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

@summertime4

@notaround Thank you so much for your input. I was on 75 mg of Effexor previously and for some reason I thought it was making me ill. so to avoid withdrawal my doctor put me on 37.5. You know in the past year don't know what works or doesn't work. I keep thinking the medication is making me ill when in fact that is not it. I am looking for relief and can't seem to get it. The CBD oil helps with my back pain, but you may be right tha it does interact. I do have CBD oil w/o THC, but I am going to look further into what you are telling me. I thank you so much. Sometimes I don't know where the grief is where the depression is and then all the body pain. My late husband would want me to continue and to enjoy life and that is one of the reasons I am seeking answers. I do know that I have read so many negative's on here about Effexor and at this point wonder if I tried getting off it because of that I just don't know. It seems so much of a blur right now.

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@summertime4 It can be really hard to figure out what's a side effect, withdrawal, depression symptoms, or something else entirely. Pain is really difficult since it could be caused by any of those.

I hope it isn't a bad interaction between the venlafaxine and the CBD oil – one is hard to get off of and the other one is actually working for you. People shouldn't have to chose between suffering of different types.

With the solstice coming up, let's all try to remember, literally and poetically, that the days will get brighter soon in the northern hemisphere. It doesn't solve everything but the extra sunlight makes things look a bit more cheery.

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@sandij

Again, I am very surprised not to find any references to waves and windows on this forum! It is pretty much a common term. Since I am a newly registered member, I am unable to post a link to the document so I have posted it in its entirety, making for a long post! (You should be able to search waves and windows, January 31, 2013 author npath, James Heaney, wordpress for the original)

"Tapering off of an SSRI can be very difficult. It’s not like other ailments that have defined timelines and symptoms. When a doctor treats a broken bone, there are long established milestones in recovery. SSRI withdrawal is different. Each case seems to be unique, with different length and severity of symptoms. One of the frustrating parts of withdrawal is the way that symptoms fluctuate over time. People call them waves and windows. At first, withdrawal is unremitting. There seems to be no respite from the symptoms. After some time, which varies from person to person, symptoms begin to break up into cycles. There are times when symptoms aren’t as bad, and other times when they are quite severe. It’s not a universal pattern. Some patients find that they have constant symptoms that slowly go away. The wave/window pattern seems to be the majority, though.

Waves

Waves describe those times when symptoms are more severe. Symptoms can be physical or emotional. It feels like getting sick. When you start to get a cold, you can feel little changes that presage the illness. A sore throat or headache, then the full symptoms of the cold start in a day or two. A wave has similar precursors. Usually, physical symptoms are the first sign that a wave is coming. A stiff neck, headaches, and dizziness are some of the symptoms. A day or two later, the emotional symptoms become more pronounced. These symptoms include obsessive or compulsive thoughts, depression, or anxiety. It can be helpful to break waves up into different parts. Knowing that each part of a wave is coming, and what to expect next, can make the whole process easier to handle. The reason we’re so adept at knowing the cycle of a cold is that we’ve had them off and on all our lives. we’re aware of the subtle changes in our bodies that tell us that we’re getting sick. In the same way, it takes some experience before you can separate the parts of wave from each other. It takes still more time to develop ways of dealing with each part of a wave.

Physical symptoms of a wave are hard to mitigate. There isn’t much you can do about general joint pain, headaches, or dizziness. You can try analgesics like aspirin or ibuprofen, but those aches are fairly resistant to those kinds of pain killers. Dizziness is likewise difficult to deal with. Withdrawal dizziness isn’t just something that happens when you stand up or spin around. It’s hard to believe that you can feel dizzy when you lie down, but it happens in withdrawal. Try to stay as still as possible until it gets better. Try to use the physical symptoms as a sign that there are new symptoms coming that you need to deal with.

