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

@youngsally

If a psychiatrist is only seeing you for 15 minutes (particularly for an early meeting) try to find another psychiatrist. I had a friend who went to a psychiatrist on his wife's insistence. After 15 minutes the psychiatrist diagnosed him with ADD and sent him home with Adderall. He needs support (but probably not medication) – and now won't see anyone based on his crap experience.

My first visit with my psychiatrist was nearly 90 minutes – and it was simply to start the Effexor taper process and look at my meds overall. My second visit with her is Wednesday and will be 45-60 minutes. I was referred to my psychiatrist by my therapist.

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I’ve found this habit of short time frames and concern only with pharmacies reactions to be consistent in a number of states and psychiatrists. After a while, one can’t help but notice a pattern emerging.

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@nanke99

Hi! I was on Effexor XR for a few years and got off it several years ago. It was a very difficult process, so I fully sympathize. You MUST wean off
VERY SLOWLY. I don’t remember what my dosage was at the time (225mg?), but it took me about 9 months. Please do not let that long time scare you, it’s worth going slow, that will be your biggest help w/ withdrawal. At the time I had a very difficult time finding any doctor with experience getting people off it.
Luckily I was advised to to find one and luckily I did. It is considered harder to get off than heroine. Not trying to scare you, just want to make sure you go as slow as possible. Mostly, I was moody/angry, had headaches, and some brain “shivers”. The brain shivers I already had while on the meds.
I think we went down in 25mg increments over several weeks for each reduction. Keep us posted and good luck! Just give yourself some time and it will be over before you know it!

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any advise on how to wean when you are taking capsules and don't want to go and get smaller dose. I have been opening the capsules and emptying some out for 2 weeks now and tried to stop and it was BAD. Are all meds like this so hard to stop taking?

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Im down to the 37mg…and it was rough to stay and not go bad up..im catching hell myself so i feel your pain…can we split the capsules? I want to stop but dont want them horrible brain shocks…

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@coolbreeze301

Im down to the 37mg…and it was rough to stay and not go bad up..im catching hell myself so i feel your pain…can we split the capsules? I want to stop but dont want them horrible brain shocks…

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I’m with you. I’m down to the low dose and don’t know how long it will take to be symptom free. After years of being on it. I’ve forgotten what it was like, mentally, without it. It will be hard to figure out what is related to long term or residual withdrawal symptoms versus the old self.

I’m 50 and more intolerant of behaviors by insolent people than I recall so age and perspective gum up the works. I’m hoping that the actual wiring of the brain haven’t been changed. PTSD and Certain drugs like Meth and Cana is do this I’m told. (Neither of those or any narcotic do I need worry about). But the idea that long term rewriting by Effexor with permanent attributes like flash anger is a disturbing idea.

I doubt there are long term studies that address this plus age relatedness changes before and after.

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Seems like a longer term expectation is in order with coping strategies like mindfulness to catch and counter what you detect. Nothing easy unfortunately

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@careth2

Hi there! I am new to Connect, but hopefully can offer some insight. I DID go off 150 Effexor XR (name brand) COLD TURKEY on January 2016. I survived it, but will never in my life EVER go off ANY antidepressant cold turkey. I had taken Effexor for at least 8 years, Zoloft prior to that and and Imipramine (sp?) as the first antidepressant (in all 25+ years on antidepressants.) It all started with running out of meds over a long weekend and deciding it was time to try to get off antidepressants to see how I would do. Since I had recently retired from teaching, thought this would be an ideal time to give it a go. In addition, Effexor just wasn’t helping all that much anymore (I thought.) The first 3 days I felt like I was going to die! When I realized that I wasn’t dying, decided to keep going to get it all over with. In addition to the symptoms you have heard about, I had deep bone/joint pain that felt like I was being pinched with clamps. Also had skin sensations and peeling, and noticed a strange smell on my skin. Each day got a little better and by the 3rd week started to function a bit more normally. I was very emotional, however, which caused my family great concern. Well, to make a long story short, the depression crept back in full and I am still trying to get my life back. I did everything I could to stay stable, including herbal supplements and took a vacation where I hiked 6 miles daily for 9 days on hilly, rocky terrain. I finally had to accept that I’m a person who will need antidepressants for the rest of my life. With the help of a PCP and counselor, I am on my 3rd antidepressant & may need to resort to going back on Effexor, because nothing seems to be working. All in all, in my opinion, the chronic depression is worse than the withdrawal symptoms that do eventually end. If you are a person with situational depression, you may be successful weaning off Effexor gradually. If I were to do it again, that’s what I would do (while replacing Effexor with something else.) Here are the things that helped me with the physical withdrawal symptoms:
1. Get plenty of sleep/rest.
2. Eat a very well-balanced diet (this is not the time to worry about your weight.) Lots of soup & easy to digest foods the 1st few days.
3. Drink plenty of water, including coconut water.
4. Have a glass of wine in the evening (if advisable.)
5. Get outside and walk or other excersize (the warm sunshine will feel good!)
6. Hot yoga 3-4 times per week. Stay in class even if you feel nauseous & can only do a few postures.
7. Soak in a hot tub (with bath salts if available.)
8. Use a good moisturizer on face & body several times per day.
9. Get several professional massages.
10. Take Tylenol for muscle pain, if OK on your stomach.
11. A heating pad is also helpful at bedtime or during naps.
12. If you are single & live alone, make sure a few trusted friends/family members know what you are doing.
13. In general, be kind & gentle to yourself.
14. NEVER give up! Keep going, even when you don’t feel like it (which will be often.) YOU ARE WORTH IT!!!

