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

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@mimid0506

Thanks Jake, I’m in the UK so have the benefit of the NHS just seem to have a very dismissive doctor.

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@mimid0506
"Dismissive doctor" is too kind–@jakedduck1 Leonard Holloway once said about a similar response by someone else's doctor, "He’s an incompetent quack. I’d run fast and far." Often doctors underestimate the likelihood of withdrawal symptoms and overestimate the likely success of the tapering schedule they suggest–but, then they aren't the ones going through the process! The main advice on this site is go slow; in this case, your doctor pretty much has you quitting "cold turkey"–which is unpleasant at best and dangerous at worst.

Going to echo Leonard here–get to an emergency room, or a walk-in health clinic and ask for a "Prozac bridge." A doctor can soften the blow when withdrawing from a short half-life drug like Effexor by giving the patient 20mg fluoxetine (Prozac); some may need to take a second 20mg dose of Prozac.–https://natashatracy.com/treatment-issues/withdrawal/antidepressants-effexorpristiq-venlafaxinedesvenlafaxine/

Why this works–the half-life of Effexor is 5 hours and 99% of it is out of your body in one day. Prozac's half-life is 4 to 6 days and it takes 25 days for 99% of it to be out of your body. Essentially, the Prozac cushions the effect of no Effexor and lets you "ride out" the withdrawal process.

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Good evening everyone. 2 day back on 75 mg of effexor. I'm doing better but kinda tired and CRANKY/MOODY. But that's alot better than the way I was feeling. Thank you all for all your kindness and concerns.

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@texasduchess

@mimid0506
"Dismissive doctor" is too kind–@jakedduck1 Leonard Holloway once said about a similar response by someone else's doctor, "He’s an incompetent quack. I’d run fast and far." Often doctors underestimate the likelihood of withdrawal symptoms and overestimate the likely success of the tapering schedule they suggest–but, then they aren't the ones going through the process! The main advice on this site is go slow; in this case, your doctor pretty much has you quitting "cold turkey"–which is unpleasant at best and dangerous at worst.

Going to echo Leonard here–get to an emergency room, or a walk-in health clinic and ask for a "Prozac bridge." A doctor can soften the blow when withdrawing from a short half-life drug like Effexor by giving the patient 20mg fluoxetine (Prozac); some may need to take a second 20mg dose of Prozac.–https://natashatracy.com/treatment-issues/withdrawal/antidepressants-effexorpristiq-venlafaxinedesvenlafaxine/

Why this works–the half-life of Effexor is 5 hours and 99% of it is out of your body in one day. Prozac's half-life is 4 to 6 days and it takes 25 days for 99% of it to be out of your body. Essentially, the Prozac cushions the effect of no Effexor and lets you "ride out" the withdrawal process.

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I was going through bad withdrawal symptoms from Effexor as well, I broke down on the 8th day of not having anything and asking me doctor for Prozac. She understands the withdrawal and gave it to me. It has helped ease the symptoms. I still have them, but they are manageable and I don’t feel like I am losing it. I will never go back on Effexor. Praying for you!

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@gagelle

Were you weaning off the time release version or the regular one? 37.5 is too large a drop. If it doesn’t come in a smaller dose, switch to the regular non-time release version. I know they make a 25 mg tablet. Go down not more than 10% a month, which would be 3.75 mg. for your first drop. You would then be taking 33.8 mg. Then go down 10% of 33.8 mg. If you don’t have a mg. scale, a compounding pharmacist could show you about how much to break off. The drop to nothing is the hardest. I know because I came off my final dose of Pristiq too quickly. (Pristiq doesn’t come in a non-time release form.) The withdrawal wasn’t terrible because I was exercising and doing yoga about 2 hours a day, but it was bad enough. I was getting painful mood swings and a weird feeling of disorientation, like when you have a fever. It lasted for about 2 months. The withdrawal symptoms you’re getting could be protracted. If you decide to stick it out, keep an eye on your blood pressure, eat high-quality food and try to walk a half hour a day. (The exercise helped me tremendously.) Withdrawing too quickly stresses your body and mind. Try to be kind to yourself.

