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

@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.

Jump to this post

@poisonivy15 I, too, too Effexor for many years….divorce after 31 years of marriage, then five years later I lost my son to PTSD related suicide. I was basically a zombie for 15 years. I gained over 50 lbs and have literally laid in bed for the past 6 years since losing my son. I was a mess. I was having horrible back pain so my PCP did a urine culture and found "considerable" amounts of blood in my urine. It scared me to death. That's what prompted me to do a TON of research on the Effexor. Yes, Effexor is poison and it was killing me one organ at a time. Back in October I talked to my psychiatrist about getting off of the Effexor not only because of the problem with my kidneys but I had severe gastric problems as well. We started reducing the dosage by 1/4 each WEEK. That was way too fast. I should have known better than to start the weaning process so close to the holidays because that's when I really tank. I miss my son so badly. On New Year's Eve Day I called 911 because I was so weak from all of the vomiting and diarhea. I was severely dehydrated and had the worst panic attack I've ever had in my life. My lips were drawn as were my hands and arms. I thought I was having a stroke and so did the EMTs. Once I got the hospital they filled me full of liquids and gave me a Xanax for my anxiety but it didn't help. I ended up getting something through the IV for the anxiety. I felt like my heart was going to burst out of my chest. When they released me I came back home and literally didn't have the strength to even make myself something to eat. The gastric issues persisted. I sweated gallons of sweat, literally, and continued the vomiting and diahrea. I called my doctor that evening and told the doctor on call I didn't think I was going to survive. She called in a prescription for Gabapentin for the anxiety. I truly don't know how I drove to the pharmacy to pick it up but I didn't have anyone to get it for me. Once I got that in my system the panic attack subsided and I finally fell asleep. My dr. moved me on to Prozac while weaning me off of the Effexor but I told her that wasn't working. She changed it to Lexapro a month later and I have dropped 35 lbs since January. I have no appetite and the thought of food makes me gag. I am seeing a gastroenterologist to see what's going on in my stomach and bowels. The weight loss has been great as I needed to lose the 50 lbs I gained, but not being able to eat is horrible. I tried to go out for my daughter's bday and took three bites of a nice dinner and couldn't eat any more. My staple food is Cheerios. That's the only thing I can tolerate. I'm having a colonoscopy and endoscopy next week to see why I can't eat and the weight continues to fall off. I truly think that the Effexor is still in my body as I have read sometimes it takes 6 to 8 months for it to be totally expelled from the body. I know I will struggle with depression from the many losses I have had in my life but don't want to depend on pharmaceuticals to keep me alive. I am hoping the weather here in Ohio breaks soon so I can get outside and walk or do yard work. But these past 6 months have been a hell I never want to go through again. My biggest problem right now is anxiety and I HATE taking the Xanax as it's just another drug I will have to worry about getting off of. The Gabapentin helps with the anxiety but puts me to sleep. I hate that we all are experiencing such catastrophic events weaning off of this poisonous drug. And, in my opinion, it truly is poison. My recommendation to anyone thinking about weaning off of it is to to take it very, very slowly. Maybe reduce the dosage a month or two apart. But reducing the dosage weekly is a sure plan of disaster….best of luck to everyone out there who is struggling….keep putting one foot in front of the other and pray to get to the other side of this….

REPLY
@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.

Jump to this post

It is not just the physical withdrawal that is horrible. It is also the mental and emotional part of it. The withdrawal of this drug messed with my head and brought me to dark places more than once and tried to keep me there……mostly it was taking place at the beginning of each taper down. I began to question my mental state a few times and obsess about my life. It was very negative. On top of this, I became agitated and aggressive. Everything was making me so angry….the smallest things and things that do not even matter in life were irritating me. I was angry at my husband a lot. At times, there was nothing he could do to make me happy and I was mean sometimes and I am not a mean person!! I was angry at the world. Driving and dealing with traffic and the public even at the grocery store was difficult. I became agitated at everything. I cried often and questioned my thinking, I kept pushing through each day no matter what symptoms I was having believing that I could get through it. Everything that you read that everyone is dealing with this drug is spot on for me so do not discount any of it. Take the best physical care of yourself that you can. Try to make yourself feel as comfortable as possible physically and emotionally, whatever that means to you. I ate a lot of ice cream and starchy and sugary foods throughout the tapering. I didn't want to move off of the couch. I did not want to go outside often. My husband was a saint. He just loved me through it. I was overwhelmed with fear to reach out on a website such as this going through it but I kept reading and reading. Now I do not have those unrealistic fears. There is always hope. There is so much information online now and groups and threads like this are here to help. I am glad you are in awareness of the situation.

REPLY

I agree with you. Just my opinion also….there are PCP s out there, one of them was mine….who let me know at one point he thought it would be a good idea to go up from a 150 mg dose of Venlafaxine per day to a 300+ mg dose per day. I believe I actually tried it for a couple of days…..did he take Venlafaxine ever? Doubtful. That was when I started doing a little research.

