Share this:
richyrich
@richyrich

Posts: 4
Joined: Nov 02, 2016

Tips on minimising withdrawal symptoms from Effexor (aka Venlafaxine)

Posted by @richyrich, Nov 2, 2016

I have been taking Effexor/Venlafaxine for years and tried to get off it a few times but each time I try to give up the chemical withdrawal symptoms are a horror story and I give up giving up. Anyone got any tips or tried and tested strategies? Thank you

REPLY

coloradogirl
@coloradogirl

Posts: 29
Joined: Nov 02, 2016
Posted by @coloradogirl, Nov 2, 2016

So, I just finished this process with Zoloft (sertraline) and here are some things that worked for me. Your mileage may vary, but hopefully these are low risk for you to try.

1) You may need to ask your doctor for a slower tapering program than other patients. Some people are just more sensitive to dosage changes. Be aware that symptoms will get better, then may reappear each time you taper. AAFMA (practice group of family physicians) says that the symptoms typically last 1-2 weeks and as long as 4 weeks, so I just kept reminding myself that it was temporary.
2) Be watchful for things that make your symptoms worse. For example, caffeine seems to trigger the brain zaps for me (still, even after being off for several weeks), so I cut back my caffeine intake. I didn’t give it up completely (because I still need to function), but cut back on how much real coffee I was drinking, mixed decaf with regular, and switched to tea sometimes. In the end, I probably cut my daily caffeine intake in half, and it did help quite a lot.
3) Ibuprofen or other pain reliever can help with the flu-like body aches.
4) Benadryl helped with the brain zaps.
5) Exercise helped with both. Even if I wasn’t up to a run, a few blocks of walking would settle down the symptoms for a while at least. (Then, when they come back, just take another walk. We took a lot of walks for a while there).
6) Get enough sleep. As I came down off the meds, my normal sleeping patterns returned, which was great, but it did mean that I needed to plan time to let my body rest.
7) Pay attention to your diet. Your brain uses carbs to make seratonin, so now is not the time to go on the Atkins diet. Eat well and make sure you’re getting enough healthy carbs. You may crave sweets; I certainly did. I tried to counteract this by having bananas, graham crackers, and other healthy things I could snack on instead of sticking my head in a birthday cake like I seemed to want.

No lie – it’s a painful process, but this did really help make it easier. Also, at a certain point, when I was down the below the normal starter dose, I just ripped off the bandaid and went to zero. At that point, it felt like each taper was just prolonging the suffering. Don’t just go cold turkey from your current dose, though, as that can be dangerous. Also, don’t add any supplements or substitutes for the SSRI without talking to your doctor first (also dangerous).

And of course, watch for the return of depression / anxiety type symptoms. For a while it was hard to tell whether I was tired because of the change in meds or because my depression was returning. I figured as long as I felt okay enough to function and wasn’t thinking about being harmful to myself or anyone else, I could play it out and see. It turned out to be the meds and on the other side, I can see that I was more worried about it than I needed to be.

I wish you the best of luck and a healthy life.

Mardee

richyrich
@richyrich

Posts: 4
Joined: Nov 02, 2016
Posted by @richyrich, Nov 3, 2016

Thank you Coloradogirl 🙂 Greetings from the UK. RR

Liked by coloradogirl

coloradogirl
@coloradogirl

Posts: 29
Joined: Nov 02, 2016
Posted by @coloradogirl, Nov 3, 2016

Happy to help. Good luck with your process. I also forgot to mention that both stress and sugar seem to make the brain zaps worse for me. Even though I’ve been off for about a month now, I had a cupcake yesterday afternoon and within about an hour, I had quite a few. Worth watching in case it does the same thing to you.

