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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@elaine0

I am so sorry as I am new to this and not sure how to ask a question. I am just after coming off Venlafaxine after 6 years of using it because I felt it was no longer effective and it was either increase it or finally get off it. i was not in anyway prepared for what has been happening over the pst three days. I reduced slowly to 37.5 and managed without any issues provided I took it at the same time daily. I feel it just prolonged the inevitable. I would give up smoking 10 times over again than face another day like this. I am bed bound today as talking or moving creates some sort of disconnection between my sight and my brain and senses. Hearing this shot in my ears and shock in my head but not painful? Anxiety out of control to the fact that yesterday I couldn't breath so took a few days off work to calm. I will never take one again and face going through this again so there is no going back but all I want to and need to know is how long this is going to last? My face is burning, cheeks raw red, and vertigo. I know this is not all in my head and very much a physical response and I'm honestly shocked that this was never on my radar of what might happen nor did my doctors. She has just said drink plenty of water. I am so sorry to hear all your stories as I know im not alone but how can I make this easier without being willing to take another tablet and how long should it feel like this?
Thanks so much to all you very brave people

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First of all you are going to be fine. You will. Second of all, it sounds like withdrawal and, although you said you don’t want to take another tablet, how about 5/6 of a tablet? Just for a month. And then 3/4 for a month. An extremely slow weening is what is necessary for this very potent, brain-changing drug. Please go easy on yourself and ween slowly. You’re still heading toward your goal of being Effexor free, just more gently. There will be more responses to your inquiry. We’ve all been there and are still going through it. I hear different things about how long it takes. But please don’t suffer and take at least part of a pill. I’m so sorry for your suffering.

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@elaine0
Welcome, you are in the right place. It sounds like you have been reading. Good for you.
BTW, none of us want to be here. And we have banded together to assist cuz all of us helpers here went thru it also.
The most important thing you can do to help us help you is to give us a detailed history of your use of the venlafaxine. When you started, dosages, etc.
I was on it for 33 years. It is the drug from he'll to get off of. We are with you. Keep coming back.
If you choose never to take another tablet, you will be doing it the worst way possible. I know cuz I did it that way and ended up having a stroke over my choice.
So, go take the same dose you took yesterday as soon as you read this. Or prepare to decend into the H ell of your own making……
BW

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really? I think I would feel like a failure to put one in my mouth again and I literally hate the things and the doctor who prescribed them. I felt so normal while taking them I think I thought they were doing nothing and a waste of time. Clearly I underestimated how strong and controlling a drug it is and the effects it was having on me. over the past year I have just been becoming a little boring, didn't want to do anything and not my usual bubbly self so I thought maybe the medication was having this adverse effect and I have to say when reducing it I did feel more like my old self and then I stopped and I have been hit by a bus. I was never depressed a day in my life until now and yes I have had physical effects of anxiety for years, never depressed. Thanks so much for your quick reply and I am so relieved to find this post. information on line is only about symptoms but not a lot on how to help over come them.

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My history,
Started taking them 6 years ago after I started suffering from anxiety when my son nearly died. Tried therapy but nothing helped. Doctor started these and I did without question as I was tired of feeling anxious. Since then they have been increased twice only because they no longer worked. They never really took the anxiety away fully but definitely made me calmer in my day to day life and I liked that because I run several companies and have a large busy family life too.
I spoke to the doctor a few times about them causing funny feelings if I miss a dose and I said that I felt addicted to them because of the effects I would have if I missed one. I would often call my husband in a panic to drop them in to me because of the dizziness and nausea if one was missed. He said they were not addictive and that I could come off them whoever I liked. I also questioned my lack of physical intimacy abilities and he said it only happened to men. I questioned my weight gain and he said it was most likely because I was eating more from feeling better. I have since changed doctors and while she is a lot more sensitive and caring, she did not share anything only drink water and it should only take a few days when I met her yesterday.
I want my sex life back and control over myself. I have always been a hyper and bubbly person and I want to feel like me again even if that means living with anxiety for the rest of my life. Its better that feeling like a prisoner now and giving into a medication clearly had no idea my body relied on so much.
Why does your body react this way?

