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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@secretwhitepop

Hello. First of all you WILL eventually ween off. Secondly, I believe you’re going too fast still, so give yourself some normalcy and take the 37.5 everyday. When you’re ready, yes. Take out some of those small beads.

I took out 5 beads each time I went down a level. I had zero side effects but it took about 18 months. What’s the hurry?

I did ok but after six months completely clean, I went on Zoloft and seroquel. (Both generic). I was too sick of not being happy and well, truth be told, I was buying and selling too much. My family was suffering and my doctor pointedly told me it is highly likely I am bipolar. And so now I take meds for it. And they’re working 🙂

Good luck and go easy on yourself.

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Thanks for the good advice. I plan to stay on 37.5 for a few weeks before trying to taper more. And I will definitely taper slowly. 5 beads at a time sounds great! I got advise from my doctor about going every other day once I reached 37.5 so I was trying that. Turned out to be a very bad idea! After reading this blog and others I've realized that most regular PCP's don't understand how to do this properly. I will go super slow and take all the time I need. Thank you!!

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I went too fast and suffered the consequences. I realized that I was not only having withdrawal symptoms but that depression was creeping in. I reinstated and now I'm going though an adjustment period which hopefully will be temporary. So please go slowly!

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I am tapering off Effexor after 17 years and taking Lexapro at the same time to help with the symptoms. I know how difficult Effexor's side effects are if you should miss a dose; I noticed some symptoms are like migraine symptoms. I am experiencing mostly tiredness, pinpoint flashes of bright light, and craving sugar. I have had a general anxiety disorder since adolescence. On the bright side of tapering, I have noticed cognitively, I feel capable of full thought. I am going down to 37.5 in a few days and appreciate the feedback I have read on this site! Here is to all of us feeling better!

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@secretwhitepop

Hello. First of all you WILL eventually ween off. Secondly, I believe you’re going too fast still, so give yourself some normalcy and take the 37.5 everyday. When you’re ready, yes. Take out some of those small beads.

I took out 5 beads each time I went down a level. I had zero side effects but it took about 18 months. What’s the hurry?

I did ok but after six months completely clean, I went on Zoloft and seroquel. (Both generic). I was too sick of not being happy and well, truth be told, I was buying and selling too much. My family was suffering and my doctor pointedly told me it is highly likely I am bipolar. And so now I take meds for it. And they’re working 🙂

Good luck and go easy on yourself.

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@secretwhitepop I am so glad to hear that you are doing well!

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We cannot to it alone!
My gastroenterologist gave me more guidance than the prescribing physician! She told me not to think the stomach cramps were caused GI problems, but symptoms of withdrawal.

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@clearview3

I am tapering off Effexor after 17 years and taking Lexapro at the same time to help with the symptoms. I know how difficult Effexor's side effects are if you should miss a dose; I noticed some symptoms are like migraine symptoms. I am experiencing mostly tiredness, pinpoint flashes of bright light, and craving sugar. I have had a general anxiety disorder since adolescence. On the bright side of tapering, I have noticed cognitively, I feel capable of full thought. I am going down to 37.5 in a few days and appreciate the feedback I have read on this site! Here is to all of us feeling better!

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I've been taking Effexor for 16 or 17 years. It stopped working 2 years ago. I've been weaning down from 300 mg of Effexor for over a year now. I'm at 37.5 every other day and it's been rough. Flu like symptoms and the electric shocks and of course anxiety. My plan has been wean down a step, hold steady at this dose for 4 weeks, then wean down again, hold stead for 4 weeks etc. I am taking a truck load of other meds to help with the weaning: Cymbalta, Buspirone and Gabapentin. They seem to help. At my current rate, I'll be off Effexor mid Feb 2020. Then hopefully drop some of these other meds after my body adjusts to the new normal. I imagine I'll be taking Cymbalta for like, ever. My problem is anxiety primarily but depression is a close second.

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Try taking 37.5 daily to see if you improve. Then cut your daily dosage down instead of doing the every other day idea.

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@sandij

Try taking 37.5 daily to see if you improve. Then cut your daily dosage down instead of doing the every other day idea.

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Thanks, Sandi James. I only have the 37.5 mg capsules and I have to say I'm not too keen on opening one of these things. Seems like others do it alright.

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@spec

Thanks, Sandi James. I only have the 37.5 mg capsules and I have to say I'm not too keen on opening one of these things. Seems like others do it alright.

