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

@annmarie1964

I have taken Effexor for about 3 years. Recently I began to eat healthier and feel better about myself so I asked my doctor if she would help me to wean off my Effexor. She gave me a schedule where I gradually weaned off for 2 week increments and finally to the last 2 weeks of 37.5 mg. each day. My last dose was 4 days ago. I was okay on day 1 without any, but the following day I have started to have episodes of nausea, light-headed, just physically feel miserable.I really do not want to take this medication, will this last a long time? I could use some advise. I feel like if I call my doctor’s office, they will just give me more and I will have to start all over again. Please give me some advice.

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@annmarie1964, we took your questions to a Mayo Clinic pharmacist, and this is what she suggests:

@annmarie1964, I am sure your doctor would be happy to provide an individualized taper for you. Everyone is different and what works well as a taper for one person might be too fast or too slow for the next patient based on dose, duration and patient-specific factors like your genetics and how your body metabolizes that specific drug.

There is no way for your doctor to know that a typical dose isn’t working for you unless you communicate with them.

It is so important to work with your doctor for recommendations on altering your medication regimen and especially if a change in regimen makes you feel bad. Feeling distraught when tapering antidepressants is something you should mention to your doctor right away.

Eating healthy and getting enough exercise are admirable goals that can make a big difference in how we think and feel. I hope you continue to feel better but also feel that you can include your doctor if you feel bad again. Your doctor is there to help you feel your best and I am sure will encourage and applaud your efforts toward a healthy lifestyle and also provide alternative medication regimens if needed.”

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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 fir sharing. I’ve been taking Effexor for 8 years now and mentioned to my doctor about wanting the wean off. He thinks I should stay on it. I’ll have to say if definitely helped me when I started taking it and I felt much better and even like my normal self eventually. I do have anxiety disorder and have been in therapy off and in for years now. Haven’t had a huge revelation as to the reason I am like this but have really felt great for the last few years. It was a family move that took me down. I have forgotten to take my pill 3-4 times since I’ve been on it and at bedtime I sweat terribly and when I wake up it’s like I’m in another world and don’t even know where I am. It’s a horrible scary feeling. At first I didn’t know what was causing it. Then I realized it happens when I forget to take a pill in the morning. I don’t seem to notice or have any affects during the day but then almost at the 24 hour mark in the middle of the night I have crazy dreams sweat terribly and feel terrible when I wake up . I was thinking if this is going to happen when I go off of it how miserable it would be. Then I was trying to determine whether it was side effects or maybe I need to take the medicine . None of this started until after having children in my 30s . I’m just so torn on whether to try and taper and wean off or not. I have an aunt who has been on Prozac for 30 to 40 years and she’s got no health problems. She doesn’t even know if the Prozac helps her anymore but doesn’t care that she takes it. Did you worry about your liver or why you even wanted to get off your medicine?

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As I peruse the feedback I am noticing many differing many different comments and experiences. Goes to show we are not all wired the same when it comes to medication. One size does not fit all.

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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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Hello, @bekinprogress, and welcome to Mayo Connect. I’m glad that you have joined this online support network. Thank you also for your post regarding withdrawing from Effexor/venlafaxine. As this thread is a little bit older, I’m also inviting @danybegood1 @jenapower @cathy615 and @targa to join in this discussion to share their thoughts about tapering off venlafaxine.

What would you say is prompting you to want to wean off of the venlafaxine?

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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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Hi it’s jenapower (aka. Jen), I’d love to have some great input about Effexor, but I only had a brief experience with it. I was giving it to help prevent migraine headaches, not depression. So my experience was different. I’m one of the few people that it puts weight on, 30lbs in about 3-4 months. I’m a very small person normally, so this was very apparent. I don’t remember tapering off of it, but I must have considering what everybody is saying. I really don’t have any memory of having any problems getting off of it probably because no one told me I would. As soon as I stopped taking it, within another three months, 30lbs were gone. So I can’t take any kind of antidepressant in that category. I think Prozac, Effexor, and now Cymbalta are all very similar. I was given Cymbalta recently for fibromyalgia and other pain. I immediately started putting on weight, told the doctor and I quit taking it. Again I’d taken it for a few months, just like the Effexor, but never had any withdrawals. They probably said to taper it down, but I was too ignorant to know anything could happen. Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful with a withdrawl plan. Good luck, it seems like a difficult thing to do. Someone said it’s as addictive as heroin, that surprises me. I thought all the strong opiates were like getting off heroin. I just stopped all opiates about two months ago. I had a few symptoms but not many. I hope it works out for everybody. I wish I could be more helpful. Jen

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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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I know I didn’t realize that the post were that old. Just reading and thinking of my experience. I just have never like having to take medicine. Was a sigma fir sure with this one but I guess since I’ve never had to do this earlier in life makes me think I’m over the humo and should wean b/c I’d liver damage. Should I be concerned about that? Thanks for seeing this post.

