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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@sadiesmom

I am going into my third month of Effexor withdrawal and I’ve been through HELL. Apparently Effexor affects not only serotonin but another brain receptor (starts with an “n”, can’t remember the name of it). My dr. weened me off of the Effexor in one month after having taken it for over ten years. That was waaaaay to fast. I am now on Lexaprox which is leaving me miserable to the point I can’t even move. Not getting out of bed, showering, nothing. She has increased Xanax and now just prescribed Gabapentin for help in easing my anxiety. I am 60 years old and HAVE to make life changes if I’m going to survive this. After a divorce and losing my son in the past ten years, I am been almost immobile. I now have to figure out how to live the rest of my life. I’m retired and have started looking for a volunteer position or anything that will get me out of the house. I never in a million years thought at this age my life would be such a train wreck. I have one living child, a 37 year old daughter, who has chosen not to have children so I will never be a grandma. Something I’ve looked forward to all my life. I just feel like I’m existing and taking up space in this world…..

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@gagelle I think too many doctors totally forget much of this.
JK

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It’s sad how power and status effect some people.

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@gagelle I find it ironic that my Boston doctors seem to be much less effected by this than many of the doctors up here in NH. Many of them think they are Gods. I sometimes wonder if that is the root of my problem with my PCP, I do not treat him like he’s a God.
JK

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@kanaazpereira

Welcome to Connect @asil1021 and @dhoward1. Thank you for reaching out and sharing your information; as @AgentDarien said, “We all can learn from it!”

You may notice that I moved your discussions and combined it with this existing discussion on Effexor. I did this because I thought it would be beneficial for you to be introduced to the many members who have discussed much of what you are experiencing.
If you are replying by email, I suggest clicking on VIEW & REPLY so that you can read through some of the earlier messages and meet some of our other members talking about their or their or their loved ones’ experiences.

Here’s another discussion you might also wish to view:
– venlafaxine xr withdrawal Please help https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/venlafaxine-xr-withdrawal-please-help/

@asil1021, nausea and queasiness seems to be one of the early signs of abruptly stopping the drug, and I’m glad to know you are aware and taking steps to hopefully minimize the effects. As with any medication, it is always best to consult with your physician about weaning or tapering off.

@dhoward1, it is a bit surprising that your doctor advised you to stop taking Effexor without a tapering protocol! Did he/she give an explanation? Even if you are on another medication, as you stated, it is not advisable to completely stop taking this drug. May I ask for how long you’ve been taking Effexor?

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@hopeful33250 I don’t know a lot about Prempro; I just know I am desperate to get back to a somewhat normal, functioning human being. Do you have any information or personal experience with Prempro that you wouldn’t care to share with me? I would appreciate any information I can get.

Thank you

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@kanaazpereira

Welcome to Connect @asil1021 and @dhoward1. Thank you for reaching out and sharing your information; as @AgentDarien said, “We all can learn from it!”

You may notice that I moved your discussions and combined it with this existing discussion on Effexor. I did this because I thought it would be beneficial for you to be introduced to the many members who have discussed much of what you are experiencing.
If you are replying by email, I suggest clicking on VIEW & REPLY so that you can read through some of the earlier messages and meet some of our other members talking about their or their or their loved ones’ experiences.

Here’s another discussion you might also wish to view:
– venlafaxine xr withdrawal Please help https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/venlafaxine-xr-withdrawal-please-help/

@asil1021, nausea and queasiness seems to be one of the early signs of abruptly stopping the drug, and I’m glad to know you are aware and taking steps to hopefully minimize the effects. As with any medication, it is always best to consult with your physician about weaning or tapering off.

@dhoward1, it is a bit surprising that your doctor advised you to stop taking Effexor without a tapering protocol! Did he/she give an explanation? Even if you are on another medication, as you stated, it is not advisable to completely stop taking this drug. May I ask for how long you’ve been taking Effexor?

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@lukekee

I’m post-menopausal now, so it has been many, many years since I took Pempro. As I recall, the Pempro made me feel like I had PMS every day of the month, rather than just a few days a month as a previous hormone replacement pill had done.

Like I said it has been a long time since I took that particular med, but I only stayed on it for a couple of months.

Teresa

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@sadiesmom 1st) you’re not taking up space in this world. 2nd) i too have my struggling with tapering off venlafaxine. my dose has become .75mg and i still cannot get that last bit out of my life. every attempt makes behind my eyes feel like a fish tank. mood swings are extreme. and more. i want you to know, you aren’t alone. if you want a friend in times when it’s this bad, please feel free to private message me. Also, have you considered going to a local shelter and looking for a senior rescue dog? i did and it changed my life. once i got sober from booze, i knew i’d need something to put my energy into. i got a 9 year old tiny sleepy pal named betty whites she gets me out, makes me smile and is so very low maintenance. something to consider.. you’ll save their lives and they save yours 🙂 so, just trying to help with getting out a little day by day and also, you’d be surprised how much of a sense of purpose that gives you. be well. chris, san diego CA.

