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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Hi I am trying to get off Effexor. I have been on 37.5 capsules for 2 weeks. I was on 75 capsules and had no problem going to 37.5. Now on 37.5 and trying to get off. No go Too sick. I am working with a psychiatric nurse trying to find an antidepressant that works, without 1000 side effects for me. Effexor did not seem to be the right medication. My doctor (psychiatric nurse) who was a new provider for me did the Gene sight test on me, This is where a swap is taken from your mouth and sent to a lab. The tests is suppose to be helpful in identifying a medication that is most likely to help. Well test comes back and as I already knew, Effexor was not one of my bodies favorites. So, she puts me on Trintellix and tells me to take the Trintellix and the 37.5 effexor together for 2 weeks and then stop the effexor. The withdrawal from the 37.5 effexor stopped me cold. I am now going into my 4th week and I stay on the Effexor because I can not handle the withdrawal and even with both meds I am depressed with all the depression issues including anger, sadness, being angry at everyone and everything. (except my 3 year old great grandbaby and her Momma) I will have the computer version of an appointment with the doctor today and I guess come up with a new plan. I am thinking that Trintellix is not the medication for me. I don't care what the Gene test says. Please, and advise, encouragement will be helpful, I will let you know what the doc says today. Thank you.

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Hi I am 59 year old woman on Effexor for a long time maybe 15 years and prior to that prozac and whatever antidepressant was on the go at the time. My problem was principally anxiety. I took early retirement about 3 years ago and have tried several times to get off effexor. I feel lethargic. lacking energy and a strange symptom and interested in anyone else experiencing this.. A slow down in my breathing coupled with fatigue. It's as if metabolism has slowed down plus motility movement of food through the gut. My limbs feel heavy though I garden walk etc but my out breath seems to carry on forever! Any time I try to go off heartbeat and dreads crank up again though I have little to dread or be anxious about. I honestly think there is a hormonal connection here between menopause and effexor also. Can anyone relate to this experience. I would like to be healthier for the last few years of life.. Interested in perspectives. Thanks in advance

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@annie60

Hi I am 59 year old woman on Effexor for a long time maybe 15 years and prior to that prozac and whatever antidepressant was on the go at the time. My problem was principally anxiety. I took early retirement about 3 years ago and have tried several times to get off effexor. I feel lethargic. lacking energy and a strange symptom and interested in anyone else experiencing this.. A slow down in my breathing coupled with fatigue. It's as if metabolism has slowed down plus motility movement of food through the gut. My limbs feel heavy though I garden walk etc but my out breath seems to carry on forever! Any time I try to go off heartbeat and dreads crank up again though I have little to dread or be anxious about. I honestly think there is a hormonal connection here between menopause and effexor also. Can anyone relate to this experience. I would like to be healthier for the last few years of life.. Interested in perspectives. Thanks in advance

Jump to this post

Hi @annie60 and welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. You'll notice that I moved your message to this existing discussion called "Tips on minimising withdrawal symptoms from Effexor (aka Venlafaxine)." It is one of the longest and most active discussion groups about Effexor. I moved your message here so the you can benefit from the knowledge and experience of many members who know just what you're going through like @texasduchess @summertime4 @shermananski @secretwhitepop @sandij @jh31251 @sears and many others.

Simply click VIEW & REPLY in the email notification to scroll through past posts.

Annie, what dosage of Effexor are you currently on? What is your taper plan?

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@colleenyoung

Hi @annie60 and welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. You'll notice that I moved your message to this existing discussion called "Tips on minimising withdrawal symptoms from Effexor (aka Venlafaxine)." It is one of the longest and most active discussion groups about Effexor. I moved your message here so the you can benefit from the knowledge and experience of many members who know just what you're going through like @texasduchess @summertime4 @shermananski @secretwhitepop @sandij @jh31251 @sears and many others.

Simply click VIEW & REPLY in the email notification to scroll through past posts.

Annie, what dosage of Effexor are you currently on? What is your taper plan?

