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

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Great, sounds like a good short-term measure. I may ask my Psychiatrist about that in the short-term for help reducing the 4 mg to 1 mg (or none) clonazepam. Wishing you (and me!) good health.

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@rachelmfree

Hi everyone. I tapered off Effexor, and I will share how I did it and how it went. The way I see it is that the main problem on why so many people need to talk about this online is that most doctors I have visited just don't know how to taper antidepressants well. They do it way too quickly and each person is different and it is a slow process, but the turtle wins this race! I am going to share my own personal experience so please take this with a grain of salt as it is not meant to be medical advice in any way. You should always consult your doctor first and exercise your own judgment on what level of tapering you need. I was on Venlafaxine SR the generic form of Effexor SR. I was on the SR (slow release) so it wasn't a tablet but a capsule full of granules. I tapered over about 6 months and was only on 75 mg. It took me that long to taper without going totally crazy, and I still experienced strong side effects so please pay attention to my advice. I am troubled there are people on this feed that went cold turkey off of an SSRI. It is dangerous and you will feel like you are dying – you could put your life, job and relationships in jeopardy doing that so please be careful. Here was my gameplan. I dropped 10 granules about every 2-3 weeks depending on how I was feeling. I did this process for about 6 months or so. I literally did this down to taking 2 granules! I'm not kidding. I would open up the capsule and remove the amount I didn't need in a bowl and set it aside in an old pill bottle or Ziplock bag (just for backup if I needed it). This was the only way I was able to taper off this drug, and I still had some rough days but I was able to function through them. During my second to last month, I had vertigo and experienced some nausea as well! I was in a Pilates class and the room wouldn't stop spinning, so that week I had to take it easy. I also had some crying fits (I was numb on the drug, couldn't shed a tear) and it felt like the floodgates opened when I got towards the last two months of tapering. I cried and had some depression and anxiety. I had to talk myself down off the anxiety. I found an app called Abide that had a talk on anxiety that gave me great tools. It was a psychotherapist teaching about worry and anxiety and how to target it. I worked on that through the process. I also prayed or called friends to process when I was feeling depressed. During the entire experience, I did notice I had some restless leg syndrome and achy muscles. I've read about this elsewhere with people having withdrawals from this drug. I'm hoping it goes away. I took my last dose of this about 4 weeks ago. I'm doing ok. I'm out of a job right now so that's a tad depressing BUT I am functioning. I'm journaling and targeting my anxiety by having talks with myself on what is really bothering me – my struggle with depression and anxiety, in general, are dramatically linked. Usually, when I target one the other one chills out more. For somebody who's been out of work as long as I have, I shouldn't even be functioning but I am. I don't believe I would be in such good shape had I gone cold turkey. I think I would have gone mad! I am trying to eat many vegetables each day, and I am trying to exercise. I also started probiotics about 6 months ago and did research on gut health and depression. I believe our diet and food are a huge part of our problem and exercise and stretching can really help you out. I will say that out of all the antidepressants I've been on, Effexor has given me the most side effects during regular dosage and tapering afterward. I had better experiences on Celexa. My main problem is that they all make me super tired, and I just want to sleep. When I was on Effexor, I took two-hour naps every day and it was the same when I was on Zoloft. I just would turn into a zombie, but not all people experience that and many people do very well on SSRIs and these drugs have saved lives. I originally went on Effexor after a major trauma happened in my life. Several years later, I felt it was time for me to try to taper so I did, and it worked so far. Slow slow slow – that's all I can say! And, if it doesn't work for you, there is no shame in taking antidepressants just make sure you are eating well, exercising and providing self-care tools too. Good luck!

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Ativan works but is very quickly addictive and very difficult to get off. It took me four months to get off a dose of only two mg a day but I reduced it very slowly cutting the pills with a very sharp cutter. I handled my anxiety eventually by exercise and mindfull meditation. Specifically i cycled on a recumbent tricycle on a nearbye bike trail ( roads are too dangerous.).

