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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@time2650

Hi, I have been slowly withdrawing from effexor for months. I went from 200 down to 37.5 over three months. I was at 37.5 for a month and now I went completely off four days ago. I’m shaky, sweaty or cold and can’t sleep. How long will this last??

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for me I slept alot, ate saltine crackers white soda or sprite, couldn’t drink coffe it me me sick to my stomach. I think everyone is different. sleep when you can good luck

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@time2650

Hi, I have been slowly withdrawing from effexor for months. I went from 200 down to 37.5 over three months. I was at 37.5 for a month and now I went completely off four days ago. I’m shaky, sweaty or cold and can’t sleep. How long will this last??

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It took 3 weeks of hell before I felt like myself again.  There should be laws to prevent nurse practitioners from prescribing this crap before ruling out physical causes of insomnia hmm 5 bulging discs, spondylitis, scoliosis, arthritis gee wiz I wonder why woke up in spasms!!!!  

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@arachel

I’m 70 years old. I’ve been taking Effexor (venlafaxine) since 2003. I tried going off of it a few times and ended up right back on it. I’m taking 150mg right now and today will be my first day trying to weaning myself off again. I plan to take it very slow. My doctor suggests decreasing the dosage by 37.5 for a few months to see how that goes. I feel like that may even be too much too fast. I’m truly scared to death to do this knowing full well what I’m in for. My husband and I have our own business and its going pretty well. I hope that my withdrawal doesn’t interfere too much with my work day. I’ve been reading many of these posts and no one has expressed how the withdrawal affected their jobs. Would be very interested to hear about that aspect.

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What makes me angry is the way the newer antidepressants were marketed. I don’t know if it was the fault of the pharmaceutical companies or the prescribing physicians. I remember the first time I was given Effexor, my psychiatrist said it was non-addicting. There was no mention of side effects. I trusted the guy. He was obviously getting his information from the pharmaceutical reps. All he had to do was read the package insert to see all the side effects. I partially blame myself for not doing my own research. There were reports all over the web about severe side effects and withdrawal symptoms. If physicians don’t know this stuff, it’s up to patients to be their own medical advocates. I was abruptly cut from 400 mg of Effexor and put on Wellbutrin as a substitute. I’m lucky I was still young. The ensuing depression, anxiety, and mood swings were terrible. When I went back to the psychiatrist, he said something like, I thought you knew to go off gradually. Amazing. These are powerful psychoactive chemicals that are still not completely understood. I have nothing against their use if there is full disclosure. The patient should be informed by the physician. And the FDA does nothing except after some disastrous situation develops. There is no such thing as a panacea. There never was and there never will be.

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@time2650

Hi, I have been slowly withdrawing from effexor for months. I went from 200 down to 37.5 over three months. I was at 37.5 for a month and now I went completely off four days ago. I’m shaky, sweaty or cold and can’t sleep. How long will this last??

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@time2650

From the many comments I’ve read here, stopping after a month at 37.5 is too fast. Many people have stayed there for a couple of months, then reduced to a lower dose for a couple of months, going down that slowly in the smallest increments your pharmacist can provide. People will spend more than a year, and still experience withdrawal. The longer you can stretch it out, the better, when it’s time to stop.

This is definitely not something to be hurried. If your doctor doesn’t agree, this is one time to put your foot down and insist on doing it the best way for YOU!

If they won’t believe that it’s way too fast, even after you’ve been as obnoxious about it as you can, I would most certainly seek the help of another doctor. Do you see a psychiatrist? They could help you.

Just stand up for yourself, however much that goes against your nature. SELF ADVOCATE!

Jim

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I have been on Effexor XR/Venlafaxine XR for 20 years. I’ve been on 75 mg per day for the entire time, except for the past 5 months, when my dose was increased to 150 mg. When I was on the 75 mg dose, I tried many times to taper off of the drug. Like practically everyone else on this thread, I wasn’t successful due to the bad withdrawal symptoms. I’m going to be dropping back down from 150 mg to 75 mg in the next few weeks. At some point I would really like to be off this medication completely, but I have to say that I’m not very optimistic about being able to do it. It has been very helpful to read everyone’s comments. It makes me feel like I’m not alone.

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@time2650

Hi, I have been slowly withdrawing from effexor for months. I went from 200 down to 37.5 over three months. I was at 37.5 for a month and now I went completely off four days ago. I’m shaky, sweaty or cold and can’t sleep. How long will this last??

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How long until your symptoms disappeared? I have been without it for 1.5 weeks and it’s not fun. I have flue symptoms and feel shaky. I feel off, even colors seem different. I feel edgy too. When will this stop. I was on 35 for three weeks and then stopped. My doctor is offering to give me less, but I’m wondering if I should just push through?? Any advice ?

