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

Liked by Bek, LynneB, kelly76, echams1 ... see all

I have been taking EffexorXR for a few years. I was on it to help me with mood swings and hot flashes through menopause. I asked my obgyn doctor about dosing down and she questioned my wanting to get off the drug. Surprising. So, I asked my GP about it and we decided to take me off of the 37.5 xr dosage slowly by taking 1/2 of a 25mg tablet (not xr) twice daily for 3 weeks, then down to 1/4 tablet and so on. I am in process with this now, week one and so far, so good. I was on a low dosage, thankfully.

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@carmel0corn

Not quite a month Effexor free and I find myself crying in the car when a corny country song comes on… I realize while I’m blubbering that I hadn’t cried in over a year because I was on Effexor. I lost my temper today too- all internally but it got it the point where I needed to take a nap to calm myself down. I think I might have to take caffeine out of my diet next, I’ve noticed the more I drink coffee and tea, the more I notice symptoms

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@carmel0corn — interesting observation about the caffeine and symptoms.

So, some of your lows ( and perhaps highs, too?) have come back now that you're off the venlafaxine (Effexor)?

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I'm in the same process of cutting off the Effexor. I'm on 37.5 and take it on one of every 2 days. I was wondering: if I got a dose of 18 each day (instead of 37 every two days), wouldn't that be easier? Couldn't I just split the capsule? I've been researching for methods to split the capsule and I'm feeling very tempted to take that approach. Has anyone tried it?

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@ladislara

I'm in the same process of cutting off the Effexor. I'm on 37.5 and take it on one of every 2 days. I was wondering: if I got a dose of 18 each day (instead of 37 every two days), wouldn't that be easier? Couldn't I just split the capsule? I've been researching for methods to split the capsule and I'm feeling very tempted to take that approach. Has anyone tried it?

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Are you tapering off effexor? I'm tapering off a Benzo using liquid tapering. There is no easy way but little by little and slow. I hope someone going off effexor will be able to help you. I'm working with my Physician to taper and am also going to use CBD oil to help me. My Best To You

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@ladislara

I'm in the same process of cutting off the Effexor. I'm on 37.5 and take it on one of every 2 days. I was wondering: if I got a dose of 18 each day (instead of 37 every two days), wouldn't that be easier? Couldn't I just split the capsule? I've been researching for methods to split the capsule and I'm feeling very tempted to take that approach. Has anyone tried it?

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I didn’t have the capsules just the pills! I weaned off in one month to fast, but yes it was the CBD oil that helped me and still helping with withdrawals

Liked by lorena1egas, exeffex

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@ladislara

I'm in the same process of cutting off the Effexor. I'm on 37.5 and take it on one of every 2 days. I was wondering: if I got a dose of 18 each day (instead of 37 every two days), wouldn't that be easier? Couldn't I just split the capsule? I've been researching for methods to split the capsule and I'm feeling very tempted to take that approach. Has anyone tried it?

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Not too fast at all – just right. Congratulations! I'm going to make a new post re: tapering fast vs. slow. I think fast-ish is much better for a lot of reasons. Good for you!!!

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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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Yes I took venlafaxine for a year, to quit smoking, cut back to vaping, tried to get off venlafaxine, now vaping & strawberry hemp extract. Should have just continued to smoke. Fml

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Hello all. Much ❤️, and may you have a smooth journey tapering off of venlafaxine

I wanted to post an update, and perhaps a conclusion on my journey, and in the process, gently argue that for some, it may be better to taper rapidly vs. slowly.

My journey began in roughly 2008 when I started taking the drug. I am in a much different place in my life now, and it is time to return to the real me. My taper began March 2, 2018 (to the best of my backward calculating skills because I didn't keep track in the beginning), and ended April 22, 2018 (almost exactly 50 days). I started at a dose of 375mg/day.

My titration 'plan' so to speak, because I didn't really put much thought into it was to decrease my daily dose by 37.5mg every week until I hit zero. For the first 4-5 weeks, it was moderately unpleasant, but very tolerable. My anxiety bumped up a couple of notches, and my head buzzed a little bit, but that was about it. …and THEN at 187.5mg, like a ton of bricks, the symptoms hit me HARD. I talked about that on page 38: https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/tips-on-minimising-withdrawal-symptoms-from-effexor-aka-venlafaxine/?pg=38#comment-100076 Essentially, I spent an entire weekend curled up in a fetal position grunting and moaning in pain. It was absolutely excruciatingly toxic. At that time, I made a difficult, but very important decision – I was looking at another 4-5 weeks of tapering with my current "plan", so I decided instead to accelerate the process with a new "10 day plan". I fully expected my symptoms to get worse, but much to my surprise, they actually did not. I took my last dose yesterday, and I honestly feel much better today than I did at 187.5mg. I still anticipate a good 4-6 weeks of symptoms to some degree as I return to me. Already, I can feel higher highs, and lower lows than I did with therapy, but I am looking forward to the good and the bad as I return to 'normal'.

