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

@sheffieldsmith

Any recommendations on the percentage of cutbacks on alternate days, Jake?

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@sheffieldsmith
I wouldn’t take Effexor on alternate days and would definitely extend the time frame from weeks to months. You may be one of the lucky ones that can handle a short taper but come 6 weeks I believe you’ll be back talking about withdrawal symptoms, just my opinion based on reading this thread for over a year. I’d reduce the then current dose by 5-10% every 2-4 weeks.
37.5 -10%=3.75 to 33.75mg then 10% of 33.75.
Don’t decrease by the same original amount because that will increase the percentage of the taper the closer you get to zero and that’s when the taper should be at an even lower percentage especially if there are any side effects.
There was a psychiatrist in Europe who was on Effexor and tried getting off at the same rate your going for and it was unsuccessful. They tried again using the 5-10% method and had an uneventful taper. Maybe you could taper faster, who knows. Even a 5-10% taper isn’t a guarantee that withdrawal symptoms will definitely be avoided but the chance is greatly reduced. If your insurance will pay for a compounding pharmacy that would be ideal. I use one for an injectable medication and it is expensive and my insurance won’t cover it. Pills should be less costly since a sterile compounding pharmacy isn’t necessary and they are a little more common.
How ever you taper I wish you an uneventful taper,
Jake

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@sheffieldsmith

Perhaps you were tapering off too quickly. My internist suggested the following plan for me to taper off over a period of 6 weeks: first two weeks: alternate taking 75mg Venlafaxine one day, and 37.50 the next day; Weeks 3,4: take 37.50 mg each day; Final Weeks, 5,6: take 37.50mg every other day. I’m currently on week 5 of the tapering and I appear to be tolerating it very well. I will be near the end of this weaning schedule next week when I see my doctor for a follow up visit. If I need to I’ll resume the tapering For another 6 weeks by beginning with 37.50mg. Yes, I’ll be counting out beads for the smaller doses, but I’m determined to wean myself off from taking what my doctor says is the most difficult anti-depressant/anxiety on the market. Good luck!

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I’m having trouble going from 3 37.5 to 2 I’ll try the alternating method thanks

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I dont think you'll avoid withdrawal symptoms if you use the alternating method. Your body will just be in a constant state of confusion.

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@sandij

I dont think you'll avoid withdrawal symptoms if you use the alternating method. Your body will just be in a constant state of confusion.

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@sandij
Hi
I've been using the every other day pattern as a part of my reduction. I
I do one day reduced strength, one day full amount, etc. I do thiscevery other day for 3 weeks. After 3 weeks, I take the new dosage every day for 3 weeks. After that, I make another reduction using the same pattern. It takes me 6 weeks per reduction. I started mid November and I've made a total reduction of 25%.
The only issue I have (and I'm not sure if it is from withdrawal) is difficulty staying asleep. I've been a horrible sleeper for years so it may have nothing to do with it. I am currently staying a this new dosage until after the summer andmy summer plans.

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@notaround

Wanted to check in so people know I'm still alive. Still venlafaxine free. I don't think I'm getting any withdrawal symptoms. Prozac bridge worked for me. Didn't help the depression but it stopped the withdrawal.

I'm not really reading this forum regularly anymore so sorry if I worried anyone.

Maybe someday I'll find a treatment that works. Next step is a prescription stimulant under the idea that if I have more energy I'll actually be able to do the self care stuff. Still angling for a clinical trial for ketamine.

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@notaround
Thanks for checking in. Glad the Prozac bridge helped with the Effexor withdrawal. I certainly found your comments to this thread helpful (audio relaxation tapes and yoga on YouTube to reduce anxiety, XR pellets don't dissolve in juice, essential oils at night for sleep, etc.). Hope you find the right treatment for your depression.

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@notaround

Wanted to check in so people know I'm still alive. Still venlafaxine free. I don't think I'm getting any withdrawal symptoms. Prozac bridge worked for me. Didn't help the depression but it stopped the withdrawal.

I'm not really reading this forum regularly anymore so sorry if I worried anyone.

Maybe someday I'll find a treatment that works. Next step is a prescription stimulant under the idea that if I have more energy I'll actually be able to do the self care stuff. Still angling for a clinical trial for ketamine.

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HI, @notaround – thanks very much for this update.