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There are many stories regarding Venlafaxine. This drug may have helped some people, but for the most part it has had a negative affect. I started on Effexor in about 2005. I started with celexa prior to that. Due to uncomfortable physical symptoms from celexa, the doctor put me on prozac. Having taken prozac for a period of time, I wanted to stop due to feeling blah and unemotional – zombie like. She put me on effexor. At that time, I still trusted and believed what big pharma said about these drugs. In between prozac & effexor, the doctor put me on wellbutrin. I ended up in the er with stroke like symptoms. I had several tests done in an attempt to discover what happened with no clear answers (I did not have a stroke). I continue to believe that I had a serious reaction to wellbutrin. In 2012, I attempted to quite effexor. My symptoms included dizziness, extreme fatigue, constant chills. I thought that I had a serious health problem. I went to the doctor and had several blood tests done, an upper GI, and a stress test. All tests were in the “normal” range. The doctor said I needed to go back on the effexor and of course I took her advice. Problem solved. In 2016, near the end, I decided that I needed to get off effexor as I was having health issues that I thought were related to using this drug. I started titrating down. I spent 10 months decreasing the dosage on a weekly basis. Fortunately, I never took a stronger dosage than 75mgs. Even so, the withdrawal symptoms hit. Not wanting to go to the doctor that recommended staying on effexor, I did this on my own. Searching for help with withdrawal, I found information about SAMe. Unfortunately, I did not do enough research. After taking 400 mgs. daily for about 3 weeks, I started having anxiety and insomnia. When I dug a little deeper, I discovered the possibility of numerous side effects from SAMe. I quit cold turkey. Now, not only was I having withdrawal from effexor, I was having it from SAMe too. Horrible withdrawal. Extreme emotions, shivering, anxiety, extreme fatigue, need for deep breathes. I didn’t know where to turn as I knew with traditional medical doctors, they would just want to throw drugs at the problem instead of finding the cause of the problems. I made an appointment to see a naturopath. My appointment is tomorrow and I’m hopeful. I have felt better the past 2 days and I may soon get past this. I have relied on prayer, a good diet, taking supplements and moderate exercise. I have avoided taking any of the amino acids recommended to increase serotonin as there can by significant problems as a result.

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@lilmac44

There are many stories regarding Venlafaxine. This drug may have helped some people, but for the most part it has had a negative affect. I started on Effexor in about 2005. I started with celexa prior to that. Due to uncomfortable physical symptoms from celexa, the doctor put me on prozac. Having taken prozac for a period of time, I wanted to stop due to feeling blah and unemotional – zombie like. She put me on effexor. At that time, I still trusted and believed what big pharma said about these drugs. In between prozac & effexor, the doctor put me on wellbutrin. I ended up in the er with stroke like symptoms. I had several tests done in an attempt to discover what happened with no clear answers (I did not have a stroke). I continue to believe that I had a serious reaction to wellbutrin. In 2012, I attempted to quite effexor. My symptoms included dizziness, extreme fatigue, constant chills. I thought that I had a serious health problem. I went to the doctor and had several blood tests done, an upper GI, and a stress test. All tests were in the “normal” range. The doctor said I needed to go back on the effexor and of course I took her advice. Problem solved. In 2016, near the end, I decided that I needed to get off effexor as I was having health issues that I thought were related to using this drug. I started titrating down. I spent 10 months decreasing the dosage on a weekly basis. Fortunately, I never took a stronger dosage than 75mgs. Even so, the withdrawal symptoms hit. Not wanting to go to the doctor that recommended staying on effexor, I did this on my own. Searching for help with withdrawal, I found information about SAMe. Unfortunately, I did not do enough research. After taking 400 mgs. daily for about 3 weeks, I started having anxiety and insomnia. When I dug a little deeper, I discovered the possibility of numerous side effects from SAMe. I quit cold turkey. Now, not only was I having withdrawal from effexor, I was having it from SAMe too. Horrible withdrawal. Extreme emotions, shivering, anxiety, extreme fatigue, need for deep breathes. I didn’t know where to turn as I knew with traditional medical doctors, they would just want to throw drugs at the problem instead of finding the cause of the problems. I made an appointment to see a naturopath. My appointment is tomorrow and I’m hopeful. I have felt better the past 2 days and I may soon get past this. I have relied on prayer, a good diet, taking supplements and moderate exercise. I have avoided taking any of the amino acids recommended to increase serotonin as there can by significant problems as a result.

