Tips on minimizing 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

Hello, I am Bright Wings. I too am withdrawing from Effexor. I have taken this med for 26 years. I came here last Friday and read this thread for 4 hours. I can not tell you how much doing all this reading helped me.
My symptoms of withdrawal include severe vomiting, sweaty palms, (to the point of being able to make a palm print on a paper towel from just the sweat on my hands.) Body shaking, total body shivers, sweating bullet size rolls of sweat rolling down my forehead. Also, difficulty sleeping and severe loss of energy. There are so many more but can't access that information this minute because I miss my brain after a stroke. Oh I am fine so don't worry about that.
I do have some solutions for the symptoms and will post them when I get back from walking my dog.
Every spring for so many years I have worked to get off this drug. This time I am succeeding. Yea.

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@brightwings

Hello, I am Bright Wings. I too am withdrawing from Effexor. I have taken this med for 26 years. I came here last Friday and read this thread for 4 hours. I can not tell you how much doing all this reading helped me.
My symptoms of withdrawal include severe vomiting, sweaty palms, (to the point of being able to make a palm print on a paper towel from just the sweat on my hands.) Body shaking, total body shivers, sweating bullet size rolls of sweat rolling down my forehead. Also, difficulty sleeping and severe loss of energy. There are so many more but can't access that information this minute because I miss my brain after a stroke. Oh I am fine so don't worry about that.
I do have some solutions for the symptoms and will post them when I get back from walking my dog.
Every spring for so many years I have worked to get off this drug. This time I am succeeding. Yea.

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So glad you're finally ridding those withdrawal symptoms and getting off. (Sounds to me like you're body is healing.) Will you please post, asap, your strategies for getting / tapering off drugs? I'm going off, tapering with a Dr., 4 mg of clonazepam and was on it many years! TY

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Ok back. I had written a bunch about withdrawing and lost it, lol, not!
Ok so first a bit more about myself first then solutions. I am 67 ears old, and I have had an amazing life, as good as it was bad. When I tell you I have traveled to 41 countries, not on my own money, maybe you can get an inkling of how bad my life was. I will post more about my life and abuse in other threads.
I am an RN by profession. I had decided I would be a nurse after spending 5 days in the hospital to get my tonsils out. In 1955 this was the norm. This was the first time women had been nice to me for 5 days in a row and I wanted to be like them.
I am also a strong woman of God. I died 5 times before I was 5 and each time God sent me back, saying "Susie, you have to go back. I have things for you to do." I believed I was so bad, that God hated me so much he would not even let me stay in heaven.
I have traced my depression to…now I am going to write this in nicer terms, I am taking care of myself to put this the way I am. I know you will understand why when you read more.
I had my first sexual experience at age 3 months. I was a prostute at age 6 months. When these things happened, my mother could not care for me at all because the same things happened to her. So I screamed daily until my father could get home from work to take care of my needs including food.
God has been leading me all my healing life to the people who could help me heal the effects of my abuse. I started remembering my abuse in 1986. I believed I was making all this up because I had a tremendously happy life with my family. Those good memories were real. Later I realized what wonderful protections are built into our brains that one can believe what a great life they had while the total picture of our lives are so traumatic.
I integrated somewhere between 250 and 500 personalities on 1/1/11. I had my first memories of abuse in 1986. As I said God has been leading me to the people and things I needed to COMTLETELY HEAL all the effects of my abuse.
Getting off the Effexor and ending my depression are the last things I have to do to Completely reclaim my life from satanic ritual abuse. Now I realize I just said a bunch of shocking things in this last sentence. The positive thing I want to share is that He, God has also lead me to a way to completely end my depression, so have hope and stay tuned to my postings. The way to end depression will be titled Sacred Ceremonies. I am posting all this from my phone. I can't write it all in one day.
I live a happy and contended life today because of a lot of hard work, anguish and pain. Denial was huge also. When I learned the scope of my abuse, I VOWED, "I WOULD NOT LET THEM WIN". So no matter what else came up, I put one foot in front of the other and kept going.
I plan on writing a book titled staying alive in spite of thoughts of suicide. I am am expert at staying alive. I am a "do what ever it takes kind of girl".
Ok I am posting this. The total body shivers are extreme. I am getting my heating pad to sit on and will be back in a bit.
One more thing for you to think about before I get back. We are all here for the same reason…to get off this blanking drug and depression. I admit I had an extreme amount of abuse, and I want to say ANY ABUSE IS BAD ABUSE. Each of us has a reason for our depression. Please don't feel sorry for me because I AM WINNING!

