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

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@grandmar

@youngsally
Good Morning,
Thanks for your post. My story is a bit similar as far as the psychiatrist and therapist.
When I first began this drug about 15 or 20 years ago, it began with me seeing a therapist.
My therapist suggested I see a psychiatrist to help get me on meds.
For the convenience, I used the one who had an office in the same building as the therapist.
She didn't have much of a personality. She'd ask me questions while her back was facing me and typed everything I said.
The way I felt at the time, is that I just wanted her to give me something for the horrible anxiety.
Since then, I have moved and I had to find a new psychiatrist and therapist.
I found the psychiatrist. She seems to know me pretty well since I see her every 6 months to have my prescription refilled.
I found a great therapist, but he is far away. I origanally started with him as part of my pain management, but it bacme much more.
He is almost 2 hours away so I've stopped seeing him.
I might start to look for someone closer to home since I am no longer going for the pain managment.
I do know for sure, I am looking for a new psychiatrist since mine is leaving.
This time, someone closer to home who can help me when I start to come off the Effexor.

Have a great day!
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

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Just move to NYC – we have amazing therapists and psychiatrists on nearly every block. 🙂

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@haleysmom

No, I was completely understand. It was major surgery on both sides. Originally, it was going to be simple and a local but after more testing it was more serious. 4 surgeries on each side.

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Ugh – but at least it sounds like you feel okay today…Even light sedation can make you feel "under" — I don't remember anything about one surgery….and there are ultra fast acting anesthetics like Propofol where you are OUT…but as soon as the drug is stopped you are AWAKE….I still can't find the 15 minutes I was under for a colonoscopy a decade ago 🙂

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@kbmayo

I've read some posts that mentioned doctors prescribing some new med to begin before the taper was complete — near the end of the taper — so you could ask your psychiatrist about that. How am I feeling mentally? Good question! No anxiety and I seem to be getting a little more energy, which is a huge reason I wanted to go off Effexor. The others were that I was depressed, no motivation, felt everything was pointless. I wasn't suicidal, but I'd decided that if it was time for me to go, that was ok with me. (A bit of background: I've been on Effexor/venlafaxine for 25 yrs, put on it for depression, SSRIs made me feeling like I was coming out of my skin so my dr decided to try something that was completely new, I'm tapering off a daily dose of 150mg XR, but I certainly didn't start that high, it's been gradually increased over the years as it became ineffective.) I read the first few chapters of a new book, “Lost Connections,'' where the author had gone through exactly what I was going through, and he talked about earlier research studies on anti-depressants which had been ignored. I read more about those studies and decided I'd had enough. (I especially liked “The Emperor's New Drugs'' and “Anatomy of an Epidemic'' as well as “The Antidepressant Solution: A Step-by-Step Guide to Safely Overcoming Antidepressant Withdrawal, Dependence and `Addiction.' '' Personally I certainly don't consider it an “addiction'' — having experienced addiction, I can tell you that it's a totally different beast!) Reading is one of my passions, so I did other reading, too — googled a lot of information and found blogs on withdrawal which motivated me even more. Basically, I want my life back! The main symptoms I've had during withdrawal have been lethargy, sleeping lots and lots, a short temper and eventually insomnia (for which I finally started taking 3 mg of time-release melatonin — it isn't hard to find — I got mine at CVS). I've also taken various vitamins and other supplements and I drink lots of water to help flush out my system. Some depression, too, but that's nothing new. As my motivation increases, my depression decreases. Each of us has our own experiences as we taper, which is why it's been so helpful for me to look at the lists of symptoms and read other folks' posts. I've been gentle with myself, even pampering myself at times, and have been able to say no, no, no when asked to do things I didn't want to do or feel like doing. The house is a mess and so is the yard, but that's tough. I'll get to them eventually and heaven knows they aren't going anywhere. I've also tried to get myself to take walks and I've watched comedies on DVD/TV — laughing is a hugely underrated therapy. I've discovered that whenever I actually laugh out loud, I feel better. (Norman Cousins, the late editor of Saturday Review, discovered this for himself, as he described in his book “Anatomy of an Illness''). This is a loooong post — if you've read to the end of it, thank you! Hope some of this will help!

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Thank you so much for this wonderfully, insightful post! Quick question, when you say you were depressed, no motivation, etc – was that while you were on the effexor? So glad to hear you're beginning to enjoy life again! xo

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@gailb

@jamiejames

I did some research on Google to find information about CBD use in New York. Medical Marijuana is legal in New York, but you need to contact a qualified physician to obtain your MM card. The conditions that qualify are being loosened all the time and most recently included "chronic pain" lasting more than 3 months as qualifying! That should be good news for many on these threads. I have included a link for details about the use of CBD in New York:
https://www.marijuanabreak.com/cbd-oil-in-new-york-2018-update (This is from July 18, 2018.)
You can obtain CBD Living Water online @cbdlivingwater.com, and it will be sent to you. I used that for my withdrawal from Tramadol. If you want something stronger, you will need an MM CARD which I think you may qualify for as it is ok'd for opioid withdrawal now. The link has a lot of good information on it about CBD and what New York is doing. I hope this information is helpful in you search for some relief from withdrawal symptoms.

