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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@chicago1211

I was taking 150mg of Ven for a year then 225mg for another year. Since they stopped helping me at all and my depression was there again, I questioned myself why I take them and discontinued taking them. I’m going through hell right now I want to kill my self but at least there’s no such miserable feeling anymore that I’m hooked on useless medication. Well, seems like my body was hooked. There’s no way out apparently. I don’t want to take that poison anymore even though my cells are craving for it. My mind knows it’ll just bring me back in the vicious circle.

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Are you tapering under the supervision of a doctor. It MUST be done very very very slowly.

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@secretwhitepop

I’m not a doctor, but going off Effexor on the weekends? That sounds like a recipe for misery! Just ween. Ween slowly. If you get to a point where you feel bad, you’ve gone too fast. Consider talking with another medical professional or an accessible pharmacist. This is a really big deal that your doctor should be taking very seriously.

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In my opinion Antidepressants are just as bad as Benzos. Yet the docs want to take one off the benzo and shove those wicked antidepressants on you. And they are wicked!

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@clg

Not sure if you still on here, but your situation is me current day. Only been on low dose for past 4 months, and weaning off. Dr. has me starting with going it off it for the weekends for the first month, and then down to taking it M/W/F for a month…. Today was day 2 and just horrible. Please tell me it gets easier

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This is way too fast to taper. Your doctor doesn’t know how to taper. I can’t fathom how she decided this was the proper way to taper an antidepressant especially Effexor. It’s probably the hardest one to get off of.

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@texasduchess

Your doctor can prescribe a different formulation–changing from extended-release capsules to regular-release tablets (I was on 25mg regular-release tablets that could be cut), or specifying a certain brand of capsules (@farm_mom found Teva had the most consistent size and number of beads within a capsule–helpful to those counting and throwing out beads to taper–see @sandij, or @doorman on how to do this). Or your doctor can write a prescription for a compounding pharmacy to make tapered doses for you (the extra cost may well be worth it because you can glide down in incremental amounts, rather than make rather large jagged drops).

Ask your doctor about a "Prozac bridge"–essentially, the Prozac cushions the effect of no Effexor and lets you "ride out" the withdrawal process.–https://natashatracy.com/treatment-issues/withdrawal/antidepressants-effexorpristiq-venlafaxinedesvenlafaxine/. See also https://www.depressionforums.org/forums/topic/107532-coming-off-of-effexor-with-prozac-bridge/.

P.S. There's a lot of info on this blog–it is worth your time to read it all. You can click on anyone's name and read all their posts.

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Excellent advice about the Prozac bridge.

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@chicago1211

I was taking 150mg of Ven for a year then 225mg for another year. Since they stopped helping me at all and my depression was there again, I questioned myself why I take them and discontinued taking them. I’m going through hell right now I want to kill my self but at least there’s no such miserable feeling anymore that I’m hooked on useless medication. Well, seems like my body was hooked. There’s no way out apparently. I don’t want to take that poison anymore even though my cells are craving for it. My mind knows it’ll just bring me back in the vicious circle.

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@chicago1211

SLOWLY!!! SLOWLY!!! SLOWLY!!!
We’re talking infinitesimally small doses
If you taper slowly enough you probably won’t have any side effects whatsoever, although it is still possible but much less likely. if your brain hardly notices the difference in dosage you may very well nhot have any withdrawals whatsoever.
How much were you tapering at a time and how long had you been taking the medication prior to beginning your taper?
The longer you had been on this medication before the beginning of your taper the slower you’re going to need to go the longer you had been on this medication before the beginning of your taper the sloooooooooer you’re going to need to go. Some people have been taking this medication for decades but yet they want to get off of it in a matter of weeks are only a few months. That’s completely unreasonable and incomprehensible to me but virtually everyone goes off it t fast and comes back here and complains about their withdrawals.
If you believe you can do without the medication I hope you try it again but this time depending on how long you’ve been on your medicine reduce it by five or 10%. Don’t reduce by the same milligrams every time you decrease your dose and Stay on each does three weeks minimum.
Best of luck to you,
Jake

