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

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I started taking out beads about a week ago. I'm down to one 75 mg capsule so I took out 10 beads (there are about 90 beads in one capsule). Seems to be fine. I did taper pretty quickly from 225, I just began the process in September. But some withdrawal is inevitable, in my experience, as long as its bearable I'm ok with it. Good luck!

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I don't know if this will be helpful, but here are some numbers from my taper, which I did by counting beads (I found a site online that gave me the number of beads in the capsules; it gave 486 beads for 150 mg, so I used that). I used beads instead of mg as the basis for my taper because it was simpler — that's the form my medication came in.
I don't have the number of beads for all of my taper, but here's what I do have: 60 mg – 195 beads; 44.75 mg – 145 beads; 29.32 mg – 95 beads; 13.89 mg – 45 beads; 9.26 mg – 30 beads; 7.7 mg – 25 beads; 6.17 mg – 20 beads; 4.62 mg – 15 beads; 3.1 mg – 10 beads; 1.54 mg – 5 beads. I know the mg numbers are odd, but once I got to 195 beads, I was cutting down by 50 beads per week, and then I cut down by fewer beads as I got to the end of the line, in order to make that final bit of tapering off very gradual.
I started my taper by taking out 10 beads from the 486 and doing that for two weeks, then 10 more for two weeks, etc., but I figured out very quickly that it would take me close to two years at that rate, so I said “the hell with it'' and dropped down by 50 beads per week. Counting out those damn beads was incredibly tedious!!! For a while I was removing the necessary number from my scrip capsules, but it got to be easier, as the number went down, to use gelatin capsules and put the right number of beads into them.
I never had brain zaps, but I had sleep difficulties (for which I took 3 mg time-release melatonin when I couldn't sleep and allowed myself to sleep for long stretches when I could; I'm retired, so I have that luxury), temperament difficulties (flashes of strong anger especially) and other discomfort, but nothing that overwhelmed me. I tried to walk regularly, I watched my sugar and caffeine intake, I ate enough protein and good carbs to keep my blood sugar stable and I took lots of high-potency supplements of various vitamins plus fish oil, turmeric, CoQ10, zinc, potassium and calcium.
The process was not easy, but I wanted so much to be free of venlafaxine that I was determined to do it.
As I've written recently, I wanted off the drug because it wasn't working for me and I didn't want to go to a higher dose, plus I hated the brain zaps if I missed even one day. If it had still been working, I'd have stayed with it; it wouldn't even have occurred to me to quit. After being off for 4 months, the depression and especially the anxiety returned. I tried meditation, cognitive behavioral therapy, water soluble CBD and exercise, but I wasn't able to get rid of them and was exhausted from trying, so I'm now on Wellbutrin (I'm still taking the CBD) and it's making a huge difference. I hope that continues. If it doesn't, I'll try another drug — but no SSRIs because my body doesn't like them at all. I've learned by trial and error — and accepted — that my brain needs the help, and that's OK. Best of luck to all of you!!

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@shaker1956

Hi folks. Sorry I dont know how to put a new story on here so it looks like I’m replying to GrandmaR.

Today I had my last infusion of Chemo!!!!! To say thats a relief is the absolute truth. When we left the Cancer Centre exit door my wife and I hugged fir a long period od time and we even shed a tear!!!!! Its been a very long and stressful 6 months. Though I’m not religious, I do believe in God and he takes care of us believers. Not preaching —just saying. Now I look forward to the birth of our 4th grandchils mid next month. And I look forward to all this whit s**t to go away so I can peddle my ass around the city and get back into shape. But I will take my time getting back in shape. My once muscular legs have whittled to stork like features and my belly has increased in size. Hahaha. But thats ok. I’m very very fortunate to have only lost 10 pounds over this period. I must say that even though I will have to deal with cancer until I’m gone I still consider myself a lucky man cause their are people out there that are a lot worse off than I am. My cancer is incurable but manageable. Much like Diabetes said my Oncologist. I can live with that. Lolol. So I just wanted to update you all on this. Sorry there GmaR for using ur post. Hope this day is a happy one for everyone. If not go look in the mirror and smile!!!!!! You have lved another day!!!!!!’ Some are not as fortunate!!!!!

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Congratulations of all the wonderful news!!!!!

