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

@sandij

I was always tired before, too. But I think a lot of that was not living by my design I would burn myself out.

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@sandij
Yes, we have to learn to pace ourselves. That's the trick to getting to play another hour or day or what ever…
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Deal with the body and emotional temperment you have.
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Its a done deal, you have already tried to change it.
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I have been so successful in dealing with my MS because I learned when I put my MS right next to me, as my friend and did what was good for him (I get to call it…he is a him…Mr MS.) I got to play another day. If I didn't take care of him, well, HE messed up my life but good.
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Its our lives and our choice…take care of the body or not…
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Let me ask you, has what you have been trying working??? If not, take another action. It works!
Bright Wings

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Yes, it's working.

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@sandij

Yes, it's working.

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Great…I am proud of you. BW

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@nathan5

Hi everyone, I said I'd update after going to my doctor. He's put me back on 75mg of Effexor. He said not to feel bad about failing to get off them and to look at it as a test (a failed one) that the fact that my anxiety had got so bad, shows I still need it. He also gave me some Lorazepam, but I'm hesitant to take that.. He also referred me to an anxiety counselling service.
I've been back on Effexor since Monday, so far I still feel terrible. Last two days I feel like my chest and stomach are full of bees. Couldn't sleep last night so took a zopiclone which knocked me out. Took day off work today and snuggled up on couch (with the bees lol). It's 9.30 in evening now, pouring with rain outside and freezing. Just put electric blanket on my bed, so I'll have a nice warm shower, hop into bed and hope for best tomorrow!

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@nathan5
Hey, you tried! A lot of people on here have tried more than once. Nothing says you can't try again (in a year, or two). You learned a lot with this attempt and who knows? Maybe the manufacturer, or someone else will come up with a good way to get off Effexor. Hoping the anxiety counselling works and that you get back to feeling you can cope.

I understand that Effexor needs to "ramp up" before you feel better. "Sleep, energy, or appetite may show some improvement within the first 1-2 weeks. Improvement in these physical symptoms can be an important early signal that the medication is working. Depressed mood and lack of interest in activities may need up to 6-8 weeks to fully improve."–https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Treatment/Mental-Health-Medications/Venlafaxine-(Effexor)

Nice to read that you're being gentle with yourself. A day off, a warm shower and a cozy electric blanket sound good no matter what ails you.

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@sheffieldsmith

Thank you for posting the number of beads in a Venlafaxine 75mg capsule. I may be using “Count the beads out” if my weaning plan ending over the next two weeks doesn’t yield the desired results.

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You're welcome! 🙂

Liked by Leonard

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@jakedduck1

@canadaanj
Hi,
Be sure to take it SLOW, very SLOW don’t get impatient. Your chance for withdrawal are reduced the slower you go.
Good luck,
Jake

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Thank you so much! I will. 🙂

Liked by Leonard

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Hi I am new to this forum, I found it trying to investigate what was happening to me as I wean off of Effexor, I was on 225 for only about 6 months and dropped to 150 over 4 weeks on my own and now at 75 per doctors reccomendation for weaning off. The effects are indeed terrible, however one I am experiencing that I haven't read about yet is strong auditory hallucinations (mostly people randomly talking in the distance) – has anyone else experienced this in particular? Good luck to everyone going through the withdrawls from this drug – I wish I had known more about this prior to ever taking it, I can't believe this is prescribed for general anxiety when it seems to me it ends up creating a dependence and higher anxiety levels than ever when you stop – great for the drug manufacturer's but not so much for us patients.

