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

@dianrib

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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My doctor also took me off of Prozac for Effexor approximately 10 years ago. It was the new depression drug on the block. I had depression and anxiety as well as a sleep disorder since I was a teenager. The doctor said he took me off of Prozac, because the Prozac was only addressing my depression and anger, but Effexor would address all.

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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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I decided to get off this stuff after 12+ years. I was on 150's. I asked the doctor if I could have the prescription changed to 2 x 75 daily, rather than 1 x 150 so I could taper. It took several hours of my time plus twelve (12) frustrating, time-wasting phone calls to get this done via my "PBM" (whose name I won't mention other than it starts with "Express" and ends with "Scripts") and they still couldn't comprehend this simple request. I ended up getting 3 months @ 1 x 75 daily. Seven days later. (Whatever happened to the good old days, when the doctor scribbled something on a piece of paper, you took it to the drug store with a few dollars in your pocket and walked away a few minutes later with your drugs? I think we've had too many people trying to "help" us, which I really do wish they would stop).

Needless to day, I was reluctant to try to get my prescription adjusted to 37.5mg when the time came, so I decided on another way.

Once I finally got the prescription filled, I did 2 days @ 150mg followed by 1 day @ 75mg. After a week or so of that, I did 1 day @ 150mg followed by 1 day @ 75mg for a week, then 1 @ 150mg followed by 2 @ 75mg for a week, etc. until I was down to 1 x 75mg per day. No symptoms yet. Probably could have gone straight to 1 x 75 daily.

Then I started going 2 days @ 75mg, one day at 0mg. 48 hours after taking the 75mg, I started to get mild symptoms (mostly dizziness). When I took another 75mg dose, the symptoms would abate.

I did two days on, one day off for a week or two, then went to two days on @ 75mg per day followed by two days off (0mg). That wasn't too bad — mild dizziness but not much else.

Where I ended up was taking 1 x 75mg only when the symptoms got too distracting, but trying to stretch this out by 12 hours at a time.

So 48 hours pill-free, then 60 hours (2 or maybe 3 times, consecutively). Once I had made 72 hours, I decided it was time. No more. That was 6 days ago. In the last few days, I have had constant dizziness, zaps, some nausea, wild and disturbing dreams, irritability, prickles and rapid mood swings. All of this was, however, much more bearable than trying to work with my "PBM" to try to get 37.5mg doses.

The good news is that the worst of the symptoms are abating. Still some mild dizziness remains, but I believe I'm on the up-swing. I don't know how much longer I will have to wait until I feel "normal" but after enduring the last week, I'm *NOT* going back. As compensation for the remaining symptoms I will say that I like how my brain works now. I feel more like "me", if that makes sense.

This *is* going to work for me, but I would caution against this approach if you have a realistic pharmacist (or pay for prescriptions out-of-pocket) and thus can get smaller-and-smaller doses without having to sacrifice some body part each time.

At some point, you are, however, going to have to stop taking the pills — there's no way around it for after all that is your goal.

Be strong and don't let a few little symptoms discourage you. You *can* do it and you will be proud of yourself for getting through it!

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@brightwings I was on the capsules aswell. I’m from Australia and I don’t think there is actually a tablet from of Effexor over here? And I’ve never actually been told about taking out the beads and cutting down your dosage by that. Don’t think doctors really know 100% everything about this medication, well the ones I’ve been to and I guess you don’t think to research before you start taking it. I got prescribed it by a psyhcatrist when I was 16years old and ironically she only sees patients until you’re an adult (18 years) so after that I had to see some gps. I think I’m lucky as I haven’t experienced any ‘brain zaps’ or that and I think my worse has happened. I was able to go to work today which was a first in two weeks. Still got a pounding head but took it easy. Think what makes it worse is when my head gets quite cold as it’s winter here my head gets more sore

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@dianrib

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 !!

