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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@lalyfa

It’s now been about 2-1/2 months since stopping Effexor. I was hoping to not have to go back on any anti-depressants but don’t see that happening. I’ve been trying the cbd oil but that doesn’t seem to help either. I see my doctor next week and will talk to her about it. I hate the thought of going through the different meds again trying to find one that works for me. In the past I’ve tried Zoloft, Celexa, Paxil, and Effexor. Right before stopping all the meds she suggested I try Wellbutrin so I’m wondering if I should give it a try. I’m so afraid of going back on any of these meds since seeing the effects these drugs really have on us but I’m making everyone around me miserable including myself. Has anyone had success with Wellbutrin? Is it as hard to stop taking as the Effexor?

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I truly believe you MUST want to be clean and not look for anything to replace any one of these poisons. Yes it is very tough. But you and you alone CAN be clean. I pray for the best outcome for you. I stopped smoking the same way after 47 years of smoking. You just must do things for yourself

Liked by lalyfa

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What if you lived what I call a "non-depressive lifestyle" with deep breathing, exercise (as you can tolerate), volunteering (when you help others, like visiting a lonely person in a nursing home, you help yourself, too), doing things you enjoy, being gentle with yourself, and lots of social activity? Worth a shot? Feel well!

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@lalyfa

It’s now been about 2-1/2 months since stopping Effexor. I was hoping to not have to go back on any anti-depressants but don’t see that happening. I’ve been trying the cbd oil but that doesn’t seem to help either. I see my doctor next week and will talk to her about it. I hate the thought of going through the different meds again trying to find one that works for me. In the past I’ve tried Zoloft, Celexa, Paxil, and Effexor. Right before stopping all the meds she suggested I try Wellbutrin so I’m wondering if I should give it a try. I’m so afraid of going back on any of these meds since seeing the effects these drugs really have on us but I’m making everyone around me miserable including myself. Has anyone had success with Wellbutrin? Is it as hard to stop taking as the Effexor?

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Have you tried the genetic testing to see what might be the best drug for you?

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@lalyfa

It’s now been about 2-1/2 months since stopping Effexor. I was hoping to not have to go back on any anti-depressants but don’t see that happening. I’ve been trying the cbd oil but that doesn’t seem to help either. I see my doctor next week and will talk to her about it. I hate the thought of going through the different meds again trying to find one that works for me. In the past I’ve tried Zoloft, Celexa, Paxil, and Effexor. Right before stopping all the meds she suggested I try Wellbutrin so I’m wondering if I should give it a try. I’m so afraid of going back on any of these meds since seeing the effects these drugs really have on us but I’m making everyone around me miserable including myself. Has anyone had success with Wellbutrin? Is it as hard to stop taking as the Effexor?

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@ainsleigh I have not tried the genetic testing but will talk to my doctor about it next week!

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I am so happy I found this group..I have been asking different psychiatrists..even my current one..2 take me off it…there is no more efficacy.
.I have more & more breakthrough depression…so my current psych…just kept upping my dose…I knew intuitively that no one has taken me off due 2 the detox…Now I need 2 really get off this…many years ago my awesome PCP..gave me Prozac while I tapered off…worked great…got on Effexor AGAIN & have been on it 4 years…I know it will b a slow detox…they better give me something 4 the brain zaps…maybe Prozac again? I will b discussing all this next month when I c my Psych…U ALL HAVE BEEN SOOOO HELPFUL TY TY TY…pray 4 me & my detox lol
Jill

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@jillmeryl

I am so happy I found this group..I have been asking different psychiatrists..even my current one..2 take me off it…there is no more efficacy.
.I have more & more breakthrough depression…so my current psych…just kept upping my dose…I knew intuitively that no one has taken me off due 2 the detox…Now I need 2 really get off this…many years ago my awesome PCP..gave me Prozac while I tapered off…worked great…got on Effexor AGAIN & have been on it 4 years…I know it will b a slow detox…they better give me something 4 the brain zaps…maybe Prozac again? I will b discussing all this next month when I c my Psych…U ALL HAVE BEEN SOOOO HELPFUL TY TY TY…pray 4 me & my detox lol
Jill

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Hi, @jillmeryl, and welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. So glad this discussion on tapering off of venlafaxine (Effexor) has been useful to you.

Hope all goes well this next month as you discuss all this with your psychiatrist.

