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

There’s definitely something connected between going off Effexor and tinnitus. I developed pulsatile tinnitus as well as phantom smells of cigarette smoke. What’s more, I got vertigo and dizziness (they cal is PPPD) as well. It is not going away. It was suggested I go back on anti anxiety meds (which I have) as well as medicine for bipolar (a mood stabilizer). My mood has definitely improved but, sadly, this dizziness and vertigo and swimy headedness remains. I hope there is some research on Effexor and the vestibular system, because mine is shot.

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I've been self medicating with alcohol lately. I know, I need to stop and it's in the works. But the stopping has become much more urgent as I've suddenly developed terrible bouts of dizziness, which I associate with the alcohol interacting with the Effexor, but I'm not so sure it's not just the Effexor. Your post is interesting. I'm down to 75 mg and I'm going down to 37.5 when I stabilize, i.e., stop the drinking and sugar, and get back into a healthy gym habit. I'm making progress.

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As long as you’re not drinking to excess, I can’t see why that would cause dizziness, but Effexor weening definitely will. Go slow between 75 and 37.5… take care of yourself! I’ll follow your progress.

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@shermananski

I've been self medicating with alcohol lately. I know, I need to stop and it's in the works. But the stopping has become much more urgent as I've suddenly developed terrible bouts of dizziness, which I associate with the alcohol interacting with the Effexor, but I'm not so sure it's not just the Effexor. Your post is interesting. I'm down to 75 mg and I'm going down to 37.5 when I stabilize, i.e., stop the drinking and sugar, and get back into a healthy gym habit. I'm making progress.

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Let me give you some advice…do NOT DRINK while taking psychiatric meds. It just makes things worse. It feels great when you’re drinking, but it will feel even worse once it goes away. It’s a dead end. I know….I was there. I just quit one day, and never looked back. You should do the same. Good luck. (Hope I wasn’t too harsh!)

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@doorman

Let me give you some advice…do NOT DRINK while taking psychiatric meds. It just makes things worse. It feels great when you’re drinking, but it will feel even worse once it goes away. It’s a dead end. I know….I was there. I just quit one day, and never looked back. You should do the same. Good luck. (Hope I wasn’t too harsh!)

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Not too harsh. I hadn’t drank or ate junk food in over two years when I started Effexor and all of that disintegrated. It’s very depressing. Trying hard to regroup and get off of it.

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@cp6401

thanks for the feedback cbreeze930

i'm concerned about that. i hear they can either exacerbate your condition or help it. I would LOVE to have an outlet.. something i can take that's not a benzo or AD but that can help with Anxiety, give me a break… When the anxiety is so bad, i feel helpless… and unable to support the wife in her challenges…so having said that, i'd be afraid of the cannabis making the ocd/anxiety worse..

As it stands now, it's less anxiety more intrusive thoughts.. non-stop…ie: i'll be playing minecraft with the kids on their tablets and think, my kids are on their tablets too much, my kids are on their tablets too much, my kids are on their tablets too much etc.. even though, it's only a weekend thing. and that thought will just ruin my experience of being with and having fun with the kids…

thanks for reading

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The TCH and CBD would be so helpful. I prefer the Indica to Sativa. You would have to experiment. Not sure about your budget but check out Trymyrso.com the RSO caps are supposed to be the best.

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@shermananski

I've been self medicating with alcohol lately. I know, I need to stop and it's in the works. But the stopping has become much more urgent as I've suddenly developed terrible bouts of dizziness, which I associate with the alcohol interacting with the Effexor, but I'm not so sure it's not just the Effexor. Your post is interesting. I'm down to 75 mg and I'm going down to 37.5 when I stabilize, i.e., stop the drinking and sugar, and get back into a healthy gym habit. I'm making progress.

