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

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@coolbreeze301

I was told the other day by my therapist they are trying to make it to where only someone in psych can give out SSRI or SNRI and take that ability away from a regular MD… I say great

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First of all, I so appreciate all the replies to my statement & questions. Would love to coordinate my thoughts, but since my memory is fleeting I'll shoot off what comes to mind. In my state MD's have not been able to prescribe for years; however it's almost impossible to find a prescribing psychiatrist/or practioner — thus my PCP has been monitoring me on a monthly basis. Having had an epiphany last night regarding my "ISSUES ( originating in childhood), I can tell you the previous 3 psychiatrists never delved into WHY I I felt deficient (other than my mom) because I presented so " normally." That's why I'm hoping for a nominal med to level my moods. Also, having been off effexor 6+ weeks my mind has more clarity, which is feeling nice. While I want to retreat , I'm too old to give up chunks of my life, and I work 2 days a week. Also teach teens 1 eve in my church; and in order to accomplish this last night I drank 1/2 bottle of white wine before class. So now I've forgotten my other points, but one plus is that my weird sense of humor has returned, which I enjoy. Also, my leg is healing & my hope is to return to gym soon (procrastination seems to have taken hold, though). Getting ready for MD app that. Will get back later with results of visit.

@grammy7

I especially appreciated your advice. Due to dangerously low blood sodium levels my PCP removed me from effexor xr 75mg — 1/2 dose for 3 days then off completely on 4th day (was on this for 15 years). I've experienced every conceivable side effect except brain shivers, but now 6 weeks later I'm ready to jump out of my skin. At the same time I have back & knee injuries which have prevented me from exercising ( I'll be returning to gym soon). My question to anyone is just how long these side effects will last. I'm cranky & more impatient with some people … uncomfortable with myself. I see PCP in 2 days & will request a SSRI (Celexa, Lexapro) in low dose to enable me to function in my life.

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I am not a medical professional, but I have been on 75 mg. for over 10 years. It appears you might be tapering too quickly. I have been tapering for nearly 3 months now, with decrease in dosages by about 20 %, every month. I am now on about 7 mg. When I stopped completely, a week or so ago, I had brain shivers, so I am tapering even more slowly. My experience is that slow and steady seems to work best for me.

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@youngsally

Some psychiatrists include psychotherapy as an important part of their practice…but you are correct that it is not typical. Psychotherapists usually work with an MD or psychiatrist on a consult basis to write scrips (I'm lucky that my psychologist is married to my GP…so it's really convenient).

I had my second meeting with my psychiatrist today. First meeting was 90 minutes — this one was 45….I guess I'm lucky – but it is also out of pocket. She is thinking she wants to have me try a very low dose of Lexapro now that the Effexor is gone…But — she is going to speak with my therapist first because they don't fully agree on the diagnosis.

I feel really fortunate…but it's also a great thing about being in NYC….mental health professionals as far as the eye can see.

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That is a real issue I think when the professionals that are supposed to be a team don’t agree on even the diagnosis

@renwald

I have been tapering off for close to a year after taking it for close to ten years. 200mg reduces in quarter tablets over time. I want to be rid of this medicine given I don’t think it helps and if I were to ever have the supply unavailable then the consequences would be bad. I’ve tried cold turkey and it was appalling.

I’ve reviewed many statements about this medicine over the years and do not see a symptom that I assume runs with withdrawal. That symptom is flash rage. It’s the sort of thing that slips effortlessly in your mind and sits around all day waiting for someone to do something wrong. You feel it surge and know what’s happening but too late. You’re willing to stop from walking away and instead go back to just get right up in someone’s face (usually family) and transform from the gentle Dr. Jeckyl to Mr. Hyde. Dr. Jeckyl would not have had to look far to get a better transforming reaction. The change is exceptionally difficult to arrest even when I feel it lurking. It’s rare this pops up but it wouldn’t take much to offend family to the point where they wouldn’t want to be around you anymore. Any ideas on this symptom? I quit following all news of any kind and remove as much provocative stimulation as I can. But withdrawal from people is not really an option.