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On February 1, 2019, I finally completely weened off Effexor XR. It took me about 18 months to ween off 37.5 Mg. I opened the capsule and took out about ten little balls every three weeks or so. Increasing each time. It is March 10 and I still feel quite despondent, but I do have good … not days exactly, but moments. Sadly, I blame it on my life at the moment. I’m morning the loss of my dad who died almost exactly a year ago, I am not satisfied with my job, I recently moved, and the weather is the pits. I was doing well with exercise but then injured my back and am still recovering. I just feel like if someone so much as looks at me sideways I’ll burst into tears. My doctor (new, because I moved) can’t believe I weened off, since I’ve been on them for almost 20 years. I am not fully in the throes of menopause and hope that the change in hormones kick starts a lesser need for Effexor.

I used to be such a happy person. I want her back.

Doc wants to re-evaluate this June.

Susan

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@secretwhitepop

On February 1, 2019, I finally completely weened off Effexor XR. It took me about 18 months to ween off 37.5 Mg. I opened the capsule and took out about ten little balls every three weeks or so. Increasing each time. It is March 10 and I still feel quite despondent, but I do have good … not days exactly, but moments. Sadly, I blame it on my life at the moment. I’m morning the loss of my dad who died almost exactly a year ago, I am not satisfied with my job, I recently moved, and the weather is the pits. I was doing well with exercise but then injured my back and am still recovering. I just feel like if someone so much as looks at me sideways I’ll burst into tears. My doctor (new, because I moved) can’t believe I weened off, since I’ve been on them for almost 20 years. I am not fully in the throes of menopause and hope that the change in hormones kick starts a lesser need for Effexor.

I used to be such a happy person. I want her back.

Doc wants to re-evaluate this June.

Susan

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@secretwhitepop
You were very wise to taper off very slowly. Not surprised you're feeling down; things have piled up for you. My condolences on the loss of your father.

Effexor messes with your brain chemistry and it can take a long time to get it back to functioning normally. I was on Effexor for 18 years. After some trial-and-error, I am taking the following supplements (l-tryptophan, GABA and the l-methylfolate are the most helpful) to get back to "normal".

I am taking 3 times per day (about 7 hours apart):
• 2 1,000 mg fish oil capsules (EPA 650 mg) (I started with 3 capsules)
• 1 1,000 mg vitamin C helps the l-tryptophan
• 1 500 mg L*dtke brand l-tryptophan (cannot be taken while on Effexor)
• 2 500 mg Solg*r brand GABA
• 1 500 mg l-arginine
• 1 470 mg ashwagandha root extract capsule (have now eliminated the evening dose of this)

Once per day: 1 15 mg l-methylfolate (a prescription-needed version of B vitamin)

Occasionally, but use of these is way down now that I've been using supplements for nine months:
• Dram*mine for vertigo
• Ben*dryl as needed as a sleep aid
• 2.5 mg diazepam (prescription aka Valium) as needed when akathisia/anxiety gets too bad

I intend to taper off these supplements (I started out taking them 5 times per day) as the other most important aspect to recovery is the time being off Effexor.

What also helps–
Avoid frenetic, or over-stimulating tv shows/movies; don't listen to atonal, off-key, or minor key music (woo, did this set me off); and find distraction in reading, working, hobbies, etc. Try to be with other people–go out to dinner, play cards/board games, find a walking buddy to go around the block, etc. Also, very important–exposure to sunlight helped (not sunbathing, just making sure my eyes got natural light).

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@texasduchess

@secretwhitepop
You were very wise to taper off very slowly. Not surprised you're feeling down; things have piled up for you. My condolences on the loss of your father.

Effexor messes with your brain chemistry and it can take a long time to get it back to functioning normally. I was on Effexor for 18 years. After some trial-and-error, I am taking the following supplements (l-tryptophan, GABA and the l-methylfolate are the most helpful) to get back to "normal".

