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

@saku

I am having a problem with anxiety after being completely off effexor since Feb. what do any of you recommend for this that is not addicting and possibly on an as needed basis. I have an appointment with a new physician tomorrow

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@saku
Hi,
Although personally I’d try and stay away from Benzodiazepines like Xanax, clonazepam (Klonopin), diazepam (Valium), or lorazepam (Ativan). If you only took them occasionally at low doses I wouldn’t think the dependency problem would be an issue.
SSRI’s usually have fewer side effects than SNRI’s.
Since people react differently to meds it’s hard to know. Make sure you ask your doctor for something mild. And try not to take them daily. Anxiety is usually caused by irrational fears. It would be more beneficial to understand why you have anxiety and find out the cause then go from there.
Good luck,
Jake

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Thank you for your responses. I have not had a Dr. That will take the time to discuss this with me and am tryin to find a new physician. One of the problems with our health care system is finding and keeping a good one.

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So. An update that has me feeling like crawling back with my tail between my legs! Well, not really, but almost..but I know you guys will support me and understand.
Past few days the insomnia, which had seemingly resolved, hit with such force that I was unable to sleep for 3 nights in a row. Maybe an hour or two at one time, but nothing more. Well I don't have to tell you how much this f*cks with EVERYTHING including crazy intrusive thoughts. I'd also had an increase in these horrible cold chills and sweats, as well as this feeling like being punched in the stomach ..you know, can't even stand up straight, can't get through a shower without holding onto the wall. All I could do was just pray and pray and pray. I had some zofran so I took that. Took half an ativan one night. Gave up and took ambien. No relief.
Finally I just made an appointment at my new dr office, shes not someone that I was very impressed with, but she's better than the last one who told me my cold chills and sweats were "weird" and offered no solutions. (My first thought is thyroid? Or the wd). So as luck had it, I landed in her nurse practitioners office, and as soon as he walked into the room after the nurse triage me, and i was completely honest as to what is going on including the stopping effexor, he sat down and told me he was going to 1.check my thyroid 2.follow up on my liver testing and 3.give me something to take the edge of the withdrawal. Without me saying a word. I felt completely validated and so relieved I started crying. His recommendation was to start me back on 37.5 effexor to get it back into my system and alleviate the stomach pain. He said theres a war going on between my brain and my gut and my body is the battleground. He said he has seen this in so many if his patients that try to stop effexor, that I am not the only one who has suffered through this and that theres no need to suffer. He prescribed vistaril instead of my taking benadryl because its sedating and will allow my body to rest. He said to drink electrolyte water because hes certain I'm dehydrated from the sweats ( I couldn't even produce enough urine for a UA). He offered the prozac bridge at a later time, or even now if I wanted, he was very accommodating and he LISTENED. He did labs for my thyroid, liver function, and told me that while I'm out of town for two weeks I am to call him if anything happens that concerns me, he will make himself available to me.
You guys, I can't even tell you what a difference this made. Just to have a medical professional take me seriously. He didnt chastise me at all for tapering the way I did, he said everybody reacts differently and I did well up till now and even going lower before stopping may not have prevented hitting the wall.
So I got the prescription filled. I started the vistaril only 1/2 tablet instead of 1, since I'm so sensitive to meds, and it has allowed me so much more comfort it's amazing. I'm holding off on the effexor for now, until I get my thyroid test results, since I'm not convinced that the cold chills/sweats may not wholly be effexor wd. In either case, if the vistaril allows me to handle that, I'll treat it with only that, and lots of fluids.
I'm not feeling like a failure, because it was this experience that brought me to finally a good doctor. And even if i have to reinstate, I'm ok with it, but I'm going to continue to give it my all to hold the course.
Hope everyone is doing well here.

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@secretwhitepop

I had a psychiatrist for several years. She was great and very conservative when it came to prescribing medicine. It took several years before she administered Zoloft and then, when I complained of the side effects, she warily prescribed Effexor. Which worked. But one thing she told me but did not put in writing was that, if she were pushed, she would diagnose me with bipolar disorder. But since I was so high functioning, she did not want to put it in writing. Didn’t want to commit to it.

My anger can get out of control, however. People say I’m scary. But the histrionics were sort of normal in my family. It wasn’t until I got into the real world and away from my family that I realized it was a little over the top.

