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

@gagelle

I would see a good physician. He/she would have to get a solid medical and psychological history to eliminate any conditions that might be the cause. Usually, if I’m sleep deprived for a day or two, my body makes up for it by giving me a longer, deeper sleep. The sleep deprivation you describe can be dangerous. You wouldn’t want to operate a motor vehicle, for example. There may be other medications you’re taking that are causing your insomnia. Or it may be a physical condition. I’m just guessing, of course. I don’t want to alarm you but urge consultation with a doctor who will spend some time getting to the root cause of your insomnia. I would walk away from anyone who throws you sleeping pills. They only work for short periods of time as you quickly build a tolerance. They also interfere with the deep stage of sleep known as rapid eye movement. Paradoxically, they block the kind of revitalizing sleep that allows you to wake up refreshed. I would also stay away from melatonin. It is a complex hormone that has many risks despite its loyal following. I hope this helps.

Jump to this post

I have turned to Melatonin for sleep the past couple of months. Due to my grief the holidays are especially hard and I can barely make it. What does Melatonin do to us? UGH! I thought it was natural and safe. I’ve come to the conclusion, we can’t put any kind of pill into our systems.

REPLY

Hello. I read your post and thought I would share my experience. I finally am past the effects of Effexor withdrawal. I took this medicine for a few years after the death of my parents. The process of coming off off this drug was incredibly slow. The withdrawal symptoms that are listed are very real and intense.
It took me 6 months to finally take my last dose. Tapering off over a 6 month period seems long but it worked. I was very sick and the brain zaps were the worst.
I ate absolutely zero fattening foods. I flushed out my system with an incredible amount of water. I took vitamin C and exercised everyday.
I had to back off caffeine and get lots of sleep.
I had heard the Effexor bonds to fat so being healthy Is the key.
I also read a new book to help promote new cell growth and use creativity like drawing. It sounds ridiculous bit it worked. The brain zaps, confusion, and eye twitching were the worst for me.
I have been 3 weeks clean from this drug and would never take another antidepressant.
It was very difficult but possible. The intensity of the symptoms subsided slowing but after a week of my last dose I could see a dramatic difference in symptoms.
Please take care of yourself and know your not alone. I had great support and also stayed really calm and relaxed. Exercise was a tremendous help. Don’t panic. Stay calm. Remember your brain will heal from this. It just takes patience.
I did not feel suicidal coming off the medicine. I was told replacing antidepressants is not a good idea until you completely are clean from another.
I did not replace Effexor with another. I finally feel like myself…
Good luck.

REPLY
@amylove1

Hello. I read your post and thought I would share my experience. I finally am past the effects of Effexor withdrawal. I took this medicine for a few years after the death of my parents. The process of coming off off this drug was incredibly slow. The withdrawal symptoms that are listed are very real and intense.
It took me 6 months to finally take my last dose. Tapering off over a 6 month period seems long but it worked. I was very sick and the brain zaps were the worst.
I ate absolutely zero fattening foods. I flushed out my system with an incredible amount of water. I took vitamin C and exercised everyday.
I had to back off caffeine and get lots of sleep.
I had heard the Effexor bonds to fat so being healthy Is the key.
I also read a new book to help promote new cell growth and use creativity like drawing. It sounds ridiculous bit it worked. The brain zaps, confusion, and eye twitching were the worst for me.
I have been 3 weeks clean from this drug and would never take another antidepressant.
It was very difficult but possible. The intensity of the symptoms subsided slowing but after a week of my last dose I could see a dramatic difference in symptoms.
Please take care of yourself and know your not alone. I had great support and also stayed really calm and relaxed. Exercise was a tremendous help. Don’t panic. Stay calm. Remember your brain will heal from this. It just takes patience.
I did not feel suicidal coming off the medicine. I was told replacing antidepressants is not a good idea until you completely are clean from another.
I did not replace Effexor with another. I finally feel like myself…
Good luck.

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You sound like you’re good in a good place ! Yay! I’m planning to start a withdrawal of the effexor. I’ve been taking it for about 10 years -150 mg. I’m going open the capsules and take a few grains out at a time . I’m sort of concerned about work… i’ve had the brains apps when I forgotten 2 days dose and those are horrible ! My doctor was out of her office having a baby and her staff took three weeks to call in my prescription it made me realize that I was being held hostage by a drug . I had called and advance because I knew the pharmacy needed a new prescription luckily I had enough to get me through …just!