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@brightwings

My friends, rejoice with me.
.
I am recovering. I see a future in front of me.
.
I have learned to wash my bone pain in a wash of gold speckled love. If dark shows thru, I throw another bucket of Love on myself. It covers my pain and it shrinks to non detectable. Healing is happening.
.
I also learned anger increases the pain unbelievably. I have been a warrior since I was 10. .
.
Time to learn Love as a way of life. I have fought long enough.
.
I would feel honored if you accept this bucket of Sparkly Love from me. It will Help heal what hurts you.
.
I give you the gift of a never ending bucket of Shimmering Love…you will have all you need. Share it as you will and watch miracles unfold before you.
.
I used to be Bright Wings. I am changing…evolving….

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Good morning family
Gosh, I sound like a kook in that post….
.
Where I am today is many places at once….confused, empty, fresh, renewed but raw.
.
Pondering all the life events that have come to me in the last three days.
.
One of many, many blessings that came out of this was my brother, Gene, who commuted suicide because of the depth of his pain, came to me and filled me with his sweet pure love. I weep at the memory of feeling untarnished, pure love, free of pain or any ulterior motives.
It filled every cell of my body and it felt like I glowed.
.
He helped me live…I am so grateful.
.
And Pissed, and confused, and raw and….I could go on and on…the emotions overwhelm me. The confusion also.
.
I have so much new knowledge, a different purpose in life but don't have details yet.
.
And I still sound like a kook…BW

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@elaine0

My history,
Started taking them 6 years ago after I started suffering from anxiety when my son nearly died. Tried therapy but nothing helped. Doctor started these and I did without question as I was tired of feeling anxious. Since then they have been increased twice only because they no longer worked. They never really took the anxiety away fully but definitely made me calmer in my day to day life and I liked that because I run several companies and have a large busy family life too.
I spoke to the doctor a few times about them causing funny feelings if I miss a dose and I said that I felt addicted to them because of the effects I would have if I missed one. I would often call my husband in a panic to drop them in to me because of the dizziness and nausea if one was missed. He said they were not addictive and that I could come off them whoever I liked. I also questioned my lack of physical intimacy abilities and he said it only happened to men. I questioned my weight gain and he said it was most likely because I was eating more from feeling better. I have since changed doctors and while she is a lot more sensitive and caring, she did not share anything only drink water and it should only take a few days when I met her yesterday.
I want my sex life back and control over myself. I have always been a hyper and bubbly person and I want to feel like me again even if that means living with anxiety for the rest of my life. Its better that feeling like a prisoner now and giving into a medication clearly had no idea my body relied on so much.
Why does your body react this way?

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Hi there. Our experiences are so similar. No libido, weight gain, withdraw symptoms coming on within hours of a missed dose. I also developed elevated BP. I began to taper off 150mg 1 x a day by reducing by about 20% in February of this year. I have been staying at the same dosage for about 1 month and then decreasing again. I slowed to closer to 15% reduction this past month, just to get myself in check a little.
So far, I've not experienced withdrawal symptoms – I have even gotten a little of my pep back. Venlafaxine made me NUMB to everything–happy things-sad things-EVERYTHING. I'm so happy to start to FEEL again.
Best wishes–and my advice, stay on it at last dose you were at and then start to taper S-L-O-W-L-Y. Also, read through all these pages of posts.

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@elaine0

really? I think I would feel like a failure to put one in my mouth again and I literally hate the things and the doctor who prescribed them. I felt so normal while taking them I think I thought they were doing nothing and a waste of time. Clearly I underestimated how strong and controlling a drug it is and the effects it was having on me. over the past year I have just been becoming a little boring, didn't want to do anything and not my usual bubbly self so I thought maybe the medication was having this adverse effect and I have to say when reducing it I did feel more like my old self and then I stopped and I have been hit by a bus. I was never depressed a day in my life until now and yes I have had physical effects of anxiety for years, never depressed. Thanks so much for your quick reply and I am so relieved to find this post. information on line is only about symptoms but not a lot on how to help over come them.

