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

@texasduchess

@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.

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I’ve been on 37.5 and have talked to my doctor in great detail about it. The feeling is that because I don’t suffer with depression that other than the side effects Of the zaps and nausea, I hopefully will be ok. Still feel crappy but ok.

@texasduchess

@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.

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Hey CaityD. I quit cold turkey after I was n 37.5 also. Its been a bit of a rough ride but hopefully all these ngative ssues will go away soon. Last pill was n Jun11th. Dealing with insomnia now. Once that clears up I’m sure I will be ok. Dealing with other health issues also and hope to get news about different tests I did last last week soon. Enjoyyour day

@shaker1956

Good evening. Just in need of info from anyone out there who has dealt with Venlafaxine withdrawal. I have been off Ven since Jun 11th/ 18. Though I was only on 37.5 mg"s for the final 6 weeks prior to stopping, I don't understand why I still have the zaps and the occasional sore stomach. My Dr had advised me 2-4 weeks of hell at first and then that was followed by 4-6 weeks. I'm now passed that and it doesn't seem to be getting better. Except in the evening. I do feel better in the evening which is weird. I exercise a lot, eat properly but still feeling off. I also take different vitamins that people along the way have advised me were good for me while coming off Ven. So I would appreciate any advice that people would have regarding how long I could expect this to go on. I dont want to have to go back on any of these drugs!!!!!!!!!!!! Hope everyone is having a great evening.

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I was really wondering the same thing. I was tapered off using 37.5 and these are my first 2 days completely off. The mental zaps are almost constant and sometimes are physical jolts. I’m so dizzy and nauseous, I can’t even see straight. When does this get better!!!!

@regionrat

I am so glad I found this site! Here's a brief summary of my journey: Started Effexor XR 16 years ago. Last weekend, admitted to the hospital through ER with a small bowel obstruction. I had an NG tube and was NPO for 2 days…so I was forced into a cold turkey stop of Effexor at the max dosage….225mg….and I am now 8 days in, and I am not going back. I have wanted to stop this drug for awhile and I figure that since the bandage has been yanked for me, I will tough it out. So glad to know that the brain zaps are normal. I feel a zap-zap-zap sensation especially at night. Of course, now I am FEELING again too, so the emotional rollercoaster is not pleasant, but I at least FEEL again. Now some back story: Breast cancer in 2006, chemo, radiation, and mastectomy. Mets to ovaries in 2011, complete hysterectomy, and hormone blockers. Mets to bones in 2013, back to IV chemo. Now on Xeloda successfully for 3 years, but that is also stopped until I see my oncologist at the end of the month. Diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2018 after a mild case of shingles in 2017. Recently discovered I'm anemic and did have a blood transfusion while in the hospital this past week. Since I was barely able to function previous to this weekend's hospital stay, I probably can't differentiate between my normal lousy health feelings and my new withdrawal feelings. Maybe a blessing in disguise for me. I am a widow, but I have 4 adult children who are taking great care of me. The youngest is 21, adult with mild mental retardation, and she watches me and cares for me like a momma bear!! I will have to explain to her that my mood changes are to be expected for a time, so she doesn't get offended. Following with interest to see what works for others! Thanks for letting me vent.

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Just started Xeloda 8/18/18. 2000mg a.m. and 2000mg p.m. Any info you would be willing to share about your experience would be greatly appreciated.

@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 Glad you found something that helped. I have no effect in the morning when I take it, but if I take a whole Benedryl I do. I don't think Benedryl is a good thing to take regularly but it does help me so I take it sometimes.
I will have to look into this "Rescue" spray and see if it is something allowable for post-transplant patients.
JK

@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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@edziner
Good Morning,
Wow, you have been through so much!
We do what we do and hopefully learn our lessons.
Have a good day!
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

@caityduck

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

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@caityduck
Good Morning!
So sorry you are having such difficulty with the Effexor.
On the positive side…..you lost 15 pounds, where most people (including myself) gains 15 pounds.
Please read some of the posts about how to come off the Effexor, safely and SLOWLY!
In addition, speak with the doctor, too.
You do NOT want to go off too quickly as the withdrawal can be hell.

PLEASE BE CAREFUL!

Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

@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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Hi Mardee,
Thank you for your insight. I am currently of day 6 of withdrawal from a very low dose which I have been taking for years. I feel horrible. Dizzy and nauseous. I am taking Zofran to counteract the nausea. Not sure if I can handle another 1-2 weeks of this horror show! Anyway, wanted to ask you what you mean when you refer to "brain zaps"? Maybe it's similar to what I have been experiencing…sometimes I feel so alone in my symptoms. Would love to hear from others!

