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

@mammy

I am having a horrible time tapering off Effexor. My head is fuzzy and its like I am hearing white noise extremely loud. Trouble walking and achy chest pains. I also feel like I want to cry all the time. My GP is trying to change my meds to Wellbutrin. He had me skip a dose every other day for a week then start the Wellbutrin. I had to take a sick day today to try and get through this feeling. I put a call into my GP but not looking for much from him. I have been reading the responses on this site and it makes me even more anxious.

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@mammy
How are you? Did you get your chest pains checked out? Let us know.

REPLY
@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

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@elaine0
No you shouldn’t face this the next month because it will be a prolonged process. People are usually in a hurry to get off it and end up suffering the consequences. Some patients who have taken this medication 10, 20 or 30 years believe 1, 2 or 3 years is too long to wait to get off and usually pay the price of withdrawal symptoms. If you decrease too quickly then you may very well face similar issues the next month if not earlier depending on your taper rate and length of time between taper dosages.
Most doctors seem to have checked out of hotel reality when it comes to discontinuing this medication successfully. My suggestion would be to lower your dose by no more than 10% per current dose (3.75mg to 33.75mg then 3-4 weeks later decrease 10% again 3.375mg to 30.375mg) and use a compounding pharmacy. Getting your medication from this type pharmacy will take out any guesswork and assure you of getting exact dosages from start to finish. You’d never be able to get exact percentages or dosages by cutting or decreasing beads. If affordable compounding is the only way to go. Find a non-sterile compounding pharmacy. I’d also suggest lowering your dose below 10% as you get closer to zero to increase the probability of not having any symptoms. SLOWLY is the only way for most people to defeat this monster. Just use common sense and patience. I suppose it just depends on the level of discomfort your willing to tolerate. Personally I will do whatever it takes to avoid withdrawal and have successfully done so.
However you choose to proceed I wish you luck and hopefully an uneventful taper. Withdrawal free taper is possible but it’s not quick.
Good luck,
Jake

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@secretwhitepop

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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I started my attempt at quitting today. I was down to 37.5 mg every other day but didn’t want to have to break the capsules open. I get the brain zaps and that causes me dizziness and a little nausea but I haven’t tried quitting since I was taking a higher dosage. My doc gave me some things to help with the nausea and possibly help the brain zaps. Either way, I am sick of taking them and being stuck so I am doing this no matter what. I am hoping since I had my dosage so low that it won’t be as bad this time around. Do you think the CBD helps with the brain shivers?? That to me is the biggest side effect.

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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

Jump to this post

I too am trying to quit. I started 8 years ago when I found out my pregnant wife was having an affair. Yeah, you read that right!! Needless to say, I am remarried and extremely happy with my life. The Dr. at the time didn’t tell me about Effexor and I didn’t ask. I worked my way down over the last few years to where I am taking 37.5mg every other day. I have gone without before for several days back when I was on higher dosage and I felt horrible with the brain shivers and nausea. I’m hoping this will be better since I had reduced so much. I took my last pill 2 days ago and I can tell it’s past time to take it cause my body tells me. I am done with them though. I am going to get through this whether I have the brain shivers or not. My new Dr prescribed me some phenogren and benztropine to help with the withdrawal symptoms but I’m not sure I want to mess with it. I took a 25mg Benadryl just to see if it eases up the brain shivers I can feel coming on.
Good luck to you.

REPLY
@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

Jump to this post

@elaine0
Welcome to our group. You are certainly in the right place!
All of us are dealing with Venlafaxine (Effexor) in one way or another.
We are here to help you, support you and advise you (if we can).
I am not in the medical field in any way, just an Effexor user, so anything I say is based on my own experiences, research or things I've read.

First off, 'slowly' means a lot of different things to different people.
In addition, you did not mention what dosage you were on just before starting your reduction.
Lastly, most, not all doctors know how to give good advice when it comes to weaning off this drug.