My husband is a loud yeller, too. But I understand him. And maybe that’s why we get along! He doesn’t mean anything by it, we’re just both kind of loud 🙂

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@secretwhitepop I have often thought about the possibility of being bipolar but never wanted to go there because my God, the medicines could be a nightmare to figure out. I've considered borderline personality disorder, I read a book called I hate you, dont leave me, which described me to a T. I had a counselor once tell me that many addicts exhibit symptoms of bpd, that once the addictions are treated the bpd resolves. I have been much less "swingy" in my moods since I started my taper. It's weird. It's almost like the effexor made me have more ups and downs than being on less of it and now none, has. My husband has even said how much calmer I am now that I am off of it. Of course I'm struggling with physical symptoms like I just posted, but overall mood has been more stable. So strange how meds affect us all so differently. I'm sure our circumstances are what affects things mostly. Hope you are doing better.

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@sandij

So. An update that has me feeling like crawling back with my tail between my legs! Well, not really, but almost..but I know you guys will support me and understand.
Past few days the insomnia, which had seemingly resolved, hit with such force that I was unable to sleep for 3 nights in a row. Maybe an hour or two at one time, but nothing more. Well I don't have to tell you how much this f*cks with EVERYTHING including crazy intrusive thoughts. I'd also had an increase in these horrible cold chills and sweats, as well as this feeling like being punched in the stomach ..you know, can't even stand up straight, can't get through a shower without holding onto the wall. All I could do was just pray and pray and pray. I had some zofran so I took that. Took half an ativan one night. Gave up and took ambien. No relief.
Finally I just made an appointment at my new dr office, shes not someone that I was very impressed with, but she's better than the last one who told me my cold chills and sweats were "weird" and offered no solutions. (My first thought is thyroid? Or the wd). So as luck had it, I landed in her nurse practitioners office, and as soon as he walked into the room after the nurse triage me, and i was completely honest as to what is going on including the stopping effexor, he sat down and told me he was going to 1.check my thyroid 2.follow up on my liver testing and 3.give me something to take the edge of the withdrawal. Without me saying a word. I felt completely validated and so relieved I started crying. His recommendation was to start me back on 37.5 effexor to get it back into my system and alleviate the stomach pain. He said theres a war going on between my brain and my gut and my body is the battleground. He said he has seen this in so many if his patients that try to stop effexor, that I am not the only one who has suffered through this and that theres no need to suffer. He prescribed vistaril instead of my taking benadryl because its sedating and will allow my body to rest. He said to drink electrolyte water because hes certain I'm dehydrated from the sweats ( I couldn't even produce enough urine for a UA). He offered the prozac bridge at a later time, or even now if I wanted, he was very accommodating and he LISTENED. He did labs for my thyroid, liver function, and told me that while I'm out of town for two weeks I am to call him if anything happens that concerns me, he will make himself available to me.
You guys, I can't even tell you what a difference this made. Just to have a medical professional take me seriously. He didnt chastise me at all for tapering the way I did, he said everybody reacts differently and I did well up till now and even going lower before stopping may not have prevented hitting the wall.
So I got the prescription filled. I started the vistaril only 1/2 tablet instead of 1, since I'm so sensitive to meds, and it has allowed me so much more comfort it's amazing. I'm holding off on the effexor for now, until I get my thyroid test results, since I'm not convinced that the cold chills/sweats may not wholly be effexor wd. In either case, if the vistaril allows me to handle that, I'll treat it with only that, and lots of fluids.
I'm not feeling like a failure, because it was this experience that brought me to finally a good doctor. And even if i have to reinstate, I'm ok with it, but I'm going to continue to give it my all to hold the course.
Hope everyone is doing well here.

Jump to this post

Thanks for your post and I hope you are feeling better! You have give. Us all faith that there are still good and caring doctors in this world!

Incidentally, don’t ever say anything about ever being a failure! No matter what happens, nothing is a failure. Just be well!

All that being said, I am back on Lexapro. Well, I was never on Lexapro, but I’m back on an SSRI. Prescribed 10 mgs but couldn’t handle it, went down to 5mg and now 2.5 which I’m tolerating well. After a week or so I’ll go up to 5. Maybe even stop there. Maybe it’s just a thing for us folks that are super sensitive to medicine… who knows. But the higher doses made me very nervous and shaky.

