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

@texasduchess

@wrkingitout
Okay, you apologize for sharing too much and say that you had an unexpected reaction to a medication change.

Dinner was a faux pas–you didn't kill anyone and the hopelessness and feelings of not being worthy ARE withdrawal symptoms as are the other things you listed.

Talking with your doctor is a very good idea.

So was reinstating Effexor until you connect with your doctor.

You didn't say why you thought you'd quit Effexor … if you felt it just wasn't helping you, or if you had side effects you weren't willing/able to deal with anymore. You found out that dropping from 37.5mg to zero AND taking this drug every other day is TOO much of a taper … your doctor can help you taper off Effexor and onto a different medication if one is necessary, or to help ease you off Effexor (a Prozac bridge). He can prescribe a different formulation–changing from extended-release to regular release, or from capsules to tablets (I was on 25mg tablets that could be cut), or specifying a certain brand (@farm_mom found Teva had the most consistent size and number of beads within a capsule–helpful to those counting and throwing out beads to taper). He can write a prescription for a compounding pharmacy to make tapered doses for you.

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@texasduchess , I just remembered that one of the people at the table is a pharmacist. This fact might be funny to me when I feel better.

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@texasduchess

@farm_mom
I remember that you're motivated to get off Effexor because of eye side effects (glaucoma). Others have mentioned blurriness. I took my last dose of Effexor 4/14/18 and had my annual eye exam on 5/22/18. Prescription was unchanged. Picked up my new contacts a week later and couldn't see with them. Was reexamined–left eye had changed in that week from -4.75 to -4.25 (improved!). It's a year later and just had my eyes examined–both eyes are now -4.00 (more improvement!).

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That's great to hear!!! Very happy for you!!

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@wrkingitout

Hello, I just found this group today, 2 weeks too late to save me some misery. I've been on and off anti-depressants for many years and I'm a pro at weaning off. I thought I was anyway. This has been a scary and humbling process. Since I was only on 37.5 to supplement my Wellbutrin I didn't think going to every other day for a while then stopping would be a big deal. This is day 4 without and I still want to crawl out of my skin. I just gave in and took one with the plan of calling my Dr in the morning and confessing to doing this without his knowing and give him this list of symptoms.

Abdominal upset & diarrhea
Night and periodic daytime sweating like hot flashes
Inability to concentrate
Loss of memory
Deep sadness
Intensified and different reaction to alcohol
Severe brain shivers
Muscle and joint pain
Intense craving for sugar and carbs like pasta
Deep sense of overall shame and repeating tapes of things I said and feeling deeply ashamed. I don’t think these things warrant this reaction, time will tell. Example: telling dinner companions about the string of tragedies I had in a very matter of fact way during a light-hearted dinner, making them uncomfortable I’m sure.
Hopelessness with no sense of why
Dizziness
“out of body” feeling
Facial features drastically changed, not recognizable by my iphone

I'm very grateful that you all took the time to share here, it made me feel not so alone and ashamed. God bless you all!

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We have all had some of the symptoms you listed. I hope your doctor tells you to stay at the 37.5 dosage for a while and then you can begin taper. You will get through this–it can be rough, but at least you know why you had the symptoms. Best wishes for you!!!

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EFFEXOR…no matter the dose or the time on the drug is a medication that needs to be avoided at all costs. The withdrawal symptoms from effexor are intollerable I was on 225 mg for 5 months and my physician decided to stop my med cold turkey and put me on Lexipro . The withdrawal was insufferable and lasted 6 months . The only way I received any relief was thru my Psychiatrist who herself had been on Efexxor and understood the chronic withdrawal process. There are safer antidepressant meds that do not have the same withdrawal effects. anyone who has been thru this understands. If your provider suggests Effexor, REFUSE…Sincerely hope this helps someone. The life altering effects of Efexxor withdrawal will stop It's just very hard to see that light at the end of the tunnel when it's happening to you.
Dr. Michael Mann

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@mhmann

EFFEXOR…no matter the dose or the time on the drug is a medication that needs to be avoided at all costs. The withdrawal symptoms from effexor are intollerable I was on 225 mg for 5 months and my physician decided to stop my med cold turkey and put me on Lexipro . The withdrawal was insufferable and lasted 6 months . The only way I received any relief was thru my Psychiatrist who herself had been on Efexxor and understood the chronic withdrawal process. There are safer antidepressant meds that do not have the same withdrawal effects. anyone who has been thru this understands. If your provider suggests Effexor, REFUSE…Sincerely hope this helps someone. The life altering effects of Efexxor withdrawal will stop It's just very hard to see that light at the end of the tunnel when it's happening to you.
Dr. Michael Mann

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@mhmann
Wow … not sure how your doctor missed all the info about how to quit anti-depressants–poor patient care. Cold turkey is never pleasant AND is unsafe! Tell us how your psychiatrist helped.

