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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@clevermom50

Hey GrandmaR!
I was fortunate not to have a high dosage. I WAS…..love saying that…..WAS….at 75mg XR for 10 years. My drs (as we moved about every 3-5 years) would each ask me if I was doing ok on it. I guess I was???? I started taking it after I got very anxiety ridden while overseas Lots of factors, but I found myself being very angry and very upset even when I knew it was not rational. It was like I was outside looking in, thinking…behave! You know what you are doing is wrong…why are you so angry? I was afraid I would do something to endanger my children. Our military dr put me on Effexor and told me that it would level out my moods and that it was something many women need to be on as their hormones go out of wack. I was also told that I'd most likely be on it for life. Every dr since then has pretty much just written the script without a second thought. It wasn't untill I was looking for a natural source of help for my ADD daughter that it cross referenced into antidepressants and the damage they do for ADD and ADHD kids. Hmmmm….I've been ADHD since before they even started diagnosing ADHD!!! (I'm 51).
For me, I looked at my husband and said, I'm done…I have to end this. It's been hard on our relationship and nearly driven us to divorce more than once, my lack of interest in him.
That next day I went from 75 to 37.5. I stayed there for about 10 days, give or take. You know how it is being on effexor….my memory stinks. I sat at 37.5 until my withdrawl symptoms had calmed to almost nothing. I then dropped to about 20mg (estimating) and each day, I was bringing it down just a few beads at a time. After one week of this, I went to nothing. I'm three days and counting. No, not wishing to go back. Still have ringing in my ears almost constantly, have the moments of complete clarity followed by a delayed brain reaction…..hmmm….almost like I turn my head and look at something and I have to wait for the world to catch up with me….sort of dizzy, weird feeling. Today is better than yesterday, but another symptom has shown up. I'll have the double click sound I hear…I thought it was a sound in the car, then in the grocery store it happened again…and when I went upstairs to make the bed, I heard it again and I realized it was in my head, not something around me. I'm sure that this too will go away, though very weird.

For me, I'm taking
Omega to rebuild the brain networking….put my head back together.
5-htl? to also rebuild
St. Johns Wart to counter any depression that might come up.
L-something….it's downstairs so I can't remember for sure L-Trith….whatever….helps anxiety I think.
Melissa (also known as Lemon Balm) to calm nerves and provide focus.
Valerian Root to allow my mind to cycle into deep sleep.

The combinations seem to be working for me. My dr….well she laughs and snorts when I mention herbal. I won't need all of these forever….most just long enough to heal. Meliss and Valeria Root will probably be what I stay with for my ADHD and maybe St. Johns Wart for the occational sad day.

Can I tell you???/well captive audience….of couse I can….EVIL LAUGHT!……I'm SO happy! I am so much more successful at my work, so much more energetic and so much more in love with my family. I am so thankful that Mayo Clinic is (though not against synthetic medications) so endorsing of herbal alternatives.

My journey is not near as complicated as many. But I've been on it for 10 years just like many out there have been. I'm so happy on the other side and I know you can be, too. No matter how or which route you take. Each of us is different. Hang in there.

Effexor Free Me

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So glad you are off of it. I am having bad reactions. Going to the Doctors tomorrow.

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@careth2

So glad my insight helped! I hope you are doing better! Depression can be hell – we didn’t choose this, but are stuck with dealing with it! I wish you well! Let me know if you have any questions.

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Hi my name isMarlene. I have been on effexor ER for about 4 years. Recently felt like it popped out. NP put me on 60mg Cymbalta for one week with the usual dose of effexor. Second week an effexor every other day with the cymbalta. Then that's it for effexor. I was taking 300mg effexor. From what I've read here, this doesnt seem to be enough time. No side effects yet, I've always had super chills on veneflexine. Hands shake. I've been more agitated than normal, feeling flighty. I need right knee replaced, so joint pain there. Cant go for walks. Also have a spinal fusion in my lower back, arthritis. Pain mge put me on hydrocodone, lowest dose, but I went off. Afraid of becoming addicted + I couldnt get medical insurance. Hearing all these different side effects of withdrawal makes me a bit scared. I hope this NP kknows what shes doing.