Liked by grandmaR

@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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@ldwhite720
Hi!
So sorry for what you are going through.
I tried to get off many years ago.
I had no idea there were withdrawals.
My PCP suggested that I was doing so well that I didn't need it anymore.
Now I know better about how to go off.
I am not ready to come off just yet.
I have several medical issues I need to deal with first.
After that, it will be my turn.
Have a good day and remember that we are here for you…
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

Liked by edziner

@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

Jump to this post

Hi Content. Had another pretty good sleep last night. Woke up a few time and used that spray. It seems to be working. Hope it works again tonite. Enjoy your day

@texasduchess

@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.

Jump to this post

I've been taking 37.5 mg also, having tapered down from 150 mg years ago (I think I've been taking Effexor for about 7 years. I did not have any side effects (that I knew of) while taking it (other than dizziness and nausea if I didn't take it at the same time as previous day), but now, dizziness, nausea, night sweats, vivid dreams, but no more back pain (!), and I've lost a couple pounds (a good thing). This is day 6. I had NO IDEA it would even take this long to stop, but thanks to Dr. Google and this site, I guess I'm in for the long haul. Can you describe these "brain zaps"? that might explain the muscle spasms I get while speaking….

@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 agree with @grandmar, @ldwhite720. Sorry for what you are going through right now. Here is an article by a Mayo Clinic psychiatrist on antidepressant withdrawal which you might find helpful: https://mayocl.in/2m00irD. One key piece of information related to your question on "brain zaps" is that he indicates quitting an antidepressant (suddenly) may cause symptoms within a day or two, including electric shock sensations.

That is a great idea to have medication to help you get through the nausea withdrawal symptom.

How are you managing your day-to-day responsibilities with the horror show symptoms, ldwhite720?

@taylorwatkins13

Hi all. It’s me again. I had a scare on Saturday morning. I was in the shower and all of a sudden couldn’t see well. I had terrible spots in my vision and everything was very bright. I yelled for my husband (who was actually home thank goodness) and we decided together to go to the ER. Shortly after my vision went spotty I got the worst headache I’ve ever had. So I thought, maybe a migraine. Once I got to the hospital they acted quickly. Gave me three injections. One for nausea and two more for pain. It knocked me out. I don’t remember much. But on the discharge papers the ER doctor diagnosed me with discontinuation syndrome… and advised I see an eye doctor regularly to keep my eye pressure in check. My husband said my eye pressure was 23 when they checked it. Which is apparently high. This medicine is EVIL. I don’t know if anyone else has had a similar experience, but I thought I’d share. I have an appointment tomorrow with an opthamologist to assess the damage this medicine has caused to my normally 20/20 vision. I’ll update.

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Hi, @taylorwatkins13 — wondering how things are going being off of your venlafaxine (Effexor) after your episode with discontinuation syndrome?

@jerseygirl0751 — how have things gone with weaning off of venlafaxine (Effexor)? I believe you've completed your last dose?

@jakedduck1

@shaker1956

So Shaker how are you getting along? Sounds like your symptoms are subsiding ? I hope so, I bet you feel like you’ve been dragged through a knothole backwards if not worse over the last 10 or so weeks. You must be a very strong person.
Please keep us informed as to how your progress.
Jake

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Hey Jake. Well I got a phone call from my blood Doctor this morning. He tells me I have mild Lymphoma. So thats part 2 of what I was saying the other day. It beats having to do the chemo thing. And the Doctor who will be taking care of my case comes very highly rated. So all that makes me feel better. Now if I can only differentiate (?) what is Effexor related and what is Lymphoma related as far as feeling crappy by the way. I’m not feeling all that bad though. That spray I’m using seems to help. I’m rambling on now so I’ll shut up. We use to call this diahrea (wrong spelling) of the mouth. Enjoy your evening

@taylorwatkins13

Hi all. It’s me again. I had a scare on Saturday morning. I was in the shower and all of a sudden couldn’t see well. I had terrible spots in my vision and everything was very bright. I yelled for my husband (who was actually home thank goodness) and we decided together to go to the ER. Shortly after my vision went spotty I got the worst headache I’ve ever had. So I thought, maybe a migraine. Once I got to the hospital they acted quickly. Gave me three injections. One for nausea and two more for pain. It knocked me out. I don’t remember much. But on the discharge papers the ER doctor diagnosed me with discontinuation syndrome… and advised I see an eye doctor regularly to keep my eye pressure in check. My husband said my eye pressure was 23 when they checked it. Which is apparently high. This medicine is EVIL. I don’t know if anyone else has had a similar experience, but I thought I’d share. I have an appointment tomorrow with an opthamologist to assess the damage this medicine has caused to my normally 20/20 vision. I’ll update.

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I have been completely off it for about a week now. Went from 37.5 to nothing. That transition took a little longer then the rest. Was taking it and 5mg trillintex(?) Simultaneously and things got pretty bad. Went down to 37.5 every second day for about a week, then just stopped and increased the new one to 10mg. Feeling alot better now.

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