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

@ahnjdb92

I reaaly appreciate the different circumstances and how everyone is so different. I have been on effexor 225 for years. Due to ins problems, my GP recommended Wellbutrin. Altjough I heard about tapering of course I was too arrogant to think it applied to me. I went to 150mg effexor for one week and then switched to welbutrin (low does). Two days just nauses but now can barely function.

Always feel like I am in a dense fog, dizzy, and in my 90s. excessive crying, nauses, can’t get a good quality of sleep, night sweats, arm and leg tingles and the trembling atnight. Cut off caffeine as it makes me more nausea. Can muster up some energy for a few hours a day. How long will this last? I really need some good advice.

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@ahnjdb92
The fogginess and dizziness puts you at high risk of falling–not good at your age. Tell your doctor ASAP the effects you are experiencing. The switch from Effexor to Wellbutrin sounds too fast at too steep a reduction.

This is a really good article about how to switch from one antidepressant to another–https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4919171/

You mentioned insurance problems as why you are getting off Effexor–here's some info from another thread here at Mayo Clinic–"I use discount cards supplied by the manufacturers to help you cover your copay. If you will go to https://www.effexorxr.com/, you can sign up for a discount card that will allow you to pay as little as $4 for a thirty day supply. As long as Medicare or Medicaid is not your primary insurance [this might be an issue for you], you will receive a significant discount and these are available for most drugs and if you still can not afford any drug prescribed, most of the pharmaceutical companies have programs to help you get the medicine you need."

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@texasduchess

@farmboy
My doctor gave me a prescription for 5mg Valium that I can take when the anxiety and akathisia get out of control; I usually get relief with 1/2 of one 5mg tablet. I used my first prescription (15 pills) between June 20 and the end of August (my doctor had me take three days off work and take 2 whole pills each day to "get ahead" of the anxiety and akathisia and then, use as needed); I still have 26 out of the bottle of 30 pills picked up at the beginning of September.

Other folks have used a "Prozac bridge" to get through the withdrawal.

If you click on my name, you can read my previous posts. I've mentioned several times the supplements I'm taking. Lidtk* l-tryptophan (you CANNOT take while on Effexor) and GABA have helped me the most with anxiety. I also picked up Natural Calm, a magnesium supplement you mix and drink, from CVS. You're supposed to take it regularly for it to be effective; I only tried it once, or twice when things were really bad; I couldn't wait several days for relief–I took the Valium.

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Texasduchess,have you ever heard of Lumiday? I researched it today and asked the guy at GNC about it.. He said it's a good product and hard to keep on the shelf this time of year. The reviews I have read seems to be good to. Let me know what you think please. Thank you, Farmboy.

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@farmboy

Texasduchess,have you ever heard of Lumiday? I researched it today and asked the guy at GNC about it.. He said it's a good product and hard to keep on the shelf this time of year. The reviews I have read seems to be good to. Let me know what you think please. Thank you, Farmboy.

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@farmboy
This is the first I've heard of this product–but I shop at Vitamin Sh*ppe and I don't see this on their website. I believe you are still taking some Effexor–Lumiday contains St. John's Wort and 5-HTP–both of these can cause serotonin syndrome when taken with Effexor. (I experienced serotonin syndrome twice while only ever on 25mg of Effexor when both my PCP and breast reconstruction surgeon had me take other medications that shouldn't be taken with Effexor).

It has various D and B vitamins. It also contains ashwagandha (this is one of the supplements I take) and rhodiola rosea (another supplement I've used now and again; a small study found it to be effective in reducing depressive symptoms and had fewer side effects than those who took sertraline). L-theanine may reduce stress and anxiety, but can cause sleepiness. Guess, this is why the maker suggests that you not drive while using Lumiday.

Mostly, I'd be concerned about the St. John's Wort and 5-HTP if still on any amount of Effexor.

