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'm not coming off effexor but am tapering a Benzo right now and it's tough but doable. I'm a fighter and will be a winner. I saw my Psychiatrist today after she received the results of my genetic testing. My body is not tolerate of anything but Pristiq. Both she and I decided I'm going to continue my 6 month taper off my Benzo and call it done…..No more pills. I am however with her approval going to try CBD oil to aid me in my withdrawls. You can do this. Jump in and get your life back. One day at a time, low and slow in the taper. You deserve to be free and happy. There are a lot of us out here tapering and supporting…My Very Best

With medications like SSRIs or SSNRIs you will want to slowly reduce the dosing so your body doesn't have an abrupt stop. This will depend on what is called the 'half-life' of the medication and the dosing. A pharmacist is actually a very good resource to ask if you don't feel comfortable speaking with your doctor but a medical professional should be the one to taper your dosing. I suspect there is a reason you don't want to be on this medication any longer and it will be important to have that addressed. Changing medications might be a better option for you but again this will need to be done carefully. Remember, these are chemical signals that change how your brain functions – it isn't something to mess with. Best of luck & don't be afraid to ask your doctor for help – that is why they are there.

my husband tried CBD oil to minimize symptoms and it helps a lot, but he got fired from his job because there is THC in it and we didn't know it. He tested positive on a DOT drug test and my husband has never even done tobacco. We are in Texas and found out it illegal here but I purchased it at a local health food store. He had to stop taking it.

I’m weaning off of Venlafaxine after only 2 mos of taking it. It caused violent personality changes in me – which is atypical behavior. As in I was yelling at my amazing, gentle boyfriend / soon-to-be fiancé over NOTHING and felt like I could just hit him. HORRIBLE. I felt BIPOLAR. Thank goodness he went through a personality change, too, years before we met when he was trying to find the right meds for his anxiety, so he understood, otherwise I guarantee our almost 2-year relationship would have ended that night. I was sobbing uncontrollably, angry…gosh it was horrible. The medication was supposed to make me feel better for goodness sakes, not turn me into a worse version of myself!

I initially went on it after Sertraline caused only one of my pupils to dilate, and at the advice of the ER pharmacist, I immediately stopped taking the Sertraline, as this can be indicative of a rare but serious side effect. I had wanted help with GAD and bad PMDD, no depression outside of my menstrual cycle. (Can’t take birth control or any other type of hormonal therapy, so I wanted to find alternative options for helping the PMDD.)

My doctor then put me on 37.5 mg of Venlafaxine and as I said now I’m weaning off of it due to the crazy personality change after 2 mos. I’m done trying meds after this; for my somewhat milder symptoms, it’s not worth the side effects.

It’s day 5 of weaning off, I took 1/2 pill per doctor’s advice for the first 3 nights, didn’t take it last night (night 4) and now day 5 I feel like I’m going to throw up. I have the jitters too.

However, I’m kicking myself because I had 4 cups of full caff coffee this morning about 4 hours ago (stupid!), and due to my extreme sensitivity anyway with caffeine, that made my nausea even worse. I feel like I’m about to burst into tears, too, because of not feeling well and the emotional changes of getting off the meds. If it’s this bad after only 2 mos taking 37.5 mg, I can’t imagine how terrible it would be for those on a large dose for years.

My body is HYPER sensitive to all things caffeine, alcohol, med related. My doctor even said she wouldn’t help me further with picking a 3rd medication to try, as my body indicates its more sensitive than others’. She referred me to a psychiatrist as they are “more familiar” with medications for anxiety, etc., and would do a better job picking a medication for me. But since the GAD/PMDD are mostly managable, I’m done with the experiment of trying medication to help – I gave it a good go.

I’m a 5’7”, 120 lbs, (29 yrs old), and my doctor said that having a smaller frame and lower dose should mean I won’t have as bad of withdrawal symptoms. Compared to others, I know she’s right, but as I’m typing this I’m fighting the urge to go try and throw up. AWFUL MEDICATION TO WEAN OFF OF! Do it gradually. Do not stop cold turkey – I am just so glad I was on a low dose for a short time. Doctor said it should only take 7 days for me to wean off since my dose was so small. Thank goodness it’s Saturday, so I can lie on the couch all day and I have tomorrow, too, to help me HOPEFULLY feel normal again by work Monday.