Anyway, happiness for you and your great doctor!

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@sandij

@secretwhitepop I have often thought about the possibility of being bipolar but never wanted to go there because my God, the medicines could be a nightmare to figure out. I've considered borderline personality disorder, I read a book called I hate you, dont leave me, which described me to a T. I had a counselor once tell me that many addicts exhibit symptoms of bpd, that once the addictions are treated the bpd resolves. I have been much less "swingy" in my moods since I started my taper. It's weird. It's almost like the effexor made me have more ups and downs than being on less of it and now none, has. My husband has even said how much calmer I am now that I am off of it. Of course I'm struggling with physical symptoms like I just posted, but overall mood has been more stable. So strange how meds affect us all so differently. I'm sure our circumstances are what affects things mostly. Hope you are doing better.

Jump to this post

It IS really strange how meds effect different people differently. Like, I craved meat when off Effexor. When on it, it’s all about the carbs. Since I’ve started Lexapro, I’m pitting out and need to put on lots of deodorant! No kidding, when I was med-free, I had no BO (tmi?). But true!

Might be a rumor, but I heard that rogaine was originally produced for penile dysfunction, when folks started growing hair down there, they started selling it for hair growth!

Go figure!

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24 hours after the appointment with the nurse practitioner, he called to sew how I was feeling! Said it was great that vistaril alone was holding my symptoms and went over all my labs with me. Told me not to hesitate to call him if things change over the time period I'll be out of town. I'm amazed and feel like God really was looking out for me yesterday (and everyday)

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Thanks for all the updates…you are all doing so well figuring it out now.
I have one also…NO ANXIETY…for 6 days…NO CBD for 6 days also. How freaking cool is that…
This new rock seems to be healing me…Shungite
Again, I am thinking clearer, moving with ease…resting better, I have energy!!! And have been able to get out of my chair and Consistantly do things.
I also canceled my Chiropractor appt for today.
I couldn't be happier.
.
Now this weekend I am leaving with a girl friend to go to a family reunion in Ohio. 550 miles is a bit too far to go alone…I used to drive that like it was nothing.
A number of weeks ago I had a second brain event…A small TIA. Oh, I am fine, at least with thIs new Shungite around my neck…
Yes, I have been holding this to myself. Sometimes I have to ponder things before I share.
I knew the reunion was coming up…Didn't think I would attend. When my husband fell and died, everyone came to the funeral and then most of them disappeared…since 2011….
My brother Steve got a hold of me and I fought my anger for 2 hours….as we talked.
I got a hold of 2 friends, one was my old boss when I volunteered at a homeless shelter for 5 years and the other is a medicine woman friend, much more advanced than me.
Between the two of them, I am good to go with no more hard feelings.
.
Welll, then there is my brother Bill…he hates me, I finally was lead to the answer recently. He was born with colic… Cried from the moment he came in the door. Not his fault, but in 1954 not much was done for colic…
I have been able to figure out what happened…it was part of that 3 day rebirthing event. I used to go and hold him…at age 3, mine you. AND he never stopped crying…nothing anyone did stopped it, ever…
So my mother decreed, if he was going to cry, then let him cry. I was not allowed to hold him anymore…I wonder if he remembers….he cried for 2 years…
.
Anyway, everyone sounds so happy now that we are all getting together.
Camping…just usual stuff for me now with going to ceremony each month. Longest trip prize goes to cousin Kathleen, she is flying in from Italy…
30 people are attending…16 are not.
My daughter Wendy will be bringing her tent on the airplane. Yup, that's my kid…grin.
So anyways, I have been reading but didn't respond cuz of low data…
That's my check in…Bright Wings

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Hope you have a great time! That's awesome about the shunghite!