I am taking 3 times per day (about 7 hours apart):
• 2 1,000 mg fish oil capsules (EPA 650 mg) (I started with 3 capsules)
• 1 1,000 mg vitamin C helps the l-tryptophan
• 1 500 mg L*dtke brand l-tryptophan (cannot be taken while on Effexor)
• 2 500 mg Solg*r brand GABA
• 1 500 mg l-arginine
• 1 470 mg ashwagandha root extract capsule (have now eliminated the evening dose of this)

Once per day: 1 15 mg l-methylfolate (a prescription-needed version of B vitamin)

Occasionally, but use of these is way down now that I've been using supplements for nine months:
• Dram*mine for vertigo
• Ben*dryl as needed as a sleep aid
• 2.5 mg diazepam (prescription aka Valium) as needed when akathisia/anxiety gets too bad

I intend to taper off these supplements (I started out taking them 5 times per day) as the other most important aspect to recovery is the time being off Effexor.

What also helps–
Avoid frenetic, or over-stimulating tv shows/movies; don't listen to atonal, off-key, or minor key music (woo, did this set me off); and find distraction in reading, working, hobbies, etc. Try to be with other people–go out to dinner, play cards/board games, find a walking buddy to go around the block, etc. Also, very important–exposure to sunlight helped (not sunbathing, just making sure my eyes got natural light).

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That’s a lot of supplements but it won’t keep me from checking them out! Thanks! My main reason for weening off was to be independent of anything but good healthy food and exercise for a bit. Trying to find my baseline again! I do, however, make sure to get my B vitamins and have been taking some magnesium. For a while I tried some CBD oil, but not sure if it did anything.

I truly just want summer!

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@kbmayo

Not full-blown panic attacks of the kind I used to have, but definitely panic episodes and fierce anxiety, especially at night. Some of the panics were putting me almost in phobia territory. I googled, I got vitamins and minerals, I got books on anxiety and depression, I started using CBD oil twice a day, I drank kava tea (made with 2 tea bags so it would be strong enough), I tried to walk, I tried to begin meditating twice a day . . . Finally, when I told my doctor, he said “Enough of that'' and put me on Wellbutrin, 150mg/day, and said I could go to 300mg if necessary. I've been on it for two weeks now and I can tell it's making a difference. I still use the CBD oil, the vitamins/minerals, and try to do the other things. One biggie for me is to actually do what the anxiety/depression books recommend, which I never did before, instead of expecting the medication to do all of it. I can work with my thoughts in a positive way. I read something today on FB that was perfect and I'll pass it on in an additional post. I really do recommend finding some good books to read and use. There IS relief from this stuff!!

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❤Wellbutrin, Klonopin, Adderall and Seroquel work wonders for my panic attacks anxiety depression OCD bipolar PTSD and PMDD (Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder, it's like PMS on crystal meth it's horrible!) and I am saving up $$$$ to order some CBD Oil online cuz I've heard nothing but good things about that!!!!❤

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I take vitamin D3, omega 3, CBD oil, if I remember to take it. Sometimes I feel like I spend all day taking stuff. There are so many days that I am bitter because I wish I was "normal" whatever that is, but logically I know the resentment doesn't help. I wish you all the best today and all along the journey. This forum is a great help to me, so thanks to everyone who contributes.

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@sandij

I take vitamin D3, omega 3, CBD oil, if I remember to take it. Sometimes I feel like I spend all day taking stuff. There are so many days that I am bitter because I wish I was "normal" whatever that is, but logically I know the resentment doesn't help. I wish you all the best today and all along the journey. This forum is a great help to me, so thanks to everyone who contributes.

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I understand how you feel about wanting to be normal. I have days like that wondering how I would be without meds. But I remember how I was without them to,not good. I understand how taking meds makes you feel not normal. But there is more people out here than you think that's on meds. Don't feel ashame or bad about it. It will get better!!

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@farmboy

I understand how you feel about wanting to be normal. I have days like that wondering how I would be without meds. But I remember how I was without them to,not good. I understand how taking meds makes you feel not normal. But there is more people out here than you think that's on meds. Don't feel ashame or bad about it. It will get better!!

