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

@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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I wonder if anyone has tried weaning off Effexor with the help of CBD oil. That is what I am trying this time.

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@careth2

Hi there! I am new to Connect, but hopefully can offer some insight. I DID go off 150 Effexor XR (name brand) COLD TURKEY on January 2016. I survived it, but will never in my life EVER go off ANY antidepressant cold turkey. I had taken Effexor for at least 8 years, Zoloft prior to that and and Imipramine (sp?) as the first antidepressant (in all 25+ years on antidepressants.) It all started with running out of meds over a long weekend and deciding it was time to try to get off antidepressants to see how I would do. Since I had recently retired from teaching, thought this would be an ideal time to give it a go. In addition, Effexor just wasn’t helping all that much anymore (I thought.) The first 3 days I felt like I was going to die! When I realized that I wasn’t dying, decided to keep going to get it all over with. In addition to the symptoms you have heard about, I had deep bone/joint pain that felt like I was being pinched with clamps. Also had skin sensations and peeling, and noticed a strange smell on my skin. Each day got a little better and by the 3rd week started to function a bit more normally. I was very emotional, however, which caused my family great concern. Well, to make a long story short, the depression crept back in full and I am still trying to get my life back. I did everything I could to stay stable, including herbal supplements and took a vacation where I hiked 6 miles daily for 9 days on hilly, rocky terrain. I finally had to accept that I’m a person who will need antidepressants for the rest of my life. With the help of a PCP and counselor, I am on my 3rd antidepressant & may need to resort to going back on Effexor, because nothing seems to be working. All in all, in my opinion, the chronic depression is worse than the withdrawal symptoms that do eventually end. If you are a person with situational depression, you may be successful weaning off Effexor gradually. If I were to do it again, that’s what I would do (while replacing Effexor with something else.) Here are the things that helped me with the physical withdrawal symptoms:
1. Get plenty of sleep/rest.
2. Eat a very well-balanced diet (this is not the time to worry about your weight.) Lots of soup & easy to digest foods the 1st few days.
3. Drink plenty of water, including coconut water.
4. Have a glass of wine in the evening (if advisable.)
5. Get outside and walk or other excersize (the warm sunshine will feel good!)
6. Hot yoga 3-4 times per week. Stay in class even if you feel nauseous & can only do a few postures.
7. Soak in a hot tub (with bath salts if available.)
8. Use a good moisturizer on face & body several times per day.
9. Get several professional massages.
10. Take Tylenol for muscle pain, if OK on your stomach.
11. A heating pad is also helpful at bedtime or during naps.
12. If you are single & live alone, make sure a few trusted friends/family members know what you are doing.
13. In general, be kind & gentle to yourself.
14. NEVER give up! Keep going, even when you don’t feel like it (which will be often.) YOU ARE WORTH IT!!!

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I’m sorry it didn’t work out for you. My history is similar to yours, I have been on several antidepressants starting with Prozac for 30+ years.

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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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@nankee how did you go about finding a Dr with that type of experience?

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I wrote in March how I had begun to wean off of Effexor after 20+ years of use. I was on 150 mg. My Psychiatrist lowered my dose from 150mg to 75mg and for a month I had no problems or withdrawals. She then lowered it to 37.5mg and for the past week, I have been so sick. Dizzy, nausea, vomiting, problems focusing, chills sweating and a feeling of restlessness of my arms and legs and a constant headache. I called my doctor today for advice and she told me I could go back on the 75mg for a week and see if the symptoms disappeared. If they did it would my decision either to go back to the 37.5mg dose or wait another 4 weeks before trying again. In the meantime, I have been prescribed Ondansetron for nausea. I'm asking for advice. I want to get this poison out of my system as I have recently been diagnosed with stage 3 kidney failure and Effexor is one of the drugs that are bad for kidneys. I'd like to soldier on but I don't know if I can. Any advice welcome.

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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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@4732 I did not wean off of Effexor with the help of cbd oil but I recently started using it in hopes that I won’t need to go back on the anti-depressants. I made the huge mistake of taking too high a dose at the beginning which made my depression much worse. I’ve dropped down to 1 drop and am doing well & am encouraged.

