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

@coloradogirl

Hi @hopeful33250 and @linxy. Teresa, it’s hard to know what the brain zaps are unless you have had them, but for anyone who has gone off of one of these anti-depressants, it’s a common side effect. It feels like a slight electrical current that runs through your brain. They are usually not painful but they are very strange and disconcerting. (Some people also get them as a side effect of the meds or when increasing their dosage). In my case, I got them anytime I moved my head too sharply. The good news is that once you’re fully off the meds, they usually go away within a few weeks. Mine did at least.

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I'm going through Effexor withdrawal right now, and I appreciate the accurate description of "brain zaps". When I tilt my head I almost feel like there is sand inside my skull, and I feel like I can feel and hear it moving. It's bizarre. My PCP at Mount Sinai Beth Israel in Manhattan put me on Effexor four years ago after meeting me once or twice and having me complete a short multiple choice quiz on his computer. I scored "mild depression".
General practitioners really should not be giving out psychiatric medications. In retrospect, I think the PCP was a dummy. I had him for one summer before I switched. My depression was more situational in nature, and I think ADD (that I was only recently diagnosed with) was a major contributing factor to it (among other variables). The PCP didn't take the time to learn about me at all before just prescribing me drugs.
Effexor withdrawal makes me so irritable and almost constantly hungry. I hope the symptoms will go away soon.

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@jakedduck1

@brightwings
You didn’t have to make me that many loaves.
You take care and wear a life jacket. Take a compass and don’t wonder off alone. If your as bad with directions as I am stay home. I was coming home (north) from Los Angeles one time and stopped for gas got back on freeway going south. Next time I’ll look at the direction indicator or use the Navigation thingy. Don’t fall off a cliff.
Actually it sounds kinda boring compared to the thrills and fun of Antarctica, lol
Jake

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Giggling….BW

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To each of you,
Thank you for caring about me. It means so much to feel this cared about after years of self imposed isolation after my husband died.
.
Oh I should give you all an update on my husband too. It was nice and words can't express how wonderful it was to have him with me on and off for the last year. But Boy, that really messed with my head…
.
He has not been with me since that night I fought to stay alive. The benefit of the gift of his coming was all the illwill we had towards each other over the last 5 years of his life has been straightened out. We each learned the one thing about the other we had been missing and not understanding. It healed our realationship. Its ok he is gone, dead people aren't supposed to come back and yet he did keep me alive when it was so cold in the house near valentines day. The last year was a precious gift.
Do I miss him, well just sort of…I do know he will be waiting for me however long that is and we will finally be united when I finally do get to walk those streets of Gold.
.
I am looking at a crystal someone gave me. Its name is a fractured crystal. You can see the injury to the form of the crystal sparkling in the sunlight, yet that very apparent wound has completely been surrounded by healthy, normal crystal. It is stunningly beautiful.
.
I see myself as that crystal, wounded so badly when I was a child, yet now I am healed and whole as God intended me to be.
.
I am so grateful. Thank you all, Bright Wings

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@favorino

I'm going through Effexor withdrawal right now, and I appreciate the accurate description of "brain zaps". When I tilt my head I almost feel like there is sand inside my skull, and I feel like I can feel and hear it moving. It's bizarre. My PCP at Mount Sinai Beth Israel in Manhattan put me on Effexor four years ago after meeting me once or twice and having me complete a short multiple choice quiz on his computer. I scored "mild depression".
General practitioners really should not be giving out psychiatric medications. In retrospect, I think the PCP was a dummy. I had him for one summer before I switched. My depression was more situational in nature, and I think ADD (that I was only recently diagnosed with) was a major contributing factor to it (among other variables). The PCP didn't take the time to learn about me at all before just prescribing me drugs.
Effexor withdrawal makes me so irritable and almost constantly hungry. I hope the symptoms will go away soon.

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@favorino
Welcome. Glad you started looking at these posts from the beginning. Just so you know–@coloradogirl hasn't posted since late December 2017.

You don't say how much Effexor you were on. If a doctor is helping you get off Effexor, I hope you are tapering off slooowwwly by small increments, or using a "bridge" medication.

OTC medications and supplements can help with some of the withdrawal symptoms. Note–before taking OTC medications and supplements it is recommended that you clear them with your doctor and check to see if it will interact with other things you are taking, or worsen any conditions you may also have.

