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

@flind

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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Thank you! I am lucky enough to be a stay at home mom, so my daughter and I will be puttering for sure the next few days. Thank you for telling me about exercise! I said that to myself at the beginning of this process, that I NEED to make sure I work out every day to help me. I fell off the workout wagon because of my withdrawal and found myself napping more in the middle of the day instead of doing my workout, which actually made me feel worse!
I’m so glad to hear that after about a week you are feeling “normal” again. I literally said that to my husband the other night, “I can’t wait be out of this withdrawal and feel normal again, I don’t even know what normal feels like anymore”.
Thank you for these posts! It’s helped more then you know!! 💜

Liked by Lisa Lucier

REPLY

Oh, and woke up this morning feeling pretty much the same as I felt last night! I don’t think I feel worse, which I was nervous about!
Brain zaps are still apparent, eyes are heavy, more vivid dreams last night and the sweats, other then that, for now I feel surprisingly ok. Although. I know things change quickly and throughout the day, I’ll keep everyone posted!

Liked by Lisa Lucier

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@flind

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.

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I feel like @flind and I are on the same path! I also want to look into supplements.
What supplements have you started taking to help?

**UPDATE: i found it on your previous post!! Thank you!**

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@flind

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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Thank you. How much did the testing cost? Was it covered? 🤭

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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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Yep. I never got so sick in my life. Last August. Now I have vertigo. I am back on zoloft and seroquel but still have vertigo. The smell and light sensitivity is waning, finally, but pops up every so often. Really crazy stuff.

Liked by texasduchess, ksad

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@secretwhitepop

Yep. I never got so sick in my life. Last August. Now I have vertigo. I am back on zoloft and seroquel but still have vertigo. The smell and light sensitivity is waning, finally, but pops up every so often. Really crazy stuff.

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Helps to know it isn't just me. Another struggle is explaining to people what is going on. It makes sense to no one. Smell sensitivity comes across as being a princess and oh gosh, far from that!

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Brain zaps are pretty wild this afternoon! I feel extremely tired and heavy eyes. Still in a good mood, however. Just cerebral withdrawal.

I’m going to have a nap with my daughter this afternoon and see how I feel when I wake up.

Liked by flind

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@laujenkins

Brain zaps are pretty wild this afternoon! I feel extremely tired and heavy eyes. Still in a good mood, however. Just cerebral withdrawal.

I’m going to have a nap with my daughter this afternoon and see how I feel when I wake up.

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@laujenkins I took omega 3 throughout my WD and never experienced a brain zap.

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@laujenkins

Thank you! I am lucky enough to be a stay at home mom, so my daughter and I will be puttering for sure the next few days. Thank you for telling me about exercise! I said that to myself at the beginning of this process, that I NEED to make sure I work out every day to help me. I fell off the workout wagon because of my withdrawal and found myself napping more in the middle of the day instead of doing my workout, which actually made me feel worse!
I’m so glad to hear that after about a week you are feeling “normal” again. I literally said that to my husband the other night, “I can’t wait be out of this withdrawal and feel normal again, I don’t even know what normal feels like anymore”.
Thank you for these posts! It’s helped more then you know!! 💜

Jump to this post

I learned recently, that it's cardio.. obviously any exercises may get you out of the house, but that Cardio, get that heart rate up.. is what helps.. just my 2c

Liked by laujenkins, flind

REPLY
@flind

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.

Jump to this post

thanks for the feedback @flind, i always wondered that. i'd also be curious as to which supplements were recommended for you if you would like to share.

Liked by flind

REPLY
@flind

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 ;-).

Jump to this post

perhaps it's the emotions due WD, but i teared up when i read you had a sudden bout of happiness.. oh how i long for that.. i'm also completely off venlafaxine now, it's been 7-8 days.. of hell.. i will locate my previous posts and update. thanks for Sharing

Liked by Lisa Lucier, flind

REPLY
@ksad

Helps to know it isn't just me. Another struggle is explaining to people what is going on. It makes sense to no one. Smell sensitivity comes across as being a princess and oh gosh, far from that!

Jump to this post

Yes! And people also think you’re nuts! Haha.

Liked by ksad

REPLY
@cp6401

perhaps it's the emotions due WD, but i teared up when i read you had a sudden bout of happiness.. oh how i long for that.. i'm also completely off venlafaxine now, it's been 7-8 days.. of hell.. i will locate my previous posts and update. thanks for Sharing

Jump to this post

I lasted 6 months, med free. During that time I jogged once or twice a day. Usually cried while jogging. Lost 19 pounds from anxiety. (And exercise). Developed phantom smells, vertigo. Just a wreck. I think I’m a person who needs meds and that’s that. I’m back on zoloft and seroquel and feel better 🙂

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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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i was trying to see if i'd replied to this………oy… no one likes to hear that they may need medication for life.. i got a sword strike of anxiety in the chest just reading that.. you may be right, i have no idea… but for now, my goal is to taper off this crap, as the side effect to benefit ratio was 5:1. one thing i can say for sure.. is that if ever i need to weight the pro's and con's of going back onto an AD.. it won't be effexor. I will be updating my progress on another post.. as soon as i find it..

Liked by flind

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@cp6401

i was trying to see if i'd replied to this………oy… no one likes to hear that they may need medication for life.. i got a sword strike of anxiety in the chest just reading that.. you may be right, i have no idea… but for now, my goal is to taper off this crap, as the side effect to benefit ratio was 5:1. one thing i can say for sure.. is that if ever i need to weight the pro's and con's of going back onto an AD.. it won't be effexor. I will be updating my progress on another post.. as soon as i find it..

Jump to this post

i can't find my previous post so i'll just reply to this one.. on the advice of 3 professionals, i started tapering effexor XR with day on day off strategy from 37.5 down… and i went against most people's advice here and did not go "slow/steady".. why? because i was misreable on it to begin with.. why would i prolong that? so the taper started early february, basically it was.. day on, day off, day on day off, then day on, day off, day off, day on, day off, day off.. (1 day on, 2 days off), then i started halfing the doses of pills every 2 days.. then just stopped..that was a roaller coaster of emotions anxiety.. but the worse i THINK is behind he.. i'm on day 7-8 of being AD free.. but it has been a nightmare so far.. insomnia due to panic attacks, anxious all day, obsessive thinking, zombie, depersonalisation, probably due to lack of sleep/anxiety.. BUT i'm chugging along with the odd crying fits etc.. looking for that light at the end of the tunnel… just wanted to update you guys. one thing i wanted to mention, is that, the thing that really makes it hard.. is that the frame work, or template dosen't change from day to day.. you still have to " get up, workout, go to work, take care of the kids, come home etc.." and we all know the emotions that come along with that ;P.. anyways, enough playing the victim here… up and onward.

Liked by Lisa Lucier

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