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

@clevermom50

OK…going to take a plunge….Went from 75 to 37.5, sat there for about 10 days and was finally feeling pretty good. Dropped last week to half of that(approx 19mg and each day took a little less than the last. Friday I would estimate my dosage was around 12-15mg. Have not taken today. Feeling the fog in my head a bit and some headache. Not nearly as bad as when I dropped to 37.5. I'm countering that with Omega 3, 5-HCL, St. Johns Wart, L-Tri and because I am actually ADHD, I take Lemon Balm (calming/focusing) every morning and Valeria Root at night (helps the sleep). Every time I take a step down, I come out the other side in a few days with more energy than I've seen in years. Been on Effexor XR 75mg for 10 years for anxiety that I was experiencing while living overseas during the war. Hmmmm….just a little anxiety with hubby never home, two babies in the house, me alone in a village by myself and noone to talk with from the American community and relying on public transportation….

Anyway, I'll get back to ya'll with an update as I progress through the day. I have a backup dosage of about 12 mg sitting in a glass ready in case it just gets to be too much, but if I can push through today, tomorrow will be a step better. Oh, have to ask about weight gain. In the past ten years, I've put on about 80 lbs and it just NEVER comes off. Should I be expecting weight gain or loss coming out of this mess? For the better of me, I'm accept if weight gain is part of the side effects, but my appetite seems weird. Sometimes I'm not hungry at all…other times, I'm beyond starved then end up over eating and feeling like I ate three Thanksgiving dinners in one sitting. Anyone else have this?

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According to the literature and most people, weight gain is the side effect of effexor. I've gained 60 or so pounds in the last 10 years. Hoping it comes off when I'm finished tapering off the effexor. I have changed my way of eating, so we'll see!

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@clevermom50

OK…going to take a plunge….Went from 75 to 37.5, sat there for about 10 days and was finally feeling pretty good. Dropped last week to half of that(approx 19mg and each day took a little less than the last. Friday I would estimate my dosage was around 12-15mg. Have not taken today. Feeling the fog in my head a bit and some headache. Not nearly as bad as when I dropped to 37.5. I'm countering that with Omega 3, 5-HCL, St. Johns Wart, L-Tri and because I am actually ADHD, I take Lemon Balm (calming/focusing) every morning and Valeria Root at night (helps the sleep). Every time I take a step down, I come out the other side in a few days with more energy than I've seen in years. Been on Effexor XR 75mg for 10 years for anxiety that I was experiencing while living overseas during the war. Hmmmm….just a little anxiety with hubby never home, two babies in the house, me alone in a village by myself and noone to talk with from the American community and relying on public transportation….

Anyway, I'll get back to ya'll with an update as I progress through the day. I have a backup dosage of about 12 mg sitting in a glass ready in case it just gets to be too much, but if I can push through today, tomorrow will be a step better. Oh, have to ask about weight gain. In the past ten years, I've put on about 80 lbs and it just NEVER comes off. Should I be expecting weight gain or loss coming out of this mess? For the better of me, I'm accept if weight gain is part of the side effects, but my appetite seems weird. Sometimes I'm not hungry at all…other times, I'm beyond starved then end up over eating and feeling like I ate three Thanksgiving dinners in one sitting. Anyone else have this?

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I also gained weight. I have gained 15 to 20 lbs in a year. No matter what I did I could not lose it. I eat healthy and exercise. It's so depressing. I'm praying this weight comes off.

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I have been taking Effexor for hot flashes, I ran out for a few days last winter, wow! I couldn't figure out what was going on. I saw someone say brain zaps such a good description! I hate this stuff, I was never told by my now retired dr the withdrawal effects. It sucks and I warn people all the time. I am nos taking HRT for menopause symptoms, and slowly being weaned off this crap! It sucks to be blunt, I feel for all of you! Let's be here for each other!

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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 am.almost done getting of this horrible drug I used for hot flashes, I have noticed I am Ito like crazy!

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@jakedduck1

@shaker1956

You’ve been delt a stressful blow buddy. I think your insomnia was inevitable.
How about some over the counter sleep meds.
Hang in there.
Jake

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@shaker1956 Yes, they are the same.
JK

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@jakedduck1

@shaker1956

You’ve been delt a stressful blow buddy. I think your insomnia was inevitable.
How about some over the counter sleep meds.
Hang in there.
Jake

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@shaker1956 I'm glad you are having success with it. I will definitely need to look into it. Thanks.
JK

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@jakedduck1

@shaker1956

You’ve been delt a stressful blow buddy. I think your insomnia was inevitable.
How about some over the counter sleep meds.
Hang in there.
Jake

