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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I have been tapering off venlafaxine. I am at less then half my original dose and am taking Prozac at the same time. I feel great ! I’m happy. I have tried and failed to quit before, so am happy. Prozac will work and be less expensive for me.

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@jitegemea

Currently experiencing Venaflaxine withdrawl symptoms. Confusion, outbreaks of uncontrollable crying, dizziness, REALLY slow cognitive processes… Have been on Sertraline 100 mg/day and Venaflaxine 150mg/day for several years. Really want to face the music and deal with my anxiety and depression without medication if possible. Started weaning myself off both meds. Reduced Sertraline to 50 mg/day for four weeks, then reduced Venaflaxine to 75mg/day for four weeks, then stopped the sertraline completely for four weeks and just this week stopped the last of the Venaflaxine. MAJOR mistake, I believe. I am almost hallucinating. Dizziness, period uncontrollable weeping, confusion… Surprisingly, no anxiety or depression (original diagnosis). Overall the worst is just this incredible cognitive sluggishness. As a public figure addressing groups regularly 4-5 times/week. This is going to be a problem. I hope to be able to see my GP (prescribing DR) this week. This discussion thread has helped immensely to process my confusion…

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@jitegemea

Please let us know how you are doing today. I'm concerned about you. Thanks,

GailB
Volunteer Mentor

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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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Oh wow. Not sure who this was for but I thank you so much for your information. II think I already posted this question but do you know how long it takes the body to purge this drug from the body??

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Hi Jen. RE: Effexor/Venaflaxine:
You have been helpful. I gained upwards 35 lbs and very quickly as well. My BP increased putting me in the HBP range- a first for me, I've always been 110-112/60-65. Now am at 120-122/ 70+. Am a 'clean' cook and eat pretty healthy. From my research I learned that significant weight gain in a rather short time frame is common, and BP increases. I only researched scientific, reliable sources (and a lot of my information came from the drug manufacturer site itself). The worst thing I learned is that these symptoms do NOT go away as long as one is taking this medication. And is certainly the case for me. I reduced my intake on my own and am hoping I am off the drug as of today (first day with no Venaflaxine). To clarify the comparison to heroine, I am the one who posted and hope I did not confuse anyone, from my research EFFEXOR (venaflaxine hcl er) IS THE HARDEST TO WITHDRAW FROM IN ITS CLASS, AND, IN ITS CLASS IS COMPARED TO HEROINE ADDICTION DUE TO ITS DIFFICULTY IN WITHDRAWING FROM. Yes, that scared the mess out of me and is exactly why I am getting off of it and will never, ever take this particular drug again, ever. I will continue to search for an alternative. Thank you also for your input re: Cymbalta.

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@amberpep

Hi all …. it's been awhile since I've been here. I had a real shock today and frankly don't know how I'll pay it. I had to renew 4 Rx's today, and the total for all 4 is over $200. The two highest ones are Effexor (90 tablets-2 a day), and Wellbutrin (90 tablets – 1 a day.). I can't afford this and these are the generics.I already live in low income housing and am just making it, and now these prices have skyrocketed!
abby

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Hi mrsubi52-
I agree with amberpe, the Good Rx may be of help.

I got this for you off of the NAMI site- Effexor Fact Sheet (www.namihelps.org). It is at the very bottom of the page. I hope you are able to get some help. I get it, also am in the same boat as you. Please follow-up and let us know if you have been able to get some help and if any of these suggestions has helped you. Good luck.

or low-cost medications provided by pharmaceutical companies
Some pharmaceutical companies offer medication assistance programs to low-income
individuals and families. These programs typically require a doctor’s consent and proof
of financial status. They may also require that you have either no health insurance, or no
prescription drug benefit through your health insurance. Please contact the
pharmaceutical company directly for specific eligibility requirements and application
information.
Effexor Rx Assistance Program: 1- 800-568-9938

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@amberpep

Hi all …. it's been awhile since I've been here. I had a real shock today and frankly don't know how I'll pay it. I had to renew 4 Rx's today, and the total for all 4 is over $200. The two highest ones are Effexor (90 tablets-2 a day), and Wellbutrin (90 tablets – 1 a day.). I can't afford this and these are the generics.I already live in low income housing and am just making it, and now these prices have skyrocketed!
abby

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@amberpep

Getting our prescriptions during the deductible stage is killer, even when we know it's coming. We have two deductibles to pay, more than $600. Then, on top of that is the medical deductible. Unfortunately, we're not all rich. I know that's how the system works, but it would surely be great if we could find a better way.

