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

Liked by Bek, LynneB, kelly76, echams1 ... see all

@clevermom50

Hey you beautiful folks! Update from my new world! Yep, took the plung from approx 15mg to nothing. Saturday was a fuzzy day and ringing in the ears but NO headaches. NO brain zaps, took my supplements which include 2000 mg of Velarian Root at night to allow me to go into deep sleep cycles. No nightmares and slept through the night. I have more energy than I've had for 10 years. My 16 year old looked at me and said, "Mom, it's as if your personality woke up from a deep slumber.. I like this new you!" I have my flaky moments as I'm addressing my ADHD, but more than anything, I find my creativity awake and can not believe the amount of energy I wake up with and hold all day long. Appetite is different. I am not hungry but am making sure that I'm actually eating when I need to, even when I don't feel like I want to. Have dropped 4 lbs this week. My restless leg syndrome is gone, my crazy itching that was forcing me to take a antihistimine is gone. Damn! I think I was allergic to this med for the past 10 years and it was hurting me, not helping me! What did I put my liver through taking one med after another to counter side effects of something I was never supposed to be on in the first place! Yeah! Freedom! All I can say….take the advise of very wise folks and go in steps…cold turkey not worth it. Little ear buzzing…that's ok with me. If that is too much for you (and only you can judge that) then slow the progress down even further. Getting rid of the bottle of med I have….no turning back.

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Hey GrandmaR!
I was fortunate not to have a high dosage. I WAS…..love saying that…..WAS….at 75mg XR for 10 years. My drs (as we moved about every 3-5 years) would each ask me if I was doing ok on it. I guess I was???? I started taking it after I got very anxiety ridden while overseas Lots of factors, but I found myself being very angry and very upset even when I knew it was not rational. It was like I was outside looking in, thinking…behave! You know what you are doing is wrong…why are you so angry? I was afraid I would do something to endanger my children. Our military dr put me on Effexor and told me that it would level out my moods and that it was something many women need to be on as their hormones go out of wack. I was also told that I'd most likely be on it for life. Every dr since then has pretty much just written the script without a second thought. It wasn't untill I was looking for a natural source of help for my ADD daughter that it cross referenced into antidepressants and the damage they do for ADD and ADHD kids. Hmmmm….I've been ADHD since before they even started diagnosing ADHD!!! (I'm 51).
For me, I looked at my husband and said, I'm done…I have to end this. It's been hard on our relationship and nearly driven us to divorce more than once, my lack of interest in him.
That next day I went from 75 to 37.5. I stayed there for about 10 days, give or take. You know how it is being on effexor….my memory stinks. I sat at 37.5 until my withdrawl symptoms had calmed to almost nothing. I then dropped to about 20mg (estimating) and each day, I was bringing it down just a few beads at a time. After one week of this, I went to nothing. I'm three days and counting. No, not wishing to go back. Still have ringing in my ears almost constantly, have the moments of complete clarity followed by a delayed brain reaction…..hmmm….almost like I turn my head and look at something and I have to wait for the world to catch up with me….sort of dizzy, weird feeling. Today is better than yesterday, but another symptom has shown up. I'll have the double click sound I hear…I thought it was a sound in the car, then in the grocery store it happened again…and when I went upstairs to make the bed, I heard it again and I realized it was in my head, not something around me. I'm sure that this too will go away, though very weird.

For me, I'm taking
Omega to rebuild the brain networking….put my head back together.
5-htl? to also rebuild
St. Johns Wart to counter any depression that might come up.
L-something….it's downstairs so I can't remember for sure L-Trith….whatever….helps anxiety I think.
Melissa (also known as Lemon Balm) to calm nerves and provide focus.
Valerian Root to allow my mind to cycle into deep sleep.

The combinations seem to be working for me. My dr….well she laughs and snorts when I mention herbal. I won't need all of these forever….most just long enough to heal. Meliss and Valeria Root will probably be what I stay with for my ADHD and maybe St. Johns Wart for the occational sad day.

Can I tell you???/well captive audience….of couse I can….EVIL LAUGHT!……I'm SO happy! I am so much more successful at my work, so much more energetic and so much more in love with my family. I am so thankful that Mayo Clinic is (though not against synthetic medications) so endorsing of herbal alternatives.

