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

@linxy

I went off Venlafaxine 4 weeks ago after being on it for several years. I tapered down from 225 to 75 myself, it was really ok. But i couldn’t get down to 37.5 without getting brain zaps, nausea, headaches, insomnia, trembling, anxiety and all the rest. I went to see a psychiatrist who booked me into hospital for a couple of days to help me get off and to monitor me. For the first 2 days he put me on 37.5, then and from day 3 nothing. From day 1 though he put me on Urbanol that helped with anxiety, Aropax SR 25 mg, pain meds and nausea meds as necessary, Biotrazadone 100mg at night, Disipal that helped with the brainzaps and shaking and Inderal. Using those meds really helped a lot, i only experienced slight brain zaps, a little bit of nausea, diarrhea and vertigo, nothing as severe as when i tried to go of Venlafaxine by myself. Im off it now and adter a month i only get slight brain zaps occasionally, feeling a little weak and tired but nothing too bad. I could stop using Disipal, Inderal, pain and nausea meds.

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Curious, where do you live? You don’t go to a psyche ward in New York unless you’re… deeply psychotic and a danger to man kind. It’s nice to read about someone who goes to a hospital to get effective treatment.

Liked by texasduchess

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I’m still down to 37.5. I’ve never had a brain zap, by the way. I wonder why. Curious some get them and others don’t. Anyways I’m working on the mood side of life trying to understand why I’m depressed to begin with. It’s a slog. I want results and a clear path! So American of me. I hate the zombie thing though. I wonder if I could switch to something less zombie like without upsetting the apple cart. I usually have a very hard time taking new antidepressants. Nasty stuff. Or get down to a smaller dose. I’ll ask the doc how to split 37.5 in half without all of those tiny beads. I imagine it’ll be switching to regular Effexor and getting those little tablets.

Liked by texasduchess

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@shermananski

I’m still down to 37.5. I’ve never had a brain zap, by the way. I wonder why. Curious some get them and others don’t. Anyways I’m working on the mood side of life trying to understand why I’m depressed to begin with. It’s a slog. I want results and a clear path! So American of me. I hate the zombie thing though. I wonder if I could switch to something less zombie like without upsetting the apple cart. I usually have a very hard time taking new antidepressants. Nasty stuff. Or get down to a smaller dose. I’ll ask the doc how to split 37.5 in half without all of those tiny beads. I imagine it’ll be switching to regular Effexor and getting those little tablets.

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Yes, definitely try the generic brand of Effexor, it’s called Venlafaxine, I believe mine is the extended release (XR). The white tablets have completely helped me! The lowest dosage is 37.5mg in pill form and then if you open it up it is by 12.5mg increments (white tablets)

Liked by texasduchess

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Oh, my goodness. The generic form of Effexor, Venlafaxine, is the main drug most of us have fought long and hard for many months and sometimes years to be weaned from using for various health concerns and suspicions that it has stopped working. If you do decide to go on it, do so with caution as the withdrawals from missing just a single dose yields very uncomfortable symptoms within a few hours of missing it….nausea, dizziness, diarrhea, headaches, and light sensitivity, to name the worst. The daily micro weaning off from even a small therapeutic dose such as 37.5 mg can take weeks to do if you don’t want to gamble on having awful and sometimes catastrophic withdrawal symptoms. Take caution, my friend. Please take the time to read the invaluable information about using Venlafaxine found in this forum. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. Good luck in managing your anxiety and depression symptoms.

Liked by Ellen, ksad, mariah1981

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@sheffieldsmith

Oh, my goodness. The generic form of Effexor, Venlafaxine, is the main drug most of us have fought long and hard for many months and sometimes years to be weaned from using for various health concerns and suspicions that it has stopped working. If you do decide to go on it, do so with caution as the withdrawals from missing just a single dose yields very uncomfortable symptoms within a few hours of missing it….nausea, dizziness, diarrhea, headaches, and light sensitivity, to name the worst. The daily micro weaning off from even a small therapeutic dose such as 37.5 mg can take weeks to do if you don’t want to gamble on having awful and sometimes catastrophic withdrawal symptoms. Take caution, my friend. Please take the time to read the invaluable information about using Venlafaxine found in this forum. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. Good luck in managing your anxiety and depression symptoms.