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So has anyone had issues continuing to work while going through “successful “ withdrawal? By successful I guess I mean being able to taper off completely? I work nights in a hospital I’m not an RN but I do work directly with patients . I’m going to have to put my 16-year-old dog down soon so I am definitely going to wait to begin until I recover from that but I am really trying to plan this out before I start. All the feedback has been so helpful!! thank you everyone for sharing!

REPLY
@amylove1

Hello. I read your post and thought I would share my experience. I finally am past the effects of Effexor withdrawal. I took this medicine for a few years after the death of my parents. The process of coming off off this drug was incredibly slow. The withdrawal symptoms that are listed are very real and intense.
It took me 6 months to finally take my last dose. Tapering off over a 6 month period seems long but it worked. I was very sick and the brain zaps were the worst.
I ate absolutely zero fattening foods. I flushed out my system with an incredible amount of water. I took vitamin C and exercised everyday.
I had to back off caffeine and get lots of sleep.
I had heard the Effexor bonds to fat so being healthy Is the key.
I also read a new book to help promote new cell growth and use creativity like drawing. It sounds ridiculous bit it worked. The brain zaps, confusion, and eye twitching were the worst for me.
I have been 3 weeks clean from this drug and would never take another antidepressant.
It was very difficult but possible. The intensity of the symptoms subsided slowing but after a week of my last dose I could see a dramatic difference in symptoms.
Please take care of yourself and know your not alone. I had great support and also stayed really calm and relaxed. Exercise was a tremendous help. Don’t panic. Stay calm. Remember your brain will heal from this. It just takes patience.
I did not feel suicidal coming off the medicine. I was told replacing antidepressants is not a good idea until you completely are clean from another.
I did not replace Effexor with another. I finally feel like myself…
Good luck.

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I am off this drug completely and I’m mostly past the bad withdrawal symptoms like crying, horrible headaches, and being unable to control my emotions.

I do still have some symptoms that I believe are related to going g off Effexor that I hope pass soon. These are:

Overwhelming fatigue
A feeling of uselessness
Brain fog
Irritability

These are minor compared to the crying crap! I thought I was having a breakdown until I realized it was the Effexor.

I too never plan to take another anti-depressant but I would love to find something natural that would help me feel more normal. Something that really doesn’t have any side effects and really works.

Good luck to everyone.

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@karenu

So has anyone had issues continuing to work while going through “successful “ withdrawal? By successful I guess I mean being able to taper off completely? I work nights in a hospital I’m not an RN but I do work directly with patients . I’m going to have to put my 16-year-old dog down soon so I am definitely going to wait to begin until I recover from that but I am really trying to plan this out before I start. All the feedback has been so helpful!! thank you everyone for sharing!

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I work everyday (did take the 3rd day off after completely stopping Effexor due to migraine).
It has definitely effected my image at work. When I was going through the emotional upheavals I was treated poorly by my immediate boss and was very emotional about. He is a **** and likes to use his so call power so I didn’t react well but that only lasted a couple days and I just told everyone and o mean everyone, including him, that I was going through menopause and it was causing me to be that way.

I’m past that now and thank god I am. That was absolutely horrible.

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@gagelle

I would see a good physician. He/she would have to get a solid medical and psychological history to eliminate any conditions that might be the cause. Usually, if I’m sleep deprived for a day or two, my body makes up for it by giving me a longer, deeper sleep. The sleep deprivation you describe can be dangerous. You wouldn’t want to operate a motor vehicle, for example. There may be other medications you’re taking that are causing your insomnia. Or it may be a physical condition. I’m just guessing, of course. I don’t want to alarm you but urge consultation with a doctor who will spend some time getting to the root cause of your insomnia. I would walk away from anyone who throws you sleeping pills. They only work for short periods of time as you quickly build a tolerance. They also interfere with the deep stage of sleep known as rapid eye movement. Paradoxically, they block the kind of revitalizing sleep that allows you to wake up refreshed. I would also stay away from melatonin. It is a complex hormone that has many risks despite its loyal following. I hope this helps.