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I started to taper about 2 months ago. I was on 150 for about 5 years, then 75 for 5 weeks, then 37.5 for 7 days. I went to see my primary and he first told me to just stop completely. I asked about the brain zaps, he said I would get them. He then gave me 20 mg for 10 days. Take for 3 days then every other until they run out. He acted surprised I wanted to d/c the drug. Asked if I was sure I was ready? Really? This wasn't supposed to be a permanent fix. I was put on them for anxiety 4 years ago after my husband died to help me get through..I think 4 years is long enough.
Brain zaps are already horrible along with dizziness and feeling off balance. My boyfriend is no support at all. He doesn't believe in "brain" pills to begin with. He came from a family of mental illness and thinks he is the expert on it all. I could just scream!! Actually I do at him constantly, I want to slap the crap out of him. Our relationship is rocky to begin with so this is just the icing on the cake. He needs to be the next thing to get rid of along with his 3 spoiled needy kids…(only 1 lives with us, the rest we taxi everywhere because mom is no good) that is a totally separate discussion needed…LOL
I am going to continue with the taper. I w/o to help with the anger issues and try to stay busy all the time. The menopause symptoms don't really help, but I refuse to go on any type of meds after this ordeal. I don't get why I have read these are prescribed for night sweats? I have had night sweats do to menopause, this crap never helped with them ever. I was hoping they would get better once I stopped. I am hopeful. I am glad I found this site. I didn't realize how many people were suffering from the same nor did I realize stopping would be this difficult.. Best wishes to all of you out there. I look forward to reading on for suggestions. I will be getting benadryl this evening.

@grandmar

@catamite
Congrats on your determination to come off Effexor.
I can understand why you don't want to announce what you are doing.
However, I personally think it is important to tell someone, even your child.
You want someone to be aware of what you are doing just in case the person see something strange about you.
Again, it is just my opinion.
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

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I would agree with that also.

@mjsmimi

I started to taper about 2 months ago. I was on 150 for about 5 years, then 75 for 5 weeks, then 37.5 for 7 days. I went to see my primary and he first told me to just stop completely. I asked about the brain zaps, he said I would get them. He then gave me 20 mg for 10 days. Take for 3 days then every other until they run out. He acted surprised I wanted to d/c the drug. Asked if I was sure I was ready? Really? This wasn't supposed to be a permanent fix. I was put on them for anxiety 4 years ago after my husband died to help me get through..I think 4 years is long enough.
Brain zaps are already horrible along with dizziness and feeling off balance. My boyfriend is no support at all. He doesn't believe in "brain" pills to begin with. He came from a family of mental illness and thinks he is the expert on it all. I could just scream!! Actually I do at him constantly, I want to slap the crap out of him. Our relationship is rocky to begin with so this is just the icing on the cake. He needs to be the next thing to get rid of along with his 3 spoiled needy kids…(only 1 lives with us, the rest we taxi everywhere because mom is no good) that is a totally separate discussion needed…LOL
I am going to continue with the taper. I w/o to help with the anger issues and try to stay busy all the time. The menopause symptoms don't really help, but I refuse to go on any type of meds after this ordeal. I don't get why I have read these are prescribed for night sweats? I have had night sweats do to menopause, this crap never helped with them ever. I was hoping they would get better once I stopped. I am hopeful. I am glad I found this site. I didn't realize how many people were suffering from the same nor did I realize stopping would be this difficult.. Best wishes to all of you out there. I look forward to reading on for suggestions. I will be getting benadryl this evening.

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My XXBF (who may soon be my XXXBF given my mood) is so vehemently against anything that involves psychoactive drugs — thinks everything can be addressed with gumption and vitamins….this for a guy who smoked a lot of weed in the 70s.

Do what you can with the taper. I held at 37.5mg for three weeks because of the unpleasant feelings….I am off entirely for 2 weeks…still sweaty and really irritable…but it's done….on to something new (if my therapist and psychiatrist can decide between them which combination will give me support going forward and what it is that really needs to be treated).

