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

Honestly, I don't think it's true that there's many people with no negative withdrawl effects from Effexor. There are waaay to many people with issues about it. France tried to ban it – I don't know if they actually did and a lawsuit was taken up against the pharmaceutical company for not providing accurate info on it's withdrawl effects and not providing low enough dosage to get off of it smoothly. I've had only minor effects getting off of 3 other antidepressants. There was nothing to write home about. I think that for some reason there's an attempt to downplay the withdrawl off this. I do think it's true that if told that things can be bad maybe there's some truth to the placebo effect but I would like to know what I'm being prescribed and the benefits/risks/effects. Then I choose what I"m willing to risk.

Liked by Leonard

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I had been on Effexor Xr 37.5mg daily for approx 13 years…..I decided to wean myself off.
Had my provider change my xr capsules to the immediate release tablets… started cutting the tabs in quarters ( would take 1/2 in the AM and 1/4 in the PM.. continued to slowly cont tapering down… 1/2 tab per day but 1/4 in Am and 1/4 in pm.. I just completed my final taper a few days ago… slow is the answer…
I tapered over several months.. hope this helps

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@rschroeder

After reading through some of these posts, I am extremely nervous about trying to go off my venlafaxine. I want off and very discouraged about the withdrawal concerns. I tried to taper off slowly a couple of years ago and felt totally crazy and out of control!! It is sad to want to stay on a drug just so I don't have to deal with the withdrawal. I take a 75MG capsule, where do I start?

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Try to taper down slowly ( very) .. have your MD write an Rx for the 37.5mg caps first
(1 month supply)
Also, get a Rx for the tablets which is available in 37.5mg dosage form
U can cut the tablets in half … then quarters..
make a tapering schedule on your calendar.. make sure each reduction last several weeks.
When u are down to 1/4 tablet daily ..your final taper should be 1/4 tab every other day for several weeks.. take it slow

Liked by Leonard

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Great advice! Thank you!

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@mdw123

Honestly, I don't think it's true that there's many people with no negative withdrawl effects from Effexor. There are waaay to many people with issues about it. France tried to ban it – I don't know if they actually did and a lawsuit was taken up against the pharmaceutical company for not providing accurate info on it's withdrawl effects and not providing low enough dosage to get off of it smoothly. I've had only minor effects getting off of 3 other antidepressants. There was nothing to write home about. I think that for some reason there's an attempt to downplay the withdrawl off this. I do think it's true that if told that things can be bad maybe there's some truth to the placebo effect but I would like to know what I'm being prescribed and the benefits/risks/effects. Then I choose what I"m willing to risk.

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@mdw123 I KNOW I had/have withdrawal effects from Effexor. I tapered off very slowly over two months from only 25mg. I didn't have any problems UNTIL 6.5 weeks after the last dose. Insomnia, shakes, dizziness, anxiety, fear, crying jags, despondency and akathisia all occurred. I wasn't ever taking Effexor for emotional/mental issues–I was taking it because it controlled hot flashes. I do not believe in that 6.5 weeks, I developed a mental condition; I believe my body could no longer find any of the drug in my fat stores (I was on it for 18 years) and these were withdrawal symptoms.

Liked by Leonard

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Hi, everyone,
It’s time to open a new group dedicated to depression and anxiety.

So many of you are connecting on the topics of depression and/or anxiety — coping, tapering of medications, etc. — that it was time to give you a space dedicated to Depression & Anxiety. All current discussions about depression and anxiety have been moved to the new group, and you will continue to get notifications about the discussions you participate in.

See the new group here: https://connect.mayoclinic.org/group/depression-anxiety/.

– Follow the group
– Browse all topics
– Add a reply
– Start a new discussion

If you’re not sure how to do any of these things, see this step-by-step guide https://connect.mayoclinic.org/get-started-on-connect/.

Liked by Leonard, nam47

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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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@coloradogirl I've tried to get off Effexor Immediate Release twice this past year: both times a failure! At first I tried to cut the 37.5mg tablet in half and take 18.75mg per day. This brought on really bad withdrawal symptoms (mainly psychological/emotional) for weeks. I went back to 37.5mg and got a new prescription for 25mg. This wasn't as bad but it didn't go well, and so I went back to 37.5mg after one month. It seems that no matter how long I give it, the withdrawal symptoms still seem to affect me badly. My new strategy is getting a compounded liquid solution prescription from a local pharmacy. They're willing to concoct this for me to try. I don't know though…I just don't want to put myself through this chaos again! I know you've already offered your suggestions, but would you have anything more to add in my case?

Liked by Leonard

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@texasduchess

@mdw123 I KNOW I had/have withdrawal effects from Effexor. I tapered off very slowly over two months from only 25mg. I didn't have any problems UNTIL 6.5 weeks after the last dose. Insomnia, shakes, dizziness, anxiety, fear, crying jags, despondency and akathisia all occurred. I wasn't ever taking Effexor for emotional/mental issues–I was taking it because it controlled hot flashes. I do not believe in that 6.5 weeks, I developed a mental condition; I believe my body could no longer find any of the drug in my fat stores (I was on it for 18 years) and these were withdrawal symptoms.