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@secretwhitepop

Hey, Chicago, please keep reading and stay with us. Last thing you probably want to hear right now is to exercise and meditate, but it can help, if only a little. Also know that there are other medications out there that can help with depression. I can honestly attest that I successfully weened off Effexor – however, my anxiety and depression came back. But now I’m on seroquel and zoloft. I feel almost normal. I am very functional and am able to be a mom and wife. It’s sucks so bad having to be medicated just to feel normal. I would do anything to be as happy as some people seem despite not being medicated. I often wonder if it would have been better if I never started taking meds over twenty years ago. But what’s done is done. Please talk to a doctor or another doctor or nurse practitioner or pharmacist for something to help at least while you get yourself off Effexor. Perhaps even something homeopathic? Have you looked at any posts by Brightwings? CBD works fabulously for some folks! (Not me, but everyone is different). It’s worth a shot!

Stay in touch.

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I appreciate your concern.
“It’s sucks so bad having to be medicated just to feel normal. I would do anything to be as happy as some people seem despite not being medicated”. So true. It’s hard for me to accept this reality so I went off.
I would have continued taking the meds if they’d helped me. But they don’t. Only the first 5-6 months I felt some improvements. Then they’ve become like one those life-sustaining devises. If you discontinue them you’re dead but with them you’re not “living” anyway. Well those devices don’t give you any side effects at least. But antidepressants have a full bouquet. Again, I will bear most of the side effects if I feel like meds are helping.
I haven’t tried CBD, not sure if it could help cause my worst symptoms are vertigo, nightmares, mood swings and absolute loss of coordination.
The shitty part here is that most of them are mental (except vertigo n dizziness) so I’m pretty sure my doc can’t prescribe anything but another dose of psychoactive drug. Check mate here.

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Additional info to my post: First I’ve been tapering slowly and went down to 37.5mg without any symptoms. Then I went to 0 and got a mental breakdown. Then my doc prescribed me 60mg of Cymbalta and I’ve switched the drug (quit Ven). Have been taking Cymbalta for 20 days, 0 improvements whatsoever. So yes basically I’ve understood that if I continue I’ll just get further and further physically hooked on Cymbalta without getting any actual help from it. That’s why I went cold turkey. I didn’t want to feed my body with it, not another milligram, so my cells are less likely to develop dependence.

Oh wait. From which medicine am I experiencing withdrawal syndromes then. Venlafaxine? Cymbalta? I feel like SNRI in general. My body need to get used to not having any dose of SNRI. How? No clue. My doc seem to have no clue as well.

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@chicago1211

I was taking 150mg of Ven for a year then 225mg for another year. Since they stopped helping me at all and my depression was there again, I questioned myself why I take them and discontinued taking them. I’m going through hell right now I want to kill my self but at least there’s no such miserable feeling anymore that I’m hooked on useless medication. Well, seems like my body was hooked. There’s no way out apparently. I don’t want to take that poison anymore even though my cells are craving for it. My mind knows it’ll just bring me back in the vicious circle.

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Hi, @chicago1211 – welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. Discontinuing some antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications can be like going through hell, so to speak, and make you feel just awful. I had one withdrawal from an antidepressant that was evidently too fast, and I finally had to sit myself in the corner of my kitchen on the floor to make sure I didn't say or do anything I didn't want to be doing and asked my husband to please take me to urgent care immediately. They had to give me an antianxiety medication to take over the weekend to smooth out my taper and the side effects I was experiencing.

I don't know how serious you are about saying you want to kill yourself, but I do want you to meet @jimhd, who may have some thoughts to share with you. I also want you to know that this is a safe place to talk, even about tough stuff that can happen during a taper. Others who may identify with what you are experiencing right now and be able to provide some support include @brightwings @sandij @laujenkins @cp6401.

chicago1211, if at any point you start to feel like you may consider hurting yourself, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for immediate help. Your safety is the most important thing to us.

Have you chatted with your doctor about your move off of this medication and how things are going? If so, what did she or he say?

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@clg

Not sure if you still on here, but your situation is me current day. Only been on low dose for past 4 months, and weaning off. Dr. has me starting with going it off it for the weekends for the first month, and then down to taking it M/W/F for a month…. Today was day 2 and just horrible. Please tell me it gets easier

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I completely agree with @texasduchess! I believe you’d be better tapering, the yo-yo ing is so much for your body to handle and quite frankly, I don’t understand how someone can be successful doing every other day. It’s been a week an a half of my off Venlafaxine completely and I’m starting to feel great! I did it by tapering and yes, it was tough, but I feel like it was much more manageable than every other day. Again, I am NOT a doctor, but felt this was the best way for me to go about it!

