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

@farmboy
Hi
Maybe your doctor will put you on a different medication. Hope you let us know what you and your doctor decide to do.
I’m so sorry about your friends. My friend hung himself. I had no clue he was suffering so much. A major problem is some never seek treatment and others wait to long before getting help. I hope your starting to feel better. You are so right when you said “depression is evil.” Hopefully someday soon they will know what actually causes it.
Always thinking about you buddy,
Jake

REPLY

@effexor you are three weeks out from basically going cold turkey, so you are a great candidate for PAWS. I hope that in all the research you did, you came across some information about that. If not, I suggest you read up and be prepared. Here's hoping you escape it, because it's not pretty. But you may be one of the lucky ones!

REPLY
@jakedduck1

@farmboy
Hi
Maybe your doctor will put you on a different medication. Hope you let us know what you and your doctor decide to do.
I’m so sorry about your friends. My friend hung himself. I had no clue he was suffering so much. A major problem is some never seek treatment and others wait to long before getting help. I hope your starting to feel better. You are so right when you said “depression is evil.” Hopefully someday soon they will know what actually causes it.
Always thinking about you buddy,
Jake

Jump to this post

I go in and see the Doc Friday. I will let everyone know what she says. As far as are buddies go we just got to remember the good times and remember them that way.

REPLY
@sandij

@effexor you are three weeks out from basically going cold turkey, so you are a great candidate for PAWS. I hope that in all the research you did, you came across some information about that. If not, I suggest you read up and be prepared. Here's hoping you escape it, because it's not pretty. But you may be one of the lucky ones!

Jump to this post

Sandij, what is paws?

REPLY

@farmboy PAWS is the acronym for post acute withdrawal, here is an explanation from addictionsandrecovery. org website:
Post-acute withdrawal feels like a rollercoaster of symptoms. In the beginning, your symptoms will change minute to minute and hour to hour. Later as you recover further they will disappear for a few weeks or months only to return again. As you continue to recover the good stretches will get longer and longer. But the bad periods of post-acute withdrawal can be just as intense and last just as long.

Each post-acute withdrawal episode usually last for a few days. Once you've been in recovery for a while, you will find that each post-acute withdrawal episode usually lasts for a few days. There is no obvious trigger for most episodes. You will wake up one day feeling irritable and have low energy. If you hang on for just a few days, it will lift just as quickly as it started. After a while you'll develop confidence that you can get through post-acute withdrawal, because you'll know that each episode is time limited.

Post-acute withdrawal usually lasts for 2 years. This is one of the most important things you need to remember. If you're up for the challenge you can get though this. But if you think that post-acute withdrawal will only last for a few months, then you'll get caught off guard, and when you're disappointed you're more likely to relapse.

REPLY
@effexor

Effexor withdrawal has been REAL! I have read so many posts and different sites about the withdrawal effects. This one being the most informative. Thank You to all that shared your stories, side effects and what helped them. Your stories helped me tremendously.

I am currently 3 weeks Effexor free… I still have minimal side effects that seem to get worse when I am stressed or upset… I wanted to share my story and what worked for me… Please Please understand I am in no way affiliated in any medical field and am in no way giving medical or DR. advice. I am here only to share what helped me during this horrific ordeal.

A year and a half ago I went thru major depression due to many things hitting me all within a 6 month period and I sought help because I knew I had reached a breaking point that I no longer controlled. Effexor was what was given to me to help me during these life changing events. I explained to my DR I do not like taking pills of any sort so he chose the extended release for me. By the third day of taking this drug, I already felt 150% better, it worked so fast for me. At the time I thought this was a miracle drug because, let me tell you, I was on top of the world!! Not only did it kick depressions @$$ but on top of that, it totally suppressed my appetite and made me lose 50lbs quickly. (What woman complains about losing weight, especially when weight is an issue… not me, that's for sure!)