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@texasduchess what is your plan now? I'm curious as to how you're planning to get off because I'm in the same boat with Effexor IR.

Liked by Leonard

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@nam47

@texasduchess what is your plan now? I'm curious as to how you're planning to get off because I'm in the same boat with Effexor IR.

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@nam47 I completely quit Effexor on 4/14. Mid-June, my body must have used up all its stored Effexor in my fatty tissues because wham! I was having withdrawal symptoms. If you click on my name, you can read my past posts where I list all the supplements I began to take to minimize those W/D symptoms. It's now been four months on the supplements and I can tell that I have gotten better. I take my passel of supplements four times a day about five hours apart. So a few days ago, I halved all the early evening handful of pills and will do that for at least a week. After that, I will eliminate that set of pills and space the remaining three sets out to seven hours apart. Of course, if I start having any difficulties, I'll reinstate the halved dose and could also try halving the mid-day dose as well. These supplements are pricey and you can't really do them long-term.

Liked by Leonard

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@nam47

@coloradogirl I've tried to get off Effexor Immediate Release twice this past year: both times a failure! At first I tried to cut the 37.5mg tablet in half and take 18.75mg per day. This brought on really bad withdrawal symptoms (mainly psychological/emotional) for weeks. I went back to 37.5mg and got a new prescription for 25mg. This wasn't as bad but it didn't go well, and so I went back to 37.5mg after one month. It seems that no matter how long I give it, the withdrawal symptoms still seem to affect me badly. My new strategy is getting a compounded liquid solution prescription from a local pharmacy. They're willing to concoct this for me to try. I don't know though…I just don't want to put myself through this chaos again! I know you've already offered your suggestions, but would you have anything more to add in my case?

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@nam47 Reducing by 50% is too big a taper. You could take a 25mg and 1/4 of a 25 mg (approx 31mg total) and wait longer between reductions. Also, click on my name and see my past posts where I explain the "Prozac bridge" technique some have used successfully. This is not a race you win by rushing through the process!

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@mdw123

Honestly, I don't think it's true that there's many people with no negative withdrawl effects from Effexor. There are waaay to many people with issues about it. France tried to ban it – I don't know if they actually did and a lawsuit was taken up against the pharmaceutical company for not providing accurate info on it's withdrawl effects and not providing low enough dosage to get off of it smoothly. I've had only minor effects getting off of 3 other antidepressants. There was nothing to write home about. I think that for some reason there's an attempt to downplay the withdrawl off this. I do think it's true that if told that things can be bad maybe there's some truth to the placebo effect but I would like to know what I'm being prescribed and the benefits/risks/effects. Then I choose what I"m willing to risk.

Jump to this post

@mdw123
I also want to know what I’m taking. My doctor has started asking me “May I write you a prescription for xyz?” Once my doc brought me her PDR, I said “where’s the supplement” she said “try and get by.” She has a good since of humor.
Anyway, approximately 30+ million people in the US take antidepressants. Also keep in mind on forums your much more likely to have people who have negative effects. You must keep in mind how long some of these people have been taking them. 25% of people taking them have been on them for ten years or longer. Patients need to do more than just have the attitude of just popping a pill. The reason your doctor doesn’t give you a discontinuation schedule is because the manufacturer doesn’t have one. Keep in mind antidepressants were not really intended for long term use. Studies were usually done for 2 years or less. Although stopping slowly is no guarantee it will prevent the effects of discontinuation syndrome it usually helps. Effexor has a very short half life. Shorter the half life the sooner the Withdrawal symptoms normally show up. Effexor half life is only 5 hours.

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So I went back to Dr. I was mad .4 weeks off of Effexor.I got off of seroquel? Topomax.I suffered for 4 weeks. He told me new drugs were Effexor metabolites.He said if you needed insulin you’d take it.I countered, yeah but you would monitor my glucose! He said Effexor is tough to quit because you have withdrawal within 12 hours of not taking it, He told me I never should have gone cold turkey.He said the withdrawal syndrome is worse than the depression.He said within one dose I’d fee better.I was starting to feel despair. He was right I went back on it , I feel better.He said we could try something else The deal is I do not feel despair or angry or out of control right now I went to health food store and got some vitamins. I going an amazing sleep patch and I took two days off work to recover. So I’m taking it . Good luck to all of you I’m pretty damn strong but I couldn’t do it after 4 weeks of hell.Do not do it cold turkey like I did.

