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

@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 am.almost done getting of this horrible drug I used for hot flashes, I have noticed I am Ito like crazy!

@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 Yes, they are the same.
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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@shaker1956 I'm glad you are having success with it. I will definitely need to look into it. Thanks.
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 content. This stuff doesnt seem to be helping any longer. Was good for the first few nights but seems to have lost its zip. I’m still using it but still staying awake After 4 am or so. Mind you I have a lot of stress going on in my life right
now that is certainly not helping. Enjoy your day

@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 Sorry to hear this. The half of a Benadryl works wonders for me but actually too much! I rely on waking about an hour or so before I have to get up, to take my medications, prior to eating, and with the Benadryl I sleep more soundly and sometimes do not wake up then. I really do not want to set my alarm and wake my husband too. I did have a Fitbit Versa watch for a while and that was perfect, you could set it to vibrate on your wrist, but I returned it because it was not tracking the activities do very well.
JK

@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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Your post gives me heart. I start on 25mg for 2 weeks, then to 12mg and then 0. So glad you are feeliing great. Do you think it was the effexor that has enabled me to sleep my life away?

@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

Hey there Content. Think I will try half a Benny tonite when I go to bed. Cant make me feel any worse than what I’m feeling now. I dont know if its the Effexor effect or the Melanoma effect. I do know however its not pleasant. I‘M looking forward to seeing the cancer Doc on Thursday as he will be able to tell me why I’m feeling this way. I know its just a matter of time for the Effexor to be completely out of my system anyways. Just very hard to deal with. Oh well we all have our crosses to bare!!! Hope your having a great day…..

Thought I would something up here, hopefully can benefit someone. Went onto venlafaxine as a change to escitalopram, which I was on for about 9 years. I think the doctors answer to issues was just to increase the dose. Withdrawal from this not so much an issue but suicidal thoughts worse on this med. awful stuff. Specialist suggested switching to Effexor. Went on to this up to 150mg. Missed a dose one day and bang- withdrawal. Dizziness, nausea. Time off work due to this. Doctor didn’t think dizziness was related to missing the dose and insisted in using the term “discontinuation syndrome” why dot they just say withdrawal? Was given stemetil to minimise dizziness. Next missed dose- same symptoms, same comment from doctors regards Effexor not having many “discontinuation symptoms” every time I missed the dose I felt like crap. Determined to get off this drug so had to tough it out. Stocked up on stemetil for the dizziness and also paradol osteo, dual layer slow release paracetamol. Planned some leave from work so I could deal with the withdrawal from the tapering of the dose. Went from 150 to 75. First couple of days of reduced dose I needed the stemetil and panadol osteo. Then to 37.5 same procedure. No smaller capsule than 37.5 so once used to that. Had to go to every second day dose for a couple of weeks, then every 3rd day. Always needed the stemetil due to dizziness. Now been off for a month. Feel more alive. Hope this helps someone

@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

@shaker1956 I hope you sleep well with the benedryl. I don’t think you should take it every night though, check that with your doctor.
JK

@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.

Jump to this post

Effexor XR…had to take it at night instead of in the morning because all I ever wanted to do after taking it was sleep. It was as good as a tranquilizer. I was worthless after taking it.
So, a week free of Effexor. Still have buzzing ears. Occationally I have the awkward feeling of my vision catching up with my movement, I have WAY more energy. Before Effexor, I was the energizer bunny…adhd. With effexor, I was sedated in comparison. Now, I'm getting back to energizer bunny and dealing with the supplements that allow me to focus and be productive as an ADHD person. Went water rafting with my kids yesterday for 4 hours, then came home and mowed an acre of land, trimmed it up and weeded the flower gardens before coming in to make dinner. My family doesn't know who I am! HA! I am guessing that the 80+ lbs that I've gained in the past 10 years will come off just from my activity level. I work at a factory that is being built and have been climbing 60 foot towers to inspect. I use tie offs for my own protection. Yes, I slept away 10 years of my life…not letting one more minute go by under that influence.

