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richyrich
@richyrich

Posts: 4
Joined: Nov 02, 2016

Tips on minimising withdrawal symptoms from Effexor (aka Venlafaxine)

Posted by @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

REPLY

@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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You said your sleep patterns came back to normal? Did it give you insomnia? I'm going through that right now with effexor and it's really hard

@brenda09

You said your sleep patterns came back to normal? Did it give you insomnia? I'm going through that right now with effexor and it's really hard

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@brenda09
I am reducing and have had problems sleeping. I fall asleep but I only sleep for 3-4 hours (if I am lucky).
I am OK with that as long as it is all that happens and I don't get horrible withdrawal symptoms.
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

After taking venlafaxine along with bupropion xl for 10 years, and wanting nothing to do with a medication that is so difficult to get off of, I decided to at the very least transition off venlafaxine to a different medication. My doc chose Trintellix for me. She gave me a tapering schedule (I was taking 150mg) of 75mg for two weeks, then 37.5 mg for 2 weeks, adding in 5mg of Trintellix, then moving to 10 mg Trintellix. The reduction to 75 mg went so well – I felt better than ever – that I decided to try the reduction to 37.5 mg without adding the Trintellix. That week went great as well, so I consulted the doc to let her know because I was feeling so great I wanted to try going off completely and not migrate to a new medication. The second week of 37.5 mg went as well, so this past Sunday was my first day without anything ( still taking the bupropion xl). Brain zaps, for sure, but what I'm having a time with are the crying spells. Anything I can do until it passes other than go back to meds? I am willing to push through, but can't sit with this for months – at some point I'm sure my husband expects me to go back to work. 😉

First time post. Have been on Effexor DR for 4 years. I have been thinking of findings a new doc (changed insurances) because of how ill I feel if I forget a dose: brain zaps, nausea. Now I have been diagnosed with glaucoma and it is very likely the Effexor. Laser surgery Thursday due to dangerous pressure in rt eye. I had noticed the warning about blood pressure but just hoped it would be ok since my no is always great. My eye pressures had been in the 20's for decades but now in the 30's. Read all the fine print. I'll be following ideas about tapering as well as talking to doc. I expect it to be difficult to get off of. Thanks.

@sharonlou

First time post. Have been on Effexor DR for 4 years. I have been thinking of findings a new doc (changed insurances) because of how ill I feel if I forget a dose: brain zaps, nausea. Now I have been diagnosed with glaucoma and it is very likely the Effexor. Laser surgery Thursday due to dangerous pressure in rt eye. I had noticed the warning about blood pressure but just hoped it would be ok since my no is always great. My eye pressures had been in the 20's for decades but now in the 30's. Read all the fine print. I'll be following ideas about tapering as well as talking to doc. I expect it to be difficult to get off of. Thanks.

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@sharonlou
Shouldn’t be hard to get off of it. Trick is to go SLOWLY. The post from @yudy should be reason enough for going slow. Unfortunately most doctors seem to believe slow are 50% cuts.
Researchers are coming to the conclusion a 5-10% decrease, PER DOSE is highly successful. A lot of this information comes from the people who have tried various titrations and most are finding this the most effective. It is very important however that the 5-10% is based on each titration dose and not a particular percentage per 2 weeks or month. The problem with 5-10% per month is that although in the beginning your dose decrease is indeed 5-10%, but the farther into your titration you get those percentages start to jump all over the place, some decreases are 33% some lower some as high as 50% even though you I The problem being the titrations are not consistent. Admittedly it’s going to take more time but the chance of withdrawal is almost non existent. There is a member here who is decreasing their dose by less than one half of 1 percent each month. Even at that rate, they are having symptoms.
I wish you the best, you can do it,
Jake

Liked by texasduchess

@sharonlou

First time post. Have been on Effexor DR for 4 years. I have been thinking of findings a new doc (changed insurances) because of how ill I feel if I forget a dose: brain zaps, nausea. Now I have been diagnosed with glaucoma and it is very likely the Effexor. Laser surgery Thursday due to dangerous pressure in rt eye. I had noticed the warning about blood pressure but just hoped it would be ok since my no is always great. My eye pressures had been in the 20's for decades but now in the 30's. Read all the fine print. I'll be following ideas about tapering as well as talking to doc. I expect it to be difficult to get off of. Thanks.

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@sharonlou
Sorry to hear about your eye issues. I hope when you are off Effexor that your vision improves as mine did. I had my last dose on 4/14/18 and in early June, had my eyes examined so I could order more contacts. I couldn't figure out why I couldn't see with my new contacts (same prescription for years). Had another eye exam–in the two weeks between the first eye exam and getting my new contacts, my left eye improved by half a diopter!

@amberpep

I really don't mean this to sound demeaning or anything of the sort, but why the sudden need to get off of Effexor? Did I miss reading something about it in the paper or on the news?
Thanks for the info.
abby

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Do the research and google side effects of effexor. It will make you wish you weren't taking it.