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@sandij

So. An update that has me feeling like crawling back with my tail between my legs! Well, not really, but almost..but I know you guys will support me and understand.
Past few days the insomnia, which had seemingly resolved, hit with such force that I was unable to sleep for 3 nights in a row. Maybe an hour or two at one time, but nothing more. Well I don't have to tell you how much this f*cks with EVERYTHING including crazy intrusive thoughts. I'd also had an increase in these horrible cold chills and sweats, as well as this feeling like being punched in the stomach ..you know, can't even stand up straight, can't get through a shower without holding onto the wall. All I could do was just pray and pray and pray. I had some zofran so I took that. Took half an ativan one night. Gave up and took ambien. No relief.
Finally I just made an appointment at my new dr office, shes not someone that I was very impressed with, but she's better than the last one who told me my cold chills and sweats were "weird" and offered no solutions. (My first thought is thyroid? Or the wd). So as luck had it, I landed in her nurse practitioners office, and as soon as he walked into the room after the nurse triage me, and i was completely honest as to what is going on including the stopping effexor, he sat down and told me he was going to 1.check my thyroid 2.follow up on my liver testing and 3.give me something to take the edge of the withdrawal. Without me saying a word. I felt completely validated and so relieved I started crying. His recommendation was to start me back on 37.5 effexor to get it back into my system and alleviate the stomach pain. He said theres a war going on between my brain and my gut and my body is the battleground. He said he has seen this in so many if his patients that try to stop effexor, that I am not the only one who has suffered through this and that theres no need to suffer. He prescribed vistaril instead of my taking benadryl because its sedating and will allow my body to rest. He said to drink electrolyte water because hes certain I'm dehydrated from the sweats ( I couldn't even produce enough urine for a UA). He offered the prozac bridge at a later time, or even now if I wanted, he was very accommodating and he LISTENED. He did labs for my thyroid, liver function, and told me that while I'm out of town for two weeks I am to call him if anything happens that concerns me, he will make himself available to me.
You guys, I can't even tell you what a difference this made. Just to have a medical professional take me seriously. He didnt chastise me at all for tapering the way I did, he said everybody reacts differently and I did well up till now and even going lower before stopping may not have prevented hitting the wall.
So I got the prescription filled. I started the vistaril only 1/2 tablet instead of 1, since I'm so sensitive to meds, and it has allowed me so much more comfort it's amazing. I'm holding off on the effexor for now, until I get my thyroid test results, since I'm not convinced that the cold chills/sweats may not wholly be effexor wd. In either case, if the vistaril allows me to handle that, I'll treat it with only that, and lots of fluids.
I'm not feeling like a failure, because it was this experience that brought me to finally a good doctor. And even if i have to reinstate, I'm ok with it, but I'm going to continue to give it my all to hold the course.
Hope everyone is doing well here.

Jump to this post

@sandij
If getting off Effexor was easy, this blog wouldn't be over 300 pages!

Congratulations on lucking into a nurse practitioner who has experience with folks quitting Effexor! A rare find. Hope your tests come back with some answers and that his suggestions and the Vistaril give you relief.

First thing: Your last dose of Effexor was 4/17–a little more than two months ago. Things went kerbluey for me about the same amount of time after my last dose; I think this is when my body used up all the Effexor stored away in nooks and crannies. We were both on Effexor for years. Could be this happened to you, too and put you on the edge. Insomnia and anxiety were my main withdrawal symptoms.

Second thing: You were on Ambien. Can't find in your previous posts when you stopped taking it and if you tapered off. Reducing/quitting a drug can CAUSE the very issue(s) it was designed to treat–a backlash effect.

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@secretwhitepop

Thanks for your post and I hope you are feeling better! You have give. Us all faith that there are still good and caring doctors in this world!

Incidentally, don’t ever say anything about ever being a failure! No matter what happens, nothing is a failure. Just be well!

All that being said, I am back on Lexapro. Well, I was never on Lexapro, but I’m back on an SSRI. Prescribed 10 mgs but couldn’t handle it, went down to 5mg and now 2.5 which I’m tolerating well. After a week or so I’ll go up to 5. Maybe even stop there. Maybe it’s just a thing for us folks that are super sensitive to medicine… who knows. But the higher doses made me very nervous and shaky.

Anyway, happiness for you and your great doctor!

Jump to this post

Good Morning,
You are right!
We all react to meds differently and we are NOT failures if we have bad reactions or the meds don't work for us.
Finding meds that are good for us can be a process.

Have a great day!
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

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@sandij

24 hours after the appointment with the nurse practitioner, he called to sew how I was feeling! Said it was great that vistaril alone was holding my symptoms and went over all my labs with me. Told me not to hesitate to call him if things change over the time period I'll be out of town. I'm amazed and feel like God really was looking out for me yesterday (and everyday)

Jump to this post

what a blessing for that follow up phone call!!!