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@farmboy
I went back and read your previous posts. When the withdrawal symptoms are too much, the usual recommendation is to go back to the dose where you didn't have those W/D effects, stay there for a while (weeks, months, etc.) before again tapering to not so big a drop. Your tapers have been pretty steep and you haven't stayed at the next lower dose for long. You may think you're losing ground by going back, but the discomfort you're experiencing is not worth it. The main advice on this site is go slow. Some suggest no more than a 5-10% drop at a time (or even less if your W/D is bad). I'm not sure if you're still at 37.5mg, or if you've gone to 0. Depending on where you are, you can try going back to 75mg, or 37.5mg and see if you get relief. After some weeks (or even months), you can taper to a slightly smaller dose, stay there weeks and then, try tapering again.

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@texasduchess

@farmboy
I went back and read your previous posts. When the withdrawal symptoms are too much, the usual recommendation is to go back to the dose where you didn't have those W/D effects, stay there for a while (weeks, months, etc.) before again tapering to not so big a drop. Your tapers have been pretty steep and you haven't stayed at the next lower dose for long. You may think you're losing ground by going back, but the discomfort you're experiencing is not worth it. The main advice on this site is go slow. Some suggest no more than a 5-10% drop at a time (or even less if your W/D is bad). I'm not sure if you're still at 37.5mg, or if you've gone to 0. Depending on where you are, you can try going back to 75mg, or 37.5mg and see if you get relief. After some weeks (or even months), you can taper to a slightly smaller dose, stay there weeks and then, try tapering again.

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OK I'm probably going to fast. But I want this effexor out of my system. It has created a lot more harm then good over the years.

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@texasduchess

@farmboy
I went back and read your previous posts. When the withdrawal symptoms are too much, the usual recommendation is to go back to the dose where you didn't have those W/D effects, stay there for a while (weeks, months, etc.) before again tapering to not so big a drop. Your tapers have been pretty steep and you haven't stayed at the next lower dose for long. You may think you're losing ground by going back, but the discomfort you're experiencing is not worth it. The main advice on this site is go slow. Some suggest no more than a 5-10% drop at a time (or even less if your W/D is bad). I'm not sure if you're still at 37.5mg, or if you've gone to 0. Depending on where you are, you can try going back to 75mg, or 37.5mg and see if you get relief. After some weeks (or even months), you can taper to a slightly smaller dose, stay there weeks and then, try tapering again.

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I'm going through some really really bad withdrawals tonight. Very high anxiety,my clozepam won't even calm me down. I feel very angry, crying alot, can't get calmed down and feel like I'm going to freak out.

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I understand that you want the stuff out of your system. I got really frustrated at the pace I needed to use in my taper — I wanted to just say the heck with it and stop all at once; I wanted to be done with it!! But it seems like these speedier cutbacks are making it so much harder on you than it needs to be. You're experiencing some real agony here and a slower pace would alleviate that a bit. After all, a slower taper does still get the job done.

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@kbmayo

I understand that you want the stuff out of your system. I got really frustrated at the pace I needed to use in my taper — I wanted to just say the heck with it and stop all at once; I wanted to be done with it!! But it seems like these speedier cutbacks are making it so much harder on you than it needs to be. You're experiencing some real agony here and a slower pace would alleviate that a bit. After all, a slower taper does still get the job done.

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I shouldn't push it so fast. I'm just so tired of this. Got to 75mgs and done great getting there. Then the 75 to 37.5 went pretty good. It's that last little bit that is kicking my rear. All I got to do is take a few beads out and bang all hell breaks out.

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@farmboy

I shouldn't push it so fast. I'm just so tired of this. Got to 75mgs and done great getting there. Then the 75 to 37.5 went pretty good. It's that last little bit that is kicking my rear. All I got to do is take a few beads out and bang all hell breaks out.

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@farmboy
I'm so sorry tonight is especially rough for you. I was there, too, AFTER I was completely off for 6.5 weeks.AND it was too late for me to go back onto any amount of Effexor for relief.

