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

@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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I have to tell you….I literally signed up for an account just so I could comment and let you know how much this post made me laugh. In such a good way. I am in the thick of the withdrawal myself and I look forward to trying your advise. Thank you sooooo much for this!

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Hi all,

Just wanted to fill everyone in, I’m down to 12.5 mg and plan on taking my last dose of it on Thursday night!
My withdrawal has been ok. I feel it’s been most difficult going from 25mg to 12.5mg for some reason. I really hope going from 12.5mg to 0 isn’t a disaster.
Definitely still like the way I feel when withdrawal is at its lowest. So I still know I’m on the right track.
Eating is still a struggle, eating tons of carbs and sugar 🤦🏼‍♀️. Trying not to be so tough on myself.

I’ll keep you posted!

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@flind

This response is 3 years after the initial question "Has anyone had genetic testing that altered their treatment plan or improved their condition?" but the answer is 'yes, I have'. If it is still of interest I can give more details.

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I’d be interested.

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@linxy

I went off Venlafaxine 4 weeks ago after being on it for several years. I tapered down from 225 to 75 myself, it was really ok. But i couldn’t get down to 37.5 without getting brain zaps, nausea, headaches, insomnia, trembling, anxiety and all the rest. I went to see a psychiatrist who booked me into hospital for a couple of days to help me get off and to monitor me. For the first 2 days he put me on 37.5, then and from day 3 nothing. From day 1 though he put me on Urbanol that helped with anxiety, Aropax SR 25 mg, pain meds and nausea meds as necessary, Biotrazadone 100mg at night, Disipal that helped with the brainzaps and shaking and Inderal. Using those meds really helped a lot, i only experienced slight brain zaps, a little bit of nausea, diarrhea and vertigo, nothing as severe as when i tried to go of Venlafaxine by myself. Im off it now and adter a month i only get slight brain zaps occasionally, feeling a little weak and tired but nothing too bad. I could stop using Disipal, Inderal, pain and nausea meds.

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Curious, where do you live? You don’t go to a psyche ward in New York unless you’re… deeply psychotic and a danger to man kind. It’s nice to read about someone who goes to a hospital to get effective treatment.

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I’m still down to 37.5. I’ve never had a brain zap, by the way. I wonder why. Curious some get them and others don’t. Anyways I’m working on the mood side of life trying to understand why I’m depressed to begin with. It’s a slog. I want results and a clear path! So American of me. I hate the zombie thing though. I wonder if I could switch to something less zombie like without upsetting the apple cart. I usually have a very hard time taking new antidepressants. Nasty stuff. Or get down to a smaller dose. I’ll ask the doc how to split 37.5 in half without all of those tiny beads. I imagine it’ll be switching to regular Effexor and getting those little tablets.

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@shermananski

I’m still down to 37.5. I’ve never had a brain zap, by the way. I wonder why. Curious some get them and others don’t. Anyways I’m working on the mood side of life trying to understand why I’m depressed to begin with. It’s a slog. I want results and a clear path! So American of me. I hate the zombie thing though. I wonder if I could switch to something less zombie like without upsetting the apple cart. I usually have a very hard time taking new antidepressants. Nasty stuff. Or get down to a smaller dose. I’ll ask the doc how to split 37.5 in half without all of those tiny beads. I imagine it’ll be switching to regular Effexor and getting those little tablets.

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Yes, definitely try the generic brand of Effexor, it’s called Venlafaxine, I believe mine is the extended release (XR). The white tablets have completely helped me! The lowest dosage is 37.5mg in pill form and then if you open it up it is by 12.5mg increments (white tablets)

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Oh, my goodness. The generic form of Effexor, Venlafaxine, is the main drug most of us have fought long and hard for many months and sometimes years to be weaned from using for various health concerns and suspicions that it has stopped working. If you do decide to go on it, do so with caution as the withdrawals from missing just a single dose yields very uncomfortable symptoms within a few hours of missing it….nausea, dizziness, diarrhea, headaches, and light sensitivity, to name the worst. The daily micro weaning off from even a small therapeutic dose such as 37.5 mg can take weeks to do if you don’t want to gamble on having awful and sometimes catastrophic withdrawal symptoms. Take caution, my friend. Please take the time to read the invaluable information about using Venlafaxine found in this forum. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. Good luck in managing your anxiety and depression symptoms.

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@sheffieldsmith

Oh, my goodness. The generic form of Effexor, Venlafaxine, is the main drug most of us have fought long and hard for many months and sometimes years to be weaned from using for various health concerns and suspicions that it has stopped working. If you do decide to go on it, do so with caution as the withdrawals from missing just a single dose yields very uncomfortable symptoms within a few hours of missing it….nausea, dizziness, diarrhea, headaches, and light sensitivity, to name the worst. The daily micro weaning off from even a small therapeutic dose such as 37.5 mg can take weeks to do if you don’t want to gamble on having awful and sometimes catastrophic withdrawal symptoms. Take caution, my friend. Please take the time to read the invaluable information about using Venlafaxine found in this forum. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. Good luck in managing your anxiety and depression symptoms.

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One other withdrawal symptom worth mentioning – screaming tinnitus that doesn't go away. Good luck. : )

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@lynsyrae5

I have to tell you….I literally signed up for an account just so I could comment and let you know how much this post made me laugh. In such a good way. I am in the thick of the withdrawal myself and I look forward to trying your advise. Thank you sooooo much for this!

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I just signed up to this sight for the same reason! To understand that this “feeling” is JUST a withdrawal from Effexor XR. Took this 2 years, cold turkey 3 days ago! Best of luck to you!!

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@rainer

One other withdrawal symptom worth mentioning – screaming tinnitus that doesn't go away. Good luck. : )

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Talking, talking, talking to others while fighting through the worst of withdrawals has shown other nasty issues are showing up in different people with a frequency beyond coincidence – a very sore throat, with glands in the neck like solid painful rocks, hair loss, ridges in fingernails that have become soft and peeling, and sensitivity to smells as well as sounds. Everything in the world is turned up too high.

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@sheffieldsmith

Oh, my goodness. The generic form of Effexor, Venlafaxine, is the main drug most of us have fought long and hard for many months and sometimes years to be weaned from using for various health concerns and suspicions that it has stopped working. If you do decide to go on it, do so with caution as the withdrawals from missing just a single dose yields very uncomfortable symptoms within a few hours of missing it….nausea, dizziness, diarrhea, headaches, and light sensitivity, to name the worst. The daily micro weaning off from even a small therapeutic dose such as 37.5 mg can take weeks to do if you don’t want to gamble on having awful and sometimes catastrophic withdrawal symptoms. Take caution, my friend. Please take the time to read the invaluable information about using Venlafaxine found in this forum. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. Good luck in managing your anxiety and depression symptoms.

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Absolutely agree with if someone decides to go on it proceed with caution. I started on Effexor and I still had all the same withdrawal symptoms as the generic brand.
In no way am I saying to switch to any type of medication! I would never recommend someone be on Effexor or Venlafaxine. Trust me, I’ve been trying to get off them now for over a month.
I just know that what I’m doing with my dosage decrease is working so far.
That’s all I was saying 🙂

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Last night was my last day taking my 12.5 mg. Tonight when I got to bed I won’t be taking any.
I’m a little nervous, I feel like I have some brain zaps tonight and definitely am emotional this evening. It comes and goes for sure.
I bought Advil and Gravol Ginger chews to help with any nausea I may experience.
Fingers crossed this works ok! REALLY hoping that my withdrawal is easier from 12.5mg to 0mg compares to 75 or 37.5mg!
I will keep you posted.

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