Since you are talking about a stimulant being prescribed for you next to boost your energy for self-care, it would be great if you could post about your experiences with that medication. Do you know what you will be taking?

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I just wanted to post here about my experience with stimulants. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in the summer of 2015, with my major complaint being the constant fatigue. I had an excellent doctor at the time who explored the cause of my symptoms from all angles…tests ruling out lyme, referrals to a rheumatologist who prescribed gabapentin, a neurologist who has done extensive research on disordered sleep patterns in fibro patients, leading me to do a sleep study and treatment by a "sleep dentist" who prescribed a mandibular advancement device (for slight airway obstruction). None of it helped with the fatigue. Frustrated at my continued complaints, the sleep dentist said (no lie) "well, have you tried drinking coffee?". I mean, I give up.
I had my DNA tested and discovered I have the mthfr gene which prevents absorption of regular b12 and folic acid, actually taking these supplements can make a person feel worse as the folic acid builds up in ones system. So I switched to a specially formulated vitamin. (As an aside, I recommend everyone have this testing done. I used 23andme and ran my raw data through a website that gave me a full report on my genetic makeup..fascinating). So fast forward to when I had to change doctors, and was taking ambien hoping that more restful sleep would be the answer (it wasnt), tramadol and gabapentin (neurontin) for pain, and of course our beloved effexor.
This doctor was as frustrated with me as the sleep dentist. "Have you tried drinking coffee?". Seriously??? Do these doctors have stock in coffee beans?
Isn't it funny how it always has to be the patient that suggests something to the doctor? Years ago there was a new drug on the market for narcolepsy, called provigil. I was a massage therapist at the time working in a psychiatric office. We all (the staff) thought it would be a great experiment to try it and see if we were any more productive that day..all in the name of medicine of course. Well I remember that day all these years later. It had surely worked for alertness. So I told the doctor about that and asked about the possibility of being prescribed it. He said that it was difficult to get insurance to approve it and that it was very expensive, and he said that he could give me adderall instead. When I said I didn't think I had adhd, he replied, "if you take it and you DON'T have adhd, you'll feel like you're on speed, so either way should work". (Yes, insert incredulous patient face emoji here).
So adderall it was and not only did I not feel like I was on speed, I was definitely able to focus more. As far as energy levels went, I still felt the need to nap. But I was more productive. I started researching ADHD and went back to the neurologist who had ordered my sleep study, asked him what he thought about the adderall and would he recommend taking it or anything else, and should I be tested for ADHD. He asked if the adderall helped my concentration. I said yes. He said, "well then why would you even want a test? You must have it." Lol. I took the test anyway and came up as slow processing. So I just kept taking the adderall. I have read a lot about adhd and it was recommended to take breaks from the medication so here and there I would take a day off.
Ok, here's where it gets interesting..if you've read this far. I always time my tapers to coincide with visiting my parents, I'm very active at their house and my mind has little time to wander and ruminate on withdrawal, even though I still experience the fatigue. So I would rarely take the adderall. In March when I returned home I didn't resume it, I wanted to start seeing what my baseline was without it. Now my effexor dose had decreased dramatically, that's the only tlothrr thing that changed, and I was very surprised to realize that my level of fatigue is much lower. Now I'm off effexor completely (and off ambien as well) and my energy levels have increased. This makes me believe that the effexor was at least contributing to my fatigue if not being caused by it.
My point being that maybe after the effexor is gone, your energy level may improve without a stimulant. The downside is that I've gained almost 20 pounds (slowly since my effexor taper started in Sept 2018). I dont know if effexor was keeping me from gaining weight all these years but I suspect so. I've never had a problem with weight gain before.
I'm not against stimulants, although if you have a tendency toward HTN you'll want to keep an eye on your blood pressure. I am taking it again on the days that I have a fuller work schedule as it seems to allow me to have more focus. But I'm not needing naps, even without the adderall, so I am pretty sure effexor was the culprit. Just add that to the list of all the other shitty things it has done. Unbelievable that I was SO stupid and desperate that I never considered it to be a problem or considered that it was not even helping me. Even as a nurse. I'm thinking more clearly now and feel like I am waking up. And boy, am I angry!! Angry but also grateful. I'm looking forward to a very full life for the rest of the years I have on this earth. (Of course, ask me next week, or the next, lol, since I'm sure there are members here that are waiting for my other shoe to drop, so to speak).
Keep fighting the good fight. Research everything you can and find the combination of things that work for your own recovery. Thanks for reading. This forum is so cathartic for me.
@brightwings where have you been?

