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

@mlbaier this seems to be true of many drugs. The dilaudid I was taking post knee replacement made my mouth terribly dry and also caused horrible constipation. I had to take miralax for relief.
JK

Liked by Lisa Lucier

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@lisalucier

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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Just joined this group in hopes of gaining a better understanding of effexor withdrawal and tips for coping. I am at day 10 of going cold turkey. I was taking effexor xr 150 daily and had been taking for 6 years. Completely understand cold turkey is not recommended however, for financial reasons I did not have any other option. I was taking this drug for anxiety and PTSD. The deep bone and muscle aches have subsided considerably but, the ringing in my ears, sweating and having my emotions on the surface are horrible. I’m looking for suggestions on what I can do to decrease these side affects.

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Hey guys. Yep, Effexor withdrawal is brutal. I wasn’t even trying to get off of it; the pharmacy just ran out and had to order more. I’d run out of other antidepressants (Wellbutrin, Celexa) before and it didn’t really bother me so I didn’t think much of it. Oh, boy, was I wrong… I shattered my ankle a while ago and had 4 surgeries in 5 years. Consequently, I was taking a lot of different opioids at a certain point and they gave me some withdrawal meds to ease transitions. I can tell you that the same meds they prescribe for opioid withdrawal will help with Effexor withdrawal. None of them are controlled substances, so they should be simple for your doctor to prescribe. They include anti-nausea meds, and meds to control cramping and high blood pressure. (The specific ones they gave me were Dicyclomine, Clonidine, Hyoscyamine, and Toradol for pain.) If you live in a state that has legalized marijuana, I also recommend some CBD drops. (CBD, unlike THC, has no psychoactive properties. It’s the “relaxing” side of marijuana rather than the “high” side, and you can buy edibles that contain only CBD.) Your local dispensary can offer advice on dosages.

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@villagetobay

Hey guys. Yep, Effexor withdrawal is brutal. I wasn’t even trying to get off of it; the pharmacy just ran out and had to order more. I’d run out of other antidepressants (Wellbutrin, Celexa) before and it didn’t really bother me so I didn’t think much of it. Oh, boy, was I wrong… I shattered my ankle a while ago and had 4 surgeries in 5 years. Consequently, I was taking a lot of different opioids at a certain point and they gave me some withdrawal meds to ease transitions. I can tell you that the same meds they prescribe for opioid withdrawal will help with Effexor withdrawal. None of them are controlled substances, so they should be simple for your doctor to prescribe. They include anti-nausea meds, and meds to control cramping and high blood pressure. (The specific ones they gave me were Dicyclomine, Clonidine, Hyoscyamine, and Toradol for pain.) If you live in a state that has legalized marijuana, I also recommend some CBD drops. (CBD, unlike THC, has no psychoactive properties. It’s the “relaxing” side of marijuana rather than the “high” side, and you can buy edibles that contain only CBD.) Your local dispensary can offer advice on dosages.

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Oh, and Excedrin Migraine. (Almost forgot that one.) I don’t know if anyone else has encountered this, but probably my worst symptom was the horrible nightmares. They seemed to go on forever yet I hardly got any sleep and I woke up bathed in sweat. Every time I slept a little, it was traumatic. I think the CBD helps with that. My dreams were still deep and convoluted, but not as terrible.

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I’m new here. Have read almost every post trying to get help getting off Effexor ER.
It was prescribed to me for hot flashes and other menopause symptoms.
I started at 37.5 mg for 2 weeks with no relieve so dr upped my dose to 75 mg and that actually helped a lot and my life felt great for about 1month then slowly quit working and now the only thing I get from it are side effects which include worse sweating, nausea, so tired I can barely function and just don’t feel like doing anything. It is all I can do to get ready for work and all I think about all day is coming home and laying down. I have zero energy and zero quality of life.

At first I thought it was menopause symptoms just getting worse but after researching I now think the Effexor is contributing to some of it.
I have only been on this med for about 8-10 weeks so hoping getting off it won’t be so bad.

My plan i started today is didn’t take one today but plan to take 37.5 every other day for a week then one every 3-4 days for a week then one a week then stop.
Does this sound reasonable?
My dr put me on a HRT today and acted like stopping the Effexor was no big deal when she saw how long I’d been on it.
Any advice is truly welcome!

Thanks for reading this. I know it’s lomg.

