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

@lilmac44

It will be 4 months at the end of March that I completely stopped Effexor. I continue to suffer from extreme fatigue, hypoglycemic like symptoms, anxiety and shakiness. My cortisol is high at night which interferes with a good night's sleep. I have eliminated wheat from my diet, high carbohydrate foods and sugar. My diet is good and I am eating vegetables, seafood and other foods that provide protein. I rarely eat red meat. I don't know if these symptoms are a result from withdrawal from Effexor or caused by Adrenal dysfunction. Has anyone else experienced these side effects? If so, how long do/did they last in this withdrawal process?

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I am by no means an expert but I too had issues with feeling scared and anxious when I went to bed. Not sure if they were panic attacks for me but I have always loved to sleep in total darkness but was scared not to have some kind of light on. It made me feel like there was something there in the darkness. Freaky feeling when I started weaning off Effexor. I didn't know it was caused by the Effexor but after reading what everyone else is going through I now know it was.

If I were you I would go back to the lowest dose that didn't make me feel so bad and didn't cause the panic attacks and start weaning a lot slower from there. A lot slower.

You will get lots of good information on this site. They helped me tremendously! Good luck and don't give up! You will get there.

One more thing, I was also taking Effexor for my menopause symptoms but unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) it didn't work for me after a couple months and by that time I had researched the drug enough to know I didn't want to go to a higher dose so then started weaning off it. I was only on it for a few months and it took me a couple months to get off it successfully so you need to go a lot slower and be patient, I think! Also, the doctor I was seeing didn't even think I needed to wean off it since I was only taking 75 mg so that tells you they don't always know what is best for each individual.

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@lilmac44

It will be 4 months at the end of March that I completely stopped Effexor. I continue to suffer from extreme fatigue, hypoglycemic like symptoms, anxiety and shakiness. My cortisol is high at night which interferes with a good night's sleep. I have eliminated wheat from my diet, high carbohydrate foods and sugar. My diet is good and I am eating vegetables, seafood and other foods that provide protein. I rarely eat red meat. I don't know if these symptoms are a result from withdrawal from Effexor or caused by Adrenal dysfunction. Has anyone else experienced these side effects? If so, how long do/did they last in this withdrawal process?

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That is way to fast to withdraw from Effexor. I withdrew over a period of 9 months & I still experienced extreme emotions, crying, anxiety, panic attacks. Plus, I was never on anything larger than 75 mgs. Everyone is different, but I strongly suggest that you taper much slower than what you are currently doing.

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It’s now been about 2-1/2 months since stopping Effexor. I was hoping to not have to go back on any anti-depressants but don’t see that happening. I’ve been trying the cbd oil but that doesn’t seem to help either. I see my doctor next week and will talk to her about it. I hate the thought of going through the different meds again trying to find one that works for me. In the past I’ve tried Zoloft, Celexa, Paxil, and Effexor. Right before stopping all the meds she suggested I try Wellbutrin so I’m wondering if I should give it a try. I’m so afraid of going back on any of these meds since seeing the effects these drugs really have on us but I’m making everyone around me miserable including myself. Has anyone had success with Wellbutrin? Is it as hard to stop taking as the Effexor?

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@lalyfa

It’s now been about 2-1/2 months since stopping Effexor. I was hoping to not have to go back on any anti-depressants but don’t see that happening. I’ve been trying the cbd oil but that doesn’t seem to help either. I see my doctor next week and will talk to her about it. I hate the thought of going through the different meds again trying to find one that works for me. In the past I’ve tried Zoloft, Celexa, Paxil, and Effexor. Right before stopping all the meds she suggested I try Wellbutrin so I’m wondering if I should give it a try. I’m so afraid of going back on any of these meds since seeing the effects these drugs really have on us but I’m making everyone around me miserable including myself. Has anyone had success with Wellbutrin? Is it as hard to stop taking as the Effexor?

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I truly believe you MUST want to be clean and not look for anything to replace any one of these poisons. Yes it is very tough. But you and you alone CAN be clean. I pray for the best outcome for you. I stopped smoking the same way after 47 years of smoking. You just must do things for yourself

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What if you lived what I call a "non-depressive lifestyle" with deep breathing, exercise (as you can tolerate), volunteering (when you help others, like visiting a lonely person in a nursing home, you help yourself, too), doing things you enjoy, being gentle with yourself, and lots of social activity? Worth a shot? Feel well!