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@rachelmfree

Hi everyone. I tapered off Effexor, and I will share how I did it and how it went. The way I see it is that the main problem on why so many people need to talk about this online is that most doctors I have visited just don't know how to taper antidepressants well. They do it way too quickly and each person is different and it is a slow process, but the turtle wins this race! I am going to share my own personal experience so please take this with a grain of salt as it is not meant to be medical advice in any way. You should always consult your doctor first and exercise your own judgment on what level of tapering you need. I was on Venlafaxine SR the generic form of Effexor SR. I was on the SR (slow release) so it wasn't a tablet but a capsule full of granules. I tapered over about 6 months and was only on 75 mg. It took me that long to taper without going totally crazy, and I still experienced strong side effects so please pay attention to my advice. I am troubled there are people on this feed that went cold turkey off of an SSRI. It is dangerous and you will feel like you are dying – you could put your life, job and relationships in jeopardy doing that so please be careful. Here was my gameplan. I dropped 10 granules about every 2-3 weeks depending on how I was feeling. I did this process for about 6 months or so. I literally did this down to taking 2 granules! I'm not kidding. I would open up the capsule and remove the amount I didn't need in a bowl and set it aside in an old pill bottle or Ziplock bag (just for backup if I needed it). This was the only way I was able to taper off this drug, and I still had some rough days but I was able to function through them. During my second to last month, I had vertigo and experienced some nausea as well! I was in a Pilates class and the room wouldn't stop spinning, so that week I had to take it easy. I also had some crying fits (I was numb on the drug, couldn't shed a tear) and it felt like the floodgates opened when I got towards the last two months of tapering. I cried and had some depression and anxiety. I had to talk myself down off the anxiety. I found an app called Abide that had a talk on anxiety that gave me great tools. It was a psychotherapist teaching about worry and anxiety and how to target it. I worked on that through the process. I also prayed or called friends to process when I was feeling depressed. During the entire experience, I did notice I had some restless leg syndrome and achy muscles. I've read about this elsewhere with people having withdrawals from this drug. I'm hoping it goes away. I took my last dose of this about 4 weeks ago. I'm doing ok. I'm out of a job right now so that's a tad depressing BUT I am functioning. I'm journaling and targeting my anxiety by having talks with myself on what is really bothering me – my struggle with depression and anxiety, in general, are dramatically linked. Usually, when I target one the other one chills out more. For somebody who's been out of work as long as I have, I shouldn't even be functioning but I am. I don't believe I would be in such good shape had I gone cold turkey. I think I would have gone mad! I am trying to eat many vegetables each day, and I am trying to exercise. I also started probiotics about 6 months ago and did research on gut health and depression. I believe our diet and food are a huge part of our problem and exercise and stretching can really help you out. I will say that out of all the antidepressants I've been on, Effexor has given me the most side effects during regular dosage and tapering afterward. I had better experiences on Celexa. My main problem is that they all make me super tired, and I just want to sleep. When I was on Effexor, I took two-hour naps every day and it was the same when I was on Zoloft. I just would turn into a zombie, but not all people experience that and many people do very well on SSRIs and these drugs have saved lives. I originally went on Effexor after a major trauma happened in my life. Several years later, I felt it was time for me to try to taper so I did, and it worked so far. Slow slow slow – that's all I can say! And, if it doesn't work for you, there is no shame in taking antidepressants just make sure you are eating well, exercising and providing self-care tools too. Good luck!

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@gailb Gail, is this CBD for anxiety or exactly what do people use it for? Is it used with other drugs or instead of other drugs? Frankly this being a topic that I am not very knowledgeable about I have not paid full attention to it, knowing I could not contribute, so if this has been discussed before I apologize for asking.

I was on tramdalol following my knee replacement and had no idea that some people have people withdrawing from it. I just stopped taking it, but maybe I had no problem because I only took it for about a month and a half.
JK

