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

@godsgirl1969

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

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I think I saw on a post from one of the moderators earlier that there is a 25 mg capsule and I believe I have seen mention a 37mg as well. Also people twist the capsule open and pull out some of the little beads .

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@godsgirl1969

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

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@jimhd. I know it sounds odd but not all tablets can be cut. Check out OxyContin tablets. It very specifically says to not cut or crush because it can release too much all at once then. I presume the same can be true for other tablets so before cutting or crushing that should be checked on.
JK

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@crownjewel

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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@crownjewel I am happy for you that you have found a salution to what you have gone through. I am stunned when I read the experiences of so many from this pharmaceutical.
At the beginning of the post you mention finally getting some sleep. I was having a horrible problem with that, going multiple nights with only a few hours of sleep. I got a tiny (10 pills!) prescription of a very lose dose of lorazepam from my PCP that I would take after a few nights of inadequate sleep and that helped me get a decent night of sleep. Of course being as he is, he then put on my “permanent record” that I was depressed and anxious!
JK

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@godsgirl1969

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

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@contentandwell

It’s absolutely true that some tablets are not to be cut, generally any extended release meds. I always read the precautions and warnings with my medications, even if I’ve been taking them for a long time. That’s why tapering on or off any medication should be coordinated with a doctor.

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@crownjewel

Does anyone have any suggestions for insomnia relief? I have tried melatonin, Benadryl, Tylenol PM. The PM’s seem to have been working (1 at night) but now nothing! I have been sleeping only about 2 hrs per night for the last 5 nights…help!

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Sleep education NOT sleep medication is the way to go. Taking a sleep aid may work in the very short term but they are not a long-term solution . I am in the sleep biz and have seen many a patient come in having been prescribed a sleep aid for years when really they have a problem that needs to be fixed. It could be simple sleep hygiene. I’m confident that information provided by the monitor will be very helpful for you. If it continues to be a problem then go see a board-certified sleep doctor .

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@crownjewel

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 chatted with a psychiatrist who gave me some standard sleep promoting techniques. Bed is only for sleeping. No electronic devices in the bedroom. No TV. Chamomile tea. If you can’t sleep go somewhere other than the bedroom to read a paper book (no electronic reading devices). I also have a friend who swears by honey and Himalayan salt, but I haven’t found it to be that helpful. I do have a difficult time ‘turning my mind off’ so the ‘no TV’ was a no go for me. I put on a program that I have seen multiple times before that distracts my mind enough to eventually fall asleep…it’s the staying asleep that is the issue.

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@crownjewel

Does anyone have any suggestions for insomnia relief? I have tried melatonin, Benadryl, Tylenol PM. The PM’s seem to have been working (1 at night) but now nothing! I have been sleeping only about 2 hrs per night for the last 5 nights…help!

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I agree karenu. I posted that I reached out to a psychiatrist for some sleep behavior modifications. OTC sleep aids are a crutch at best, but necessary when insomnia impacts your work and personal life and prescription aids are just down right scary to me. I am leaning more toward a sleep study in the future to get a whole picture of what’s going on.

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@crownjewel

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.

Jump to this post

@crownjewel We are all different. I have read numerous times that you should not use electronic devices before going to bed but I find that if I sit up in bed with my Ipad it puts me to sleep! My husband has at times come in and taken the ipad out of my hands as I slept! For me it is just relaxing.
JK

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I have been on only 37.5 Effexor for over a year and stopped taking it a week ago after my doctor said it was ok to just stop. I have had headache, ears ringing, dizziness, nausea, sleeplessness, and a couple of crying meltdowns. I’m surprised such a low dosage has affected me so much. Any ideas on how long this should last? Any suggestions on things to do to help?

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@lisabee

I have been on only 37.5 Effexor for over a year and stopped taking it a week ago after my doctor said it was ok to just stop. I have had headache, ears ringing, dizziness, nausea, sleeplessness, and a couple of crying meltdowns. I’m surprised such a low dosage has affected me so much. Any ideas on how long this should last? Any suggestions on things to do to help?

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For me. I try to do physical things throughout the day drink little caffeine. Sprite or white soda. Eat saltines. Get your sleep. Socialize when I can. I weined for 1week. So it’s been 3 weeks Wednesday since I stopped. Not ever doing venlafaxine again. Eat good. My brain zapping finally stopped that was rough.