Jump to this post

On 75mg. I think taper plan would be to go to 37.5 1 day for a week then 2 days until I get to 37.5 every day but will hv to discuss with doctor. She will probably be not again. Also I am considering adding low dose hrt maybe patches to help to get out the other side! My thinking is that menopause affects ability to metabolise the chemical as well as all the hormonal changes. I am 59 and still have meno symptoms.

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@annie60.. I think I may be able to stop my 1/4 of 1/2 of 36.5 effexor. I think None today. I think I told you the psychiatric nurse prescribed Trintellix to replace the Effexor. I contacted her today and let her know I am stopping the Trintellix. I have taken it for 6 weeks and had all negative reactions. I kept hoping and praying the Trintellix would be the one for me. Everyday I took it and every day I felt worse. There is an awesome saying in AA. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. She agreed and recommended Pristiq, another depression medication that I have not used before. At least I think I haven't. I of course researched the Pristiq and it is VERY similar in compound as Effexor. I messaged her back telling her of my concerns over another "Like Effexor" I haven't heard back yet. Did I also tell you that she did the Genesight test and Trintellix is one my genetic test said would be helpful. She said Pristiq also came up as good on the Genesight test. Well then what about Effexor which wasn't helpful? So I am medication free for depression and so we will see the recommendation tomorrow. She said I could just stop the Trintellix because it was a low dose and I hadn't been on it very long. Oh Lord, no more withdrawal. Between pain of neuropathy, fibromyagia, lymphedema and depression I am feeling in a very bad way with so little hope of it getting better. Another beautiful AA word "Let go. Let God" I ask for your prayers to keep me focused on that. Of course you all have my prayers.

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@summertime4

@annie60.. I think I may be able to stop my 1/4 of 1/2 of 36.5 effexor. I think None today. I think I told you the psychiatric nurse prescribed Trintellix to replace the Effexor. I contacted her today and let her know I am stopping the Trintellix. I have taken it for 6 weeks and had all negative reactions. I kept hoping and praying the Trintellix would be the one for me. Everyday I took it and every day I felt worse. There is an awesome saying in AA. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. She agreed and recommended Pristiq, another depression medication that I have not used before. At least I think I haven't. I of course researched the Pristiq and it is VERY similar in compound as Effexor. I messaged her back telling her of my concerns over another "Like Effexor" I haven't heard back yet. Did I also tell you that she did the Genesight test and Trintellix is one my genetic test said would be helpful. She said Pristiq also came up as good on the Genesight test. Well then what about Effexor which wasn't helpful? So I am medication free for depression and so we will see the recommendation tomorrow. She said I could just stop the Trintellix because it was a low dose and I hadn't been on it very long. Oh Lord, no more withdrawal. Between pain of neuropathy, fibromyagia, lymphedema and depression I am feeling in a very bad way with so little hope of it getting better. Another beautiful AA word "Let go. Let God" I ask for your prayers to keep me focused on that. Of course you all have my prayers.

Jump to this post

I’m so sorry for all that you are going through. If you think back, was there ever a time that any medication worked for you? Just curious.

I was on Effexor for about 20 years. When I was 51 I thought since I was doing so well, I’d start to ween off. I stayed at 37.5 for about a year and then slowly started to ween off that by opening the capsules and taking out a few beads at a time. It was tedious but I had no withdrawal effects while I was taking even the most minuscule dose.

I weened for 18 months. I was very fearful of withdrawal!

Since I was over the menopause hump I thought maybe my hormones would be amenable to no SNRI’s and I would be a happy camper again 🙂

I was completely med free for 6 months. Yeah, I felt, eh. I lost a lot of weight because I was eating as healthy as I could, jogging constantly (due to anxiety) and meditating (which was extremely helpful).

My doctor was keeping a close eye on me. She was worried because it’s REALLY hard to come off Effexor. (Apparently, my doctor is an anomaly!). Actually, she’s a nurse practitioner.

Anyway, it got to be too much. She put me on lexapro and after only a few days my anxiety went through the roof! It was awful! She had me stop that and come in to see her.

She prescribed me Seroquel. Seroquel is used for bipolar disorder (which I’ve never been diagnosed as having!). She said low dose of Seroquel for one week as a mood stabilizer then add low dose of zoloft as a mood lifter.