So… That is my $.02 on rapid titration vs slow. If you want to get off this drug, you are going to have symptoms regardless of how slowly you taper. Your mileage may vary, but for me, a fast-ish (50 day) titration worked out pretty well, all things considered. Everyone's situation is different, but for those of you out there considering a fast-ish taper, I am here to say that it can be done, and in truth, it really isn't all that bad.

I wish everyone the best of luck and good health on your journey. Peace and love to you all….

~efexnot

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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, @tundra — Thank you for all the support and information you are offering. Please note that I removed your personal email address from this public discussion. Posts to the discussion board are public, and we don't want you getting unwanted spam, etc. We recommend sharing personal contact information by private message, as it is a secure, private option.

Thank you so much for understanding.

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@ladislara

I'm in the same process of cutting off the Effexor. I'm on 37.5 and take it on one of every 2 days. I was wondering: if I got a dose of 18 each day (instead of 37 every two days), wouldn't that be easier? Couldn't I just split the capsule? I've been researching for methods to split the capsule and I'm feeling very tempted to take that approach. Has anyone tried it?

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Hi, @ladislara. Welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect.

If you get a chance to read back through posts in this discussion, I think you'll find members talking about tapering methods they've used (some prescribed by a physician, some not).

What led you to the decision to taper off the venlafaxine (Effexor)?

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@nanke99

Sure, my pleasure! I would not go cold turkey! Not just the pain but the mental & emotional effects are unpredictable and could be dangerous. Do you have a doctor experienced with this? It is important to find one with specific experience w/ Effexor withdraw. When I did it years ago, there were very few, but now you should be able to.
What is your current doctor saying?

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@gailb You seem to be in favor of limiting your intake of pharmaceuticals, although you have decided to continue citalopram forever. Given your objectives, I would encourage you to investigate the chemistry of citalopram. I won't geek out too much on the chemistry here, but in short, I will say that citalopram is 50% (S)-(+)-citalopram, aka escitalopram, aka lexapro, and 50% (R)-(−)-citalopram, which (in my humble opinion) does little more than give your liver more work to do. In other words, you could potentially take your current dose of citalopram, cut it in half and replace that with escitalopram (aka lexapro) and receive the same pharmacotherapeutic benefit. Actually (in my opinion), you could potentially go even lower than 50% because (R)-(-)-citalopram has actually been found to counteract the effects of (S)-(+)-citalopram.

See e.g.:
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/8546695_Escitalopram_versus_citalopram_The_surprising_role_of_the_R-enantiomer
See also:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4204633/
Talk to your doctor and/or pharmacist for more information if this interests you.

Cheers!

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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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@ou90n93 I can’t believe a Dr put you on Effexor to quit smoking. I hope you found a different one

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@nanke99

Sure, my pleasure! I would not go cold turkey! Not just the pain but the mental & emotional effects are unpredictable and could be dangerous. Do you have a doctor experienced with this? It is important to find one with specific experience w/ Effexor withdraw. When I did it years ago, there were very few, but now you should be able to.
What is your current doctor saying?

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@nanke99 how did you find a Dr experienced with Effexor withdrawal?

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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, @ou90n93 — that is an interesting journey from being put on venlafaxine to help quit smoking, then ending up vaping and using strawberry hemp extract.

You mentioned that you should have just continued to smoke. Are you talking about your experience with the vaping, hemp extract, venlafaxine, or a couple of those?

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@ladislara

I'm in the same process of cutting off the Effexor. I'm on 37.5 and take it on one of every 2 days. I was wondering: if I got a dose of 18 each day (instead of 37 every two days), wouldn't that be easier? Couldn't I just split the capsule? I've been researching for methods to split the capsule and I'm feeling very tempted to take that approach. Has anyone tried it?

Jump to this post

Hi, @tundra — in case you've not seen them, just wanted to point you to a couple other discussions on Connect specifically about benzodiazepines (benzos) where you might be interested in checking out the posts and perhaps participating:

https://mayocl.in/2qSfyt8, about risks of benzos
https://mayocl.in/2KbEkNU, about benzo withdrawal

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