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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@stephee11

After my doctor refused to take my calls, I called my local health unit and they took me off Wellbutrin and ease my way back to my previous dosage of 150. I’m going to slowly taper down after that because I need to get off of this medication. With all of this coronavirus stuff going on, my anxiety thought that I got it when my chest got tight after I started my Wellbutrin.

Hopefully I can finally beat this.

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Hi, @stephee11 – did your local health unit have any suggestions on the symptoms you are describing?

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@suzy31

I just found out something very frustrating my doctor prescribed me 20 milligram Prozac tablets because he insisted that I only take 10 milligrams for the first 4 days and that my insurance would pay for the tablets because they were generic. Little did he know they refused and wanted a prior authorization because they were tablets. I just found that out today from the pharmacy where my doctor is at. That's why I haven't gotten them yet. I'm lucky because generics are cheap so the pharmacy let me put it on my house account and they are sending them finally. My insurance will only cover the Prozac 20 milligram capsules and not the tablets. OH, brother! So I had to call my doctor and leave a message for his nurse to tell her what happened.

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Hi, @suzy31 – sorry to hear about this mix-up with your insurance and the fluoxetine (Prozac). Has it now arrived, or are you awaiting it in the mail?

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Now that I’m going back on my Effexor full dose and I have stopped my Wellbutrin, will my blurred vision go away?

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I would think so, yes. I had all kinds of weird thing happen – phantom smells among them. Once I stated back on an ssri it subsided. Please let us know how it goes.

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@secretwhitepop

I would think so, yes. I had all kinds of weird thing happen – phantom smells among them. Once I stated back on an ssri it subsided. Please let us know how it goes.

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Today I’m still dizzy, it’s more of a vertigo feeling and I still get tremors in my legs/arms. When I move up from 75 to my original dose of 150, will I feel better? My anxiety’s got me thinking I have Covid even though all my symptoms only started when I originally went off Effexor and switched to Wellbutrin.

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@lisalucier

Hi, @suzy31 – sorry to hear about this mix-up with your insurance and the fluoxetine (Prozac). Has it now arrived, or are you awaiting it in the mail?

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It arrived and I'm glad it did. I started the Prozac and dropped the Viibryrd and so glad I dropped that drug it was making me more anxious and very short tempered. Now that I'm off of it I feel a lot calmer. I was reading that women my age who take Viibryd it makes you more anxious and I don't need that it was also giving me headaches when I took the full 20 milligram dose so I cut the pill in half to 10 and then the headaches went away but still feeling anxious. I can see why you have to be on Prozac to get off the Effexor because the Prozac has a greater calming effect. Not a tired calming effect just a relaxed one. I hope you know what I mean. The Viibyrd was making me so short tempered I didn't recognize myself.

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@stephee11

Today I’m still dizzy, it’s more of a vertigo feeling and I still get tremors in my legs/arms. When I move up from 75 to my original dose of 150, will I feel better? My anxiety’s got me thinking I have Covid even though all my symptoms only started when I originally went off Effexor and switched to Wellbutrin.

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Also my chest feels very warm as do my biceps. I’m not sure what that’s from. But it’s scaring my too.

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@lisalucier

Hi, @stephee11 – did your local health unit have any suggestions on the symptoms you are describing?

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My local health unit told me to wait it out, if I could get ahold of them. I’m bringing my Effexor back up to my original dose so hopefully that will help the rapid heart rate, warm chest, tremors and the vertigo. I just want to feel normal again.

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Is it normal to have hypertension for days when going through this? I can feel my blood pressure just jerking my legs.

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@stephee11

Today I’m still dizzy, it’s more of a vertigo feeling and I still get tremors in my legs/arms. When I move up from 75 to my original dose of 150, will I feel better? My anxiety’s got me thinking I have Covid even though all my symptoms only started when I originally went off Effexor and switched to Wellbutrin.

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It’s been hard for me to understand whether these what I have are withdrawal symptoms or Covid.

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I doubt it’s covid. Do you have a temperature or dry cough?

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@lisalucier

Hello, @abbynormal, and welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. Sorry to hear your previous attempt at tapering off of venlafaxine (Effexor) did not go so well. If you click VIEW & REPLY in your email notification, you will see the entire thread on venlafaxine tapering.

You mentioned your doctor suggested tapering by counting beads in the capsules and slowly decreasing the amount over several months. Some members who have mentioned this method and may have some thoughts for you from their personal experiences tapering this way include @sandij @doorman @kbmayo. @texasduchess and @jakedduck1 also may have some input.

Have you already decreased your dosage since you discussed the taper with the doctor, abbynormal? If so, how did it go?