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One other withdrawal symptom worth mentioning – screaming tinnitus that doesn't go away. Good luck. : )

Liked by Ellen

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@lynsyrae5

I have to tell you….I literally signed up for an account just so I could comment and let you know how much this post made me laugh. In such a good way. I am in the thick of the withdrawal myself and I look forward to trying your advise. Thank you sooooo much for this!

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I just signed up to this sight for the same reason! To understand that this “feeling” is JUST a withdrawal from Effexor XR. Took this 2 years, cold turkey 3 days ago! Best of luck to you!!

Liked by flind

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@rainer

One other withdrawal symptom worth mentioning – screaming tinnitus that doesn't go away. Good luck. : )

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Talking, talking, talking to others while fighting through the worst of withdrawals has shown other nasty issues are showing up in different people with a frequency beyond coincidence – a very sore throat, with glands in the neck like solid painful rocks, hair loss, ridges in fingernails that have become soft and peeling, and sensitivity to smells as well as sounds. Everything in the world is turned up too high.

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@sheffieldsmith

Oh, my goodness. The generic form of Effexor, Venlafaxine, is the main drug most of us have fought long and hard for many months and sometimes years to be weaned from using for various health concerns and suspicions that it has stopped working. If you do decide to go on it, do so with caution as the withdrawals from missing just a single dose yields very uncomfortable symptoms within a few hours of missing it….nausea, dizziness, diarrhea, headaches, and light sensitivity, to name the worst. The daily micro weaning off from even a small therapeutic dose such as 37.5 mg can take weeks to do if you don’t want to gamble on having awful and sometimes catastrophic withdrawal symptoms. Take caution, my friend. Please take the time to read the invaluable information about using Venlafaxine found in this forum. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. Good luck in managing your anxiety and depression symptoms.

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Absolutely agree with if someone decides to go on it proceed with caution. I started on Effexor and I still had all the same withdrawal symptoms as the generic brand.
In no way am I saying to switch to any type of medication! I would never recommend someone be on Effexor or Venlafaxine. Trust me, I’ve been trying to get off them now for over a month.
I just know that what I’m doing with my dosage decrease is working so far.
That’s all I was saying 🙂

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Last night was my last day taking my 12.5 mg. Tonight when I got to bed I won’t be taking any.
I’m a little nervous, I feel like I have some brain zaps tonight and definitely am emotional this evening. It comes and goes for sure.
I bought Advil and Gravol Ginger chews to help with any nausea I may experience.
Fingers crossed this works ok! REALLY hoping that my withdrawal is easier from 12.5mg to 0mg compares to 75 or 37.5mg!
I will keep you posted.

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@lisalucier

Hi, @flind, and welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. I'm guessing you were on venlafaxine (Effexor) at some point and tapered off? How did that go?

How did you happen to have the genetic testing that provided some direction for your treatment plan (I'm presuming for depression)? What did you learn from the results?

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Hi @lisalucier & ty for the welcome. I took my last 10-12mg dose of venlafaxine the evening before I posted here 5 days ago. Just this evening I have finally regained enough coherency to attempt a response. For the record – these past 5 days – I've been a walking zombie. The closest thing I can liken this experience to is being on LSD 24/7. Finding this thread reassured me that I was not alone and that my insanity would likely be temporary. It gave me confidence that I would make it through. I'm grateful to all for sharing their experiences. I believe today that I have made it through the worst of it…
Genetic testing:
My experience with genetic testing was indirect. Two years ago, after 60 years of living with ADD (and 20ys of depression), I decided I wanted a complete psych-eval. A lifelong friend (psychologist) recommended a psychiatrist who specializes in genetic testing for the diagnosis & treatment of ADD. I saw this Doctor for several sessions. His evaluation was based upon these sessions plus a complete blood work-up & the completion of 2 different genetic marker identification 'readouts' (sorry I forgot the proper term). The Doc showed me the genetic markers for ADD in my report which indicated a propensity for symptoms I have indeed had my entire life. In addition to these he explained that other markers related to (absorption/retention of) certain vitamins/minerals/enzymes/etc (in conjunction with my blood work results) indicated serious deficiencies. I can't remember what they all are atm, but I have the paperwork somewhere. Many of the deficiencies related directly to brain chemistry – in particular mood/memory/mental acuity. He recommended dietary supplements. I began taking them but it took me a very long time to establish a consistent regimen. It wouldn't be helpful or relevant to list my daily supplement regimen because each of us has their own unique make-up and needs. I recommend genetic testing. It helped me enormously. For the past 10 months I have been 100% consistent with my regimen. It comes first. I make it a priority, even when I travel abroad. I believe it is the consistency with this supplement regimen that's gotten me to where I am today – antidepressant free. This past December I found myself feeling *happy* for no particular reason – out of the blue – it felt like a miracle. It was like a veil suddenly lifted… I saw the world in color! Simple as that! It just hit me… like a burst of lasting 'sunlight' even tho it was/is a gray and rainy winter!