Lukekee

Liked by Lisa Lucier

REPLY
@lukekee

I’m new here. Have read almost every post trying to get help getting off Effexor ER.
It was prescribed to me for hot flashes and other menopause symptoms.
I started at 37.5 mg for 2 weeks with no relieve so dr upped my dose to 75 mg and that actually helped a lot and my life felt great for about 1month then slowly quit working and now the only thing I get from it are side effects which include worse sweating, nausea, so tired I can barely function and just don’t feel like doing anything. It is all I can do to get ready for work and all I think about all day is coming home and laying down. I have zero energy and zero quality of life.

At first I thought it was menopause symptoms just getting worse but after researching I now think the Effexor is contributing to some of it.
I have only been on this med for about 8-10 weeks so hoping getting off it won’t be so bad.

My plan i started today is didn’t take one today but plan to take 37.5 every other day for a week then one every 3-4 days for a week then one a week then stop.
Does this sound reasonable?
My dr put me on a HRT today and acted like stopping the Effexor was no big deal when she saw how long I’d been on it.
Any advice is truly welcome!

Thanks for reading this. I know it’s lomg.

Lukekee

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@lukelee I probably have no business responding to this since I am not experienced in this type of problem, but if those pills can be split I would think it would be better to take them daily but in increasingly smaller doses. I was on dilaudid and tramadol after a knee replacement and my doctor suggested that I split the pills and then that I split the again into quarters. Maybe this is not the same as with drugs like Effexor but unless these pills cannot be split I would think it would work best that way.
JK

Liked by Lisa Lucier

REPLY
@lukekee

I’m new here. Have read almost every post trying to get help getting off Effexor ER.
It was prescribed to me for hot flashes and other menopause symptoms.
I started at 37.5 mg for 2 weeks with no relieve so dr upped my dose to 75 mg and that actually helped a lot and my life felt great for about 1month then slowly quit working and now the only thing I get from it are side effects which include worse sweating, nausea, so tired I can barely function and just don’t feel like doing anything. It is all I can do to get ready for work and all I think about all day is coming home and laying down. I have zero energy and zero quality of life.

At first I thought it was menopause symptoms just getting worse but after researching I now think the Effexor is contributing to some of it.
I have only been on this med for about 8-10 weeks so hoping getting off it won’t be so bad.

My plan i started today is didn’t take one today but plan to take 37.5 every other day for a week then one every 3-4 days for a week then one a week then stop.
Does this sound reasonable?
My dr put me on a HRT today and acted like stopping the Effexor was no big deal when she saw how long I’d been on it.
Any advice is truly welcome!

Thanks for reading this. I know it’s lomg.

Lukekee

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They only come in capsules at my pharmacy so I don’t know any other way to do it except go to the smaller dose.
Thank you so much for responding. I really appreciate it.

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@lukekee

I’m new here. Have read almost every post trying to get help getting off Effexor ER.
It was prescribed to me for hot flashes and other menopause symptoms.
I started at 37.5 mg for 2 weeks with no relieve so dr upped my dose to 75 mg and that actually helped a lot and my life felt great for about 1month then slowly quit working and now the only thing I get from it are side effects which include worse sweating, nausea, so tired I can barely function and just don’t feel like doing anything. It is all I can do to get ready for work and all I think about all day is coming home and laying down. I have zero energy and zero quality of life.

At first I thought it was menopause symptoms just getting worse but after researching I now think the Effexor is contributing to some of it.
I have only been on this med for about 8-10 weeks so hoping getting off it won’t be so bad.

My plan i started today is didn’t take one today but plan to take 37.5 every other day for a week then one every 3-4 days for a week then one a week then stop.
Does this sound reasonable?
My dr put me on a HRT today and acted like stopping the Effexor was no big deal when she saw how long I’d been on it.
Any advice is truly welcome!

Thanks for reading this. I know it’s lomg.

Lukekee

Jump to this post

@lukekee that does present a dilemma. Have you asked your doctor about the best way to wean off of this? Does it perhaps come in a smaller dosage capsules? I hope you can find a solution to getting off of Effexor as painlessly as possible.
JK

Liked by Lisa Lucier

REPLY
@lukekee

I’m new here. Have read almost every post trying to get help getting off Effexor ER.
It was prescribed to me for hot flashes and other menopause symptoms.
I started at 37.5 mg for 2 weeks with no relieve so dr upped my dose to 75 mg and that actually helped a lot and my life felt great for about 1month then slowly quit working and now the only thing I get from it are side effects which include worse sweating, nausea, so tired I can barely function and just don’t feel like doing anything. It is all I can do to get ready for work and all I think about all day is coming home and laying down. I have zero energy and zero quality of life.