Yes and that Welbutrin…..I recall calling the pharmacist on a Saturday because I was having full blown anxiety where I could not function after starting it….I remember the script for welbutrin from my PCP said you should start feeling better within one week so I kept ingesting my prescribed dose for 4 to 5 days until that day I called the pharmacist and HE instructed me TO STOP TAKING IT IMMEDIATELY.

REPLY
@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.

Jump to this post

@sadiesmom1 thank you so much for your story here….. you are a very brave human being. I commend you for sharing your story.
Much love to you. You are helping people more than you will ever know. Unfortunately, I do not believe that the doctors have ANY idea of the withdrawal effects of these hardcore designed chemical legal prescribed drugs such as Venlafaxine. If they did, true caring doctors would not prescribe them to their patients. The drug pharmaceutical companies selling the products to them may or may not be aware of the indications. Plenty of people/patients are coming forth worldwide about their own withdrawal symptoms surrounding this drug. There are also concerns about repercussions from long term and short term usage of the Venlafaxine/Effexor drug. A psych nurse I found to help me do the taper off of Venlafaxine/Effexor admitted to me she does not prescribe the chemical drug to any of her patients anymore because of the horrible withdrawals and less mentioned studies regarding repercussions on the body from ingesting this and other man-made chemical drugs. I have a question. If there are so many designed chemical drugs and antidepressants on the market that help people, would it be that difficult for the pharmaceutical companies to design withdrawal medications? There are people who claim they have become suicidal and/or homicidal at times on these medications and withdrawing from some of these medications. I am so glad you are in awareness of the situation. Yes very very very slowly with the tapering otherwise it will jolt your entire being physically and mentally and make you a total nonfunctioning wreck. I was so afraid to go through another taper down with Effexor I stayed on the 37.5mg dosage for about a full year because I knew from my previous tapers that another tapering down period of withdrawal could again affect my life, my career, my marriage, my physical and emotional wellbeing, other's wellbeing around me….Each time I would put in my script at the drug store, that small dosage was not available for a week. I kinda got a chuckle out of that. It told me that not many people take that small of a dose of Venlafaxine. I am truly thankful that this website and others have set up forums for us to speak safely and directly about our concerns for ourselves and for others who have true and factual experience with this. These places will hopefully help another human being to journey through it a little more gently knowing that there are others who have beat it and that it is indeed possible to withdraw and recover successfully.

REPLY
@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.

Jump to this post

I am sooooo sorry to hear about you….my heart goes out to you and I COMPLETELY understand. I hope the taper was not too large of a jump @poisonivy15. If you are feeling it was, you can discuss this with your doctors again and reevaluate choices. Yes sounds like you are in the throws of your last taper down. Yes noises sound louder and I actually heard some voices or like someone was calling me from another room a few times. Others have said this as well. The dizzy vertigo thing is the worst…..one time I got it when I was hiking in high mountains after missing a dose…..scary. I watched a lot of dark documentaries for awhile for some reason. Then I switched to building cabin type shows and nature documentaries….anything except the news. I ate lots of sweets and candy….my body craved all of it….and fast food etc. Thanks for the thank you. Now that I am feeling better and almost all of the way through it….I just want to make sure I show up for others. I think popsicles and ice cream helped a lot…..lots of cold things and anything that makes you feel comfortable… take care. I'll keep checking back.

REPLY
@lilmac44

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.

Jump to this post

@lilmac44 — what you said here about complaints being taken as a figment of your imagination made me think of what Connect member parus was saying in her discussion here: https://mayocl.in/2H1NIog. Thinking you might be interested in that thread.

REPLY

I am currently undergoing effexor detox. Went from 75mg to 37.5mg relatively easily until I tried to skip a day and then all hell broke loose. I am now on 18mg per day with little or no side effects. I'll stay on 18mg for a week or so and then drop down from there — to 9mg — and see what happens. The worst for me is the vertigo.

Liked by Effexfree4ever

REPLY

Hope vertigo goes away soon @vaivelo …..I have still experienced vertigo recently after almost two weeks completely off – not as bad though. It is a lighter form.

REPLY

I was desperate to try anything. I was so fat I couldn't "recognize" myself in the mirror. After ten years of "eating healthy" and watching my portions I was still bloating up and I lost all pleasure in food altogether. I'd given up the idea of giving up meds but I was determined to gain some form of control over my life and my health. I knew being overweight put me at risk for diabetes and I was scared my medication would end up shortening my lifespan.

So, after reading several well-researched books about healing through diet I decided to drop gluten, against my psychiatrist's advice, and despite my husband's objections. It takes guts to become a “fanatic” but, as I said, I was desperate.

After the first 5-7 days I couldn't believe how energized I felt. That's why, after a while I decided to just try to lower my doses of medication… And I did. Without any of the withdrawal symptoms, anxiety or depression I felt during all of my previous trials to either lower the dose or switch medication.