Tips: 1. Stay AWAY from caffeine 2. GRADUAL weaning off 3. Don’t give up! I’m also fighting the urge to take a half a pill today, but I don’t want to do that because that’ll set me back. I’m following my doctor’s weaning-off plan and in her words, there’s not much I can do to wean off since my dose was so small already. She said just to cut the pill in half and take the half pill for 3-4 nights.

Folks who are on very high doses, oh I feel for you. Blessings for strength to keep up the weaning-off path and not to relapse into taking it again.

I was petrified to wean off because “Doctor Internet” had so many posts about Venlafaxine being the worst medication of its kind you can possibly try to wean off of. Doctor Internet was right. It sucks, and I was only on 37.5 mg for 2 mos.

If possible, maybe ask your doctor about going on a different medication if you’re trying to decide between starting Venlafaxine (which is the generic brand of Effexor) and a different medication.

@gb1988

I’m weaning off of Venlafaxine after only 2 mos of taking it. It caused violent personality changes in me – which is atypical behavior. As in I was yelling at my amazing, gentle boyfriend / soon-to-be fiancé over NOTHING and felt like I could just hit him. HORRIBLE. I felt BIPOLAR. Thank goodness he went through a personality change, too, years before we met when he was trying to find the right meds for his anxiety, so he understood, otherwise I guarantee our almost 2-year relationship would have ended that night. I was sobbing uncontrollably, angry…gosh it was horrible. The medication was supposed to make me feel better for goodness sakes, not turn me into a worse version of myself!

I initially went on it after Sertraline caused only one of my pupils to dilate, and at the advice of the ER pharmacist, I immediately stopped taking the Sertraline, as this can be indicative of a rare but serious side effect. I had wanted help with GAD and bad PMDD, no depression outside of my menstrual cycle. (Can’t take birth control or any other type of hormonal therapy, so I wanted to find alternative options for helping the PMDD.)

My doctor then put me on 37.5 mg of Venlafaxine and as I said now I’m weaning off of it due to the crazy personality change after 2 mos. I’m done trying meds after this; for my somewhat milder symptoms, it’s not worth the side effects.

It’s day 5 of weaning off, I took 1/2 pill per doctor’s advice for the first 3 nights, didn’t take it last night (night 4) and now day 5 I feel like I’m going to throw up. I have the jitters too.

However, I’m kicking myself because I had 4 cups of full caff coffee this morning about 4 hours ago (stupid!), and due to my extreme sensitivity anyway with caffeine, that made my nausea even worse. I feel like I’m about to burst into tears, too, because of not feeling well and the emotional changes of getting off the meds. If it’s this bad after only 2 mos taking 37.5 mg, I can’t imagine how terrible it would be for those on a large dose for years.

My body is HYPER sensitive to all things caffeine, alcohol, med related. My doctor even said she wouldn’t help me further with picking a 3rd medication to try, as my body indicates its more sensitive than others’. She referred me to a psychiatrist as they are “more familiar” with medications for anxiety, etc., and would do a better job picking a medication for me. But since the GAD/PMDD are mostly managable, I’m done with the experiment of trying medication to help – I gave it a good go.

I’m a 5’7”, 120 lbs, (29 yrs old), and my doctor said that having a smaller frame and lower dose should mean I won’t have as bad of withdrawal symptoms. Compared to others, I know she’s right, but as I’m typing this I’m fighting the urge to go try and throw up. AWFUL MEDICATION TO WEAN OFF OF! Do it gradually. Do not stop cold turkey – I am just so glad I was on a low dose for a short time. Doctor said it should only take 7 days for me to wean off since my dose was so small. Thank goodness it’s Saturday, so I can lie on the couch all day and I have tomorrow, too, to help me HOPEFULLY feel normal again by work Monday.