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@texasduchess

@sandij
If getting off Effexor was easy, this blog wouldn't be over 300 pages!

Congratulations on lucking into a nurse practitioner who has experience with folks quitting Effexor! A rare find. Hope your tests come back with some answers and that his suggestions and the Vistaril give you relief.

First thing: Your last dose of Effexor was 4/17–a little more than two months ago. Things went kerbluey for me about the same amount of time after my last dose; I think this is when my body used up all the Effexor stored away in nooks and crannies. We were both on Effexor for years. Could be this happened to you, too and put you on the edge. Insomnia and anxiety were my main withdrawal symptoms.

Second thing: You were on Ambien. Can't find in your previous posts when you stopped taking it and if you tapered off. Reducing/quitting a drug can CAUSE the very issue(s) it was designed to treat–a backlash effect.

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@texasduchess I stopped taking ambien May 1 after asking for something different, since ambien is a hypnotic and I was doing crazy things like shopping online of I couldn't fall asleep after taking it. She prescribed belsombra but after reading about it, I decided to not fill the rx. Started taking melatonin, and was also taking benadryl to hold any effexor wd symptoms. After just a few nights without ambien i was doing fine without it for over a month, when the insomnia started again only this time with worse racing thoughts etc that wouldn't allow me to sleep, and almost a fear of going to sleep, and some physical symptoms like I've described, horrible stomach pain like emptiness or a gripping sensation, and couldn't stand up straight, struggling to take a shower etc, that must have been due to effexor withdrawal. But the good news is that a few doses of vistaril seem to have solved that. I think you're right about the fat stores. I read somewhere online that this surge of withdrawal symptoms happens to people who have a higher BMI. Which I do. My question is, after your experience at around 2 months out, did your symptoms then dissipate or did they continue to go away and come back in waves, if so, for how long?

Liked by texasduchess

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@sandij

@texasduchess I stopped taking ambien May 1 after asking for something different, since ambien is a hypnotic and I was doing crazy things like shopping online of I couldn't fall asleep after taking it. She prescribed belsombra but after reading about it, I decided to not fill the rx. Started taking melatonin, and was also taking benadryl to hold any effexor wd symptoms. After just a few nights without ambien i was doing fine without it for over a month, when the insomnia started again only this time with worse racing thoughts etc that wouldn't allow me to sleep, and almost a fear of going to sleep, and some physical symptoms like I've described, horrible stomach pain like emptiness or a gripping sensation, and couldn't stand up straight, struggling to take a shower etc, that must have been due to effexor withdrawal. But the good news is that a few doses of vistaril seem to have solved that. I think you're right about the fat stores. I read somewhere online that this surge of withdrawal symptoms happens to people who have a higher BMI. Which I do. My question is, after your experience at around 2 months out, did your symptoms then dissipate or did they continue to go away and come back in waves, if so, for how long?

Jump to this post

@sandij
Yes, I have a higher BMI … sigh.

My withdrawal symptoms started with insomnia … with racing, circling thoughts about stupid stuff that I generally wouldn't spend a lot of time on and YES, the fear–of going to sleep, of taking a shower, of nothing and everything. I realized pretty quickly that these were Effexor withdrawal symptoms and through trial-and-error came up with a regimen of supplements that helped me tremendously. I also saw my doctor and got a limited prescription for 10mg Valium to use as needed.

Getting over something as powerful as Effexor takes time; I was on it for 18 years. It's been a year since the WD symptoms began; I see improvement–they are less intense, but I still experience them … especially, if I am under stress. I am still taking supplements (down to three times a day) and only feel the need (rising anxiety) for half of a Valium once, or twice about every 5–6 weeks.

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I'm also taking a lot of supplements, so many I get sick and tired of them and who knows how much they help, really. What works one day may not work the next. On top of it all, I actually forget that I do have fibromyalgia and that sometimes physical and mental fatigue, pain, exercise intolerance, can be the result of a flare. It's usually my husband who brings that to my attention. Lol. But I do get so carried away with figuring out the reason for every little thing that happens inside of me I'm sure it borders on hypochondria or obsession. It comes from the need to control. If I could just figure out why something happens I could take steps to prevent it from happening in the first place, or at least fix it. Well, that's not always the case, I'm learning the hard way, the older I get. Thanks for being here to share your story!

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