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

@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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To Maryathome
You sound like me. I've been on effexor for nearly twenty years. I haven't cried in 20 years! I have decided to take the journey to get off these things. I want to be clean for the grand finale. (I'm 67). Haha. I am on 37mg after trying to go to zero and not making it. Dr. said I was doing it too fast. I can sleep 12 hours easily and have always wondered if it was the pills, or me. People think Im just lazy I sleep so much, but the thing is I don't feel well with less. Conundrum.

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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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It did take me awhile to get used to the machine because I slept on my stomach. Now I sleep on my side. But like I said—- I would not gkto sleep without it. Tried a few different masks also.

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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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In my research, one person going off Effexor said, "When I am nauseous, I hate to drink water, but I find that ice water actually helps my nausea as do hard boiled eggs."–https://forums.webmd.com/3/anxiety-and-panic-disorders-exchange/tip/92

When I went through chemo, I often would experience dizziness in the days following a treatment. I had been given medication for nausea, but since I didn't feel nauseated, I didn't take it. When I talked with my oncologist about the dizziness, he explained that the nausea medication worked on the brain and that I should take the medication because if I was having dizziness, I was having problems with my brain. Perhaps your problem is the reverse of mine then. You might not have ondansetron, or prochlorperazine handy, but you could try Dram*mine.

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@sharaden

I wouldn’t take it every other day if I were you. I d take a smaller dose for a couple weeks and lower it again and so on.
People have tried that and I haven’t yet heard of it being successful.
Good luck
Jake

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@texasduchess

Jeez, no symptoms for 6 weeks. I’m surprised they didn’t start soon after your last dose because of its short half life, one of the shortest of all anti-depressants (approx 5 hrs.) I hope you stopped slowly, like only cutting it 10-20% at a t.
Jake
.

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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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If it sounds good to you, I would eat it. Years ago, the first time I went through chemo, I remember waking up in the middle of the night after a treatment desperate for salsa. I ate an entire jar of Pace and if I hadn't been dizzy, I would have left the house to buy more. I don't know what my body needed (salt?), but the Pace supplied it.

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@danalee5

If you took more than the doctor prescribed.
Oddly enough some people have taken it to get high but it doesn’t work with this drug. They take more and more but all they accomplish is becoming dependent on it.
Jake

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@jakedduck1

@texasduchess

Jeez, no symptoms for 6 weeks. I’m surprised they didn’t start soon after your last dose because of its short half life, one of the shortest of all anti-depressants (approx 5 hrs.) I hope you stopped slowly, like only cutting it 10-20% at a t.
Jake
.

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Yes, I tapered off very slowly; my Effexor was little, non-coated tablets that could be cut. I was only ever on 25 mg of the "regular" (not time-released) Effexor, but was on it for 18 years. I was surprized to have "discontinuation" effects; I think the drug builds up in body tissues and it took six weeks after the last by mouth dose for the "stored" Effexor to be gone.

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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

Wow I thought I was the only one who could sleep 12-13 hours at a time

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@brightwings

To the new folks…Welcome, you are in the right place. My last pill was March 14. 5 months, wow. I did it the hard way. Found this site way to late.
Remember, just keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep going. Tell yourself THIS TOO SHALL PASS
.
I was reading to catch up on posts…
L Tryptophan really caught my eye. How much are you taking?
I am proud of all of us. Taking control of our lives, watch out world, here we come!
Smiling My beautiful smile, night all.
Bright Wings

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That’s my famous saying “ this too shall pass” good for you ! Am down to 37.5 in 5 weeks ..

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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

When I go to my boyfriend’s on the weekend, he wakes up at 6 and I wake up at noon. On those mornings when we have made plans to leave the house by 10, I feel like hell. If I don’t sleep at least 10 to 12 hours, I feel sad and down. He has a difficult time understanding why I need so much sleep. Sounds like you and I have the same problem. I also take blood pressure meds….Atenolol and Norvasc. I know that Atenolol makes me tired. So, is it the pills or is it depression?

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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. In Canada, we can only get the capsules with the small beads in them. You are lucky to have pills. That’s why I had to go to a compounding pharmacy. They suggested that I lower the dose every two weeks. I’m only on my first week but have a long way to go. It’s not helping that I’m also having to deal with a daughter-in-law problem, nothing new. I have been for 20 years. My son and I have to walk on eggshells around her.

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