Also, good to hear from you, @sundance6. Venlafaxine (Effexor) is used to treat depression and some anxiety and panic disorders https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/venlafaxine-oral-route/description/drg-20067379.

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Thanks for the warm welcome and the suggestions. I haven't started tapering yet, just wanted to learn more about this approach before I start it. I'm glad to know that others have tried and had good results. I understand that no approach is "withdrawal-free" and that I will undoubtedly experience the effects, but if I can make it less debilitating as it was going from 75mg to 37.5mg, I'm willing to try. 🙂

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@chicago1211 and @stephee11 – how are you doing today?

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I haven't posted in a while..need to reach out for support.. i've been off effexor and all ssri medication since feb 19th 2020. I'd love to report that finally things have improved, but I cannot do this. i suspect it has something to do with the fact that i've been on ssri's for 22+ years and that it will take more time. I recall when the withdrawals ended, but then something else set in.. is this the new me now?..To make a long story short.. even tho my taper was planned since 2017, i feel like it could not have happened at a worse time. Not only is this kind of a once in a lifetime thing (covid) but i couldn't have known to check the CDC website before starting taper.. just terrible, terrible luck.. and i'm sorry to dump this all out here but it has to come out… taper started fed 19th, 1month into taper, shit got serious with covid and i'm like uhh.. i've already stopped for a month, i should soldier on.. keep in mind i have ocd/obsessive thinking also… but after finally getting over the initial 2 weeks withdrawal from effexor XR, i started getting panic attacks (sometimes 4 in a row) in the middle of the night and anxiety, depersonalisation/derealisation (DPDR) and comorbid visual problems, all of this perpetuates panic and anxiety to levels i deem i've never had before. vicious cycle. i can't put my finger on it, but i have problems focusing, i don't know, it's like my eyes run at a lower frame rate than they used to.., i'm also hyper aware of bodily sensations, like a colarbone i broke when i was 15.. on the OCD front, "love ocd," or relationshiop ocd, where you question your love for your partner all the time.. which makes me question my entire 20year relationship and support pillar in this critical time of healing. i wonder now if we should even be together 🙁 and sleep.., but since a few days off effexor, sleeping is difficult, i'm lucky if i get 4 hours if any at all..and the days where i get no sleep, are awful days of anxiety/panic. Not to mention parenting fulltime now, and keeping a job, which i can luckily work from home..(i'm almost 43) there was a few times where i though i was packing my bag and going to a local crisis center, leaving mylife partner and 2 your boys behind..

Overall i'd like to dump the things that are on my mind.

anxiety/panic attacks
depersonalisation, derealization perpetuated by visual problems (sometimes feel disconnected from surroundings, terrifying) nothing feels real
feel stuck in my head, trapped
OCD/ obsessive thinking
jittery, always have to move some part of my body, especially when anxious
(relationship ocd, as it's a big one)
lately, dark depression on occasion.
due to covid, lacking real support, getting away to visit family for support and anything that goes with it.
guilt from not wanting to spend time with kids
stuck at home, can't get out to heal, go somewhere…

my options are the following:
Keeping fighting the fight, soldier on, put up with it all in hopes it goes away. (could take months as per psychologist)
Referral to a psychiatrist in the works (months delay)
prescription of Celexa waiting for me
Prescription of trazadone waiting for me, (which i may try for sleep..) any thoughts?
CUrrently using ativan as needed, but i hate this knowing how addiction it is.. and especially since my whole point was to come OFF meds..

I never though coming off SSRI's would present so many problems, even some not related.. I'm not one who usually scares easily, but this DPDR and visual thing scare the crap out of me and drives up anxiety…. Having said this.. i realize ALOT of this is perspective, but for me, that's in the gutter at the moment… I'm being torn apart by "should i just go back on SSRI's now and get some relief".. or keep fighting, i've already done 1.2months by myself. and if i go back in 3 months, will i just be like, "why did i wait so long"..

i'm seeing psychologist (holistic) who is guiding me reminding me of my decisions and techniques, and everything i've learned over the years. (diet, self care, exercise, hormones, (on TRT also) and thyroid)
my family gP, and pharmacist..
and waiting for psychiatrist referral.

Anyone else out there get off meds successfully after 20+ years? can be any SSRI. because right now, the toughest thing, is having no hope.. not knowing if this is even possible, no light.. and if i have to go back on, the side effects of being back on, and long term effects.. all concern me..

thanks i know this is a kindof rant, and a little erradic,

thanks for reading.

