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

Thanks, @poisonivy. We also have an incredible Kidney & Bladder group on Connect, https://connect.mayoclinic.org/group/kidney-conditions/ where many members have shared their experiences about coping and living with chronic kidney disease (CKD). Feel free to view the discussions and join in any of the conversations that interest you.

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@tambra

20 years on this drug. I have quit cold turkey and oh my lord. This is hell, the feelings I would get if I just missed a dose. Wow. This IS HELL . I just want to die it hurts so bad. Everything is firing inside my head. Oh why did I ever allow this to happen.

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Tambra, stop what you are doing and get professional advice. My psych tried weaning me off of Effexor after 14 years of taking it (divorce after 31 years of marriage and 5 years later my son took his life when he returned home from his third tour to Iraq.) The trick to weaning off of Effexor is to take it long and slooooooooow. My dr. tried to get me off of it in one month by decreasing the dosage by 1/4 each week. HORRIBLE MISTAKE! In my opinion, it should take 6-8 MONTHS to get off of this poisonous drug. I made the mistake of starting the process last October (the holidays are hell for me….what was I thinking??) and had no idea what to expect. On New Years Eve day I overdosed on Xanax and ended up in the hospital for 7 days (psych ward….NEVER go there). I was having such horrible gastric problems throwing up and diarreha (sp??) and I was having panic attack so badly I thought I was having a heart attack. I took the Xanax to try to sleep and lost track of how many I had taken. I sweated the most putrid smelling sweat I have ever smelled (gross, I know). What it was is all of the POISON escaping from my body and what didn't pass through my gastro system came out through my pours. I lost 27 lbs in a MONTH. Even though I complained to my dr. about what happened, she said, "You're going to have to stick it out or go back on it." WTH? As she decreased the Effexor she slowly moved me on to Lexapro. My intent is to get off of ALL medications, PERIOD. If you read up on Effexor, you will find a myriad of other physical problems it causes. What really woke me up and made me decide to get off of it is that during an annual exam my PCP found "considerable amounts" of blood in my urine. CONSIDERABLE. That scared the bejeebers out of me and that's when I started researching what a poisonous drug Effexor is. No matter how long term you take it. After my son passed away I think I laid in bed for five years. I retired, had very little family support and gained 45 lbs. I was a mess and so was everything else in my life. And the sad part is, I didn't even care. I still struggle with chronic fatigue which I am working with an endocrinologist to see what's going on there but I continue to have gastric problems that doctors can't seem to find the cause of. And I'm scared to death that taking this medication has caused life-long physical problems for me. Another HUGE side effect of Effexor is high bp. I know I was overweight but my bp hovered around 200/90 even taking bp medication. No matter what I did, the weight wouldn't come off. Like I said above, I lost 27 lbs in 2 months. SCARY. What I have learned from this experience is that I'm going the natural route of physical ailments from here on out and am limiting even taking a Tylenol for a headache! Big pharma doesn't make meds to heal us….they make meds to keep us sick and thus keep the $$$ rolling in. My best advice is to research Effexor (it took the FDA 14 years to approve it….what does THAT tell you?) and truly take some time to get off of it. I wouldn't ever recommend going cold turkey or even doing it in a month or two. It takes your body a long, long, long time to get it out of its system and the longer it takes, the lesser the withdrawal. I am now almost 6 months out from beginning the detox and I pray to God that my health continues to improve. I am 60 years old, retired and want to find some kind of peace and happiness on this earth before I leave….

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@tambra

20 years on this drug. I have quit cold turkey and oh my lord. This is hell, the feelings I would get if I just missed a dose. Wow. This IS HELL . I just want to die it hurts so bad. Everything is firing inside my head. Oh why did I ever allow this to happen.

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You may not know it but you are truly a hero and are so much stronger than you realise! You have been through hell but somehow you have found the strength to hang in there and I think your post will inspire others who are going through a bad time. Stay strong!
Best Wishes
Ainsleigh

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@tambra

20 years on this drug. I have quit cold turkey and oh my lord. This is hell, the feelings I would get if I just missed a dose. Wow. This IS HELL . I just want to die it hurts so bad. Everything is firing inside my head. Oh why did I ever allow this to happen.