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@sandij

I just wanted to post here about my experience with stimulants. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in the summer of 2015, with my major complaint being the constant fatigue. I had an excellent doctor at the time who explored the cause of my symptoms from all angles…tests ruling out lyme, referrals to a rheumatologist who prescribed gabapentin, a neurologist who has done extensive research on disordered sleep patterns in fibro patients, leading me to do a sleep study and treatment by a "sleep dentist" who prescribed a mandibular advancement device (for slight airway obstruction). None of it helped with the fatigue. Frustrated at my continued complaints, the sleep dentist said (no lie) "well, have you tried drinking coffee?". I mean, I give up.
I had my DNA tested and discovered I have the mthfr gene which prevents absorption of regular b12 and folic acid, actually taking these supplements can make a person feel worse as the folic acid builds up in ones system. So I switched to a specially formulated vitamin. (As an aside, I recommend everyone have this testing done. I used 23andme and ran my raw data through a website that gave me a full report on my genetic makeup..fascinating). So fast forward to when I had to change doctors, and was taking ambien hoping that more restful sleep would be the answer (it wasnt), tramadol and gabapentin (neurontin) for pain, and of course our beloved effexor.
This doctor was as frustrated with me as the sleep dentist. "Have you tried drinking coffee?". Seriously??? Do these doctors have stock in coffee beans?
Isn't it funny how it always has to be the patient that suggests something to the doctor? Years ago there was a new drug on the market for narcolepsy, called provigil. I was a massage therapist at the time working in a psychiatric office. We all (the staff) thought it would be a great experiment to try it and see if we were any more productive that day..all in the name of medicine of course. Well I remember that day all these years later. It had surely worked for alertness. So I told the doctor about that and asked about the possibility of being prescribed it. He said that it was difficult to get insurance to approve it and that it was very expensive, and he said that he could give me adderall instead. When I said I didn't think I had adhd, he replied, "if you take it and you DON'T have adhd, you'll feel like you're on speed, so either way should work". (Yes, insert incredulous patient face emoji here).
So adderall it was and not only did I not feel like I was on speed, I was definitely able to focus more. As far as energy levels went, I still felt the need to nap. But I was more productive. I started researching ADHD and went back to the neurologist who had ordered my sleep study, asked him what he thought about the adderall and would he recommend taking it or anything else, and should I be tested for ADHD. He asked if the adderall helped my concentration. I said yes. He said, "well then why would you even want a test? You must have it." Lol. I took the test anyway and came up as slow processing. So I just kept taking the adderall. I have read a lot about adhd and it was recommended to take breaks from the medication so here and there I would take a day off.
Ok, here's where it gets interesting..if you've read this far. I always time my tapers to coincide with visiting my parents, I'm very active at their house and my mind has little time to wander and ruminate on withdrawal, even though I still experience the fatigue. So I would rarely take the adderall. In March when I returned home I didn't resume it, I wanted to start seeing what my baseline was without it. Now my effexor dose had decreased dramatically, that's the only tlothrr thing that changed, and I was very surprised to realize that my level of fatigue is much lower. Now I'm off effexor completely (and off ambien as well) and my energy levels have increased. This makes me believe that the effexor was at least contributing to my fatigue if not being caused by it.
My point being that maybe after the effexor is gone, your energy level may improve without a stimulant. The downside is that I've gained almost 20 pounds (slowly since my effexor taper started in Sept 2018). I dont know if effexor was keeping me from gaining weight all these years but I suspect so. I've never had a problem with weight gain before.
I'm not against stimulants, although if you have a tendency toward HTN you'll want to keep an eye on your blood pressure. I am taking it again on the days that I have a fuller work schedule as it seems to allow me to have more focus. But I'm not needing naps, even without the adderall, so I am pretty sure effexor was the culprit. Just add that to the list of all the other shitty things it has done. Unbelievable that I was SO stupid and desperate that I never considered it to be a problem or considered that it was not even helping me. Even as a nurse. I'm thinking more clearly now and feel like I am waking up. And boy, am I angry!! Angry but also grateful. I'm looking forward to a very full life for the rest of the years I have on this earth. (Of course, ask me next week, or the next, lol, since I'm sure there are members here that are waiting for my other shoe to drop, so to speak).
Keep fighting the good fight. Research everything you can and find the combination of things that work for your own recovery. Thanks for reading. This forum is so cathartic for me.
@brightwings where have you been?