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@lisabee

I have been on only 37.5 Effexor for over a year and stopped taking it a week ago after my doctor said it was ok to just stop. I have had headache, ears ringing, dizziness, nausea, sleeplessness, and a couple of crying meltdowns. I’m surprised such a low dosage has affected me so much. Any ideas on how long this should last? Any suggestions on things to do to help?

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I feel each situation may be different though

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@lisabee

I have been on only 37.5 Effexor for over a year and stopped taking it a week ago after my doctor said it was ok to just stop. I have had headache, ears ringing, dizziness, nausea, sleeplessness, and a couple of crying meltdowns. I’m surprised such a low dosage has affected me so much. Any ideas on how long this should last? Any suggestions on things to do to help?

Jump to this post

@lisabee

Have you read what other people have written about getting off Effexor? You’ll find that no one should stop Effexor cold turkey unless they’re masochistic. I urge you to talk with the pharmacist about how you can taper off it. It’s a slow, extended process.

Jim

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@lisabee

I have been on only 37.5 Effexor for over a year and stopped taking it a week ago after my doctor said it was ok to just stop. I have had headache, ears ringing, dizziness, nausea, sleeplessness, and a couple of crying meltdowns. I’m surprised such a low dosage has affected me so much. Any ideas on how long this should last? Any suggestions on things to do to help?

Jump to this post

Some things I have tried and some suggestions I have read (on other sites) is to perhaps restart the 37.5 but split it over the day. I have found that taking 1/2 caplet at 8a and 1/2 caplet at 8p keeps the side effects at bay, but as @panewdayphyl stated every situation is different. I have read that some folks dose down by skipping a day (taking the pill every other day) and then very slowly increasing the days that you don’t take it (take day 1, skip day 2 &3, take day 4, etc.). As every body is different, chemicals work differently for each of us. What one person does, may not work for you….hence so many suggestions out there. If there is any trend with this pill it’s DON’T JUST STOP TAKING IT! You know your body and how you should feel. I cannot stress enough how important it is to talk with a professional who understands and can support your withdrawal from this drug and is open and supportive of adjusting the med so you can reduce the withdrawal from it. I hope this helps 🙂

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@footballref2

I stopped taking Effexor XR 450mg 13 days ago with no withdrawal symptoms other than being tired but was tired when taking it. My counselor of 3.5 years left that state and the her office had no one who was experienced in severe PTSD, panic attacks, high anxiety due being hospital Chaplain (pediatrics) for 24 years, responder with Red Cross for 9/11, Katrina, Alabama tornadoes and air plane crash. To much death. Couldn’t find anyone qualified/willing to accept Medicare as I’m on percent disability. My question is when do the symptoms begin? Is it possible not to have any.

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Hi, @footballref2 — just wanted to check in with you and see how your stopping the Effexor XR 450 mg went overall? Did any withdrawal symptoms ever start?

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I wish I had an answer to your question. I was on Effexor 75mg. for at lest 10 years. My 1st attempt to stop this drug failed and the doctor put me back on them. (I should have changed doctor then) After studying and researching the side effects of this drug, I decided to try to stop again. I did not seek a doctor’s advice. I reduced the amount taken daily very slowly. I started with 1 bead reduction every week. I took about 9 months to do this. You would think that this was enough time for my brain to rewire. It wasn’t. I stopped taking Effexor completely November 24, 2017. I started taking 400 mgs of SAMe daily. I took this for 5 weeks and started having anxiety attacks. After checking the side effects of this drug, I stopped taking it cold turkey. I should have done more research on SAMe. Now I’m a bundle of emotions – crying over nearly everything, depressed and anxious and extreme fatigue. I don’t know what to do. It is just awful. My research continues. Some doctors believe that depression is the result of brain inflammation. If you have an autoimmune disease, it is caused by inflammation. I have arthritis & psoriasis. I have been drinking a lot of tea echinacea plus & Tulsi Sleep. these teas help me to relax a bit. Exercise has not helped much. I have increased my omega 3, but haven’t seen any improvement. I also take a small drop of melatonin under my tongue before I go to bed. I don’t think I ever had a brain zap, but did experience dizziness. I also take a B-12 supplement and make sure I get other B supplements too.

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