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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@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?

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I'm going to try doing 37.5mg every other day until that feels okay and then trying to complete drop to 0 again.

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@cherylannm @catamite I've eaten like 3 klondike bars, 4 yogurts, 2 things of chicken fried rice, some egg noodles. It's like I'm starving constantly, even though I know that I'm not as hungry as I feel. It's terrible.

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@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?

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I had to give in and take a 37.5mg because it was just all too much. I'm so upset with myself for it, because I just wanted to be strong, but I'm so tired of feeling so sick.

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@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?

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@sharaden I am sure your mother must feel terrible to see you going through this. There is nothing worse for a mother than to see one of her children in pain or having difficulties, and for her, she must wish she had known more and could have prevented it, but it is really is not her fault at all. I can imagine how I would feel if you were my daughter.
JK

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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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You can learn about some supplement interactions here—https://bottomlineinc.com/health/supplements/new-dangers-supplement-users

My discontinuation symptoms began at the end of the first week of June (about six weeks after my last tapered dose of Effexor). I tried Thean*ne Serene, Anxi*-T, Natur*al Calm and 5-HTP for the anxiety and took melatonin, valerian and Ben*dryl to sleep. On 6/19, in desperation about the akasthisia, I sent my husband to Vitam*n Sh*ppe at 8:30 pm to get L-tryptophan before they closed at 9. Taking one 500 mg L-tryptophan as soon as he got back immediately relieved the akathisia (agitation/anxiety/restlessness) I was feeling.

Note: I am not a doctor and you should consult your doctor before taking any supplements.

I am taking 4-5 times per day (usually 4 to 5 hours apart, depending on how late I stay up):
• 3 1,000 mg fish oil capsules (EPA 650 mg)
• 1 500 mg L*dtke brand l-tryptophan (This made such a difference to the agitation I was feeling!)
• 2 500 mg Solg*r brand GABA
• 1 500 mg l-arginine
• 1 470 mg ashwagandha root extract capsule
• 5 100 mg B6 tablets (now reduced to 2 qty)

Occasionally I take:
• Dram*mine (for vertigo)
• Ben*dryl (sleep aid) as needed (I don't need it very often now)
• My oncologist who prescribed the Effexor many years ago prescribed 15 5 mg diazepam to take as needed when the akathisia/anxiety gets too bad. Since filling that prescription on 6/20 and figuring out what supplements help me, I’ve only used 5.5 tablets (taking 1/2 tablet now and then).
• Lemon balm Purported to possess sedative, or tranquilizing effects.
• Kava Increases the number of attachment sites for GABA in the brain. By creating more attachment sites, the effects of GABA might be more profound, which results in a mild sedated state. (Good for the fluttery feeling I sometimes get in my chest and anxiety.)
• Rhodiola rosea extract—Modulates the enzyme monoamine oxidase which metabolizes serotonin. When it is inhibited, serotonin synthesis increases.

I was on Effexor for 18 years, so I don't expect to return to normal for a while yet. I will keep up this regimen for another 45 days and then try tapering to 3-4 times per day, 1-2 times per day, etc.

P.S. I have noticed that I must be careful what shows I watch (nothing too violent, too stimulating, too many camera angles) and I can't get too hot (it's August in Texas!), or I start feeling anxious/agitated. So, I am trying to maintain an even keel and not do anything out of the ordinary for now (so not taking up skydiving).

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@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?

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Am down to 37.5 and just going to take a few pellets out every day

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I found this group by searching remedies of tapering off. I started effexor for night sweats, a few months ago it stopped working so I talked to my doctor about stopping the meds. I'm on my 3rd month of tapering and went from 150 mg to 75 mg this time. I have been having bad withdraw symptoms with this step down. Thank you to all that have posted, it has been a lot of helpful information!

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I am on my second week of Efexxor withdrawal. I took Efexxor for two years. I was treated for anxiety and depression. Efexxor withdrawal is not easy but please don't give up. There are days when I am agitated, emotional, and fatigued. The worse symptom is nausea and vomiting. I can only keep soup and crackers in my stomach. My solution is to pray several times a day. I also tell myself this is temporary..

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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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If I can do it, so can you. Keep the faith!

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OK. I called the doctor today. She told me 37.5mg to 0 is too much all at once. She said to get myself restabilized at 37.5, then take 25mg (she sent me an RX) and in two weeks, I should split the 25mg into two, and take only a half (12.5). Then in two more weeks go to 0. That's what I am going to do. If there is an easier way to end this misery that's what I will do. This has been one hellacious journey.

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@sharaden

@cherylannm @catamite I've eaten like 3 klondike bars, 4 yogurts, 2 things of chicken fried rice, some egg noodles. It's like I'm starving constantly, even though I know that I'm not as hungry as I feel. It's terrible.

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I know. It's the weirdest thing not to know what it is your stomach wants. Heave or eat. I've never experienced anything like it it ever. Hang in there Sheridan. I am rooting for you.

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@catamite

OK. I called the doctor today. She told me 37.5mg to 0 is too much all at once. She said to get myself restabilized at 37.5, then take 25mg (she sent me an RX) and in two weeks, I should split the 25mg into two, and take only a half (12.5). Then in two more weeks go to 0. That's what I am going to do. If there is an easier way to end this misery that's what I will do. This has been one hellacious journey.

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Hi Catamite. Thats really interesting. My Dr told me to just go from 37.5 mg’s to zippidy dooda!!!!! Lol. So I did. I’m beginning my 9th week without the Ven right now and its been a rough ride to say the least. But its boots on the ground and straight ahead. I cant go back and restart taking any of this stuff. Its damned if I do and damned if I dont. I will just stay positive and keep thinking that it will all be good soon. Besides I was reading a post on here the other day stating that if a person restarts after as long a time as I have been off it could be horrible. I really dont feel thata bad if I can get a good nights sleep. If I dont sleep well it really screws up my “next” day. Taking L-Tryptophan B4 bed (3 days) so hopefully it will start helping soon. Enjoy your evening…….

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