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@mjsmimi

I started to taper about 2 months ago. I was on 150 for about 5 years, then 75 for 5 weeks, then 37.5 for 7 days. I went to see my primary and he first told me to just stop completely. I asked about the brain zaps, he said I would get them. He then gave me 20 mg for 10 days. Take for 3 days then every other until they run out. He acted surprised I wanted to d/c the drug. Asked if I was sure I was ready? Really? This wasn't supposed to be a permanent fix. I was put on them for anxiety 4 years ago after my husband died to help me get through..I think 4 years is long enough.
Brain zaps are already horrible along with dizziness and feeling off balance. My boyfriend is no support at all. He doesn't believe in "brain" pills to begin with. He came from a family of mental illness and thinks he is the expert on it all. I could just scream!! Actually I do at him constantly, I want to slap the crap out of him. Our relationship is rocky to begin with so this is just the icing on the cake. He needs to be the next thing to get rid of along with his 3 spoiled needy kids…(only 1 lives with us, the rest we taxi everywhere because mom is no good) that is a totally separate discussion needed…LOL
I am going to continue with the taper. I w/o to help with the anger issues and try to stay busy all the time. The menopause symptoms don't really help, but I refuse to go on any type of meds after this ordeal. I don't get why I have read these are prescribed for night sweats? I have had night sweats do to menopause, this crap never helped with them ever. I was hoping they would get better once I stopped. I am hopeful. I am glad I found this site. I didn't realize how many people were suffering from the same nor did I realize stopping would be this difficult.. Best wishes to all of you out there. I look forward to reading on for suggestions. I will be getting benadryl this evening.

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I’m sorry for your loss regarding your late husband. Well, one of the things that tends to help is removing sources of stress from your daily life. It’s rather tough to find stability and peace in a endless cloud of stinging bees especially when those around you don’t think that bees and their stings are a problem.

Toxic relationships comes to mind but in all fairness, removing ourselves from situations is not always possible. So it may be that forcing your own peace and quiet time at home or else by leaving for a long therapeutic walk or hobby might help as a start.

The doctors reaction puzzles me a bit as it seems there might have been a missed meeting of the minds on why you were there and objective of treatment. Be that as it may, a secondary line of thinking might be a licensed clinical social worker to go over where you are in life, the scope of your stress and concerns and what non-medical help you can learn to cope. It would be advisable, I think, to tell the social worker of the reasons you began taking meds and re-evaluate whether you feel meds will help or hinder getting to a good place of daily life.

The non-cooperative spouse or significant other is unfortunate and draining. You might have to plan a strategy that simply factors out him since no help and only resistance will be forthcoming. No matter how you slice it, opposition to taking care of your mental health and level of stress is not of benefit.

It would be illuminating to understand what he feels would help and be of benefit when you describe the full scope of what you cope with. I have a feeling the answers would be less than convincing or therapeutic.

Liked by mjsmimi

@youngsally

My XXBF (who may soon be my XXXBF given my mood) is so vehemently against anything that involves psychoactive drugs — thinks everything can be addressed with gumption and vitamins….this for a guy who smoked a lot of weed in the 70s.

Do what you can with the taper. I held at 37.5mg for three weeks because of the unpleasant feelings….I am off entirely for 2 weeks…still sweaty and really irritable…but it's done….on to something new (if my therapist and psychiatrist can decide between them which combination will give me support going forward and what it is that really needs to be treated).

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Well the beautiful thing about your soon to be x is that he doesn’t have to deal with psychoactive drugs. He might celebrate that fact and let you decide what is best for you. You can always just tell him that his advice is unsolicited. Anytime he brings it up in any way, shape or form just hold up your hand and say…ah ah Unsolicited.

It might infuriate him but be immensely satisfying for you.

@mjsmimi

I started to taper about 2 months ago. I was on 150 for about 5 years, then 75 for 5 weeks, then 37.5 for 7 days. I went to see my primary and he first told me to just stop completely. I asked about the brain zaps, he said I would get them. He then gave me 20 mg for 10 days. Take for 3 days then every other until they run out. He acted surprised I wanted to d/c the drug. Asked if I was sure I was ready? Really? This wasn't supposed to be a permanent fix. I was put on them for anxiety 4 years ago after my husband died to help me get through..I think 4 years is long enough.
Brain zaps are already horrible along with dizziness and feeling off balance. My boyfriend is no support at all. He doesn't believe in "brain" pills to begin with. He came from a family of mental illness and thinks he is the expert on it all. I could just scream!! Actually I do at him constantly, I want to slap the crap out of him. Our relationship is rocky to begin with so this is just the icing on the cake. He needs to be the next thing to get rid of along with his 3 spoiled needy kids…(only 1 lives with us, the rest we taxi everywhere because mom is no good) that is a totally separate discussion needed…LOL
I am going to continue with the taper. I w/o to help with the anger issues and try to stay busy all the time. The menopause symptoms don't really help, but I refuse to go on any type of meds after this ordeal. I don't get why I have read these are prescribed for night sweats? I have had night sweats do to menopause, this crap never helped with them ever. I was hoping they would get better once I stopped. I am hopeful. I am glad I found this site. I didn't realize how many people were suffering from the same nor did I realize stopping would be this difficult.. Best wishes to all of you out there. I look forward to reading on for suggestions. I will be getting benadryl this evening.