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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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Hi. I transitioned from Effexor to Pristiq, another form of effexor supposed to metabolize better.So no withdrawal symptoms at that point. The Pristiq stopped working suddenly after a few months. Also was taking Wellbutrin for nearly ten years and started having real memory problems at work especially. Didnt remember things i did but could prove thru technology it really was me. i was very emotionaI, threw things all over my office one day, then became suicidal but thoughts of my granddaughters stopped me. For some illogical reason, did not contact my dr. for a few weeks. She switched me to cymbalta i think. I remember being extremely distraught. I also have rheumatoid arthritis so would have attributed joint pains to that.
This happened about 6 years ago and i have since had a manic episode 2 years ago.Dx went from PMDD and major depression to bipolar 1. Maybe was bipolar 2 all along.
Every time i have switched meds, i have been directed to taper over a few days. I haven’t noticed any major problems. But i also start a new med.
So, i think if you want to wean off and see how you feel it sounds like you will need to give yourself at least a week or two to deal with side effects. Or longer tapering as others suggested might be better, especially if you will be going off all meds.
I know it’s a tough decision so i wish you the best in your journey!
(Fyi: now taking generic prozac and seroquel to manage the bipolar ).
Cathy

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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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I dont know if anyone can help me, been on 150 mg for 2 yrs and 4 months the last 2 months was 300 mg. Well i have gained almost 50 lbs since being on this medicine. And for the last 2 yrs i have been sweating profusely especially at night. Never under my armpits but around my neck face chest legs. I would wake up from a very strange dream n find myself soaked from sweat i would have to take a quick shower n hope to go back to sleep. I still sweat alot i really hate going outside. My bf says i freeze him with the ac im always hot. I have ptsd so the dr prescribes prozasin for my “nightmares” i have been taking it almost a month and my “nightmares/night sweats” have not decreased. I hurt my back recently and found out i have a bulging disc my primary care wants me to get off the effexor because she believes thats why i have gained so much weight. Plus i really dont think it helps my depression tbh. Gaining all this weight has made me even more depressed than before. I went into my psychs office n was crying because ive gained so much and i cant sleep. He prescribed adderall like wth. I want off the effexor and If i loose some weight itll help my back pain im trying to avoid back surgery i have small children to take care of. Is 300 mg hard to get off of? Is there anything i can do for the nausea. And vertigo. Any information or tips will help.

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@hayleesmommy,
I had a doctor once prescribed me Effexor because I have a migraine headache’s. I put on 30 pounds within a couple months and I’m a very slight person. I never carry that kind of weight and it was really obvious something was wrong to me. The doctor that prescribed it said I was just aging, I was still in my 30s. Once I stopped taking the Effexor, the weight just melted off within the next few months.

I can’t address why the night sweats, I have them now but that is because I am really older now. I do know putting on weight made me depressed and I’m not a depressed person. I was able to just taper off Effexor without many side effects at all. I would just follow your doctor’s directions and get it out of your system. That particular classification of antidepressant has the weight gain has a side effect. I wish I could help more, good luck. Jennifer

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Hi, @hayleesmommy, and welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. So sorry the venlafaxine (Effexor) seems to have caused weight gain.

I’d like to invite a few others who’ve talked about venlafaxine or other antidepressants into this conversation as well: @walkers56, @mlbaier , @ricktrout , @shoregal45, @misssharon, @amberpep, @anniegk, @parus ,@jimhd and @magspierce. I believe they may have some thoughts for you.

What did your psychiatrist think about you going off the venlafaxine?

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I have treatment resistant depression. Been on Effexor 225mg for over 2years now and it’s been going well. However, I no longer have medical aid and the meds are extremely expensive. So I decided to cold turkey. I’m only on day 2 now and it feels like I’m dying. I hate it, and I’ve been extremely emotional and snappy. Nauseous and anxious. The list goes on. How do I minimise withdrawal symptoms.

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@elecia87

I have treatment resistant depression. Been on Effexor 225mg for over 2years now and it’s been going well. However, I no longer have medical aid and the meds are extremely expensive. So I decided to cold turkey. I’m only on day 2 now and it feels like I’m dying. I hate it, and I’ve been extremely emotional and snappy. Nauseous and anxious. The list goes on. How do I minimise withdrawal symptoms.

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The way to minimize withdrawal symptoms is to taper off gradually. Cold turkey can present real problems. I’d speak to a pharmacist.

@elecia87

Jim

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