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@spec
Better removing beads than suffering withdrawal symptoms. You could ask your doctor about going to a Compounding pharmacy.
Jake

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@spec

I've been taking Effexor for 16 or 17 years. It stopped working 2 years ago. I've been weaning down from 300 mg of Effexor for over a year now. I'm at 37.5 every other day and it's been rough. Flu like symptoms and the electric shocks and of course anxiety. My plan has been wean down a step, hold steady at this dose for 4 weeks, then wean down again, hold stead for 4 weeks etc. I am taking a truck load of other meds to help with the weaning: Cymbalta, Buspirone and Gabapentin. They seem to help. At my current rate, I'll be off Effexor mid Feb 2020. Then hopefully drop some of these other meds after my body adjusts to the new normal. I imagine I'll be taking Cymbalta for like, ever. My problem is anxiety primarily but depression is a close second.

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@spec
You need to keep in mind you have been on this drug a very long time which is very important to understand especially being on a high dose too. You need to come off it slower. I wouldn't plan on stopping by February. You took this medication for 16 or 17 years, what's the big hurry to get off. Your going to have nitrate down on your others made too. I don't believe you're figuring that into the equation. Wouldn't it have been better to reduce much slower and uneventfully than to rely on even more drugs?
Just my 2 cents.
Jake

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@spec
I agree with @sandij about taking the 37.5mg daily–Effexor has a very short half-life in the body; ping-ponging on/off from one day to the next is putting you into withdrawal over and over.

@jakedduck1 is right, too, about going slower because of the high dose you were on and the many years you took it. The big clue is you're taking three other medications for anxiety that AREN'T managing it. I was only ever on 25mg for 18 years for hot flashes–not mental/emotional issues–and the anxiety coming off was VERY distressing even from that small a dose.

Is your doctor the one managing your withdrawal? If he isn't, get him onboard.

If he is, very few doctors have any idea how to get a patient off Effexor and usually recommend far too quick tapers. If you read all the posts on this forum, the most successful way to get off Effexor is to go very slowly–which means tapering by very small reductions (5-10%, or even less) and staying at each new level for weeks, or months before tapering again. You need to let him know that your anxiety and depression are not being controlled.

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@spec

Thanks, Sandi James. I only have the 37.5 mg capsules and I have to say I'm not too keen on opening one of these things. Seems like others do it alright.

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I agree with Sandi here. I tried taking 37.5 every other day and I felt awful. Dizzy, emotional, off balance physically, with a ton of brain fog. I learned a ton from being on this blog and I've since gone back up to 75mgs to stabalize here. Once I've done that for 3-4 weeks I'm going to pull those stupid little pills apart and take out 5-7 beads and stay at that dose for a few weeks. Then do it all again until I'm down to a few beads, then none. Doing the dramatic drops that the doctor recommended felt absolutely horrible. Please trust the folks on this blog who've done this. Slow is definitely your friend when it comes to Effexor!!

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@anne2019

I agree with Sandi here. I tried taking 37.5 every other day and I felt awful. Dizzy, emotional, off balance physically, with a ton of brain fog. I learned a ton from being on this blog and I've since gone back up to 75mgs to stabalize here. Once I've done that for 3-4 weeks I'm going to pull those stupid little pills apart and take out 5-7 beads and stay at that dose for a few weeks. Then do it all again until I'm down to a few beads, then none. Doing the dramatic drops that the doctor recommended felt absolutely horrible. Please trust the folks on this blog who've done this. Slow is definitely your friend when it comes to Effexor!!

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Each pill does not have the exact number of beads. Count out the numbers in 3 or 4 , and take an average. Then make sure you count WHAT YOU HAVE, NOT WHATS LEFT! It’s the only way to be accurate.

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@doorman

Each pill does not have the exact number of beads. Count out the numbers in 3 or 4 , and take an average. Then make sure you count WHAT YOU HAVE, NOT WHATS LEFT! It’s the only way to be accurate.

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Sorry I don't understand…count what you have, not what's left. What does that mean?

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@anne2019

Sorry I don't understand…count what you have, not what's left. What does that mean?

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Effexor xr has approx. 75 beads in a 75 mg. Capsule. That means 1mg. Per bead. Count out the number of beads YOU HAVE, after getting an average, and take that number as your starting point. I’m going down about one bead every few days. That way, 73 beads means 73 mg. 69 beads equals 69 mg. And so on. I hope this is not too confusing! You see, if you START WITH different numbers, you’ll always be going up and down.

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