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

@contentandwell

@merpreb I have had some doctors who would seem to prefer that their patients remain ignorant! I figure they must be very insecure.
JK

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JK, I agree. What a sad state. It's all about power instead of health and the welfare of all humans

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JK, most of my experience has been the same! Doctors want me to be ignorant, I've had one tell me not to be looking on the internet unless it's the NIH site (which ironically was where I got the information that she told me was incorrect). I'm also worked as a nurse, but I don't dare to tell them that, since "nurses make the worst patients".

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@sandij-It's a pretty sad state when we can't be honest with our own doctors because of their own opinions and ignorance. I would also tell her that you are very aware of what's going on and that you are not some ignorant fool. And if she contradicts herself let her know. This way she'll know not to treat you like she does and will be able to be honest with you.

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@coloradogirl

So, I just finished this process with Zoloft (sertraline) and here are some things that worked for me. Your mileage may vary, but hopefully these are low risk for you to try.

1) You may need to ask your doctor for a slower tapering program than other patients. Some people are just more sensitive to dosage changes. Be aware that symptoms will get better, then may reappear each time you taper. AAFMA (practice group of family physicians) says that the symptoms typically last 1-2 weeks and as long as 4 weeks, so I just kept reminding myself that it was temporary.
2) Be watchful for things that make your symptoms worse. For example, caffeine seems to trigger the brain zaps for me (still, even after being off for several weeks), so I cut back my caffeine intake. I didn’t give it up completely (because I still need to function), but cut back on how much real coffee I was drinking, mixed decaf with regular, and switched to tea sometimes. In the end, I probably cut my daily caffeine intake in half, and it did help quite a lot.
3) Ibuprofen or other pain reliever can help with the flu-like body aches.
4) Benadryl helped with the brain zaps.
5) Exercise helped with both. Even if I wasn’t up to a run, a few blocks of walking would settle down the symptoms for a while at least. (Then, when they come back, just take another walk. We took a lot of walks for a while there).
6) Get enough sleep. As I came down off the meds, my normal sleeping patterns returned, which was great, but it did mean that I needed to plan time to let my body rest.
7) Pay attention to your diet. Your brain uses carbs to make seratonin, so now is not the time to go on the Atkins diet. Eat well and make sure you’re getting enough healthy carbs. You may crave sweets; I certainly did. I tried to counteract this by having bananas, graham crackers, and other healthy things I could snack on instead of sticking my head in a birthday cake like I seemed to want.

No lie – it’s a painful process, but this did really help make it easier. Also, at a certain point, when I was down the below the normal starter dose, I just ripped off the bandaid and went to zero. At that point, it felt like each taper was just prolonging the suffering. Don’t just go cold turkey from your current dose, though, as that can be dangerous. Also, don’t add any supplements or substitutes for the SSRI without talking to your doctor first (also dangerous).

And of course, watch for the return of depression / anxiety type symptoms. For a while it was hard to tell whether I was tired because of the change in meds or because my depression was returning. I figured as long as I felt okay enough to function and wasn’t thinking about being harmful to myself or anyone else, I could play it out and see. It turned out to be the meds and on the other side, I can see that I was more worried about it than I needed to be.

I wish you the best of luck and a healthy life.

Mardee

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Your post has given me some hope. I am on my second day of lowering my dose of Venlafaxine. I have been on 600 mg of Venlafaxine a day for about two years now. In 2016 I went through a terrible episode of depression. I have been doing well on the 600 mg. But now insurance has denied this amount of medication. They will only cover 325mg or less per day. My doctor had me start on 300 mg yesterday. Today has been bad. This morning I was dopey, lethargic, and nauseous. This evening it has really hit me. Extremely nauseous, diarrhea, tired, and the tears have started. Kind of scared. Need advice.