Tips: 1. Stay AWAY from caffeine 2. GRADUAL weaning off 3. Don’t give up! I’m also fighting the urge to take a half a pill today, but I don’t want to do that because that’ll set me back. I’m following my doctor’s weaning-off plan and in her words, there’s not much I can do to wean off since my dose was so small already. She said just to cut the pill in half and take the half pill for 3-4 nights.

Folks who are on very high doses, oh I feel for you. Blessings for strength to keep up the weaning-off path and not to relapse into taking it again.

I was petrified to wean off because “Doctor Internet” had so many posts about Venlafaxine being the worst medication of its kind you can possibly try to wean off of. Doctor Internet was right. It sucks, and I was only on 37.5 mg for 2 mos.

If possible, maybe ask your doctor about going on a different medication if you’re trying to decide between starting Venlafaxine (which is the generic brand of Effexor) and a different medication.

Jump to this post

Sorry you are having such a hard time…wow! I've been on Venlafaxine for about 4-5 years now and started down from 150 mg to 75 mg a month ago. Some withdrawal but not too awful. Determined to start 37.5 when I get back from vacation in 4 weeks and stay with it until I'm free. Best wishes for getting yourself free!

@arachel

I have been posting on this thread since I began tapering off from 150mg. It's been 4 months and I'm finally down to 37.5 mg. I've been removing the beads from the capsules slowly. I decided to try removing the beads from the capsules instead of skipping a day between dosages. I tried this method once. It was unsuccessful. So, this time I decided to do it my way. So far so good. My doctor is against me opening the capsules because of the time release element built into the capsules. From what I have observed after opening the capsule, there are large beads and small beads so I suppose the drug in the smaller beads is dissolved faster than the drug in the larger beads. It's pretty difficult to separate the beads into size category so I just decided to do it slowly (5 beads a day). I figured it should level out sooner or later. I did have a few episodes of feeling sick, but it was worth it. The only thing I am noticing after getting down to 37.5 mg is my mood. I am getting some panic attacks. I'm trying to talk myself through them and have resolved not to let panic attacks deter me from my mission. I am curious as to how long panic attack episodes will last. I don't want to start weaning off of the 37.5 until my mood has leveled out. If anyone has any input on how long withdrawal symptoms last, I would love to hear about it.

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Hi- how long did you take this medication? I was on 150 mg from January 22 until April 13. I told my psych nurse practitioner that I wanted off this crap. She said okay but we agreed to start lexapro . So she told me to taper week 1 to 75mg Effexor (sr) and 10mg Lexapro – next week do 75 mg and 20 3rd/4th week so 37.5 and 20mg. My therapist told me no! This is too fast! So I’ve tapered 112.5 and 10 first 10’days- second ten days 75 and 10- this past weeks she had me go up and down between 75 and 37.5 and stay at 10 Lexapro. Today is the final week to 2 weeks of the low dose taper for me.

I have never been on anti depressants like these . I had a nervous breakdown in January after being on Xanax and ambien for 5 was weak. Ending up checking my self into tha psych hospital only to be cold turkey off those meds( I was glad) and then doped up on gabapentin and Effexor.’I got off the gabapentin in 28 days and then started the Effexor taper 5 days later. I have tmjd and now Eustachian tube issues(due to tmjd) – I want off the Effexor so bad! No one understands how hard this stuff is to get off of except my therapist. What would happen if I just stopped the Effexor at 37.5 and let the Lexapro take over? I’ve been doing this for almost 26! Days now.