Fast forward 6 months. I am feeling at my peak, better than I had in years. Me being a person who doesn't like medication, I am ready to stop taking it because I feel my body no longer needs it, so I stopped cold turkey! I was absolutely unequivocally not ready for the side effects. I went into instant withdrawals within hours of not taking my medication, by day 4 I'm having brain zaps, inside I feel like someone is sparking two wires together and my brain is an old black & white TV channel with "snow" on the screen, add the inability to string a sentence together, fainting spells, naseau / diarrhea let's just say I was a walking disaster. If it's listed as a withdrawal symptom, I experienced it. It gets so bad, I am sent home from work, told to work from home as I much as I was able and to contact my DR immediately. So I did what my boss told me to do. When I call my DR, the nurse freaks out, schedules a 911 appointment and I get a scolding of a life time from both the nurse and DR. I am explained that you have to taper off this drug, my DR wants me on it for a minimum of 9 months and increased my dose to 150mg.
Had I known this when I started taking this drug I probably would have never taken it to begin with, for that I am happy because I really needed to be on it at the time I was placed on it. I am certain my DR told me this when it was prescribed, but I was in no mindset to listen and was at the lowest low of my entire life.

I oblige my DRs direction anything to stop the side effects and had instant relief. I take it for another 6 months in the meantime about my 3rd month at 150mg, I start researching everything on this drug possible… because I don't like going to DRs, I hate medication, I know my body/mind enough that I knew I was ready and I wanted off this medication. For fear my DR would tell me he wanted me to continue this drug for even longer I decided to once again stop taking this medication. Only this time I was prepared for what would happen once I quit taking it. After reading tips / trips from everything I could get my hands on, I weaned myself off this drug without my DR! I know, I know this is a serious issue that needs medical supervision.

****** Please Note I do NOT recommend weaning yourself off this or any other DR prescribed drug. Yes I did it, but I know my body very well, I have a great support system, and I know I am extremely sensitive to ANY and ALL medications… so I knew what I could tolerate. How did I wean myself off of Effrxor:

I did not take my medication on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. The effects were in full force, but I was able to work from home and sleep a lot. I limited turning my head from side to side and limited anytype of quick motions because this seemed to cause dizzy spells and most severe zaps. When I did move my head to look side ways, it was done very slow/ mythotical to let my eyes, ears and brain track together. I had read where Benedryl helps with the withdrawal side effects, so I decided to try it. I took Children's dissolve tablets twice a day when I felt the worst. (Children's Benadryl was used only because I am so sensitive to medication that regularl strength knocks me out for a minimum of 16 hours, usually longer)

By Tuesday, I'm over the worst part of withdrawals, but still have symptoms that were more annoying than anything. At this time I notice I'm a little more moody, things make me angry that normally would never make me bat an eye. Because I have to work around people, I am moody and still having withdrawal symptoms I decided to break open one of my pills, dumped the beads into a ziplock baggy and about mid-day when my dizziness or zaps were at their peak, I would wet my fingertip and dip it into the beads taking about 10-20 and would take one Children's Benadryl late afternoon or around dinner time. I did this Tuesday-Thursday and took nothing at all Friday-Monday. I am on week 3 of withdrawals but have only had to take 1 Benadryl so far this week and haven't had any Effexor in my system for a week. I have had a couple of minor zaps, that were very minimal but nothing serious.

Sorry for the extremely long message, but if a oneone thing I did. helps someone else get off this drug, it was worth it. Effexor Free, healthy and happy!!!