@leross21

I was only on Effexor RX for a year (last January), and titrated from 150 (which I was only on for 2 days) to 75, 37, and 18 (a week each at my doctor's recommendation). I was off completely last Saturday and still have bad side effects. Any idea how long I can expect the side effects to continue? Dramamine for the dizzies and a pain killer for the body aches had no effect. Also, is there a remedy for the paresthesia? I cannot live life whatsoever this way and sleep 12 hours a day (including naps, or else I'd never get to work on time). My so mad my doctor prescribed this without any mention of the side effects if you skip a pill or ween off. With side effects this day, I think it should be very clear before you even start about what to expect when you want to finish.

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I'm having side effects and I've been weaning for 8 months…. It takes a very long time. Read up on withdrawing. For me, every step down has caused my blood pressure to rise…. A LOT! 6 months to a year is not uncommon…

For anyone who has completed the weaning process slowly, how long did the lightheadedness and brain zaps last. I took 8 months and just finished my last tiny dose 2 days ago. I feel horrible!

@terri672

For anyone who has completed the weaning process slowly, how long did the lightheadedness and brain zaps last. I took 8 months and just finished my last tiny dose 2 days ago. I feel horrible!

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@terri672
Good morning,
Just curious but what was your starting dose? How long were you taking it? What was your final dose? How may times did you cut your dose in those 8 months? Also how long did you wait between cuts?
I’m sorry to hear your not feeling well. Have you considered the possibility of restarting your medication in very small doses until the symptoms go away, then taper off even slower than your previous taper?
This is starting to sound like an inquisition, that certainly isn’t my intention and I’m sorry if you feel I’m out of line. The more information the group has the better they may be able to help you.
Wishing your health and happiness soon returns,
Jake

I am officially in the bead counters club. I removed 10 beads from 90 of the 75 mg XR capsules. The capsules have an average of 90 beads in them so I think that's a little over 10% of a reduction. Kept the extra beads just in case. My eyeglass prescription has changed as well, improving. My blood pressure is now very much under control at half the dosage of my prescribed lisinipril. On the days I had a little dizziness, I thought to check my BP and it was actually too low! Decreasing the BP meds have helped with that. I also have more energy as a whole. I'm really happy with the progress so far! Best wishes to you all on this journey.

@jakedduck1

@terri672
Good morning,
Just curious but what was your starting dose? How long were you taking it? What was your final dose? How may times did you cut your dose in those 8 months? Also how long did you wait between cuts?
I’m sorry to hear your not feeling well. Have you considered the possibility of restarting your medication in very small doses until the symptoms go away, then taper off even slower than your previous taper?
This is starting to sound like an inquisition, that certainly isn’t my intention and I’m sorry if you feel I’m out of line. The more information the group has the better they may be able to help you.
Wishing your health and happiness soon returns,
Jake

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Leonard, I tapered to 18.75mg over three weeks ago (a mere 10% decrease), and I’m still so weak and dizzy that I can barely walk, with a cane. I’ve decided to just stay at this dose for the rest of my life, because I can’t bear this invalid state. Will I ever
gain back some strength and energy – and balance(!)?

I stopped taking Effexor after almost 2 yrs of daily use. I had wanted to go off for awhile but just never followed through. Finally, and luckily there was a med screw up at the pharmacy and I couldn't get any for another 3 weeks- until I saw my Dr. I had read all the horror stories, but went COLD TURKEY anyway. Its been one week today, and do I feel totally "normal", no. But hardly a horror story. I drink lots of water, exercise, work 40 hrs a week, and happy to say I am not finding myself depressed either. Be careful of course, but judging from my experience, I kindof wish I had the guts to do it before now!

First of all, thanks to everyone for sharing their stories. Only a couple of years back, very little was known or shared on how to get off of these types of meds. Just recently, as someone stated on a previous post, that this issue is started to get attention in the press. I strongly believe the pharmaceutical companies did not put much thought on how to get off of the meds, which make sense in an evil business perspective. This was very evident a few years ago when I asked my primary doctor about tapering off of venlafaxine, and at that time he honestly did not have any concrete solution to do so or have any case studies to refer to.

I've reached the "cold turkey" stage of getting off of venflaxine (day 3 and counting). I've been on 75mg for around 10 years (started on something else equivalent, then went to the generic venflaxine), and began tapering off a year ago at 37.5mg. My 2019 New Years resolution was to be finally off of it completely, so I started to do the final stage of the plan 2 weeks ago. The last stage consisted of two days on, one day off for six days, one day on, one day off for a week, and then drop it completely. Right now I'm functioning "normally", meaning I do get minor brain zaps, and have felt the dizziness / balance issues if I'm in motion (e.g. walking, getting up from sitting or laying down). I figure this will take a few weeks or so to fade away.

So, I just want to share what I've learned so far:

Truisms that everyone on this post mentioned

1. Talk to your doctor to come up with a plan for tapering off, and stay in contact during the process. Most important.
2. Let your family and close friends know when you're tapering off. For support, and in-case you're going to need help, like going into a bad withdrawal.
3. Tapering off this med is a long process (meaning weeks and/or months). Can't go "cold turkey" right away.
4. Stay off of caffeinated and alcohol during the process. I learned this by accident before starting the process. I forgot to take my med one day, had a cocktail with dinner, then woke up the next morning with my mind racing out off control and a terrible bout of dizziness. Another incident was I drank a strong cup of coffee (on another day I forgot to take my med), and I was so wired out that I couldn't sleep at night, though I had a awesome productive day at work. lol.
5. The withdrawal symptoms will happen, but keeping in mind it's temporal. Yeah, the brain zaps and dizziness are there, and I realize I need to be patient and stay the course for those things will fade away.
6. Getting a good night's sleep.