@craig633

Thought I would something up here, hopefully can benefit someone. Went onto venlafaxine as a change to escitalopram, which I was on for about 9 years. I think the doctors answer to issues was just to increase the dose. Withdrawal from this not so much an issue but suicidal thoughts worse on this med. awful stuff. Specialist suggested switching to Effexor. Went on to this up to 150mg. Missed a dose one day and bang- withdrawal. Dizziness, nausea. Time off work due to this. Doctor didn’t think dizziness was related to missing the dose and insisted in using the term “discontinuation syndrome” why dot they just say withdrawal? Was given stemetil to minimise dizziness. Next missed dose- same symptoms, same comment from doctors regards Effexor not having many “discontinuation symptoms” every time I missed the dose I felt like crap. Determined to get off this drug so had to tough it out. Stocked up on stemetil for the dizziness and also paradol osteo, dual layer slow release paracetamol. Planned some leave from work so I could deal with the withdrawal from the tapering of the dose. Went from 150 to 75. First couple of days of reduced dose I needed the stemetil and panadol osteo. Then to 37.5 same procedure. No smaller capsule than 37.5 so once used to that. Had to go to every second day dose for a couple of weeks, then every 3rd day. Always needed the stemetil due to dizziness. Now been off for a month. Feel more alive. Hope this helps someone

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l've been weaning myself off 150 mg of Effexor, been experiencing mega "brain zaps". Worried that one of the other people in my head is taking over, doing mean, ugly stuff during the zaps. Is there a class action suit about this yet? I'd like to join. Me. Yes me, not my evil twin

Hi Everyone. Newbie here!
This is the beginning of my 3rd week reducing my dose of Venlafaxine with the hope of coming off it all together. I have been taking the meds since 2011 beginning with 150 mg but reduced to 75 mg in the last few years. I decided to come off it as I felt as if it was taking over my life and I hated renewing my prescription for it. I tried cold turkey a few years ago and that was a massive mistake as we all know.

This time, I spoke to my doctor who referred me to the pharmacist (I'm in the UK) and between them they decided that I should go as slowly as possible. My normal dose of 75 mg would be taken once a day as it was slow releasing. For my first week, I was put on 37.5 mg twice a day. My 2nd week was one tablet in the morning and half in the evening. Now that I'm on my 3rd week, I take half a tablet in the morning and half in the evening. My 4th week will be one tablet once a day for a week then stop. I was advised to return to the previous dose if my withdrawal symptoms became unbearable.

As it is now, I have not experienced any withdrawal symtoms but I know, from research, that this may not be the case when I stop taking them altogether but I will cross that bridge when I get to it. I feel excited about being Venlafaxine free in the future and hopefully I will lose some of the weight I have put on whilst being on it too.

Thanks everyone who has written about their experiences and given advice. I'm so glad I found this group.
We can do this!

@craig633

Thought I would something up here, hopefully can benefit someone. Went onto venlafaxine as a change to escitalopram, which I was on for about 9 years. I think the doctors answer to issues was just to increase the dose. Withdrawal from this not so much an issue but suicidal thoughts worse on this med. awful stuff. Specialist suggested switching to Effexor. Went on to this up to 150mg. Missed a dose one day and bang- withdrawal. Dizziness, nausea. Time off work due to this. Doctor didn’t think dizziness was related to missing the dose and insisted in using the term “discontinuation syndrome” why dot they just say withdrawal? Was given stemetil to minimise dizziness. Next missed dose- same symptoms, same comment from doctors regards Effexor not having many “discontinuation symptoms” every time I missed the dose I felt like crap. Determined to get off this drug so had to tough it out. Stocked up on stemetil for the dizziness and also paradol osteo, dual layer slow release paracetamol. Planned some leave from work so I could deal with the withdrawal from the tapering of the dose. Went from 150 to 75. First couple of days of reduced dose I needed the stemetil and panadol osteo. Then to 37.5 same procedure. No smaller capsule than 37.5 so once used to that. Had to go to every second day dose for a couple of weeks, then every 3rd day. Always needed the stemetil due to dizziness. Now been off for a month. Feel more alive. Hope this helps someone

