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

I've been on Effexor 150xr for about two years, after many other drugs failed. Before taking it, I had pretty bad OCD, slept only a few hours a night, and had severe anger and anxiety. I am now so sensitive to this drug that if I'm off by a few hours taking it, I start reverting back to my old self (which is very unpleasant for everyone involved). I once went four days without it and after two days of vomiting and dizziness, I spent the next two days doing random things with no caring, empathy, or remorse. It was awful. I have almost no signs of OCD now and I can finally go to a store by myself without sweating profusely and being very irritable. I want off of this but I still want to function!

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@lisajill12073

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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Hello, @lisajill12073. Welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. Sorry your experience tapering off the venlafaxine (Effexor XR) was so horrible.

What symptoms were you experiencing when you went on the venlafaxine (Effexor XR) years ago? What made you decide to look for a new medication recently?

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@nikd

I've been on Effexor 150xr for about two years, after many other drugs failed. Before taking it, I had pretty bad OCD, slept only a few hours a night, and had severe anger and anxiety. I am now so sensitive to this drug that if I'm off by a few hours taking it, I start reverting back to my old self (which is very unpleasant for everyone involved). I once went four days without it and after two days of vomiting and dizziness, I spent the next two days doing random things with no caring, empathy, or remorse. It was awful. I have almost no signs of OCD now and I can finally go to a store by myself without sweating profusely and being very irritable. I want off of this but I still want to function!

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I’ve talked to my doctor about reading about the difficulty and symptoms of this medicine. His feeling if it’s working for someone then they probably need it and it’s working for them. He said he’s had people quit cold turkey and have no problems. But I think some people (like us on this site) have a sensitive system and these are side effects.
I was on 20 mg of Lexapro that didn’t seems to be working for severe anxiety, fear of being alone, crying, panic attacks in the middle of the night, turning all of this into depression and difficultly getting out of the bed. I was so worried about changing medication but knew something had to happen in hopes of feeling better he put me on Xanax morning and night and taking 150mg of Effexor once a day for 2 weeks. After one week I felt so much better. It was a huge turn around for me and I was able to actually think about other things I could do to make changes. I have done CBT and regular therapy. Exercise makes an amazing difference in how I feel. No sugar makes a big difference as well. I think the Xanax helping me sleep initially was huge. If I don’t sleep I am very emotional the day after so now I know that sleep is very important which I didn’t realize before.

So in realizing that this medication definitely helped me in the beginning I’ve been taking it for eight years I would like to go off of it completely or at least reduce the dosage. I didn’t realize this medication is hard on the liver which I guess all medications are but my doctor said he doesn’t worry about this medication and it’s long-term use. I only started having severe anxiety after having children. This is not been a lifelong struggle for me. Only since my 30s.
My struggle is trying to figure out if I should switch to a different medication or just know that this one works and continue taking yet. But I have also had side effects when I do miss it one time I feel like I’m in a bubble. Even though I have made great strides and even though I have made great strides and learned a lot and that’s why feel like I could manage without medication but really wondering if it’s a brain change and I’ll need the medication like any other disorder or disease. No other health conditions at all. Opinions??