All that being said, let me tell you that slow can mean days, weeks, months or even years.
I was on 300 mg a day (2-75mg in the morning and evening).
I started with my evening dose in November.
It took me until the end of April (or so) to make a total reduction of just 20%.
I now take just 1-75 mg pill in the evening.
I've been at this level for about a month.
It is my intention to wait until after the summer to begin to reduce my morning dosage to 1-75mg, too.
Waiting serves ME a couple of things.
I don't have to worry about what will happen over the summer while I plan to do trips and second, it is giving my body (and mind) an opportunity to become accustom to the dosage.

What you are explaining in your post is withdrawal.
Yes, withdrawal, just like you hear about with illegal drugs and opioids!
Your brain chemistry changes from the Effexor and reacts when it doesn't get the drug.
Although some of our members were warned about the difficulty of coming off the drug, I do not believe anyone was warned just how hard (and dangerous) it could be!!!
I, myself, am in no rush since I do not have any intention of coming off of it 100%.
It has been the only drug that has helped me!
My first goal was to reduce my evening pill by one…….DONE!
My second goal will be to reduce my morning pill by one.
MAYBE I'll go down to 37.5mg at some point, I'll see.

It is VERY important not to only go slowly, but to READ YOUR BODY.
You body will tell you if you have reduced too much.
It will tell you if you need something else to help you along with the process (even to go back to your last dosage).
DO NOT REDUCE ANYMORE UNTIL YOUR BODY SHOWS SIGNS IT IS READY!
GO VERY, VERY SLOWLY!!!

Good luck!
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

REPLY
@jmwspud

I too am trying to quit. I started 8 years ago when I found out my pregnant wife was having an affair. Yeah, you read that right!! Needless to say, I am remarried and extremely happy with my life. The Dr. at the time didn’t tell me about Effexor and I didn’t ask. I worked my way down over the last few years to where I am taking 37.5mg every other day. I have gone without before for several days back when I was on higher dosage and I felt horrible with the brain shivers and nausea. I’m hoping this will be better since I had reduced so much. I took my last pill 2 days ago and I can tell it’s past time to take it cause my body tells me. I am done with them though. I am going to get through this whether I have the brain shivers or not. My new Dr prescribed me some phenogren and benztropine to help with the withdrawal symptoms but I’m not sure I want to mess with it. I took a 25mg Benadryl just to see if it eases up the brain shivers I can feel coming on.
Good luck to you.

Jump to this post

FYI, I have read that Effexor leaves your body within 24 hours so, the every other day regimen is usually unhelpful. Why not just take half? It would greatly help your symptoms. Congrats on getting happiness back!

REPLY
@grandmar

@elaine0
Welcome to our group. You are certainly in the right place!
All of us are dealing with Venlafaxine (Effexor) in one way or another.
We are here to help you, support you and advise you (if we can).
I am not in the medical field in any way, just an Effexor user, so anything I say is based on my own experiences, research or things I've read.

First off, 'slowly' means a lot of different things to different people.
In addition, you did not mention what dosage you were on just before starting your reduction.
Lastly, most, not all doctors know how to give good advice when it comes to weaning off this drug.

All that being said, let me tell you that slow can mean days, weeks, months or even years.
I was on 300 mg a day (2-75mg in the morning and evening).
I started with my evening dose in November.
It took me until the end of April (or so) to make a total reduction of just 20%.
I now take just 1-75 mg pill in the evening.
I've been at this level for about a month.
It is my intention to wait until after the summer to begin to reduce my morning dosage to 1-75mg, too.
Waiting serves ME a couple of things.
I don't have to worry about what will happen over the summer while I plan to do trips and second, it is giving my body (and mind) an opportunity to become accustom to the dosage.

What you are explaining in your post is withdrawal.
Yes, withdrawal, just like you hear about with illegal drugs and opioids!
Your brain chemistry changes from the Effexor and reacts when it doesn't get the drug.
Although some of our members were warned about the difficulty of coming off the drug, I do not believe anyone was warned just how hard (and dangerous) it could be!!!
I, myself, am in no rush since I do not have any intention of coming off of it 100%.
It has been the only drug that has helped me!
My first goal was to reduce my evening pill by one…….DONE!
My second goal will be to reduce my morning pill by one.
MAYBE I'll go down to 37.5mg at some point, I'll see.

