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

@elecia87

I have treatment resistant depression. Been on Effexor 225mg for over 2years now and it’s been going well. However, I no longer have medical aid and the meds are extremely expensive. So I decided to cold turkey. I’m only on day 2 now and it feels like I’m dying. I hate it, and I’ve been extremely emotional and snappy. Nauseous and anxious. The list goes on. How do I minimise withdrawal symptoms.

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It’s real bad. Decided to go back on it. Cold turkey is obviously not a good thing. For the first time in years, I cried myself to sleep and woke up crying too…

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@elecia87

I have treatment resistant depression. Been on Effexor 225mg for over 2years now and it’s been going well. However, I no longer have medical aid and the meds are extremely expensive. So I decided to cold turkey. I’m only on day 2 now and it feels like I’m dying. I hate it, and I’ve been extremely emotional and snappy. Nauseous and anxious. The list goes on. How do I minimise withdrawal symptoms.

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I’m truly sorry, @elecia87 . Crying, though we might not like it, is therapeutic. It has been so for me. I often feel tears welling up inside, but because of childhood conditioning, the tears don’t come. Maybe you’ll find the crying a healthy thing, like a friend?

Can you restart at a lower dosage? Maybe you’ll find, as I did, that you won’t need as much.

Have you been feeling better with Effexor? When I told my doctor that I couldn’t afford it, we tried a less expensive med. Many drug companies offer financial aid, sometimes even covering the whole cost. I could have applied for and received help for Lyrica. Unfortunately, before I did, I had a bad reaction to it, and spent a couple of nights in the hospital. It may not be new enough for a doctor to have free samples, but several times, doctors have known my low income level, and have given me lots of samples. Sometimes you just have to ask.

I’d really encourage you to go to the Effexor website and look for financial assistance.

Keep in mind the idea of restarting gradually, same as going off a med.

Jim

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@elecia87

I have treatment resistant depression. Been on Effexor 225mg for over 2years now and it’s been going well. However, I no longer have medical aid and the meds are extremely expensive. So I decided to cold turkey. I’m only on day 2 now and it feels like I’m dying. I hate it, and I’ve been extremely emotional and snappy. Nauseous and anxious. The list goes on. How do I minimise withdrawal symptoms.

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Hello @elecia87

I agree with Jim, @jimhd, “cold turkey” is not a good idea when going off/on meds. “Gradual” should be the key word. Are your meds in tablet form so that they can be cut in half? Check with your pharmacist to see if this is a drug that can be split up without a problem. Also remember that these meds for depression/anxiety often fill a need in our brains for a chemical(s) that are in low supply or not there at all. Here is an easy to understand article about why and how antidepressants work, https://www.webmd.com/depression/how-different-antidepressants-work#1

Teresa

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@elecia87

I have treatment resistant depression. Been on Effexor 225mg for over 2years now and it’s been going well. However, I no longer have medical aid and the meds are extremely expensive. So I decided to cold turkey. I’m only on day 2 now and it feels like I’m dying. I hate it, and I’ve been extremely emotional and snappy. Nauseous and anxious. The list goes on. How do I minimise withdrawal symptoms.

Jump to this post

We only have the capsules here.
Thanx all for the help. Ive spoken to my psychiatrist and my psychologist too and now have to face facts that I’ll be on them for the rest of my life.

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@elecia87

I have treatment resistant depression. Been on Effexor 225mg for over 2years now and it’s been going well. However, I no longer have medical aid and the meds are extremely expensive. So I decided to cold turkey. I’m only on day 2 now and it feels like I’m dying. I hate it, and I’ve been extremely emotional and snappy. Nauseous and anxious. The list goes on. How do I minimise withdrawal symptoms.

Jump to this post

@elecia87

I’m glad to hear that you have come to some resolution, that is a good thing. Did you read the article that I posted earlier, https://www.webmd.com/depression/how-different-antidepressants-work#1 ? It really does explain how these meds do help people with the chemical deficiencies in the brain.

ITeresa

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@elecia87

I have treatment resistant depression. Been on Effexor 225mg for over 2years now and it’s been going well. However, I no longer have medical aid and the meds are extremely expensive. So I decided to cold turkey. I’m only on day 2 now and it feels like I’m dying. I hate it, and I’ve been extremely emotional and snappy. Nauseous and anxious. The list goes on. How do I minimise withdrawal symptoms.

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@hopeful33250
Yes I did. Thank you very much. Will also help my partner understand why it is necessary for me to use them and to understand depression a little better.

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@elecia87 That is great – I’m glad to hear it. I compare taking anti-depressants to the use of insulin by diabetics and/or the use of anti-seizure meds for epilepsy. When your body is not producing the right chemicals – you often need meds to help fill in the gaps 🙂

Teresa

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@elecia87

I have treatment resistant depression. Been on Effexor 225mg for over 2years now and it’s been going well. However, I no longer have medical aid and the meds are extremely expensive. So I decided to cold turkey. I’m only on day 2 now and it feels like I’m dying. I hate it, and I’ve been extremely emotional and snappy. Nauseous and anxious. The list goes on. How do I minimise withdrawal symptoms.

Jump to this post

@elecia87

I know it’s hard to come to terms with the idea of dealing with something the rest of our lives. I’m just thankful that I have an antidepressant that works for me, and as long as the major depression is present, there’s help. I don’t think any antidepressant does the whole job of removing depression, but combining Wellbutrin with therapy has been the best solution for me.

Jim

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@jimhd
I completely understand that meds don’t ‘cure’ depression, but it does make the off days easier.

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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’ve been on Effexor for 2+ yrs as well, 300mg for PTSD and started to get off it 8wks ago. I too gained a ton of weight, 50lbs to be exact. It’s been rough, I stepped down every 2wks and yesterday was day 1 of no pills, well today I’m laying in bed dizzy as hell with a monster migraine I can’t beat. I am hoping to switch to Wellbutrin for my issues and hope it helps. Best of luck to you, it sure isn’t an easy road

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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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Hi, @cavegnr1, and welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. Thanks for sharing your experience with Effexor and your taper off of it. So sorry to hear it’s been rough.

How are you feeling now?

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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

Thanks for sharing this. I’ve been on 150mg for 8 years now. I would like to wean as well but have been scared to. I don’t think I gained a ton of weight from it but I work out and eat pretty well and don’t lose weight! Maybe this is a blocker for me. Wellbutrin was the other option my Dr. offered when I took Effexor. I wish I had know and started with that then. I was desperate to feel better that I didn’t care so I didn’t look into either one. I’ve got some family illnesses going on for now and now teenager with anxiety issues so I may try to wean in the spring. I tend to sometimes have a harder time in the winter. Prayers and all the best to all of us trying to figure this out!

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