At first I thought it was menopause symptoms just getting worse but after researching I now think the Effexor is contributing to some of it.
I have only been on this med for about 8-10 weeks so hoping getting off it won’t be so bad.

My plan i started today is didn’t take one today but plan to take 37.5 every other day for a week then one every 3-4 days for a week then one a week then stop.
Does this sound reasonable?
My dr put me on a HRT today and acted like stopping the Effexor was no big deal when she saw how long I’d been on it.
Any advice is truly welcome!

Thanks for reading this. I know it’s lomg.

Lukekee

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After reading all the posts of horror stories I have decided I am going to try taking 75mg every other day for a few days then go down to 37.5 daily for a few days then every other day so the whole process will take about 2 weeks and hopefully that will work.
Thank you

REPLY
@lukekee

I’m new here. Have read almost every post trying to get help getting off Effexor ER.
It was prescribed to me for hot flashes and other menopause symptoms.
I started at 37.5 mg for 2 weeks with no relieve so dr upped my dose to 75 mg and that actually helped a lot and my life felt great for about 1month then slowly quit working and now the only thing I get from it are side effects which include worse sweating, nausea, so tired I can barely function and just don’t feel like doing anything. It is all I can do to get ready for work and all I think about all day is coming home and laying down. I have zero energy and zero quality of life.

At first I thought it was menopause symptoms just getting worse but after researching I now think the Effexor is contributing to some of it.
I have only been on this med for about 8-10 weeks so hoping getting off it won’t be so bad.

My plan i started today is didn’t take one today but plan to take 37.5 every other day for a week then one every 3-4 days for a week then one a week then stop.
Does this sound reasonable?
My dr put me on a HRT today and acted like stopping the Effexor was no big deal when she saw how long I’d been on it.
Any advice is truly welcome!

Thanks for reading this. I know it’s lomg.

Lukekee

Jump to this post

My son had a compounding chemist make up half strength again to 19mg. He explained also that it isn’t just the withdrawal but your brain learning to make its own chemicals again which will vary. My son needed some help for a while with another medication and has found he is best on his old antidepressent Zoloft. And that’s fine, quality of life is important and we are fortunate to live in countries where we can get help. Best wishes.

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Thank you so much!

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I started Venlafaxine 75mg about 4 years ago. Prior to that I had been on Citalapram for a number of years but felt that it was no longer working for me so took doctor’s advice and went onto Venlafaxine. My issues were around social anxiety and and stress of being a working mother with two young children and all the issues that go with that re childcare, guilt and no longer having ‘me’ time! Having now got to a more easier time of life and not liking the side affects of Venlafaxine eg weight gain, excessive sweating and always feeling tired, I went to my doctor to suggest weaning off the drug. I was disappointed to find my regular doctor was away so saw a locum….best thing ever! He had taken antidepressants and gave me a regime for coming off it! It has taken four months to be completely off Venlafaxine and that was only 75mg! His recommendation for me was to take one 37.5mg in the morning and another at night for a month then drop to one 37.5mg for a month then stop completely. I stopped completely 7 days ago. It didn’t take long for the withdrawal to kick in. With me it was the brain zaps, lightheadedness and heart beat irregularity that are the worst symptoms but have had slight nausea and diarrhoea but nothing too bad. Today is the first day I have felt energised and not fatigued. Still getting the brain zaps which for me are not shocks but dull swooshing noise when I move my eyes or head suddenly but getting better each day. Listening to iPod through ear buds seems to have helped take my mind off them and don’t notice the zaps! Having read other people’s accounts of coming of this drug has been frightening and had I known how hard it would be to come off it I probably wouldn’t have started with it but it has helped when I needed it at the time and if you have the patience to do the withdrawal slowly, it can be managed! Hopefully I am through the worst and won’t have a relapse of withdrawal symptoms. Do not go cold turkey! Take your time and let your body adjust!