There isn’t really any way to avoid the emotional symptoms of a wave. There is no way to “suck it up and get over it”. Our minds create our reality in a fluid way. The anxiety, depression, and obsessions of a wave are just as real as the screen in front of you. The fact that our rational mind would recognize that it’s not real or overblown doesn’t mean much when you’re experiencing it. That’s the essence of a wave. It’s not rational or thoughtful. Obsessive thoughts can be about almost anything from the benign to the surreal. Self harm can suddenly seem like a rational idea. In normal thought, the entire spectrum of emotions are right below the surface. When you’re cut off in traffic, you have several choices. You can ignore it, respond verbally or visually, speed up, slow down. Even the psychotic is present in that moment. We’ve become so accustomed to suppressing psychotic thoughts that we don’t even realize that the idea of ramming the other car didn’t rise up to our conscious minds. In withdrawal, those thoughts that would normally be dismissed without a thought gain the same weight in our conscious minds as socially acceptable thoughts. The only way to mitigate the emotional symptoms of a wave is to be mindful of the difference between normal thought and the unnatural power that irrational thought has in a wave. It’s very hard to pick apart which thoughts are your normal responses and which ones are caused by the wave. They mingle together in a chaotic way. That’s what makes your reactions to a window just as important as your reactions to a wave.

Windows

Windows are periods of time when symptoms are not as pronounced as they were before. At first, it feels like it’s over… you beat withdrawal, you’re free. That’s the cruel joke of SSRI withdrawal. Windows and waves are intertwined together. The way withdrawal works for most people is that the windows slowly, ever so slowly, get longer, and the waves get shorter. A window is more than a vacation from symptoms, though. It is a huge relief to have some time off from feeling miserable. Savor the good times in withdrawal, because that is what you have to look forward to in recovery. More than relief, though, windows are an opportunity to prepare yourself to deal with waves in a better way. Try to pay attention to how you feel. Examine the way you think, the way you respond to things. Try to recognize the way that you automatically choose responses and thoughts. Emotionally, a window is a return to the normal way of parsing thoughts. Instead of allowing all thoughts to rise to consciousness, you mind is automatically tuning out undesirable thoughts based on your personality. Paying attention to the process during a window makes it easier to impose that same kind of structure during the next wave. It’s that mindfulness that you’ll need during the next wave. After a while, you can tell when a thought is out of character, and consciously dismiss it.

Withdrawal is a process of alternating good times and bad. The more you’re able to mitigate the bad with mindfulness, the shorter the waves become. Our minds often work in feedback loops. One thought leads to another through association, creating the pattern of our minds. Mindfulness allows us to shape the pattern to a certain extent. The more you can recognize that a harmful thought is just part of a wave, and not a normal part of your normal mind, the faster you’ll get to the next window. Eventually, that last window becomes reality, and the next wave never comes. The mindfulness you’ve developed getting there will remain, though."

Reading and rereading this document as I was going through WD from neurontin saved me many times. Recovery from these drugs is NOT linear. It's empowering to realize that there will be ups and downs, and not to feel hopeless when symptoms hit. Even at a slow taper, a person will probably experience some WD symptoms from time to time, as described in the article above. I feel like many people stay on the drug even longer than they need to when they are tapering….not that I advocate going too fast, but if you are going to hold or even increase by a few mgs in order to stabilize, with the expectation that every day will be better, you are going to be disappointed. Recognize those waves and KNOW they are temporary. Enjoy the windows and be grateful for them. Keep those good days in mind when you have the bad ones. It WILL get better. One day you will realize that you have had your last wave. That is what keeps me tapering, I've got my eyes on the prize.

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That was a very good post. As I was reading through I find much if the information is similar to grief. So similar. The intense pain, the feeling you won't get through and then the waves. Some days you feel like your going to make it and you understand and accept your loved one's death. Than BAM a wave hits and knocks you off your feet and drags you under. You feel like you will never get up. You do get up and the water calms. Your safe for a while. The wave comes again and knocks you down. You get up and wait for the next wave. A cycle until you reach acceptance and the waves are less intense and finally you stay in calm water. It all makes sense. It is a type of withdrawal from your grief. One day you realize that you have had your last wave. I pray I get there soon.@