Other posters here who experienced brain zaps found relief by cutting back on caffeine and sugar, taking Ben*dryl and reducing stress. One person mentioned Disipal, an anticholinergic that prevents the activity of a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. Others believe omega-3s will help the brain heal. While it is unclear how omega-3s help brain zaps, many people have documented significant reductions in the frequency and number of zaps they experience during withdrawal when they supplement with omega-3s. (Fish oil is recommended over krill oil for this.)

I found taking GABA (Solg*r brand, 500mg, 3x per day) very helpful for the irritability (the PC way of describing my almost murderous rage) I felt. GABA is one of the most important brain neurotransmitters for mood regulation and boosting alpha brain waves and occurs naturally in your brain and produces feelings of calm, reduces anxiety, decreases agitation, lessens the neurological signs of nervousness and stress, increases focus and aids in falling and staying asleep. (Taking GABA with other supplements such as l-arginine may help it cross the blood-brain barrier. I take 500mg, 3x per day.)

I also take ashwagandha (470mg, 3x per day). It can reduce the stress hormone cortisol by 25%. It is very helpful at calming anxiety of all kinds. (People using diabetes, blood pressure, thyroid, anti-anxiety, or immuno-suppressant medications; sedatives; or alcohol should consult their doctor first before using ashwagandha.)

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@brightwings

To each of you,
Thank you for caring about me. It means so much to feel this cared about after years of self imposed isolation after my husband died.
.
Oh I should give you all an update on my husband too. It was nice and words can't express how wonderful it was to have him with me on and off for the last year. But Boy, that really messed with my head…
.
He has not been with me since that night I fought to stay alive. The benefit of the gift of his coming was all the illwill we had towards each other over the last 5 years of his life has been straightened out. We each learned the one thing about the other we had been missing and not understanding. It healed our realationship. Its ok he is gone, dead people aren't supposed to come back and yet he did keep me alive when it was so cold in the house near valentines day. The last year was a precious gift.
Do I miss him, well just sort of…I do know he will be waiting for me however long that is and we will finally be united when I finally do get to walk those streets of Gold.
.
I am looking at a crystal someone gave me. Its name is a fractured crystal. You can see the injury to the form of the crystal sparkling in the sunlight, yet that very apparent wound has completely been surrounded by healthy, normal crystal. It is stunningly beautiful.
.
I see myself as that crystal, wounded so badly when I was a child, yet now I am healed and whole as God intended me to be.
.
I am so grateful. Thank you all, Bright Wings

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Your words just brought back deep tears of Joy. Thank you for being so awesome to us

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@careth2

Hi there! I am new to Connect, but hopefully can offer some insight. I DID go off 150 Effexor XR (name brand) COLD TURKEY on January 2016. I survived it, but will never in my life EVER go off ANY antidepressant cold turkey. I had taken Effexor for at least 8 years, Zoloft prior to that and and Imipramine (sp?) as the first antidepressant (in all 25+ years on antidepressants.) It all started with running out of meds over a long weekend and deciding it was time to try to get off antidepressants to see how I would do. Since I had recently retired from teaching, thought this would be an ideal time to give it a go. In addition, Effexor just wasn’t helping all that much anymore (I thought.) The first 3 days I felt like I was going to die! When I realized that I wasn’t dying, decided to keep going to get it all over with. In addition to the symptoms you have heard about, I had deep bone/joint pain that felt like I was being pinched with clamps. Also had skin sensations and peeling, and noticed a strange smell on my skin. Each day got a little better and by the 3rd week started to function a bit more normally. I was very emotional, however, which caused my family great concern. Well, to make a long story short, the depression crept back in full and I am still trying to get my life back. I did everything I could to stay stable, including herbal supplements and took a vacation where I hiked 6 miles daily for 9 days on hilly, rocky terrain. I finally had to accept that I’m a person who will need antidepressants for the rest of my life. With the help of a PCP and counselor, I am on my 3rd antidepressant & may need to resort to going back on Effexor, because nothing seems to be working. All in all, in my opinion, the chronic depression is worse than the withdrawal symptoms that do eventually end. If you are a person with situational depression, you may be successful weaning off Effexor gradually. If I were to do it again, that’s what I would do (while replacing Effexor with something else.) Here are the things that helped me with the physical withdrawal symptoms:
1. Get plenty of sleep/rest.
2. Eat a very well-balanced diet (this is not the time to worry about your weight.) Lots of soup & easy to digest foods the 1st few days.
3. Drink plenty of water, including coconut water.
4. Have a glass of wine in the evening (if advisable.)
5. Get outside and walk or other excersize (the warm sunshine will feel good!)
6. Hot yoga 3-4 times per week. Stay in class even if you feel nauseous & can only do a few postures.
7. Soak in a hot tub (with bath salts if available.)
8. Use a good moisturizer on face & body several times per day.
9. Get several professional massages.
10. Take Tylenol for muscle pain, if OK on your stomach.
11. A heating pad is also helpful at bedtime or during naps.
12. If you are single & live alone, make sure a few trusted friends/family members know what you are doing.
13. In general, be kind & gentle to yourself.
14. NEVER give up! Keep going, even when you don’t feel like it (which will be often.) YOU ARE WORTH IT!!!