Liked by richyrich

nanke99
@nanke99

Posts: 34
Joined: Aug 09, 2016
Posted by @nanke99, Nov 3, 2016

Hi! I was on Effexor XR for a few years and got off it several years ago. It was a very difficult process, so I fully sympathize. You MUST wean off
VERY SLOWLY. I don’t remember what my dosage was at the time (225mg?), but it took me about 9 months. Please do not let that long time scare you, it’s worth going slow, that will be your biggest help w/ withdrawal. At the time I had a very difficult time finding any doctor with experience getting people off it.
Luckily I was advised to to find one and luckily I did. It is considered harder to get off than heroine. Not trying to scare you, just want to make sure you go as slow as possible. Mostly, I was moody/angry, had headaches, and some brain “shivers”. The brain shivers I already had while on the meds.
I think we went down in 25mg increments over several weeks for each reduction. Keep us posted and good luck! Just give yourself some time and it will be over before you know it!

richyrich
@richyrich

Posts: 4
Joined: Nov 02, 2016
Posted by @richyrich, Nov 3, 2016

Thanks Nankee99. Reassuring to know that it’s not just me who finds getting off the stuff a horrendous experience. Feedback on this blog is reassuring to the extent that it makes you realise that an exit from the drug is possible, albeit very difficult. What about stopping without tapering and going cold turkey. Quicker but more painful?

coloradogirl
@coloradogirl

Posts: 29
Joined: Nov 02, 2016
Posted by @coloradogirl, Nov 3, 2016

Not sure if you asked me but here’s what I think based on my own personal experience (having kicked the Zoloft twice now..I recently went off it but was on several years ago). I think the answer is that it depends on your personal situation. What dosage you’re on, how sensitive you are to the medication, etc. Personally, I found tapering down to be painful enough that I’m not sure I’d be willing to try cold turkey. That said, my Internet research (take that for what it’s worth…Dr. Google) said that there is not necessarily strong scientific evidence that tapering is better. It’s definitely worth discussing with your doctor, but I can’t say I’d recommend trying it on your own. It’s your brain chemistry that you’re playing with here, and that can be dangerous in terms of not only side effects but mood effects and even possibly suicidal tendencies. Wish you best of luck kicking it – it can be done, it’s just not a whole lot of fun.

Liked by Parus, richyrich

wtrescott
@wtrescott

Posts: 1
Joined: Dec 16, 2017
Posted by @wtrescott, Dec 16, 2017

Hi @nanke99,
I quit effexor cold turkey and am having horrific withdrawals. No doctors I have spoken to have been helpful. I’m thinking I might need to get back on effexor for some relief, then try weaning off. It’s been over a month of no effexor and the symptoms have only worsened. Would you be able to recommend any doctors you have found helpful? I am willing to try anything at this point, as the symptoms are unrelenting.

sadiesmom
@sadiesmom

Posts: 35
Joined: Nov 19, 2017
Posted by @sadiesmom, Dec 16, 2017

Oh my goodness, @wtrescott. Effexor MUST be SLOWLY decreased over a considerable amount of time to be safe. I took it for over ten years and my psychiatrist weaned me off in a little over a month. It was waaaaaay too quick. I would recommend finding a dr. you can trust and follow their instructions. My personal experience has been HELL. I have never felt as suicidal as I have the last few months. My dr. decreased the Effexor while slowly passing me on to Prozac. It seemed to go pretty well at first and then the bottom dropped out of my world. My system did not accept the Prozac. I felt like I had a tight rubber band around my forehead all the time and had the worst anxiety I have ever had in my life. It’s been about 2 or 3 months since I have been Effexor free but I am still struggling. My dr. started me on Lexapro this week so we’ll see how that goes. I have also taken Xanax for years for my anxiety and she wants to wean me off of this “addictive” drug (so why in the heck do they prescribe it in the first place?) I am taking 10mg of melatonin when my anxiety is so overwhelming that the Xanax doesn’t help. It doesn’t put me to sleep, only takes the edge off so that I can relax. My dr. also gave me Gabapentin (generic for Neurontin) which has greatly helped the anxiety. I haven’t done any research on it other than what came in the prescription. It is typically used to control SEIZURES! Holy shit! I have only taken it twice and am trying not to have to take it at all since the Melatonin seems to help. Please, please, please follow the guidance of a professional when messing with these powerful drugs. In my opinion, Effexor should be banned. It is so addictive and caused so many other physical problems for me over such long time consumption: high BP, gastro problems, KIDNEY problems to name just a few. My PCP kept upping my BP meds to get it under control when in reality it was the Effexor causing my bp to go off the charts. Since I’ve been off of the Effexor, my bp is now within normal limits which has helped my fatigue problem greatly. In my opinion, big pharmacology in this country is worse than any mafia around. They create these meds, addict the general public, don’t consider the horrible side affects, which only keeps you buying and taking more meds….which means, they keep making that almighty dollar. I wish there was someone in the Cincinnati, OH area I could connect with for company and companionship when times get really tough for me. Wishing you all the luck in the world for a safe and healthy detox.