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Yes, really @elaine0
Look up the withdrawal effects…nightmares are one of them…I had a full on, drag your foot to the door, drooling, left arm and hand locked tight. That was Nov, 2017
So go read the withdrawal effects right now and you decide how big the next drop in your roller coaster ride you want.
.
Now I hear you, you run multiple companies and are used to being the boss. I respect what you have accomplished.
.
Now please respect what we have accomplished and listen to us…or not…its your choice.
BW

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@elaine0

really? I think I would feel like a failure to put one in my mouth again and I literally hate the things and the doctor who prescribed them. I felt so normal while taking them I think I thought they were doing nothing and a waste of time. Clearly I underestimated how strong and controlling a drug it is and the effects it was having on me. over the past year I have just been becoming a little boring, didn't want to do anything and not my usual bubbly self so I thought maybe the medication was having this adverse effect and I have to say when reducing it I did feel more like my old self and then I stopped and I have been hit by a bus. I was never depressed a day in my life until now and yes I have had physical effects of anxiety for years, never depressed. Thanks so much for your quick reply and I am so relieved to find this post. information on line is only about symptoms but not a lot on how to help over come them.

Jump to this post

It’s like looking in a mirror! (What I mean is, I have those same feelings. ). The anxiety and total lack of enjoyment in anything is what sucks. Also, I was on the pills for 22 years (give or take) and I just wanted my old self back! Warts and all. And if you read my posts, I have days of threatening to go back on something, ANYTHING, to feel better.

But you’ll get through this. I can tell. But do NOT go cold turkey off the stuff. Especially the lower doses. I’m serious. Doctors don’t know about the horrible withdrawal. Nor do they particularly want to deal with it, so they prescribe more! I was very very lucky to have a doctor and an acupuncturist who supported my endeavors.

Don’t suffer. There are still many other parts of your life you need to enjoy and take care of. You will succeed. Just don’t rush it.

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@elaine0

My history,
Started taking them 6 years ago after I started suffering from anxiety when my son nearly died. Tried therapy but nothing helped. Doctor started these and I did without question as I was tired of feeling anxious. Since then they have been increased twice only because they no longer worked. They never really took the anxiety away fully but definitely made me calmer in my day to day life and I liked that because I run several companies and have a large busy family life too.
I spoke to the doctor a few times about them causing funny feelings if I miss a dose and I said that I felt addicted to them because of the effects I would have if I missed one. I would often call my husband in a panic to drop them in to me because of the dizziness and nausea if one was missed. He said they were not addictive and that I could come off them whoever I liked. I also questioned my lack of physical intimacy abilities and he said it only happened to men. I questioned my weight gain and he said it was most likely because I was eating more from feeling better. I have since changed doctors and while she is a lot more sensitive and caring, she did not share anything only drink water and it should only take a few days when I met her yesterday.
I want my sex life back and control over myself. I have always been a hyper and bubbly person and I want to feel like me again even if that means living with anxiety for the rest of my life. Its better that feeling like a prisoner now and giving into a medication clearly had no idea my body relied on so much.
Why does your body react this way?

Jump to this post

@elaine0
Venlafaxine is a mind altering drug. It changes your cells… The brain heals slowly, sooo very slowly.
The kindest thing you can do for your brain and life is to 1. Go get CBD. There is a group for that here…CBD changes the anxiety to calm. I myself use 25 mg 3 x a day. Anxiety gone!!!! As long as I take it…
PS…docs don't know crap about withdrawing from this drug…just saying…BW
When I got here in what, March of 2018. Something like that…there were 141 pages…look at the count now. That's how many folks you join getting off this drug…

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@secretwhitepop

It’s like looking in a mirror! (What I mean is, I have those same feelings. ). The anxiety and total lack of enjoyment in anything is what sucks. Also, I was on the pills for 22 years (give or take) and I just wanted my old self back! Warts and all. And if you read my posts, I have days of threatening to go back on something, ANYTHING, to feel better.

But you’ll get through this. I can tell. But do NOT go cold turkey off the stuff. Especially the lower doses. I’m serious. Doctors don’t know about the horrible withdrawal. Nor do they particularly want to deal with it, so they prescribe more! I was very very lucky to have a doctor and an acupuncturist who supported my endeavors.

Don’t suffer. There are still many other parts of your life you need to enjoy and take care of. You will succeed. Just don’t rush it.