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@cehwll5382

@sadiesmom 1st) you’re not taking up space in this world. 2nd) i too have my struggling with tapering off venlafaxine. my dose has become .75mg and i still cannot get that last bit out of my life. every attempt makes behind my eyes feel like a fish tank. mood swings are extreme. and more. i want you to know, you aren’t alone. if you want a friend in times when it’s this bad, please feel free to private message me. Also, have you considered going to a local shelter and looking for a senior rescue dog? i did and it changed my life. once i got sober from booze, i knew i’d need something to put my energy into. i got a 9 year old tiny sleepy pal named betty whites she gets me out, makes me smile and is so very low maintenance. something to consider.. you’ll save their lives and they save yours 🙂 so, just trying to help with getting out a little day by day and also, you’d be surprised how much of a sense of purpose that gives you. be well. chris, san diego CA.

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Hi @cehwll5382, welcome to Connect and thank you for such a lovely message of support. You’ll notice that I removed your private email address from your post however. Connect is a public site and we advise people to share personal contact information using the private message function. To send a private message, simply click on a person’s @username and click Send Private Message. Naturally, by sharing here on the forum, your messages help many. Thanks for helping to build a network of support on Connect.

See the Community Guidelines about how to use Connect safely here: https://connect.mayoclinic.org/community-guidelines/

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@cehwll5382

@sadiesmom 1st) you’re not taking up space in this world. 2nd) i too have my struggling with tapering off venlafaxine. my dose has become .75mg and i still cannot get that last bit out of my life. every attempt makes behind my eyes feel like a fish tank. mood swings are extreme. and more. i want you to know, you aren’t alone. if you want a friend in times when it’s this bad, please feel free to private message me. Also, have you considered going to a local shelter and looking for a senior rescue dog? i did and it changed my life. once i got sober from booze, i knew i’d need something to put my energy into. i got a 9 year old tiny sleepy pal named betty whites she gets me out, makes me smile and is so very low maintenance. something to consider.. you’ll save their lives and they save yours 🙂 so, just trying to help with getting out a little day by day and also, you’d be surprised how much of a sense of purpose that gives you. be well. chris, san diego CA.

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@cehwll5382, you are so right about the power of service animals. Did you see this discussion on Connect?
– What Pets Can Do: Health and Healing https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/what-pets-can-do-health-and-healing/
We’d love to learn more about you and Betty.

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@lolita9

Just joined the conversation. I’ve only been on effexor for less than a year that my doctor and I decided to take me off. Side effects coming off when I do not take the 75 mg is horrendous. I haven’t told anyone in my family that I’m on this and now am alone in coming off. I’m so scared but I can only trust my doctor to help me through this. It help to read I’m not alone. I wish I never taken it.

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I am 76 yrs old..have been on Effexor 150 ER mg for 15 years. Dr. originally subscribed this drug to help me “get through an emotionally difficult divorce”. Even through changes in doctors, due to changes in living locations, I never had a doctor ask me if I felt I needed to continue taking Effexor ER! So, like a “dummy”, I just kept taking it. When I changed my “Medicare Part D” pharmacy provider at end of December last year, there was a mixup in refilling this drug; consequently, I ran out & missed 4 days this week. Yesterday & during night, I suffered a very loud & severe brain zap accompanied by severe shaking with loss of bladder control.I thought I was having a seizure! This happened twice in early morning hours. I finally was able to get through to my doctor (after leaving messages for past 6 days), & got my prescription filled finally! It’s been about 2 hours since taking the drug & I can feel my body settling down. THIS IS A HORRIBLE DRUG! Until today, I never knew what an addiction was all about! After reading this blog (thankful I found it), and reading about all side effects of this drug, I am stunned to see so many of my side effects listed..what I thought, and my doctor concurred, were called specific illnesses that I have been dealing with all these past years! NOW, I realize they were “simply” side effects of this drug! Good grief…High BP, Skin rashes, Insomnia, Headaches, Back pain, Weight gain, etc..if I am able to get off this drug, by working with my doctor, I will probably be able to get off other drugs for “illnesses” caused by this medication. Thank you thank you for everyone’s helpful information!

