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

sorry jim hd at but age 80 i need a 5 year old to guide me.further. i try but i need a hands on helper. anyway here i am doing my best to help. i enjoy helping. i would place my picture on this site but then again “where is the 5 year old?” with the experiences i have from all the ailments i have helps to understand the many, many sufferings we experience. i will continue to do my best. with love, barbara.

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I started on 37.5mg about eight months ago and didn’t notice any improvement in my depression. I was taking it alongside Buspar for anxiety. My doctor increased the dose of Effexor to 150mg and I admit I began to feel good after a couple of months. Unfortunately, the side effects (mainly unbearable migraines and inability to orgasm) are not worth enduring for the benefits. I am going through a program called Hungy for Happiness which has an incredible success rate and I believe will help me to get to the root of my depression and the overeating that occurs because of my resistance to experience unpleasant feelings.

So, I’ve decided to wean myself off of the Effexor. I cut down to 75mg for two weeks and seemed to be doing just fine, except that the migraines became more frequent. I then made the mistake of not taking ANY Effexor for three days. I had zero headaches but I began to feel manic (things that were mildly amusing became the funniest things in the world, I felt on top of the world over nothing at all) and suddenly I would crash down into a puddle of fear, uncontrollable crying and an overall feeling of hopelessnesss and self hatred.

I felt like a crazy person so I decided to take 50mg about an hour ago. I’m going to do a slower weaning process. I’m incresibly saddened by the fact that both doctors who recommended this medication failed to mention the seriousness of the side effects should I decide to stop taking it. This drug is a nightmare. I’ll post an update soon.

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@lolabelle

I started on 37.5mg about eight months ago and didn’t notice any improvement in my depression. I was taking it alongside Buspar for anxiety. My doctor increased the dose of Effexor to 150mg and I admit I began to feel good after a couple of months. Unfortunately, the side effects (mainly unbearable migraines and inability to orgasm) are not worth enduring for the benefits. I am going through a program called Hungy for Happiness which has an incredible success rate and I believe will help me to get to the root of my depression and the overeating that occurs because of my resistance to experience unpleasant feelings.

So, I’ve decided to wean myself off of the Effexor. I cut down to 75mg for two weeks and seemed to be doing just fine, except that the migraines became more frequent. I then made the mistake of not taking ANY Effexor for three days. I had zero headaches but I began to feel manic (things that were mildly amusing became the funniest things in the world, I felt on top of the world over nothing at all) and suddenly I would crash down into a puddle of fear, uncontrollable crying and an overall feeling of hopelessnesss and self hatred.

I felt like a crazy person so I decided to take 50mg about an hour ago. I’m going to do a slower weaning process. I’m incresibly saddened by the fact that both doctors who recommended this medication failed to mention the seriousness of the side effects should I decide to stop taking it. This drug is a nightmare. I’ll post an update soon.

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@lolabelle

Do let us know how you’re doing. Changing meds can be a real challenge.

Jim

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@lolabelle

I started on 37.5mg about eight months ago and didn’t notice any improvement in my depression. I was taking it alongside Buspar for anxiety. My doctor increased the dose of Effexor to 150mg and I admit I began to feel good after a couple of months. Unfortunately, the side effects (mainly unbearable migraines and inability to orgasm) are not worth enduring for the benefits. I am going through a program called Hungy for Happiness which has an incredible success rate and I believe will help me to get to the root of my depression and the overeating that occurs because of my resistance to experience unpleasant feelings.

So, I’ve decided to wean myself off of the Effexor. I cut down to 75mg for two weeks and seemed to be doing just fine, except that the migraines became more frequent. I then made the mistake of not taking ANY Effexor for three days. I had zero headaches but I began to feel manic (things that were mildly amusing became the funniest things in the world, I felt on top of the world over nothing at all) and suddenly I would crash down into a puddle of fear, uncontrollable crying and an overall feeling of hopelessnesss and self hatred.

I felt like a crazy person so I decided to take 50mg about an hour ago. I’m going to do a slower weaning process. I’m incresibly saddened by the fact that both doctors who recommended this medication failed to mention the seriousness of the side effects should I decide to stop taking it. This drug is a nightmare. I’ll post an update soon.

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Hello @lolabelle,

Welcome to Connect; it sounds like you’ve been through quite a bit!

Effexor is a widely used antidepressant, but it is also one that can cause severe symptoms (within hours0 if stopped abruptly. In my experience, the longer you have been on it, and the higher the dose, there is a greater chance of experiencing symptoms of withdrawal.
I was on 300 mg of Effexor XR for 8 years, and it took almost a month, with supervision from my physician, to taper off without adverse symptoms. It’s always a good idea to get a healthcare professional involved in your decision to stop.

It’s unfortunate that you were not made aware about the seriousness of stopping this drug, but I’m glad to know that you’ve joined a program that you have confidence in – you’re advocating for your mental and emotional well-being, and that is a crucial step. I wish you all success, and as Jim said, please let us know of your progress.