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@sadiesmom what an ordeal you have gone through. I hope that you continue to get better and off of these miserable drugs.
JK

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@tambra

20 years on this drug. I have quit cold turkey and oh my lord. This is hell, the feelings I would get if I just missed a dose. Wow. This IS HELL . I just want to die it hurts so bad. Everything is firing inside my head. Oh why did I ever allow this to happen.

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Awe. Thank you. Truly I’m just an old woman that must get control over my health and my direction in life. I choose to be in the gym and no in the wheelchair

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I came across a discussion about Effexor withdrawal, but once I signed up, I can't find it. I am having so many symptoms, I can barely function. What are some tips? I am dizzy, extremely fatigued (which is one reason I tapered off), Anxiety through the roof that is causing my heart rate to be up and some nausea. I feel like I need to go 100 miles an hour at the same time of not being able to move because I am so tired and dizzy. I can not go back on. My doctor and I decided it is not helping me. I am to go to a depression/Anxiety/eating disorder specialist. But until I go in, I can't function like this. I am taking care of my grandmother with dementia and a teenage son.

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Hello, @hezz — welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. I'm pretty confident this is the discussion you'd wanted to locate.

I'd encourage you to look back through this discussion for some of the experiences of others who've faced some of the same very tough withdrawal symptoms coming off venlafaxine (Effexor). I think members here like @gailb, @stressedmesseddepressed, @lisabee, @panewdayphyl @vdandy @lukekee @sadiesmom @jimhd may have some thoughts for you as you are trying to manage these symptoms.

@hezz — sounds like you have quite a bit of responsibilities taking care of others at home now. Do you have friends or other relatives who could provide some support for you as you go through this process of coming off venlafaxine (Effexor)?

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@lisalucier

Hello, @hezz — welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. I'm pretty confident this is the discussion you'd wanted to locate.

I'd encourage you to look back through this discussion for some of the experiences of others who've faced some of the same very tough withdrawal symptoms coming off venlafaxine (Effexor). I think members here like @gailb, @stressedmesseddepressed, @lisabee, @panewdayphyl @vdandy @lukekee @sadiesmom @jimhd may have some thoughts for you as you are trying to manage these symptoms.

@hezz — sounds like you have quite a bit of responsibilities taking care of others at home now. Do you have friends or other relatives who could provide some support for you as you go through this process of coming off venlafaxine (Effexor)?

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Thank You very much for the reply. I will look through it. When I can, I take my Xanax which seems to help. Luckily I am not taking care of my grandma 24/7. My family members are rotating shifts. And for dealing with a teenager, my husband normally helps me when I can't deal with him being teenager-like, but his work has him working all over the state and weird hours. I am looking forward to thursday as that is a day to myself while my son is at school. But holy cow, feeling this extreme in so many different ways is insane and hard to handle!

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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 gained a ton of weight too. not happy

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@hwilson7

My bad test results a month ago indicated that my liver was suffering damage from medication and was triggering autoimmune hepatitis. I’ve been reducing my medications ever since. I take a series of supplements and vitamins to help me get off the 375mg Effexor XR I’ve been taking for 12 years. I would recommend that anyone following this protocol take the supplements and vitamins for a month before trying to reduce your Effexor; also, make sure you are doing so under a doctor’s supervision in case there are any reactions to the supplements. Lastly, this protocol has helped me avoid any physical symptoms of withdrawal. It is important to be aware of emotional symptoms when coming off antidepressants. If you start having intense emotional symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.

I have been reducing my Effexor by 75mg every 4-5days. It has always been beneficial for me to split my dose throughout the day. In other words, if I am taking 300mg, I take 150mg morning and night to keep the dose steady throughout the day. Now that I am taking 37.5mg, I am taking the dose only in the morning. I have only a few more days at 37.5mg before I come off the drug completely. I am also following the Paleo diet (recommended by my doctor for the autoimmune hepatitis) and exercise with cardio and weight training 4-5 times per week.

