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

I agree on the cautionary note. The big caliber sedatives are almost like choosing arsenic over ricin. That may be unfair to those who truly need them but they are definitely sledgehammers of a different sort. One of the biggest risks is accidental death. Accidental poisoning, especially via Rx is the leading cause of accidental death, prob when washed down with alcohol.

Psychotropics and alcohol are ill advised anyway but acute stress and the understandable need to make symptoms vanish as fast as possible makes the judgement factor shaky. When I had symptoms of acute and severe anxiety once, I wanted something but had nothing. I talk to MD who agreed with my later more thoughtful and collected reflection that with Xanax, it would take a bit of time to hit. The natural temptation would be to tide over the stress with a couple shots of alcohol that could be quick fixes. Fortunately, I don’t really drink much and I never had such acute stress induced symptoms reoccur.

Glad you’re on top of this with caution.

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@sandij

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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@sandij
I agree that there is a definite tyranny to having to take supplements on a schedule, but I don't expect to take them forever. I started out taking my supplements five times a day and am now down to three.

By the way, one of the supplements I take is L-methylfolate–a rather expensive prescription B vitamin that can help with anxiety. I think you take this as well. Just thought I'd share that I found a coupon on Good Rx that saves major $s.

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@texasduchess

@sandij
I agree that there is a definite tyranny to having to take supplements on a schedule, but I don't expect to take them forever. I started out taking my supplements five times a day and am now down to three.

By the way, one of the supplements I take is L-methylfolate–a rather expensive prescription B vitamin that can help with anxiety. I think you take this as well. Just thought I'd share that I found a coupon on Good Rx that saves major $s.

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@texasduchess I don't take that, if its rx, but I do take a methylated b vitamin due to mthfr.

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I don't drink alcohol at all and I won't take benzos, I'm very careful.

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@texasduchess

@sandij
I agree that there is a definite tyranny to having to take supplements on a schedule, but I don't expect to take them forever. I started out taking my supplements five times a day and am now down to three.

By the way, one of the supplements I take is L-methylfolate–a rather expensive prescription B vitamin that can help with anxiety. I think you take this as well. Just thought I'd share that I found a coupon on Good Rx that saves major $s.

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Ooo! B vitamins. I forgot how well they work. So, I just started back on Lexapro. Actually, I’ve never taken that before, I took Zoloft for about two years then switched to Effexor for about 20 years. Both worked and neither had horrible side effects except finished libido. Anyway, terrible anxiety and depression after weening off (slow ween with minimal repercussions) and I lasted about 5 months. My life is still hard and I’m mourning the loss of my dad and mourning the loss of the mom my mom used to be and I moved and I’m switching jobs and, well, life is too much right now so I made the voice to ask doc for help. She prescribed Lexapro and after the 10 then 5mg were too much, I went down to 1/4 tablet. After 5 days I just couldn’t handle the anxiety and rapid heart beat and hand tingling and diarrhea! Called doc. I have an appointment Monday and nurse said to skip a day and take 1/4 pill tomorrow in case withdrawal.

I hope so much that Zoloft works again! I jogged just now which helps. And again, yes, I have a lot going on (plus an 8 year old to keep busy!) but this is unprecedented!

Anyway, going to take some B vitamins and a multi now. (It’s organic and good)

I have CBD but I’m finding it actually doesn’t work for me 🙁

Hugs to all. Wish me luck. This is so hard!

Liked by texasduchess

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Hi all! I posted on another forum but I didn’t want to ditch this group because I don’t want to lose you all! So, Lexapro made my anxiety so much worse! (And here I was gearing up to feel good again!) so, given my personality and impulsiveness (can’t deny it) doc asked me today if it was ever discussed that I am bipolar. And yes. It was. About 20 years ago.

Sigh. As far as mental health goes, I was fine! Fine! For the best part of 20 years taking 75 mgs of Effexor I did great. Then, I weened off super slowly post menopause with very few side effects. Success! But then, anxiety and depression crept back in. And, after 5 months, I went to seek pharmaceutical help.

So the Lexapro was a no go. Made things worse. Anyone use seroquel? Doc said it’s a mood stabilizer. Then she wants to add Zoloft later.

Sigh. At the moment, I feel great! No anxiety, no depression. I kind of feel in control. Just hate to take anything! But I will if I need it. And well, perhaps some folks need it?

I love your replies if anyone has any feedback 🙂

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@secretwhitepop

Hi all! I posted on another forum but I didn’t want to ditch this group because I don’t want to lose you all! So, Lexapro made my anxiety so much worse! (And here I was gearing up to feel good again!) so, given my personality and impulsiveness (can’t deny it) doc asked me today if it was ever discussed that I am bipolar. And yes. It was. About 20 years ago.

Sigh. As far as mental health goes, I was fine! Fine! For the best part of 20 years taking 75 mgs of Effexor I did great. Then, I weened off super slowly post menopause with very few side effects. Success! But then, anxiety and depression crept back in. And, after 5 months, I went to seek pharmaceutical help.

So the Lexapro was a no go. Made things worse. Anyone use seroquel? Doc said it’s a mood stabilizer. Then she wants to add Zoloft later.

Sigh. At the moment, I feel great! No anxiety, no depression. I kind of feel in control. Just hate to take anything! But I will if I need it. And well, perhaps some folks need it?