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@farmboy
Hi!
You are so right with your post. For some reason, people who take meds for psychological problems are often criticized for not being strong enough to deal. They make us feel bad about ourselves and ashamed. This happens because psychological problems like anxiety and depression are often not seen by the 'naked eye.'

Yet, we do not say or do anything for those who take meds to control diabetics, heart patients, cancer patients, etc. People feel that those conditions are uncontrollable so taking meds are fine. No shame or humiliation. It isn't fair, but it is a reality we must deal with. The truth is, many people are not educated when it comes to any sort of mental illness. When they hear the term, they think of 'One Flew Over the Cookoos Nest. And we who suffer knot it is not so.

So hold your head up high and do what you must for your mental and physical health and well-being!

We're right there with you!!!!
Ronnie (GRANDMAR)

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Hi All!!
Well, I am ending week 3 of my reduction of my PM med's dosage. I am currently taking 1-1/4 pills (down from 2 whole pills) at night.
I should be taking 1 pill, every other night, for my next reduction at the end of the week.
I don't think that will happen. I am feeling a bit anxious so I will remain on this dosage for at least another 3 weeks to see what happens.
I am not jumping out of my skin, but I am starting to have difficulties about making decisions. Should I go? Should I not go? Etc..

Will keep you up to date!
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

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I am so thankful to have found this board. I've read all if not all posts from the beginning and have been following for a few weeks. After a visit to optometrist revealed increased pressures in my eyes (a sign of glaucoma), a friend encouraged me to research all meds I take, Rx and OTC to see if there could be a cause…sure enough…long term use of Effexor has been seen to lead to glaucoma–and High blood pressure-which I treat with medication. I decided it was time to come off Effexor!
I'm following a taper down routine of removing 5-7 beadlets from each capsule every 2 weeks. This week I step down by taking out 10-15 beadlets from each capsule. (Rx is for 150mg/day). so far, no withdrawal… WHAT A RELIEF!!! I do not plan to share with dr that I'm tapering down–plan to request same mg when refills are needed since i've based my bead counting on 150mg dosage.
I've tried to get off Effexor before following dr guidelines, but the step down from 150mg to 75mg was too drastic. The fear of withdrawal symptoms has kept me taking this medication far longer than I feel I need it for depression.
I use lemon essential oil to stave off depression/blues and so far, those symptoms remain at bay.
Looking back, there are many times while on full 150mg of Effexor, I feel like my feelings of depression/sadness/loneliness were exacerbated by the medication, not made better.
So far, feed back from husband is that he notices I'm doing more hobby related activities and cooking more in the past few weeks. 🙂
I'm just again, thankful to have found this board and the "taper down" method of counting beadlets.
Peace.

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@grandmar

Hi All!!
Well, I am ending week 3 of my reduction of my PM med's dosage. I am currently taking 1-1/4 pills (down from 2 whole pills) at night.
I should be taking 1 pill, every other night, for my next reduction at the end of the week.
I don't think that will happen. I am feeling a bit anxious so I will remain on this dosage for at least another 3 weeks to see what happens.
I am not jumping out of my skin, but I am starting to have difficulties about making decisions. Should I go? Should I not go? Etc..

Will keep you up to date!
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

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@grandmarr I would caution against an every other day/night dosage due to how quickly withdrawal starts. Long and slow taper wins when dealing with Effexor.

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@grandmar

Hi All!!
Well, I am ending week 3 of my reduction of my PM med's dosage. I am currently taking 1-1/4 pills (down from 2 whole pills) at night.
I should be taking 1 pill, every other night, for my next reduction at the end of the week.
I don't think that will happen. I am feeling a bit anxious so I will remain on this dosage for at least another 3 weeks to see what happens.
I am not jumping out of my skin, but I am starting to have difficulties about making decisions. Should I go? Should I not go? Etc..

Will keep you up to date!
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

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I'm on day 3 or 4 of having to go back on effexor. The first to days were good but the last day has been not so good. Cranky,short fused and agitated. Dang if I do dang if I don't.

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@farmboy hang in there!

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