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Please let us know what the naturopath says!

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I have been on only 37.5 Effexor XR for about a year, it is a wonderful fix to my bi polar mood swings and anxiety. But I am not myself… I had no highs and no lows. I am very uncaring about much of anything, I am not my fun crazy loud eccentric self anymore. My son would say ‘mom youre just not fun anymore’. That made me feel horrible. My fiancé I feel takes it personal as I am just not sexually interested anymore. I cant be ‘satisfied’. I’m never in the mood. I just always want to sleep. I haven’t been able to get up at 5am anymore and go to the gym as I always did. I was always in the gym. I recently got engaged and have been planning our wedding. When I went dress shopping I wasn’t really excited especially when I found the most perfect dress. I was like ehh. As if id rather be in bed sleeping.

Three days ago I decided to go cold turkey. I didn’t think about a withdraw, at all. I just wanted to be done with the medication and be my old self even with by bi-polarness mood swings and anxiety. Today is day 3 of not being on that medication I have been having the worst body aches, head aches, dizziness, insomnia yet super fatigued, eye pain, stomach pains and just constantly in the bathroom as if I have food poisoning. I’m constantly drinking coffee, water and taking Imodium and Ibuprofen. But I am still in such a fog and I feel myself getting snappy with my fiancé. I’m praying I get through this because I just want to be myself again. But I am thinking I may have to just start taking them again 🙁

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@missjill87

I have been on only 37.5 Effexor XR for about a year, it is a wonderful fix to my bi polar mood swings and anxiety. But I am not myself… I had no highs and no lows. I am very uncaring about much of anything, I am not my fun crazy loud eccentric self anymore. My son would say ‘mom youre just not fun anymore’. That made me feel horrible. My fiancé I feel takes it personal as I am just not sexually interested anymore. I cant be ‘satisfied’. I’m never in the mood. I just always want to sleep. I haven’t been able to get up at 5am anymore and go to the gym as I always did. I was always in the gym. I recently got engaged and have been planning our wedding. When I went dress shopping I wasn’t really excited especially when I found the most perfect dress. I was like ehh. As if id rather be in bed sleeping.

Three days ago I decided to go cold turkey. I didn’t think about a withdraw, at all. I just wanted to be done with the medication and be my old self even with by bi-polarness mood swings and anxiety. Today is day 3 of not being on that medication I have been having the worst body aches, head aches, dizziness, insomnia yet super fatigued, eye pain, stomach pains and just constantly in the bathroom as if I have food poisoning. I’m constantly drinking coffee, water and taking Imodium and Ibuprofen. But I am still in such a fog and I feel myself getting snappy with my fiancé. I’m praying I get through this because I just want to be myself again. But I am thinking I may have to just start taking them again 🙁

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Oh boy, can I ever relate to what you have written? Most of the time, I don’t feel or care about most things. I used to be a funny, happy, lovable woman, but not so much now. I really only seem to care about what happens to animals. I am vegan because I cannot bear what happens to farm animals. I have been going through withdrawal symptoms myself trying to get off of the meds. I have been doing this with my Dr’s help too. It is very hard and you must do it gradually as your body is used to having this medication all the time. Don’t go cold turkey, it is very dangerous and just not a good idea. Sex, what is that? It has been so long for me, I think I have forgotten it. I too do not get excited about anything anymore. I just don’t care. I used to be such a happy go lucky woman who always wanted to help others, but not now. I would rather stay home. I wish you well and keep in touch.

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Everything you have written sounds just like me. I am sitting at work right now just waiting till I can go home and lay down. I have zero interest in anything. Sex is a thing of the past, unfortunately for my husband. I am about to be a grandmother and want to be excited, I really do, but I feel I am a disappointment to my daughter because I just can’t seem to be all gaga over baby stuff. I try to fake it as much as I can but I am miserable. Also, going through menopause so this is a double whammy for me. God, I just pray I get through this soon.
Weird thing is I was only on 75 mg for 3 months so I just can’t see how it can still be from the Effexor but everything I read on here sounds just like me. I tapered myself for about 2 weeks then just quit and it has been a month since I just quit. How long till it is over? I am so tired I can barely sit here and type this. Also, my taste is so off; nothing tastes right.

I hope you can find a way to taper because I don’t think going cold turkey is safe for your body or mind.