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@poisonivy

I wrote in March how I had begun to wean off of Effexor after 20+ years of use. I was on 150 mg. My Psychiatrist lowered my dose from 150mg to 75mg and for a month I had no problems or withdrawals. She then lowered it to 37.5mg and for the past week, I have been so sick. Dizzy, nausea, vomiting, problems focusing, chills sweating and a feeling of restlessness of my arms and legs and a constant headache. I called my doctor today for advice and she told me I could go back on the 75mg for a week and see if the symptoms disappeared. If they did it would my decision either to go back to the 37.5mg dose or wait another 4 weeks before trying again. In the meantime, I have been prescribed Ondansetron for nausea. I'm asking for advice. I want to get this poison out of my system as I have recently been diagnosed with stage 3 kidney failure and Effexor is one of the drugs that are bad for kidneys. I'd like to soldier on but I don't know if I can. Any advice welcome.

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@poisonivy I did fine weaning off Effexor till I finished the week of 37.5 then the withdrawals started bad. I found that taking motion sickness meds OTC helped a lot with dizziness and nausea. I used Botene. However it take about 6 weeks for the withdrawals to go away after I stopped completely.

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I've been on Effexor 150xr for about two years, after many other drugs failed. Before taking it, I had pretty bad OCD, slept only a few hours a night, and had severe anger and anxiety. I am now so sensitive to this drug that if I'm off by a few hours taking it, I start reverting back to my old self (which is very unpleasant for everyone involved). I once went four days without it and after two days of vomiting and dizziness, I spent the next two days doing random things with no caring, empathy, or remorse. It was awful. I have almost no signs of OCD now and I can finally go to a store by myself without sweating profusely and being very irritable. I want off of this but I still want to function!

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@lisajill12073

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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Hello, @lisajill12073. Welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. Sorry your experience tapering off the venlafaxine (Effexor XR) was so horrible.

What symptoms were you experiencing when you went on the venlafaxine (Effexor XR) years ago? What made you decide to look for a new medication recently?

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@nikd

I've been on Effexor 150xr for about two years, after many other drugs failed. Before taking it, I had pretty bad OCD, slept only a few hours a night, and had severe anger and anxiety. I am now so sensitive to this drug that if I'm off by a few hours taking it, I start reverting back to my old self (which is very unpleasant for everyone involved). I once went four days without it and after two days of vomiting and dizziness, I spent the next two days doing random things with no caring, empathy, or remorse. It was awful. I have almost no signs of OCD now and I can finally go to a store by myself without sweating profusely and being very irritable. I want off of this but I still want to function!

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I’ve talked to my doctor about reading about the difficulty and symptoms of this medicine. His feeling if it’s working for someone then they probably need it and it’s working for them. He said he’s had people quit cold turkey and have no problems. But I think some people (like us on this site) have a sensitive system and these are side effects.
I was on 20 mg of Lexapro that didn’t seems to be working for severe anxiety, fear of being alone, crying, panic attacks in the middle of the night, turning all of this into depression and difficultly getting out of the bed. I was so worried about changing medication but knew something had to happen in hopes of feeling better he put me on Xanax morning and night and taking 150mg of Effexor once a day for 2 weeks. After one week I felt so much better. It was a huge turn around for me and I was able to actually think about other things I could do to make changes. I have done CBT and regular therapy. Exercise makes an amazing difference in how I feel. No sugar makes a big difference as well. I think the Xanax helping me sleep initially was huge. If I don’t sleep I am very emotional the day after so now I know that sleep is very important which I didn’t realize before.

So in realizing that this medication definitely helped me in the beginning I’ve been taking it for eight years I would like to go off of it completely or at least reduce the dosage. I didn’t realize this medication is hard on the liver which I guess all medications are but my doctor said he doesn’t worry about this medication and it’s long-term use. I only started having severe anxiety after having children. This is not been a lifelong struggle for me. Only since my 30s.
My struggle is trying to figure out if I should switch to a different medication or just know that this one works and continue taking yet. But I have also had side effects when I do miss it one time I feel like I’m in a bubble. Even though I have made great strides and even though I have made great strides and learned a lot and that’s why feel like I could manage without medication but really wondering if it’s a brain change and I’ll need the medication like any other disorder or disease. No other health conditions at all. Opinions??