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@lolita9

Just joined the conversation. I’ve only been on effexor for less than a year that my doctor and I decided to take me off. Side effects coming off when I do not take the 75 mg is horrendous. I haven’t told anyone in my family that I’m on this and now am alone in coming off. I’m so scared but I can only trust my doctor to help me through this. It help to read I’m not alone. I wish I never taken it.

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@mkmenge You can titrate off Effexor by first switching to the non-time release form. Then go down in dosage by no more than 10% a month. You should reduce the dosage by 10% of what you have already titrated down to. For example, if you are on 150MG per day, you would go down by 15 MG. Then you would be taking 135MG. The next month, you should go down by 13.5 MG. If done this way, you should experience no withdrawal effects. The important thing to remember during titration is your blood pressure. Going off any psychoactive drug is a stress to the body and can affect your blood pressure. It is best done under a physician’s supervision. A good book on the subject is “Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal: A Guide for Prescribers, Therapists Patients, and their Families.” by Dr. Peter Breggin. https://www.amazon.com/Psychiatric-Drug-Withdrawal-Prescribers-Therapists/dp/0826108431
I also highly recommend two things during the withdrawal process: Regular exercise and a good psychotherapist. The exercise will stimulate your body to produce natural chemicals that replace the ones supplied by the Effexor. A therapist is important because antidepressants suppress emotions. As you withdraw, it is helpful to have a guide to help you put the new emotions in perspective.

I too began taking a high dose of Pristiq during a contentious divorce. I was on it so long that it caused inflammation of my upper gastrointestinal tract. It is even more difficult to withdraw from Pristiq because they don’t make it in a non-time release form. I managed to mitigate most of the withdrawal effects with regular exercise and sessions with a good clinical psychologist.

As you just experienced, you are not truly free if addicted to any psychoactive drug. I wish you the best of luck and have no doubts that you can do it.

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@cehwll5382

@sadiesmom 1st) you’re not taking up space in this world. 2nd) i too have my struggling with tapering off venlafaxine. my dose has become .75mg and i still cannot get that last bit out of my life. every attempt makes behind my eyes feel like a fish tank. mood swings are extreme. and more. i want you to know, you aren’t alone. if you want a friend in times when it’s this bad, please feel free to private message me. Also, have you considered going to a local shelter and looking for a senior rescue dog? i did and it changed my life. once i got sober from booze, i knew i’d need something to put my energy into. i got a 9 year old tiny sleepy pal named betty whites she gets me out, makes me smile and is so very low maintenance. something to consider.. you’ll save their lives and they save yours 🙂 so, just trying to help with getting out a little day by day and also, you’d be surprised how much of a sense of purpose that gives you. be well. chris, san diego CA.

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Hello Chris, thank you for your kind words. I have a little senior dachshund, Sadie, who is now 15 years old. She is my best buddy ever! I am so attached to her and she DOES bring me smiles and a sense of purpose. But being alone at this age is really getting to me. I’ve been divorced for 14 years and lost my son six years ago. It was a tragedy of which I will never recover. No parent ever gets over losing a child. He was the light of our lives. A proud Marine who served three tours to Iraq (his dad divorced me when he was on his third tour) but he never got his feet back on the ground when he returned home. He struggled with PTSD, TBI and alcoholism. The VA is a joke. I tried like hell to get him the help that he needed but they only pushed meds on him which made him worse. On the morning of 1/3/12, he sent a text stating that he could no longer endure the life he was living and couldn’t see living to be an old man in the shape he was in. He lived an hour away and I flew like hell to get to him but when I got to his house, I found the police and the coroner’s van there. He had texted a coworker who got there before I did. That moment changed my life forever. I sought help from a psychiatrist to help me with the depression and anxiety of not only the death of my son but also the grief of losing my 31 year old marriage. It was a hell a wouldn’t wish on anyone. I truly felt like I was kicked in the gut when I was down at my lowest. I retired after I lost my son. I just couldn’t get my shit together….fighting with his dad over my son’s possessions (of which he took and sold), family and friends abandoning me because I wasn’t the same person I had been before. To this day I am mostly estranged from my family; parents and three siblings. My anger is off the charts. All of the betrayal and loss I have endured have damaged me forever. I work HARD on forgiving those who left me when I needed them most but I can’t forget. I have a couple of friends who are parents who have endured the same and we try to support each other. I am the only one, however, that is single and living alone. They are so blessed to have each other for support. The days are long and the nights are lonely. I did join a local fitness club this week hoping to get out at least once a day to exercise but it’s tough to get out and do things alone. I will keep your email address and contact you soon.