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Thank you for this helpful information! I’ve recently been to a specialty clinic that is offering Spravato nasal spray. I don’t believe it yet, but they are helping people off anti depressants . Will keep you posted, my insurance just approved the medication . Haven’t had my first treatment yet. Google ketamine for severe depression on 60 minutes.

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Popping in to say hi and happy to report that I'm two months effexor free. So glad to have chosen this path to recovery and not to be held hostage by a medication, nor by fear of a horrible aftermath by discontinuing it.
I'm still adjusting to some feelings that are very new to me, in particular, anhedonia (not being interested in much of anything) but I've read that this is temporary and normal. So instead of worrying about it or pressuring myself, I've been doing lots of light reading, hydrating, and relaxing. I'm so happy to be on the other side of this.
Hoping everyone here is continuing to do well on your journeys!

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@sandij

Popping in to say hi and happy to report that I'm two months effexor free. So glad to have chosen this path to recovery and not to be held hostage by a medication, nor by fear of a horrible aftermath by discontinuing it.
I'm still adjusting to some feelings that are very new to me, in particular, anhedonia (not being interested in much of anything) but I've read that this is temporary and normal. So instead of worrying about it or pressuring myself, I've been doing lots of light reading, hydrating, and relaxing. I'm so happy to be on the other side of this.
Hoping everyone here is continuing to do well on your journeys!

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You are an inspiration!

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@sandij

Popping in to say hi and happy to report that I'm two months effexor free. So glad to have chosen this path to recovery and not to be held hostage by a medication, nor by fear of a horrible aftermath by discontinuing it.
I'm still adjusting to some feelings that are very new to me, in particular, anhedonia (not being interested in much of anything) but I've read that this is temporary and normal. So instead of worrying about it or pressuring myself, I've been doing lots of light reading, hydrating, and relaxing. I'm so happy to be on the other side of this.
Hoping everyone here is continuing to do well on your journeys!

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You go!!! Out of all the different meds I’ve come off -Effexor is a task I haven’t tried yet but want to. I admire you!!

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My PA-C prescribed Viibryd for me after having a discussion at my physical. She said if Effexor Xr wasn’t working any more, I could try a new med that sounded promising. I few weeks later I called the nurse and left a message. Without talking to me further, she went ahead and prescribed Viibryd and my mail pharmacy filled it and charged my credit $100. They refused to take it back. I have been on Effexor for almost 20 years so I know what it feels like when you are off this med for 3-4 days because you run out and the doc is lazy getting back to you. I have also tried decreasing from 150 to 75 and I was in a total fog, I just sat and stared at my computer at work and cried. My brain could not function! I was dizzy and off balance. I even tried Prozac at the same time which did not help one bit.
I called and left a message. I got a call back stating I am to quit Effexor at once and start the starter pack of Viibryd and with the 21 days of Prozac. Really? I called back again and I tried to explain I cannot do this without having some serious issues and basically getting sick. The nurse said she had never heard of this happening! She put in another message about my concerns and that I need to go off Effexor slowly from past experience but the same reply cane back! Ugh! Why put myself through that hell and risk my job when I already know what is going to happen? I’m supposed to just go ahead and then if I have symptoms to call back….
Been there done that. No I don’t want to suffer and wait for a response. I want to be proactive and know ahead of time. I am not comfortable doing that. I literally cannot function!
I do medical coding so it’s not like I can work like that. Why are Fam Practice doctors and PAs so much in the dark about this? Anyone switch from Effexor to Viibryd after being on it many years? Did you taper or cut cold turkey?

