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

Hello everyone. I have been very keenly reading all your comments regarding your withdrawal symptom's. I find if I get outside and do some type of exhausting exercise; can be gardening, walking etc, helps my symptoms greatly. I do not enjoy being around humans at all & I have a very short fuse when dealing with anything complex. I have moved down to 37.5mgs per day (from 150mgs per day) in a few months; have hated the withdrawal symptoms although determined to continue. Have experienced same as other people, although some extras have been weird! Saying things back the front, driving my car is a challenge, really having to think when responding to questions, up for one day & really down the next, even eyesight issues; although feeling empowered in getting this far. And hope I can be totally free of taking any further medications in the future. Yoga is helping also. Great support & input from this site. Shoshi

Liked by danalee5, catbitess

@shoshi

Hello everyone. I have been very keenly reading all your comments regarding your withdrawal symptom's. I find if I get outside and do some type of exhausting exercise; can be gardening, walking etc, helps my symptoms greatly. I do not enjoy being around humans at all & I have a very short fuse when dealing with anything complex. I have moved down to 37.5mgs per day (from 150mgs per day) in a few months; have hated the withdrawal symptoms although determined to continue. Have experienced same as other people, although some extras have been weird! Saying things back the front, driving my car is a challenge, really having to think when responding to questions, up for one day & really down the next, even eyesight issues; although feeling empowered in getting this far. And hope I can be totally free of taking any further medications in the future. Yoga is helping also. Great support & input from this site. Shoshi

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Hi, @shoshi – I merged your post on withdrawal after 20 years of taking venlafaxine (Effexor) here to this discussion so that those whose comments you've likely read about withdrawal symptoms could see your mention of reading them and how things have gone for you.

Glad to hear you are feeling empowered in getting as far as you have through your taper, and that yoga has helped as well as support and input from Connect.

Wondering if you'd share more about the eyesight and driving issues you've experienced?

I have been on several different SSRI over the last 20 years, for my fibromyalgia. I have recently stopped venlafaxine, 5 days since last dose, and was on it for 3 years, 10 years on Prozac before that, had to change to ven because insurance quit paying for Pro. My PCP gave me 2 weeks of 75 mg and then 2 weeks of 37.5 for two weeks, with my actual starting dose of 150 mg. I did not have any problems taking the lowering doses, but the day after the last dose, my withdrawal symptoms started in. I want to be off of it because of the huge amount of weight I put on while taking it. IF i MAKE IT THROUGH THE WITHDRAWALS, I AM NEVER, EVER GOING BACK ON ANYTHING. My advice to anyone wanting or thinking about taking any type of anti-depressant, DONT DO IT!! I have begged my PCP to give me something to help me through this nightmare but her only advice was to go back on it at a lower dose and then taper off again, but I refuse to be a prisoner to these medications. My symptoms are brain zaps, fog, hot flashes, like fire, sleepy all the time, no appetite, diarrhea, aching, hard to concentrate, very grouchy, bouts of sobbing. Need I say more. PLEASE can anyone offer any decent advice, other than crawling in bed and never coming out. I need some really great, helpful advice. PLEASE!!

@dixie66

I have been on several different SSRI over the last 20 years, for my fibromyalgia. I have recently stopped venlafaxine, 5 days since last dose, and was on it for 3 years, 10 years on Prozac before that, had to change to ven because insurance quit paying for Pro. My PCP gave me 2 weeks of 75 mg and then 2 weeks of 37.5 for two weeks, with my actual starting dose of 150 mg. I did not have any problems taking the lowering doses, but the day after the last dose, my withdrawal symptoms started in. I want to be off of it because of the huge amount of weight I put on while taking it. IF i MAKE IT THROUGH THE WITHDRAWALS, I AM NEVER, EVER GOING BACK ON ANYTHING. My advice to anyone wanting or thinking about taking any type of anti-depressant, DONT DO IT!! I have begged my PCP to give me something to help me through this nightmare but her only advice was to go back on it at a lower dose and then taper off again, but I refuse to be a prisoner to these medications. My symptoms are brain zaps, fog, hot flashes, like fire, sleepy all the time, no appetite, diarrhea, aching, hard to concentrate, very grouchy, bouts of sobbing. Need I say more. PLEASE can anyone offer any decent advice, other than crawling in bed and never coming out. I need some really great, helpful advice. PLEASE!!