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Oh, thank you so much for this info!!!!!

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@texasduchess

@jamiejames
Your taper may be too much. The best advice on this site is to taper off slowly and to take as long as necessary to do it. Dropping 37.5 may be too big a drop too fast for you. Please read all the posts on this site for more information.

During my research, a writer pointed out that the doctors prescribing this stuff and helping you get off very rarely have ever taken the drug, or experienced withdrawal themselves and another writer (I think that one was a doctor) said in these situations (what you are feeling), the patient is rarely wrong.

"For some people, discontinuation symptoms can feel as if their depression or anxiety is coming back, and indeed, stopping your antidepressant may increase your risk of relapse. Because of this, it's important to distinguish between discontinuation syndrome and relapse. The biggest difference between the two is that discontinuation symptoms typically begin within a few days after stopping your antidepressant whereas a relapse normally takes longer to occur and the symptoms develop more gradually.

Another difference is that discontinuation syndrome often involves physical symptoms that aren't associated with depression or anxiety, such as dizziness, nausea, or flu-like symptoms. With discontinuation syndrome, the symptoms eventually go away, usually within one to three weeks, but if you're having a relapse of your depression or anxiety, the symptoms don't go away and may even get worse. Additionally, if you start an antidepressant again, discontinuation symptoms will resolve quickly, but depression or anxiety will take longer to respond."–https://www.verywellmind.com/tips-to-reduce-antidepressant-withdrawal-symptoms-1066835

I took Effexor for hot flashes because I could not take hormones to control them. I never had anxiety issues. Six weeks after slowly tapering off 25 mg, I began experiencing anxiety, fear, akasthisia, etc.,–all discontinuation effects. Effexor affects your brain and how your neurotransmitters work; it will take time for your brain and neurotransmitters to balance. Go as slow as you need to.

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Thank you so much for your response. Last nite and today I feel great, I wonder if I'm doing it to myself – all in my head!

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@youngsally

Do you get psychotherapy or just a med consult from the psychiatrist? If the psychiatrist knows you well (through psychotherapy) – they will be in a much better position to tell you what their thinking is about the anxiety and where you might be once the taper is over. If you have a therapist that you work with, they will consult with the psychiatrist. I have both – but I've worked with the same therapist for many years – and the psychiatrist is a med consult – but they happen to share an office and the psychiatrist does a fair amount of psychotherapy as well – not all do. If you've just been taking meds and haven't done psychotherapy (currently or in the past for a period of time) – it might be worth asking the psychiatrist what they recommend.

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Hi, yes – i do get psychotherapy and have been going to her for a few years now. She agreed that i was in a good place to start to taper off of the effexor. so fingers crossed!

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@grandmar

Good Morning All!!!

I know that this site is for those who have gone off Effexor, in the process of going off or thinking about going off.
I fall into the category of thinking about going off………….
The reason I went onto Effexor is because of anxiety that I have suffered with since I was a very young child. Over the last 4 1/2 years, my dosage has doubled. I had a couple of very stressful events in my life that put me into a tail spin.
Anyway, I am now at the max.
I am always tired, my memory is gone (from minute to minute), even with weight loss surgery, I have hit a brick wall and can't seem to lose much more, there is very little that interests me, I see a difference in my affect, etc.
My concern is once I get off the meds. I am terrified of having the anxiety attacks again (like before I even started the Effexor).
Have any of you started on a new and safer anti-anxiety medication? If so, when did you start it? Has it helped?

Thanks for all your sharing,
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

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Do you see a psychiatrist? I'm sure there must be some new drugs out there that could help you! Also, do you feel you're in a better place mentally right now then before you started the effexor? Have good coping mechanisms? All of those things are important to have in place to help with your anxiety. best of luck!!

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@snooterbell

Thank you! I didn't realize I was on such a horrible drug. I wish I had known the side effects and withdrawal symptoms before hand. I probably wouldn't have start this drug unless it was absolutely necessary.

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@snooterbell
I think most, if not all of us feel the same way.
For some reason, the docs did not warn us of the possibilities.
Ronnie

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@grandmar

@snooterbell
I think most, if not all of us feel the same way.
For some reason, the docs did not warn us of the possibilities.
Ronnie

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I just had my dr appt with my oncologist. They nearly flipped out when I told them about missing three days of my Venlafaxine. They told me to NEVER run out of that medicine. I informed them that I wanted to start tapering off and see how that goes. I'm only at 75mg right now and they cut me back to the 37.5mg. Hopefully, since I wasn't so high on the dosage anyway, it won't be so hard getting off. But, by the third day of those missed dosages was starting to take its effect. Nausea, brain zaps, headaches, upset stomach, etc… Doctors really should see how someone is going to physically and mentally be after surgery before just automatically putting them on something like this. I DON'T LIKE DRUGS, PRESCRIPTION OR RECREATIONAL!!!

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Wow this is quite a long thread and almost 2 years old! Effexor and getting off psych meds in general is always a hot topic. I don’t know if this has been mentioned but the only thing that worked for me to get off the final bit of effexor was to take a low dose of Prozac for a week or so… it’s called a Prozac bridge. My apologies if this has been mentioned before.

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