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

I don’t understand why doc would prescribe Effexor for hot flashes? But evidently it happens. If you’d like to try to go off again, I weened ridiculously slowly and successfully. But again, sometimes at a certain point in life, it’s just easier.

This morning (after my first dose of seroquel last night) I was tired and groggy but (believe it or not) that’s all. No tummy jingles of anxiety. Which is a beautiful thing.

I had a close friend who was so anxious she drank like a fish and threw up every morning. She never sought help from a doctor. She was smart and successful and never made it to her 39th birthday. Turns out she had an undiagnosed heart problem.

Maybe had she been to the doc more often the doc would have found it. Who knows and it doesn’t matter now.

And the operative word is what matters NOW because that’s all we have.

Hugs and gratitude.

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@careth2

Hi there! I am new to Connect, but hopefully can offer some insight. I DID go off 150 Effexor XR (name brand) COLD TURKEY on January 2016. I survived it, but will never in my life EVER go off ANY antidepressant cold turkey. I had taken Effexor for at least 8 years, Zoloft prior to that and and Imipramine (sp?) as the first antidepressant (in all 25+ years on antidepressants.) It all started with running out of meds over a long weekend and deciding it was time to try to get off antidepressants to see how I would do. Since I had recently retired from teaching, thought this would be an ideal time to give it a go. In addition, Effexor just wasn’t helping all that much anymore (I thought.) The first 3 days I felt like I was going to die! When I realized that I wasn’t dying, decided to keep going to get it all over with. In addition to the symptoms you have heard about, I had deep bone/joint pain that felt like I was being pinched with clamps. Also had skin sensations and peeling, and noticed a strange smell on my skin. Each day got a little better and by the 3rd week started to function a bit more normally. I was very emotional, however, which caused my family great concern. Well, to make a long story short, the depression crept back in full and I am still trying to get my life back. I did everything I could to stay stable, including herbal supplements and took a vacation where I hiked 6 miles daily for 9 days on hilly, rocky terrain. I finally had to accept that I’m a person who will need antidepressants for the rest of my life. With the help of a PCP and counselor, I am on my 3rd antidepressant & may need to resort to going back on Effexor, because nothing seems to be working. All in all, in my opinion, the chronic depression is worse than the withdrawal symptoms that do eventually end. If you are a person with situational depression, you may be successful weaning off Effexor gradually. If I were to do it again, that’s what I would do (while replacing Effexor with something else.) Here are the things that helped me with the physical withdrawal symptoms:
1. Get plenty of sleep/rest.
2. Eat a very well-balanced diet (this is not the time to worry about your weight.) Lots of soup & easy to digest foods the 1st few days.
3. Drink plenty of water, including coconut water.
4. Have a glass of wine in the evening (if advisable.)
5. Get outside and walk or other excersize (the warm sunshine will feel good!)
6. Hot yoga 3-4 times per week. Stay in class even if you feel nauseous & can only do a few postures.
7. Soak in a hot tub (with bath salts if available.)
8. Use a good moisturizer on face & body several times per day.
9. Get several professional massages.
10. Take Tylenol for muscle pain, if OK on your stomach.
11. A heating pad is also helpful at bedtime or during naps.
12. If you are single & live alone, make sure a few trusted friends/family members know what you are doing.
13. In general, be kind & gentle to yourself.
14. NEVER give up! Keep going, even when you don’t feel like it (which will be often.) YOU ARE WORTH IT!!!

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I was on effexor and many other SSRIS SSNIs etc. I was a zombie so I went off of everything by myself. I went to the hospital and went on a mood stabilizer, "Lamictal" and there are newer ones out there. I was either happy or really sad and felt no joy. The mood stabilizer helps the dopamine in your brain and it changed my life. I felt joy, I wasn't tired, I didn't gain weight, I didn't have restless legs anymore. Good luck to you.

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Thank you! I hope this works! I’m kind of tired this morning but otherwise calm. I am functioning, thank God. Mostly I worry about being “there” for my child!

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@richyrich

Thanks Nankee99. Reassuring to know that it’s not just me who finds getting off the stuff a horrendous experience. Feedback on this blog is reassuring to the extent that it makes you realise that an exit from the drug is possible, albeit very difficult. What about stopping without tapering and going cold turkey. Quicker but more painful?

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Don't go cold turkey. I honestly believe it could kill you. It took me 8 months. I've been off 4 1/2 months now. You can do it, but go slowly!

