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

@jakedduck1

@maryathome

Hey Sabrina,
How many mg are you going down every two weeks? What was the maximum dose you were on? How long have you been on effexor?
Jake

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@jakedduck1
The compounding pharmacy did mine this way:
Maximum dose was 112 mg. Now on 105 mg (for 2 weeks), then 97.5 mg. (for 2 weeks) and so on. This is my 9th day. So far, I’m good. My physician wanted to do it faster and in a different way. I didn’t agree with him. That’s why I went to a CP. when I tried to get off them three years ago, my doctor suggested faster. It was a nightmare. You are correct in saying go slow.
By the way, I was on 37.5 mg for 11 years and 112 mg. for about 4 years.

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@jakedduck1

@sharaden

From all I’ve read your reduction is to fast. I say that based on the high dose you were on. Your doc is reducing your medication by 25%. It’s always better to stop to slowly than to quickly. If you haven’t been on it very long and your not sensitive to medicines maybe it will work for you but it’s risky in my unprofessional opinion. What is your next step when you get to 37.5 not zero I hope.
Best of luck buddy.
Jake

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My decrease regimen is all that was offered to me, so I don't have a choice. My next step is zero from 37.5mg. I'm doing every other day. So far, I felt nothing yesterday which was my third rotation with nothing. This is what worked for my mom so she's making me do it this way.

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At what percentage drop do the withdrawal effects usually happen if you cut out 10% every two weeks?

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@jakedduck1

@sharaden

From all I’ve read your reduction is to fast. I say that based on the high dose you were on. Your doc is reducing your medication by 25%. It’s always better to stop to slowly than to quickly. If you haven’t been on it very long and your not sensitive to medicines maybe it will work for you but it’s risky in my unprofessional opinion. What is your next step when you get to 37.5 not zero I hope.
Best of luck buddy.
Jake

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If it's working for you, that's all that matters. Keep going!!

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@maryathome

At what percentage drop do the withdrawal effects usually happen if you cut out 10% every two weeks?

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@maryathome

There are too many variables–body type, activity level, incentive/reason to get off, male/female, weight, type of Effexor, dosage, time on the drug, etc. You're fine until you're not–some do great at whatever tapering they've decided on, then wham, all h*ll breaks loose. At that point, you go back to the last dosage at which you were doing fine, stay there for a period and then, try decreasing less.

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@jakedduck1

@sharaden

From all I’ve read your reduction is to fast. I say that based on the high dose you were on. Your doc is reducing your medication by 25%. It’s always better to stop to slowly than to quickly. If you haven’t been on it very long and your not sensitive to medicines maybe it will work for you but it’s risky in my unprofessional opinion. What is your next step when you get to 37.5 not zero I hope.
Best of luck buddy.
Jake

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@sharaden

YOU! always have a choice. It’s your life and your body.
My doctor expects me to either disagree or say no to her. We eventually hammer out a compromise, sometimes she wins sometimes I win but it’s always my decision.
Go talk to a pharmacist I know they will tell you not to reduce every other day.
Also people are different, just because it worked for your Mom is no guarantee it will work for you. However there are some people who don’t have withdrawals and you may be one of the lucky few. I hope you are. I hope you’ll let us know.
I hope all works out.
Jake

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@maryathome

At what percentage drop do the withdrawal effects usually happen if you cut out 10% every two weeks?

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From what I’ve read most happen near the end or after it’s stopped. Many had no effects.
Jake

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@maryathome

At what percentage drop do the withdrawal effects usually happen if you cut out 10% every two weeks?

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I agree — there are many variables — but I'm tapering off from 150 mg, which is 486 beads, according to something I read on another blog (it gave the number of beads for 150, 75 and 37.5). I started off slow, with 20 beads/wk for a few weeks, then got impatient and started taking out 50 beads/wk (which is a little more than 10% of my original dose). I'm down to 245 this week and so far, no problem with the brain zaps, dizziness, etc. I'm tired, unmotivated, sometimes cranky, etc., but I think that's inevitable. (I don't always eat regularly either, so that could also be low blood sugar.) The way I have it planned from here on out is continuing to drop down 50/wk until I get to 45. Then I'll go down to 30 for a wk, then 25 for a day, then keep dropping down 5/day for that last wk until I get to zero. If that stops working ok for me at any point, I'll post about it on here. But so far, in terms of those god-awful, debilitating physical effects — which I've experienced several times previously when I forgot to refill my scrip in time — no problem. Knock on wood!!

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@maryathome

At what percentage drop do the withdrawal effects usually happen if you cut out 10% every two weeks?

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Last night I slept 10 hours (as usual). Started at 112 mg. Been around 12 years on 37.5 and increased 3 years ago to
112 mg. I also take 150 mg Wellbutrin.

I feel like I’ve been wasting my life away. I only do things when I have an appointment or a function or important errand to perform or the flowers I planted will die if they don’t get watered.

I know this is the beginning of my journey and have a long way to go. Four capsules remaining (105mg).
After that I move on to 97.5 mg.
I sit here unmotivated. I need to do some errands and housework but don’t want to move. Tearyeyed that I feel like a piece of furniture in my home. I take a good quality Omega 3, magnesium and B complex.

Once I get off these pills, will I get my motivation back.

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I too am in the process of coming off of a 30 year hate relationship With Effexor. As some of you did, I also tried to do it cold turkey and weening myself. I kept telling my doctor(s) that I was tired all the time and just plain blah. They answer was “take 2 instead of 1”. I look back now and think “really?”. Anyway, I found a doctor willing to send me to a psychiatrist in order to evaluate my state of mind and he agreed that 30 years was way to long since my reason for going on them had ended 29 years ago. He put me on a weening plan that we both agreed upon. During my 8 weeks of weening, I had no issues at all. 2 days after my last pill, the brain zaps began along with the demonic dreams. I have watched my diet and have been drinking plenty of fluids along with a lot of rest. The bad dreams have subsided although the dreams I do have are certainly weird. The brain zaps are still pretty intense but through this message board, I am encouraged. My psychiatrist said indeed, Effexor is the worst one to come off of. Best of luck to all of us in this effort to get back to living our best healthy lives,

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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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I have a friend that swears by the powder “Calm” for anxiety and stress. I was taking it for a time and it did help. And for your sake, GET OFF EFFEXOR. Want even more of a reason? Go online and look up all the side effects of this drug. There are so many, they are listed alphabetically.

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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 to write that they wouldn’t let me post ! The company should be put out of business…

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