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SOLUTIONS to symptoms of withdrawal
I will keep coming back to this post as I work out or remember more things. Keep coming back to get all of them.
1. Total body shivers: Sit on a heating pad. Warm socks. Vest. Suit up if you have too. Blanket across your lap.
2. Sweating: wet an absorbent hand towel with cold water. Wring out and first keep it on top of your head until it feels better. Rub it into your scalp, you will feel better faster. Then move it to your neck and tuck the ends of the towel across your chest. Tuck inside your bra or tee shirt.
3. No energy: Get enough rest. Nap, even if you don't want too. I find I sleep peacefully at night when I do nap. Change your ratting habits. Delete freeze and other things. Right now you need protein and greens. I drink the green veggie drink in the juice isle. I will come back and tell you about another new drink out there soon. I have seen what it can do in a friend who has extreme breathing problems…he was almost healed in 4 days of using the new drink. Remember I am a nurse. I have been concerned about this man's breathing problems for years. No way he healed from any other thing.
4. Now getting off the drug itself is a completely different matter.
I have tried to get off this drug each and every year since I got put on it in 1992.
I could never stand the violent electric flashes in my brain. I am suddenly realizing the electricity is not any where as bad as it used to be in past attempts.
So why am I being successful this year and not in the past. The thing I have been doing differently this year is attend Sacred Ceremonies. I attend on Indian land and the ceremony is held by a medicine man. So this is completely legal when done like this. As I said before God has been leading me to the people and places I need to COMPLETELY HEAL all of the effects of my abuse.
Here is the link to my much easier recovery and continued success in getting off this drug.
Doggone it, I can't figure out how to get the link in here. If you look up sacred plant medicine it will lead you to the info…I think. I feel really nervous as while this is legal when administered by medicine men or women on Indian land, it is not legal to use any other way or place. The feds monitor for the sacred plant medine word that starts with P. Which I have attended a legal ceremony like this 11 times since spring 2017.
I think my symptoms have lessened so much I believe I have taken my last done of this drug.
Feel free to message me if you have questions.
To end the depression completely there is another sacred plant medicine that starts with aya. BUT YOU HAVE TO COMPLETELY BE OFF THE ANTIDEPRESSANT FOR 5 WEEKS BEFORE YOU TAKE THIS. Folks who did not get off the antidepressant before hand caused Seratonian toxicity in their brains and some folks died. So be warned.

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Please do not compare the withdrawal from Zoloft to Effexor- they are completely different for most people.

I am currently down from 150mg to 50mg of Effexor ER and it has taken me about a month. Gradually the side effects have gotten more intense and I am now at the point where the nausea and diarrhea are the most inconvenient side effect.

For some background, I’ve been on this medicine for about a year and a half and used it to transition jobs, move across the country, start a new life. It was GREAT for helping me get out of a bad headspace where stress and anxiety were causing depression. In the past I had been on Zoloft but it stopped working and instead of increasing the dose, I got a puppy. I had barely any issues with getting off the medication, maybe a headache or two but nothing too crazy. But then after a year Med free I was back at the doc asking for help. It’s a hard thing to do to ask for help like that but I learned the hard way that sometimes medication might be the only thing that works when your brain has been high jacked by negative thoughts.

I’ve been wanting to go off Effexor for awhile now but I literally need to take WEEKS out of my life to deal with these side effects. Migraines, diarrhea, nausea, cold sweats, sensitivity to light and sound, not to mention major mood shifts, jaw tightness, and wanting to sleep 15 hours a night. Missing just one dose of Effexor was enough to make me leave work sick. That is one of the reasons I don’t want to be on it anymore. Every doctor, pharmacist, nurse etc doesn’t realize how bad these side effects are, so when you forget to bring your medicine on vacation, expect drama. There is no magic pill that makes it better either, you just need a solid 4 hours for the ER to kick in once you finally get your dose. I’ve never experienced withdrawal to this extent, it’s hard to believe it’s “safe” or even worth it. If I were to get pregnant on this medication- the baby would have to go through theses side effects as well.

Currently I am in a good spot- I have some time, a good support system, and I’m living in a state where cannabis is legal. That is the other hang up- I like to use cannabis to treat my anxiety but that isn’t a treatment method that most doctors consider. It is actually helping a lot with weaning off Effexor. So has exercise, getting plenty of sleep, and always having a bathroom nearby.

The ER tabs are filled with these little beads- my fancy math skills calculated that each little bead is 0.5mg of the drug. So each day I take out about 1-2mg. As I mentioned earlier, I started at 150mg and after three weeks I am down to 50mg. Once I am down to 25mg I plan to just go off. I have a post it counting me down on the mirror of my meidince cabinet.