Jump to this post

@gagelle I have not heard risks of melatonin as long as you take a small dose. I have read that more than 3 mg a night can cause nightmares and other problems but if you keep the dose low I am not aware of problems. I take it frequently. Frankly I am not sure if it helps or if it’s just a placebo.
JK

REPLY
@amylove1

Hello. I read your post and thought I would share my experience. I finally am past the effects of Effexor withdrawal. I took this medicine for a few years after the death of my parents. The process of coming off off this drug was incredibly slow. The withdrawal symptoms that are listed are very real and intense.
It took me 6 months to finally take my last dose. Tapering off over a 6 month period seems long but it worked. I was very sick and the brain zaps were the worst.
I ate absolutely zero fattening foods. I flushed out my system with an incredible amount of water. I took vitamin C and exercised everyday.
I had to back off caffeine and get lots of sleep.
I had heard the Effexor bonds to fat so being healthy Is the key.
I also read a new book to help promote new cell growth and use creativity like drawing. It sounds ridiculous bit it worked. The brain zaps, confusion, and eye twitching were the worst for me.
I have been 3 weeks clean from this drug and would never take another antidepressant.
It was very difficult but possible. The intensity of the symptoms subsided slowing but after a week of my last dose I could see a dramatic difference in symptoms.
Please take care of yourself and know your not alone. I had great support and also stayed really calm and relaxed. Exercise was a tremendous help. Don’t panic. Stay calm. Remember your brain will heal from this. It just takes patience.
I did not feel suicidal coming off the medicine. I was told replacing antidepressants is not a good idea until you completely are clean from another.
I did not replace Effexor with another. I finally feel like myself…
Good luck.

Jump to this post

@karenu Good luck with your withdrawal when you start. I hope it won’t cause too many problems for you.
That’s inexcusable that if your doctor is out for a while there is not someone else who can call in a prescription. If she does not employ an NP then she should have had another doctor to handle things of that nature. I’m glad you had enough to make it through.
JK

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@amylove1

Hello. I read your post and thought I would share my experience. I finally am past the effects of Effexor withdrawal. I took this medicine for a few years after the death of my parents. The process of coming off off this drug was incredibly slow. The withdrawal symptoms that are listed are very real and intense.
It took me 6 months to finally take my last dose. Tapering off over a 6 month period seems long but it worked. I was very sick and the brain zaps were the worst.
I ate absolutely zero fattening foods. I flushed out my system with an incredible amount of water. I took vitamin C and exercised everyday.
I had to back off caffeine and get lots of sleep.
I had heard the Effexor bonds to fat so being healthy Is the key.
I also read a new book to help promote new cell growth and use creativity like drawing. It sounds ridiculous bit it worked. The brain zaps, confusion, and eye twitching were the worst for me.
I have been 3 weeks clean from this drug and would never take another antidepressant.
It was very difficult but possible. The intensity of the symptoms subsided slowing but after a week of my last dose I could see a dramatic difference in symptoms.
Please take care of yourself and know your not alone. I had great support and also stayed really calm and relaxed. Exercise was a tremendous help. Don’t panic. Stay calm. Remember your brain will heal from this. It just takes patience.
I did not feel suicidal coming off the medicine. I was told replacing antidepressants is not a good idea until you completely are clean from another.
I did not replace Effexor with another. I finally feel like myself…
Good luck.

Jump to this post

I took effexor over 10 years. The dosage was 75mg. I tapered down for more than 9 months. I stopped completely November 24, 2017. Than it still hit me hard. I was completely exhausted and slept all the time. I had extreme ups & downs emotionally. I burst into tears at the slightest thing. I read about the so called safety of SAMe. I started taking 400mgs daily. I have taken SAMe for the past 5 weeks. About 2 weeks ago, I started with mild anxiety attacks. They intensity increased to where it was a significant problem. My fear was that I would have to go back to using effexor. I did some online research and found that a side effect of SAMe is anxiety attacks. I had to really search to find this. Now, I’m discontinuing SAMe and hoping that I don’t experience withdrawal from it. I’m about at my wits end in finding something that is truly safe and helpful. Our bodies are all different and what works for me may not work for someone else. Now, I am going to eat healthy, although I always have, try to exercise more and listen to what my body is telling me. I made an appointment with a different doctor (can’t get in until March) in the hopes of better medical treatment. It’s all discouraging, but reading comments on this site has been very helpful. Thanks to all who share their story.