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@lukekee

Everything you have written sounds just like me. I am sitting at work right now just waiting till I can go home and lay down. I have zero interest in anything. Sex is a thing of the past, unfortunately for my husband. I am about to be a grandmother and want to be excited, I really do, but I feel I am a disappointment to my daughter because I just can’t seem to be all gaga over baby stuff. I try to fake it as much as I can but I am miserable. Also, going through menopause so this is a double whammy for me. God, I just pray I get through this soon.
Weird thing is I was only on 75 mg for 3 months so I just can’t see how it can still be from the Effexor but everything I read on here sounds just like me. I tapered myself for about 2 weeks then just quit and it has been a month since I just quit. How long till it is over? I am so tired I can barely sit here and type this. Also, my taste is so off; nothing tastes right.

I hope you can find a way to taper because I don’t think going cold turkey is safe for your body or mind.

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I believe you are going through a deep depression and part of it is because of Menopause. I went through hell with my depression and anxiety when I went through Menopause. It lasts a number of years too. I did feel better for a while after it was over, but it didn’t take me long to get back to feeling the way I do now. We all are in this together and we may help each other a lot just by being honest about ourselves.

Liked by Lisa Lucier

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I have gotten desperate so I went to a gyno who put me on Prempro which made my moods way worse so actually got into see MY regular gyno who put me on Premarin and permetrium and I started those last night. I am praying that they will help me. I feel like crawling in a hole and not coming back out till I am through menopause but the problem with that is I am never comfortable in my own skin even when I am laying down by myself. I just have no quality of life right now and it sucks. All this on top of going off the Effexor is just almost too much.

A friend told me I need to ask for an anti-depressant and I told her going off one of those has created part of what I am going through now. I really don’t want to be on anything else that is this hard to get off of. I really don’t know what else I can do and quite frankly I don’t have the energy to do much. At this rate, I will not being a very good grandmother and I hate that so bad. I have always looked forward to be a grandmother (an active, happy, fun granny) but that isn’t what’s happening and my grand daughter will be here in less than a month.

I just want to feel good again; not great; just good if that makes any sense.

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@missjill87

I have been on only 37.5 Effexor XR for about a year, it is a wonderful fix to my bi polar mood swings and anxiety. But I am not myself… I had no highs and no lows. I am very uncaring about much of anything, I am not my fun crazy loud eccentric self anymore. My son would say ‘mom youre just not fun anymore’. That made me feel horrible. My fiancé I feel takes it personal as I am just not sexually interested anymore. I cant be ‘satisfied’. I’m never in the mood. I just always want to sleep. I haven’t been able to get up at 5am anymore and go to the gym as I always did. I was always in the gym. I recently got engaged and have been planning our wedding. When I went dress shopping I wasn’t really excited especially when I found the most perfect dress. I was like ehh. As if id rather be in bed sleeping.

Three days ago I decided to go cold turkey. I didn’t think about a withdraw, at all. I just wanted to be done with the medication and be my old self even with by bi-polarness mood swings and anxiety. Today is day 3 of not being on that medication I have been having the worst body aches, head aches, dizziness, insomnia yet super fatigued, eye pain, stomach pains and just constantly in the bathroom as if I have food poisoning. I’m constantly drinking coffee, water and taking Imodium and Ibuprofen. But I am still in such a fog and I feel myself getting snappy with my fiancé. I’m praying I get through this because I just want to be myself again. But I am thinking I may have to just start taking them again 🙁

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Hi, @missjill87. I wanted to add my welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. Sounds like you are having a challenging time in the midst of a time you’d like to feel “up” and excited. Congratulations on the upcoming wedding, by the way!

If you not gotten a chance yet to read through more of this thread on going off Effexor/venlafaxine, I would encourage you to do so. I believe you will find quite a number of members who’ve walked down similar paths with going cold turkey off this medication or tapering too fast.

You especially may want to take a look at this Mayo Clinic pharmacist’s input on going off Effexor/venlafaxine, here: https://connect.mayoclinic.org/comment/83750/bookmark/?ajax_hook=action&_wpnonce=67744af13f

Have you considered calling your doctor to help you through a taper plan (this may involve going back on the medication at some dosage to then slowly go back down) so that going off the medication might have fewer withdrawal symptoms?

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I’m about to start the process from Pristiq, same family. After much research and talking to both of my doctors I can pass this information: DO NOT GO COLD TURKEY. Slowly is the way to go, e.g. 1/4 mg. drop every 4 to 6 weeks. There are one or two other ways it can be done. If at all possible don’t do this alone, have medical supervision, tell your friends and family. If necessary find a support group as the antidepressants don’t come with a ‘warning, hard to withdraw from’ statements. I’m a week into cutting down by a quarter, so far so good. Pristiq comes in a square so I split them in half on the diagonal then I can split that half into a quarter when needed.
Other than this eat healthy, exercise, be social when possible and stay busy.
Good luck to both of us.

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