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@sandij @merry
I am here. I have been reading from afar. Good work guy's…
I went to Silver Dollar City on Sunday. What a fantastic time we all had. Its been years since I went to one. It was tradition to go on mothers day…No one else hardly was there. Year after year we went… On mother's day.
.
I was surprised to hear we walked 21,760 steps. 9.75 miles…..
Groannnnnnnnn
I am dealing with quite a bit of pain since then.
.
You may have noticed I have not been here as much recently. Oh, I have still been here reading but I have been focusing on "letting go and letting God".
.
Friends, the damage from the pesticides has been and remains too great for this body to bear. Combine this with my MS, stroke and TIA, deteriating heel from impending ostiomylitis, COPD…oh I could go on and on.
.
I had become aware of my thought patterns changing 2 weeks after the pesticides were dumped. Just strange thoughts of the past, little vignettes that would play out in my mind. To be reexamined and reinterpreted.
I finally figured why and what they were in January…I was starting to have end of life thoughts….How many times have I assisted others with their end of life thoughts, I was surprised it took me that long to figure it out.
So friends I don't know how much longer I have but I honor you all enough as my family who struggled together, my winning family…cuz we don't give up.
I am working with a woman whose gift is to help people "in transition" to have a graceful end.
Sorry to lay this on you all, but as I said I honor you.
I have helped folks and families do endings so there are no regrets. Let me help you too.
.
Don't feel bad, I don't…this has been such a painful life.
.
And I lived it triumphantly…
.
I know where I am going…soon my body will hurt no more,
Bright Wings

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@grandmar I'm so glad that schedule is working for you. Sounds like you're doing great!

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@brightwings no trite words here, just a reminder not to make a permanent decision while in a temporary state of mind..and it's always temporary. However with that being said, I am not implying that your situation is an easy one. Sending love from Georgia.

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@sandij

@grandmar I'm so glad that schedule is working for you. Sounds like you're doing great!

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@sandij
Thank you, I am.
I'm taking my sweet time doing this.
I think we need to remember that there is no one solution that works best for everyone.
But I know the one thing we ALL agree on…;;;;slow and steady wins the race.

Have a great evening!
Ronnie

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@brightwings

@sandij @merry
I am here. I have been reading from afar. Good work guy's…
I went to Silver Dollar City on Sunday. What a fantastic time we all had. Its been years since I went to one. It was tradition to go on mothers day…No one else hardly was there. Year after year we went… On mother's day.
.
I was surprised to hear we walked 21,760 steps. 9.75 miles…..
Groannnnnnnnn
I am dealing with quite a bit of pain since then.
.
You may have noticed I have not been here as much recently. Oh, I have still been here reading but I have been focusing on "letting go and letting God".
.
Friends, the damage from the pesticides has been and remains too great for this body to bear. Combine this with my MS, stroke and TIA, deteriating heel from impending ostiomylitis, COPD…oh I could go on and on.
.
I had become aware of my thought patterns changing 2 weeks after the pesticides were dumped. Just strange thoughts of the past, little vignettes that would play out in my mind. To be reexamined and reinterpreted.
I finally figured why and what they were in January…I was starting to have end of life thoughts….How many times have I assisted others with their end of life thoughts, I was surprised it took me that long to figure it out.
So friends I don't know how much longer I have but I honor you all enough as my family who struggled together, my winning family…cuz we don't give up.
I am working with a woman whose gift is to help people "in transition" to have a graceful end.
Sorry to lay this on you all, but as I said I honor you.
I have helped folks and families do endings so there are no regrets. Let me help you too.
.
Don't feel bad, I don't…this has been such a painful life.
.
And I lived it triumphantly…
.
I know where I am going…soon my body will hurt no more,
Bright Wings

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@brightwings
I hoped to meet you in person some day. What happens when we die? The ones who love us miss us. I will miss you. You have helped so many of us on here. Thank you.

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