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

@merpreb

Thank you @texasdutchess- This has been found to be very short acting and very addicting. When picking out remedies for drug withdrawal symptoms it's important not to substitute one bad ride for another. Yesterday I had an endoscopy. The drug they used to put me out was anesthetic propofol. This was one of the drugs that killed Michael Jackson. I could see why he loved this drug. After I woke up and on the ride home I could see why he loved the drug. I felt drunk- a good drunk. I was happy and laughing. But it wore off very quickly.

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@grandmar
Hi Ronnie,
Vit D doesn’t help me sleep either but it benefits you from your brain to bones and many many things in between. Get tested, please.
Take care,
Jake

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@jakedduck1

@grandmar
Hi Ronnie,
Vit D doesn’t help me sleep either but it benefits you from your brain to bones and many many things in between. Get tested, please.
Take care,
Jake

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@jakedduck1
Good Morning!
I've actually been tested for a Vit D deficiency. I had weight loss surgery 2 years ago and that is one of the things they test for regularly. Mine was a little low so I take a double dose each day. I also get Vit D in other vitamins I have to take.
Thanks for the concern!!!
Ronnie

BTW……How are you doing???????????

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@sadiesmom

Just an fyi to those of you who are struggling….I started my withdrawal in October 2017. BAD time of year for me as I lost my son to PTSD on 1/3/12 and the holidays are a KILLER. I took Effexor for almost ten years (started after divorce after 31 years of marriage and my son was on his third deployment to Iraq). This medication was slowly killing me: kidney problems, 75 lb weight gain in 4 years, high pb, trigliceryds, (sp?), insomnia, and I generally slept 16 to 18 hours a day. I had to retire from a job that I DEARLY loved. The light bulb finally came on to me that I had to do something to get a hold of my life and start living again. In the past 10 months, I have lost 50 lbs, am Effexor free, but NOT without horrendous withdrawal effects. I was being seen by a gastro doctor for extreme conditions. Couldn't keep anything down and what did stay down was immediately passed creating a problem so horrible that I literally didn't leave my home for months. I resorted to adult diapers at the age of 58. I was devastated. After spending thousands of dollars and still no answers, I did a ton of research on the withdrawal effects of Effexor. There I found my answers. I am still losing weight as I am finding new and more active things to do with my life. I bought a bicycle! I ride 8 to 10 miles a day. It really helps curb the anxiety, which I still find a problem. I'm working with a therapist on how to learn to deal with the loss of my son….he was only 29 when he left this world and I will grieve for him until I die….I know that. My advice for anyone is 1) REFUSE to ingest this drug in any dosage, shape or form. Cymbalta is in the same classification, so I would steer clear of that as well. Besides, one of its worst side effects is chronic diarrhea. My "medication provider" as she called herself (I always thought a psychiatrist had to dispense these meds but that's what she called herself) refused to prescribe anything for anxiety as long as I wasn't taking an antidepressant. My pcp stepped up and LISTENED TO ME and is closely monitoring this medication. I have SWORN to never take any antidepressant drugs ever again. The withdrawal put me in the hospital twice with severe dehydration, hallucinations and I really thought I was going to die. There were days when I prayed I would to stop the hell. My advice is to take is SLOW. And I mean REALLY slow. If it takes you 6 or 9 months or longer to totally withdraw, then so be it. Your body will thank you for it. And so will your mind. In my opinion, it is only by the Grace of God that I am sitting here writing this…..these medications (poisons) are nothing to fool with.

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Thankyou I have been off Effexor for 7 months I weaned off but my anxiety is so so bad I want you o give up

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@marleneace

Hi. I went from 300mg effexor to 60mg of cymbalta with very, very minimal side effects in 2 weeks. I am through with effexor, and solely on cymbalta, 120mg a day. No noticeable side effects. I was very lucky. Took effexor about 6 yrs.

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Hi, @marleneace – I imagine you were very relieved to make that transition from venlafaxine (Effexor) to duloxetine (Cymbalta) with very minimal side effects.

Just wanted to suggest you may want to check out, and if you'd like, participate in this Mayo Clinic Connect discussion on duloxetine (Cymbalta) https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/cymbalta/ to read about the experiences of others on this medication and ask any questions you may have.

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Coming off this medication may well be a difficult thing to endure but I can think of worse things and I remind myself of that every day, especially when withdrawal symptoms rear their ugly head. I really try to focus on the gains and to find supportive people who can remind me that I'm strong and that I can do this.