For ~ 20 years I've taken venlafaxine (425mg through divorce & deaths to 'recent maintenance dose' of 75-200mg). But this past December it occurred to me that I didn't need it anymore. I wanted to get 'off' anti-depressants – for good. During my December reverie I recalled the psychiatrist/geneticist Doc telling me (2 years ago) he wasn't sure I actually needed to be on anti-depressants. At the time I thought he probably just 'meant well' then I forgot he ever said it…

What I now believe is that finding out what my system was lacking (both enzymatically and nutritionally), building up and maintaining what I had lacked, has corrected those deficiencies. In turn this has ELIMINATED my depressive symptoms. It is mind-blowing to me – literally 'mind-altering'! I don't want to give the impression that it happened overnight – FAR FROM IT. It was a concerted 2+ year effort to get my system back on track.

And then there is the little piece about getting off venlafaxine 😱😱😱😱… I started tapering in mid-December 2019. I went from 200 to 150mg for a couple of weeks to 100-75mg for a few more weeks. Like others I managed okay until I got down below 35mg… Then it started getting weird – and I mean weird. Up until 6 days ago, I was taking from 12.5 – 35mg. When I went from that to 10 -12.5mg (I was splitting 100mg tablets which crumbled some) I started having delusions and felt like my brain was made of cotton wool. That went on for about 2 weeks until I decided to hell with it, I'm going to stop, now. The brain weirdness increased – a lot. If it weren't for my husband's calm presence and loving support, I would have spent the entire time in bed, or worse. If I was not retired but had to work the only way through this would have been with a support SSRI + daily or at least weekly therapy. This drug is THE WORST. Full disclosure – I learned about the nasty withdrawal effects of venlafaxine 10 years ago when I received a 'bad batch' of this medication. Thinking I was having a heart attack, I sought emergency medical treatment. I had an EKG but was not hospitalized. I quickly determined that the only 'change' to my routine had been the 'new batch' of venlafaxine. Once I got those replaced within hours I was fine again.

I now keep a back-stock of my daily supplements in my pantry. Just like I wouldn't want to run out of venlafaxine, I don't want to run out of supplements. I buy the very best, made in the USA, quality products. These are not cheap, but neither are hospitals and therapists! For those who are curious here's a brief sample of my daily intake – but like I said – one size does NOT fit all. Calcium/magnesium/zinc, EPA/DHA (flax, evening primrose, krill/fish oil), Jarrow's "Gaba Soothe" (Gaba, L-Theanine & Ashwagandha), N-Acetyl-Cysteine, Uridine, Alpha GPC, Vitamins: a highly bio-available-Multi, D-3, A, K-1, K-2 (as M-K 7/menaquinone 7), & B-12 (methylcobalamin). Altho not specifically recommended I have recently added Stamet's 7 mycelium, collagen, hyaluric acid & astaxanthin to address aging skin & creaking joints ;-).

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In reply to @shermananski "I’d be interested." + (show)
@shermananski

I’d be interested.

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Hi @shermananski I posted a pretty detailed response to @lisalucier – hopefully it's helpful?