Months later, I am still stable, sleeping well, up early, not manic, and most of all not depressed or anxious. My brain works fine and I feel 10 years younger.

People still make comments about the weight loss but I'm no longer concerned about my weight: I just feel good. Simple.
Very quickly I also gave up sugar and coffee too. I was just too scared my brain would suffer any roller-coaster effects. I avoid dairy, and I stick with organic food to avoid OGMs.

My grocery bill has not gone up: more lentils and vegetables, less meat, and no packaged food.

Following the advice of a naturopathic doctor, I now take Moringa powder (multivitamin etc.) and Ashwagandaha powder (mood stabilizer), daily. I also take nutritional yeast (B vitamins) and ground flaxseed (Omega 3).

So I do not have any extra expenses with vitamins or supplements!

I don’t miss any of the old food. How could I? I love eating and I feel good. I couldn’t ask for more out of life. But my path started after 10 years of meds. I was desperate for a healthy change and I was lucky: I got way more than I bargained because I actually dropped my meds and gained both physical and psychological health with these diet changes.

Here’s a book you can start with:

A MIND OF YOUR OWN by Kelly Brogan, M.D. (psychiatrist), HarperCollins, 2016

Enjoy! And good luck on your own journeys.

REPLY

Wow! That’s great! What a hopeful story. May I ask what medication you were on and what dosage?

REPLY

Hi everyone, it's been so helpful to read this thread and see that I'm "normal" in my withdrawal process. Today i had to work really hard to stay calm, usually I do intense exercise classes at least 2x a week. But I got sick so it's been a few days, plus pmsing…yikes!

Was on citalopram for situational depression related to a bad work situation/job loss last year. It killed my libido, so my dr. Put me on effexor 37.5 XR. No drive there either, so my dr. Suggested a tapering plan and then switching to wellbutrin. I was and am ready to reduce my meds and commit to a healthier lifestyle, so I'm tapering down the Effexor. No plans to begin wellbutrin.

Besides irritability, my main struggle has been with skin picking. I have picked most of my life, and withdrawal has made the picking increase. Has anyone been in this situation? Have started NAC supplements today, and am trying to get in a support group….just want to know that it'll get better!

Liked by Effexfree4ever

REPLY

I’m so glad to have found this forum! I’m in week 3 of no Effexor. I only got 4 weeks to wean off from 150mg for 3 years for PTSD. I started out feeling nauseated and thought I was sick, then my brain started feeling like it was getting squeezed. This is the most horrible drug I’ve ever take. I’m an RN so most ideas to help are out. Weirdly enough, when I’m focused on my job (hospice educator so no worries of patient care, thank God!), I do a little better. But overall? Still dizzy, still nauseated, emotional…etc….same as the rest of you. I am not suicidal, and doubt I ever would be but God this is horrible! Absolutely the worst. Sometimes it feels like my face is getting sucked in. Weird huh? Anyway. Sadly, it’s good to know I’m not alone. I say sadly because it’s sad SO many of us are going through this. ILL TAKE THE PTSD over this any day.

REPLY

I have been taking 450MG once a day for several years now. It has taken away the anxiety issue that I had, however, I feel emotionally bland most of the time. Last night, I had a series of vivid, bizarre dreams. I woke my wife up at least 5 times by yelling out, and I wet the bed! I realized this morning that I missed by dose yesterday, and I thought this could have caused this horrid experience. Has anyone else ever experienced something like this? Thank you

Liked by nancy3756, exeffex

REPLY

I am glad to see the recent posts on this very old thread. I would like to share a portion of my journey as well. I was on 375mg for about 8 years, and felt very emotionally blunted – not interested in pursuing intimate relationships and such. I am also in a much different place in my life now, and wanted to see what the 'real' me really felt like again.

I designed a very basic titration schedule where I would taper 37.5 milligrams/dose every week. This was working great for a few weeks, and until I got down to 187.50mg. THEN, the withdrawal effects hit me like a ton of bricks – every symptom mentioned – severe tinnitus, headaches, sweats, nausea, tremor, diarrhea, and overwhelming feeling of fear, and anxiety unlike anything I had ever experienced. This went on for nearly a week, and I made a very important decision: There was NO WAY that I wanted to spend another 5 weeks of titration feeling like this.

This is where I am now: 150 mg/day. After this week, I am speeding up the process, and cutting to 75mg for 4 days, then 37.5 for 4 days, then done. I understand that this will be absolutely miserable, but I simply don't have the patience or the time in my life to spend 5 weeks as miserable as I feel right now. I hope I am doing the right thing, and time will tell. Thanks to everyone for sharing your journeys! I will try to stay in touch here.

Liked by nancy3756

REPLY

Best of strength to you. I pray for all the fellow drug addicts because of doctors. I am still clean. I do once in awhile get the brain charges going off if I have too much coffee. Working out”walking” at the gym has helped me tremendously

REPLY
Please login or register to post a reply.