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I don't know how helpful my comments will be, but I do really feel for you. To me, it sounds like a very fast taper, but whatever — what's done is done. You've had 5 hellacious days BUT each one has gotten you closer to being rid of the withdrawal symptoms. I suggest googling something to the effect of “vitamins and minerals that help in venlafaxine withdrawal'' because there's some good information online in this area. Force yourself to eat yogurt — non the heavily sweetened kind — or drink kefir (I like Lifeway brand because of the different flavors — anything to get some sort of healthy food in your body. Drink tumeric tea or add turmeric, cinnamon, vanilla and some ginger to warm almond milk. I mix 8 oz. of club soda with 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar and 1 tbsp of honey as a detox drink to help flush out my body. Do anything that nourishes you in a healthy way — physically, mentally, spiritually; in other words, be very kind and gentle with yourself and to yourself. If you can walk around the block, try to do it. If not, walk down your street, then turn around and come back home. Watch comedies on TV and rent comedies from the library, Netflix, whatever your source is. This feels like the end of the world, but it isn't. It's the beginning of a new one. If you're a mom, remember the pain of labor and how it was all worthwhile because of the gift it gave you. (This is relatively easy for me to say, BTW, because I've never had a baby!! But I have been with two different friends when they gave birth, so at least I've seen the agony.) And I know this also feels like it will last forever — but it won't. It has an END!! And the end will be worth the pain of getting there, plus the knowledge you're gaining which you'll be able to use on your own behalf in any tough situation from now on. Scream, wail, pull the covers over your head, do whatever you need to do and keep telling yourself this, too, shall pass!

@dixie66

I have been on several different SSRI over the last 20 years, for my fibromyalgia. I have recently stopped venlafaxine, 5 days since last dose, and was on it for 3 years, 10 years on Prozac before that, had to change to ven because insurance quit paying for Pro. My PCP gave me 2 weeks of 75 mg and then 2 weeks of 37.5 for two weeks, with my actual starting dose of 150 mg. I did not have any problems taking the lowering doses, but the day after the last dose, my withdrawal symptoms started in. I want to be off of it because of the huge amount of weight I put on while taking it. IF i MAKE IT THROUGH THE WITHDRAWALS, I AM NEVER, EVER GOING BACK ON ANYTHING. My advice to anyone wanting or thinking about taking any type of anti-depressant, DONT DO IT!! I have begged my PCP to give me something to help me through this nightmare but her only advice was to go back on it at a lower dose and then taper off again, but I refuse to be a prisoner to these medications. My symptoms are brain zaps, fog, hot flashes, like fire, sleepy all the time, no appetite, diarrhea, aching, hard to concentrate, very grouchy, bouts of sobbing. Need I say more. PLEASE can anyone offer any decent advice, other than crawling in bed and never coming out. I need some really great, helpful advice. PLEASE!!

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@dixie66
The best advice on this site is to slowly taper off. You are going very fast. When a taper is too much (unpleasant symptoms ensue), the recommendation is to go back to the dose where you didn't experience withdrawal symptoms and stay there for a while before attempting another taper–usually to not such a drastic drop. If it's only been five days since your last dose, it may still be possible to get relief by reinitiating Effexor, then tapering more slowly.

If you don't want to reinitiate and taper, then you can treat the withdrawal symptoms with OTC products such as Ben*dryl, Dram*mine, fish oil, etc. You can click on my name and see the supplements I am taking (including l-tryptophan and GABA) which help tremendously. For the akathisia I've developed, I take Valium (prescribed for this) when it occurs. I intend to taper off these supplements as the other most important aspect to recovery is the time being off Effexor.

Liked by rschroeder

@dixie66

I have been on several different SSRI over the last 20 years, for my fibromyalgia. I have recently stopped venlafaxine, 5 days since last dose, and was on it for 3 years, 10 years on Prozac before that, had to change to ven because insurance quit paying for Pro. My PCP gave me 2 weeks of 75 mg and then 2 weeks of 37.5 for two weeks, with my actual starting dose of 150 mg. I did not have any problems taking the lowering doses, but the day after the last dose, my withdrawal symptoms started in. I want to be off of it because of the huge amount of weight I put on while taking it. IF i MAKE IT THROUGH THE WITHDRAWALS, I AM NEVER, EVER GOING BACK ON ANYTHING. My advice to anyone wanting or thinking about taking any type of anti-depressant, DONT DO IT!! I have begged my PCP to give me something to help me through this nightmare but her only advice was to go back on it at a lower dose and then taper off again, but I refuse to be a prisoner to these medications. My symptoms are brain zaps, fog, hot flashes, like fire, sleepy all the time, no appetite, diarrhea, aching, hard to concentrate, very grouchy, bouts of sobbing. Need I say more. PLEASE can anyone offer any decent advice, other than crawling in bed and never coming out. I need some really great, helpful advice. PLEASE!!

