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

@ksad

Yes! There seems to be a sort of second reckoning when the positives that come with getting a prescribed drug out of your life are replaced with symptoms that say you cant manage without them. I feel like I survived something awful and broke free but the dark starts taking over again and I blame myself for not doing it right, not doing life right. I am not sleeping enough (10 hrs?), not eating as I should (not totally 100% clean), not avoiding triggers ( family, responsibilities, work issues all still exist), and not exercising enough. I feel awful and I was supposed to be better.

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Interestingly, my mind is doing well in clarity of thought and even in decision making. My brain and body are the ones taking the real beating right now.
I've been uncharacteristically hyper-disciplined in my diet too! (pre-biotic/pro-biotic/fermented/non-red meat and cruelty-free protein sources) balanced diet. SAM-e twice a day, melatonin when needed (lately), daily meditation, stretching, yoga, frequent walking and almost every conscious thought resolves on a positive note even if it didn't begin as one (no matter how long it takes). Plus, I'm facing and accepting my life like I've never done before and am growing exponentially because of it!
Ultimately though, I fear that even with this herculean effort to rid myself of this dependency, the crushing withdrawal symptoms of 'wanting to crawl out of my skin' feeling to 'brain slams' may be too much for me to function normally. I really thought after 8 weeks being dose-free, I would be over these horrible withdrawal symptoms. I'm trying to rid myself in every way imaginable but to no avail.I will keep trying as long as I can though! Be well now ksad!

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@tgbobbi

Interestingly, my mind is doing well in clarity of thought and even in decision making. My brain and body are the ones taking the real beating right now.
I've been uncharacteristically hyper-disciplined in my diet too! (pre-biotic/pro-biotic/fermented/non-red meat and cruelty-free protein sources) balanced diet. SAM-e twice a day, melatonin when needed (lately), daily meditation, stretching, yoga, frequent walking and almost every conscious thought resolves on a positive note even if it didn't begin as one (no matter how long it takes). Plus, I'm facing and accepting my life like I've never done before and am growing exponentially because of it!
Ultimately though, I fear that even with this herculean effort to rid myself of this dependency, the crushing withdrawal symptoms of 'wanting to crawl out of my skin' feeling to 'brain slams' may be too much for me to function normally. I really thought after 8 weeks being dose-free, I would be over these horrible withdrawal symptoms. I'm trying to rid myself in every way imaginable but to no avail.I will keep trying as long as I can though! Be well now ksad!

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Admire your hopefulness and dedication. You want to be better and that wins all the battles, on every level. Maybe some people dont have enough of that desire, or maybe they dont believe it can happen. Questioning that and realizing I dont have what it takes and even if I did, am I up for a fight this big, all the time?

Liked by texasduchess

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This Effexor dependency is too sad. What are these doctors thinking when they prescribe this? This drug needs to be taken off the market.

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@ksad
@tgbobbi
@harrington
I was on Effexor for 18 years (25mg for hot flashes)–be aware that it gets stored in body fat; you're not really off Effexor UNTIL that gets used up as well.

Antidepressants are VERY powerful; Effexor affects your brain's neurotransmitters–serotonin and norepinephrine. While reducing, or after getting off Effexor, it takes your brain a while to figure out how to rebalance serotonin and norepinephrine. Some of us even experience extended withdrawal symptoms (PAWS). I have been off Effexor for two+ years; I STILL occasionally have episodes of anxiety and agitation, but my withdrawal effects have improved GREATLY. If it weren't for COVID-19 lockdown isolation and no longer having the distraction of work, I'd probably not even notice them.

My withdrawal symptoms didn't begin until about six weeks after my last tapered dose. I was prescribed Valium short-term by a Care Now doctor when my akathisia and anxiety became overwhelming. She had me take 5mg Valium twice a day for three days straight (I stayed home from work) to "get ahead of the anxiety." Her "get ahead of it" strategy was pretty effective, but she prescribed 15 more tablets to use as needed and I'll take a half for those occasional episodes if they seem to be building.

I did not want to rely on Valium and through trial-and-error came up with a number of OTC medications and supplements that help me and have listed the supplements I take in previous posts (click on my name to go back through and read). The most helpful are l-tryptophan (DO NOT take while still on Effexor) and GABA. Ben*dryl, Bon*ine, or other seasickness remedies can reduce/minimize the dizziness/vertigo. Fish oil may be more helpful than krill oil for brain zaps. Here's a good article re how to mitigate withdrawal effects with supplements–https://www.4mind4life.com/effexor-withdrawal-symptoms.

Back in December, @cp6401 used the term "stress fragile" to describe how so many of us are during the process of getting off/reducing Effexor and even, afterwards. Distraction helps—reading, hobbies, work, chores, gardening, exercise, etc. I am mindful of what I watch (nothing frenetic, violent, or disturbing), read (cozy mysteries, or romances), or listen to (no atonal, or dissonant music)–some things are just too agitating. Also, very important–I learned how beneficial getting natural light to my eyes is to lifting my mood and calming me. I'm not suggesting sunbathing, but getting out and seeing daylight–take a walk, or at least, get out of your house for 5–10 minutes, even if it's just stepping out onto a patio.