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Hi content. This stuff doesnt seem to be helping any longer. Was good for the first few nights but seems to have lost its zip. I’m still using it but still staying awake After 4 am or so. Mind you I have a lot of stress going on in my life right
now that is certainly not helping. Enjoy your day

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@jakedduck1

@shaker1956

You’ve been delt a stressful blow buddy. I think your insomnia was inevitable.
How about some over the counter sleep meds.
Hang in there.
Jake

Jump to this post

@shaker1956 Sorry to hear this. The half of a Benadryl works wonders for me but actually too much! I rely on waking about an hour or so before I have to get up, to take my medications, prior to eating, and with the Benadryl I sleep more soundly and sometimes do not wake up then. I really do not want to set my alarm and wake my husband too. I did have a Fitbit Versa watch for a while and that was perfect, you could set it to vibrate on your wrist, but I returned it because it was not tracking the activities do very well.
JK

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@clevermom50

Hey you beautiful folks! Update from my new world! Yep, took the plung from approx 15mg to nothing. Saturday was a fuzzy day and ringing in the ears but NO headaches. NO brain zaps, took my supplements which include 2000 mg of Velarian Root at night to allow me to go into deep sleep cycles. No nightmares and slept through the night. I have more energy than I've had for 10 years. My 16 year old looked at me and said, "Mom, it's as if your personality woke up from a deep slumber.. I like this new you!" I have my flaky moments as I'm addressing my ADHD, but more than anything, I find my creativity awake and can not believe the amount of energy I wake up with and hold all day long. Appetite is different. I am not hungry but am making sure that I'm actually eating when I need to, even when I don't feel like I want to. Have dropped 4 lbs this week. My restless leg syndrome is gone, my crazy itching that was forcing me to take a antihistimine is gone. Damn! I think I was allergic to this med for the past 10 years and it was hurting me, not helping me! What did I put my liver through taking one med after another to counter side effects of something I was never supposed to be on in the first place! Yeah! Freedom! All I can say….take the advise of very wise folks and go in steps…cold turkey not worth it. Little ear buzzing…that's ok with me. If that is too much for you (and only you can judge that) then slow the progress down even further. Getting rid of the bottle of med I have….no turning back.

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Your post gives me heart. I start on 25mg for 2 weeks, then to 12mg and then 0. So glad you are feeliing great. Do you think it was the effexor that has enabled me to sleep my life away?

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@jakedduck1

@shaker1956

You’ve been delt a stressful blow buddy. I think your insomnia was inevitable.
How about some over the counter sleep meds.
Hang in there.
Jake

Jump to this post

Hey there Content. Think I will try half a Benny tonite when I go to bed. Cant make me feel any worse than what I’m feeling now. I dont know if its the Effexor effect or the Melanoma effect. I do know however its not pleasant. I‘M looking forward to seeing the cancer Doc on Thursday as he will be able to tell me why I’m feeling this way. I know its just a matter of time for the Effexor to be completely out of my system anyways. Just very hard to deal with. Oh well we all have our crosses to bare!!! Hope your having a great day…..

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Thought I would something up here, hopefully can benefit someone. Went onto venlafaxine as a change to escitalopram, which I was on for about 9 years. I think the doctors answer to issues was just to increase the dose. Withdrawal from this not so much an issue but suicidal thoughts worse on this med. awful stuff. Specialist suggested switching to Effexor. Went on to this up to 150mg. Missed a dose one day and bang- withdrawal. Dizziness, nausea. Time off work due to this. Doctor didn’t think dizziness was related to missing the dose and insisted in using the term “discontinuation syndrome” why dot they just say withdrawal? Was given stemetil to minimise dizziness. Next missed dose- same symptoms, same comment from doctors regards Effexor not having many “discontinuation symptoms” every time I missed the dose I felt like crap. Determined to get off this drug so had to tough it out. Stocked up on stemetil for the dizziness and also paradol osteo, dual layer slow release paracetamol. Planned some leave from work so I could deal with the withdrawal from the tapering of the dose. Went from 150 to 75. First couple of days of reduced dose I needed the stemetil and panadol osteo. Then to 37.5 same procedure. No smaller capsule than 37.5 so once used to that. Had to go to every second day dose for a couple of weeks, then every 3rd day. Always needed the stemetil due to dizziness. Now been off for a month. Feel more alive. Hope this helps someone

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@jakedduck1

@shaker1956

You’ve been delt a stressful blow buddy. I think your insomnia was inevitable.
How about some over the counter sleep meds.
Hang in there.
Jake

Jump to this post

@shaker1956 I hope you sleep well with the benedryl. I don’t think you should take it every night though, check that with your doctor.
JK

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