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Hi there ….. I totally agree with Lisa …. I think doctors do us a great disservice by not letting us know what the side effects could be. I’m taking Klonopin for anxiety for quite awhile now, and the passed 6-7 months I have had a rough time with lack of balance, falling, etc. I take everything very slowly now, but that’s not my usual way of doing things. When I went to a Mayo book, it states right there the side effects … “lack of balance, falls, etc.” ….. everyone of which I have. I wish I’d have known.
abby

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I have been taking effexor (75 megs, daily) for more than 10 years. This is my 2nd attempt to stop taking this drug. I have reduced the daily dosage over a period of many months. I just recently stop taking this drug completely. Even after all of this, I am experiencing nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, and little to no appetite. Its frustrating to say the least, that this drug has so much impact over my physical & emotional well being. Any suggestions are welcomed.

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@lilmac44

I have been taking effexor (75 megs, daily) for more than 10 years. This is my 2nd attempt to stop taking this drug. I have reduced the daily dosage over a period of many months. I just recently stop taking this drug completely. Even after all of this, I am experiencing nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, and little to no appetite. Its frustrating to say the least, that this drug has so much impact over my physical & emotional well being. Any suggestions are welcomed.

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This is my first time trying to get off of Effexor and it’s been a nightmare. However, what’s helped for me is exercise, Xanax, and Alpha-Stim treatments. I am not completley titrated off Effexor yet, but I am constantly nauseated, fatigued and just a general feeling of being lost in my own head. It’s like invasion of the body snatchers.

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@lilmac44

I have been taking effexor (75 megs, daily) for more than 10 years. This is my 2nd attempt to stop taking this drug. I have reduced the daily dosage over a period of many months. I just recently stop taking this drug completely. Even after all of this, I am experiencing nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, and little to no appetite. Its frustrating to say the least, that this drug has so much impact over my physical & emotional well being. Any suggestions are welcomed.

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@lilmac44

Have you read the discussion here about how others are dealing with withdrawal from Effexor? I hope you can hang on until the effects pass.

Jim

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@lilmac44

I have been taking effexor (75 megs, daily) for more than 10 years. This is my 2nd attempt to stop taking this drug. I have reduced the daily dosage over a period of many months. I just recently stop taking this drug completely. Even after all of this, I am experiencing nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, and little to no appetite. Its frustrating to say the least, that this drug has so much impact over my physical & emotional well being. Any suggestions are welcomed.

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Hi, @alfalfa — thanks for sharing your experience coming off Effexor/venlafaxine. Hoping you’ve gotten to read other posts on this thread and seen you are definitely not alone.

Would you mind telling us more about your experience with Alpha-Stim treatment?

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@nanke99

Hi! I was on Effexor XR for a few years and got off it several years ago. It was a very difficult process, so I fully sympathize. You MUST wean off
VERY SLOWLY. I don’t remember what my dosage was at the time (225mg?), but it took me about 9 months. Please do not let that long time scare you, it’s worth going slow, that will be your biggest help w/ withdrawal. At the time I had a very difficult time finding any doctor with experience getting people off it.
Luckily I was advised to to find one and luckily I did. It is considered harder to get off than heroine. Not trying to scare you, just want to make sure you go as slow as possible. Mostly, I was moody/angry, had headaches, and some brain “shivers”. The brain shivers I already had while on the meds.
I think we went down in 25mg increments over several weeks for each reduction. Keep us posted and good luck! Just give yourself some time and it will be over before you know it!

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Hi @nanke99,
I quit effexor cold turkey and am having horrific withdrawals. No doctors I have spoken to have been helpful. I’m thinking I might need to get back on effexor for some relief, then try weaning off. It’s been over a month of no effexor and the symptoms have only worsened. Would you be able to recommend any doctors you have found helpful? I am willing to try anything at this point, as the symptoms are unrelenting.

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@nanke99

Hi! I was on Effexor XR for a few years and got off it several years ago. It was a very difficult process, so I fully sympathize. You MUST wean off
VERY SLOWLY. I don’t remember what my dosage was at the time (225mg?), but it took me about 9 months. Please do not let that long time scare you, it’s worth going slow, that will be your biggest help w/ withdrawal. At the time I had a very difficult time finding any doctor with experience getting people off it.
Luckily I was advised to to find one and luckily I did. It is considered harder to get off than heroine. Not trying to scare you, just want to make sure you go as slow as possible. Mostly, I was moody/angry, had headaches, and some brain “shivers”. The brain shivers I already had while on the meds.
I think we went down in 25mg increments over several weeks for each reduction. Keep us posted and good luck! Just give yourself some time and it will be over before you know it!