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@kbmayo

I don't know if this will be helpful, but here are some numbers from my taper, which I did by counting beads (I found a site online that gave me the number of beads in the capsules; it gave 486 beads for 150 mg, so I used that). I used beads instead of mg as the basis for my taper because it was simpler — that's the form my medication came in.
I don't have the number of beads for all of my taper, but here's what I do have: 60 mg – 195 beads; 44.75 mg – 145 beads; 29.32 mg – 95 beads; 13.89 mg – 45 beads; 9.26 mg – 30 beads; 7.7 mg – 25 beads; 6.17 mg – 20 beads; 4.62 mg – 15 beads; 3.1 mg – 10 beads; 1.54 mg – 5 beads. I know the mg numbers are odd, but once I got to 195 beads, I was cutting down by 50 beads per week, and then I cut down by fewer beads as I got to the end of the line, in order to make that final bit of tapering off very gradual.
I started my taper by taking out 10 beads from the 486 and doing that for two weeks, then 10 more for two weeks, etc., but I figured out very quickly that it would take me close to two years at that rate, so I said “the hell with it'' and dropped down by 50 beads per week. Counting out those damn beads was incredibly tedious!!! For a while I was removing the necessary number from my scrip capsules, but it got to be easier, as the number went down, to use gelatin capsules and put the right number of beads into them.
I never had brain zaps, but I had sleep difficulties (for which I took 3 mg time-release melatonin when I couldn't sleep and allowed myself to sleep for long stretches when I could; I'm retired, so I have that luxury), temperament difficulties (flashes of strong anger especially) and other discomfort, but nothing that overwhelmed me. I tried to walk regularly, I watched my sugar and caffeine intake, I ate enough protein and good carbs to keep my blood sugar stable and I took lots of high-potency supplements of various vitamins plus fish oil, turmeric, CoQ10, zinc, potassium and calcium.
The process was not easy, but I wanted so much to be free of venlafaxine that I was determined to do it.
As I've written recently, I wanted off the drug because it wasn't working for me and I didn't want to go to a higher dose, plus I hated the brain zaps if I missed even one day. If it had still been working, I'd have stayed with it; it wouldn't even have occurred to me to quit. After being off for 4 months, the depression and especially the anxiety returned. I tried meditation, cognitive behavioral therapy, water soluble CBD and exercise, but I wasn't able to get rid of them and was exhausted from trying, so I'm now on Wellbutrin (I'm still taking the CBD) and it's making a huge difference. I hope that continues. If it doesn't, I'll try another drug — but no SSRIs because my body doesn't like them at all. I've learned by trial and error — and accepted — that my brain needs the help, and that's OK. Best of luck to all of you!!

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My functional medicine doctor recommended this supplement. @kbmayo did you try a supplement with any of these ingredients?
I'm just so nervous about making things worse. The last 2 days have been bad.

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@grandmar

Congratulations of all the wonderful news!!!!!

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Thank yo very much GrandM

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@grandmar

So sorry for all you are going through!
As far as being alone and afraid, especially at night, what about one of those help pendants. You know. The one people make fun of "help I've fallen and I can't get up."
I wear one when I am alone because I have an issue of falling.
Just a thought.
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

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Than you Ronnie and Mary for good advise. Assisted living. No. Not at this time but certainly will be something to think about if I win the lottery. I also have thought about the "Please help I'm falling" pendant because I do take walks by myself and drive many places alone. My son used to tell me that especially when I took the dogs for a walk. I do need to be more proactive. I will start taking my cell phone and my glasses to see the cell phone to bed. I also read that you should keep your cars keys besides you so if you hear something or see someone outside you can push the panic button and wake up your neighbors. This can get you help from your neighbors or scare someone off.

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@summertime4

Than you Ronnie and Mary for good advise. Assisted living. No. Not at this time but certainly will be something to think about if I win the lottery. I also have thought about the "Please help I'm falling" pendant because I do take walks by myself and drive many places alone. My son used to tell me that especially when I took the dogs for a walk. I do need to be more proactive. I will start taking my cell phone and my glasses to see the cell phone to bed. I also read that you should keep your cars keys besides you so if you hear something or see someone outside you can push the panic button and wake up your neighbors. This can get you help from your neighbors or scare someone off.

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@summertime4– Yes, there you go! All great suggestions! I do think that wearing an alarm is a great idea. I'm very glad that you are getting out! We all need to be proactive because no one else will do it for you!

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@teachols

My functional medicine doctor recommended this supplement. @kbmayo did you try a supplement with any of these ingredients?
I'm just so nervous about making things worse. The last 2 days have been bad.

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@teachols
I would NOT take this supplement while on venlafaxine (generic name for Effexor).

RxList says, "St. John's wort oral, 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-htp) oral and venlafaxine oral increase affecting serotonin levels in the blood. Too much serotonin is a potentially life-threatening situation. Severe signs and symptoms include high blood pressure and increased heart rate that lead to shock."