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@marleneace. One question: Have you completely stopped Effexor?

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@pankaj

@marleneace. One question: Have you completely stopped Effexor?

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@marleneace
Hi Marlene, glad you dropped in for a visit. Don’t be a stranger.
Your on a high dose, I believe the max dose is 375mg.
I’d be surprised if you get through this symptom free but I hope everything goes well.
What point are you at in your medication change?
Did you notice your symptoms at all or consistently improving as your Effexor was increased or did your symptoms get worse to some degree?
Hoping everything is going smoothly.
Jake

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@marleneace

Hi my name isMarlene. I have been on effexor ER for about 4 years. Recently felt like it popped out. NP put me on 60mg Cymbalta for one week with the usual dose of effexor. Second week an effexor every other day with the cymbalta. Then that's it for effexor. I was taking 300mg effexor. From what I've read here, this doesnt seem to be enough time. No side effects yet, I've always had super chills on veneflexine. Hands shake. I've been more agitated than normal, feeling flighty. I need right knee replaced, so joint pain there. Cant go for walks. Also have a spinal fusion in my lower back, arthritis. Pain mge put me on hydrocodone, lowest dose, but I went off. Afraid of becoming addicted + I couldnt get medical insurance. Hearing all these different side effects of withdrawal makes me a bit scared. I hope this NP kknows what shes doing.

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@marleneace
Here's an article about the difference between Effexor and Cymbalta—https://www.medicinenet.com/cymbalta_duloxetine_and_effexor_xr_venlafaxine/article.htm#cymbalta_duloxetine_vs_effexor_venlafaxine_what_is_the_difference

In this post about quitting Effexor and starting Cymbalta (https://www.drugs.com/answers/fibro-chronic-fatigue-fun-stuff-effexor-150-731489.html), here's what borpheus66 said of his/her experience doing this–"I had been on Effexor XR 150 mg for nearly 2 years and the side effects … became problematic. My doctor obtained authorization from the insurance company to switch me over to Cymbalta 60 mg. I took my last dose Venlafaxine on a Wednesday and replaced it with the Cymbalta the next day. No tapering, no bead counting, no problem. I has some slight lightheadedness that first day, but other than that, the transition was seamless. My doc opined that the Effexor and Cymbalta were similar enough that I didn't need to taper from the Effexor, and he was right."

Only you know how you feel–you say that you're more agitated than normal, so if your agitation worsens and/or you develop other withdrawal symptoms that you find difficult to cope with, let your doctor know.

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@marleneace

Hi my name isMarlene. I have been on effexor ER for about 4 years. Recently felt like it popped out. NP put me on 60mg Cymbalta for one week with the usual dose of effexor. Second week an effexor every other day with the cymbalta. Then that's it for effexor. I was taking 300mg effexor. From what I've read here, this doesnt seem to be enough time. No side effects yet, I've always had super chills on veneflexine. Hands shake. I've been more agitated than normal, feeling flighty. I need right knee replaced, so joint pain there. Cant go for walks. Also have a spinal fusion in my lower back, arthritis. Pain mge put me on hydrocodone, lowest dose, but I went off. Afraid of becoming addicted + I couldnt get medical insurance. Hearing all these different side effects of withdrawal makes me a bit scared. I hope this NP kknows what shes doing.

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@marleneace
Hi
I've been on Effexor for about 15 years. In the last few years I've been bumped up to 300 mg. I cannot take long acting release formula so I take the regular one (it has to do with weight loss surgery I had and absorption). So I take 2-75 mg in the morning and the same at night.
I've been weaning down very, very slowly mostly because my memory has gotten really, really bad and I am hoping it is not permanent. BTW, I am 63.
I started by cutting one pm pill into fourths and taking 1 and 3/4 pills. I alternated every other night with that and taking 2 whole pills. Now I am finishing up my first week of taking 1-3/4 pills every night. I'll do it for 2 more weeks. If all is well, then I'll go down to 1-1/2 pills every other night for 3 weeks.
I am doing this very, very slowly in hopes of not having a horrible reaction. My goal is to get down to 75 in the am and 75 in the pm. If that goes well, I'll see how I feel and decide where to go from there.