It is VERY important not to only go slowly, but to READ YOUR BODY.
You body will tell you if you have reduced too much.
It will tell you if you need something else to help you along with the process (even to go back to your last dosage).
DO NOT REDUCE ANYMORE UNTIL YOUR BODY SHOWS SIGNS IT IS READY!
GO VERY, VERY SLOWLY!!!

Good luck!
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

Jump to this post

Excellent advice. In my 6th week of tapering off my daily dosage of 75 mg Venlafaxine (Effexor), I found that I felt relatively fine until my brain told me on day 4 of week 5 that it wasn’t tolerating my taking only every other day of 37.50mg.
After joining this forum a week ago on the day I felt so out of it with brain fog and dizziness, I added 37.50 back on a daily basis again, and I’m feeling more human. Yesterday, I even felt great all day! However this afternoon, I again began to feel only slightly dizzy and out of sorts about the time I was to head out to an appt, but I decided it best to reschedule it to be on the safe side when driving. DO NOT drive when you are having side effects that cloud your alertness.
I’m fortunate to be recently retired and have the luxury of staying in at home, or sleeping in while tapering off this powerful drug. I plan to take 37.50mg daily for another month before tapering off 5-10% each subsequent month. I’ll discuss the slower tapering with my primary care doctor (internist) tomorrow to “enlighten her” on what I’ve discovered in my 6 week journey.
The support on this forum is heartwarming and most appreciated. It is evident we are all gaining a healthy, enjoyable life sans Venlafaxine. It should be taken off the market ASAP. In my opinion, there are enough less gripping drugs out there to help manage anxiety and depression for those who genuinely need to take it to balance their brain chemistries. Best wishes to all who press on! We’ll get there! 🐦

REPLY
@secretwhitepop

FYI, I have read that Effexor leaves your body within 24 hours so, the every other day regimen is usually unhelpful. Why not just take half? It would greatly help your symptoms. Congrats on getting happiness back!

Jump to this post

Yeah, I realized that it left my body and all I was doing was stretching out until the symptoms started. I take an XR and they don’t make any other dosage smaller according to my Dr. I am not disciplined enough to count out the beads and honestly just want to be off of it. I have never had anxiety or other issues so it was prescribed just to help my depression. As long as I can manage the brain shivers then I feel I can be off of them 100%.

REPLY
@jmwspud

Yeah, I realized that it left my body and all I was doing was stretching out until the symptoms started. I take an XR and they don’t make any other dosage smaller according to my Dr. I am not disciplined enough to count out the beads and honestly just want to be off of it. I have never had anxiety or other issues so it was prescribed just to help my depression. As long as I can manage the brain shivers then I feel I can be off of them 100%.

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Upon research, I’ve discovered there are compounding pharmacies that will offer tapered doses that will take out the guesswork of weaning off this high powered medicine. Walgreens Pharmacy does not compound, but I have found other pharmacies in Ft. Lauderdale that do. I’ll be checking these out over the next few days.

REPLY
@jmwspud

I too am trying to quit. I started 8 years ago when I found out my pregnant wife was having an affair. Yeah, you read that right!! Needless to say, I am remarried and extremely happy with my life. The Dr. at the time didn’t tell me about Effexor and I didn’t ask. I worked my way down over the last few years to where I am taking 37.5mg every other day. I have gone without before for several days back when I was on higher dosage and I felt horrible with the brain shivers and nausea. I’m hoping this will be better since I had reduced so much. I took my last pill 2 days ago and I can tell it’s past time to take it cause my body tells me. I am done with them though. I am going to get through this whether I have the brain shivers or not. My new Dr prescribed me some phenogren and benztropine to help with the withdrawal symptoms but I’m not sure I want to mess with it. I took a 25mg Benadryl just to see if it eases up the brain shivers I can feel coming on.
Good luck to you.