My journey is not near as complicated as many. But I've been on it for 10 years just like many out there have been. I'm so happy on the other side and I know you can be, too. No matter how or which route you take. Each of us is different. Hang in there.

Effexor Free Me

@shaker1956

You’ve been delt a stressful blow buddy. I think your insomnia was inevitable.
How about some over the counter sleep meds.
Hang in there.
Jake

@jakedduck1

@shaker1956

You’ve been delt a stressful blow buddy. I think your insomnia was inevitable.
How about some over the counter sleep meds.
Hang in there.
Jake

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Hey Jake. Tonite I’m gonna try taking 5 mg’s if melatonin and 220 mg’s of L-Tryptophan. I have been reading up on this and hopefully it works. Cant handle the next day after only getting 3 hrs of sleep the night before. I’m gonna speak with my Doc about this when I see her in a few weeks. Pharmacist suggested Benadryl but it didnt do anything for me. Hopefully all will come together soon. Waiting for my blood test results as well as those xrays are not helping. Enjoy your night Jake.

@texasduchess

I am four months off Effexor after tapering slowly down from 25 mg and been using supplements for two plus months which help tremendously. My biggest issue is akathisia (restlessness, rocking, pacing)–it is not every day (about once a week), but when it comes on, the supplements and Ben*dryl aren't enough and I use half of a 5 mg Valium. My doctor only gave me 15 to get through this withdrawal, so I use them sparingly. Walking it off isn't working right now as it's August in Texas and getting too hot makes the akathisia much worse. Any suggestions?

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Never come off multiple meds at once. I ended up in bed for months. Can’t believe I was such an idiot.
I was on 3,600mg (max dose) of gabapentin and had no problems at all getting off it.
Good luck.
Jake

@jakedduck1

@shaker1956

You’ve been delt a stressful blow buddy. I think your insomnia was inevitable.
How about some over the counter sleep meds.
Hang in there.
Jake

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@shaker1956 I have read that more than 3 mg of melatonin can cause nightmares so be aware. I take 3 often. If I absolutely need to sleep I take 1/2 Benadryl and for me it does the trick. If I’m really desperate I take a 5 mg lorazepam. My doctor only gives me 10 pills a year so I use them very judiciously.
JK

@jakedduck1

@shaker1956

You’ve been delt a stressful blow buddy. I think your insomnia was inevitable.
How about some over the counter sleep meds.
Hang in there.
Jake

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Hi there Content. My pills are 5 mg’s so I’m gonna try one tonite. I just need a really good sleep. And thanks for the info. I was contemplating taking 2 pills but I’m not now. Lol. The pharmacist suggested I take 1 and see where that takes me. Hopefully combined with Tryptophan 220 mg’s will do the trick. Fingers and toes and eyes are all crossed!!!!!! Lolol

@jakedduck1

@shaker1956

You’ve been delt a stressful blow buddy. I think your insomnia was inevitable.
How about some over the counter sleep meds.
Hang in there.
Jake

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@shaker1956 I hope you do get a good night of sleep. I reserve the lorazepam for times when I’ve gone a few nights with inadequate sleep. I hope you do not get nightmares, I’m glad you are not taking two pills.
JK

@jakedduck1

@shaker1956

You’ve been delt a stressful blow buddy. I think your insomnia was inevitable.
How about some over the counter sleep meds.
Hang in there.
Jake

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Hi again Content. Is Lorazepam the generic name for Ativan? I hope I dont get nightmares also. I will post in the morning.

@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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Hang in there!