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@agiusto

Thankyou I have been off Effexor for 7 months I weaned off but my anxiety is so so bad I want you o give up

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@agiusto I did not have anxiety before Effexor and began experiencing it 6.5 weeks after my last dose (I slowly tapered off just 25mg, used for 18 years). Certain supplements are well-known to buffer the effects of withdrawal and using supplements has kept me from jumping off the ledge. If you’re really struggling to recover from your withdrawal, the right supplements can make a huge difference in expediting your recovery. Eventually, you’ll want to be both drug and supplement free. It took me some experimenting to figure out what worked for me (click on my name to see my posts) and it's always recommended to check with your doctor before using any supplements. Some folks recommend cutting out sugar and caffeine as well, but I don't think there's any reason to go to extremes! Here are some supplements you might consider:

Fish Oil—One of the quickest ways to help the brain heal is to supplement with high-quality omega-3s; you get significantly more omega-3s per serving [in fish oil] than in krill oil. Omega-3s may significantly improve symptoms of anxiety and may help improve irritability.

L-tryptophan—L-tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is an indirect precursor to serotonin. It takes the brain a while to figure out that it’s no longer getting any serotonin from Effexor; by taking L-tryptophan, you’ll increase the level of serotonin within the brain. This helps reduce anxiety, can improve mood and decrease insomnia. You should not take while still on Effexor.

GABA—GABA is one of the most important brain neurotransmitters for mood regulation and boosting alpha brain waves; it calms you down, reduces anxiety, curbs insomnia and decreases agitation. Oral GABA stimulates GABA receptors in the stomach which are capable of communicating with neurons in the brain (much of the GABA found in the body is produced in the gut).

B Vitamins—B3 aids in the conversion of tryptophan and B6 helps the body make the hormones serotonin (which regulates mood) and norepinephrine (which helps your body cope with stress).—Excerpted from Mental Health Daily

Ashwagandha—It has a significant effect on the stress hormone cortisol, reducing it by 25% and is very helpful at calming anxiety of all kinds. Ashwagandha is safe to be consumed for 6–8 weeks; following this, abstain for a month before resuming consumption to avoid dependence.

Magnesium—Magnesium l-threonate, a relatively new, little-known supplement, has the unique ability to permeate brain cell membranes and elevate magnesium concentrations in the brain which makes it particularly useful for treating anxiety and depression and for cognitive enhancement.

Lemon balm—Lemon balm has been purported to possess sedative, or tranquilizing effects. Lemon balm essential oil can interact with GABA receptors in the brain and also increase alpha waves similarly to GABA. The Natural Medicines database has rated Lemon Balm as Possibly Effective for improving symptoms of anxiety.—Nootriment.com

Kava kava—This herb increases the number of attachment sites for GABA in the brain.—Livestrong.com

Rhodiola rosea extract modulates the enzyme monoamine oxidase which metabolizes serotonin.—Nootriment.com This herbal supplement can help combat fatigue, increase energy, reduce depression, and even help with anxiety.—https://mentalhealthdaily.com/2015/03/19/10-best-supplements-for-antidepressant-withdrawal/

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@texasduchess

@agiusto I did not have anxiety before Effexor and began experiencing it 6.5 weeks after my last dose (I slowly tapered off just 25mg, used for 18 years). Certain supplements are well-known to buffer the effects of withdrawal and using supplements has kept me from jumping off the ledge. If you’re really struggling to recover from your withdrawal, the right supplements can make a huge difference in expediting your recovery. Eventually, you’ll want to be both drug and supplement free. It took me some experimenting to figure out what worked for me (click on my name to see my posts) and it's always recommended to check with your doctor before using any supplements. Some folks recommend cutting out sugar and caffeine as well, but I don't think there's any reason to go to extremes! Here are some supplements you might consider:

Fish Oil—One of the quickest ways to help the brain heal is to supplement with high-quality omega-3s; you get significantly more omega-3s per serving [in fish oil] than in krill oil. Omega-3s may significantly improve symptoms of anxiety and may help improve irritability.

L-tryptophan—L-tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is an indirect precursor to serotonin. It takes the brain a while to figure out that it’s no longer getting any serotonin from Effexor; by taking L-tryptophan, you’ll increase the level of serotonin within the brain. This helps reduce anxiety, can improve mood and decrease insomnia. You should not take while still on Effexor.

GABA—GABA is one of the most important brain neurotransmitters for mood regulation and boosting alpha brain waves; it calms you down, reduces anxiety, curbs insomnia and decreases agitation. Oral GABA stimulates GABA receptors in the stomach which are capable of communicating with neurons in the brain (much of the GABA found in the body is produced in the gut).