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@rachelmfree

Hi everyone. I tapered off Effexor, and I will share how I did it and how it went. The way I see it is that the main problem on why so many people need to talk about this online is that most doctors I have visited just don't know how to taper antidepressants well. They do it way too quickly and each person is different and it is a slow process, but the turtle wins this race! I am going to share my own personal experience so please take this with a grain of salt as it is not meant to be medical advice in any way. You should always consult your doctor first and exercise your own judgment on what level of tapering you need. I was on Venlafaxine SR the generic form of Effexor SR. I was on the SR (slow release) so it wasn't a tablet but a capsule full of granules. I tapered over about 6 months and was only on 75 mg. It took me that long to taper without going totally crazy, and I still experienced strong side effects so please pay attention to my advice. I am troubled there are people on this feed that went cold turkey off of an SSRI. It is dangerous and you will feel like you are dying – you could put your life, job and relationships in jeopardy doing that so please be careful. Here was my gameplan. I dropped 10 granules about every 2-3 weeks depending on how I was feeling. I did this process for about 6 months or so. I literally did this down to taking 2 granules! I'm not kidding. I would open up the capsule and remove the amount I didn't need in a bowl and set it aside in an old pill bottle or Ziplock bag (just for backup if I needed it). This was the only way I was able to taper off this drug, and I still had some rough days but I was able to function through them. During my second to last month, I had vertigo and experienced some nausea as well! I was in a Pilates class and the room wouldn't stop spinning, so that week I had to take it easy. I also had some crying fits (I was numb on the drug, couldn't shed a tear) and it felt like the floodgates opened when I got towards the last two months of tapering. I cried and had some depression and anxiety. I had to talk myself down off the anxiety. I found an app called Abide that had a talk on anxiety that gave me great tools. It was a psychotherapist teaching about worry and anxiety and how to target it. I worked on that through the process. I also prayed or called friends to process when I was feeling depressed. During the entire experience, I did notice I had some restless leg syndrome and achy muscles. I've read about this elsewhere with people having withdrawals from this drug. I'm hoping it goes away. I took my last dose of this about 4 weeks ago. I'm doing ok. I'm out of a job right now so that's a tad depressing BUT I am functioning. I'm journaling and targeting my anxiety by having talks with myself on what is really bothering me – my struggle with depression and anxiety, in general, are dramatically linked. Usually, when I target one the other one chills out more. For somebody who's been out of work as long as I have, I shouldn't even be functioning but I am. I don't believe I would be in such good shape had I gone cold turkey. I think I would have gone mad! I am trying to eat many vegetables each day, and I am trying to exercise. I also started probiotics about 6 months ago and did research on gut health and depression. I believe our diet and food are a huge part of our problem and exercise and stretching can really help you out. I will say that out of all the antidepressants I've been on, Effexor has given me the most side effects during regular dosage and tapering afterward. I had better experiences on Celexa. My main problem is that they all make me super tired, and I just want to sleep. When I was on Effexor, I took two-hour naps every day and it was the same when I was on Zoloft. I just would turn into a zombie, but not all people experience that and many people do very well on SSRIs and these drugs have saved lives. I originally went on Effexor after a major trauma happened in my life. Several years later, I felt it was time for me to try to taper so I did, and it worked so far. Slow slow slow – that's all I can say! And, if it doesn't work for you, there is no shame in taking antidepressants just make sure you are eating well, exercising and providing self-care tools too. Good luck!

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@lalyfa I have used ativan for years, basically when I go to bed with my mind whirling around not allowing me to sleep. My usage of it is very infrequent. My doctor gave me a prescription for 10 pills and they lasted for over a year. If I have a couple of sleepless nights though I will take one because it calms my mind and allows me to fall asleep. I tried sleeping pills once but I hate that when I got up in the morning I felt like a slug.
JK

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I was put on Venlafaxine to help with Menopause symptoms (hot flashes and irritability). I've been on 225mg for a couple of years now and want to be off of it, but am also scared of the withdrawal process, and wondering what more natural alternatives I might have for the irritability. I've gained 40 lbs while being on it (don't know if it's the venlafaxine or simply menopause), but have a histamine intolerance issue that I'm trying to get control of (this med makes the problem worse).

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@jbf15324 that’s exactly why I started taking Venlafaxine but I took 75+37.5 mg daily. I went up to 150 mg at one point but started sweating profusely so dropped back down. Now that I know how horrible it is to get off this, I’m skeptical of trying anything else. Originally while my dr was weaning me off the Venlafaxine she added Wellbutrin which I only took for a week. When the withdrawals from venlafaxine started on the 3rd day after my last dose, I said this is enough of the anti-depressants. In hindsight perhaps I should have continued with the Wellbutrin till I was over the withdrawals but was afraid to have to go off yet another drug. I did gain weight while on the venlafaxine and was hopeful I’d lose some when off it. The ironic thing is that the first week of withdrawals I couldn’t eat much other than saltines sonlost weight. Now it’s completely opposite and I’m eating everything in sight which makes my depression worse! Ugh, it’s such a vicious circle. I am so appalled at how these drugs effect us now that I’m going through all this. I do know that if I have to go back on them, I will never come off them again.

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@nanke99

Hi! I was on Effexor XR for a few years and got off it several years ago. It was a very difficult process, so I fully sympathize. You MUST wean off
VERY SLOWLY. I don’t remember what my dosage was at the time (225mg?), but it took me about 9 months. Please do not let that long time scare you, it’s worth going slow, that will be your biggest help w/ withdrawal. At the time I had a very difficult time finding any doctor with experience getting people off it.
Luckily I was advised to to find one and luckily I did. It is considered harder to get off than heroine. Not trying to scare you, just want to make sure you go as slow as possible. Mostly, I was moody/angry, had headaches, and some brain “shivers”. The brain shivers I already had while on the meds.
I think we went down in 25mg increments over several weeks for each reduction. Keep us posted and good luck! Just give yourself some time and it will be over before you know it!

