Tips on minimising withdrawal symptoms from Effexor (aka Venlafaxine)

Posted by richyrich @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

I just weaned off after 15 years. I went from 150 in 6 months. I went to 125, 112, 100, 75, 50…took it very slowly.

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Im going off really slowly. I was on 300mg. Today i have dropped to 262.5 for 2 weeks, 225 for 2 weeks, 187.5 for 2 weeks, 150 for 4 weeks, 112.5 for 2 weeks, 75mg for 2 weeks, 37.5mg for 3 weeks. Anyone gone off it at this rate? Im not sure how other doctors do it, but mine is trying it like this. Any advice, i already have a headache 🙁

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I’ve been on 75mg of Effexor for about 5 years. I’ve finally decided to come off as I’ve tried it in the past and have just given up on stopping. It’s been 7 days since I’ve had a tablet and every day I have vomited numerous times. Felt insanely nauseous and my head is just pounding. Unfortunately no anti-naseous medication have worked. I’ve had to have two weeks off work which isn’t beneficial as I have bills to pay. Although this time quitting wasn’t as bad as previous times. I only take a low does but I tapered down in a way 3 nights I’ll take 75mg, 1 night I’ll take 37.5 for a week. The. 2 nights 75, 1 night 37.5 for a week until I have been on 37.5 for a week. I decided to just stop after this as I need to get it done so I can go back to work. The vomiting isn’t so bad I believe you get used to it lol, just the horrible head feeling is horrendous. Any food I eat comes back up even if it’s recommended food to eat when nauseous. Back to work tomorrow even though no symptoms have died down but hopefully it won’t be too bad!

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Oh yes I also feel I can cry at anything. Especially watching tv and someone else on it is sad I just ball my eyes out lol. But no signs of the depression or anxiety which is good

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@wandren

I have been taking Effexor for 17 years. Presently at 150 mg daily. Attempted to come off once before and got down to 75 mg and then back up to 150 mg after a bad period. Thinking about trying to wean off the drug once again after reading other people's crticism of it and am worried about the possible long term damage it may cause.
I have found the drug did help with the depression and anxiety/panic attacks. But as situations have changed, thinking I may not require it any more. If I am late taking it, I know physically as I start to get the classic symptoms of nausea, diarrhea, headaches, achiness etc. I take it in the evening due to fasting in the morning. And if I forget, dreams can be brutal. Any suggestions? Certainly am not going to go cold turkey. Any one with experience weaning themselves off after so many years of taking the drug?

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Hi, there are a lot of people who have posted here on how they weaned. Since it is so difficult, one rec@ommendation by my psychiatrist is to use Prozac to hold you over til you have weaned. Then wean off Prozac, which is much easier to do.

Others here have recommended opening capsuke and removing a few balls a day or a week to taper very slowly. Also CBD oil to help relieve symptoms. Everyone says take it slow! Also, talk to your Dr and pharmacist. Best of luck! A lot of people here to support you!

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@wandren

I have been taking Effexor for 17 years. Presently at 150 mg daily. Attempted to come off once before and got down to 75 mg and then back up to 150 mg after a bad period. Thinking about trying to wean off the drug once again after reading other people's crticism of it and am worried about the possible long term damage it may cause.
I have found the drug did help with the depression and anxiety/panic attacks. But as situations have changed, thinking I may not require it any more. If I am late taking it, I know physically as I start to get the classic symptoms of nausea, diarrhea, headaches, achiness etc. I take it in the evening due to fasting in the morning. And if I forget, dreams can be brutal. Any suggestions? Certainly am not going to go cold turkey. Any one with experience weaning themselves off after so many years of taking the drug?

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Never too late to try

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@coloradogirl

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

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It really depends on how sensitive you are to meds. If I miss a dose I get very sick.

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@jakedduck1

Are you positive you received all the information the pharmacy had. I can believe the terminology you state wasn’t there. When I get prescriptions I always get a relatively short bit of information but if I ask for more information I get pages. Did you ask for more information?

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Hi @dianrib,
We are aware of the issue with double messages and are working on a solution. Part of the issue is that Connect has grown too big for our current email server, meaning we have to upgrade. That our community has grown and more people are getting support and help is a good thing. Now our technology has to catch up. 🙂

The new email server should be in place by mid-July and then you will no longer receive duplicate emails. I'm sorry for the annoyance in the meantime.