I love your replies if anyone has any feedback 🙂

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I am sorry that things did not work out like you had hoped.
There IS NOTHING WRONG with needing some pharmaceutical interventions to help keep you healthy!
Would you say anything about a diabetic who MUST take insulin?
Of course you wouldn't!
Why is this any different?
Could be your anxiety is inherited and meds are the only way to control it.
Sadly, sometimes we feel fine when not on meds, but when anxiety hits or depression starts……bam!!!!
I never gave it a thought to come off Effexor.
I tried many years ago on the advice of my PCP and I saw what happened.
No meds we tried worked.
Effexor works, I'm not looking to reinvent the wheel or play with other meds.

Good luck to you and I hope you find your answers!
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

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Thank you so much. Ha! Yeah, perhaps I’ll end up back on Effexor after all is said and done :). (And, sadly, in my family, we have bipolar, depression and three suicides…). Life is too wonderful to spend needless time sad or anxious. Fingers crossed the seroquel helps…

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@secretwhitepop

Hi all! I posted on another forum but I didn’t want to ditch this group because I don’t want to lose you all! So, Lexapro made my anxiety so much worse! (And here I was gearing up to feel good again!) so, given my personality and impulsiveness (can’t deny it) doc asked me today if it was ever discussed that I am bipolar. And yes. It was. About 20 years ago.

Sigh. As far as mental health goes, I was fine! Fine! For the best part of 20 years taking 75 mgs of Effexor I did great. Then, I weened off super slowly post menopause with very few side effects. Success! But then, anxiety and depression crept back in. And, after 5 months, I went to seek pharmaceutical help.

So the Lexapro was a no go. Made things worse. Anyone use seroquel? Doc said it’s a mood stabilizer. Then she wants to add Zoloft later.

Sigh. At the moment, I feel great! No anxiety, no depression. I kind of feel in control. Just hate to take anything! But I will if I need it. And well, perhaps some folks need it?

I love your replies if anyone has any feedback 🙂

Jump to this post

@secretwhitepop
I found my withdrawal symptoms very distressing and I wanted HELP NOW. Keep in mind, I was only on 25mg Effexor and just to control hot flashes. I tapered off Effexor because those days were over and I thought why keep taking a pill I don't need. I had no issues on it (it worked great!), only after getting off it. If I'd known THAT, I would have left well enough alone and stayed on Effexor–a frivolous reason to stay on a drug. But, as well as avoiding a whole of lot of aggravation, jeopardizing my husband's and my sanity, I'd have saved a lot of $s, too (I'm taking a whole handful of supplements 3x a day and the occasional 1/2 Valium now just to keep level and they cost). You've discovered that you really do need medication to function well. Sounds like a good reason to me.

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I don’t understand why doc would prescribe Effexor for hot flashes? But evidently it happens. If you’d like to try to go off again, I weened ridiculously slowly and successfully. But again, sometimes at a certain point in life, it’s just easier.

This morning (after my first dose of seroquel last night) I was tired and groggy but (believe it or not) that’s all. No tummy jingles of anxiety. Which is a beautiful thing.

I had a close friend who was so anxious she drank like a fish and threw up every morning. She never sought help from a doctor. She was smart and successful and never made it to her 39th birthday. Turns out she had an undiagnosed heart problem.

Maybe had she been to the doc more often the doc would have found it. Who knows and it doesn’t matter now.

And the operative word is what matters NOW because that’s all we have.

Hugs and gratitude.

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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 was on effexor and many other SSRIS SSNIs etc. I was a zombie so I went off of everything by myself. I went to the hospital and went on a mood stabilizer, "Lamictal" and there are newer ones out there. I was either happy or really sad and felt no joy. The mood stabilizer helps the dopamine in your brain and it changed my life. I felt joy, I wasn't tired, I didn't gain weight, I didn't have restless legs anymore. Good luck to you.

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Thank you! I hope this works! I’m kind of tired this morning but otherwise calm. I am functioning, thank God. Mostly I worry about being “there” for my child!

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@richyrich

Thanks Nankee99. Reassuring to know that it’s not just me who finds getting off the stuff a horrendous experience. Feedback on this blog is reassuring to the extent that it makes you realise that an exit from the drug is possible, albeit very difficult. What about stopping without tapering and going cold turkey. Quicker but more painful?

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Don't go cold turkey. I honestly believe it could kill you. It took me 8 months. I've been off 4 1/2 months now. You can do it, but go slowly!

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@secretwhitepop

I don’t understand why doc would prescribe Effexor for hot flashes? But evidently it happens. If you’d like to try to go off again, I weened ridiculously slowly and successfully. But again, sometimes at a certain point in life, it’s just easier.

This morning (after my first dose of seroquel last night) I was tired and groggy but (believe it or not) that’s all. No tummy jingles of anxiety. Which is a beautiful thing.

I had a close friend who was so anxious she drank like a fish and threw up every morning. She never sought help from a doctor. She was smart and successful and never made it to her 39th birthday. Turns out she had an undiagnosed heart problem.

Maybe had she been to the doc more often the doc would have found it. Who knows and it doesn’t matter now.

And the operative word is what matters NOW because that’s all we have.

Hugs and gratitude.

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@secretwhitepop
Off label use of Effexor to minimize/reduce hot flashes is very common–especially for women like me (breast cancer survivor) who cannot use hormones to deal with them. At very lose doses, it works really well for this (I was on just 25mg regular release). Conversely, people on high/higher doses of Effexor may find that they sweat a lot/too much.

Hope the Seroquel continues to work well for you.

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@terri672

Don't go cold turkey. I honestly believe it could kill you. It took me 8 months. I've been off 4 1/2 months now. You can do it, but go slowly!

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He started on his own wheening himself off because the VA was unaware of helping him. Now he had the psychiatrist take it down somemore

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