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@lalyfa

It’s now been about 2-1/2 months since stopping Effexor. I was hoping to not have to go back on any anti-depressants but don’t see that happening. I’ve been trying the cbd oil but that doesn’t seem to help either. I see my doctor next week and will talk to her about it. I hate the thought of going through the different meds again trying to find one that works for me. In the past I’ve tried Zoloft, Celexa, Paxil, and Effexor. Right before stopping all the meds she suggested I try Wellbutrin so I’m wondering if I should give it a try. I’m so afraid of going back on any of these meds since seeing the effects these drugs really have on us but I’m making everyone around me miserable including myself. Has anyone had success with Wellbutrin? Is it as hard to stop taking as the Effexor?

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Have you tried the genetic testing to see what might be the best drug for you?

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@lalyfa

It’s now been about 2-1/2 months since stopping Effexor. I was hoping to not have to go back on any anti-depressants but don’t see that happening. I’ve been trying the cbd oil but that doesn’t seem to help either. I see my doctor next week and will talk to her about it. I hate the thought of going through the different meds again trying to find one that works for me. In the past I’ve tried Zoloft, Celexa, Paxil, and Effexor. Right before stopping all the meds she suggested I try Wellbutrin so I’m wondering if I should give it a try. I’m so afraid of going back on any of these meds since seeing the effects these drugs really have on us but I’m making everyone around me miserable including myself. Has anyone had success with Wellbutrin? Is it as hard to stop taking as the Effexor?

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@ainsleigh I have not tried the genetic testing but will talk to my doctor about it next week!

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I am so happy I found this group..I have been asking different psychiatrists..even my current one..2 take me off it…there is no more efficacy.
.I have more & more breakthrough depression…so my current psych…just kept upping my dose…I knew intuitively that no one has taken me off due 2 the detox…Now I need 2 really get off this…many years ago my awesome PCP..gave me Prozac while I tapered off…worked great…got on Effexor AGAIN & have been on it 4 years…I know it will b a slow detox…they better give me something 4 the brain zaps…maybe Prozac again? I will b discussing all this next month when I c my Psych…U ALL HAVE BEEN SOOOO HELPFUL TY TY TY…pray 4 me & my detox lol
Jill

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@jillmeryl

I am so happy I found this group..I have been asking different psychiatrists..even my current one..2 take me off it…there is no more efficacy.
.I have more & more breakthrough depression…so my current psych…just kept upping my dose…I knew intuitively that no one has taken me off due 2 the detox…Now I need 2 really get off this…many years ago my awesome PCP..gave me Prozac while I tapered off…worked great…got on Effexor AGAIN & have been on it 4 years…I know it will b a slow detox…they better give me something 4 the brain zaps…maybe Prozac again? I will b discussing all this next month when I c my Psych…U ALL HAVE BEEN SOOOO HELPFUL TY TY TY…pray 4 me & my detox lol
Jill

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Hi, @jillmeryl, and welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. So glad this discussion on tapering off of venlafaxine (Effexor) has been useful to you.

Hope all goes well this next month as you discuss all this with your psychiatrist.

What would you recommend to others who are going off of this medication? Discussing with your primary care provider the possibility of putting you on another medication that might help with the side effects during the taper? Any other strategies you found helpful while tapering off before?

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I've tapered off Effexor many years ago…my PCP gave me Prozac the 1 tablet weekly..no side effects..however; at that time was on a much lower dose…honestly no other medications I tried worked..so back on Effexor smh…been on it for years..I will defiantly b asking my Psych 4 something 4 the withdrawal. I already cut back 75mg..it's been a few days off & so far so good. I am VERY ANGRY that not on Psychiatrist discussed the difficult withdrawals!!!..I just got a book from the library called "On Depression" authored by Nasdir Ghaemi..so far it's very interesting…he's been categorizing the different types of depression..some are genetic or environmental..he will get into the drug aspect as well…I will keep all u wonderful people who have been brave enough 2 share u personal experiences, posted. I c my Psych i believe on April 17th..th. Jill

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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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Thanks for the help. I have tried to wean off Effexor several times, the last time was a 12 week plan. It was difficult and I still haven’t succeeded.

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I've been taking Effexor XR for over 20 years. I recently decided maybe I needed a new med (Welbutrin) but attempting to get off Effexor was horrible ! I guess I will take it forever ! I can't go through the withdrawals !

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