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@mhmann

EFFEXOR…no matter the dose or the time on the drug is a medication that needs to be avoided at all costs. The withdrawal symptoms from effexor are intollerable I was on 225 mg for 5 months and my physician decided to stop my med cold turkey and put me on Lexipro . The withdrawal was insufferable and lasted 6 months . The only way I received any relief was thru my Psychiatrist who herself had been on Efexxor and understood the chronic withdrawal process. There are safer antidepressant meds that do not have the same withdrawal effects. anyone who has been thru this understands. If your provider suggests Effexor, REFUSE…Sincerely hope this helps someone. The life altering effects of Efexxor withdrawal will stop It's just very hard to see that light at the end of the tunnel when it's happening to you.
Dr. Michael Mann

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@mhmann
Hello,
I am sorry to disagree with you regarding the use of Effexor.
I have been on it for many years.
It is the ONLY drug that has helped me with my anxiety that was starting to cripple me.
I tried several drugs (with the guidance of a psychiatrist) and Effexor is the one I chose to stay on.
I did start to reduce once, a long time ago because the results were so good, that my PCP suggested I get off.
I started and my anxiety came back full force!!!!!
During a period of about 9 months, I tried other meds….didn't work.
Yes, withdrawal can be horrendous.
I am currently in the process of reducing my dosage to have a more 'normal' amount.
So, it is certainly appropriate for you to discuss your experiences, but I do not think we should tell people what they should or should not do.
I appreciate your concern and strong your strong feelings!
I believe it is our responsibility to research what we do and what we take, using us as part of the research.

Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

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At the very least Effexor and all it's generic forms need to require dire warnings of the extreme and awful symptoms of withdrawal to each and every patient before this drug is administered. I have been on varying doses and types of antidepressants over 20 years. These drugs were a godsend and when it was time to taper off, under and with doctor guidance I never experienced problems or withdrawal symptoms, they were smooth transitions. A number of years ago I was experiencing an unwanted side effect from a mood stabilizer which name I don't recall, my doctor then switched me to Wellbutrin which I did great with over five plus years. My new doctor suggested switching to Venlafaxine as he thought I would receive more benefits, although I was fine with my Wellbutrin.

Well shame on me for not asking more questions or doing additional homework on Venlafaxine. The transition off Wellbutrin was smooth when tapering down then beginning gradual transition to Venlafaxine. Slightly more than a month on Venlafaxine my mood was the same as with Wellbutrin but developed a cough and deep bark that lasted seven months, which initially I wrote off as part of sinus infection, but at same time was experiencing painful indigestion and acid re-flux. I never attributed these symptoms to the Venlafaxine writing them off as they will pass. However I was becoming more and more concerned about my persistent cough. My doctor ordered chest x-rays, which showed there wasn't a detectable underlying reason for cough. I stumbled upon side effects of Venlafaxine and cough stood out. It made sense that this drug could be the culprit and also responsible for my acid re-flux and heartburn.

Being well schooled in the importance of not going cold turkey with mood stabilizers and antidepressants I began to gradually reduce my dosage of Venlafaxine. I contacted my specialist doctor and together with pharmacist we deduced that Venlafaxine could be likely culprit of the uncomfortable and worrisome side effects. We made a plan to taper and get off Venlafaxine and back on the Wellbutrin. When tapering off Venlafaxine it got so I couldn't stand swallowing another dose, so checked with pharmacist about safely stopping this drug and then waiting a number of days before returning to Wellbutrin. When tapering off Venlafaxine my cough began to subside and indigestion easied, now they are both symptoms of the past. Oh, and I was yawning all the time, this too has subsided. I was miserable going off the dreadful Venlafaxine experiencing bone, joint, and body aches, dizziness, feeling like I had to grab something quick to prevent falling, and my thoughts and speech were choppy. Thankfully I didn't experience the brain zaps, but had sensations that suddenly an object or person would show up at my side. Now off Venlafaxine, I am four or five pounds heavier which is another side effect of withdrawal from this menacing drug. I'm getting back to myself, and everyday look forward to getting better then the last. I've read on these posts that Benadryl helps with the zaps which I didn't have, but I am concerned with getting this weight off. I've drastically reduced sugar and am picking up the my pace with excercise. I am optimistic about feeling good in my skin again and shedding the uncomfortable weight.

Thank you for opportunity to share my experience.