Things to do or plan for.

1. Handling anxiety / panic attacks w/o the meds. Acknowledging that this is inevitable, I've started to make meditation a daily routine like brushing my teeth. Fortunately there's quite a few phone apps out there that you can use to help out than reading a boring book (I tried that) or getting a referral to a therapist (more $$$). The one I use is called Breathe.
2. Consistent exercise. For me, it's a run or intense group workout. For others, maybe just a nice, long walk, stretching / yoga.
3. Plan to take time off when going off the med completely. I've scheduled the start of the no-more-med days this holiday weekend and are taking a few extra days time off from work. I did this since I figured I'll have some withdrawal issues, and I did not know what the intensity would be like.
4. Do not plan any large social functions during the final tapering down phase. I wanted to keep life as calm as possible.
5. Take into account of what part of the year you're going to zero meds. From past anxiety attacks, I noticed that the worst attacks came during the winter, in which the days were shorter, and I didn't go out as much. That's why I started the final tapering now (early Spring).
6. Watch out for any reactions to other neurological related meds. I've had more business travel lately, and I normally take melatonin to help with the jet lag. Since I started tapering off last year, I noticed I got fever like symptoms (hot, dripping in sweat) after taking it.

Hope my two cents help in your journey kicking venlafaxine out of your life. Thanks for reading.

.

This is a reply, but also an update. I was on Effexor/venlafaxine for 25 yrs, ending at 150XR daily. I still had bouts of depression and didn't want to go to a higher dose, so I decided to taper off and try to go without it. I counted beads — opened capsules and decreased the number of beads on a regular schedule. I took at least 3 months to do it, maybe 4, and it went ok. I watched my diet, exercised, took supplements, etc. — used many good tips from here and also did a lot of research. I knew pretty much what to expect and was able to get through the mood swings, sleep difficulty, etc., and I let my close friends and doctor know what I was doing. I took my last dose on 9/30/2018.
When I finished my taper, I was elated! I had energy, I was upbeat and optimistic about life. (I'm 75, in overall good health, retired, in a relationship and have been in recovery from alcohol for many years. I'm also an introvert.)
I'd been off about 2 months when depression started creeping back in. I thought maybe it was discontinuation syndrome and, as much as I hate being depressed, I know how to live with it. I was really discouraged, though, because I'd felt so good and had such high hopes.
Then came the anxiety! I was treated for anxiety before being treated for depression; however, having focused on depression for 25 years, I'd forgotten about the anxiety, which for me had been crippling — full-blown panic attacks, etc. I took Buspar before Effexor, and it helped a lot.
I've been trying to live with the anxiety for about a month now — waking up from terrifying dreams (which were damn near phobias!), being afraid to stay in my bed, going to sleep on the couch with a light and the TV on and being totally worn out and hair-trigger during the day. I started meditating, got mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy books on anxiety, beefed way up on supplements, tried to walk — the weather has made all of this much worse because I can't get out every day to walk and I have SAD anyway (I use a light box). I started on CBD oil, which has helped — I use it in a water soluble form twice a day.
Things improved, but I've still been totally worn out from trying to battle/live with it on a daily basis and it's already started to limit my life. I have claustrophobia, but it had been manageable with Effexor and I've been able to fly abroad on my own a number of times to visit friends and drive around on my own once I got there. Now I'm scheduled for a trip to the East Coast in a couple of months and my old fear of flying has returned full force. I also now can't go down some escalators. I was in a bookstore over the weekend — to look at books on anxiety and depression, naturally! — and realized I could only get back to the ground floor by taking an elevator or an escalator. Talk about a dilemma!!
Anyway, long story short, yesterday I had my annual physical with my wonderful g.p. and told him all about it. (My beloved psychiatrist has been retired for many years.) He wants me to try Wellbutrin and I agreed. I took my first pill today and I hated to do it. I had so hoped that I'd be able to live without any mood medications, but I feel I need to accept the reality that for some people, a chemical imbalance is real and lifelong. (My shrink had told me that, and it does run in my family.) I hope the Wellbutrin will help because the anxiety is crippling. I'm taking 150 mg and he says I should go to 300 mg if the 150 doesn't do the job. I(He also gave me a small scrip for Xanax so I can use it for flying if necessary. My shrink had done that and I always carried it with me on flights, but I never needed to use it.) 'll continue with the CBD, at least for now, and will continue to do mindfulness meditation, CBT exercises, physical exercise, diet and vitamins/minerals, and spirituality. I so much want to feel “normal'' and be able to enjoy life!! And I'm very grateful for all the input on this site and all the help I've gotten. My best to everyone!! Thanks for reading this!!

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