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Whatever you do. DO IT SLOOOOOOWELY over a long period of time. My withdrawals were the WORST ever for over 5 weeks and despite the benefits of MM getting me through the worst part, I may titrate back to a compounded liquid form of Effexor/ Venlafaxine and taper at like 1mg at a time! Starting at 25mg. I have contacted a lawyer about a class action suit against the manufacturers of such poison. Too bad lawyers aren’t really like the TV ones on Bluff city Law. That would be wonderful cuz we’d certainly win 👍🏽

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@cp6401

Hello, this is my first time posting, in a effort to gain some insight, as i'm suffering. I'm a father of 2 great boys and same common law spouse for 20years. I've been on anti depressant medication since my teens (i'm 42 now)for ocd/anxiety (pure O) first, anafranil,(and some benzo's) then zoloft, then celexa, then cipralex(didn't work), then effexor, which kindof half works.. finally in 2015,I had some elevated stress due to home renovations, and after they were finished i decided to see if i could fly on my own. I got very tired of the up's and downs by switching meds and the depersolization /derealization, which is scary on it's own!… I decided i would do whatever it takes to heal myself and not mask my symptoms anymore with a drug. (yes, that's what they do).. anyways, i got my hormones checked, i was very low in T, so now i do injections which i find is a piece of the puzzle and helps alot with concentration/focus. So for the past year, my focus has been on hormones/overall health, fitness, diet and i want to restart my mindfulness practice. I'm at a point now where i'm on a subclinical dose of effexor XR of 37.5. i did the drop from 75 to 37.5 a few months back(which i now know was too much), and got extremely angry and agitated. but it passed, and all was "ok" for the holidays.. then 2020 Jan 1st rolls around and ouch. i now deal with anxiety from the time i wake up sometimes, till i go to bed. with my ocd themes coming back, not to mention some new ones. i'm shaking all the time, and basically unable to function. it's quite terrifying. the anxiety and ocd is so intense at times, that it i roll up into a little ball and just "suffer".

My question is, i know OCD is it's own beast and i'm aware and doing ERP and therapy i have a psych etc. but..

is it possible to live without effexor or an anti depressant after having been on it for so long? especially when you have OCD?

is my current suffering still due to my taper from 75 to 37.5 2-3 months ago?

My battle here is that much more scary because i don't know if there's a light at the end of the tunnel or if i will need to go back on another antidepressant.. ie: if it's worth it at all (back to my original goal of being able to make it without the AD's) … also, if i have to go back i'm afraid perhaps the anti depressants will not work anymore because i've been on them for so long and built up a tolerance..

i feel like i'm missing out on my kids (youth) etc.. and other things.. also, the wife has her own issues.. not only in suporting me, but the kids can be very challenging. and dealing with them when you are a ball of anxiety yourself is very challenging. bottom line, it's affecting every aspect of my life and the climate at home has changed because of it..I can't support my spouse when SHE needs it…. very hard when anxiety won't let up at all.. she's' been carrying the family for some time now and it's starting to take it's toll. sorry, that last part is a little rant.

thanks for reading

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@cp6401
"Is my current suffering still due to my taper from 75 to 37.5 2–3 months ago?"
It could be. If you are tapering too fast, withdrawal symptoms are the big tip off. If they're intolerable, the recommendation is to go back to the level where you felt good (or where at least your withdrawal symptoms were tolerable), stabilize at that dose for weeks (or even months) before tapering again (but reduce by only 5-10%, or less). Rushing the process may mean you ultimately can't get off Effexor because the withdrawals are too awful.

It sounds as if you are finding the anxiety, OCD and circling/intrusive thoughts very distressing. Are you under a doctor's care? Is your doctor on board with your trying to go AD-free? You could ask your doctor about a "Prozac bridge." Adding fluoxetine (Prozac) "softens the blow" when withdrawing from short half-life drugs (like Effexor). The half-life of Effexor is 5 hours and 99% of it is out of your body in one day; Prozac's is 4–6 days and it takes 25 days for 99% of it to be out of your body. Essentially, the Prozac cushions the effect of no Effexor and lets you "ride out" the withdrawal process. You add 20mg of Prozac to any other antidepressant and then get off the original drug; then, you taper off the Prozac. Re the Prozac, one source said you may need to take a second 20mg dose of Prozac; another said you take 10–20mg Prozac (fluoxetine) for a short period (weeks, a month) until your WD symptoms resolve, then taper off the Prozac over 2–3 weeks.

You mentioned that you've been on ADs of some sort for 25 years, or more. Effexor gets stored in body tissues when you've been on it for a long time–that may lengthen the time you should taper.