@edziner

Personally I would not use cannibis or CBC oil only because so little is known about it and the nearly 500 different chemicals. It’s not yet known how many (if any) are dangerous how some chemicals may be altered when smoked, baked, dried or juiced in their natural state or how they may react in our bodies. At this point nobody knows for sure.
I know it provides many people with relief of various ailments and I’m happy for them. It has stopped children with severe seizure disorders which is my nemesis.
I’m very glad it helps you.
My question is, have you tried the certified thc free version and non certified one with some thc in it. If so which one helped you more?
Sorry for going on before I got to my question.
Jake

@emis6

I first went to my doctor for depression and suicide attempts that she gave me Effexor… Well it was not doing well. I kept telling my doctor that it is not working and that I think there is something wrong. I guess she just didn't want to change the medication she had given me. Anyways considering my financial situation I don't have many choices of doctors in my town so I decided to stop taking the Effexor. I was given on 37.5 mg dosage for about two months. My doctor is on vacation and I stopped the medication myself on Monday(was not aware of the withdrawal effects). I have been having headaches since yesterday and I feel really bad in my stomach but morally I feel so much better as Effexor was making me feel worse. I don't ever want to take this medication no matter what dosage. My doctor should've informed me of all the side effects and withdrawal effects I'm actually mad that I had trusted this person as a professional and now I am struggling really hard to stop this medication. Well for now I only have diziness headaches fatigue and I have lost appetite. I hope it gets better after one or two weeks. I can't go on sick leave because I can't afford it but it really has been hard coming to work.

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Hey I would like to give an update. After posting here I started eating at least 100 grams of salmon and I added omega3 butter to my eating regime which helped a lot with diziness and fatigue. I had very bad pain in my muscles but I forced myself to go for 45 mins walk which also helped me feel better a little. like 4 or 5 days afterwards I started feeling very badly depressed for like 24 hours and then it was eventually gone. I have been having coughs since then which haven't disappeared. I will visit a doctor for coughs today. So after almost 14 days of stopping I feel almost normal and like myself. I have decreased the salmon but I have tried to keep the omega3 in what I eat.

@jakedduck1

@edziner

Personally I would not use cannibis or CBC oil only because so little is known about it and the nearly 500 different chemicals. It’s not yet known how many (if any) are dangerous how some chemicals may be altered when smoked, baked, dried or juiced in their natural state or how they may react in our bodies. At this point nobody knows for sure.
I know it provides many people with relief of various ailments and I’m happy for them. It has stopped children with severe seizure disorders which is my nemesis.
I’m very glad it helps you.
My question is, have you tried the certified thc free version and non certified one with some thc in it. If so which one helped you more?
Sorry for going on before I got to my question.
Jake

