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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Hello Everyone. I've spent the last 2 hours reading over these comments. I googled "Tapering off Venlafaxine" and was blessed to find this feed. Thank you all for posting your comments and your personal experience…. every little bit helps.
I have been on Venlafaxine for around 10 years.
I went down from 75 mg to 37.5 mg. Been on this dose for a couple months and doing well with it.
Last week I have went from taking my 37.5 every 24 hours, to extending my dose to 36 hours… yesterday, I extended it to 48 hours between my 37.5 dose, and feeling very yucky.
This is where I'm getting caught up in the withdrawal symptoms….Flu-like symptoms…fatigue, body achiness, headache, and feeling sluggish…Insomnia, Nausea, Problems with balance such as dizziness, feeling lightheaded… irritability.
I'm going to call my Dr tomorrow to see if I can have a compounding pharmacy make me pills that are 1/2 of the 37.5 dose. Taking it 48 hours apart is not making me feel very good.

Any other recommendations?

Thanks in advance,
Lisa

REPLY
@lisa_v

Hello Everyone. I've spent the last 2 hours reading over these comments. I googled "Tapering off Venlafaxine" and was blessed to find this feed. Thank you all for posting your comments and your personal experience…. every little bit helps.
I have been on Venlafaxine for around 10 years.
I went down from 75 mg to 37.5 mg. Been on this dose for a couple months and doing well with it.
Last week I have went from taking my 37.5 every 24 hours, to extending my dose to 36 hours… yesterday, I extended it to 48 hours between my 37.5 dose, and feeling very yucky.
This is where I'm getting caught up in the withdrawal symptoms….Flu-like symptoms…fatigue, body achiness, headache, and feeling sluggish…Insomnia, Nausea, Problems with balance such as dizziness, feeling lightheaded… irritability.
I'm going to call my Dr tomorrow to see if I can have a compounding pharmacy make me pills that are 1/2 of the 37.5 dose. Taking it 48 hours apart is not making me feel very good.

Any other recommendations?

Thanks in advance,
Lisa

Jump to this post

Lisa, Your post made me feel better. I don't feel so alone. I am down to 12mg a day and I am feeling horrible. I feel like I have the flu. I have extreme fatigue, achiness, nausea,headache, insomnia and balance issues too. I go down to 0 in a few days and wonder if I can handle it, honestly.

REPLY
@lisa_v

Hello Everyone. I've spent the last 2 hours reading over these comments. I googled "Tapering off Venlafaxine" and was blessed to find this feed. Thank you all for posting your comments and your personal experience…. every little bit helps.
I have been on Venlafaxine for around 10 years.
I went down from 75 mg to 37.5 mg. Been on this dose for a couple months and doing well with it.
Last week I have went from taking my 37.5 every 24 hours, to extending my dose to 36 hours… yesterday, I extended it to 48 hours between my 37.5 dose, and feeling very yucky.
This is where I'm getting caught up in the withdrawal symptoms….Flu-like symptoms…fatigue, body achiness, headache, and feeling sluggish…Insomnia, Nausea, Problems with balance such as dizziness, feeling lightheaded… irritability.
I'm going to call my Dr tomorrow to see if I can have a compounding pharmacy make me pills that are 1/2 of the 37.5 dose. Taking it 48 hours apart is not making me feel very good.

Any other recommendations?

Thanks in advance,
Lisa

Jump to this post

@lisa_v
Get a prescription from your doctor to take to the compounding pharmacy. Your doctor and you can decide how you wish to taper. I was told that the longer you taper down the more successful you will be.

Just to let you know that I first called my insurance company to see if they would agree to pay for the taper, as mine will end up costing just under 1,000 Canadian $. They sent me a letter giving permission and I took it to the pharmacy. They will reimburse me for the whole amount.

REPLY
@rockiesgirl9

Thank you for posting @Sabrina

The idea of a compounding pharmacy is really a great one. It sounds like you're doing a lot to make sure that you're taking care of yourself. Sometimes feeling really sleepy is part of the taper process, as well as feeling down, and I think that going to bed was a really good choice you made. Sometimes sleeping through a lot of the hard stuff might not seem like it looks heroic to others, but it's not about how it looks, it's how you cope to make it through to the other side – and it sounds like you know yourself well enough to take care.

I think everyone's really different because the last dose I took was 37.5 on Aug 26 which is 17 days ago and I didn't have any withdrawal symptoms until Aug 28/29. I've been able to leave the house for a handful of hours each day but otherwise the nausea and brain flashes have kept me in bed / on the sofa. I can't even watch tv or netflix because the screen and movement makes the flashes worse. Some people have mentioned that exercise helps them but I feel more nauseous & get more brain flashes when I'm out walking and trying to get my body moving.

I've done much better by letting myself sleep a long time and when I feel tired, not forcing myself to stay away. Also soaking in warm baths, especially with a nice hot cloth over my eyes/forehead is really nice and keeps the brain flashes at bay for awhile. I haven't been hungry / able to stomach food until about 3pm in the afternoon, but I've tried to force myself to have a few crackers just to put something in my stomach earlier in the day if I'm up. Sugar has been really appealing (which is weird because I don't like sweets normally), so I've given into that a few times but the result is short term bliss and feeling more brain flashes later.