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How do you wean yourself off if a 75mgcapsal is the lowest dose?

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@godsgirl1969

How do you wean yourself off if a 75mgcapsal is the lowest dose?

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@godsgirl1969

Tablets can be cut. Capsules can be opened and contents divided equally between the two halves, then poured on an edible. A pharmacist can offer other suggestions. Often, they’re a better resource than some doctors.

Jim

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I want to thank everyone who has had an opportunity to reply to my post about insomnia. I had a break through last night and was finally got a few hours of Z’s. Albeit after some chamomile tea, sleep aid and zanax. At least I feel like can function today.

As for the Effexor, it has been a bitter sweet journey. I was started on Effexor about 16 years ago. It was in response to a very traumatic episode in my life. That being said, I have to say it was a god send! After about 2 weeks on the med my life changed. It was like my whole life I had been asleep and was suddenly awakened to a sunny new world. Well, being in my early 20’s and more than ignorant about pysch meds, my sunny new world was not so sunny, it was the rose colored Effexor glasses. I suddenly didn’t care about anything and it was marvelous! Didn’t care what people thought, what people said, but beyond that I quite literally didn’t care about anything. I thought I was living a ‘normal persons’ life when in fact I was hurtful in my actions and language, degrading towards others, didn’t care how I acted, I was like a belligerent teenager. The realization of my attitude didn’t dawn on me until about 8 years later when I was tired of taking meds. I had heard or read that you are supposed to taper dosages when coming off a psych med so I went from Effexor XR 150 mg 2x day to Effexor 150mg over about 6-8 months. I don’t recall my symptoms during that time as it was so long ago, but I do remember regaining some clarity of thought, and it was grand. It was also depressing, if you will, because during long conversations with my spouse and family a clear picture of the belligerent teenager that I was, was enough to make me physically ill. As well, I recalled having hallucinations so real that I would ask my spouse to turn off the radio (um, no radio on) and I actually called 911 once (yicks!) I digress…I continued to taper down to 75mg 2x day over about a year. I don’t recall any negative withdrawal symptoms during this time as the taper down was so slow my body was able to adapt to the lower doses. I continued the taper down over the next 3/4 years to 37.5mg 2x day. in the mean time i thought I would support my efforts in my taper down by supplementing with herbal support. SIDE NOTE…I caution you…DO NOT take any herbals before first checking with your doctor or better yet pharmacist! I took one herbal pill (1/4 of the dosage recommended) and ended up with Seratonin Syndrome. This is a life threatening interaction folks! This is why so many folks on this panel caution the use of herbals. I recovered from my syndrome after a couple of days. Although I was so ill that I ended up having severe withdrawal effects (it you don’t know what they are, look them up…had everyone one of them) as I couldn’t ingest my meds. After about 1 year on the 18.75mg 2x day I decide it was time to be done. So at the end of March 2017 I went off the drug completely. I didn’t have any side effects to speak of or at least I didn’t think I did (they are so subtle they sneak up on you). I let my closest friends, work colleagues and spouse know that I had gone off my med and to let me know about any changes in my behavior). No changes noted! Sweet! I am free! About two weeks later, the night of a vacation I had waited 2 yrs for, all hell broke loose! Hello insomnia, crying, erratic behavior, meanness, irritability, fatigue, cravings. I didn’t equate this ‘new’ behavior with my removal from the drug as I had been off of it for two weeks. Needless to say, after two weeks of the most horrible vacation experience ever, I capitulated and started up on the Effexor again at 18.75mg 2xday. Well that did the trick!! Yup back to feeling ‘normal’ except for the occasional ringing in the ears, dizziness and insomnia, I am alive again. I am thinking my most recent experience of insomnia may have been some withdrawal symptoms creeping in so I adjusted my intake to 8a and 8pm to have it in my system every 12hrs. Although the ‘self life’ of the drug is around 4hrs, I still think it builds up in the system enough to have carry over to 8hrs (just my experience). As well, I have been under abnormal stresses at work, working ungodly hrs upwards of 80hrs on some weeks. So my insomnia may have been contributed by this stress. Anyway, to make a long story longer ;), my hope right now is that I can maintain my current ‘normalness’ on the 18.75mg 2x day. Both my parents and grandparents had mild psych issues, so this could be a hereditary issue for me. I feel like I can ‘cope’ on this small dosage if I don’t become adjusted to it. If I have any advice for folks who choose to read my long winded story, is to please seek out every opportunity to educate yourself on this and other drugs. Find a specialist who understands these drugs and whatever you do DO NOT ‘cold turkey’ off this med. I took years to taper down this med and kudos to those who choose to endure coming off of it sooner. I am very thankful to have found this Mayo clinic site and when I am ready, to seek out their expertise in getting off this drug. In the meantime, I hope my story can be helpful to others and that we can continue to a support to the masses as they are getting their lives back. Namaste.