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@jakedduck1
Good morning!
I thank you for your concern & your taking the time to write.
I can only wish that my PCP (the guy that "practices medicine" on me) had as much concern 11 months ago when he started experimenting on me with his list of benzos to see which one worked.
I can only wish that the psychiatrist that I saw during my 8-day stay at the hospital for severe panic attacks had as much concern before he steadily increased my "poisons" to 1800mgs of Gabapentin & 300mgs of Effexor.
I can only wish that the very well known, established spine specialist that did my back surgery 22 months ago had warned me that I MIGHT experience depression & anxiety when I came off the oxycodone that he prescribed for post surgery pain.
I can gratefully report that today I have no back pain. I sit here with 2 18" titanium rods implanted along both sides of my spine along with all the assorted u-bolts & nuts that secure them to my fused spine. Had had started having severe lower back pain 4 years ago from my scoliosis (curvature of the spine) that was getting worse & pinching nerves in my lower back. My spine specialist told me I had 3 choices. I could take pain pills or get spinal injections the rest of my life or I could let him correct the curvature in my spine. After much research, I opted for the surgery. With 2 surgeons operating on me for 10 hours straight, I came out with a 50% correction in that curve & NO back pain today! Truly a miracle!
I'm assuming here that you may have read my reply to @texasduchess last week as that is the only post I have made on here. I have been reading posts on this forum for about 3 months now. I have done a lot of research the past 11 months on these meds that I was prescribed because of the immediate horrendous side effects they brought me. Yes, at the time they were prescribed, I truly needed them. I was scared to death when I started having the anxiety & panic attacks & they helped me get over that hump.
But the side effects from these drugs were awful & included tight rigid muscles along both sides of my spine, wild, vivid, crazy dreams (up to 3 & 4 per night), awful sweating at night, dizziness, brain fog & headaches. I knew immediately that the meds had caused them because I took no other medications at the time. I wanted off the meds!
I started researching the cbd product options several months ago. I personally understand that they are not an option that many will take these days. Although many new studies are being done today on this alternative natural medicine, I can not have that guy with the long white coat on that "practices" on me just write out a script for me. My PCP knows that I am using the cbd alternative & says "go for it if it works for you". And it is working for me. I have less anxiety, more clarity, want to be creative again & my weird sense of humor are coming back since beginning them about 6 weeks ago.
To answer your question about the THC ingredient, I can only tell my experience. Everyone is different & will metabolize it differently. When I had done my research on CBDs, I saw a Board Certified Neurologist that I had heard about near where I live. He has a practice now that has a shop out in front of his clinic. He prescribes pharma meds as well as alternative, herbal, natural medicines these days. When I left his practice that day, I had a 1 oz. bottle of CBD oil with THC in my hot little hand. I took that potion for a month starting with micro-dosing as he prescribed. The minor effects of it were noticeable immediately as I was calmer within days. There was a bigger, better outcome as I dosed up to the 30mg/day I use now but it took 2 to 3 weeks to really feel it fully. I was introduced to HB gummies as I read more about these products. 2 gummies at night worked better to get me off to sleep. So then I ended up buying HB CBD oil for my 2nd bottle because they have no THCs in them. The THC is minimal (.3%) legally here in my state but I did notice a better result for me with no THC so I've stuck with that for now.
Sorry to drag on so long here, Jake; it seems it's just one of my many character defects. Haha! But wanted to explain to you that I had done my "due diligence" before trying any alternative med like CBD oils. Cannabis has been around for 1000s of years & been used medicinally. From my research, Effexor has been around maybe 20 years. The long term "brain effects" from it are still unknown too. I take care of my 87 y.o. mother these days that is a full blown Alzheimer's patient. She has been on Effexor for almost 20 years. There's no taking her off it these days as it would probably kill her. I do have a lot of stress with managing her business affairs & caring for her these days but wouldn't have it any other way! So for me, I'm looking to reduce my anxieties in a more natural, less addicting manner; thus CBDs for me right now. I'm off the Gabapentin now as of 2 weeks ago. In another 2 weeks, I'll start tapering again from my current 150mg of Effexor. I WILL do it very slowly this time as suggested in this forum. I'm nervous about it but feel much better since finding this site! You may see more of me on here at that point…
Thanks again for your concern.
Ellen

I’m a 54 yr old Mom of 3 mini adult (18,19,&21). I was prescribed Effexor about 18 months ago for hot flashes! I struggled going on it and the pharmacist encouraged me to open the capsules and put the beads in yogurt to help with the nausea and at one point even suggesting that I ask the dr for a higher dose! Of course, being a “good patient” I tried my best to take the pills even though I lost 15 pounds in the process. Now I’ve been trying to get off of it for 8 months because I still have the hot flashes and if I’m even an hour late on my dosage, the brain zaps are overwhelming. Today is my first 24 hours with out it and I’m having problems just moving my head without the zaps. I encourage everyone to research EVERYTHING your doctor prescribes before putting anything in your body !!! Especially now that google has taken over the world :0). I love my doc and know she didn’t mean to cause this. I also realize that this med had probably saved thousands of lives but for symptoms like mine, the effects are far worse than the cause!! I really appreciate everyone’s advice, support, helpful ideas. Many Blessings

@caityduck
You don't mention how much Effexor you were on and I realize when you want off you want off NOW, but to go "cold turkey" is unpleasant at best and dangerous at worst. Please read the many posts on here and taper off–slow and steady wins this race.

@jakedduck1

@shaker1956

You’ve been delt a stressful blow buddy. I think your insomnia was inevitable.
How about some over the counter sleep meds.
Hang in there.
Jake

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Hi again Content. No nightmares. And even got 2 hrs of extra sleep. But I must say I do feel weird when I get up in the morning after taking this Melatonin stuff. Feel almost spaced out. I went to the health food store and they asked me if I wanted to try this spray called Rescue. Apparently its very calming. Revues are good. If you wake up in the mddle of the night and cant get back to sleep, well you take 2 sprays of ths on ur tongue and it helps you get back to sleep. Will try it tonight when—- not if I wake up. Lol. Enjoy your day.

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