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@shellyz

Your post has given me some hope. I am on my second day of lowering my dose of Venlafaxine. I have been on 600 mg of Venlafaxine a day for about two years now. In 2016 I went through a terrible episode of depression. I have been doing well on the 600 mg. But now insurance has denied this amount of medication. They will only cover 325mg or less per day. My doctor had me start on 300 mg yesterday. Today has been bad. This morning I was dopey, lethargic, and nauseous. This evening it has really hit me. Extremely nauseous, diarrhea, tired, and the tears have started. Kind of scared. Need advice.

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@shellyz
Hi shell,
This is only my personal opinion.
Jeez almighty what kind of quack doctor are you going to?
Good for your insurance company.
He cut your Effexor down 50%, very irresponsible even if you were on a normal dose.
Best advice I have is change doctors, yours is an idiot.
Jake

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@shellyz

Your post has given me some hope. I am on my second day of lowering my dose of Venlafaxine. I have been on 600 mg of Venlafaxine a day for about two years now. In 2016 I went through a terrible episode of depression. I have been doing well on the 600 mg. But now insurance has denied this amount of medication. They will only cover 325mg or less per day. My doctor had me start on 300 mg yesterday. Today has been bad. This morning I was dopey, lethargic, and nauseous. This evening it has really hit me. Extremely nauseous, diarrhea, tired, and the tears have started. Kind of scared. Need advice.

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Cant tell anyone else what to do, but I would be taking a dosage closer to 600 until I could get to another doctor. And then start a reasonable taper.

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@ GrandmaR
Ronnie, thanks for replying. The only two side effects I get is depression and anxiety. I also don’t care how long it takes. I will stay at the dose I’m at until I feel good. Actually my doctor is young and a Family doctor and really doesn’t have a clue. I’m the one who tells him how I wish to taper. He wanted me to taper every two weeks. Mary

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@maryathome
Hi Mary,
Your being very wise with your taper. Especially since you’ve been on it for so long.
Are you having any symptoms?
Wishing you good health and happiness.
Jake

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@jakedduck1

@shellyz
Hi shell,
This is only my personal opinion.
Jeez almighty what kind of quack doctor are you going to?
Good for your insurance company.
He cut your Effexor down 50%, very irresponsible even if you were on a normal dose.
Best advice I have is change doctors, yours is an idiot.
Jake

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@jakedduck1 Darn, I can only like this once! It's a real shame, though, Leonard, that you held back saying what you really thought. I am putting "Jeez almighty what kind of quack doctor are you going to?" on my fridge!

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@merpreb

JK, I agree. What a sad state. It's all about power instead of health and the welfare of all humans

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@merpreb Thankfully, I find there are many more really caring doctors out there than there are doctors who are concerned about power, but it is definitely an issue with a few.
JK

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@sandij

JK, most of my experience has been the same! Doctors want me to be ignorant, I've had one tell me not to be looking on the internet unless it's the NIH site (which ironically was where I got the information that she told me was incorrect). I'm also worked as a nurse, but I don't dare to tell them that, since "nurses make the worst patients".

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@sandij As I commented before, I have been fortunate with most of my doctors being caring and respectful. I'm sorry to hear that most of your experience has not been positive. They do always downplay what you may have read thinking it might not be from a reputable site but I always tell them that I am very careful about that. I go to the NIH site or the Mayo site. I find that Mayo has a really excellent site with information about just about everything. There are a couple of other reputable sites but they are not generally as comprehensive as Mayo and NIH.
JK

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@maryathome

@ GrandmaR
Ronnie, thanks for replying. The only two side effects I get is depression and anxiety. I also don’t care how long it takes. I will stay at the dose I’m at until I feel good. Actually my doctor is young and a Family doctor and really doesn’t have a clue. I’m the one who tells him how I wish to taper. He wanted me to taper every two weeks. Mary

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@maryathome
Good Morning!
I'm with you! Read your own body and do what works for you! As I said before, when docs give you advice about how to taper off, I believe they give us the 'book' answers. After all, unless they have gone through it themselves, how can they possibly know? Wouldn't it be nice that after they make their recommendation that they say, 'however, if you don't feel comfortable, wait until you do.' I think in that way, many of us would not feel pressured to reduce at the pace the doctor gives.

Have a wonderful day!
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

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