Even if you get off ADs, you may need to medicate for your OCD.

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I went from 75 to 37.5 mg last night. I feel a little depressed this morning, but what’s new? I think it’s ok. My body has never really liked the stuff. Meanwhile, vertigo! I was experiencing it while in bed and sleeping. My psychiatrist says it’s most likely the tiny crystals in my ears that regulate balance that are out of whack. It’s a well known thing and can be easily treated and managed. So it’s (Most likely) not Effexor. And it’s cleared up! Still you wonder with all the whooshing and ringing and otherwise seemingly ear-related drama that this is just part parcel with the beloved drug known as Effexor. I think Effexor causes all that ails me as I age.

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I agree 100%. I sometimes wish I could go back in time and see what would have happened if I never went on any of that stuff! Still on zoloft and Seroquel. Still am dizzy. I wonder, will I have to be on this stuff for the rest of my life? Will it cause dementia?

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@texasduchess

@cp6401
"Is my current suffering still due to my taper from 75 to 37.5 2–3 months ago?"
It could be. If you are tapering too fast, withdrawal symptoms are the big tip off. If they're intolerable, the recommendation is to go back to the level where you felt good (or where at least your withdrawal symptoms were tolerable), stabilize at that dose for weeks (or even months) before tapering again (but reduce by only 5-10%, or less). Rushing the process may mean you ultimately can't get off Effexor because the withdrawals are too awful.

It sounds as if you are finding the anxiety, OCD and circling/intrusive thoughts very distressing. Are you under a doctor's care? Is your doctor on board with your trying to go AD-free? You could ask your doctor about a "Prozac bridge." Adding fluoxetine (Prozac) "softens the blow" when withdrawing from short half-life drugs (like Effexor). The half-life of Effexor is 5 hours and 99% of it is out of your body in one day; Prozac's is 4–6 days and it takes 25 days for 99% of it to be out of your body. Essentially, the Prozac cushions the effect of no Effexor and lets you "ride out" the withdrawal process. You add 20mg of Prozac to any other antidepressant and then get off the original drug; then, you taper off the Prozac. Re the Prozac, one source said you may need to take a second 20mg dose of Prozac; another said you take 10–20mg Prozac (fluoxetine) for a short period (weeks, a month) until your WD symptoms resolve, then taper off the Prozac over 2–3 weeks.

You mentioned that you've been on ADs of some sort for 25 years, or more. Effexor gets stored in body tissues when you've been on it for a long time–that may lengthen the time you should taper.

Even if you get off ADs, you may need to medicate for your OCD.

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Unfortunately once the effexor wd starts the prozac bridge isn't effective.

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@secretwhitepop

I agree 100%. I sometimes wish I could go back in time and see what would have happened if I never went on any of that stuff! Still on zoloft and Seroquel. Still am dizzy. I wonder, will I have to be on this stuff for the rest of my life? Will it cause dementia?

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@secretwhitepop how is the seroquel working for you? Im on 25 mg now, supppsed to take the place of the ambien I was taking. It does nothing for my sleep but I think its helping my mood.

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It was explained to me that seroquel is a mood stabilizer and then, after a couple weeks, zoloft was added. It definitely helped me tolerate the SSRI without all kinds of anxiety coming over me.

My story is I successfully weened off Effexor (extremely slowly!) and was med free for 6 months. But the depression and anxiety were debilitating and really stressful for my family! So I tried lexapro, but after a week, the anxiety was awful! Lots of crying 🙁

The seroquel with zoloft seems to be working well.

I just upped my zoloft, too.

Here’s the issue though… vertigo and dizziness. (Yes, they are different). I’ve been tested and something is messed up with my left vestibular nerve. I am wondering if this is all related to going off Effexor?

Anyway, to answer your question, seroquel is nice to help sleep but yes, it can help your mood as well.