@tundra

I'm not coming off effexor but am tapering a Benzo right now and it's tough but doable. I'm a fighter and will be a winner. I saw my Psychiatrist today after she received the results of my genetic testing. My body is not tolerate of anything but Pristiq. Both she and I decided I'm going to continue my 6 month taper off my Benzo and call it done…..No more pills. I am however with her approval going to try CBD oil to aid me in my withdrawls. You can do this. Jump in and get your life back. One day at a time, low and slow in the taper. You deserve to be free and happy. There are a lot of us out here tapering and supporting…My Very Best

Jump to this post

Hi, @tundra — since you mentioned tapering off benzodiazepines (benzos), you might be interested in one of these discussions on that subject:
https://mayocl.in/2KbEkNU (protracted benzo withdrawal)
https://mayocl.in/2KFYD6k (FDA warnings on opioids and benzos)

Interesting about your genetic testing and the results with your body only being tolerant of one medication. Will you tell us more about your testing and what led you to do it?

@allamericanmommy

With medications like SSRIs or SSNRIs you will want to slowly reduce the dosing so your body doesn't have an abrupt stop. This will depend on what is called the 'half-life' of the medication and the dosing. A pharmacist is actually a very good resource to ask if you don't feel comfortable speaking with your doctor but a medical professional should be the one to taper your dosing. I suspect there is a reason you don't want to be on this medication any longer and it will be important to have that addressed. Changing medications might be a better option for you but again this will need to be done carefully. Remember, these are chemical signals that change how your brain functions – it isn't something to mess with. Best of luck & don't be afraid to ask your doctor for help – that is why they are there.

Jump to this post

Hi, @allamericanmommy — thanks for the wise advice on reducing SSRIs and SSNRIs. Agreed that pharmacists can be a great resource.

Have you experienced tapering off an selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) or a selective serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SSNRI), @allamericanmommy?

@smccain

my husband tried CBD oil to minimize symptoms and it helps a lot, but he got fired from his job because there is THC in it and we didn't know it. He tested positive on a DOT drug test and my husband has never even done tobacco. We are in Texas and found out it illegal here but I purchased it at a local health food store. He had to stop taking it.

Jump to this post

Hi, @smccain — that is a very wise word of advice — knowing exactly what is in anything you are taking, the legalities where you live and what is allowable at your workplace.

Very sorry to hear your husband lost his job. How is he doing now? Did he switch to another medication?

@gb1988

I’m weaning off of Venlafaxine after only 2 mos of taking it. It caused violent personality changes in me – which is atypical behavior. As in I was yelling at my amazing, gentle boyfriend / soon-to-be fiancé over NOTHING and felt like I could just hit him. HORRIBLE. I felt BIPOLAR. Thank goodness he went through a personality change, too, years before we met when he was trying to find the right meds for his anxiety, so he understood, otherwise I guarantee our almost 2-year relationship would have ended that night. I was sobbing uncontrollably, angry…gosh it was horrible. The medication was supposed to make me feel better for goodness sakes, not turn me into a worse version of myself!

I initially went on it after Sertraline caused only one of my pupils to dilate, and at the advice of the ER pharmacist, I immediately stopped taking the Sertraline, as this can be indicative of a rare but serious side effect. I had wanted help with GAD and bad PMDD, no depression outside of my menstrual cycle. (Can’t take birth control or any other type of hormonal therapy, so I wanted to find alternative options for helping the PMDD.)

My doctor then put me on 37.5 mg of Venlafaxine and as I said now I’m weaning off of it due to the crazy personality change after 2 mos. I’m done trying meds after this; for my somewhat milder symptoms, it’s not worth the side effects.

It’s day 5 of weaning off, I took 1/2 pill per doctor’s advice for the first 3 nights, didn’t take it last night (night 4) and now day 5 I feel like I’m going to throw up. I have the jitters too.

However, I’m kicking myself because I had 4 cups of full caff coffee this morning about 4 hours ago (stupid!), and due to my extreme sensitivity anyway with caffeine, that made my nausea even worse. I feel like I’m about to burst into tears, too, because of not feeling well and the emotional changes of getting off the meds. If it’s this bad after only 2 mos taking 37.5 mg, I can’t imagine how terrible it would be for those on a large dose for years.

My body is HYPER sensitive to all things caffeine, alcohol, med related. My doctor even said she wouldn’t help me further with picking a 3rd medication to try, as my body indicates its more sensitive than others’. She referred me to a psychiatrist as they are “more familiar” with medications for anxiety, etc., and would do a better job picking a medication for me. But since the GAD/PMDD are mostly managable, I’m done with the experiment of trying medication to help – I gave it a good go.