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@nseidel

So I went back to Dr. I was mad .4 weeks off of Effexor.I got off of seroquel? Topomax.I suffered for 4 weeks. He told me new drugs were Effexor metabolites.He said if you needed insulin you’d take it.I countered, yeah but you would monitor my glucose! He said Effexor is tough to quit because you have withdrawal within 12 hours of not taking it, He told me I never should have gone cold turkey.He said the withdrawal syndrome is worse than the depression.He said within one dose I’d fee better.I was starting to feel despair. He was right I went back on it , I feel better.He said we could try something else The deal is I do not feel despair or angry or out of control right now I went to health food store and got some vitamins. I going an amazing sleep patch and I took two days off work to recover. So I’m taking it . Good luck to all of you I’m pretty damn strong but I couldn’t do it after 4 weeks of hell.Do not do it cold turkey like I did.

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@nseidel
I think I lost something while reading. Your doctor said you should take a dosage of Effexor while tfying to get off? When should you have taken it and how much?

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@nam47

@texasduchess what is your plan now? I'm curious as to how you're planning to get off because I'm in the same boat with Effexor IR.

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I’ve been on I’ve been on Effexor/venlafacine for nearly 5years. Started at 75mg. Increased to 150at or point but didn’t want to have withdrawal symptoms if I ever wanted to wean off. So I returned to 75mg. It has helped over the years but I’m just concerned about being on it for so so long. Are they’re any long term SE that we won’t discover it nail 20 years down the road? So I recently made the decision to wean off. First let me share that there were 2 times over the course of the first year of taking this medication that I forgot to take it. I thought I was was going to DIE! I had never been so incredibly dizzy, nauseous, and headache at any point in my life. From that point on I always carried a couple extra pills with me at ALL TIMES, just in case.
Fast forward to present day, I’ve been weaning off for 10 days now. This seems absolutely ridiculous but, to minimize withdrawal effects I opened the capsule and take out 3 mini “pearls” every 3 days. I know it sounds crazy but the SE are just not worth it. I’m currently at -10 pearls a day tomorrow starting 13. I have resisted counting how many pearls are in there for my own psyche. At this time I feel I’ve noticed mainly 2 SE. One I’m seemingly so very tired I feel I could sleep all day. Two, I feel I lose my patience with my family easier than before. So this brings me to my question. Are these withdrawal symptoms or depression symptoms? They seem to over lap. My goal is to reevaluate after 3 months of being off the meds. Good luck weaning and take it SLOW!/venlafacine for nearly 5years. Started at 75mg. Increased to 150at or point but didn’t want to have withdrawal symptoms if I ever wanted to wean off. So I returned to 75mg. It has helped over the years but I’m just concerned about being on it for so so long. Are they’re any long term SE that we won’t discover it nail 20 years down the road? So I recently made the decision to wean off. First let me share that there were 2 times over the course of the first year of taking this medication that I forgot to take it. I thought I was was going to DIE! I had never been so incredibly dizzy, nauseous, and headache at any point in my life. From that point on I always carried a couple extra pills with me at ALL TIMES, just in case.
Fast forward to present day, I’ve been weaning off for 10 days now. This seems absolutely ridiculous but, to minimize withdrawal effects I opened the capsule and take out 3 mini “pearls” every 3 days. I know it sounds crazy but the SE are just not worth it. I’m currently at -10 pearls a day tomorrow starting 13. I have resisted counting how many pearls are in there for my own psyche. At this time I feel I’ve noticed mainly 2 SE. One I’m seemingly so very tired I feel I could sleep all day. Two, I feel I lose my patience with my family easier than before. So this brings me to my question. Are these withdrawal symptoms or depression symptoms? They seem to over lap. My goal is to reevaluate after 3 months of being off the meds. Good luck weaning and take it SLOW!

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Hi everyone,

I'm trying to stop taking Effexor, and I'll be honest, I'm angry. I was on 75mg, which doesn't seem like a lot learning what other people have been taking. I went down half a dose a couple of weeks ago, eased into by taking 75mg one day and 37.5mg the next for a few days (longer?). Then I stayed on 37.5mg for a few days and then I stopped. And my body aches, like my organs are being squeezed, and my brain is zapping and I'm shivering and sweating. And I'm angry. Because I went on Effexor after 11 years clean and sober because I was diagnosed with postpartum anxiety, and now it's like I'm an addict getting off a hard drug. How is this shit legal?!

I utterly refuse to take anymore because there is absolutely no way that I'm going through this a third time. This is more intense than the first change, but I'm stubborn. Have others done this? Will this truly take 1-2 weeks to pass? Longer? The physical symptoms the first time seemed to take about a week. I'm trying to work at the same time, though I went home early yesterday and stayed home today. I'm hoping that they will lessen by Monday (today is Friday).

I think I also need to stay away from sugar as that sees to make the zaps worse. I'm also finding it hard to keep a thought in my head. I'm also feeling out of control, so I'm hiding in my basement watching tv and eating. My kid is at school today so that is possible. Tomorrow will be different which I think is good. I think I might need to be more active with no stress (so no work). It would really be helpful to hear from others about their experience.

Thanks!

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