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@stlouisgmajenn how long have you been weaning off of it? I’ve been trying for about 6 months now. I had my son go to Mr Nice Guys and buy me a scale so I could weigh out the little granules in the capsules. I got myself down to about 25 mg and then my dr suggested I just “rip off the bandage”. Those brain zaps are no joke! I’ve been on some pretty heavy meds in my life and have never had this much trouble getting off of them. I’m on day 5 and feeling a bit better and the zaps aren’t near as strong. Triggers are moving my head or eyes too fast, loud sounds, and closing my eyes while standing. It seems to close me and go in waves. Early mornings suck late evenings are definitely better.
Wishing you all good things and if you happen to hear about a suit against them, please let me know

@craig633

Thought I would something up here, hopefully can benefit someone. Went onto venlafaxine as a change to escitalopram, which I was on for about 9 years. I think the doctors answer to issues was just to increase the dose. Withdrawal from this not so much an issue but suicidal thoughts worse on this med. awful stuff. Specialist suggested switching to Effexor. Went on to this up to 150mg. Missed a dose one day and bang- withdrawal. Dizziness, nausea. Time off work due to this. Doctor didn’t think dizziness was related to missing the dose and insisted in using the term “discontinuation syndrome” why dot they just say withdrawal? Was given stemetil to minimise dizziness. Next missed dose- same symptoms, same comment from doctors regards Effexor not having many “discontinuation symptoms” every time I missed the dose I felt like crap. Determined to get off this drug so had to tough it out. Stocked up on stemetil for the dizziness and also paradol osteo, dual layer slow release paracetamol. Planned some leave from work so I could deal with the withdrawal from the tapering of the dose. Went from 150 to 75. First couple of days of reduced dose I needed the stemetil and panadol osteo. Then to 37.5 same procedure. No smaller capsule than 37.5 so once used to that. Had to go to every second day dose for a couple of weeks, then every 3rd day. Always needed the stemetil due to dizziness. Now been off for a month. Feel more alive. Hope this helps someone

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Great news @craig633! That’s awesome How long was it before you didn’t have the dizziness? Right now (5dayswithout) it’s my biggest hurdle. I’m going on holiday with my family in 14 days and don’t think I can handle the stupid brain zaps /dizziness.

@adimswife

Hi Everyone. Newbie here!
This is the beginning of my 3rd week reducing my dose of Venlafaxine with the hope of coming off it all together. I have been taking the meds since 2011 beginning with 150 mg but reduced to 75 mg in the last few years. I decided to come off it as I felt as if it was taking over my life and I hated renewing my prescription for it. I tried cold turkey a few years ago and that was a massive mistake as we all know.

This time, I spoke to my doctor who referred me to the pharmacist (I'm in the UK) and between them they decided that I should go as slowly as possible. My normal dose of 75 mg would be taken once a day as it was slow releasing. For my first week, I was put on 37.5 mg twice a day. My 2nd week was one tablet in the morning and half in the evening. Now that I'm on my 3rd week, I take half a tablet in the morning and half in the evening. My 4th week will be one tablet once a day for a week then stop. I was advised to return to the previous dose if my withdrawal symptoms became unbearable.

As it is now, I have not experienced any withdrawal symtoms but I know, from research, that this may not be the case when I stop taking them altogether but I will cross that bridge when I get to it. I feel excited about being Venlafaxine free in the future and hopefully I will lose some of the weight I have put on whilst being on it too.

Thanks everyone who has written about their experiences and given advice. I'm so glad I found this group.
We can do this!

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OK, now I have direction. I'm prescribed slow release 150mg (USA). So I'll try 75mg 2X day for 1 week then the rest of your recommended stepdown dosage. I was taking 75 mg a day (or so) a day, whenever I remembered. Obviously my brain was used to more Effexor. That explains the "brain gaps".

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