All the best,
Lisa

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@clairfull @tarsh @kzorle @cathy615
Wow, lots going on here. Welcome, you will be glad you came. The most important thing you can do is get to reading. Then read some more. We are folks helping folks and you are the most important part of this group. READ
Most of your concerns have already been addressed and we could recap the insights but may miss that one clue that would be most helpful to you. So read.
@clairfull I see you are on the tabs. Look for the method of cutting them in half and quarters. You are crashing into withdrawal everyday doing it the way you are. Baby, you have not even started the hard symptoms yet. You CAN do this just not the way you are today. We are with you.
@wandren I took it for 26 years. Last dose March 14th. DO NOT DO WHAT I DID
I am successful and still in mildish withdrawal although bearable, life is much sweeter. Working on stepping into action to claim my future. I am working to learn about rewiring the brain to do the job the drug used to do. Stay tuned.
@kzorle Impressive, please share how things are going. Good for you!!! Depression? Symptoms? Hardest part of all of it? Current challenge? I got off in March. I am eager for your replies.
@cathy616 Wow girl, impressive recap! You have been reading. There is no way I could have done that synopsis in so few words. Good for you. Come on, share more about you and what's going on.
Ok here is my progress. Last week has been harder. The back round anxiety has been increasing. I am aware, it is bearable. I have been taking actions, many of them to honor my feelings and care for my body.
My lower back is very loudly complaining after being under control for so many years. I ruptured 3 discs in my neck and lower back in 2006 on a bad safari in Kenya. Got my neck fixed. Don't want more surgery.
But, I haven't been able to stand up straight. So I called the Flippin Hippee and learned this. NOT TAKING ENOUGH CBD oil.
I am increasing to 700mg bottle. I will take 2 droppers 3 times a day. I have been wasting my precious energy in minute to minute pain control when by increasing my CBD, the oil does the work for me naturally. I want to jump with joy. I am my own detective to making my life easier.
Its important to remember each dropper contains 1 ml. I was taking Lazarus Naturals. 225 mg bottle That means each ml contains 15 mg of CBD. I thought I was taking 50 mg 3 times a day or 150 mg per day. I was really taking 21 mg a day. I know my old bad eyes contributed to this error. Ask questions! I certainly will.
Now, I am still getting rushes of emotions. Easier, not so intense. I am receiving compliments about how good I look from many people. Its gratifying that all this hard work is paying off.
Twice in the last month or so, my husband has come to me and touched me. He fell and died in 2011 in 8 hours. That was 2 months after my mother fell and died. Both almost instant. So anyways, been missing him terribly. Understatement
I was given a tremendous gift…twice…I am so grateful. I have been experiencing so many feelings because of that full body hug and again in a hand shake. Talk about a mind F…. And he really did come. Why?
I learned I still have a deep pocket of pain over his sudden death. He has relayed to me I have to let it go to go on to the new exciting future I know I have coming soon. AND IT SUCKS I HAVE TO GRIEVE AGAIN.
Yet grieve I will. I choose to honor my feelings and let go and cry again and again. Why? I am worth it. I choose to feel bad now so I can get over it. Gee I used to hate that statement. Yet I KNOW by crying and grieving now I can move on. He honored me enough to let me know I still have work to do. He hates that pocket of pain I carry. Me too now I know its there.
So I am honoring the pain, my husband and myself by allowing myself to cry and cry and cry. I am going to be better for it.
Still smiling, even if its thru my tears, bright wings
I will be out of pocket in the wilderness for the weekend. Bye

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@jakedduck1

Are you positive you received all the information the pharmacy had. I can believe the terminology you state wasn’t there. When I get prescriptions I always get a relatively short bit of information but if I ask for more information I get pages. Did you ask for more information?

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Thanks

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RE I used Prozac before Effexor . I Did not have any bad reactions stopping. Why my MD took me off Prozac & put me on Effexor, which is, for many, 'addictive' I do NOT know . Maybe docs need to try these ( toxic meds ) before handing them out with no warnings !!

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@brightwings

Thank you for your post. You are so helpful to everyone in this thread on Mayo Connect. Sharing what has worked for you, and sharing with us your grieving for your husband touched my heart. Be well Cute Suzie.

Gailb
Volunteer Mentor

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