What would you recommend to others who are going off of this medication? Discussing with your primary care provider the possibility of putting you on another medication that might help with the side effects during the taper? Any other strategies you found helpful while tapering off before?

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I've tapered off Effexor many years ago…my PCP gave me Prozac the 1 tablet weekly..no side effects..however; at that time was on a much lower dose…honestly no other medications I tried worked..so back on Effexor smh…been on it for years..I will defiantly b asking my Psych 4 something 4 the withdrawal. I already cut back 75mg..it's been a few days off & so far so good. I am VERY ANGRY that not on Psychiatrist discussed the difficult withdrawals!!!..I just got a book from the library called "On Depression" authored by Nasdir Ghaemi..so far it's very interesting…he's been categorizing the different types of depression..some are genetic or environmental..he will get into the drug aspect as well…I will keep all u wonderful people who have been brave enough 2 share u personal experiences, posted. I c my Psych i believe on April 17th..th. Jill

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@coloradogirl

So, I just finished this process with Zoloft (sertraline) and here are some things that worked for me. Your mileage may vary, but hopefully these are low risk for you to try.

1) You may need to ask your doctor for a slower tapering program than other patients. Some people are just more sensitive to dosage changes. Be aware that symptoms will get better, then may reappear each time you taper. AAFMA (practice group of family physicians) says that the symptoms typically last 1-2 weeks and as long as 4 weeks, so I just kept reminding myself that it was temporary.
2) Be watchful for things that make your symptoms worse. For example, caffeine seems to trigger the brain zaps for me (still, even after being off for several weeks), so I cut back my caffeine intake. I didn’t give it up completely (because I still need to function), but cut back on how much real coffee I was drinking, mixed decaf with regular, and switched to tea sometimes. In the end, I probably cut my daily caffeine intake in half, and it did help quite a lot.
3) Ibuprofen or other pain reliever can help with the flu-like body aches.
4) Benadryl helped with the brain zaps.
5) Exercise helped with both. Even if I wasn’t up to a run, a few blocks of walking would settle down the symptoms for a while at least. (Then, when they come back, just take another walk. We took a lot of walks for a while there).
6) Get enough sleep. As I came down off the meds, my normal sleeping patterns returned, which was great, but it did mean that I needed to plan time to let my body rest.
7) Pay attention to your diet. Your brain uses carbs to make seratonin, so now is not the time to go on the Atkins diet. Eat well and make sure you’re getting enough healthy carbs. You may crave sweets; I certainly did. I tried to counteract this by having bananas, graham crackers, and other healthy things I could snack on instead of sticking my head in a birthday cake like I seemed to want.

No lie – it’s a painful process, but this did really help make it easier. Also, at a certain point, when I was down the below the normal starter dose, I just ripped off the bandaid and went to zero. At that point, it felt like each taper was just prolonging the suffering. Don’t just go cold turkey from your current dose, though, as that can be dangerous. Also, don’t add any supplements or substitutes for the SSRI without talking to your doctor first (also dangerous).

And of course, watch for the return of depression / anxiety type symptoms. For a while it was hard to tell whether I was tired because of the change in meds or because my depression was returning. I figured as long as I felt okay enough to function and wasn’t thinking about being harmful to myself or anyone else, I could play it out and see. It turned out to be the meds and on the other side, I can see that I was more worried about it than I needed to be.

I wish you the best of luck and a healthy life.

Mardee

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Thanks for the help. I have tried to wean off Effexor several times, the last time was a 12 week plan. It was difficult and I still haven’t succeeded.

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I've been taking Effexor XR for over 20 years. I recently decided maybe I needed a new med (Welbutrin) but attempting to get off Effexor was horrible ! I guess I will take it forever ! I can't go through the withdrawals !

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@nanke99

Hi! I was on Effexor XR for a few years and got off it several years ago. It was a very difficult process, so I fully sympathize. You MUST wean off
VERY SLOWLY. I don’t remember what my dosage was at the time (225mg?), but it took me about 9 months. Please do not let that long time scare you, it’s worth going slow, that will be your biggest help w/ withdrawal. At the time I had a very difficult time finding any doctor with experience getting people off it.
Luckily I was advised to to find one and luckily I did. It is considered harder to get off than heroine. Not trying to scare you, just want to make sure you go as slow as possible. Mostly, I was moody/angry, had headaches, and some brain “shivers”. The brain shivers I already had while on the meds.
I think we went down in 25mg increments over several weeks for each reduction. Keep us posted and good luck! Just give yourself some time and it will be over before you know it!

