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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@tambra

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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@tambra I'm a Volunteer Mentor and not a medical professional, but I recommend that you go back to taking your last pill. You can cause additional problems for yourself by trying to go cold turkey off medications. You need to get a schedule for withdrawal from your doctor or from your pharmacist. This very important to do. I also recommend that you read through the other comments posted here to find out what others have done to ease their withdrawal. If you continue to have the problems you described, go to an ER or Urgent Care for assistance.

Please let us know what you are doing, and if you are willing let us know more information about your medication, i.e., how much you have been taking, and why you want to get off it.

Gailb
Volunteer Mentor

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Hi, I have been on Effexor for over 20 years along with Buspirone and Lamictal. I have recently weaned off of Buspirone completely. My Doctor is now weaning me off of Effector. I was on 150 mg once a day and she reduced it to 75 mg. It has been 2 weeks and I have had no symptoms of withdrawal at all so far. I am nervous about what's to come when the drug is reduced more. I am so glad that I've found this site and can connect with others who are also weaning from Effexor.

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@tambra

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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Welcome to Connect, @tambra.
I echo Mentor @gailb's message; if you scroll through posts in this discussion, you will read about the benefits of gradually weaning off Effexor, rather than stopping all at once. I'm confident that @arachel @lilmac44 @cwaudio @lukekee and others in this group will join in and share their insights as well.

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Welcome @poisonivy.
I'm so glad you've joined Connect, and shared great insights about weaning off Effexor. From personal experience, I can tell you that there are practically no significant side effects when you gradually wean off, under your doctor's supervision.
We look forward to getting to know you; may I ask what led to taking these medications?

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@tambra

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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I totally agree about the weaning. I only took Effexor for around 3 month @ 75 mg.

When I knew it wasn’t going to help me I wanted to just stop but the side effects made me change my mind and I started weaning myself.

I can’t imagine just stopping cold turkey after 20 years on it. That sounds dangerous.

You definitely need to talk to your doctor but regardless of what he/she says you will feel much better if you go off it gradually.

I know it’s frustrating to have to take the time to wean off it but it will be to your benefit to do so and may prevent you from going to hospital from your withdrawal symptoms.

Good luck and remember there are many other people going through what you are on this forum that will do their best to help you.

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@kanaazpereira

Welcome @poisonivy.
I'm so glad you've joined Connect, and shared great insights about weaning off Effexor. From personal experience, I can tell you that there are practically no significant side effects when you gradually wean off, under your doctor's supervision.
We look forward to getting to know you; may I ask what led to taking these medications?

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Thank you! I was diagnosed with Bi-Polar 2. I was put on many types of medication but Effector was the first. I've had 12 ECT treatments which is another topic altogether. Two years ago I started treatment with a new Psychiatrist and we both agree I have probably been misdiagnosed.
I now have chronic kidney disease and the medications are hard on the kidneys. That is why I am weaning off.

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Thanks, @poisonivy. We also have an incredible Kidney & Bladder group on Connect, https://connect.mayoclinic.org/group/kidney-conditions/ where many members have shared their experiences about coping and living with chronic kidney disease (CKD). Feel free to view the discussions and join in any of the conversations that interest you.