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@jenjen7

I started Venlafaxine 75mg about 4 years ago. Prior to that I had been on Citalapram for a number of years but felt that it was no longer working for me so took doctor’s advice and went onto Venlafaxine. My issues were around social anxiety and and stress of being a working mother with two young children and all the issues that go with that re childcare, guilt and no longer having ‘me’ time! Having now got to a more easier time of life and not liking the side affects of Venlafaxine eg weight gain, excessive sweating and always feeling tired, I went to my doctor to suggest weaning off the drug. I was disappointed to find my regular doctor was away so saw a locum….best thing ever! He had taken antidepressants and gave me a regime for coming off it! It has taken four months to be completely off Venlafaxine and that was only 75mg! His recommendation for me was to take one 37.5mg in the morning and another at night for a month then drop to one 37.5mg for a month then stop completely. I stopped completely 7 days ago. It didn’t take long for the withdrawal to kick in. With me it was the brain zaps, lightheadedness and heart beat irregularity that are the worst symptoms but have had slight nausea and diarrhoea but nothing too bad. Today is the first day I have felt energised and not fatigued. Still getting the brain zaps which for me are not shocks but dull swooshing noise when I move my eyes or head suddenly but getting better each day. Listening to iPod through ear buds seems to have helped take my mind off them and don’t notice the zaps! Having read other people’s accounts of coming of this drug has been frightening and had I known how hard it would be to come off it I probably wouldn’t have started with it but it has helped when I needed it at the time and if you have the patience to do the withdrawal slowly, it can be managed! Hopefully I am through the worst and won’t have a relapse of withdrawal symptoms. Do not go cold turkey! Take your time and let your body adjust!

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Thank you so much! Now I have some kind of guide to go by. I appreciate it and I’m soooo glad I’ve only been on this med for a couple months and praying that that will make it a little easier to get off of it; at least I hope so. Thanks again

Liked by Lisa Lucier

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@jenjen7

I started Venlafaxine 75mg about 4 years ago. Prior to that I had been on Citalapram for a number of years but felt that it was no longer working for me so took doctor’s advice and went onto Venlafaxine. My issues were around social anxiety and and stress of being a working mother with two young children and all the issues that go with that re childcare, guilt and no longer having ‘me’ time! Having now got to a more easier time of life and not liking the side affects of Venlafaxine eg weight gain, excessive sweating and always feeling tired, I went to my doctor to suggest weaning off the drug. I was disappointed to find my regular doctor was away so saw a locum….best thing ever! He had taken antidepressants and gave me a regime for coming off it! It has taken four months to be completely off Venlafaxine and that was only 75mg! His recommendation for me was to take one 37.5mg in the morning and another at night for a month then drop to one 37.5mg for a month then stop completely. I stopped completely 7 days ago. It didn’t take long for the withdrawal to kick in. With me it was the brain zaps, lightheadedness and heart beat irregularity that are the worst symptoms but have had slight nausea and diarrhoea but nothing too bad. Today is the first day I have felt energised and not fatigued. Still getting the brain zaps which for me are not shocks but dull swooshing noise when I move my eyes or head suddenly but getting better each day. Listening to iPod through ear buds seems to have helped take my mind off them and don’t notice the zaps! Having read other people’s accounts of coming of this drug has been frightening and had I known how hard it would be to come off it I probably wouldn’t have started with it but it has helped when I needed it at the time and if you have the patience to do the withdrawal slowly, it can be managed! Hopefully I am through the worst and won’t have a relapse of withdrawal symptoms. Do not go cold turkey! Take your time and let your body adjust!

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Not sure that taking one every other day will work so well as it only took me four hours from missing a dose for the withdrawal to kick in. Better to reduce amount daily as you are trying to lower your dependence on it….not stop then give it a feed as it were! I too wondered how much the symptoms have to do with menopause so it is hard to judge what are meds and what is menopause! Good luck!

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I take a relatively high dosage, and when I started, my doc had me step up 37.5mg every 2 weeks. Perhaps that’s a good rate at which to step down as well.

Also, it IS possible to split capsules. I’ve done it many times with various meds. Hold the capsule up to the light and you will see which side is the “bottom” (its walls extend the length of the capsule) and which is the “top” (which only extends half the length of the capsule). Hold capsule by the bottom and gently twist off the top. Carefully tip half of the powder into the top half of the capsule (which will mean you’re talking half the dose), leaving the other half in the bottom. Pour out the top half into a spoon to mix w/food or drink — or you can just pour it into your mouth and wash it down. Put the now-empty top back onto the bottom of the capsule and press both ends to tighten the seal. Keep your half-empty capsules in a different container than your full ones so you don’t mix them up.

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