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@linxy

I went off Venlafaxine 4 weeks ago after being on it for several years. I tapered down from 225 to 75 myself, it was really ok. But i couldn’t get down to 37.5 without getting brain zaps, nausea, headaches, insomnia, trembling, anxiety and all the rest. I went to see a psychiatrist who booked me into hospital for a couple of days to help me get off and to monitor me. For the first 2 days he put me on 37.5, then and from day 3 nothing. From day 1 though he put me on Urbanol that helped with anxiety, Aropax SR 25 mg, pain meds and nausea meds as necessary, Biotrazadone 100mg at night, Disipal that helped with the brainzaps and shaking and Inderal. Using those meds really helped a lot, i only experienced slight brain zaps, a little bit of nausea, diarrhea and vertigo, nothing as severe as when i tried to go of Venlafaxine by myself. Im off it now and adter a month i only get slight brain zaps occasionally, feeling a little weak and tired but nothing too bad. I could stop using Disipal, Inderal, pain and nausea meds.

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My experience sounds very similar to yours. I break the tablets up within the capsules to lower the dose extremely slowly. I’m down to a smidgeon but still get side effects if I am late with the dose. (nausea, vertigo and brain zaps) I’m limited to the doctors I can access and the ones I see just treat me as neurotic and show no interest in researching side effects other than saying you shouldn’t go cold turkey. They offer other drugs. I was put on it for hot flushes. It is a bad drug and being dished out without the proper research being conducted into the significant life changing withdrawal symptoms.
I suggest that doctors take it for a month during their training and try coming off it. It would soon disappear off the prescribed drugs list. It may save some lives by turning you into a zombie, but I bet it has taken many more. My husband said he could have told me the house burnt down and I would have replied “Oh well", and smiled. Inside I was just waiting to die. It should not be legal, especially to the young whose whole lives could be ruined. If I was going out to work at the moment I don’t know how I would cope….and all because I sort help for menopausal hot flushes.
Depression is part of life and being with family or friends and getting out of the house is the best treatment in my experience. All the very best to everyone and let’s hope this discussion and others like it prompt researchers to look more closely at the terrible withdrawal experience of many venlafaxine users.

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@eoz

My experience sounds very similar to yours. I break the tablets up within the capsules to lower the dose extremely slowly. I’m down to a smidgeon but still get side effects if I am late with the dose. (nausea, vertigo and brain zaps) I’m limited to the doctors I can access and the ones I see just treat me as neurotic and show no interest in researching side effects other than saying you shouldn’t go cold turkey. They offer other drugs. I was put on it for hot flushes. It is a bad drug and being dished out without the proper research being conducted into the significant life changing withdrawal symptoms.
I suggest that doctors take it for a month during their training and try coming off it. It would soon disappear off the prescribed drugs list. It may save some lives by turning you into a zombie, but I bet it has taken many more. My husband said he could have told me the house burnt down and I would have replied “Oh well", and smiled. Inside I was just waiting to die. It should not be legal, especially to the young whose whole lives could be ruined. If I was going out to work at the moment I don’t know how I would cope….and all because I sort help for menopausal hot flushes.
Depression is part of life and being with family or friends and getting out of the house is the best treatment in my experience. All the very best to everyone and let’s hope this discussion and others like it prompt researchers to look more closely at the terrible withdrawal experience of many venlafaxine users.

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I meant sought help 🙂

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@eoz

My experience sounds very similar to yours. I break the tablets up within the capsules to lower the dose extremely slowly. I’m down to a smidgeon but still get side effects if I am late with the dose. (nausea, vertigo and brain zaps) I’m limited to the doctors I can access and the ones I see just treat me as neurotic and show no interest in researching side effects other than saying you shouldn’t go cold turkey. They offer other drugs. I was put on it for hot flushes. It is a bad drug and being dished out without the proper research being conducted into the significant life changing withdrawal symptoms.
I suggest that doctors take it for a month during their training and try coming off it. It would soon disappear off the prescribed drugs list. It may save some lives by turning you into a zombie, but I bet it has taken many more. My husband said he could have told me the house burnt down and I would have replied “Oh well", and smiled. Inside I was just waiting to die. It should not be legal, especially to the young whose whole lives could be ruined. If I was going out to work at the moment I don’t know how I would cope….and all because I sort help for menopausal hot flushes.
Depression is part of life and being with family or friends and getting out of the house is the best treatment in my experience. All the very best to everyone and let’s hope this discussion and others like it prompt researchers to look more closely at the terrible withdrawal experience of many venlafaxine users.

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Welcome @eoz. I noticed that you wished to post a URL to a web resource with your post. You will be able to add URLs to your posts in a few days. There is a brief period where new members can't post links. We do this to deter spammers and keep the community safe. Clearly the link you wanted to post is not spam, so I added it to your post and here.

– Withdrawal Symptoms after Serotonin-Noradrenaline Reuptake Inhibitor Discontinuation: Systematic Review https://www.karger.com/Article/FullText/491524

Can you share what you found enlightening in this systematic review? How long have you been tapering off Effexor?