My wife started getting her social security in December, and that means we lost our food assistance. That's half of what she gets. I know how it feels to have to choose between groceries and other essentials. It's not a great way to live. I hope you find a way to get the meds you need, Abby.

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I am currently in the final stages of withdrawing from Effexor. I have been on Effexor for 25 years. I began at 25mg and began withdrawal at a dosage of 300mg. It has helped me enormously. My withdrawal process began the day I was diagnosed with PTSD and started on medication to control my symptoms within that framework. I am extremely lucky that I had friends who led me to a woman with extensive experience in the area. We have been working together for over a year. The dosage decreases have, indeed, been in small increments. I am now down from months at 37.5mg and working on the last 25mg by managing withdrawal symptoms. I was stuck at 37.5 for months due to the ugliness of the withdrawal symptoms-vertigo and nausea primarily. The symptoms were so severe I needed a way to decrease the dosage at a very delicate drop. They were so severe I seriously considered buying a medical scale at over a thousand dollars. At any rate, I decided a solution was my best bet. I'm a nurse so got a medicine cup, several syringes and set up a chart of dosage per ml of warm water. I decided the crucial variable was maintaining the solution's consistency as I measure it. In other words, the same amount of the medicine to the same amount of water. I make sure the med is dissolved as well as I can get it. I crush it first. Then I constantly shake the solution as I measure it, pull it into the syringe and manipulate the amount of water. I started at 25mg in 10ml water. For a dosage decrease I simply take less of the water. I dump the extra back into the cup in case I need to fine tune my measurement. With each decrease of a 1 ml water I carve off 2.5mg of Efffexor. I stayed at 9ml for 3 days until the resulting symptoms were livable then moved to down to 8ml of the solution. I've been at 8ml for 3 days so tomorrow I drop down to 7ml. The first day of reducing the Effexor is still unpleasant. That's dropping only 2.5 mg. The second day at that drop is still rather uncomfortable. By day 3 I feel ok. The exception is the body aches that, for me, have become more and more acute. I was convinced my osteoarthritis was getting MUCH worse VERY fast until I read the comments here, for which I thank you. I absolutely agree that management of withdrawal of symptoms is critical to the process. For me, I had to go to extremes in minimizing the decrease in dosage, but it is only at this level it has been needed. For others this may not be the case. Thank you all for the confirmation that this process SUCKS and good luck to all who are dealing with it. FYI This is the first time I have ever posted in my life. What does that say about Effexor withdrawal?

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Wow, tomorrow will be 4 weeks totally off Effexor. I feel like I take one step forward and two back. Yesterday was pretty bad for me and I almost caved in to calling my doctor to start me back up on something. But I took an ativan before bed, had a great nights sleep, & the world feels good again! Going on a trip today to visit family and I’m so afraid that I’ll spoil the trip with my irritableness, agitation, and ugly mouth. Trying really hard to keep that a bay! The Ativan helps a lot, sure wish is was safe and non-habit forming cuz it seems to work better for me than any of the anti-depresssnts have. Which leaves me in another quandary – do I really have depression or anxiety issues? Ugh, life is hard! Not sure how much longer hubby can handle me w/o meds but hoping to make it till my next dr appt April 4.

Oh when withdrawaubg from Effexor, have any of you experience shortness of breath? Seems like I’m always huffing & puffing these days. Can’t even walk up a flight of stairs without getting out of breath.

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@lalyfa My anxiety was relieved when I began taking Citalopram for depression. I no longer have panic attacks or general anxiety like I had before. I couldn't fly without taking an Ativan. As time went on, I found I had to take 1/2 a 1mg Ativan if things were bad with my boss at work, etc. Now that I'm retired, and taking Citalopram, my fears are gone. I feel free at last. I am thankful for my antidepressant, but that doesn't mean you should stop getting off yours. You need to do what is best for you working with your doctors. I wish you the best.

Gailb
Volunteer Mentor

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Thank you @gailb! I have a strong feeling I will be going back on the anti-depressants soon. Finding the right one will be the trick. I’ve taken Citalopram in the past but made me feel too tired & ‘fuzzy’ in the brain. My doctor has mentioned lexapro but I know that causes sweating also and I had enough of that while on Venlaxafine. It feels like a constant battle. Wish there was something that could relieve depression symptoms but not make me feel so tired & fuzzy. Guess it will come down to me dealing with those side effects or making my family miserable. Well, it won’t be the later!