So far things are going ok. The symptoms are still there but not as bad as if I were to just stop cold turkey. The diarrhea is still at a point where it would interfere with my job and the nausea has been there for about three days now with cold sweats to really bring it all home. I truly can’t wait for this to be over.

Did the drug work? Yes. Would I go through this withdrawal process again? Absolutely not.

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I hear you….I started the weaning off process back in October. My dr. transitioned me to Lexapro but I don't think it's really working. You're right. The effects of Effexor and the weaning off is a hellish nightmare. My anxiety is off the charts even taking Xanax and Gabapentin. I DON'T want to get addicted to the Xanax and the Gabapentin makes me so sleepy. I take it at night if I take it at all. The nausea and diarrhea has been relentless. I have lost 35 lbs since January and have been seeing a gastroenterologist seeking answers for THAT problem. So far, he hasn't come up with any real problem….blaming it on the withdrawal of the Effexor. I had the sweats, too, while I was taking it but they increased during the weaning off process. I am now pretty much free of the sweating but it was such a problem for so long. Many nights I would have to change my pjs and bed clothes up to three times….I was soaking wet and the smell of the sweat was absolutely putrid. I hate to be so graphic but I guess even though I was experiencing the vomiting and diarrhea my body still wasn't getting rid of the toxic chemicals in my body and the only other way to rid myself of them, they exited via sweat glands. In my opinion, this medication should be BANNED from consumption by any living thing. I am almost 6 months out and still having problems. I am trying my hardest to get to the gym and eat well but my lack of motivation and the fatigue often keep me home. I hate this life that I'm living….

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And….I wish cannibus was legal in Ohio. I would definitely resort to it instead of using the Xanax….

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What about CBD oil from the hemp plant, legal everywhere and the same benefits – I'm assured – as Medical Marijuana but no THC (therefore, no "high" and legal.) I have no affiliation at all with this company except as a customer, High quality, purefied. They suggest a 550 mg(?) bottle, 3 drops a day, (= about 26 mg) so it ought to last a month but it's $80! (You can buy smaller sizes like a 350 bottle. I suggest calling and they'll answer all of your questions. Hope it's helpful. Good health to you.

greenroadsworld.com

whatiscbd.com

(explains what it is. I personally don't know much about it, a little, and for depression / anxiety, they suggest starting at 3 drops a day. But I am not a medical provider so maybe get a small amount and see if it works to relieve anxiety. Best of health to you).

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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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A few days ago I had a panic attack and heart started racing and I was going to jump out of my skin while doing the dishes. Luckily, my husbands friend was here and helped me. He is a Massage Therapist who does eastern medicine of cupping and acupuncture. He worked on me for a while. He pulled out a lot of toxins with the cupping and calmed my heart rate with the acupuncture. I am doing a little bit better. My anxiety and feeling like I am going to jump out of my skin is decreasing with the help of my Xanax. I am not having to take it as much. Feeling cold but sweating is diminishing. I still get weak easily and have to rest, but I finally have been feeling like I want to go for walks (Thank you, SUN). Yesterday my walk ended up being walking around Menards looking at things for renovating our house (have been doing for 5 years and have many more years to go). Today I started a walk around a small lake, but the cold wind got to me and started to zap my brain and whole body. I quit and we went to Home Depot to walk and look at home stuff there. The brain zaps are so bizarre. Before, I didn't understand what people were talking about. But the feeling I am getting in my head and in between my ears, I would consider a brain zap. Luckily mine aren't debilitating, just weird and inconvenient. I am taking supplements to try to help detox easier. But the cupping and acupuncture really seemed to help. I will have to have him do it more, not sure how often you can do that type of therapy.

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@coloradogirl

So, I just finished this process with Zoloft (sertraline) and here are some things that worked for me. Your mileage may vary, but hopefully these are low risk for you to try.