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Ask your doctor about a "Prozac bridge"–"The only way doctors know to soften the blow when withdrawing from short half-life drugs is to add fluoxetine (Prozac). You can add 20mg of Prozac to any other antidepressant and then get off the [original drug]. Once the [original drug] is gone, you can taper off the Prozac. This works because fluoxetine (Prozac) has a long half-life making it much easier to get off of than drugs like [Effexor].–https://natashatracy.com/treatment-issues/withdrawal/antidepressants-effexorpristiq-venlafaxinedesvenlafaxine/

Here's what another person did to get off Effexor with Prozac–
"Usually, when you cross-titrate between two antidepressants, as you go down on the antidepressant you want to quit, you go up on the antidepressant you are titrating to—so as you go down on Effexor, you should be going up on Prozac. Then if you want to quit Prozac, you can and it would be easier to than quitting Effexor because Prozac has such a long half-life it kind of creates its own tapering effect.

So if you started on 300 mg Effexor + 20 mg Prozac, your titration should look like the following:
300 mg Effexor + 20 mg Prozac
225 mg Effexor + 40 mg Prozac
150 mg Effexor + 60 mg Prozac
75 mg Effexor + 80 mg Prozac
Discontinue Effexor + 80 mg Prozac (or 100 mg Prozac if your pdoc is willing to go above the max dose, which is common to do)

Or if you down-titrate by 37.5 mg:
300 mg Effexor + 20 mg Prozac
262.5 mg Effexor + 30 mg Prozac
225 mg Effexor + 40 mg Prozac
187.5 mg Effexor + 50 mg Prozac
150 mg Effexor + 60 mg Prozac
112.5 mg Effexor + 70 mg Prozac
75 mg Effexor + 80 mg Prozac
37.5 mg Effexor + 80 mg Prozac (90 mg)
Discontinue Effexor + 80 mg Prozac (100 mg)

If you have issues with anxiety/irritability/etc., then you can take a benzo temporarily, like Xanax, Ativan (short-acting), Klonopin, Valium (long-acting), etc."–https://www.depressionforums.org/forums/topic/107532-coming-off-of-effexor-with-prozac-bridge/
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I went back to my older box of supplements; some worked, some didn't. It took me some trial and error to find the ones that really worked for me. I picked these up at Vitamin Sh*ppe–Anxie-T by Life Seasons and Theanine Serene w/Relora by Source Naturals. Anxie-T has less of the effective ingredients (20mg magnesium, 200mg L-Theanine, 100mg ashwagandha, 100mg GABA and 100mg Kava Kava (I used to take this quite often in the afternoons as a separate supplement; kava extracts that contain 70% kavalactones can lower anxiety and might work as well as some prescription anti-anxiety medications). Theanine Serene has 300mg magnesium, 500mg GABA, 200mg L-Theanine and 150mg Relora (proprietary blend to treat anxiety). Anxie-T was more helpful–I think because of the Kava Kava–I found it more beneficial to take the ashwagandha, GABA and Kava Kava as separate supplements rather than in a blend.

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I agree that this must be a slow,slow process. I took a year Togo from 75 to 0, dropping just a few pellets at a time and staying at each reduced level for 2 weeks or so.

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I wish I could help you.

I stopped taking this nightmare drug about a week ago, and it's been horrible.

If I had to do it over again, I'd make an appt with a pharmasist and discuss this with them, they usually have a better idea than many doctors.

Good luck.

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@elana

I wish I could help you.

I stopped taking this nightmare drug about a week ago, and it's been horrible.

If I had to do it over again, I'd make an appt with a pharmasist and discuss this with them, they usually have a better idea than many doctors.

Good luck.

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Have you got to the part where you get really really depressed,mad as hell,cry alot, confused,lost and don't care if you live or die? This med needs outlawed. If Dr's only knew the hell people go through getting off of this medicine they wouldn't prescribe it. At least I hope they wouldn't.

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