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@tambra

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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Tambra, stop what you are doing and get professional advice. My psych tried weaning me off of Effexor after 14 years of taking it (divorce after 31 years of marriage and 5 years later my son took his life when he returned home from his third tour to Iraq.) The trick to weaning off of Effexor is to take it long and slooooooooow. My dr. tried to get me off of it in one month by decreasing the dosage by 1/4 each week. HORRIBLE MISTAKE! In my opinion, it should take 6-8 MONTHS to get off of this poisonous drug. I made the mistake of starting the process last October (the holidays are hell for me….what was I thinking??) and had no idea what to expect. On New Years Eve day I overdosed on Xanax and ended up in the hospital for 7 days (psych ward….NEVER go there). I was having such horrible gastric problems throwing up and diarreha (sp??) and I was having panic attack so badly I thought I was having a heart attack. I took the Xanax to try to sleep and lost track of how many I had taken. I sweated the most putrid smelling sweat I have ever smelled (gross, I know). What it was is all of the POISON escaping from my body and what didn't pass through my gastro system came out through my pours. I lost 27 lbs in a MONTH. Even though I complained to my dr. about what happened, she said, "You're going to have to stick it out or go back on it." WTH? As she decreased the Effexor she slowly moved me on to Lexapro. My intent is to get off of ALL medications, PERIOD. If you read up on Effexor, you will find a myriad of other physical problems it causes. What really woke me up and made me decide to get off of it is that during an annual exam my PCP found "considerable amounts" of blood in my urine. CONSIDERABLE. That scared the bejeebers out of me and that's when I started researching what a poisonous drug Effexor is. No matter how long term you take it. After my son passed away I think I laid in bed for five years. I retired, had very little family support and gained 45 lbs. I was a mess and so was everything else in my life. And the sad part is, I didn't even care. I still struggle with chronic fatigue which I am working with an endocrinologist to see what's going on there but I continue to have gastric problems that doctors can't seem to find the cause of. And I'm scared to death that taking this medication has caused life-long physical problems for me. Another HUGE side effect of Effexor is high bp. I know I was overweight but my bp hovered around 200/90 even taking bp medication. No matter what I did, the weight wouldn't come off. Like I said above, I lost 27 lbs in 2 months. SCARY. What I have learned from this experience is that I'm going the natural route of physical ailments from here on out and am limiting even taking a Tylenol for a headache! Big pharma doesn't make meds to heal us….they make meds to keep us sick and thus keep the $$$ rolling in. My best advice is to research Effexor (it took the FDA 14 years to approve it….what does THAT tell you?) and truly take some time to get off of it. I wouldn't ever recommend going cold turkey or even doing it in a month or two. It takes your body a long, long, long time to get it out of its system and the longer it takes, the lesser the withdrawal. I am now almost 6 months out from beginning the detox and I pray to God that my health continues to improve. I am 60 years old, retired and want to find some kind of peace and happiness on this earth before I leave….

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@tambra

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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You may not know it but you are truly a hero and are so much stronger than you realise! You have been through hell but somehow you have found the strength to hang in there and I think your post will inspire others who are going through a bad time. Stay strong!
Best Wishes
Ainsleigh

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@tambra

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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@sadiesmom what an ordeal you have gone through. I hope that you continue to get better and off of these miserable drugs.
JK

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@tambra

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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Awe. Thank you. Truly I’m just an old woman that must get control over my health and my direction in life. I choose to be in the gym and no in the wheelchair

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I came across a discussion about Effexor withdrawal, but once I signed up, I can't find it. I am having so many symptoms, I can barely function. What are some tips? I am dizzy, extremely fatigued (which is one reason I tapered off), Anxiety through the roof that is causing my heart rate to be up and some nausea. I feel like I need to go 100 miles an hour at the same time of not being able to move because I am so tired and dizzy. I can not go back on. My doctor and I decided it is not helping me. I am to go to a depression/Anxiety/eating disorder specialist. But until I go in, I can't function like this. I am taking care of my grandmother with dementia and a teenage son.

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Hello, @hezz — welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. I'm pretty confident this is the discussion you'd wanted to locate.

I'd encourage you to look back through this discussion for some of the experiences of others who've faced some of the same very tough withdrawal symptoms coming off venlafaxine (Effexor). I think members here like @gailb, @stressedmesseddepressed, @lisabee, @panewdayphyl @vdandy @lukekee @sadiesmom @jimhd may have some thoughts for you as you are trying to manage these symptoms.

@hezz — sounds like you have quite a bit of responsibilities taking care of others at home now. Do you have friends or other relatives who could provide some support for you as you go through this process of coming off venlafaxine (Effexor)?

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@lisalucier

Hello, @hezz — welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. I'm pretty confident this is the discussion you'd wanted to locate.

I'd encourage you to look back through this discussion for some of the experiences of others who've faced some of the same very tough withdrawal symptoms coming off venlafaxine (Effexor). I think members here like @gailb, @stressedmesseddepressed, @lisabee, @panewdayphyl @vdandy @lukekee @sadiesmom @jimhd may have some thoughts for you as you are trying to manage these symptoms.

@hezz — sounds like you have quite a bit of responsibilities taking care of others at home now. Do you have friends or other relatives who could provide some support for you as you go through this process of coming off venlafaxine (Effexor)?

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Thank You very much for the reply. I will look through it. When I can, I take my Xanax which seems to help. Luckily I am not taking care of my grandma 24/7. My family members are rotating shifts. And for dealing with a teenager, my husband normally helps me when I can't deal with him being teenager-like, but his work has him working all over the state and weird hours. I am looking forward to thursday as that is a day to myself while my son is at school. But holy cow, feeling this extreme in so many different ways is insane and hard to handle!

Liked by Lisa Lucier

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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 gained a ton of weight too. not happy

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