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Thank you, its so nice to know that this is normal to feel like this. (I use the word normal with the knowledge that this is totally not normal)I may have to consider taking the low dosa again but will I not just face this agin then next month or the month after when I come off it again. is 37.5 (the lowest I was down to) before I came off them not the lowest I can take?
Thanks again

Liked by Leonard

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@elaine0

My history,
Started taking them 6 years ago after I started suffering from anxiety when my son nearly died. Tried therapy but nothing helped. Doctor started these and I did without question as I was tired of feeling anxious. Since then they have been increased twice only because they no longer worked. They never really took the anxiety away fully but definitely made me calmer in my day to day life and I liked that because I run several companies and have a large busy family life too.
I spoke to the doctor a few times about them causing funny feelings if I miss a dose and I said that I felt addicted to them because of the effects I would have if I missed one. I would often call my husband in a panic to drop them in to me because of the dizziness and nausea if one was missed. He said they were not addictive and that I could come off them whoever I liked. I also questioned my lack of physical intimacy abilities and he said it only happened to men. I questioned my weight gain and he said it was most likely because I was eating more from feeling better. I have since changed doctors and while she is a lot more sensitive and caring, she did not share anything only drink water and it should only take a few days when I met her yesterday.
I want my sex life back and control over myself. I have always been a hyper and bubbly person and I want to feel like me again even if that means living with anxiety for the rest of my life. Its better that feeling like a prisoner now and giving into a medication clearly had no idea my body relied on so much.
Why does your body react this way?

Jump to this post

Oh wow! You’re even more like me than I thought! Zero libido is a side effect. Weight gain is a side effect. Change in eating (craving carbs whereas I used to crave meat. And I now crave meat again now that I’m off! Sadly, still working on libido. Still get along with my husband. He’s wonderful, but it’s literally been years!! Sorry for the TMI!)

My psychiatrist thought it was weird when I told her 1. I was no longer hypoglycemic and 2. I craved pasta and rice and breads!

I thought it was just my age.

Oh! And I was always constipated too!

Look, I was on them for a lot longer. Was on Zoloft for a couple years then, after 911, I got switched. Long story.

The 37.5 mg capsules I took about 18 mo the to ween off. It was worth it and literally the only way to avoid symptoms. Then when I was down to taking 5 small balls from the inside of the 37.5 capsules, I went cold turkey. I still had dizzy spells but no zaps. I still experience phantom smells. Get anxiety and depression. But my last dose was February. As always, go easy on yourself. That’s the main thing.

Meditate or practice mindfulness. It helps significantly.

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@brightwings

Good morning family
Gosh, I sound like a kook in that post….
.
Where I am today is many places at once….confused, empty, fresh, renewed but raw.
.
Pondering all the life events that have come to me in the last three days.
.
One of many, many blessings that came out of this was my brother, Gene, who commuted suicide because of the depth of his pain, came to me and filled me with his sweet pure love. I weep at the memory of feeling untarnished, pure love, free of pain or any ulterior motives.
It filled every cell of my body and it felt like I glowed.
.
He helped me live…I am so grateful.
.
And Pissed, and confused, and raw and….I could go on and on…the emotions overwhelm me. The confusion also.
.
I have so much new knowledge, a different purpose in life but don't have details yet.
.
And I still sound like a kook…BW

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I appreciate your candor! You do t sound like a kook. To me you sound like a survivor. Very strong despite your feeling of being raw. I get that.

Hang on and drink in the golden sparkles.

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@elaine0 you are in the right place! Welcome to the group that nobody wants to be part of, like @brightwings said in an earlier post.

I was on effexor 225 for many years and decided to taper off in September 2018. I tapered relatively fast, going from 225 to 150, and then from 150 to 75. After starting to count beads when tapering from the 75 capsules that I have, I got sick and tired of being on this drug and feeling like it was controlling me. So at the dose of 67 mg I jumped off. My last dose was on April 17. I had the dizziness, nausea, and anxiety for several days and I took benadryl to help. I've also been on CBD oil for a long time, and continued my regimen of vitamin D, omega 3, and other unrelated supplements. Things have been well since then.