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@poisonivy

I wrote in March how I had begun to wean off of Effexor after 20+ years of use. I was on 150 mg. My Psychiatrist lowered my dose from 150mg to 75mg and for a month I had no problems or withdrawals. She then lowered it to 37.5mg and for the past week, I have been so sick. Dizzy, nausea, vomiting, problems focusing, chills sweating and a feeling of restlessness of my arms and legs and a constant headache. I called my doctor today for advice and she told me I could go back on the 75mg for a week and see if the symptoms disappeared. If they did it would my decision either to go back to the 37.5mg dose or wait another 4 weeks before trying again. In the meantime, I have been prescribed Ondansetron for nausea. I'm asking for advice. I want to get this poison out of my system as I have recently been diagnosed with stage 3 kidney failure and Effexor is one of the drugs that are bad for kidneys. I'd like to soldier on but I don't know if I can. Any advice welcome.

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Hello @poisonivy & to the group as well! I am happy to say I am completely off of the poison drug effexor. It has been almost two weeks now from my last dosage of one half of a 25 mg prescribed by a psych MD which I took for one week then off and on for 7 more days until I quit. I have experienced ALL of what you have experienced and more. I was on Effexor 150 mg since 2008 when I, by the suggestion of my doctor, decided to take the addictive drug effexor.
I am still having a FEW physical side effects left over from the withdrawal such as some insomnia, hot sweats, muscle cramps etc. and also some defined and EXTREMELY uncomfortable gastro/indigestion issues.that arrive whenever they please, including middle of the night, gas pain. Emotionally I am stabilized now with only a bit of emotional crying and much less anger than when going through the tapers. So the withdrawal symptoms are sometimes there but much lighter and nothing like it has been during tapering down times.
I believe this med has messed with my ENTIRE central nervous system. I am here to help. Please do heed advice from actual humans who have experienced this drug….not from people who have never even ingested it.
The drug will not be on the market much longer. People are writing about it globally. I just pray for the ones who start it. God Bless…..hang in there. The jest of it is…I was tapered to 75 mg and began immediately having horrid withdrawals on every level in August of 2015. I just thought I was sick with a disease or flu due to all of the symptoms. Went back up to my dosage of 150 it was so bad. After experiencing this, I made up my mind at that time that the goal would be to get off of this bad drug completely. I began again with tapering with psych MD in December of 2015. I have journals of all of it. And I highly suggest you keep a journal of all including doses, dosages, doc visits, and all of the symptoms both physically and mentally you have experienced throughout. After several months of tapering, I got down to 37.5 mg in December of 2016 and stayed there until I began tapering about three months ago with psych md again….with each taper came to the same exact symptoms, imagine that. My doctor gave me a script for 25mg Ven/Effex and 10mg of Prozac in February of this year….Immediately with the new taper same withdrawal effects and more symptoms physically, emotionally and mentally. I never took the Prozac and I have been using lots of otc medicines to help me get through nausea and gastro/digestive issues. I was feeling so angry and agitated off and on for months and weeks especially during each beginning of each taper down. Pepto Bismol for nausea and gastric…also Gas X, Tums, Dramamine…these as needed….I am taking the supplement 5HTP as has been suggested on other websites, a B Complex, calcium, multivitamins, and am eating lots of healthy food, Gatorade (G2), coconut water and regular filtered water… I actually am off the couch and out of bed and want to socialize and exercise. I am now not on anything prescribed.
I made it through and so can you.

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@poisonivy

I wrote in March how I had begun to wean off of Effexor after 20+ years of use. I was on 150 mg. My Psychiatrist lowered my dose from 150mg to 75mg and for a month I had no problems or withdrawals. She then lowered it to 37.5mg and for the past week, I have been so sick. Dizzy, nausea, vomiting, problems focusing, chills sweating and a feeling of restlessness of my arms and legs and a constant headache. I called my doctor today for advice and she told me I could go back on the 75mg for a week and see if the symptoms disappeared. If they did it would my decision either to go back to the 37.5mg dose or wait another 4 weeks before trying again. In the meantime, I have been prescribed Ondansetron for nausea. I'm asking for advice. I want to get this poison out of my system as I have recently been diagnosed with stage 3 kidney failure and Effexor is one of the drugs that are bad for kidneys. I'd like to soldier on but I don't know if I can. Any advice welcome.

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Glad to hear you are off of it and doing well @lalyfa

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@sadiesmom

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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I had many or all of these symptoms…….hang in there, take your time, patience… : )

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