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@cehwll5382

@sadiesmom 1st) you’re not taking up space in this world. 2nd) i too have my struggling with tapering off venlafaxine. my dose has become .75mg and i still cannot get that last bit out of my life. every attempt makes behind my eyes feel like a fish tank. mood swings are extreme. and more. i want you to know, you aren’t alone. if you want a friend in times when it’s this bad, please feel free to private message me. Also, have you considered going to a local shelter and looking for a senior rescue dog? i did and it changed my life. once i got sober from booze, i knew i’d need something to put my energy into. i got a 9 year old tiny sleepy pal named betty whites she gets me out, makes me smile and is so very low maintenance. something to consider.. you’ll save their lives and they save yours 🙂 so, just trying to help with getting out a little day by day and also, you’d be surprised how much of a sense of purpose that gives you. be well. chris, san diego CA.

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Chris, I tried to email you at the address you listed but it came back as not a good address.

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@cehwll5382

@sadiesmom 1st) you’re not taking up space in this world. 2nd) i too have my struggling with tapering off venlafaxine. my dose has become .75mg and i still cannot get that last bit out of my life. every attempt makes behind my eyes feel like a fish tank. mood swings are extreme. and more. i want you to know, you aren’t alone. if you want a friend in times when it’s this bad, please feel free to private message me. Also, have you considered going to a local shelter and looking for a senior rescue dog? i did and it changed my life. once i got sober from booze, i knew i’d need something to put my energy into. i got a 9 year old tiny sleepy pal named betty whites she gets me out, makes me smile and is so very low maintenance. something to consider.. you’ll save their lives and they save yours 🙂 so, just trying to help with getting out a little day by day and also, you’d be surprised how much of a sense of purpose that gives you. be well. chris, san diego CA.

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@sadiesmom I can’t even imagine the pain of losing one of my children. A relative lost her son to suicide a few yeas ago and I think of her often, wondering how she is doing. I am so sorry you are having to deal with this. I am sure a person never does get over this type of thing but you do need to do the best you can in being active to keep yourself occupied.
That’s great that you joined a fitness club. When I joined mine, about 6 years ago I think, I knew no one there but I got involved primarily in the aqua classes. I don’t have any real friends there, not people I do anything with outside of classes, but they are my “club friends” and nice people. I hope you will find the same at your club. These days I am not going to classes since I can exercise as long as the classes are recovering from my knee replacement. The instructors are very understanding though and I could easily come late of start early but one of the things my ortho recommends is marching in the water so I go at off hours and do that myself, it’s better for my knee than the class would be I think. One of the active class attendees keeps out email addresses and publishes them so I do hear from some of the people there.
I hope at some point that you may be able to mend the family estrangements. It may be up to you to initiate that even though you feel you have been the one wronged. I think in the long run it would be worth it to again have those family relations and support. Obviously they do not understand and maybe they never will, but that is not a reason for them to be estranged. I have a sister in law who will not move on from the loss of my brother, nor does she want to. I know she will forever love him and miss him but she needs to get out and live her life now. She pretty much has become a shut-in except for going to her grandchildren’s activities. We are all concerned about her but we are all there for her too. Her home is like a shrine to the grandson she lost and to my brother.
JK

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Hi Connect. I am new to the site. I have been looking for information on Effexor. I loss a child almost 6 yrs ago & a 2nd almost a year ago. I also loss a parent in between the loss of my 2 children. My Dr. started me on Effexor last summer and I stopped cold turkey the end of October. I started out on 37.5 & within 2 weeks was up to 75mg. The Dr.wanted to increase me to 150, but I stopped because I thought I no longer needed it. My Dr.failed to disclose any side effects. After reading the stories here, I am not sure if what I am currently experiencing are sides effects or something else. I do however realise I am not ready to be antidepressant free. I only had effexor & since stopping my biggest issue has been gastro. By way of this site I know have a name for the other elements… brain zapps, skin pricks the tingling makes sense now, confusion, memory loss and a few others.
I know I have a long road to recovery. How I get out the bed everyday is a mystery. I am raising my 1st deceased child’s children, so I am sure they are my strength.
Can someone tell me more about how effexor related to gastrointestinal complications?

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Hi, @nanaand3js, and welcome to Connect. So glad you found this community. As a parent myself, I cannot even fathom losing two of my children. How utterly heartbreaking. I agree that in tough times children and needing to take care of them and their sweet personalities can help the adults in their lives find some strength to keep going — I’ve experienced my kids helping raise me up when I was very low.

I am glad that reading this discussion has been helpful for you and given you names for some of the things you’ve experienced. This drug does seem to take quite a toll when stopped too abruptly, as you’ve seen in the stories in this thread.

Have you by any chance touched base with your doctor about where you are at with stopping your medication and what symptoms you’ve experienced since you ended this treatment?

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