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@secretwhitepop

I don’t understand why doc would prescribe Effexor for hot flashes? But evidently it happens. If you’d like to try to go off again, I weened ridiculously slowly and successfully. But again, sometimes at a certain point in life, it’s just easier.

This morning (after my first dose of seroquel last night) I was tired and groggy but (believe it or not) that’s all. No tummy jingles of anxiety. Which is a beautiful thing.

I had a close friend who was so anxious she drank like a fish and threw up every morning. She never sought help from a doctor. She was smart and successful and never made it to her 39th birthday. Turns out she had an undiagnosed heart problem.

Maybe had she been to the doc more often the doc would have found it. Who knows and it doesn’t matter now.

And the operative word is what matters NOW because that’s all we have.

Hugs and gratitude.

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@secretwhitepop
Off label use of Effexor to minimize/reduce hot flashes is very common–especially for women like me (breast cancer survivor) who cannot use hormones to deal with them. At very lose doses, it works really well for this (I was on just 25mg regular release). Conversely, people on high/higher doses of Effexor may find that they sweat a lot/too much.

Hope the Seroquel continues to work well for you.

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@terri672

Don't go cold turkey. I honestly believe it could kill you. It took me 8 months. I've been off 4 1/2 months now. You can do it, but go slowly!

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He started on his own wheening himself off because the VA was unaware of helping him. Now he had the psychiatrist take it down somemore

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The weird gut feeling which is kind of like anxiety but I'm thinking more its withdrawal side effects (the serotonin affects the gut too), comes and goes. At two months off effexor now, it seems to hit in mid day, probably when I'm tired. The vistaril prescribed helps somewhat. I'm thinking maybe a probiotic? Anyone have suggestions for that?

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@sandij

The weird gut feeling which is kind of like anxiety but I'm thinking more its withdrawal side effects (the serotonin affects the gut too), comes and goes. At two months off effexor now, it seems to hit in mid day, probably when I'm tired. The vistaril prescribed helps somewhat. I'm thinking maybe a probiotic? Anyone have suggestions for that?

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@sandij
To minimize the anxiety I've developed as a withdrawal symptom, I supplement with L*dtke l-tryptophan, l-methylfolate (a prescription B vitamin), ashwaganda, Solg*r GABA and l-arginine (helps the L-tryptophan and GABA). Sometimes, I get a definite shaky, "squiggly" feeling in my chest that I think is a rush of adrenaline and a 25mg Ben*dryl often eases that bothersome, inexplicable fight/flight reaction. Even so, every 4.5 to 6 weeks, when my supplements aren't enough, I take one to two halves of my prescribed 10mg Valium.

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We adapt as humans. So thankful for Neuroplasticity!!!
#ThinkTherapy

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Has anyone used either Benadryl or Prozac to minimize withdrawal symptoms? My 17-year old has gone from 150mg to 40-ish mg of Venlafaxine but has hit a wall and we're having trouble going any lower without causing significant issues like headaches, extreme fatigue and insomnia. She feels well emotionally but the physical symptoms are taking a toll. I've heard that Prozac can help, but when I looked it up in the PDR it does not recommend that the two be taken together because of serotonin syndrome. Does anyone have advice about how to help us?

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@mommapsych , I took Prozac after 1 week after stopping Effexor for the withdrawal symptoms I was having. I didn’t take it with Effexor. It helped me for a while, but then quit taking it, as it exasperated the anxiety I was feeling. I took Abilify, May have spelled that wrong, with the Effexor and it did help as well. Praying for you and your daughter. It is a rough road, but there is a pot of gold at the end of the journey.

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@mommapsych

Has anyone used either Benadryl or Prozac to minimize withdrawal symptoms? My 17-year old has gone from 150mg to 40-ish mg of Venlafaxine but has hit a wall and we're having trouble going any lower without causing significant issues like headaches, extreme fatigue and insomnia. She feels well emotionally but the physical symptoms are taking a toll. I've heard that Prozac can help, but when I looked it up in the PDR it does not recommend that the two be taken together because of serotonin syndrome. Does anyone have advice about how to help us?

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I'm using vistaril instead of benadryl, its lessening the symptoms but to be honest, the last week has been rough. I really dont want to resort to another antidepressant while I'm in withdrawal though. It seems like ibuprofen helps too. Good luck, this is a tough road and it can be done!

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