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

@angelo

Been off ativan for5wks,stupidly cold turkey, at first I had some bad withdrawals, but little by little they are starting to go away. I try to take it day by day, try to watch my diet,exercise, think positive and pray. I know it,s a long road but I know someday I will see the light at the end of the tunnel.

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@angelo How much Ativan were you on? I had a problem causing me a lot of stress about 12 or 13 years ago. The doctor I was seeing then gave me Ativan, never mentioning that it should not be used constantly so I took some every night so I could sleep. After a few months she finally said something about it so I got off of it but I did not need to "withdraw", I just stopped taking it with no ill effects. Was that because I was just taking a low dose, once a day? I forget how much I was taking, maybe 5 mg.
JK

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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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Contentandwell, when you must put up with so many years of constantly walking on eggshells, it’s hard. It’s weird; I don’t hate her or dislike her but I wish she would do something about her mood problem. I feel that sometimes you have to let the person know that she’s got the problem. She’s a wonderful mother. However, she badmouthed me in front of my grandchildren which isn’t good. I treat her like I do my daughter. Anyhow, I’ve accepted this is the way it may always be. Thanks for messaging.

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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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@jakeduck1
Thanks Jake, I will look into it. I think my insurance only covers me for a cpap.

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@cean

Holy crap–I'm just now realizing what I may be in for. Been taking 300 mg daily for over a year, and decided I couldn't take the overly intense, life-disrupting dreams or the buckets of sweat during hot weather anymore. Plus depression. I've seen different tapering regimens. Anyone who has one with a 300 mg starting dose and with good effect I'd love to know about it.
Or should I just try going cold Turkey? Brain already feels messed up. . . Thanks and all the best to y'all.

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@kbmayo
I don’t know how you have the patience for that. I tried it. See if your insurance will pay for you to go to a Compounding Pharmacy. They do all the work for you. They prepared the capsules for me. In Canada we can only get capsules. Hope it works well for you.

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I was on 300 mg for years but when i started to have problems w my kidneys it was reduced to 225 mg. I have a new MD as of 2 yrs ago. We discussed reducing it more. I spoke w a pharmacist who suggested reducing by 37.5 mg every 2 weeks. I'm taking 187.5 mg now. Went back up for a couple of weeks bc of depression but it was re to infection. Will b going down to 150 mg next week. Some nausea, tremor but better sleep. Do not go cold turkey. It can kill u.

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Can someone please advise me. I notice a lot on here talk about seeing a family doctor as well as a psychiatrist. I only see my family doctor. Not sure how much they learn. He’s young. Should I be seeing a psychiatrist?

Also, before any of you decided to wean off Effexor, were you feeling motivated and not feeling depressed?

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If you want to know the side effects of drugs or weaning off, ask a pharmacist! they have far more education about drugs than doc, np or PA. I am PA and have taken effexor xr for 18 years. it is not the drug that bothers me, it is forgetting to take it!

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@jcallen2

I was on 300 mg for years but when i started to have problems w my kidneys it was reduced to 225 mg. I have a new MD as of 2 yrs ago. We discussed reducing it more. I spoke w a pharmacist who suggested reducing by 37.5 mg every 2 weeks. I'm taking 187.5 mg now. Went back up for a couple of weeks bc of depression but it was re to infection. Will b going down to 150 mg next week. Some nausea, tremor but better sleep. Do not go cold turkey. It can kill u.

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Am so surprised a doc would allow you to take 300mg. 225mg is maximum dose for this drug.

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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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@maryathome I do know what it is like, I deal with a situation like this also. Frankly, right now it has me feeling a bit hostile toward the person so I am basically avoiding her as much as possible.
It is never OK to badmouth someone in front of their children. That is simply wrong, wrong, wrong.
You are right, all we can do is accept and sometimes swallow our words.
JK

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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

You might want to check to see if you have sleep apnea. I used to never be able to sleep long enough and then I needed a nap in the afternoon and I was still tired. Sleep apnea is so bad for your body, heart, etc.. Might want to get checked out!

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@merryb1

If you want to know the side effects of drugs or weaning off, ask a pharmacist! they have far more education about drugs than doc, np or PA. I am PA and have taken effexor xr for 18 years. it is not the drug that bothers me, it is forgetting to take it!

Jump to this post

@merryb1
I keep my pills in front of my coffee machine. I find that if I take them the same time everyday, I will remember.

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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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@contandwell
I have never hated or disliked her. I see a lot of good in her for her children but when she badmouths my son (who is so good to her and the children), it upsets me. Once she told me “my doctor said not to let my MIL bother me”. Her doctor has no idea.

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