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Hi. I'm having the same issue/problem as you. I am doing my own research, best I can not being in the field, and will repost when I have found out your and my answers. I feel for you. As I quit cold turkey (lost insurance and had run out of Venaflaxin Hcl ER) went through the same nightmare. Scares the absolutely mess out of me. I was able to get a refill and start back just yesterday evening and within about 8 hrs the nausea, dizziness, moodiness, clumsiness finally were gone and I felt 'normal' but also validates my concerns. I considered taking only 2 capsules but decided to do more research on that as well. There just has to be a med to aid in my anxiety disorder that if I had to miss a few doses won't make me feel like a drug abuser. It really scares me. I agree with the other posts that tapering is crucial (for me anyway). Also will head advice from post recommending decreasing sugar and caffeine. I have gained upwards of 30lbs in the last 2 years and seem to be unable to shed any and my research validates that as well. Another reason I want off the med. Good luck and please followup with the group, I'd like to know how you are and what worked for you.

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Lost insurance and had to stop Venaflaxin XR cold turkey. Also take buspirone in tandem and have some remaining am now taking one pill only to make it last but obviously having withdrawal symptoms from not taking the Venaflaxin(Effexor). Nausea, dizziness, just feel awful. Unable to function well. Can I take St John's wart as a substitute EITHER to rid symptoms or to use as a replacement for. Venaflaxin ? Thank you in advance.

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@imfu

Lost insurance and had to stop Venaflaxin XR cold turkey. Also take buspirone in tandem and have some remaining am now taking one pill only to make it last but obviously having withdrawal symptoms from not taking the Venaflaxin(Effexor). Nausea, dizziness, just feel awful. Unable to function well. Can I take St John's wart as a substitute EITHER to rid symptoms or to use as a replacement for. Venaflaxin ? Thank you in advance.

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Hello, @imfu — I am sorry it's been so difficult with losing your insurance and the the withdrawal symptoms you are experiencing from going off the venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release (Effexor XR) cold turkey. You'll note on this thread that many of our members have experienced the kinds of side effects you mention when stopping that medication in that manner.

I moved your post here to this thread so you some of our members who've had experience with this medication and coming off of it could weigh in on your question about whether taking St. John's Wort will help rid the withdrawal symptoms or serve as a replacement for the venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release (Effexor XR).

@imfu — have you spoken with your doctor about your insurance situation and your going off this medication due to this issue?

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@imfu

Lost insurance and had to stop Venaflaxin XR cold turkey. Also take buspirone in tandem and have some remaining am now taking one pill only to make it last but obviously having withdrawal symptoms from not taking the Venaflaxin(Effexor). Nausea, dizziness, just feel awful. Unable to function well. Can I take St John's wart as a substitute EITHER to rid symptoms or to use as a replacement for. Venaflaxin ? Thank you in advance.

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Hi . Yes, I spoke with RN at Dr office and have tried to talk with my MD and was told is a 3 mo wait to be seen and that "he can't call me I have to communicate through RN". Fine but I need help, now or within a week or so, I can not wait for 3 months and I have been calling every day for a cancellation and that " a change in medication does not warrant a work-in appointment" as well as if "felt sick I should go to ER instead of calling the Dr office". I understand if I were in an emergent situation ER is the best avenue but I know for a fact they will not be able to assist me in the ER other than routine exam, questions, etc and will refer me back to my MD. Without insurance is a catch 22. I ran out of Rx and by day 5 was so physically ill I could not even get out of bed for fear of vomiting or falling. I finally convinced RN to call in a new Rx which I paid cash price for. I will look into Gary's suggestions and hope I can receive discount next time. I was not able to drive to pick up Rx so was 7:30 PM before I got it and took full dose asap, felt better in about 5-8 hours and woke this morning as "normal". But what is that?? I don't want to HAVE to take something that is this highly addictive and difficult to wean. I read also today that this particular drug is in its class is as difficult to get off of as heroine. Lovely. That scares the ever living H out of me. Isn't there an alternative medication for GAD?? And how does one taper from a capsule?? What can I do?? Thank you again Lisa

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