Tips on minimising withdrawal symptoms from Effexor (aka Venlafaxine)

Posted by richyrich @richyrich, Nov 2, 2016

I have been taking Effexor/Venlafaxine for years and tried to get off it a few times but each time I try to give up the chemical withdrawal symptoms are a horror story and I give up giving up. Anyone got any tips or tried and tested strategies? Thank you

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@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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@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.

Jump to this post

It’s real bad. Decided to go back on it. Cold turkey is obviously not a good thing. For the first time in years, I cried myself to sleep and woke up crying too…

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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.

Jump to this post

I’m truly sorry, @elecia87 . Crying, though we might not like it, is therapeutic. It has been so for me. I often feel tears welling up inside, but because of childhood conditioning, the tears don’t come. Maybe you’ll find the crying a healthy thing, like a friend?

Can you restart at a lower dosage? Maybe you’ll find, as I did, that you won’t need as much.

Have you been feeling better with Effexor? When I told my doctor that I couldn’t afford it, we tried a less expensive med. Many drug companies offer financial aid, sometimes even covering the whole cost. I could have applied for and received help for Lyrica. Unfortunately, before I did, I had a bad reaction to it, and spent a couple of nights in the hospital. It may not be new enough for a doctor to have free samples, but several times, doctors have known my low income level, and have given me lots of samples. Sometimes you just have to ask.

I’d really encourage you to go to the Effexor website and look for financial assistance.

Keep in mind the idea of restarting gradually, same as going off a med.

Jim

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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.

Jump to this post

Hello @elecia87

I agree with Jim, @jimhd, “cold turkey” is not a good idea when going off/on meds. “Gradual” should be the key word. Are your meds in tablet form so that they can be cut in half? Check with your pharmacist to see if this is a drug that can be split up without a problem. Also remember that these meds for depression/anxiety often fill a need in our brains for a chemical(s) that are in low supply or not there at all. Here is an easy to understand article about why and how antidepressants work, https://www.webmd.com/depression/how-different-antidepressants-work#1

Teresa

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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.

Jump to this post

We only have the capsules here.
Thanx all for the help. Ive spoken to my psychiatrist and my psychologist too and now have to face facts that I’ll be on them for the rest of my life.

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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.

Jump to this post

@elecia87

I’m glad to hear that you have come to some resolution, that is a good thing. Did you read the article that I posted earlier, https://www.webmd.com/depression/how-different-antidepressants-work#1 ? It really does explain how these meds do help people with the chemical deficiencies in the brain.

ITeresa

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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.

Jump to this post

@hopeful33250
Yes I did. Thank you very much. Will also help my partner understand why it is necessary for me to use them and to understand depression a little better.

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@elecia87 That is great – I’m glad to hear it. I compare taking anti-depressants to the use of insulin by diabetics and/or the use of anti-seizure meds for epilepsy. When your body is not producing the right chemicals – you often need meds to help fill in the gaps 🙂

Teresa

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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.

Jump to this post

@elecia87

I know it’s hard to come to terms with the idea of dealing with something the rest of our lives. I’m just thankful that I have an antidepressant that works for me, and as long as the major depression is present, there’s help. I don’t think any antidepressant does the whole job of removing depression, but combining Wellbutrin with therapy has been the best solution for me.

Jim

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@jimhd
I completely understand that meds don’t ‘cure’ depression, but it does make the off days easier.

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