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Hi,

The following is the important message to physicians and their training institutes. This review identifies many unanswered questions around the use of Venlafaxine. It identifies that different users will have different experiences and as yet there is no way of identifying how users will be affected. At the moment, patients like myself, are akin to laboratory guinea pigs, but without the benefit of anyone studying us to see what is going on. I am not happy that so many individuals are being treated like this.

"Clinicians are familiar with the withdrawal phenomena that may occur from alcohol, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, opioids, and stimulants [81]. The results of this review indicate that they need to add SNRI to the list of drugs potentially inducing withdrawal phenomena, as was found to be the case with SSRI [2], and the physician should exercise caution when prescribing them (particularly venlafaxine and desvenlafaxine) in mood and anxiety disorders. Considerable attention should also be used in the setting of chronic pain (e.g. duloxetine [82]), functional medical disorders and menopausal symptoms.”

I intend to contact the therapeutic goods administration and enquire as to what studies were used to inform them of Venlafaxine's safety. (I’ll try anyway)

I have been tapering off for three weeks now and during that time have educated myself on what venlafaxine actually does…..leaves serotonin floating around the brain. I highly recommend to the Mayo Clinic to produce animated videos of what these mind altering drugs do, so that patients, that walk back out onto the street, can make informed decisions and are given a cooling off period to decide whether they wish to go ahead.

There needs to be much tighter protocols around the use of Venlafaxine if we are to maintain our trust in physicians.

All the best

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@eoz
How are you tapering?
Jake

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The capsules I got have three small capsules inside so I began with 2 1/2 then 2 1/4 and so on.I had already come down from 75mg to 37.5mg. Be very careful about dispensing with the leftovers. Some capsules have granules, so this is harder. Mine was Effexor so hopefully yours have capsules.

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@colleenyoung

Welcome @eoz. I noticed that you wished to post a URL to a web resource with your post. You will be able to add URLs to your posts in a few days. There is a brief period where new members can't post links. We do this to deter spammers and keep the community safe. Clearly the link you wanted to post is not spam, so I added it to your post and here.

– Withdrawal Symptoms after Serotonin-Noradrenaline Reuptake Inhibitor Discontinuation: Systematic Review https://www.karger.com/Article/FullText/491524

Can you share what you found enlightening in this systematic review? How long have you been tapering off Effexor?

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Colleen, Thank you for posting the URL submitted by @eoz. The only problem is the print is horrible for me to even try to read. Did other people have that problem? I think it's all in capital letters which are running into each other. That's the only way I know how to describe it. I have been prescribed some of these meds and some of them I had filled, read the paperwork, then I shoved them in a drawer and never took them. I didn't realize some of the feelings I had were actually symptoms of taking and stopping the prescriptions. I just thought I was a mental case.

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@woogie

Colleen, Thank you for posting the URL submitted by @eoz. The only problem is the print is horrible for me to even try to read. Did other people have that problem? I think it's all in capital letters which are running into each other. That's the only way I know how to describe it. I have been prescribed some of these meds and some of them I had filled, read the paperwork, then I shoved them in a drawer and never took them. I didn't realize some of the feelings I had were actually symptoms of taking and stopping the prescriptions. I just thought I was a mental case.

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Have any of you experienced this emotional response from taking Ambien to sleep at night? I love Ambien because I go to sleep and stay asleep. But, I became an emotional mess during the day. I would cry for no apparent reason. I was not handling any situation well. I took myself off of it. I saw this same symptom in my two sisters and advised them to stop taking it and they did.

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@woogie

Colleen, Thank you for posting the URL submitted by @eoz. The only problem is the print is horrible for me to even try to read. Did other people have that problem? I think it's all in capital letters which are running into each other. That's the only way I know how to describe it. I have been prescribed some of these meds and some of them I had filled, read the paperwork, then I shoved them in a drawer and never took them. I didn't realize some of the feelings I had were actually symptoms of taking and stopping the prescriptions. I just thought I was a mental case.

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Hi @woogie, the document reads well for me on my computer. Are you looking at it on a computer screen or on a phone?
You can try this PDF format, which may work better for you on a computer. It won't read easily on a mobile device. https://www.karger.com/Article/PDF/491524

Liked by texasduchess

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Hi @woogie I clicked on the link that Colleen shared and it seems to be in normal text. I do see where the PDF would be a little hard to read as the print is small, but if you switch to the tab that says full text, you can read it on the same page in larger print.

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Hi @littlesue and welcome to Connect. Congratulations on taking yourself off of the medication. According to The Addiction Center, Ambien is known to cause severe mood swings. I have included two discussions here on Connect that are discussing Ambien. Perhaps you would like to ask your question in these forums to seek the opinion of members that are currently using or have weened off of Ambien.

Ween Off Ambien with Melatonin – https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/weenoff-ambian-with-melatonin/

Switching Sleep Meds Nightmare Ambien vs. Amitriptyline – https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/switching-sleep-meds-nightmare-ambien-vs-amitriptyline/

@littlesue are you also currently taking Effexor? What is your experience with the medication?

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