Liked by Effexfree4ever

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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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Hello @poisonivy & to the group as well! I am happy to say I am completely off of the poison drug effexor. It has been almost two weeks now from my last dosage of one half of a 25 mg prescribed by a psych MD which I took for one week then off and on for 7 more days until I quit. I have experienced ALL of what you have experienced and more. I was on Effexor 150 mg since 2008 when I, by the suggestion of my doctor, decided to take the addictive drug effexor.
I am still having a FEW physical side effects left over from the withdrawal such as some insomnia, hot sweats, muscle cramps etc. and also some defined and EXTREMELY uncomfortable gastro/indigestion issues.that arrive whenever they please, including middle of the night, gas pain. Emotionally I am stabilized now with only a bit of emotional crying and much less anger than when going through the tapers. So the withdrawal symptoms are sometimes there but much lighter and nothing like it has been during tapering down times.
I believe this med has messed with my ENTIRE central nervous system. I am here to help. Please do heed advice from actual humans who have experienced this drug….not from people who have never even ingested it.
The drug will not be on the market much longer. People are writing about it globally. I just pray for the ones who start it. God Bless…..hang in there. The jest of it is…I was tapered to 75 mg and began immediately having horrid withdrawals on every level in August of 2015. I just thought I was sick with a disease or flu due to all of the symptoms. Went back up to my dosage of 150 it was so bad. After experiencing this, I made up my mind at that time that the goal would be to get off of this bad drug completely. I began again with tapering with psych MD in December of 2015. I have journals of all of it. And I highly suggest you keep a journal of all including doses, dosages, doc visits, and all of the symptoms both physically and mentally you have experienced throughout. After several months of tapering, I got down to 37.5 mg in December of 2016 and stayed there until I began tapering about three months ago with psych md again….with each taper came to the same exact symptoms, imagine that. My doctor gave me a script for 25mg Ven/Effex and 10mg of Prozac in February of this year….Immediately with the new taper same withdrawal effects and more symptoms physically, emotionally and mentally. I never took the Prozac and I have been using lots of otc medicines to help me get through nausea and gastro/digestive issues. I was feeling so angry and agitated off and on for months and weeks especially during each beginning of each taper down. Pepto Bismol for nausea and gastric…also Gas X, Tums, Dramamine…these as needed….I am taking the supplement 5HTP as has been suggested on other websites, a B Complex, calcium, multivitamins, and am eating lots of healthy food, Gatorade (G2), coconut water and regular filtered water… I actually am off the couch and out of bed and want to socialize and exercise. I am now not on anything prescribed.
I made it through and so can you.

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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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Glad to hear you are off of it and doing well @lalyfa

Liked by lalyfa

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@sadiesmom

I hear you….I started the weaning off process back in October. My dr. transitioned me to Lexapro but I don't think it's really working. You're right. The effects of Effexor and the weaning off is a hellish nightmare. My anxiety is off the charts even taking Xanax and Gabapentin. I DON'T want to get addicted to the Xanax and the Gabapentin makes me so sleepy. I take it at night if I take it at all. The nausea and diarrhea has been relentless. I have lost 35 lbs since January and have been seeing a gastroenterologist seeking answers for THAT problem. So far, he hasn't come up with any real problem….blaming it on the withdrawal of the Effexor. I had the sweats, too, while I was taking it but they increased during the weaning off process. I am now pretty much free of the sweating but it was such a problem for so long. Many nights I would have to change my pjs and bed clothes up to three times….I was soaking wet and the smell of the sweat was absolutely putrid. I hate to be so graphic but I guess even though I was experiencing the vomiting and diarrhea my body still wasn't getting rid of the toxic chemicals in my body and the only other way to rid myself of them, they exited via sweat glands. In my opinion, this medication should be BANNED from consumption by any living thing. I am almost 6 months out and still having problems. I am trying my hardest to get to the gym and eat well but my lack of motivation and the fatigue often keep me home. I hate this life that I'm living….

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I had many or all of these symptoms…….hang in there, take your time, patience… : )

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@lilmac44

It will be 4 months at the end of March that I completely stopped Effexor. I continue to suffer from extreme fatigue, hypoglycemic like symptoms, anxiety and shakiness. My cortisol is high at night which interferes with a good night's sleep. I have eliminated wheat from my diet, high carbohydrate foods and sugar. My diet is good and I am eating vegetables, seafood and other foods that provide protein. I rarely eat red meat. I don't know if these symptoms are a result from withdrawal from Effexor or caused by Adrenal dysfunction. Has anyone else experienced these side effects? If so, how long do/did they last in this withdrawal process?

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Same same…..I dreaded getting off of work because between the insomnia, strange scary thoughts, and detailed nightmares……I was afraid to go to bed…..admittedly I did take a .05 mg RX of Lorazepam every once in awhile…..mostly I am drinking warm Almond milk now w a little honey or some chamomile tea before bed….also I have been taking Valerian Root or melatonin with the 5htp in it…really helps….now that I actually want to physically move….I can walk/exercise at night just a bit after dinner……soon I hope to be exercising in the early am again…….I have also taken benadryl to help with anxiety to help during the day also. I would rather be a bit tired than anxious.