I experienced serotonin syndrome when both my regular doctor and breast reconstruction surgeon ignored that I was on 25mg of Effexor and had me take other drugs that interacted with Effexor (dextromethorphan and fentanyl). It took a couple of days of being on all these drugs at the same time for the whammy to hit me, but the worst aspect of this was the extreme fear of any and everything (I knew there was nothing to be afraid of, but knowing made no difference) and agitation/restlessness/unable to keep from pacing (akathisia). I had no idea that these drugs interacted with Effexor and I suspect that my doctors thought since I was only on 25mg that interaction was unlikely!

Your taper is too much too fast. Try going back to the higher dose and see if your withdrawal symptoms ease. Stay there for a while (couple of weeks?) before tapering again to not so much less and stay there for some weeks before tapering again. You can also ask your doctor about a "Prozac bridge."

You can click on my name to read my previous posts about the Prozac bridge and to see the supplements I am taking (but I did NOT start any of these until I was OFF Effexor completely; the Lidtke tryptophan I take is definitely NOT something to take while on Effexor).

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I was on 75 mg daily for well over 20 years. I had tried the Drs. Suggestions about going to 37.5 for 2 weeks and then stopping which was, as most of you know, inefficient to say the least! I finally opened the capsules and took out about 5 pellets at a time. All went pretty well until the very end ( after a year). It seems that now I am completely off them I am having headaches daily, am anxious and cry easily. Why now when it did not happen during the year I was reducing dosage. The final month I was down to 5 pellet dosage so it was really gradual. Any suggestions. I purchased a CBT workbook this weekend

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@saku

I was on 75 mg daily for well over 20 years. I had tried the Drs. Suggestions about going to 37.5 for 2 weeks and then stopping which was, as most of you know, inefficient to say the least! I finally opened the capsules and took out about 5 pellets at a time. All went pretty well until the very end ( after a year). It seems that now I am completely off them I am having headaches daily, am anxious and cry easily. Why now when it did not happen during the year I was reducing dosage. The final month I was down to 5 pellet dosage so it was really gradual. Any suggestions. I purchased a CBT workbook this weekend

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@saku
I did not have any difficulty with withdrawal until 6.5 weeks AFTER my last tapered dose. Effexor/venlafaxine gets stored in fatty tissue all over your body and I think it took 6.5 weeks for my body to use up all the bits in all the nooks and crannies. Like you I was not on that much (25mg) for a long time (18 years). The anxiety, akathisia and irritability were very not like me, so I knew it was discontinuation syndrome/withdrawal effect. You can click on my name and read back through my posts to see what supplements I am taking; they help tremendously–especially Lidtke tryptophan (cannot be taken while on Effexor) and GABA. It's been 10 months since my last dose of Effexor and even with the supplements, I have some days when anxiety and akathisia break through–weekends are really tough; I need distraction, not contemplation. Also, be mindful of what you watch on TV, read, or listen to–some things are just too agitating. It is getting better–I feel "normal" most of the time; it helps to know that for some of us, recovery (PAWS–post-acute withdrawal syndrome–https://www.addictionsandrecovery.org/post-acute-withdrawal.htm) can be as long as a couple of years.

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@frediz

Hi all, during last 5 months I reduced effexor from 150mg to 18.75mg. I was on 18.75 per day in last month. Not an easy process, but I was so committed to end it. I need advice from those of you who have been there. Should I take 18.75 every other day or make it 9.3mg per day in this phase? And how long do you suggest to continue this phase until full stop? Any help is appreciated

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I would not recommend alternating days. I tried that and it was very unpleasant.

Currently I'm just over a week since my last dose. I used Prozac as a bridge. So it's possible. Taking your time helps.

I'm not doing too bad for withdrawal so far :). Maybe I'll get lucky and not have any long term symptoms. But I'm keeping a careful eye on things. Too early to tell.

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@texasduchess

@saku
I did not have any difficulty with withdrawal until 6.5 weeks AFTER my last tapered dose. Effexor/venlafaxine gets stored in fatty tissue all over your body and I think it took 6.5 weeks for my body to use up all the bits in all the nooks and crannies. Like you I was not on that much (25mg) for a long time (18 years). The anxiety, akathisia and irritability were very not like me, so I knew it was discontinuation syndrome/withdrawal effect. You can click on my name and read back through my posts to see what supplements I am taking; they help tremendously–especially Lidtke tryptophan (cannot be taken while on Effexor) and GABA. It's been 10 months since my last dose of Effexor and even with the supplements, I have some days when anxiety and akathisia break through–weekends are really tough; I need distraction, not contemplation. Also, be mindful of what you watch on TV, read, or listen to–some things are just too agitating. It is getting better–I feel "normal" most of the time; it helps to know that for some of us, recovery (PAWS–post-acute withdrawal syndrome–https://www.addictionsandrecovery.org/post-acute-withdrawal.htm) can be as long as a couple of years.

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I did not know they got stored up in fatty tissue. This helps to know. I will also look for these supplements. Thank you.

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