Jump to this post

@jmwspud
I wouldn’t take this medication on an every other day basis because of how quickly it is metabolized. Since this medication is completely metabolized between 1 and 2 days. I believe a stable blood serum level is less shocking to the body and would be more effective. People have done it this way and I’ve heard of a few doctors who recommended it, but since doctors recommend 50% cuts which I have yet to see work, I have little confidence in their Effexor taper recommendations.
Jake

REPLY
@sheffieldsmith

Excellent advice. In my 6th week of tapering off my daily dosage of 75 mg Venlafaxine (Effexor), I found that I felt relatively fine until my brain told me on day 4 of week 5 that it wasn’t tolerating my taking only every other day of 37.50mg.
After joining this forum a week ago on the day I felt so out of it with brain fog and dizziness, I added 37.50 back on a daily basis again, and I’m feeling more human. Yesterday, I even felt great all day! However this afternoon, I again began to feel only slightly dizzy and out of sorts about the time I was to head out to an appt, but I decided it best to reschedule it to be on the safe side when driving. DO NOT drive when you are having side effects that cloud your alertness.
I’m fortunate to be recently retired and have the luxury of staying in at home, or sleeping in while tapering off this powerful drug. I plan to take 37.50mg daily for another month before tapering off 5-10% each subsequent month. I’ll discuss the slower tapering with my primary care doctor (internist) tomorrow to “enlighten her” on what I’ve discovered in my 6 week journey.
The support on this forum is heartwarming and most appreciated. It is evident we are all gaining a healthy, enjoyable life sans Venlafaxine. It should be taken off the market ASAP. In my opinion, there are enough less gripping drugs out there to help manage anxiety and depression for those who genuinely need to take it to balance their brain chemistries. Best wishes to all who press on! We’ll get there! 🐦

Jump to this post

@sheffieldsmith
When you decrease your taper next month be sure to decrease it 5–10% at your then current dose.
Jake

Liked by texasduchess

REPLY
@jakedduck1

@sheffieldsmith
When you decrease your taper next month be sure to decrease it 5–10% at your then current dose.
Jake

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Thanks, Jake! I’ll be following your invaluable advice for certain!

REPLY
@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

Jump to this post

@elaine0
No one can predict how long your zaps will last. I’ve heard months to a year. Others here may have additional information on this. Sometimes they recur back many months later. I’ve read one persons experience who stopped with virtually no withdrawal issues then severe zaps started 9 months later. Every one reacts a little differently.
I believe your going to regret your decision but I hope your zaps improve quickly.
Jake

Liked by texasduchess

REPLY
@texasduchess

@mammy
Chest pains? Call 911. Go to the emergency room.

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That where I ended up on Tuesday and the staff assured me that I was not having a heart attack nor had I had one. There advise is that the withdrawals are raising havoc with me. I don't think my Dr. knew how to taper the drug. As of tomorrow I will have been off Effexor for one week. I hope in the next week the withdrawal symptoms will subside a little. It is awful trying to work and deal with this stuff.

Liked by grandmaR, sharonlou

REPLY
@mammy

That where I ended up on Tuesday and the staff assured me that I was not having a heart attack nor had I had one. There advise is that the withdrawals are raising havoc with me. I don't think my Dr. knew how to taper the drug. As of tomorrow I will have been off Effexor for one week. I hope in the next week the withdrawal symptoms will subside a little. It is awful trying to work and deal with this stuff.

Jump to this post

@mammy
Thanks for letting us know you got yourself checked out and your heart is okay. Women's heart attacks are so often ignored, or misinterpreted–didn't want your first post to be your last!

The norm is that MOST doctors don't know how to taper Effexor. If you can, read these posts–at the very least, please look back at least a week, or so–you'll find links to quite a few helpful articles and sites as well as good advice.

You haven't said how much Effexor you were on and how long you were taking it. It is doubtful that your withdrawal symptoms will subside much/at all without reinstating and tapering much slower, or your doctor giving you some something unless you were only on Effexor for a few days at a minimal amount.

Liked by sharonlou

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