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@mjsmimi
This is a very fast taper from the get go. Then, ping/ponging off and on the 20mg every other day and then quitting from 20mg as well as having no support from your doctor, or your "family" is a pretty rocky program.

Re Effexor for menopausal hot flashes–That's why I was put on Effexor and it worked GREAT. But, generally, when given for this off-label use, the dosage that works is minimal; I was only ever on 25mg. It's paradoxical that the effects of this drug can be totally opposite depending on how much you take.

Liked by mjsmimi

@youngsally

My XXBF (who may soon be my XXXBF given my mood) is so vehemently against anything that involves psychoactive drugs — thinks everything can be addressed with gumption and vitamins….this for a guy who smoked a lot of weed in the 70s.

Do what you can with the taper. I held at 37.5mg for three weeks because of the unpleasant feelings….I am off entirely for 2 weeks…still sweaty and really irritable…but it's done….on to something new (if my therapist and psychiatrist can decide between them which combination will give me support going forward and what it is that really needs to be treated).

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On day 5…felt like i was gonna die the zaps wee so bad..caused solely by moving my eyes… Upset stomach,sweats, my hearing is all jacked up maybe damaged?…Worst part is I've been to ER last week and called them today and they said there is nothing they can do…like ok so im just suppose to die or keep taking this poison which was prescribed to me by one of your fellow doctors…smh…im staying strong and resolute…this stuff has ruined my life…

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@coolbreeze301

On day 5…felt like i was gonna die the zaps wee so bad..caused solely by moving my eyes… Upset stomach,sweats, my hearing is all jacked up maybe damaged?…Worst part is I've been to ER last week and called them today and they said there is nothing they can do…like ok so im just suppose to die or keep taking this poison which was prescribed to me by one of your fellow doctors…smh…im staying strong and resolute…this stuff has ruined my life…

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The zaps are a mystery to me though everyone talks about them. I felt more like the insensibility and delirium one gets with fever.

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@tonysdca

I am not a medical professional, but I have been on 75 mg. for over 10 years. It appears you might be tapering too quickly. I have been tapering for nearly 3 months now, with decrease in dosages by about 20 %, every month. I am now on about 7 mg. When I stopped completely, a week or so ago, I had brain shivers, so I am tapering even more slowly. My experience is that slow and steady seems to work best for me.

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HI there. I have been tapering off slowly over the last few months & I found that the first two weeks on a lower dosage was the hardest time for me; after two weeks my brain/ body seemed to be conditoning itself; still have all the symptoms although not as severe. I have been on 37.5mgs for two weeks & intend to stay on this dose for another two weeks, then I will take this dosage on alternative days for a few more weeks. Then hopefully I will be drug free. Then the new process will begin; can I stay off antidepressants? ?????

@shoshi

HI there. I have been tapering off slowly over the last few months & I found that the first two weeks on a lower dosage was the hardest time for me; after two weeks my brain/ body seemed to be conditoning itself; still have all the symptoms although not as severe. I have been on 37.5mgs for two weeks & intend to stay on this dose for another two weeks, then I will take this dosage on alternative days for a few more weeks. Then hopefully I will be drug free. Then the new process will begin; can I stay off antidepressants? ?????

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I am two weeks effexor free and still not feeling well,,. The dizziness and nausea persist. I am very very depressed. The only thing that helps is sleep. I am sure am grateful that I am retired. I couldn't do this otherwise. I can barely function.

Liked by caityduck

I'm so sorry you're still feeling punk. That must be pretty awful. What was your last dosage and how long were you on it? Could those be factors in how you're feeling?

@catamite

I am two weeks effexor free and still not feeling well,,. The dizziness and nausea persist. I am very very depressed. The only thing that helps is sleep. I am sure am grateful that I am retired. I couldn't do this otherwise. I can barely function.

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@catamite I can definitely relate to how you’re feeling! I am now almost a month from my last dose and today was my first day of driving. I went to the local Target about 3 miles away and was shaking like a leaf. I don’t trust myself driving yet. The zaps are still overwhelming I’m averaging about 4 hours of sleep and that keeps drowsy all day. Although I will say I feel better than that first two weeks when I could hardly make my way to the bathroom, I’m just anxious to be done with this drug! Hang in there.. better days are coming.

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