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Yuck! Most of us have been there…or still are there. I will say that my taper was actually somewhat faster but more gradual: 1 week at 112.5, 1 week at 75, 1 week at 37.5….although I hung at 37.5 for about 3 weeks because it is where I started to have withdrawal symptoms. They are awful, but as some note, they will also pass (that's what my psychiatrist said after I had a particularly bad day and my therapist suggested I call the psychiatrist). It passes. Some days are worse than others – but 18 days off the stuff completely and I am down mostly to facial numbness, some irritability, and sleeping that is kind of erratic…along with the occasional hot flash. You'll get through it, but you may be miserable. It never hurts to call the doctor to say that you are miserable – if only to get acknowledgment that you are not making things up.

@dixie66
I have to agree with some of the other responses, that your moving too fast. It’s taken me over 7 months to finally get off of it. For 5 years I was taking 150mg of Venlafaxine daily along with 250mg of Lamictal. I started decreasing it with the help of my psychiatrist lowering it from 150 to 112.5mg for two months, 75mg for two months, then 37.5 for almost three months. Now that I’m at the lowest dosage, she has me taking the 37.5 every other day for two weeks, and then stopping it. If I notice a lot of withdrawal symptoms, she recommends that I take it every third day for three weeks and then trying to stop it.
So far I’ve been taking it every other day for 5 days, and I’m definitely a bit foggy and light headed but I’m hopeful that it won’t get too bad because I am taking it slowly.
One of the major positives that I’ve noticed since lowering my dosage is an improved quality of sleep. Ever since I started taking antidepressants, I’ve constantly been exhausted. To the point where I would sleep 20 hours a day, essentially only waking up for classes and then going back to sleep. I had originally just associated it with my depression. Well the depression became more manageable, but I was still exhausted. I was taking both Adderall and Ritalin (prescribed by a neurologist) just to function throughout the work day and was still having problems with staying awake and didn’t trust myself to drive more than 10 minutes. After doing a sleep study and almost being diagnosed with narcolepsy, they determined that the test was inconclusive because my antidepressants were REM inhibitors. This was something that I never realized. So long story short, after decreasing the Effexor to 37.5 I noticed that I was starting to dream again (I hadn’t remembered dreaming since before my depression). I’m also noticing that I’m no where near as tired during the day and have even been able to get off the Ritalin. I’m hoping to stop the Adderall as well because I don’t think it’s doing much for me.
I hope this helps anyone who is trying to come off their Effexor and/or is having problems with exhaustion while taking it.

Liked by catbitess

@dixie66

I have been on several different SSRI over the last 20 years, for my fibromyalgia. I have recently stopped venlafaxine, 5 days since last dose, and was on it for 3 years, 10 years on Prozac before that, had to change to ven because insurance quit paying for Pro. My PCP gave me 2 weeks of 75 mg and then 2 weeks of 37.5 for two weeks, with my actual starting dose of 150 mg. I did not have any problems taking the lowering doses, but the day after the last dose, my withdrawal symptoms started in. I want to be off of it because of the huge amount of weight I put on while taking it. IF i MAKE IT THROUGH THE WITHDRAWALS, I AM NEVER, EVER GOING BACK ON ANYTHING. My advice to anyone wanting or thinking about taking any type of anti-depressant, DONT DO IT!! I have begged my PCP to give me something to help me through this nightmare but her only advice was to go back on it at a lower dose and then taper off again, but I refuse to be a prisoner to these medications. My symptoms are brain zaps, fog, hot flashes, like fire, sleepy all the time, no appetite, diarrhea, aching, hard to concentrate, very grouchy, bouts of sobbing. Need I say more. PLEASE can anyone offer any decent advice, other than crawling in bed and never coming out. I need some really great, helpful advice. PLEASE!!

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I based my response to your post on your statement that you didn't want to do what your PCP suggested — go back on it and then taper again. I hear that loud and clear. Having come this far, why go back? But the other posters who've responded to you have said to go back on it and then try to taper again at a slower rate. I apologize for not including that as an option, and never mind all my “feel good'' stuff.

