Tips on minimizing 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

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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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Hi there – my situation is very similar to yours. Prescribed for Hot Flashes…worked a little but not much. I had random sweating instead! I went from 150, down to 75, then 37.5 for 2 weeks. After 2 weeks of 37.5, Dr said to stop cold. I have this horrible eye movement difficulty you spoke of. How long did this last for you? I'm on day 3 of nothing. Please…so hard!!

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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

It is hard. Too darn hard! I thought I would be over the side effects by now. Just feel so crappy, especially after a crappy nights sleep. Tomorrow I start my 9th week without the Ven. Hopefully this all ends soon!!!!!

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@jakedduck1

Never stop taking it cold turkey EVER. You could be hospitalized even death can occur. I’ve seen to many people not take the seriousness and real dangers of quitting this medication. There have been some very lucky people here, Susie for one.
Effexor has a shot half life, probably the shortest of the antidepressants. Because of this the withdrawal symptoms can occur quickly. All this is affected by your metabolism, so if metabolism is slow your withdrawal symptoms will take longer to appear since your body will take longer to get rid of the medication. With a fast metabolism the opposite will occur. Many will have some symptoms if they miss just one dose, especially with a fast metabolism.
Effexor withdrawal symptoms varies from person to person but can take anywhere from 10 days if on a low dose and taken for a short time to a month and even longer depending on strength and time you’ve been taking it. It also depends on the person. If I were stopping it I’d only decrease my dose by 10% to an absolute high of 25% and if any of the multitude of symptoms showed up I’d immediately increase it and reduce the maximum to maybe 15%. Always take a dose every day. Never skip a day/days. And take your new dose at least 7 days before taking a lower dose. Some may have or want to take it longer. The point I’m trying to make is that you shouldn’t have ANY SYMPTOMS while stopping Effexor. And when you take your last dose you’ll be Effexor free and never have another symptom. If however you have been abusing it your outcome may not be as good and problems could possibly occur in the future.
Wishing everyone the very best of luck, and please remember small doses over a longer time is the key

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@shaker1956

Hi Shaker. I'm a Volunteer Mentor and not a medical professional, and cannot make medical diagnoses or give medical advice. How I have withdrawn from other drugs, so I highly respect the advice of others on this site who have withdrawn from Effexor. If you go back several pages you will find others who have successfully withdrawn from Effexor.

At the time they reached 37.5 mg, they opened up the capsule each time and removed a number of the beads inside, usually 10 at a time. As they adjusted to the reduced capsule, they would begin reducing the number by an additional 5 or 10 beads, going again until they adjusted physically to the reduced intake. If they found that removing 10 beads was too much, they would go back up to only removing 5 at a time. Eventually they could stop taking any of it. That could take a year or longer.

Please go slowly in your withdrawal. Doctors don't take Effexor, and most doctors don't know much about drugs. Your pharmacist is a more knowledgeable resource about the effects of drugs and withdrawal. However, those who have been through it are the best resource. This drug seems to be a particularly difficult one for withdrawal. Again, go back through these posts and read the experiences of others who have been successful. I'm hoping the best for you. It may mean that you need to go back to your previous dosage and start your withdrawal again — much more slowly. Good luck.

Gail
Volunteer Mentor

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@jakedduck1

Never stop taking it cold turkey EVER. You could be hospitalized even death can occur. I’ve seen to many people not take the seriousness and real dangers of quitting this medication. There have been some very lucky people here, Susie for one.
Effexor has a shot half life, probably the shortest of the antidepressants. Because of this the withdrawal symptoms can occur quickly. All this is affected by your metabolism, so if metabolism is slow your withdrawal symptoms will take longer to appear since your body will take longer to get rid of the medication. With a fast metabolism the opposite will occur. Many will have some symptoms if they miss just one dose, especially with a fast metabolism.
Effexor withdrawal symptoms varies from person to person but can take anywhere from 10 days if on a low dose and taken for a short time to a month and even longer depending on strength and time you’ve been taking it. It also depends on the person. If I were stopping it I’d only decrease my dose by 10% to an absolute high of 25% and if any of the multitude of symptoms showed up I’d immediately increase it and reduce the maximum to maybe 15%. Always take a dose every day. Never skip a day/days. And take your new dose at least 7 days before taking a lower dose. Some may have or want to take it longer. The point I’m trying to make is that you shouldn’t have ANY SYMPTOMS while stopping Effexor. And when you take your last dose you’ll be Effexor free and never have another symptom. If however you have been abusing it your outcome may not be as good and problems could possibly occur in the future.
Wishing everyone the very best of luck, and please remember small doses over a longer time is the key

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Hi Gail. Thanks for the info. I’m just wondering that because i’m 8 weeks complete without Ven if it would be a step back if I would restart it. I dont see my Doc until the 4th of Sept so Thats still aways away. I sure do feel the pits and I’m trying all these vitamins-CBD, Tryptophan and others. Its the insomnia that I find so hard to deal with. Cant seem to shake it!!!!! Enjoy your day!!!!

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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

I tried trintellix it’s worst then Effexor ! I did nothing but throw up everyday!! Am on 37 1/2 if Effexor for the next 2 weeks ,I rather suffer with depression then ever take another pill doctors don’t know nothing about ….