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@canadaanj

Thank you so much! I will. 🙂

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@canadaanj
Now remember, we’re not just talking slow here, we’re talking slooooooow.
Small percentages!!!
Good luck,
Jake

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@bd1323

Hi I am new to this forum, I found it trying to investigate what was happening to me as I wean off of Effexor, I was on 225 for only about 6 months and dropped to 150 over 4 weeks on my own and now at 75 per doctors reccomendation for weaning off. The effects are indeed terrible, however one I am experiencing that I haven't read about yet is strong auditory hallucinations (mostly people randomly talking in the distance) – has anyone else experienced this in particular? Good luck to everyone going through the withdrawls from this drug – I wish I had known more about this prior to ever taking it, I can't believe this is prescribed for general anxiety when it seems to me it ends up creating a dependence and higher anxiety levels than ever when you stop – great for the drug manufacturer's but not so much for us patients.

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@bd1323
Hello,
I bet you are indeed miserable.
So since you started your taper you have reduced your dose by nearly 85% in what 4,5,6 weeks. Your brain must be in shock big time.
Read the last 283 pages and 4200+ posts and see how successful people have been reducing quickly. I doubt you will find any. I wouldn’t reduce my dose by more than 10% but reduce it more if you want but but the faster your reduction the greater your chance for withdrawal symptoms. A lot of doctors say cut it in half and in half again. Read back and see how successful that has been. I mention this quite often, a psychiatrist in Europe tapered off at the 50% rate and was unsuccessful and now a fan of the 5-10% taper rate.
Good luck with your taper,
Jake

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@bd1323

Hi I am new to this forum, I found it trying to investigate what was happening to me as I wean off of Effexor, I was on 225 for only about 6 months and dropped to 150 over 4 weeks on my own and now at 75 per doctors reccomendation for weaning off. The effects are indeed terrible, however one I am experiencing that I haven't read about yet is strong auditory hallucinations (mostly people randomly talking in the distance) – has anyone else experienced this in particular? Good luck to everyone going through the withdrawls from this drug – I wish I had known more about this prior to ever taking it, I can't believe this is prescribed for general anxiety when it seems to me it ends up creating a dependence and higher anxiety levels than ever when you stop – great for the drug manufacturer's but not so much for us patients.

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@bd1323
Yes, Effexor can cause auditory hallucinations–even while on the drug, not just when reducing the drug. A lot of anti-depressants can.

Your tapering schedule from 225 to 150 to 75 is very fast. A lot of us posting here have found out the hard way that you should taper off Effexor slooowwwly. When a taper is too fast (i.e., you experience withdrawal symptoms), the recommendation is to go back to the dose where you did NOT have the WD symptoms, stay there for weeks/months before attempting to taper again and when you do taper, to reduce your dose by a very small amount and take your time before reducing again.

Ask your doctor about a "Prozac bridge–"The only way doctors know to soften the blow when withdrawing from short half-life drugs [Effexor is such] is to add fluoxetine (Prozac)."–https://natashatracy.com/treatment-issues/withdrawal/antidepressants-effexorpristiq-venlafaxinedesvenlafaxine/

I agree the anxiety is awful. I never even had it until 6.5 weeks after I tapered off Effexor.

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@bd1323

Hi I am new to this forum, I found it trying to investigate what was happening to me as I wean off of Effexor, I was on 225 for only about 6 months and dropped to 150 over 4 weeks on my own and now at 75 per doctors reccomendation for weaning off. The effects are indeed terrible, however one I am experiencing that I haven't read about yet is strong auditory hallucinations (mostly people randomly talking in the distance) – has anyone else experienced this in particular? Good luck to everyone going through the withdrawls from this drug – I wish I had known more about this prior to ever taking it, I can't believe this is prescribed for general anxiety when it seems to me it ends up creating a dependence and higher anxiety levels than ever when you stop – great for the drug manufacturer's but not so much for us patients.

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I whole heartedly agree. These past few weeks I’ve been considering going back on because my life is bleh. However, I have a tremendous amount of stressors at the moment. Unreal for me since I lead a pretty boring life (well, until I went on venlafaxine in the first place, over 20 years ago!). But you’ve helped me want to stick it out further. Then, once my situation changes, THEN I’ll see how it goes.