Good luck! We are here for you! 💜

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@chicago1211

I appreciate your concern.
“It’s sucks so bad having to be medicated just to feel normal. I would do anything to be as happy as some people seem despite not being medicated”. So true. It’s hard for me to accept this reality so I went off.
I would have continued taking the meds if they’d helped me. But they don’t. Only the first 5-6 months I felt some improvements. Then they’ve become like one those life-sustaining devises. If you discontinue them you’re dead but with them you’re not “living” anyway. Well those devices don’t give you any side effects at least. But antidepressants have a full bouquet. Again, I will bear most of the side effects if I feel like meds are helping.
I haven’t tried CBD, not sure if it could help cause my worst symptoms are vertigo, nightmares, mood swings and absolute loss of coordination.
The shitty part here is that most of them are mental (except vertigo n dizziness) so I’m pretty sure my doc can’t prescribe anything but another dose of psychoactive drug. Check mate here.

Jump to this post

Tell your doctor that you feel like you're going through hell and want to kill yourself. Read why and how better to get off Effexor here–https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/05/health/depression-withdrawal-drugs.html.

Yes, your "cells are craving" the Effexor–antidepressants are VERY powerful; Effexor affects your brain's neurotransmitters–serotonin and norepinephrine. While reducing, or after getting off Effexor, it takes your brain a while to figure out how to rebalance serotonin and norepinephrine.

OTC medications and supplements can help with some of the withdrawal symptoms. Ben*dryl, Bon*ine, or other seasickness remedies can reduce/minimize the dizziness/vertigo. Here's a good article re how to mitigate withdrawal effects with supplements–https://www.4mind4life.com/effexor-withdrawal-symptoms. (Fish oil may be more helpful than krill oil.)

There's a lot of info on this blog–it is worth your time to read it all. Also, you can click on anyone's name and read just their posts.

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@sandij

Count the beads in the capsule. Calculate how many mg are in each bead. (For instance if there were 75 beads in a 75 mg capsule each bead would be equal to 1 mg.) Then take out enough beads to equal between 5 to 10 percent of your dosage (in this case between 3 to 7 beads, always err on the conservative side). Stay at that dosage for a few weeks at least, then you can repeat the process.
This is my second attempt at tapering. I'm on 150 mg and there are over 260 beads in each one of my capsules. Try counting those, if you arent anxious and depressed before you start, you will be by the time you're done playing with those tiny skittering little monsters! Lol. Honestly though, just pour them onto a dark towel to make it easy on yourself. Tweezers help immensely. You will get there slowly but surely.

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@clg this is exactly what I did. It took me a month to get off Venlafaxine and this helped so much! The withdrawal was definitely there, but it was manageable!

All the best!

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@chicago1211

Additional info to my post: First I’ve been tapering slowly and went down to 37.5mg without any symptoms. Then I went to 0 and got a mental breakdown. Then my doc prescribed me 60mg of Cymbalta and I’ve switched the drug (quit Ven). Have been taking Cymbalta for 20 days, 0 improvements whatsoever. So yes basically I’ve understood that if I continue I’ll just get further and further physically hooked on Cymbalta without getting any actual help from it. That’s why I went cold turkey. I didn’t want to feed my body with it, not another milligram, so my cells are less likely to develop dependence.

Oh wait. From which medicine am I experiencing withdrawal syndromes then. Venlafaxine? Cymbalta? I feel like SNRI in general. My body need to get used to not having any dose of SNRI. How? No clue. My doc seem to have no clue as well.

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Did you try breaking open the Venlafaxine capsule and tapering your dose from 37.5mg? Each white tablet is 12.5 mg there’s 6 tablets in the 37.5mg capsule (this is for Venlafaxine not Effexor) once I got to one tablet I stopped taking it from there! It definitely sounds like you’re going through Venlafaxine withdrawal, maybe add a few white tablets in to help ease the symptoms?

This community forum is incredible and such a safe place to talk and discuss how your feeling! Know you’re not alone in this process! Share your thoughts and worries and we can support you on them! Most of us on here have been through it too!

Good luck & we’re here for you 💜

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