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I wonder if anyone has tried weaning off Effexor with the help of CBD oil. That is what I am trying this time.

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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’m sorry it didn’t work out for you. My history is similar to yours, I have been on several antidepressants starting with Prozac for 30+ years.

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@nanke99

Hi! I was on Effexor XR for a few years and got off it several years ago. It was a very difficult process, so I fully sympathize. You MUST wean off
VERY SLOWLY. I don’t remember what my dosage was at the time (225mg?), but it took me about 9 months. Please do not let that long time scare you, it’s worth going slow, that will be your biggest help w/ withdrawal. At the time I had a very difficult time finding any doctor with experience getting people off it.
Luckily I was advised to to find one and luckily I did. It is considered harder to get off than heroine. Not trying to scare you, just want to make sure you go as slow as possible. Mostly, I was moody/angry, had headaches, and some brain “shivers”. The brain shivers I already had while on the meds.
I think we went down in 25mg increments over several weeks for each reduction. Keep us posted and good luck! Just give yourself some time and it will be over before you know it!

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@nankee how did you go about finding a Dr with that type of experience?

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I wrote in March how I had begun to wean off of Effexor after 20+ years of use. I was on 150 mg. My Psychiatrist lowered my dose from 150mg to 75mg and for a month I had no problems or withdrawals. She then lowered it to 37.5mg and for the past week, I have been so sick. Dizzy, nausea, vomiting, problems focusing, chills sweating and a feeling of restlessness of my arms and legs and a constant headache. I called my doctor today for advice and she told me I could go back on the 75mg for a week and see if the symptoms disappeared. If they did it would my decision either to go back to the 37.5mg dose or wait another 4 weeks before trying again. In the meantime, I have been prescribed Ondansetron for nausea. I'm asking for advice. I want to get this poison out of my system as I have recently been diagnosed with stage 3 kidney failure and Effexor is one of the drugs that are bad for kidneys. I'd like to soldier on but I don't know if I can. Any advice welcome.

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@nanke99

Hi! I was on Effexor XR for a few years and got off it several years ago. It was a very difficult process, so I fully sympathize. You MUST wean off
VERY SLOWLY. I don’t remember what my dosage was at the time (225mg?), but it took me about 9 months. Please do not let that long time scare you, it’s worth going slow, that will be your biggest help w/ withdrawal. At the time I had a very difficult time finding any doctor with experience getting people off it.
Luckily I was advised to to find one and luckily I did. It is considered harder to get off than heroine. Not trying to scare you, just want to make sure you go as slow as possible. Mostly, I was moody/angry, had headaches, and some brain “shivers”. The brain shivers I already had while on the meds.
I think we went down in 25mg increments over several weeks for each reduction. Keep us posted and good luck! Just give yourself some time and it will be over before you know it!

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@4732 I did not wean off of Effexor with the help of cbd oil but I recently started using it in hopes that I won’t need to go back on the anti-depressants. I made the huge mistake of taking too high a dose at the beginning which made my depression much worse. I’ve dropped down to 1 drop and am doing well & am encouraged.

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@poisonivy

I wrote in March how I had begun to wean off of Effexor after 20+ years of use. I was on 150 mg. My Psychiatrist lowered my dose from 150mg to 75mg and for a month I had no problems or withdrawals. She then lowered it to 37.5mg and for the past week, I have been so sick. Dizzy, nausea, vomiting, problems focusing, chills sweating and a feeling of restlessness of my arms and legs and a constant headache. I called my doctor today for advice and she told me I could go back on the 75mg for a week and see if the symptoms disappeared. If they did it would my decision either to go back to the 37.5mg dose or wait another 4 weeks before trying again. In the meantime, I have been prescribed Ondansetron for nausea. I'm asking for advice. I want to get this poison out of my system as I have recently been diagnosed with stage 3 kidney failure and Effexor is one of the drugs that are bad for kidneys. I'd like to soldier on but I don't know if I can. Any advice welcome.

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@poisonivy I did fine weaning off Effexor till I finished the week of 37.5 then the withdrawals started bad. I found that taking motion sickness meds OTC helped a lot with dizziness and nausea. I used Botene. However it take about 6 weeks for the withdrawals to go away after I stopped completely.

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