REPLY
@jakedduck1

Never stop taking it cold turkey EVER. You could be hospitalized even death can occur. I’ve seen to many people not take the seriousness and real dangers of quitting this medication. There have been some very lucky people here, Susie for one.
Effexor has a shot half life, probably the shortest of the antidepressants. Because of this the withdrawal symptoms can occur quickly. All this is affected by your metabolism, so if metabolism is slow your withdrawal symptoms will take longer to appear since your body will take longer to get rid of the medication. With a fast metabolism the opposite will occur. Many will have some symptoms if they miss just one dose, especially with a fast metabolism.
Effexor withdrawal symptoms varies from person to person but can take anywhere from 10 days if on a low dose and taken for a short time to a month and even longer depending on strength and time you’ve been taking it. It also depends on the person. If I were stopping it I’d only decrease my dose by 10% to an absolute high of 25% and if any of the multitude of symptoms showed up I’d immediately increase it and reduce the maximum to maybe 15%. Always take a dose every day. Never skip a day/days. And take your new dose at least 7 days before taking a lower dose. Some may have or want to take it longer. The point I’m trying to make is that you shouldn’t have ANY SYMPTOMS while stopping Effexor. And when you take your last dose you’ll be Effexor free and never have another symptom. If however you have been abusing it your outcome may not be as good and problems could possibly occur in the future.
Wishing everyone the very best of luck, and please remember small doses over a longer time is the key

Jump to this post

I am three days off effexor. Feel horrid. Started decreasing dosage four months ago. Got to 35.5 and just decided to chuck it once and for all. I have upset stomach, squirts, nightmares, lethargy. I have some edibles to help me sleep but my stomach doesn't much like them. I am so miserable.

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I'm a seventeen year old girl who has been on Effexor for 3 years now. I'm down from 300mg to 37.5mg (300 to 225, 225 to 187.5, 187.5 to 150, 150 to 112.5, 112.5 to 75, and 75 to 37.5 and now 37.5 to 0). And the symptoms have never been this bad with any other decrease. I don't know what to do. I feel like a failure if I take it again, but it's so bad. I feel like I can barely stand. Like everytime I get up, I'm going to pass out. Everything hurts. Im so so tired. I just want to be done with this stupid medicine, but I don't know if I can do this last decrease from 37.5mg to 0mg. Why did they ever put a child on this medication? Knowing it would be terrible to miss a dose? And then terrible to get off of it?

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If overeating a symptom of getting off of this literal hell of a drug? I've gained almost 20 pounds since I started tapering off. I feel constantly hungry. If I don't eat, I then feel sick. And I've always hated my body and now I'm hating it even worse. I feel so trapped in my own skin.

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@sharaden

If overeating a symptom of getting off of this literal hell of a drug? I've gained almost 20 pounds since I started tapering off. I feel constantly hungry. If I don't eat, I then feel sick. And I've always hated my body and now I'm hating it even worse. I feel so trapped in my own skin.

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yes… and craving carbs and sugar. Since I'm also dealing with the small bowel obstruction, most of the food I eat has to be clear liquids or of baby food consistency. The carbs are supposed to help you come off the drugs. If it's not one thing, it's another.

REPLY
@sharaden

I'm a seventeen year old girl who has been on Effexor for 3 years now. I'm down from 300mg to 37.5mg (300 to 225, 225 to 187.5, 187.5 to 150, 150 to 112.5, 112.5 to 75, and 75 to 37.5 and now 37.5 to 0). And the symptoms have never been this bad with any other decrease. I don't know what to do. I feel like a failure if I take it again, but it's so bad. I feel like I can barely stand. Like everytime I get up, I'm going to pass out. Everything hurts. Im so so tired. I just want to be done with this stupid medicine, but I don't know if I can do this last decrease from 37.5mg to 0mg. Why did they ever put a child on this medication? Knowing it would be terrible to miss a dose? And then terrible to get off of it?

Jump to this post

I am going through the same thing. We must hang in there. I can barely move today. I have an upset stomach, diarrhea, headache, vertigo. I am on day 3 of 37.5 to 0. I just don't know what will make me feel better. Alleve has helped a little with the body aches.

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@sharaden

If overeating a symptom of getting off of this literal hell of a drug? I've gained almost 20 pounds since I started tapering off. I feel constantly hungry. If I don't eat, I then feel sick. And I've always hated my body and now I'm hating it even worse. I feel so trapped in my own skin.

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My stomach is so queasy I don't know if I need to eat or vomit.

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@carley6280

I have suffered from major depression most of my life. I'm currently going through withdrawals from Effexor, while starting Trintellix.
I'm at my wits end with feeling awful, even woke up with numbness in my right hip and leg, and a little in my right arm.
I believe I am at my lowest point ever, in terms of depression. I don't know what to do anymore. But cry…and I can't even do that, but feel like it.

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You don't mention if you tapered off Effexor and then tapered on to Trintellix. Read all the posts here for helpful information about getting off Effexor.

You can read the manufacturer's info about Trintellix here–https://www.lundbeck.com/upload/ca/en/files/pdf/pi/Trintellix.pdf.

Numbness was not listed as a side effect, but "Low sodium level in blood causing symptoms of tiredness, weakness, confusion combined with achy, stiff, or uncoordinated muscles" is listed as a rare side effect that you should talk with your doctor, or pharmacist about. In any case, talk to your doctor and/or pharmacist about feeling awful and the numbness.

I found this article on switching between two anti-depressants–https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4919171/. Table 3 gives the strategy for switching from various drugs to another; for Effexor, go down to the sixth drug and go right to the fourth column for Trintellix (vortioxetine).

I also found this site where folks going from Effexor to Trintellix commented–https://www.reddit.com/r/depressionregimens/comments/8kxlrj/effexor_withdrawal_trintellix/.

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