Liked by mkmenge

nanke99
@nanke99

Posts: 34
Joined: Aug 09, 2016
Posted by @nanke99, Nov 3, 2016

Sure, my pleasure! I would not go cold turkey! Not just the pain but the mental & emotional effects are unpredictable and could be dangerous. Do you have a doctor experienced with this? It is important to find one with specific experience w/ Effexor withdraw. When I did it years ago, there were very few, but now you should be able to.
What is your current doctor saying?

careth2
@careth2

Posts: 2
Joined: Oct 12, 2016
Posted by @careth2, Nov 3, 2016

Hi there! I am new to Connect, but hopefully can offer some insight. I DID go off 150 Effexor XR (name brand) COLD TURKEY on January 2016. I survived it, but will never in my life EVER go off ANY antidepressant cold turkey. I had taken Effexor for at least 8 years, Zoloft prior to that and and Imipramine (sp?) as the first antidepressant (in all 25+ years on antidepressants.) It all started with running out of meds over a long weekend and deciding it was time to try to get off antidepressants to see how I would do. Since I had recently retired from teaching, thought this would be an ideal time to give it a go. In addition, Effexor just wasn’t helping all that much anymore (I thought.) The first 3 days I felt like I was going to die! When I realized that I wasn’t dying, decided to keep going to get it all over with. In addition to the symptoms you have heard about, I had deep bone/joint pain that felt like I was being pinched with clamps. Also had skin sensations and peeling, and noticed a strange smell on my skin. Each day got a little better and by the 3rd week started to function a bit more normally. I was very emotional, however, which caused my family great concern. Well, to make a long story short, the depression crept back in full and I am still trying to get my life back. I did everything I could to stay stable, including herbal supplements and took a vacation where I hiked 6 miles daily for 9 days on hilly, rocky terrain. I finally had to accept that I’m a person who will need antidepressants for the rest of my life. With the help of a PCP and counselor, I am on my 3rd antidepressant & may need to resort to going back on Effexor, because nothing seems to be working. All in all, in my opinion, the chronic depression is worse than the withdrawal symptoms that do eventually end. If you are a person with situational depression, you may be successful weaning off Effexor gradually. If I were to do it again, that’s what I would do (while replacing Effexor with something else.) Here are the things that helped me with the physical withdrawal symptoms:
1. Get plenty of sleep/rest.
2. Eat a very well-balanced diet (this is not the time to worry about your weight.) Lots of soup & easy to digest foods the 1st few days.
3. Drink plenty of water, including coconut water.
4. Have a glass of wine in the evening (if advisable.)
5. Get outside and walk or other excersize (the warm sunshine will feel good!)
6. Hot yoga 3-4 times per week. Stay in class even if you feel nauseous & can only do a few postures.
7. Soak in a hot tub (with bath salts if available.)
8. Use a good moisturizer on face & body several times per day.
9. Get several professional massages.
10. Take Tylenol for muscle pain, if OK on your stomach.
11. A heating pad is also helpful at bedtime or during naps.
12. If you are single & live alone, make sure a few trusted friends/family members know what you are doing.
13. In general, be kind & gentle to yourself.
14. NEVER give up! Keep going, even when you don’t feel like it (which will be often.) YOU ARE WORTH IT!!!

