can understand this.

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My doc prescribed 10 mg Prozac to mitigate side effects when I was weaning off Effexor, which did help tremendously. I would not hesitate to try the Cymbalta while weaning. I was on 150 mg of Effexor and successfully weaned to 75 mg. After that, I ended up not completing the withdrawal because there was too many life events going on for me and I was not in the right mindset to continue. I plan to start again in the beginning of the year when life slows down a little bit and take it much more slowly. I can totally relate to what you are experiencing and I will pray for you and everyone that is in this situation. It is horrible.


Dear Valkyrie: I'm so sorry you have such terrible brain zaps. I had them when I was coming off Lexapro a few years ago. This may sound stupid and useless to you, but when the zaps happened to me I dove into them and tried mentally to become part of them and considered them part of my mental life and examined them with curiosity and tried to learn and understand from them. Something like this might help you (or not!).
Regarding Effexor and Cymbalta, I was on each of them (seperately) for about a month or two each. I don't recall which caused which symptoms, but one of them caused me to have to urinate about once every 15-30 minutes, and the other only allowed me to urinate 2 or 3 times a day! I stopped both of them, of course. They didn't help my depression and anxiety symptoms either.
Sorry, I haven't tried cannabis to help with these symptoms/side effects, but it is probably worth trying on a test basis. I am considering cannabis in the future, but in the state I am in it is not quite legal yet. You never know what will help you until you try it. Believe it or not, the best anti-depressant my doctor and I have found for me is RITALIN (!) which we usually think of being used for calming younger people. I have treatment resistant depression and extreme anxiety and we had tried almost everything else, so my Doctor said "Why not give Ritalin a try?" and it worked!
I know how bad the brain zaps can be, and I hope you can find something to help with tolerating them and that you find a substitute for Effexor and Cymbalta. I wish you all the best.
Best regards,
P.S. A side note: In my experience with getting off of various anti-depressants, despite what my doctors (whom I respect and love dearly) have said, I have always found that withdrawal effects were the same in terms of intensity and duration whether I tapered off or whether I went "cold turkey". So now I always go cold turkey. I know what everyone is different, so I am not recommending this, just passing it along as information.


I am sorry to read that you are suffering the horrible effects of trying to leave Effexor behind. I have been through it myself and it can be horrible. I have been on 450mg of Effexor/Venlafaxine (along with a lot of other psyche meds) for 25 years. At this point Venlafaxine is part of my DNA.

My doctors have approved my request to titrate off of Effexor we began two weeks ago by dropping by only 37.5mg (the smallest they make) so far so good. The last time I tried it myself I went to fast and very bad things happened. Then again I tried to ease the pain with alchol and marijuana, so there's that.

Before we started on Effexor I changed my diet, started exercising and titrated off of Seroquel and Lorazapam/Ativan. I also read a book “Brain Chemistry” by a doctor Palmer of McClain and Harvard (I recommend the book to everyone) Mayo Clinic could probably help just as much.

Each of these changes made the next one possible. I've also been able to stop some of the drugs prescribed to treat the side effects of the drugs I was on. Seems like for every psych med I drop I get rid of two other drugs that treat the side effects.

We also found that many of the drugs I have been on suppress testosterone(T) leading to a host of problems. When tested I was low on T on all test, one critically low. Together we decide to boast my T while decreasing my meds. The idea is to hopefully limit my suffering while I try to detox my body. Right now I feel the best I have in decades.

Of all the drugs I've taken Cymbalta is not one of them so I can not comment.

I wish an easy journey. They say the brain zapas go away, I hope that's true the last time was a nightmare.


I just want to tell you how touched I am by the time you lovely people took to respond to my post. Yesterday was one of the worst days of my whole life. I don’t need to describe that misery here, because you understand it. To me that is everything. Thank you my fellow soldiers in this battle. I started Cymbalta last night and so far the brain zaps have completely disappeared. It is a blessing and an answered prayer. Thank you so much for your support, your thoughts, and your advice. It makes me believe this world is a far better place than most people imagine.

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