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I especially appreciated your advice. Due to dangerously low blood sodium levels my PCP removed me from effexor xr 75mg — 1/2 dose for 3 days then off completely on 4th day (was on this for 15 years). I've experienced every conceivable side effect except brain shivers, but now 6 weeks later I'm ready to jump out of my skin. At the same time I have back & knee injuries which have prevented me from exercising ( I'll be returning to gym soon). My question to anyone is just how long these side effects will last. I'm cranky & more impatient with some people … uncomfortable with myself. I see PCP in 2 days & will request a SSRI (Celexa, Lexapro) in low dose to enable me to function in my life.

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@renwald

Seems like a longer term expectation is in order with coping strategies like mindfulness to catch and counter what you detect. Nothing easy unfortunately

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Yes long term no doubt. I'm hoping this hasnt caused permanent damage. My sensitivity to sounds is off the charts right now. I only deal with the public when it's a must cause I'm so quick to get mad at someone else's ignorance, not bothering to think they didnt have the same upbringing I did. Its amazing they give these drugs out and have no cure or help with withdrawal from them. Ive been tapering since April this year…or as i like to say the 1st day of the rest of My life.

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@grammy7

I especially appreciated your advice. Due to dangerously low blood sodium levels my PCP removed me from effexor xr 75mg — 1/2 dose for 3 days then off completely on 4th day (was on this for 15 years). I've experienced every conceivable side effect except brain shivers, but now 6 weeks later I'm ready to jump out of my skin. At the same time I have back & knee injuries which have prevented me from exercising ( I'll be returning to gym soon). My question to anyone is just how long these side effects will last. I'm cranky & more impatient with some people … uncomfortable with myself. I see PCP in 2 days & will request a SSRI (Celexa, Lexapro) in low dose to enable me to function in my life.

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There's no time frame from what I've seen…all depends on dosing and length…all in which ive read about…i too feel the need to jump outta my skin…ive all the side effects…if your close to getting off them dont give up…stay strong I know it's hard.

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@kbingham2018

any advise on how to wean when you are taking capsules and don't want to go and get smaller dose. I have been opening the capsules and emptying some out for 2 weeks now and tried to stop and it was BAD. Are all meds like this so hard to stop taking?

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I'm down to my last few days — 4 more, to be exact — and I've done the whole thing by opening the capsules and counting out beads. When I get fully off, I'll post my taper schedule. I do know it's different for each of us, but so far — knock on wood!! — it's been relatively painless physically. (Emotionally and mentally is another story, but I think that's unavoidable.) I'm coming off a daily dose of 150 XR, so it's taken me a while. But I know TOTALLY what a bitch it is to count out those tiny beads!! I was so tempted more than once to just say the hell with it and quit. But having experienced the brain zaps and other physical symptoms a few times when I didn't get my scrip renewed in time, I decided to hang in there and count the damn beads!!

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@kbmayo

I'm down to my last few days — 4 more, to be exact — and I've done the whole thing by opening the capsules and counting out beads. When I get fully off, I'll post my taper schedule. I do know it's different for each of us, but so far — knock on wood!! — it's been relatively painless physically. (Emotionally and mentally is another story, but I think that's unavoidable.) I'm coming off a daily dose of 150 XR, so it's taken me a while. But I know TOTALLY what a bitch it is to count out those tiny beads!! I was so tempted more than once to just say the hell with it and quit. But having experienced the brain zaps and other physical symptoms a few times when I didn't get my scrip renewed in time, I decided to hang in there and count the damn beads!!

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I have been without effexor for 12 days now. Some days I feel okay and others I feel horrible. My symptoms are most;y nausea and great fatigue. Crying jags are frequemt. Also, I was just diagnosed with high blood pressure. I wonder if this too is a withdrawl thing. I have begun to question why it is so important to me to keep off this drug. When will I start to feel human again?

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@kbmayo

I'm down to my last few days — 4 more, to be exact — and I've done the whole thing by opening the capsules and counting out beads. When I get fully off, I'll post my taper schedule. I do know it's different for each of us, but so far — knock on wood!! — it's been relatively painless physically. (Emotionally and mentally is another story, but I think that's unavoidable.) I'm coming off a daily dose of 150 XR, so it's taken me a while. But I know TOTALLY what a bitch it is to count out those tiny beads!! I was so tempted more than once to just say the hell with it and quit. But having experienced the brain zaps and other physical symptoms a few times when I didn't get my scrip renewed in time, I decided to hang in there and count the damn beads!!

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Every day I just make it a priority to take care of myself. I am scheduling nothing so that I can take it as it comes. I just lost a very good friend because I backed out of a plan we had made to get together. I don't bother to explain as it is not something that anyone will understand easily. Even my children are unaware of what is going on with me. I am way too tired to explain.

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@kbmayo

I'm down to my last few days — 4 more, to be exact — and I've done the whole thing by opening the capsules and counting out beads. When I get fully off, I'll post my taper schedule. I do know it's different for each of us, but so far — knock on wood!! — it's been relatively painless physically. (Emotionally and mentally is another story, but I think that's unavoidable.) I'm coming off a daily dose of 150 XR, so it's taken me a while. But I know TOTALLY what a bitch it is to count out those tiny beads!! I was so tempted more than once to just say the hell with it and quit. But having experienced the brain zaps and other physical symptoms a few times when I didn't get my scrip renewed in time, I decided to hang in there and count the damn beads!!

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Good luck to you.

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