REPLY
@cp6401

I haven't posted in a while..need to reach out for support.. i've been off effexor and all ssri medication since feb 19th 2020. I'd love to report that finally things have improved, but I cannot do this. i suspect it has something to do with the fact that i've been on ssri's for 22+ years and that it will take more time. I recall when the withdrawals ended, but then something else set in.. is this the new me now?..To make a long story short.. even tho my taper was planned since 2017, i feel like it could not have happened at a worse time. Not only is this kind of a once in a lifetime thing (covid) but i couldn't have known to check the CDC website before starting taper.. just terrible, terrible luck.. and i'm sorry to dump this all out here but it has to come out… taper started fed 19th, 1month into taper, shit got serious with covid and i'm like uhh.. i've already stopped for a month, i should soldier on.. keep in mind i have ocd/obsessive thinking also… but after finally getting over the initial 2 weeks withdrawal from effexor XR, i started getting panic attacks (sometimes 4 in a row) in the middle of the night and anxiety, depersonalisation/derealisation (DPDR) and comorbid visual problems, all of this perpetuates panic and anxiety to levels i deem i've never had before. vicious cycle. i can't put my finger on it, but i have problems focusing, i don't know, it's like my eyes run at a lower frame rate than they used to.., i'm also hyper aware of bodily sensations, like a colarbone i broke when i was 15.. on the OCD front, "love ocd," or relationshiop ocd, where you question your love for your partner all the time.. which makes me question my entire 20year relationship and support pillar in this critical time of healing. i wonder now if we should even be together 🙁 and sleep.., but since a few days off effexor, sleeping is difficult, i'm lucky if i get 4 hours if any at all..and the days where i get no sleep, are awful days of anxiety/panic. Not to mention parenting fulltime now, and keeping a job, which i can luckily work from home..(i'm almost 43) there was a few times where i though i was packing my bag and going to a local crisis center, leaving mylife partner and 2 your boys behind..

Overall i'd like to dump the things that are on my mind.

anxiety/panic attacks
depersonalisation, derealization perpetuated by visual problems (sometimes feel disconnected from surroundings, terrifying) nothing feels real
feel stuck in my head, trapped
OCD/ obsessive thinking
jittery, always have to move some part of my body, especially when anxious
(relationship ocd, as it's a big one)
lately, dark depression on occasion.
due to covid, lacking real support, getting away to visit family for support and anything that goes with it.
guilt from not wanting to spend time with kids
stuck at home, can't get out to heal, go somewhere…

my options are the following:
Keeping fighting the fight, soldier on, put up with it all in hopes it goes away. (could take months as per psychologist)
Referral to a psychiatrist in the works (months delay)
prescription of Celexa waiting for me
Prescription of trazadone waiting for me, (which i may try for sleep..) any thoughts?
CUrrently using ativan as needed, but i hate this knowing how addiction it is.. and especially since my whole point was to come OFF meds..

I never though coming off SSRI's would present so many problems, even some not related.. I'm not one who usually scares easily, but this DPDR and visual thing scare the crap out of me and drives up anxiety…. Having said this.. i realize ALOT of this is perspective, but for me, that's in the gutter at the moment… I'm being torn apart by "should i just go back on SSRI's now and get some relief".. or keep fighting, i've already done 1.2months by myself. and if i go back in 3 months, will i just be like, "why did i wait so long"..

i'm seeing psychologist (holistic) who is guiding me reminding me of my decisions and techniques, and everything i've learned over the years. (diet, self care, exercise, hormones, (on TRT also) and thyroid)
my family gP, and pharmacist..
and waiting for psychiatrist referral.

Anyone else out there get off meds successfully after 20+ years? can be any SSRI. because right now, the toughest thing, is having no hope.. not knowing if this is even possible, no light.. and if i have to go back on, the side effects of being back on, and long term effects.. all concern me..

thanks i know this is a kindof rant, and a little erradic,

thanks for reading.

Jump to this post

The withdrawal effects are what keep folks on this medication. Tapering off slowly minimizes them; the stories on this blog show that most tapers are TOO FAST–the drops are too steep and the wait before dropping again is too short. Skipping days puts you into withdrawal every other day.

Effexor's effect on your brain neurotransmitter levels is very powerful and it takes TIME for you to adjust to lower levels of the drug, especially if you've been on it long-term.

You can read on here where others found relief by going back to the dosage where they weren't having withdrawal symptoms, or at least, having symptoms they could handle and stabilizing there for weeks/months before tapering by much, much less and much, much slower.

Have you told your doctor(s) today what is going on? What is their advice? Especially re the prescriptions you have? You can ask if these would be helpful to your current situation.

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