I don’t think the “prescribers” truly realize the implications. But who knows. For me, the stuff works. I just thought 20 years was too much. (Remember, I took a full 18 months to ween off 37.5 mg). Go slowly!

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@canadaanj

Thank you so much for your advice! I just couldn't understand why I felt nothing for the first 3 or so days after my last dose and then suddenly started having these symptoms on about the 4th day after stopping. Anyway, I went back to taking 37.5 mg and the depersonalization feelings have disappeared so I know they were from the withdrawal. It's a pain in the ass though, to have to divide all the little beads inside the 75 mg pill in half…lol. But I will take 37.5 mg for a month or so I guess, then go down to 85 beads. (Half of a 75 mg pill is about 97 little beads), and see how I feel then I guess.

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I counted mine couple days ago and got 110 beads in my 37.5 mg. I’ll need to do the same

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@sandij

If you go to youtube and type in Claire Weekes, her books and talks are available through many channels there. She has an excellent program and a soothing voice. Theres also a wonderful guy, aptly named "wonderbro", who draws heavily upon her works. He has livestreams and lots of videos. His emphasis is not on withdrawal but I have found it very valuable.
I also stumbled upon an audio book available for free on youtube called "an untethered soul" by Michael Singer. I've listened to a few chapters and wow, does it resonate with me!
Happy mothers day to all, be grateful for mothers today and everyday, without them we would not exist.

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Going to listen to that book today. Thanks. Still teetering on wanting to go back on something. Perhaps there’s something less harsh than Effexor? I feel after all that work going off of it, coupled with the fact I’m still living and probably under the most stress I’ve had in my life, that I should stick it out. Maybe I’m just going through withdrawal. “Just”. Considering Prozac or Lexapro or something. But I’ll meditate first…

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Thanks everyone for the replies, I've learned and great deal reading here about others experiences, and it helped verify I'm not going crazy and the symptoms are to be expected 🙂 I'm still debating whether or not to do this quickly and get away from this drug or slow down the process and try it that way. Best of luck to you all!

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@secretwhitepop @bd1323 while it might be tempting to reinstate or to introduce another medication, give some thought to the fact that it is going to take quite a while to stabilize during and after tapering and then discontinuing all together. I am not saying that sometimes medication is not needed, but after having this experience as well as previous ones with other meds, I personally would be very hesitant about beginning a prescription medicine again. I'm not really certain that antidepressants and antianxiety medications are the answer for uncomfortable feelings. And who is to say what causes those feelings in the first place? I can only speak from my own experience. I was not in a major depressive state when I was originally placed on prozac, my problem was situational, and prozac was just what people did then. I believe that many doctors prescribe for their convenience..and why not? It is their business to prescribe medication. When therapists recommend a patient consider prescriptions, it may also be for their convenience and not necessarily what is best for the patient. The medications are there, if needed, as a last resort. If our goal is to stop feeling anxiety, depression, or any other emotion that we perceive as negative, where do we draw the line? And how do we make that determination between what emotions are acceptable and what aren't?
Case in point, the last time I was at the doctor they have begun doing some kind of "sadness questionnaire" I guess to determine if someone is suicidal or depressed. Well I would have completely failed that dumb thing if I had answered honestly, because of the circumstances in my life right now, but that doesn't mean I am suicidal or ready for the loony bin, it means I am in a bad spot that is temporary. And that I need to find my own coping mechanisms, not be put on a drug.
@bd1323 the general consensus is to taper very very slowly. My experience was that no matter how slow I went, I was still going to experience symptoms. It could also very well be that what I am experiencing are not symptoms caused by the taper but are due to other things going on in my body and in my life. I can only suggest listening closely to your own body and continuing to read about others experiences. As you said, knowing others who are in the same boat helps to verify that you are indeed not going crazy. (Or, "we are all mad here" as the Mad Hatter would say!!) Either way, we are kindred spirits trying to help one another walk home.
Have a great day,everyone!! Thanks for being here.

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