This is my daily medication protocol as of today:
Morning (taken first thing in the morning without food)
1 cap Vitamin D3 1000 UI
1 cap L-Tyrosine 750mg (to boost dopamine production in the brain)
2 cap probiotics (I take Dr. Tobias Deep Immune Probiotics, 4.4 billion)
1 cap Vitamin B6 100mg (to assist the L-Tyrosine)
1 cap Effexor 37.5mg

Night (taken at least one hour before bedtime)
1 cap L-Tryptophan 500mg (to boost serotonin production in the brain)
2 cap Omega 3 Fish Oil (I take Dr. Tobias Omega 3 2000mg Fish Oil w/ 1400mg Omega 3s – 800mg EPA, 600mg DHA)
2 cap Choline/Inositol 500mg/500mg (more a supplement for my Paleo diet, but I wanted to include it here as well)
1 cap Viatmin B6 100mg (to assist the L-Tryptophan)
1 cap multivitamin (I take Centrum Woman as it contains iodine for healthy thyroid support)

To assist with any anxiety, I have a prescription for 25mg Seroquel to use on an as-needed basis. I have only been needing the Seroquel rarely but when I do take it, I take it right before bedtime. I purchased all the supplements and vitamins from Amazon as they had the best selection and fastest shipping. I hope this information is helpful. I came up with this list through research into reducing Effexor and looking at supplements that can help boost neurotransmitters in the brain. If there are any questions about this series of supplements that I am taking, please message me or reply and let me know. Thanks.

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omg, so much of what you said were you symptoms being on Effexor is what I was experiencing. Quick and severe weight gain/creation of eating disorders, sweating, constant lethargy, my depression is worse where I don't want to do things I love, social anxiety is worse. the withdraw symptoms are even worse. I just want to be healthy and happy.

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@tambra

20 years on this drug. I have quit cold turkey and oh my lord. This is hell, the feelings I would get if I just missed a dose. Wow. This IS HELL . I just want to die it hurts so bad. Everything is firing inside my head. Oh why did I ever allow this to happen.

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Hi, @tambra — wanted to add my welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. Sounds like it's been really rough going off the venlafaxine (Effexor) cold turkey.

I also wanted to be sure you met @richyrich @lisabee @wtrescott @imfu and @missjill87 so they can tell you about their experiences with going off venlafaxine (Effexor) abruptly. I also thought you'd like to meet @rachelmfree @lindmissi @gman007 and @jimhd.

Also wanted to touch base with you and see how things are going so far this week with stopping the venlafaxine (Effexor). Are you still having really challenging symptoms?

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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!!!

Jump to this post

I started weaning off of Effexor back in October and since then I have lost 30 lbs without even trying. When I was taking the Effexor I CRAVED sugar, many times eating a whole bag of donuts or a carton of ice cream in one sitting. I also craved MILK drinking close to a gallon a day. I no longer crave the sugar or the milk. I am eating much more healthy and learning to make better choices. The Effexor must trigger something in the brain to crave sugar and carbs. I still have about 20 more lbs to go as I gained FIFTY POUNDS in the last 6 years on the Effexor. This medication is nothing to fool around with. I am experiencing gastro problems and my dr seems to think it's from the long term use of the Effexor. My adrenal and liver health (I don't drink any alcohol at all and never have) is compromised and he also thinks that is a result of taking the Effexor. My fatigue continues to be bothersome but I contribute a lot of that to depression as I lost my son 6 years ago after he served three tours in Iraq. He took his life on 1/3/12. I know I will never, ever get over the pain of losing him but I have a beautiful daughter that needs a good mom….I have to keep trying to get better for her and her family. Best of luck to everyone who ever come into contact with this poisonous drug….it turns your life upside down when you start taking it and turns it inside out when you try to get off of it.

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