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@smurf

My PA-C prescribed Viibryd for me after having a discussion at my physical. She said if Effexor Xr wasn’t working any more, I could try a new med that sounded promising. I few weeks later I called the nurse and left a message. Without talking to me further, she went ahead and prescribed Viibryd and my mail pharmacy filled it and charged my credit $100. They refused to take it back. I have been on Effexor for almost 20 years so I know what it feels like when you are off this med for 3-4 days because you run out and the doc is lazy getting back to you. I have also tried decreasing from 150 to 75 and I was in a total fog, I just sat and stared at my computer at work and cried. My brain could not function! I was dizzy and off balance. I even tried Prozac at the same time which did not help one bit.
I called and left a message. I got a call back stating I am to quit Effexor at once and start the starter pack of Viibryd and with the 21 days of Prozac. Really? I called back again and I tried to explain I cannot do this without having some serious issues and basically getting sick. The nurse said she had never heard of this happening! She put in another message about my concerns and that I need to go off Effexor slowly from past experience but the same reply cane back! Ugh! Why put myself through that hell and risk my job when I already know what is going to happen? I’m supposed to just go ahead and then if I have symptoms to call back….
Been there done that. No I don’t want to suffer and wait for a response. I want to be proactive and know ahead of time. I am not comfortable doing that. I literally cannot function!
I do medical coding so it’s not like I can work like that. Why are Fam Practice doctors and PAs so much in the dark about this? Anyone switch from Effexor to Viibryd after being on it many years? Did you taper or cut cold turkey?

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Some docs (but few and far between) understand. I wonder if, like Angie’s list, we could list doctors who understand about weening off? Perhaps that will provide some incentive? I don’t know if ANYONE who was able to successfully go cold turkey off Effexor.

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That would be awesome if it could be on Angie’s List! Good idea! I have gone through a psych and MD who does not understand. I’m 2 months out, but have a really bad relapse with anxiety and restless legs. She upped my Prozac to 60 MG, but it’s not working! Just making it worse in my opinion.

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Testing testing is my post above showing? I need advice if I can even do this? I think my provider is clueless

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@smurf, you can do this, but it will not be easy! However you have to be weened off of Exeffor slowly. I was not, 1st time my phsych took me off of it and put me on lexapro, I thought I was going to die! I had no idea of the side effects of stopping Effexor, as apparently neither did he. I could not breath and was having this out of body weird experience. I saw my PCP as I thought I was having an asthma attach. She thought I had a blood clot and did all kinds of testing and found nothing. I got to thinking about stopping the effexor and did some research and found this forum. I have found so much support and information here. I started back on the effexor against my physch's orders, and started feeling better within a day. So I left the psych dr and decided I would ween myself off. I did ok in the beginning and weened off of it, (I did not take it slow), I was off of it within a month and I was taking 225MG total twice a day. As soon as I was completely off of the effexor, I had other symptoms, brain zaps, restless legs, anxiety through the roof! I went a week and suffered through it, but thought I was going to lose my mind, I even got social anxiety and did not want to leave the house, which was rough when you have a job to be at. My MD was not aware of the side effects of stopping and I asked her to do some research on it. She game me Prozac as a bridge to get through. It did not help much at all, she has upped it two times since then and it did start helping, but still had the anxiety and restless legs bad! That never went away. This week, I am having a relapse in symptoms and feel like I am going to lose my mind. I am 2 months effexor free, I called my PCP and wanted to change the Prozac and she wanted to up it to the max dose. I was not happy with this decision, but I needed something, so I started the increased dose today, of course I do not feel any different as it is the first dose. I say all of this to say, you can get though it, but it is not an easy road and definately not worth it going cold turkey! That could be life threatening! We are all here for you, my suggestion is print documentation on withdrawls and give it to you PA, go over it with her. It is not a myth, it is real. Good Luck to you!

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Yikes!! That sounds scary! Sorry you had to go through that! You must’ve have been taking the tabs. I am taking the capsules 225 mg which is once a day. One good thing, at least Prozac won’t have these type of side effects if you do discontinue it.

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