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I asked my doctor to go from the XR capsule to the Effexor caplet. The caplet, as jimhd stated, can be cut in half or quartered. I agree with jimhd. Pharmacists are highly paid to know every drug interaction and how to best ‘dose down’ a med. You should always talk with your doctor first before dosing down, but seek out as much professional, educated information as you can.

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@karenu

So has anyone had issues continuing to work while going through “successful “ withdrawal? By successful I guess I mean being able to taper off completely? I work nights in a hospital I’m not an RN but I do work directly with patients . I’m going to have to put my 16-year-old dog down soon so I am definitely going to wait to begin until I recover from that but I am really trying to plan this out before I start. All the feedback has been so helpful!! thank you everyone for sharing!

Jump to this post

I to work in a hospital setting, not direct patient care. I would encourage you, it you haven’t already, to chat with your doctor OR find a doctor who understands this med, and taper down slowly. Hospitals are about caregiving, even in an indirect manner and you can’t afford to be suffering when you are caring for those who are suffering. I too have two geriatric pooches (16+ and 14+). Don’t rush your recovery from Effexor, you didn’t get to this point in a day and you can’t get to your next journey in a day either. Take it slow, and be supportive of your own efforts to improve. Try not to get ‘down’ on yourself when you’re having a bad moment, a bad day a bad week. That’s life :). I would encourage you to talk with a doctor or recovery center about the positive effects of high dose Omega 3’s in dosing down from Effexor. It does help to counter some of the withdrawal effects, at least for me. Keep up the good fight and thank you for all you do for your patients…you make a difference in their lives 🙂

REPLY
@amylove1

Hello. I read your post and thought I would share my experience. I finally am past the effects of Effexor withdrawal. I took this medicine for a few years after the death of my parents. The process of coming off off this drug was incredibly slow. The withdrawal symptoms that are listed are very real and intense.
It took me 6 months to finally take my last dose. Tapering off over a 6 month period seems long but it worked. I was very sick and the brain zaps were the worst.
I ate absolutely zero fattening foods. I flushed out my system with an incredible amount of water. I took vitamin C and exercised everyday.
I had to back off caffeine and get lots of sleep.
I had heard the Effexor bonds to fat so being healthy Is the key.
I also read a new book to help promote new cell growth and use creativity like drawing. It sounds ridiculous bit it worked. The brain zaps, confusion, and eye twitching were the worst for me.
I have been 3 weeks clean from this drug and would never take another antidepressant.
It was very difficult but possible. The intensity of the symptoms subsided slowing but after a week of my last dose I could see a dramatic difference in symptoms.
Please take care of yourself and know your not alone. I had great support and also stayed really calm and relaxed. Exercise was a tremendous help. Don’t panic. Stay calm. Remember your brain will heal from this. It just takes patience.
I did not feel suicidal coming off the medicine. I was told replacing antidepressants is not a good idea until you completely are clean from another.
I did not replace Effexor with another. I finally feel like myself…
Good luck.

Jump to this post

The office staff kept telling me “ ok, we’ll call that in” then I would keep checking with the pharmacy who say “ nothing yet”, Then I would call the office again and get a different person. I am definitely taking with my doc about the whole situation. It was so ridiculous! I was pretty frustrated.

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