May I suggest you take a look at this website which is the best explanation of protracted withdrawals:
https://npanth.wordpress.com/2013/01/31/waves-and-windows-in-ssri-withdrawal/
With that being said, I am stepping back from this forum for a bit. I am doing really well and although I know exactly what MAY be expected from conducting my taper the way that I did, I am not going to live my life in fear of the next wave, IF it comes, I am confident that I am equipped to deal with it. I can look back at the experience that I had when I cold turkeyed neurontin (not really by choice) and that, by far, was worse.
There will be those that say I haven't experienced the worst, that the worst is coming, that withdrawal may not hit me until the drug leaves my fat stores, it may be six months later, etc etc. While that may be true….guess what? It might NOT happen.
I appreciate all of the reminders and advice on this forum to take it slow, to decrease by very small amounts, etc. But at this moment I have to move on from that…not that it is negative, as I said, they are all good reminders, but I'm choosing to place all my focus on the positive aspects in my life and have gratitude for the place I am in. I'll continue to check in from time to time, but I need to be surrounded by success stories right now in order to level up.
See you all on the other side!

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@sandij
Well, I am so proud of you! You came, you learned, you listened and your choices lead you to this point, this moment!
Hurrah for you for taking charge of your life..
Sending bunches of love…and a bucket of love to share and use…you deserve the best life has to offer and you will find it cuz you don't give up…smiling at you…
BW

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@elaine0

Thank you, its so nice to know that this is normal to feel like this. (I use the word normal with the knowledge that this is totally not normal)I may have to consider taking the low dosa again but will I not just face this agin then next month or the month after when I come off it again. is 37.5 (the lowest I was down to) before I came off them not the lowest I can take?
Thanks again

Jump to this post

@elaine0
Your doctor is woefully unknowledgeable about getting someone off Effexor. Just advising you to “drink more water” is poor patient care, if not outright patient neglect. Your first doctor wasn’t much better (ill-informed and sexist)—mood numbness, lowered libido, weight gain ARE all reported Effexor side effects.

Withdrawal symptoms can get much worse when reducing at lower levels, especially if you make large reductions—going from 37.5 to 0 is a BIG drop. Getting impatient now isn't a good idea—as you are experiencing, it can be VERY unpleasant, sometimes dangerous (your blood pressure can drop dramatically, etc.) and worse, rushing the tapering process sets you back.

“If someone discontinues Effexor after daily long-term use, the brain continues expecting Effexor to be delivered …. neurotransmitter activity throughout the brain becomes chaotic as a backlash-type reaction to not delivering the drug that it had adapted itself to. It is the chaotic neurotransmission throughout the brain … that is likely responsible for Effexor withdrawal symptoms. Until the brain manages to re-learn how to function without Effexor’s presence, withdrawal symptoms will probably persist.”
—https://www.4mind4life.com/effexor-withdrawal-symptoms

Help your doctor learn about this issue—print out the articles I cite here for your doctor to read. You can ask your doctor about a "Prozac bridge" (softens the blow when withdrawing from a short half-life drug like Effexor)—essentially you take 10–20mg Prozac (fluoxetine) for a short period (weeks, a month) until your WD symptoms resolve, then taper off the Prozac over 2–3 weeks.

Why taper?
Besides minimizing withdrawal effects, tapering off an antidepressant decreases the risk that depression will recur. A Harvard Medical School study of nearly 400 patients were followed for a year+ after they stopped taking antidepressants prescribed for mood and anxiety disorders. Participants who discontinued rapidly (over 1–7 days) were more likely to relapse within a few months than those who reduced the dose gradually.
—https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/going-off-antidepressants

NOTE—You say you weren’t ever depressed. Be aware that quitting Effexor (and other antidepressants) can cause the very issues they were designed to treat as a backlash effect; your brain has to reset itself and learn how to act without the drug influencing it. Effexor makes profound changes to how our brains balance the neurotransmitters needed to function. When you stop, or significantly lower your Effexor, the brain has to wake up and start working by itself. The time this takes varies enormously.

How to taper—
Reduce your dose in increments (only 5–10%, or even less if you get withdrawal symptoms) and allow 2–6 weeks between dose reductions; if WD symptoms occur, go back to the dose where you didn’t have symptoms, stay there for some weeks, then try tapering again. I was on 25mg tablets–they were tiny, but easy enough to chip off slivers at the beginning and the end of my taper and cut into halves and quarters in the middle. Other folks count the beads in their capsules and guesstimate how many to remove at each taper. You can look for a compounding pharmacy to make specific tapered doses (may not be covered by your insurance and costs $s).

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