Jump to this post

@effexor
Good Morning,
Congratulations on being able to come off the Effexor!
I am glad you were able to find a way of doing it that worked for you!
Stay well!
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

REPLY

Good Morning All!
An update on my Effexor weaning.
As a reminder, I've been on 300 mg of Effexor (2-75 mg pills in the am and pm) for some time.
I am looking to reduce my dosage, not to come off as I believe that my anxiety is genetic (multiple people in my family have it) and I will have to remain on meds for the rest of my life.
I am OK with that as I could not live with being in a constant state of anxiety and other meds have not worked.
Anyway, I have been reducing 1/4 of one tablet over a total of 6 weeks at a time.
A 1/4 reducing every other day for 3 weeks and then every day for 3 weeks.
I am at the point where I was at 1-1/4 tablets every other day.
I completed 3 weeks and was about to go to daily but something inside me (pardon the pun) told me to wait another 3 weeks.
I can't put my finger on it, but I did not feel 100% as I did.
It's no big deal. I have all the time in the world to reduce.
Just want to remind everyone that you have to 'listen' to your body and act accordingly.

Have a good and healthy day!
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

REPLY
@sandij

@farmboy PAWS is the acronym for post acute withdrawal, here is an explanation from addictionsandrecovery. org website:
Post-acute withdrawal feels like a rollercoaster of symptoms. In the beginning, your symptoms will change minute to minute and hour to hour. Later as you recover further they will disappear for a few weeks or months only to return again. As you continue to recover the good stretches will get longer and longer. But the bad periods of post-acute withdrawal can be just as intense and last just as long.

Each post-acute withdrawal episode usually last for a few days. Once you've been in recovery for a while, you will find that each post-acute withdrawal episode usually lasts for a few days. There is no obvious trigger for most episodes. You will wake up one day feeling irritable and have low energy. If you hang on for just a few days, it will lift just as quickly as it started. After a while you'll develop confidence that you can get through post-acute withdrawal, because you'll know that each episode is time limited.

Post-acute withdrawal usually lasts for 2 years. This is one of the most important things you need to remember. If you're up for the challenge you can get though this. But if you think that post-acute withdrawal will only last for a few months, then you'll get caught off guard, and when you're disappointed you're more likely to relapse.

Jump to this post

@sandij
Good Morning!
Thank you for the information!
This is VERY important for everyone in this group to read!
Two years? Wow!!!!!!
I am wondering if there is a way this can be posted so that everyone who signs up to be in this group will be 'greeted' by this information??
I believe that if it was possible, it would clear up a lot of misconceptions.

Thanks again!
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

REPLY
@jakedduck1

@notaround
Not that this will help but back in the day if we didn’t work we didn’t eat. My grandfather had a brain tumor which he died from in 1926.
When he could no longer walk my Dad hitched up his team and my Dad and his older brother carried him and tied him to the plow and at lunch they untied him and carried him to the house to eat. After lunch it happened all over again and was repeated until he died.
I believe we’re spoiled. In the past I think people were to busy just trying to survive to be depressed etc. In the past people didn’t enjoy the luxury of being able to pick and choose if they would work, stay in bed or watched tv etc. Just my 2 cents.
Jake

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I know you mean well and, in my case (I successfully weened off Effexor!) I believe it was because I forced myself to stay busy, work, be purposefully healthy and fit. While Effexor DID assuage my anxiety and depression (for 20 years!) I thought back to my life before Effexor and thought if I could do it then I can do it now. Truth be told, I probably never should have been on it in the first place. I shouldn’t have gotten married so young to a person who made me feel awful about myself. And on and on. I know what you mean about folks being lazy – I feel these are the folks who make up drama and tragedy in the news! But, sadly, there’s also real depression out there. A real chemical thing. And maybe it’s exacerbated by the American lifestyle, but for now, we’re all just doing our level best to feel better 🙂

REPLY
@effexor

Effexor withdrawal has been REAL! I have read so many posts and different sites about the withdrawal effects. This one being the most informative. Thank You to all that shared your stories, side effects and what helped them. Your stories helped me tremendously.

I am currently 3 weeks Effexor free… I still have minimal side effects that seem to get worse when I am stressed or upset… I wanted to share my story and what worked for me… Please Please understand I am in no way affiliated in any medical field and am in no way giving medical or DR. advice. I am here only to share what helped me during this horrific ordeal.