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@lalyfa

Thank you @gailb! I have a strong feeling I will be going back on the anti-depressants soon. Finding the right one will be the trick. I’ve taken Citalopram in the past but made me feel too tired & ‘fuzzy’ in the brain. My doctor has mentioned lexapro but I know that causes sweating also and I had enough of that while on Venlaxafine. It feels like a constant battle. Wish there was something that could relieve depression symptoms but not make me feel so tired & fuzzy. Guess it will come down to me dealing with those side effects or making my family miserable. Well, it won’t be the later!

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My husband took Effexor and when that didn’t work they switched him to Cymbalta and he is doing better. I have tried over 15 medications and finally found one that works. You will figure out something it just takes time and is hard on the family I agree. Try to keep communication open about how much you are trying to feel better and that your symptoms are not your fault. Wish you well!

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@lalyfa

Thank you @gailb! I have a strong feeling I will be going back on the anti-depressants soon. Finding the right one will be the trick. I’ve taken Citalopram in the past but made me feel too tired & ‘fuzzy’ in the brain. My doctor has mentioned lexapro but I know that causes sweating also and I had enough of that while on Venlaxafine. It feels like a constant battle. Wish there was something that could relieve depression symptoms but not make me feel so tired & fuzzy. Guess it will come down to me dealing with those side effects or making my family miserable. Well, it won’t be the later!

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thanks. i did wean off –sort of—had to start on lexapro but from my research it is much safer and easier to wean off of when the time comes for that. wish i did not have to take any of them but feel i need for my terrible anxiety (mother's longterm illness, i was caregiver to her and dad, no support from two siblings who live close by, i lost job (s) due to multiple foot surgeries – 5 surgeries in 9 mo to be exact- i know i need something as I am having difficulty handling all of this but i regret ever taking effexor.

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@lalyfa

Wow, tomorrow will be 4 weeks totally off Effexor. I feel like I take one step forward and two back. Yesterday was pretty bad for me and I almost caved in to calling my doctor to start me back up on something. But I took an ativan before bed, had a great nights sleep, & the world feels good again! Going on a trip today to visit family and I’m so afraid that I’ll spoil the trip with my irritableness, agitation, and ugly mouth. Trying really hard to keep that a bay! The Ativan helps a lot, sure wish is was safe and non-habit forming cuz it seems to work better for me than any of the anti-depresssnts have. Which leaves me in another quandary – do I really have depression or anxiety issues? Ugh, life is hard! Not sure how much longer hubby can handle me w/o meds but hoping to make it till my next dr appt April 4.

Oh when withdrawaubg from Effexor, have any of you experience shortness of breath? Seems like I’m always huffing & puffing these days. Can’t even walk up a flight of stairs without getting out of breath.

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@lalyfa Great going getting off of Effexor. I know someone who was only on it for a short time and even then it took four months to wean off of it. If you try to limit your ativan then hopefully it won't cause addiction. As I have mentioned before I generally take about one a month for a night when I am having a particularly time stopping my mind from whirling, but back in around 2005 I was taking it more frequently not knowing it was addictive and I was going through a tough time. Thankfully I did not get addicted to it.
JK

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@lalyfa

Thank you @gailb! I have a strong feeling I will be going back on the anti-depressants soon. Finding the right one will be the trick. I’ve taken Citalopram in the past but made me feel too tired & ‘fuzzy’ in the brain. My doctor has mentioned lexapro but I know that causes sweating also and I had enough of that while on Venlaxafine. It feels like a constant battle. Wish there was something that could relieve depression symptoms but not make me feel so tired & fuzzy. Guess it will come down to me dealing with those side effects or making my family miserable. Well, it won’t be the later!

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@imfu From all I have seen on here and from what I heard from someone I know, Effexor seems to do more harm than good. There must be other pharmaceuticals that can provide relief without the troubles caused by Effexor.
JK

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20 years on this drug. I have quit cold turkey and oh my lord. This is hell, the feelings I would get if I just missed a dose. Wow. This IS HELL . I just want to die it hurts so bad. Everything is firing inside my head. Oh why did I ever allow this to happen.

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