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@summertime4

That was a very good post. As I was reading through I find much if the information is similar to grief. So similar. The intense pain, the feeling you won't get through and then the waves. Some days you feel like your going to make it and you understand and accept your loved one's death. Than BAM a wave hits and knocks you off your feet and drags you under. You feel like you will never get up. You do get up and the water calms. Your safe for a while. The wave comes again and knocks you down. You get up and wait for the next wave. A cycle until you reach acceptance and the waves are less intense and finally you stay in calm water. It all makes sense. It is a type of withdrawal from your grief. One day you realize that you have had your last wave. I pray I get there soon.@

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@summertime4 You will get there. If I had not survived the brutal neurontin withdrawal I wouldn't be so sure, but I know that there will definitely be an end to the symptoms. Life will be better, of course, we still have to deal with our original issues and most likely the medical problems that have come along with normal aging, as well as the possibility of ones that have developed from being on the medications themselves, but there will be relief.

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@sandij

@summertime4 You will get there. If I had not survived the brutal neurontin withdrawal I wouldn't be so sure, but I know that there will definitely be an end to the symptoms. Life will be better, of course, we still have to deal with our original issues and most likely the medical problems that have come along with normal aging, as well as the possibility of ones that have developed from being on the medications themselves, but there will be relief.

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@sandij
Hi Sandi,
I was on the max dose of Neurontin 3,600mg and although I’m familiar with how linear and non-linear drugs work I didn’t know that Neurontin was
non-linear. Thanks for enlightening me. I had no problems at all stopping Neurontin. Amazing how different people react to different meds. When I took another seizure med, Dilantin, also a non linear drug it was always either toxic or below the therapeutic levels, weird!!!
Jake

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@shaker1956

Hi Ainsleigh and all. Well i funished my 3rd infusion of Chemo and the smart drug. It sure is a rough ride but one that I must take. The feeling of low energy and just feeling crappy is how this trip goes. I have not had any nausea so I’m very thankful for that. However the steroids that I take are really hard on the body in general. I just thank the good lord that they found this in time. Doc tells me theres no cure but they can manage it after my treatments and it will be like having diabetes. I hope he’s right. Enjoy your day people!!!!!

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@shaker1956 -Hi shaker- Just wanted to drop you a line and say I hope things are going well with you. It was so lovely to hear that
you have such a terrific supporter in your wife- I am sure that makes things a lot easier to cope with! I wanted to wish you and your family ( and all our Connect friends) a happy holiday season and if you celebrate it- a very merry Christmas – and a heathy Happy New Year! I know you must be counting the days until that new Grand baby arrives-will it be the first one?
Best wishes
Ainsleigh

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@merpreb
Hi Merry,
For example linear drugs, if you increase your dose by 100mg the amount of medication in your blood (therapeutic level) will increase proportionately to your regular and/or increased dose.

In a non-linear drug like Neurontin, Dilantin, Tegratol all seizure meds since that’s what I’m most familiar with. If you increase the dose amount of medication in your blood (therapeutic level) can actually increase or decrease. For example, when I was taking Dilantin the therapeutic level is 10-20 yet regardless of my dose my therapeutic level would either be toxic (usually above 30) or below 10. I had to switch my medication because the doctor regardless what he did could not get the Dilantin to stabilize between 10-20. Non linear meds need watched closely.
That is a simplistic overview but it’s much more involved than that. Many more factors are involved.
Jake

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I would think all the drugs that affect the brain and CNS are subject to causing waves and windows. There is a video that describes how each one of our systems "shuts down" for repair as our body recovers from antidepressants, I will link it when I have been here long enough to be allowed to post links.

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@jakedduck1

@merpreb
Hi Merry,
For example linear drugs, if you increase your dose by 100mg the amount of medication in your blood (therapeutic level) will increase proportionately to your regular and/or increased dose.

In a non-linear drug like Neurontin, Dilantin, Tegratol all seizure meds since that’s what I’m most familiar with. If you increase the dose amount of medication in your blood (therapeutic level) can actually increase or decrease. For example, when I was taking Dilantin the therapeutic level is 10-20 yet regardless of my dose my therapeutic level would either be toxic (usually above 30) or below 10. I had to switch my medication because the doctor regardless what he did could not get the Dilantin to stabilize between 10-20. Non linear meds need watched closely.
That is a simplistic overview but it’s much more involved than that. Many more factors are involved.
Jake

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@jakedduck1 I am so glad you had no problems discontinuing neurontin! That experience was so bad for me, I was close to being suicidal. It gave me more compassion for what others go through during withdrawal from any drug, be it legal or not.