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@cbreeze930

Whatever you do. DO IT SLOOOOOOWELY over a long period of time. My withdrawals were the WORST ever for over 5 weeks and despite the benefits of MM getting me through the worst part, I may titrate back to a compounded liquid form of Effexor/ Venlafaxine and taper at like 1mg at a time! Starting at 25mg. I have contacted a lawyer about a class action suit against the manufacturers of such poison. Too bad lawyers aren’t really like the TV ones on Bluff city Law. That would be wonderful cuz we’d certainly win 👍🏽

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Hello. It seems this discussion will help me with getting off effexor. It was prescribed 18 yrs ago and increased over time up to 300mg. The last 2 years have been horrible and the doctor responded to my questions about trying something different with her concerns about my high blood pressure. That would be dealt with first before looking at other meds. She was following a protocol, I assume, and that was the order she felt she had to follow. Her response to my concern that the effexor was raising blood pressure was "it shouldn't". Finally she agreed to begin a taper set up to decrease 37.5 mg/week. Per week. After 2 weeks I saw her, described my symptoms and wished I could have puked, levitated, or stabbed her with something not even sharp as she said the withdrawal "shouldn't" be causing any discomfort. Carry on.
I got through the first 4 weeks, and was taking 4 instead of 8 capsules. I crashed, badly. My son described what was happening to his dr and Jan 2 I saw this new dr. for the first time. We don't know why the dr. I was seeing wasn't aware of what could happen with that fast a drop, or why the pharmacists didn't pick up on it. I had to to back up to 5 capsules and in a week will drop down to 4. The plan is to drop 37.5 every 4 weeks. Struggling with the idea of that much time being miserable but reading posts here makes me see it could take much longer than to the end of June to be off this.

I am worried about many things. Is the next drop going to cause another crash?

What supplements should I be taking, as in vitamins or fish oil or something that could make this more tolerable?? Who gives me that info? Who do I trust other than the ones selling the products?

Getting off effexor is going to make things better in itself, but the depression and anxiety will still be there. All of the other issues will still be there. How will I manage that?

I don't want to add anything else to the drug soup (also on clonidine, irbesartan and hydrochlorothiazide, plus good old crestor) but am reading about adding another antidepressant as the effexor dose lowers. Can I do this without taking something else, another drug, meant to help?

I was half way there and wanted to keep going, to tough it out, but that option was not there. I have not been able to work (teach jr high) and am still coming to terms with the reality that this is happening. I went home too upset to handle the day, that one day, and it became the end of a 25 yr career. Will I be able to function again, to be who i was?
This is already a long read and I could go on for pages. I struggle with explaining this to others – most people have no clue, or assume there is something else wrong with me. I want to say its not my fault and that its unbearable. Gaining empathy for addicts who will do anything to keep this pain away, and for people who use suicide to shut it down for good, has been intense and I don't know what to do with that feeling either.

Let me know if anything happens with the class action suit, please. I think there are 2 parts at fault, or 3. The makers of the drug, the drs who are in over their heads and prescribe it, the medical system that puts us/me at the mercy of such drs, and the pharmacists who go ahead handing out drugs in amounts that hurt people. I guess they are victims of the system also in that they can't question prescriptions, or can they? I live in Canada, in a rather isolated northern community with very few drs, and often don't see the same dr more than once or twice in a row.

If you've read this far, thank you. Having a place to defend yourself and ask questions is good.

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Dropping 37.5 mg is way too much. 5 to 10 percent is what is suggested as far as tapering goes. It can be done by removing beads from the capsules. Believe me, everyone here knows the pain you're experiencing. I can relate to how other people respond when trying to explain whats happening with WD. Nobody really believes it, which just adds to the suffering. Supplements I can suggest are omega 3, vitamin D, magnesium. Read the hundreds of posts here, there's lots of good advice. It is a very supportive group, glad you are here.

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@sandij

Dropping 37.5 mg is way too much. 5 to 10 percent is what is suggested as far as tapering goes. It can be done by removing beads from the capsules. Believe me, everyone here knows the pain you're experiencing. I can relate to how other people respond when trying to explain whats happening with WD. Nobody really believes it, which just adds to the suffering. Supplements I can suggest are omega 3, vitamin D, magnesium. Read the hundreds of posts here, there's lots of good advice. It is a very supportive group, glad you are here.

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Thank you for the quick response🙂 and the welcome! Going to keep reading and likely need a nap tomorrow.

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