Jump to this post

For me That was NOT the case Effexor and Xanax proved to be toxic for me

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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

Jump to this post

Taper off Its much safer

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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

Jump to this post

Try Maybe 1 week is not enough to be' hooked' Try and see but be careful. Talk to your pharmacist

REPLY
@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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That sounds borderline' illegal' but big pharma donates billions to congress to get their way So different than when I grew up US policies are so screwed up , greedy, lack regulations and safe guards, cuts in FDA,EPA, our kids education which will greatly help our economy. Its about billionaires and powerful corps who ' bribe ' Congress That Must be illegal. Someday the masses will get that and change our laws to protect We The people as our forefathers meant it to be We are falling far behind in ethics, morals, accountability

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@nanke99

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!

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I do take CBD oil so we''ll see

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@nanke99

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!

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I assume most of these drugs can can habit forming.. Also besides Effexor Not taking Xanax sent me to the ER with 300 BP / head pain …very sick. Pharmacist said Xanax was very hard to stop ! I thought I was having a stroke so did the ER MD. at first Did a head scan . ( I'm 75 ) ask tons of questions Assume no drug is safe . Compare the pro's and cons… FYI US is the ONLY country allowed to ( push ) these drugs on TV !!! Drug reps leave Free samples of such

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@sunflowermom4

I've been on Venlafaxine for six weeks now. Due to side effects my doctor is having me go off of the meds. I was taking 75mg daily, and I'm on day 5 of 7 days taking 50mg. I feel very dizzy, it's hard to focus,tired because I keep waking up at night. Is this normal symptoms with going off of this medication?

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Yes there are many symptoms coming off of it. The only way I was able to come off was taking lowest dose for two weeks while taking Prozac.

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@jakedduck1

@121314
Good question, I should have mentioned it earlier. There are 5 types of Vitamin D,- D, D1, D2, D3, D4 but our bodies only use D2 & D3. Clinical trials show that D3 is superior to D2. Newer studies now show D3 is twice as effective as D2 probably because it binds to proteins better. My problem is I took two of the worst Anticonvulsants for getting rid of Vitamin D Dilantin and Phenobarbital. These drugs increase activity of enzymes in the liver which causes Vitamin D to be broken down into inactive forms of Vitamin D. Vitamin D is absorbed
In the intestines but Thyroid problems hinder that absorption. Some researchers believe people 65 and over are all in need of Vitamin D to help fight off disease. Another important fact regarding Vitamin D is adequate levels D helps reduce adverse reactions of some meds. Vitamin D has many vital functions to keep us healthy and should not be ignored.
Most people don’t understand the sun and vit D which is confusing to me but you only need about 15 minutes in sun several times a day but the angle of the sun is vital and other factors like pollution, clouds, sun screen, cloths etc. Also only UVB rays can be used by the body. If your in a car or sitting in the sun behind any glass it won’t help. UVA rays go through glass but only age your skin. Whenever your in the sun and your shadow is shorter than you are your in luck. But don’t overdue it. Eat healthy and eat foods fortified with vit D. Always ask your doctor if a new or current prescription is going to affect you Vit D levels.

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Interesting about vitamin D. We do a lot of outdoor work and activity. I have always read that vitamin D is beneficial for a lot of things, including muscular ailments and arthritis. Would it hurt to take a regular daily dose of vitamin D anyways? I'm experiencing a deep cold feeling at times. Not shivering, but freezing even with blankets on. I try to avoid taking anything not needed. I have tried chaga tea, and have some on hand. We get the chaga fresh from the woods here. It was helping a little, but I stopped everything due to a concern about a blockage in my bowels. So many symptoms pre, during and while weaning off venlaflaxine. It's hard to figure out what is related to venlaflaxine.

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Hi I was put on Effexor years ago I’m a disabled vet and go to the va they have increased my dosage a lot I now take 300mg er . They have always said it would help with my nightmares and ptsd but at this point there’s no way to tell I have tried to stop using it 20 -30 times even with a taper I still get the buzzes and fever and worst nightmares but I’m praying to stop this time I’ve tapered down to 15mg and still get the dizziness and buzzes but not as bad hopefully by next week I’ll be free from this nightmare but I won’t give up! It will be amazing to wake up and say I’m almost off all these countless drugs .plz pray for me!! Ty

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