@youngsally

Yuck! Most of us have been there…or still are there. I will say that my taper was actually somewhat faster but more gradual: 1 week at 112.5, 1 week at 75, 1 week at 37.5….although I hung at 37.5 for about 3 weeks because it is where I started to have withdrawal symptoms. They are awful, but as some note, they will also pass (that's what my psychiatrist said after I had a particularly bad day and my therapist suggested I call the psychiatrist). It passes. Some days are worse than others – but 18 days off the stuff completely and I am down mostly to facial numbness, some irritability, and sleeping that is kind of erratic…along with the occasional hot flash. You'll get through it, but you may be miserable. It never hurts to call the doctor to say that you are miserable – if only to get acknowledgment that you are not making things up.

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4 weeks off. I did it fast and furious. I rid myself of this evil , horrific drug… good luck to you

@cherylannm

4 weeks off. I did it fast and furious. I rid myself of this evil , horrific drug… good luck to you

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Just shy of three weeks for me. Starting to feel so much better. Congratulations Cherylannm.

@brittanyann576

@dixie66
I have to agree with some of the other responses, that your moving too fast. It’s taken me over 7 months to finally get off of it. For 5 years I was taking 150mg of Venlafaxine daily along with 250mg of Lamictal. I started decreasing it with the help of my psychiatrist lowering it from 150 to 112.5mg for two months, 75mg for two months, then 37.5 for almost three months. Now that I’m at the lowest dosage, she has me taking the 37.5 every other day for two weeks, and then stopping it. If I notice a lot of withdrawal symptoms, she recommends that I take it every third day for three weeks and then trying to stop it.
So far I’ve been taking it every other day for 5 days, and I’m definitely a bit foggy and light headed but I’m hopeful that it won’t get too bad because I am taking it slowly.
One of the major positives that I’ve noticed since lowering my dosage is an improved quality of sleep. Ever since I started taking antidepressants, I’ve constantly been exhausted. To the point where I would sleep 20 hours a day, essentially only waking up for classes and then going back to sleep. I had originally just associated it with my depression. Well the depression became more manageable, but I was still exhausted. I was taking both Adderall and Ritalin (prescribed by a neurologist) just to function throughout the work day and was still having problems with staying awake and didn’t trust myself to drive more than 10 minutes. After doing a sleep study and almost being diagnosed with narcolepsy, they determined that the test was inconclusive because my antidepressants were REM inhibitors. This was something that I never realized. So long story short, after decreasing the Effexor to 37.5 I noticed that I was starting to dream again (I hadn’t remembered dreaming since before my depression). I’m also noticing that I’m no where near as tired during the day and have even been able to get off the Ritalin. I’m hoping to stop the Adderall as well because I don’t think it’s doing much for me.
I hope this helps anyone who is trying to come off their Effexor and/or is having problems with exhaustion while taking it.

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Off for three weeks now, and my sleep habits are changing as well. Not nearly so tired. I think I just slept the last 20 years of my life, sad to say. I was always exhausted on effexor.

I’m in the same boat, or rather a similar leaky canoe. I took 75mg for nine years and have been tapering off for the past two months, soon down to 37.5mg. The side effects can be terrifying. I woke up today with my usual cardiac arrythmias drumming loudly and inconsistently, but that usually stops after an hour or two. But now, seven hours later, the bad music is still holding me hostage, so I’m weak and dizzy whether lying down, sitting up, or walking about. Have others faced this side effect? I’m 77 years old and taking Xyrem for narcolepsy, so perhaps those issues are also at play.

@dedeno

I’m in the same boat, or rather a similar leaky canoe. I took 75mg for nine years and have been tapering off for the past two months, soon down to 37.5mg. The side effects can be terrifying. I woke up today with my usual cardiac arrythmias drumming loudly and inconsistently, but that usually stops after an hour or two. But now, seven hours later, the bad music is still holding me hostage, so I’m weak and dizzy whether lying down, sitting up, or walking about. Have others faced this side effect? I’m 77 years old and taking Xyrem for narcolepsy, so perhaps those issues are also at play.

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Cardiac arythmia is a new one on me.

@renwald

Cardiac arythmia is a new one on me.

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I’m happy for you, Renwald.

@catamite

Just shy of three weeks for me. Starting to feel so much better. Congratulations Cherylannm.

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Thank you …. and good luck to you also . We took something that was so horrific it’s scary to think about !!! Stay well

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