I took venlafaxine/effexor for 8 years for depression/anxiety. My whole taper schedule was not too well informed because my doctor basically just wanted to get me off it ASAP because my partner and I are trying to get pregnant, but if anyone cares to know:

225
187.5 (1 week)
150 (1 week)
112.5 (1 week)
75 (1 week)
37.5 (1 week)
0 (16 days so far. W symptoms started 2-3 days into 0)

Wishing you luck Sabrina. You can do this. 🙂

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@rockiesgirl9
Wow! That was a very aggressive tapering schedule. I took 2.5 months to taper off 25mg and am still having issues more than 4 months after my last dose. It's only the multiple supplements I am taking that have kept me together (you can click on my name and see past posts to read what I'm taking if interested). You can take fish oil, Ben*dryl and Dram*mine for your most distressing withdrawal symptoms. P*pto Bismol tablets are wonderful to suck on and let dissolve in your mouth to settle the nausea. Resting and the soothing soaks sound great, too.

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@maryathome

@lisa_v
Get a prescription from your doctor to take to the compounding pharmacy. Your doctor and you can decide how you wish to taper. I was told that the longer you taper down the more successful you will be.

Just to let you know that I first called my insurance company to see if they would agree to pay for the taper, as mine will end up costing just under 1,000 Canadian $. They sent me a letter giving permission and I took it to the pharmacy. They will reimburse me for the whole amount.

Jump to this post

Oh, lucky you to be in Canada!! I shudder to think of the hoops we'd have to jump through to get that kind of support and service in the U.S. And best of luck on the taper!!

REPLY
@catamite

Lisa, Your post made me feel better. I don't feel so alone. I am down to 12mg a day and I am feeling horrible. I feel like I have the flu. I have extreme fatigue, achiness, nausea,headache, insomnia and balance issues too. I go down to 0 in a few days and wonder if I can handle it, honestly.

Jump to this post

@catamite …I believe we can do it. It's just finding the right time and ways to do so. Praying for you and everyone "tapering" off this med… may we all be better because of it! Hang in there… sounds like there are a lot of us in the same boat.

REPLY
@maryathome

@lisa_v
Get a prescription from your doctor to take to the compounding pharmacy. Your doctor and you can decide how you wish to taper. I was told that the longer you taper down the more successful you will be.

Just to let you know that I first called my insurance company to see if they would agree to pay for the taper, as mine will end up costing just under 1,000 Canadian $. They sent me a letter giving permission and I took it to the pharmacy. They will reimburse me for the whole amount.

Jump to this post

@maryathome Thanks for the advice! I'll call in the morning!

REPLY
@maryathome

Thanks for replying rockiesgirl9. I’m fortunate that I’m retired so that I can nap anytime. I feel for those that have to cope with work and trying to get off these awful pills. How were you able to do it so fast? Did you suffer any depression? That’s what scares me the most. Since I’m not able to tolerate 90mg at the moment, I was told by the pharmacist to go back to 97.5 for another month. I’ve read that if you are having a difficult time at the start of the tapering, it means that you are having a relapse and may have to stay on the drugs forever. This really scares me.

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@maryathome
Rockiesgirl9's taper seems very aggressive to me, but she's a younger woman with a strong motivation to get off Effexor (wants to get pregnant). A slower taper is less likely to lead to distressing withdrawal symptoms, or even quitting the withdrawal process. If a drop in dosage causes distress, the recommendation is to go back to the previous dose where you didn't have issues, stay there for some time (weeks, or even months) before tapering again to less of a jump down. For most, the turtle really is going to win this race, not the hare.

"Discontinuation symptoms typically begin within a few days after stopping [or reducing] your antidepressant whereas a relapse normally takes longer to occur and the symptoms develop more gradually."–Antidepressants and Discontinuation Syndrome Tips for Relief from Withdrawal Symptoms by Nancy Schimelpfening

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@kbmayo

Oh, lucky you to be in Canada!! I shudder to think of the hoops we'd have to jump through to get that kind of support and service in the U.S. And best of luck on the taper!!

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It’s sad that not everyone has healthcare access in the U.S. Trump and others like to make our healthcare system look bad. Not so. I’m 71 and always looked after. All we do in Canada is show our OHIP card. I have never had to pay one cent. Of course it comes out of our taxes. Australia has the same thing. However, I didn’t bother asking OHIP if they would pay for it. I have health insurance as well that I paid into when working. Now I’m covered for quite a few things. They are paying for the compounding. Anyhow, it will be better for them in the long run. Thanks

REPLY
@lisa_v

Hello Everyone. I've spent the last 2 hours reading over these comments. I googled "Tapering off Venlafaxine" and was blessed to find this feed. Thank you all for posting your comments and your personal experience…. every little bit helps.
I have been on Venlafaxine for around 10 years.
I went down from 75 mg to 37.5 mg. Been on this dose for a couple months and doing well with it.
Last week I have went from taking my 37.5 every 24 hours, to extending my dose to 36 hours… yesterday, I extended it to 48 hours between my 37.5 dose, and feeling very yucky.
This is where I'm getting caught up in the withdrawal symptoms….Flu-like symptoms…fatigue, body achiness, headache, and feeling sluggish…Insomnia, Nausea, Problems with balance such as dizziness, feeling lightheaded… irritability.
I'm going to call my Dr tomorrow to see if I can have a compounding pharmacy make me pills that are 1/2 of the 37.5 dose. Taking it 48 hours apart is not making me feel very good.

Any other recommendations?

Thanks in advance,
Lisa

Jump to this post

Wouldn’t it be best for you to come down slowly. The pharmacist suggested tapering no more than 10 mg and staying anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks on each one. Why suffer?

REPLY
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