Keep calm and read your body!
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

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Hi Ronnie. Nice to meet you & thank you for your response. Well I'm on my second week, so per my NP, I've started taking one 60mg cymbalta every day and one effexor every other day. I've just been feeling overall sick. Head feels off, stomach upset, sometimes hard to breathe or just a heaviness in my chest. Today I was out and felt lously. Nauseous. Not a good feeling. Now she wants me to do this for a week so Monday I would be on cymbalta alone. I dont think it's enough time. I also have been on valium a very long time for intense anxiety I've always had. I cannot stop that & I wouldn't want too. I just dont know if these lously feelings are from cutting down or just me. I have lots of chills also. She said the effexor & cymbalta are the same class of drugs. The effexor is capsules. 150mg each. Hard to taper off by myself, cant cut capsule???? I think I'm going to alternate as she said until I see her on the 28th. Maybe she can prescribe pills at a less dosage. Just feel weird. Did you experience any side effects at all? She said it's not easy to come off of, so dont understand why 2 weeks will be enough. I wish you the best with your goals. If I had known the intense impact on the body withdrawing, i never would have started. Thank you again. Oh, I am 69, and have been on various antidepressants since the 80s. God bless us in our journey.

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@marleneace
Hello Marlene,
I’m sorry your feeling so badly. It certainly sounds like withdrawal symptoms from the EFfexor. I’d suggest you get in contact with your doctor about getting an antiemetic to ease your nausea. Any symptom thats eliminated or at least eased will definitely help you. Were it my doctor I’d ask if they have ever treated any other patients this way and how they got along.
Wishing you the best,
Jake

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@marleneace

Hi Ronnie. Nice to meet you & thank you for your response. Well I'm on my second week, so per my NP, I've started taking one 60mg cymbalta every day and one effexor every other day. I've just been feeling overall sick. Head feels off, stomach upset, sometimes hard to breathe or just a heaviness in my chest. Today I was out and felt lously. Nauseous. Not a good feeling. Now she wants me to do this for a week so Monday I would be on cymbalta alone. I dont think it's enough time. I also have been on valium a very long time for intense anxiety I've always had. I cannot stop that & I wouldn't want too. I just dont know if these lously feelings are from cutting down or just me. I have lots of chills also. She said the effexor & cymbalta are the same class of drugs. The effexor is capsules. 150mg each. Hard to taper off by myself, cant cut capsule???? I think I'm going to alternate as she said until I see her on the 28th. Maybe she can prescribe pills at a less dosage. Just feel weird. Did you experience any side effects at all? She said it's not easy to come off of, so dont understand why 2 weeks will be enough. I wish you the best with your goals. If I had known the intense impact on the body withdrawing, i never would have started. Thank you again. Oh, I am 69, and have been on various antidepressants since the 80s. God bless us in our journey.

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@marleneace
Good morning!
Nice to meet you, too.
Please know that what I say and do is based on research and experiences.
First, Effexor in any form has HORRIBLE withdrawal symptoms and it sounds like you are going through them.
Some people on this site have actually opened the capsules and reduce the number of 'sprinkles' in it. Other have requested pills in order to cut them.
I am doing this on my own. My psychiatrist left the practice and I have not found a new one. I will at some point. One reason I'm doing it myself is because I don't want to be given (at least at this point) one drug to substitute for another. In addition, when my doctor tried to take me off years ago, it was done VERY quickly and I suffered. Now. I am doing it at my own pace. I don't care how long it takes. Weeks? Months? I really don't care. I have all the time in the world.
I hope you feel better…
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

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@grandma-R- I was not given a substitute drug when I withdrew from Effexor. I was told to take 2 months, I think that previously I mistakenly said 2 weeks.

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@merpreb

@grandma-R- I was not given a substitute drug when I withdrew from Effexor. I was told to take 2 months, I think that previously I mistakenly said 2 weeks.

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@merpreb
Got you.
It still sounds like 2 months is not long enough.
Good luck
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

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