B Vitamins—B3 aids in the conversion of tryptophan and B6 helps the body make the hormones serotonin (which regulates mood) and norepinephrine (which helps your body cope with stress).—Excerpted from Mental Health Daily

Ashwagandha—It has a significant effect on the stress hormone cortisol, reducing it by 25% and is very helpful at calming anxiety of all kinds. Ashwagandha is safe to be consumed for 6–8 weeks; following this, abstain for a month before resuming consumption to avoid dependence.

Magnesium—Magnesium l-threonate, a relatively new, little-known supplement, has the unique ability to permeate brain cell membranes and elevate magnesium concentrations in the brain which makes it particularly useful for treating anxiety and depression and for cognitive enhancement.

Lemon balm—Lemon balm has been purported to possess sedative, or tranquilizing effects. Lemon balm essential oil can interact with GABA receptors in the brain and also increase alpha waves similarly to GABA. The Natural Medicines database has rated Lemon Balm as Possibly Effective for improving symptoms of anxiety.—Nootriment.com

Kava kava—This herb increases the number of attachment sites for GABA in the brain.—Livestrong.com

Rhodiola rosea extract modulates the enzyme monoamine oxidase which metabolizes serotonin.—Nootriment.com This herbal supplement can help combat fatigue, increase energy, reduce depression, and even help with anxiety.—https://mentalhealthdaily.com/2015/03/19/10-best-supplements-for-antidepressant-withdrawal/

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@texasdutchess- Thank you for your recommendations. I want to "second" what @texasdutchess has said about supplements. Please check with your doctor- or even your pharmacist! I have used my pharmacist as a great resource for information about any drug, interactions with other meds and supplements and what they can interfere with. Some of these supplements have been known to interfere with other drugs. Some have been shown to not work at all. SO be very careful.
Here is some help for you: https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements
Hope that this helps and that you are soon on your way to a more balanced life.

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@careth2

Hi there! I am new to Connect, but hopefully can offer some insight. I DID go off 150 Effexor XR (name brand) COLD TURKEY on January 2016. I survived it, but will never in my life EVER go off ANY antidepressant cold turkey. I had taken Effexor for at least 8 years, Zoloft prior to that and and Imipramine (sp?) as the first antidepressant (in all 25+ years on antidepressants.) It all started with running out of meds over a long weekend and deciding it was time to try to get off antidepressants to see how I would do. Since I had recently retired from teaching, thought this would be an ideal time to give it a go. In addition, Effexor just wasn’t helping all that much anymore (I thought.) The first 3 days I felt like I was going to die! When I realized that I wasn’t dying, decided to keep going to get it all over with. In addition to the symptoms you have heard about, I had deep bone/joint pain that felt like I was being pinched with clamps. Also had skin sensations and peeling, and noticed a strange smell on my skin. Each day got a little better and by the 3rd week started to function a bit more normally. I was very emotional, however, which caused my family great concern. Well, to make a long story short, the depression crept back in full and I am still trying to get my life back. I did everything I could to stay stable, including herbal supplements and took a vacation where I hiked 6 miles daily for 9 days on hilly, rocky terrain. I finally had to accept that I’m a person who will need antidepressants for the rest of my life. With the help of a PCP and counselor, I am on my 3rd antidepressant & may need to resort to going back on Effexor, because nothing seems to be working. All in all, in my opinion, the chronic depression is worse than the withdrawal symptoms that do eventually end. If you are a person with situational depression, you may be successful weaning off Effexor gradually. If I were to do it again, that’s what I would do (while replacing Effexor with something else.) Here are the things that helped me with the physical withdrawal symptoms:
1. Get plenty of sleep/rest.
2. Eat a very well-balanced diet (this is not the time to worry about your weight.) Lots of soup & easy to digest foods the 1st few days.
3. Drink plenty of water, including coconut water.
4. Have a glass of wine in the evening (if advisable.)
5. Get outside and walk or other excersize (the warm sunshine will feel good!)
6. Hot yoga 3-4 times per week. Stay in class even if you feel nauseous & can only do a few postures.
7. Soak in a hot tub (with bath salts if available.)
8. Use a good moisturizer on face & body several times per day.
9. Get several professional massages.
10. Take Tylenol for muscle pain, if OK on your stomach.
11. A heating pad is also helpful at bedtime or during naps.
12. If you are single & live alone, make sure a few trusted friends/family members know what you are doing.
13. In general, be kind & gentle to yourself.
14. NEVER give up! Keep going, even when you don’t feel like it (which will be often.) YOU ARE WORTH IT!!!