1) You may need to ask your doctor for a slower tapering program than other patients. Some people are just more sensitive to dosage changes. Be aware that symptoms will get better, then may reappear each time you taper. AAFMA (practice group of family physicians) says that the symptoms typically last 1-2 weeks and as long as 4 weeks, so I just kept reminding myself that it was temporary.
2) Be watchful for things that make your symptoms worse. For example, caffeine seems to trigger the brain zaps for me (still, even after being off for several weeks), so I cut back my caffeine intake. I didn’t give it up completely (because I still need to function), but cut back on how much real coffee I was drinking, mixed decaf with regular, and switched to tea sometimes. In the end, I probably cut my daily caffeine intake in half, and it did help quite a lot.
3) Ibuprofen or other pain reliever can help with the flu-like body aches.
4) Benadryl helped with the brain zaps.
5) Exercise helped with both. Even if I wasn’t up to a run, a few blocks of walking would settle down the symptoms for a while at least. (Then, when they come back, just take another walk. We took a lot of walks for a while there).
6) Get enough sleep. As I came down off the meds, my normal sleeping patterns returned, which was great, but it did mean that I needed to plan time to let my body rest.
7) Pay attention to your diet. Your brain uses carbs to make seratonin, so now is not the time to go on the Atkins diet. Eat well and make sure you’re getting enough healthy carbs. You may crave sweets; I certainly did. I tried to counteract this by having bananas, graham crackers, and other healthy things I could snack on instead of sticking my head in a birthday cake like I seemed to want.

No lie – it’s a painful process, but this did really help make it easier. Also, at a certain point, when I was down the below the normal starter dose, I just ripped off the bandaid and went to zero. At that point, it felt like each taper was just prolonging the suffering. Don’t just go cold turkey from your current dose, though, as that can be dangerous. Also, don’t add any supplements or substitutes for the SSRI without talking to your doctor first (also dangerous).

And of course, watch for the return of depression / anxiety type symptoms. For a while it was hard to tell whether I was tired because of the change in meds or because my depression was returning. I figured as long as I felt okay enough to function and wasn’t thinking about being harmful to myself or anyone else, I could play it out and see. It turned out to be the meds and on the other side, I can see that I was more worried about it than I needed to be.

I wish you the best of luck and a healthy life.

Mardee

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Mardee, thank you. I have tried to get off meds without Dr. help and experienced the same as you have. I still want to get off of them. Yet I know that these actions are part of my illness. You were very clear in your warnings and suggestions. I will take heed… Tony
(from Florida)

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Hello,
After 10 years of Effexor 375mg, many trials trying to get off it, or trying to switch to other meds, I finally decided I had to stay on it "for life"… Every time I tried to taper off, or even switch to a different med, I suffered from acute anxiety, and my depression came flooding back. I was over weight but eating healthy, excercising, watching my portions, restricting, restricting, restricting … and no weight loss. Just gradual and persistant weight gain. I was afraid of diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, etc. I was afraid of living a shorter life. I "knew" I wasn't going to stop my meds but I had to do something. I decided to try a gluten-free diet, not expecting much, just wanting to feel in control of something about my health. The first 5 days off gluten I felt tired and a bit gloomy. Then a cloud lifted and I started to feel the meaning of a word I had never taken seriously: vitality. After 3 solid weeks gluten-free, I decided to lower my dose of Effexor, just by 75mg. Nothing. No withdrawl symptoms whatsoever. I was expecting the "electrical chocs" and of course the anxiety and depression to come flooding back. No reactions. Two weeks after that attempt, I decided to see just how much I could reduce Effexor without suffering the symptoms for which it had been prescribed (namely depression and anxiety). Weeks and weeks, months and months later, still no withdrawl symptoms. Nothing but steady cognitive functioning. Normal crying. No depression. No anxiety. I felt like I had been taking Effexor for a condition caused by my metabolism. Who would have thought my depression and anxiety were fuelled by a product so innocent as whole grains and multigrain wheat? I got my healthy weight back, my appetite back, my brain back. I feel younger. Gluten intolerance is in fashion at the moment but maybe it is also serious issue. Perhaps we should be checked for metabolic issues (not just thyroid problems!) before been given meds. I feel lucky my health didn't spiral down any further than it did. I try not to feel mad at my psychiatrist for not being more aware about metabolic issues. I really tried to accept my psychiatric diagnosis and prescrbed pills but I'm so glad I didn't give up trying "something" and that that "something" was so simple as giving up gluten to be healthy. Is gluten your problem? Maybe not. But checking your metabolism is a good idea if you are on meds or before going on them. Take gentle care.

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Hi @nicolejewel, I thought it might be helpful to merge the new thread you started with the thread started by fellow Connect member @richyrich, knowing that members who've posted here like @stressedmesseddepressed @jimhd @sadiesmom @contentandwell @antoni @nanke99 and many others would be interested in what you found as you tried to taper off venlafaxine (Effexor) multiple times, then finally changed to a gluten-free diet and saw changes in your depression and quite a different withdrawal from the medication.

I trust they’ll have some input about your very interesting findings.

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