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@sandij

@jakedduck1 I am so glad you had no problems discontinuing neurontin! That experience was so bad for me, I was close to being suicidal. It gave me more compassion for what others go through during withdrawal from any drug, be it legal or not.

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@sandij
Hi Sandi,
Thank you.
Some people have no problems at all getting of EFfexor and other meds while others suffer unmercifully, odd.
Health & happiness always,
Jake

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All- Please check this out: https://cbdoilreview.org/cbd-cannabidiol/endocannabinoid-natural-production/
I think that the reason that a lot of us tolerate and benefit from CBD oil is because we produce cannabinoids in our own bodies too- so it's really "natural"
I take Wellbutrin and Zoloft and when needed 10mg of CBD oil. I'm still messing around with dosages.

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Morning all,
I was prescribed venlaflaxin @ 300mg probably around 4 years ago. This after many years off and on of many different forms of SSRI's before moving on "The last resort" pharma speaking of the Venlaflaxin. On the upside, it did what it was supposed to, and being no stranger to side effects, I made do.
I am in recovery also for alcohol and some other substances, so it helped. It also didn't.
One of the many sayings in AA/NA/CA is that "one of the good things about sobriety is you get your feelings back" and "one of the bad things is you get your feelings back" With me & Venlaflaxin I didn't get those feelings.
What I experienced was apathy. Utter lack of interest in anything that could illicit any sort of joy. "Fun" was a word I disdained. Instead I engaged in some compulsive behaviour, whether that was cleaning, shopping etc etc. Sitting still and "being" was a hard task , practically impossible.
Of course, everyones response to this stuff is very personal, and underlying issues mixed with a med will illicit a different response.
So, here I am 2 days after completely stopping VNLFN, tapering down one dose (37.5mg) a month from the initial 300. The usual suspects have popped up, brain delay, disturbed sleep, waves of I don't know what going through the old noggin and very, very emotional.
I mean I can briefly think about something , and bingo, tears. A bit inconvenient when your sitting on a beach in Costa Rica, thankfully a pretty deserted beach.
I am grateful for those tears though, I can feel something again, even though it does feel a bit like the Jin has been let out of his bottle. I would rather that than the feeling of being one part removed from a robot vacuum cleaner. Just don't approach me with pictures of puppy's for the time being.

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@dickygray

Morning all,
I was prescribed venlaflaxin @ 300mg probably around 4 years ago. This after many years off and on of many different forms of SSRI's before moving on "The last resort" pharma speaking of the Venlaflaxin. On the upside, it did what it was supposed to, and being no stranger to side effects, I made do.
I am in recovery also for alcohol and some other substances, so it helped. It also didn't.
One of the many sayings in AA/NA/CA is that "one of the good things about sobriety is you get your feelings back" and "one of the bad things is you get your feelings back" With me & Venlaflaxin I didn't get those feelings.
What I experienced was apathy. Utter lack of interest in anything that could illicit any sort of joy. "Fun" was a word I disdained. Instead I engaged in some compulsive behaviour, whether that was cleaning, shopping etc etc. Sitting still and "being" was a hard task , practically impossible.
Of course, everyones response to this stuff is very personal, and underlying issues mixed with a med will illicit a different response.
So, here I am 2 days after completely stopping VNLFN, tapering down one dose (37.5mg) a month from the initial 300. The usual suspects have popped up, brain delay, disturbed sleep, waves of I don't know what going through the old noggin and very, very emotional.
I mean I can briefly think about something , and bingo, tears. A bit inconvenient when your sitting on a beach in Costa Rica, thankfully a pretty deserted beach.
I am grateful for those tears though, I can feel something again, even though it does feel a bit like the Jin has been let out of his bottle. I would rather that than the feeling of being one part removed from a robot vacuum cleaner. Just don't approach me with pictures of puppy's for the time being.

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@dickygray glad you're here!

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