Liked by Sherman

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@laujenkins

Last night was my last day taking my 12.5 mg. Tonight when I got to bed I won’t be taking any.
I’m a little nervous, I feel like I have some brain zaps tonight and definitely am emotional this evening. It comes and goes for sure.
I bought Advil and Gravol Ginger chews to help with any nausea I may experience.
Fingers crossed this works ok! REALLY hoping that my withdrawal is easier from 12.5mg to 0mg compares to 75 or 37.5mg!
I will keep you posted.

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Hang in there! It's a bit like sailing in the open ocean during a severe storm… but you WILL get through it!
I'm on day 6 of zero mgs. Days 1-5 were hellish – my symptoms were all cerebral. I had no nausea, dizziness, diarrhea, headaches. I did not try to do too much – did not drive or try to make decisions. I puttered around the house doing small things to keep busy and as productive as possible. I exercised everyday at least a little – this was VERY helpful – just taking a walk helped. Finally today I remember what 'normal' feels like – I have high hopes for tomorrow! Try and roll with the punches… and remember, this too shall pass.

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@ksad

Talking, talking, talking to others while fighting through the worst of withdrawals has shown other nasty issues are showing up in different people with a frequency beyond coincidence – a very sore throat, with glands in the neck like solid painful rocks, hair loss, ridges in fingernails that have become soft and peeling, and sensitivity to smells as well as sounds. Everything in the world is turned up too high.

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I can completely relate to your comment about the world being 'turned up too high'. It is really challenging just to muddle through a mundane day while withdrawing from this drug – add a slight stressor and it can be overwhelming. I'm on day 6 and now feeling a LOT BETTER. What I discovered is that I can go 5 days 'thinking' I am going completely insane – sensory hallucinations up the wazzoo – without 'actually' going insane. And it DOES get better. It is like a bad LSD trip – that's the thing – your poor brain is going haywire. The good news? None of it is 'real' nor is it permanent. If you can… try not to focus too hard on any one facet… hair loss, smells, sounds, swollen glands (my worst was itchy skin and some hair loss too) all of that is temporary. If you can… focus on the reality that it will pass, and you will feel better. And in the meantime – it's okay to cut yourself some slack, it's okay to cry, it's okay to not know what is happening or why, it's okay to be anxious & it's okay to do things that calm you down and help you feel better – a walk, a hot bath, watch a movie… It's not going to last forever. You will feel better. Just hang in there and be good to yourself…

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@cp6401

I’d be interested

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Hi @cp6401 I hope you can read my response to @lisalucier . Genetic testing in and of itself isn't helpful, I think what is important is having a skilled geneticist who can explain the implications of the findings. I had a medical and an 'ancestral' genetic workup/readout – 2 different sets of genetic markers/variables were assessed. Then the psychiatrist I saw did the interpretation from those findings. I wasn't sure it was going to help at all, but now that I have followed the recommendations for supplements to alter my own brain chemistry (by supplying what had been lacking) I KNOW that it has helped me.

Liked by Lisa Lucier, Sherman

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@flind

I can completely relate to your comment about the world being 'turned up too high'. It is really challenging just to muddle through a mundane day while withdrawing from this drug – add a slight stressor and it can be overwhelming. I'm on day 6 and now feeling a LOT BETTER. What I discovered is that I can go 5 days 'thinking' I am going completely insane – sensory hallucinations up the wazzoo – without 'actually' going insane. And it DOES get better. It is like a bad LSD trip – that's the thing – your poor brain is going haywire. The good news? None of it is 'real' nor is it permanent. If you can… try not to focus too hard on any one facet… hair loss, smells, sounds, swollen glands (my worst was itchy skin and some hair loss too) all of that is temporary. If you can… focus on the reality that it will pass, and you will feel better. And in the meantime – it's okay to cut yourself some slack, it's okay to cry, it's okay to not know what is happening or why, it's okay to be anxious & it's okay to do things that calm you down and help you feel better – a walk, a hot bath, watch a movie… It's not going to last forever. You will feel better. Just hang in there and be good to yourself…

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I love this, thank you for this post! 💜

Liked by flind

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