A year and a half ago I went thru major depression due to many things hitting me all within a 6 month period and I sought help because I knew I had reached a breaking point that I no longer controlled. Effexor was what was given to me to help me during these life changing events. I explained to my DR I do not like taking pills of any sort so he chose the extended release for me. By the third day of taking this drug, I already felt 150% better, it worked so fast for me. At the time I thought this was a miracle drug because, let me tell you, I was on top of the world!! Not only did it kick depressions @$$ but on top of that, it totally suppressed my appetite and made me lose 50lbs quickly. (What woman complains about losing weight, especially when weight is an issue… not me, that's for sure!)

Fast forward 6 months. I am feeling at my peak, better than I had in years. Me being a person who doesn't like medication, I am ready to stop taking it because I feel my body no longer needs it, so I stopped cold turkey! I was absolutely unequivocally not ready for the side effects. I went into instant withdrawals within hours of not taking my medication, by day 4 I'm having brain zaps, inside I feel like someone is sparking two wires together and my brain is an old black & white TV channel with "snow" on the screen, add the inability to string a sentence together, fainting spells, naseau / diarrhea let's just say I was a walking disaster. If it's listed as a withdrawal symptom, I experienced it. It gets so bad, I am sent home from work, told to work from home as I much as I was able and to contact my DR immediately. So I did what my boss told me to do. When I call my DR, the nurse freaks out, schedules a 911 appointment and I get a scolding of a life time from both the nurse and DR. I am explained that you have to taper off this drug, my DR wants me on it for a minimum of 9 months and increased my dose to 150mg.
Had I known this when I started taking this drug I probably would have never taken it to begin with, for that I am happy because I really needed to be on it at the time I was placed on it. I am certain my DR told me this when it was prescribed, but I was in no mindset to listen and was at the lowest low of my entire life.

I oblige my DRs direction anything to stop the side effects and had instant relief. I take it for another 6 months in the meantime about my 3rd month at 150mg, I start researching everything on this drug possible… because I don't like going to DRs, I hate medication, I know my body/mind enough that I knew I was ready and I wanted off this medication. For fear my DR would tell me he wanted me to continue this drug for even longer I decided to once again stop taking this medication. Only this time I was prepared for what would happen once I quit taking it. After reading tips / trips from everything I could get my hands on, I weaned myself off this drug without my DR! I know, I know this is a serious issue that needs medical supervision.

****** Please Note I do NOT recommend weaning yourself off this or any other DR prescribed drug. Yes I did it, but I know my body very well, I have a great support system, and I know I am extremely sensitive to ANY and ALL medications… so I knew what I could tolerate. How did I wean myself off of Effrxor:

I did not take my medication on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. The effects were in full force, but I was able to work from home and sleep a lot. I limited turning my head from side to side and limited anytype of quick motions because this seemed to cause dizzy spells and most severe zaps. When I did move my head to look side ways, it was done very slow/ mythotical to let my eyes, ears and brain track together. I had read where Benedryl helps with the withdrawal side effects, so I decided to try it. I took Children's dissolve tablets twice a day when I felt the worst. (Children's Benadryl was used only because I am so sensitive to medication that regularl strength knocks me out for a minimum of 16 hours, usually longer)

By Tuesday, I'm over the worst part of withdrawals, but still have symptoms that were more annoying than anything. At this time I notice I'm a little more moody, things make me angry that normally would never make me bat an eye. Because I have to work around people, I am moody and still having withdrawal symptoms I decided to break open one of my pills, dumped the beads into a ziplock baggy and about mid-day when my dizziness or zaps were at their peak, I would wet my fingertip and dip it into the beads taking about 10-20 and would take one Children's Benadryl late afternoon or around dinner time. I did this Tuesday-Thursday and took nothing at all Friday-Monday. I am on week 3 of withdrawals but have only had to take 1 Benadryl so far this week and haven't had any Effexor in my system for a week. I have had a couple of minor zaps, that were very minimal but nothing serious.

Sorry for the extremely long message, but if a oneone thing I did. helps someone else get off this drug, it was worth it. Effexor Free, healthy and happy!!!