richyrich
@richyrich

Posts: 4
Joined: Nov 02, 2016
Posted by @richyrich, Jan 11, 2017

Thanks very much for your thoughts. Much appreciated

Bek
@bekinprogress

Posts: 10
Joined: Aug 03, 2017
Posted by @bekinprogress, Aug 3, 2017

Thank you fir sharing. I’ve been taking Effexor for 8 years now and mentioned to my doctor about wanting the wean off. He thinks I should stay on it. I’ll have to say if definitely helped me when I started taking it and I felt much better and even like my normal self eventually. I do have anxiety disorder and have been in therapy off and in for years now. Haven’t had a huge revelation as to the reason I am like this but have really felt great for the last few years. It was a family move that took me down. I have forgotten to take my pill 3-4 times since I’ve been on it and at bedtime I sweat terribly and when I wake up it’s like I’m in another world and don’t even know where I am. It’s a horrible scary feeling. At first I didn’t know what was causing it. Then I realized it happens when I forget to take a pill in the morning. I don’t seem to notice or have any affects during the day but then almost at the 24 hour mark in the middle of the night I have crazy dreams sweat terribly and feel terrible when I wake up . I was thinking if this is going to happen when I go off of it how miserable it would be. Then I was trying to determine whether it was side effects or maybe I need to take the medicine . None of this started until after having children in my 30s . I’m just so torn on whether to try and taper and wean off or not. I have an aunt who has been on Prozac for 30 to 40 years and she’s got no health problems. She doesn’t even know if the Prozac helps her anymore but doesn’t care that she takes it. Did you worry about your liver or why you even wanted to get off your medicine?

Posted by @lisalucier, Aug 4, 2017

Hello, @bekinprogress, and welcome to Mayo Connect. I’m glad that you have joined this online support network. Thank you also for your post regarding withdrawing from Effexor/venlafaxine. As this thread is a little bit older, I’m also inviting @danybegood1 @jenapower @cathy615 and @targa to join in this discussion to share their thoughts about tapering off venlafaxine.

What would you say is prompting you to want to wean off of the venlafaxine?

jenapower
@jenapower

Posts: 194
Joined: Feb 21, 2017
Posted by @jenapower, Aug 5, 2017

Hi it’s jenapower (aka. Jen), I’d love to have some great input about Effexor, but I only had a brief experience with it. I was giving it to help prevent migraine headaches, not depression. So my experience was different. I’m one of the few people that it puts weight on, 30lbs in about 3-4 months. I’m a very small person normally, so this was very apparent. I don’t remember tapering off of it, but I must have considering what everybody is saying. I really don’t have any memory of having any problems getting off of it probably because no one told me I would. As soon as I stopped taking it, within another three months, 30lbs were gone. So I can’t take any kind of antidepressant in that category. I think Prozac, Effexor, and now Cymbalta are all very similar. I was given Cymbalta recently for fibromyalgia and other pain. I immediately started putting on weight, told the doctor and I quit taking it. Again I’d taken it for a few months, just like the Effexor, but never had any withdrawals. They probably said to taper it down, but I was too ignorant to know anything could happen. Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful with a withdrawl plan. Good luck, it seems like a difficult thing to do. Someone said it’s as addictive as heroin, that surprises me. I thought all the strong opiates were like getting off heroin. I just stopped all opiates about two months ago. I had a few symptoms but not many. I hope it works out for everybody. I wish I could be more helpful. Jen

Bek
@bekinprogress

Posts: 10
Joined: Aug 03, 2017
Posted by @bekinprogress, Aug 5, 2017

I know I didn’t realize that the post were that old. Just reading and thinking of my experience. I just have never like having to take medicine. Was a sigma fir sure with this one but I guess since I’ve never had to do this earlier in life makes me think I’m over the humo and should wean b/c I’d liver damage. Should I be concerned about that? Thanks for seeing this post.

Please login or register to post a reply.