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@careth2 I really like your advice. It’s hopeful. I’m getting off effexor and I’m at 12.5 am and again 12.5 pm. And I don’t feel good – have nausea and crying and headache and general anxiety. Dr. wants me to add prozac but I’m afraid because there’s startup issues with SSRIs that might make all this worse. What do you think? Appreciate your kind thoughts.

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@nancy54

@careth2 I really like your advice. It’s hopeful. I’m getting off effexor and I’m at 12.5 am and again 12.5 pm. And I don’t feel good – have nausea and crying and headache and general anxiety. Dr. wants me to add prozac but I’m afraid because there’s startup issues with SSRIs that might make all this worse. What do you think? Appreciate your kind thoughts.

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@careth2
Hi!
I am also in the process of weaning down my Effexor.
How often were you making reductions?
How were the reductions made?
You have to 'read' your own body. No one, not even a doctor can tell you how you feel. Doctors can only relate info based on readings and patients' expe6.
As I am sure you know, we all are different.
Now, I'm not in the medical field so all I can do is offer suggestions based on my own experiences.
This is my 2nd try at weaning off.
The first time I followed a schedule my doc made.
I reduced too much, too fast and it was a HORRIBLE site.
First, if you are having such issues, why not add back a little Effexor. Possibly 1/4 – 1/2 a pill in the am or pm. If that doesn't help, possibly add to the pm , too.
I takr two 75mg in the am and pm.
I reduce 1/4 of one pm pill every other day for 2-3 weeks. If I am Ok, then I do it every night for 2-3 weeks.
If I have issues, I plan on adding back 1/4 pill in the pm until I feel ready to try again.
I do not intend to come off altogether, just take what I consider to be a reasonable amount.
BTW….I am doing this on my own. My doc left the practice and I haven't been to a new one.
I hope this helps!
Good luck!
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)
😎

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@grandmar

@careth2
Hi!
I am also in the process of weaning down my Effexor.
How often were you making reductions?
How were the reductions made?
You have to 'read' your own body. No one, not even a doctor can tell you how you feel. Doctors can only relate info based on readings and patients' expe6.
As I am sure you know, we all are different.
Now, I'm not in the medical field so all I can do is offer suggestions based on my own experiences.
This is my 2nd try at weaning off.
The first time I followed a schedule my doc made.
I reduced too much, too fast and it was a HORRIBLE site.
First, if you are having such issues, why not add back a little Effexor. Possibly 1/4 – 1/2 a pill in the am or pm. If that doesn't help, possibly add to the pm , too.
I takr two 75mg in the am and pm.
I reduce 1/4 of one pm pill every other day for 2-3 weeks. If I am Ok, then I do it every night for 2-3 weeks.
If I have issues, I plan on adding back 1/4 pill in the pm until I feel ready to try again.
I do not intend to come off altogether, just take what I consider to be a reasonable amount.
BTW….I am doing this on my own. My doc left the practice and I haven't been to a new one.
I hope this helps!
Good luck!
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)
😎

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Well I have been weaning off since November. From one 75 mg pill once a day. Went to a few weeks on 37.5 then 2 weeks on 25 then to 12.5. Then all of a sudden the shit hit the fan. All the discontinuation symptoms at once! So I bumped back to 12.5 morning and evening but still headaches and nausea and emotional stuff. Trying to be kind to myself and take it slowly- let my body tell me how to proceed. But don’t know if adding Prozac is right.

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@nancy54

Well I have been weaning off since November. From one 75 mg pill once a day. Went to a few weeks on 37.5 then 2 weeks on 25 then to 12.5. Then all of a sudden the shit hit the fan. All the discontinuation symptoms at once! So I bumped back to 12.5 morning and evening but still headaches and nausea and emotional stuff. Trying to be kind to myself and take it slowly- let my body tell me how to proceed. But don’t know if adding Prozac is right.

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Sounds like you went slowly. I know that a few members have added another med while weaning in order to reduce withdrawal.
Good luck!
Ronnie

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@agiusto

Thankyou I have been off Effexor for 7 months I weaned off but my anxiety is so so bad I want you o give up

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Hi, @agiusto – welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. Hard with having weaned off the venlafaxine (Effexor) and experiencing such bad anxiety. Perhaps members here will have some ideas for you of what they have used effectively for anxiety. Has your doctor suggested something to take, now that you are off the venlafaxine (Effexor)?

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