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Oh my goodness, @wtrescott. Effexor MUST be SLOWLY decreased over a considerable amount of time to be safe. I took it for over ten years and my psychiatrist weaned me off in a little over a month. It was waaaaaay too quick. I would recommend finding a dr. you can trust and follow their instructions. My personal experience has been HELL. I have never felt as suicidal as I have the last few months. My dr. decreased the Effexor while slowly passing me on to Prozac. It seemed to go pretty well at first and then the bottom dropped out of my world. My system did not accept the Prozac. I felt like I had a tight rubber band around my forehead all the time and had the worst anxiety I have ever had in my life. It’s been about 2 or 3 months since I have been Effexor free but I am still struggling. My dr. started me on Lexapro this week so we’ll see how that goes. I have also taken Xanax for years for my anxiety and she wants to wean me off of this “addictive” drug (so why in the heck do they prescribe it in the first place?) I am taking 10mg of melatonin when my anxiety is so overwhelming that the Xanax doesn’t help. It doesn’t put me to sleep, only takes the edge off so that I can relax. My dr. also gave me Gabapentin (generic for Neurontin) which has greatly helped the anxiety. I haven’t done any research on it other than what came in the prescription. It is typically used to control SEIZURES! Holy shit! I have only taken it twice and am trying not to have to take it at all since the Melatonin seems to help. Please, please, please follow the guidance of a professional when messing with these powerful drugs. In my opinion, Effexor should be banned. It is so addictive and caused so many other physical problems for me over such long time consumption: high BP, gastro problems, KIDNEY problems to name just a few. My PCP kept upping my BP meds to get it under control when in reality it was the Effexor causing my bp to go off the charts. Since I’ve been off of the Effexor, my bp is now within normal limits which has helped my fatigue problem greatly. In my opinion, big pharmacology in this country is worse than any mafia around. They create these meds, addict the general public, don’t consider the horrible side affects, which only keeps you buying and taking more meds….which means, they keep making that almighty dollar. I wish there was someone in the Cincinnati, OH area I could connect with for company and companionship when times get really tough for me. Wishing you all the luck in the world for a safe and healthy detox.

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Far too many doctors prescribe and have not a clue what some meds can do. Sad, but true.

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Hi all, There has been a lot of discussion in this thread about tapering off and stopping Effexor and other antidepressants. We sought the input of a Mayo Clinic pharmacist and here what she had to say:

“Most antidepressants should be tapered before discontinuing. Patients should check with their healthcare provider for discontinuation recommendations. Taper directions can depend on the reason for discontinuation, the particular antidepressant being discontinued, the current dose and other patient-specific factors. Abrupt discontinuation of venlafaxine is more likely to cause withdrawal symptoms and relapse than many other antidepressants because of its short half-life. Likewise, strategies for switching between antidepressants require similar consideration from a care provider. Here at Mayo Clinic, we pharmacists work together with physicians to help determine the best strategies for each patient.

Patients may decide to discontinue their antidepressants for a variety of reasons. Some people feel better after taking an antidepressant and may feel they don’t need it anymore. The course of antidepressant therapy varies. Some people have lifelong mood symptoms that can be alleviated with antidepressants. Others may have difficult times in their lives where treatment is required while they work through the situation and/or find other mechanisms to alleviate symptoms. A clinician can help patients determine the appropriate treatment course based on patient history, symptom severity and other patient-specific factors.

Some patients may experience side effects. Management of side effects depends on their severity, expected duration, other options and patient-specific factors. For example, many patients experience stomach upset when starting antidepressants, but this is usually short-lived, and the benefits of continuing treatment usually outweigh the risk of stopping the antidepressant or having the same effects with another anti-depressant.

“Cold turkey” discontinuation of venlafaxine can cause agitation, sweating, fatigue, nausea, restlessness, tremor and relapse of depression. A slow taper is recommended, and tapering may need to be adjusted based on patient-specific factors listed above and for patient response to the taper.

Genetics play a major role in our response to venlafaxine. People with poor 2D6 metabolizer status may not respond to venlafaxine and thus may not be subject to the same withdrawal symptoms as those who were metabolizing the drug properly. Routine genotype testing is not routinely recommended but could explain lack of response to venlafaxine and certain other medications. Mayo Clinic offers this type of pharmacogenetics testing that can be ordered by our providers. For more information see: http://mayoresearch.mayo.edu/center-for-individualized-medicine/

The most important thing to remember is that each patient is different and may respond differently to the same treatment. We have to communicate openly with our healthcare providers to get the most from our medications. Sometimes this entails some trial and error, but it is worth getting the right therapy in the end.

You can read more about Pharmacogenomics in this article https://www.seattletimes.com/life/wellness/depressed-genetics-affect-how-drugs-work/.”

Has anyone had genetic testing that altered their treatment plan or improved their condition?

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After 20 + years on prozac for OCD, depression and anxiety, my gynecologist (!) switched me to Lexapro. I developed dry-mouth and very viscous saliva with bubbles. I stopped taking lexapro. Dry mouth continued. Two weeks later the neurologist put me on effexor. I have been taking 75 mg ER for 2 months. I feel really good – the anxiety is not there, I am not tired or depressed. The problem is the dry mouth has not gone away. It is making me nuts. No one has mentioned dry-mouth as a side effect of SNRI’s in this discussion group. My PCP thinks I should eliminate the effexor and allow more time without an antidepressant to see if the dry mouth will resolve itself. Has anyone had a similar experience? I wish I could attribute the dry mouth to something else but have been unsuccessful. Your experiences getting off effexor are shocking. I had no idea and was not forewarned of the dangers of discontinuing.

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There are very few antidepressants that do not cause dry mouth, which leads to dry eyes and constipation

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