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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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It is EXTREMELY difficult to get off of Effexor and any real knowledgeable psych doc will admit it to you…..I do not take any antidepressants now and do not plan on it again after being on them for almost 25 years…..Effexor is the worst……In about 07 prior to being prescribed Effexor, I tried Welbutrin…..I now put it on my list of "medicines I am allergic to". I had horrible panic attacks within the first few days of taking it and therefore stopped taking it. That was me and my personal reaction to it.

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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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Thank you fior sharing. Wellbutrin was the one I was considering changing to if I thought I still needed something.

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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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So did any of the ones you tried work for any amount of time?

Liked by Effexfree4ever

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I had the same experience with Wellbutrin. Of course the doctor insisted that it wasn't the cause of my panic like attack. They wanted to blame it on a ministroke. All of the testing done after did not identify a medical problem. I have had reactions to other prescription drugs in the past as well, but conventional doctors take my complaints as being a figment of my imagination. I am so sick of having drugs thrown at me to mask the symptoms and never identify the root cause of the problem. In my opinion, antidepressants, in some cases cause more problems than they solve. The horror of withdrawal doesn't sink in until it happens to you.

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@sadiesmom

I hear you….I started the weaning off process back in October. My dr. transitioned me to Lexapro but I don't think it's really working. You're right. The effects of Effexor and the weaning off is a hellish nightmare. My anxiety is off the charts even taking Xanax and Gabapentin. I DON'T want to get addicted to the Xanax and the Gabapentin makes me so sleepy. I take it at night if I take it at all. The nausea and diarrhea has been relentless. I have lost 35 lbs since January and have been seeing a gastroenterologist seeking answers for THAT problem. So far, he hasn't come up with any real problem….blaming it on the withdrawal of the Effexor. I had the sweats, too, while I was taking it but they increased during the weaning off process. I am now pretty much free of the sweating but it was such a problem for so long. Many nights I would have to change my pjs and bed clothes up to three times….I was soaking wet and the smell of the sweat was absolutely putrid. I hate to be so graphic but I guess even though I was experiencing the vomiting and diarrhea my body still wasn't getting rid of the toxic chemicals in my body and the only other way to rid myself of them, they exited via sweat glands. In my opinion, this medication should be BANNED from consumption by any living thing. I am almost 6 months out and still having problems. I am trying my hardest to get to the gym and eat well but my lack of motivation and the fatigue often keep me home. I hate this life that I'm living….

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How long did your symptoms last before subsiding? I am starting to feel better very gradually. I still have to rest about 3 hours in the afternoon and avoid much of any activity after 6:30PM. It is a long healing process and I never want to go through anything like this again.

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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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You don't know how helpful your post has been to me. Thank you so much. I am so sick right now on the 37.5 mg that I am stuck in my recliner. It's the only place where I'm reasonably okay. As long as there is no motion. Even watching the movement on the TV makes me dizzy. I notice that everything sounds loud. I'm trying very hard to rid this poison from my system. Both of my Doctors are very knowledgeable about how hard the withdrawals are with Effector so that is a help. Again thank you so much for your post.

Liked by lalyfa

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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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It is so comforting to know that others know what I am going through. Thank you for your post! 6 weeks of this though might do me in. LOL

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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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The one's I did try all seemed to help for awhile….Zoloft was the first….I found I needed more & more of it over the years in order to feel ok…..I also lost my sense of humor while on Zoloft & felt sort of zombi ish often while taking it….I believe next I went to Lexapro & stayed on that one for several years……lots of weight gain, but maneageable mental health through the trauma I was dealing with throughout so many years.
And just to reiterate, after sharing my own experiences and asking lot's of people many questions, I did learn that some people were taking welbutrin and it worked for them in whatever capacity it was perscribed to them. The reaction I personally had with welbutrin was quite intense and included overwhelming anxiety for several days from my personal experience. One more experience I have not had is being prescribed different psych medicines together and having the psych doc try different mixtures of this or that medication. Each time I was prescribed a new antidepressant, I stuck with just that medication alone. I did began taking ativan in 2003 to manage anxiety and anger I was having and continued taking that once or twice a day as directed by doc through 2012 when I decided to stop that med after experiencing withdrawal symptoms after skipping days of it.

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