Jump to this post

@effexor Thank you for your post. I’m about where you are. I’m 4 weeks out, tapered on my own. Still get anxiety, but feel I’m over the hump. I quit cold turkey first time, by advice of my psychiatrist, I do not see him any longer , most horrific time in my life! Best to go slow.

REPLY

I have a previous post explaining more about the waves and windows. You can find a lot of information about this type of thing simply by googling "antidepressant withdrawal". My first experience with PAWS was after I stopped taking the drug neurontin. My initial withdrawal was brutal but when the worst was over after about 3 days, I thought I was out of the woods. The next time the withdrawal symptoms hit I was not prepared, and honestly thought I was going insane. But by going online and finding peoples stories, I realized what was happening. It took a year before the waves and windows gradually melded into a somewhat normal life. A few months after my last wave I decided to begin tapering effexor, but it was too soon. Even by just removing several beads, my body wasn't ready for a change. So I tried again 6 months later and by then I was able to do it, even by a larger percentage, with no immediate ill effect. Now that I am at 75 mg and attempting to make small (5 to 10 percent) decreases, it's becoming more difficult, and the waves are hard and strong. I'm at 66 mg …well I was, but I've bumped back up to 75. To get through this wave that comes every day now. I'll had to split my dosage throughout the day to avoid waking up with withdrawal and not being able to get up to work. People don't realize that they are not over the hump after their initial withdrawal. As you said @grandmar it is important information for everyone to have so that they have a full awareness of what they may experience. When I first came to this forum I was shocked that nobody ever addressed the phenomenon of waves and windows and thus gave a very lengthy post by copying and pasting the information. You can search my screen name to find it. Later when I'm at my computer I can repost. I'm on my phone now lying in bed waiting for this latest dose of effexor to kick in so I can make some use out of the rest of this day.

REPLY

Can anyone answer this question? I'm on 2 weeks back on effexor and tonight I'm agitated almost like I could go into a rage and what is usually normal thoughts is confusing. I don't even want to be around my girlfriend and we get along great. What is happening to me? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you

REPLY

@farmboy you are likely going to experience a wide range of emotions during this process. It's not a linear one. Please read my posts on waves and windows, and post acute withdrawal. Knowledge is power! And a good reminder that much of this is due to the drug, its NOT a reflection on who you are. I'm very fortunate that my husband was open to learning about the process I'm going through and that he handles my many changes.. sometimes better than I do! Maybe you and your girlfriend can read some information with you and together you will be better prepared. You can get through this!

REPLY
@sandij

@farmboy you are likely going to experience a wide range of emotions during this process. It's not a linear one. Please read my posts on waves and windows, and post acute withdrawal. Knowledge is power! And a good reminder that much of this is due to the drug, its NOT a reflection on who you are. I'm very fortunate that my husband was open to learning about the process I'm going through and that he handles my many changes.. sometimes better than I do! Maybe you and your girlfriend can read some information with you and together you will be better prepared. You can get through this!

Jump to this post

@sandij thank you so much for the quick reply. I will go back on your one post and read up on it. I don't want to lose my girlfriend over this. She is a great lady. My old high school sweetheart and the very first girlfriend I ever had. She is differently special to me. Thank you.

REPLY
@farmboy

@sandij thank you so much for the quick reply. I will go back on your one post and read up on it. I don't want to lose my girlfriend over this. She is a great lady. My old high school sweetheart and the very first girlfriend I ever had. She is differently special to me. Thank you.

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@farmboy as hard as it is on us, imagine being on the outside looking in and having no real clue how difficult this is for us. People think it should be easy, after all, it's just a pill, how hard can it be? I know that going through this, first with neurontin and now effexor, has made me more empathetic towards others in general.
It sounds like you are pretty special too! It's not an undertaking that many would put themselves through to improve their lives. Kudos to you for being courageous.

Liked by cristin1, farmboy

REPLY
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