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Greetings from a new Poster who happened upon this thread and would like to add my experience of discontinuing Wellbutrin/Prozac after 20 years – and to ask a question about withdrawal experience. During the past 18 months, w/o these drugs, I experience extreme sadness with crying daily and sought psychiatric therapy and drug substitution (Cymbalta). I decided against Cymbalta due to stomach upset and I feel I missed a bullet after reading other's withdrawal experiences. Talk therapy was insufficient (or of poor quality) to ameliorate my sad mental state and I felt Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) was a better modality to suit my condition (poor mental thought process), but my medical plan wouldn't pay for CBT (outside of my HMO). So here I am, 18 months later, unmedicated, disappointed with the psychiatric profession, and at times, barely managing not to commit suicide. I think the disappointment with "outside" help motivated me to finally help myself – to read about what actions helped others in my condition and to follow their more expert advice. My Internist tried to refer me back to the Psychiatry Department—I think not! I'm doing much better on my own—having joined a few senior interest groups and my local Church—and have followed a walking program and starting Physical Therapy.
There remains a nagging question in my mind about all the intense sadness (and still experience) that I experienced and I think it has to do with unresolved life experience issues (I'm 79). Was the psychotropic Rx covering up, or not allowing normal amelioration of life's vicissitudes? I feel such a need for redemption for situations I didn't understand when in my youth or midlife. My question to you is for feedback on this end of life issue. Thank you.

Liked by texasduchess

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@hurtsalot

Greetings from a new Poster who happened upon this thread and would like to add my experience of discontinuing Wellbutrin/Prozac after 20 years – and to ask a question about withdrawal experience. During the past 18 months, w/o these drugs, I experience extreme sadness with crying daily and sought psychiatric therapy and drug substitution (Cymbalta). I decided against Cymbalta due to stomach upset and I feel I missed a bullet after reading other's withdrawal experiences. Talk therapy was insufficient (or of poor quality) to ameliorate my sad mental state and I felt Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) was a better modality to suit my condition (poor mental thought process), but my medical plan wouldn't pay for CBT (outside of my HMO). So here I am, 18 months later, unmedicated, disappointed with the psychiatric profession, and at times, barely managing not to commit suicide. I think the disappointment with "outside" help motivated me to finally help myself – to read about what actions helped others in my condition and to follow their more expert advice. My Internist tried to refer me back to the Psychiatry Department—I think not! I'm doing much better on my own—having joined a few senior interest groups and my local Church—and have followed a walking program and starting Physical Therapy.
There remains a nagging question in my mind about all the intense sadness (and still experience) that I experienced and I think it has to do with unresolved life experience issues (I'm 79). Was the psychotropic Rx covering up, or not allowing normal amelioration of life's vicissitudes? I feel such a need for redemption for situations I didn't understand when in my youth or midlife. My question to you is for feedback on this end of life issue. Thank you.

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@hurtsalot
Your finding outside interests as well as initiating a walking program and physical therapy will do much to improve your outlook on life OVER TIME, but you are experiencing deep sadness and suicidal thoughts NOW and have been for some time. You don't say why you got off Wellbutrin and Prozac, but it may be that you are someone who needs this type of medication to function well. It is also possible that your depression is a backlash effect to a too-quick taper off these drugs. Your other post mentions peripheral neuropathy–chronic pain can certainly be depressing and lessen your quality of life. Please get with your doctor again–18 months is too long to feel this way. If you can find one, a doctor specializing in geriatric patients and/or pain management may be more helpful.

Your nagging question is a whole 'nother issue; perhaps, your church, or a local senior center can help there.

Here's a page of AARP articles re older folks and depression that may have insights for you–
https://search.aarp.org/gss/everywhere?q=depression&intcmp=DSO-SRCH-EWHERE

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After 43 days effexor free I can report continued success and minimal discomfort from withdrawing.

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@sandij

After 43 days effexor free I can report continued success and minimal discomfort from withdrawing.

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@sandij

CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Awesome. I’ve been completely Effexor free since February 1. I have good and bad days, but if I stay on top of my health and situation, things are very manageable. The only thing I do is cry sometimes, but I welcome it and know it’s a great release. BTW, I usually mention meditation – which helps tremendously for anxiety! But also, I get as much sunshine as I can. I believe I have a bit of Seasonal Affective Disorder. It helps.

Kudos!

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Hello, I am here with both my feet firmly rooted in life…
Still going thru some things related to living…
Oh I finally went to the doctor, a chiropractor.
She told me my right hip was way higher than the left and has been causing the pain in my left heel and Rt knee.
She adjusted me and did Accupuncture..I was so thrilled to be PAIN FREE. It only lasted about 24 hours, then the hip shifted back..
My next appointment is tomorrow. Yippee
Bright Wings

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Hi All!
I started with a new psychiatrist today. My appointment wasn't supposed to be until the end of July but they called yesterday with a cancellation.
Anyway, he wasn't all that pleased that I started a reduction without the guidance of a doctor. But he did understand I didn't have one.
He said that when I am ready to begin the reduction again, I should first discuss it eith him.
Just as a refresher, I was takin 2-75 mg of Effexor in the morning and evening. I am now taking 2-75 mg in the morning and 1-75 mg in the evening.
My next goal is to get to 75 mg in the morning, too.
He is suggesting a 37.5 cut from my morning dose, everyday, for 3 weeks. I am not sure that is the pattern I want to follow. I told him we'd talk about it when the time came. Have a nice evening!
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

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@grandmar
Nice, good for you. You already know what you can tolerate in realationship to reducing the med.
My suggestion is to go that route again.
Bright Wings

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