I’m a 5’7”, 120 lbs, (29 yrs old), and my doctor said that having a smaller frame and lower dose should mean I won’t have as bad of withdrawal symptoms. Compared to others, I know she’s right, but as I’m typing this I’m fighting the urge to go try and throw up. AWFUL MEDICATION TO WEAN OFF OF! Do it gradually. Do not stop cold turkey – I am just so glad I was on a low dose for a short time. Doctor said it should only take 7 days for me to wean off since my dose was so small. Thank goodness it’s Saturday, so I can lie on the couch all day and I have tomorrow, too, to help me HOPEFULLY feel normal again by work Monday.

Tips: 1. Stay AWAY from caffeine 2. GRADUAL weaning off 3. Don’t give up! I’m also fighting the urge to take a half a pill today, but I don’t want to do that because that’ll set me back. I’m following my doctor’s weaning-off plan and in her words, there’s not much I can do to wean off since my dose was so small already. She said just to cut the pill in half and take the half pill for 3-4 nights.

Folks who are on very high doses, oh I feel for you. Blessings for strength to keep up the weaning-off path and not to relapse into taking it again.

I was petrified to wean off because “Doctor Internet” had so many posts about Venlafaxine being the worst medication of its kind you can possibly try to wean off of. Doctor Internet was right. It sucks, and I was only on 37.5 mg for 2 mos.

If possible, maybe ask your doctor about going on a different medication if you’re trying to decide between starting Venlafaxine (which is the generic brand of Effexor) and a different medication.

Jump to this post

Hi, @gb1988 — welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. So sorry to hear you went through such hard times when you went on the venlafaxine (Effexor). Truly a blessing that your boyfriend understands how these things can occur and was compassionate and understanding.

Thanks for your all the tips you've shared here about making decisions about going on venlafaxine (Effexor) and about tapering off this medication.

I'd love for you to meet @kdubois, a volunteer mentor here on Connect who has some experience with drug sensitivity and genetic testing related to drug metabolism. @gailb, another volunteer mentor, also may have some thoughts on drug sensitivity/fit for a particular patient, and potential testing in this arena. @seeker619 has also talked about this and may have some thoughts for you.

Please keep posting and let us know how things go for you over the weekend.

@tundra

I'm not coming off effexor but am tapering a Benzo right now and it's tough but doable. I'm a fighter and will be a winner. I saw my Psychiatrist today after she received the results of my genetic testing. My body is not tolerate of anything but Pristiq. Both she and I decided I'm going to continue my 6 month taper off my Benzo and call it done…..No more pills. I am however with her approval going to try CBD oil to aid me in my withdrawls. You can do this. Jump in and get your life back. One day at a time, low and slow in the taper. You deserve to be free and happy. There are a lot of us out here tapering and supporting…My Very Best

Jump to this post

Hi Lisa, I had genetic testing because I have fought for 15 years with anxiety and depression. I wanted off of Benzo's and was going to try SSRI's but my doctor and I have decided not to. I am extremely sensitive to all meds so I'm tapering off my Serax at 10% a month and using CBD to help me. My Psychiatrist is working with me through the tapering and my CBD's. I am looking for positive stories and am staying clear of doom and gloom. I had hit tolerance about 3-4 months prior to starting my taper so I've been fighting hard for a while now.

@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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How has that been working for you?

Can the withdrawal symptoms include paranoia, anxiety or strange nightmares?

@kerwea

Can the withdrawal symptoms include paranoia, anxiety or strange nightmares?

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Kerwea, I am one week off of Effexor and I am having paranoia feelings like I can't breathe. I've been sleeping in my recliner in an upright position. It is causing anxiety and panic. Yes to nightmares and very vivid dreams. Add to this I have bad vertigo and finding it hard to focus. Not fun.

No Advice richyrich, I'm on my second try and I don't know if I'll be able to make it.

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