25 mgs of each.

Now I’m at 50 mg of zoloft and down to a half a 25 mg of Seroquel and I’m very very stable and very very content.

Finally.

My basic point is, so t let low doses of stuff fool you. Don’t go cold turkey in even the lowest crumb of a dose. You will feel it. Give your self lots of time. This medicine is effecting your brain and it takes time to adjust.

Please be slow. Slower than you’re doing now.

Talk to your doc about the meds I’m on and see if they’re familiar. I’m not saying you have what I have. I’m just curious if your doc is well-verses on this very important subject. I totally totally lucked out.

ALSO – during my 6 month med free stint, I had so many wacky things happen. One of which was phantom smells! Another was the development of vertigo that I still suffer with.

Take it easy and take this very seriously. I’m convinced that, while doctors mean well, no one knows exactly how or why some medicines work for some and not for others.

Be well!

REPLY

Thanks for your reply and for going to the trouble of explaining your own and unique experience. As I suffer from what I call the dreads though I would put in a subclause here that I have little to dread about, effexor has been very effective in dealing with this certainly while I was working. However since onset of menopause I find I get tired, lethargic and get concerned that am not making better of time plus I would like to be doing some work but as soon as I launch into something I feel the anxiety arising. But the principal issue and I am not sure about this.. Is that being on these meds removes ones ability to feel or or to be oneself. So want to experiment with being med free. Yes agreed it has to be very slow. I tried before for 6 months but went back as it became too burdensome.
I am also of the view that long term use of these drugs stops the brain from being able to make the requisite chemicals that are naturally occurring.
Doctors don't know enough about these drugs long term use. In an ideal world there would be better monitoring of mental health coupled with all the other therapies but service is uneven and fractured.
Lastly, my symptoms are mostly physical so I need to figure out a way of dealing with this.. Less caffeine, sugar, alcohol though that's only at weekends. I will have a conversation with doctor and see what transpires.. Thanks and regards

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In my opinion doctors do know the effects of long term use of anti depressants. They just don’t have a lot of choices. Antidepressants are just as bad if not worse than any benzo. And withdrawal can be horrific, as bad or worse than withdrawal from a benzo. Once one gets on the physch med train it’s almost impossible to get off.

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I tapered off the last 37.5 over the course of a few weeks. You all are going to say "don't do that!" And, I'm like, "I feel fine!" One thing that happens when I'm on anti-depressants is I can drink alcohol and not get drunk or have hangovers. I'm still experiencing that… (I know, don't drink, working on it, again). I might be off Effexor, but my brain is not back to normal, as others have expressed on this list. I think it can take months for that to happen, which is super scary. The last time I went off an anti-depressant (Paxil) I relapsed horribly. But, I had big stressors at that time. My friend, a counselor and academic wellness center director, says find another med you can tolerate with fewer side effects, now, before you relapse again. My psychiatrist, a resident at a regional hospital, doesn't necessarily recommend that but went through some options with me. None sounded great. I wish I never, ever got on the stuff. I think when you're hit with depression you need to bow out of life and recover, like having TB before antibiotics. These drugs are just making it worse. Argh.

REPLY
@secretwhitepop

I’m so sorry for all that you are going through. If you think back, was there ever a time that any medication worked for you? Just curious.

I was on Effexor for about 20 years. When I was 51 I thought since I was doing so well, I’d start to ween off. I stayed at 37.5 for about a year and then slowly started to ween off that by opening the capsules and taking out a few beads at a time. It was tedious but I had no withdrawal effects while I was taking even the most minuscule dose.

I weened for 18 months. I was very fearful of withdrawal!

Since I was over the menopause hump I thought maybe my hormones would be amenable to no SNRI’s and I would be a happy camper again 🙂

I was completely med free for 6 months. Yeah, I felt, eh. I lost a lot of weight because I was eating as healthy as I could, jogging constantly (due to anxiety) and meditating (which was extremely helpful).

My doctor was keeping a close eye on me. She was worried because it’s REALLY hard to come off Effexor. (Apparently, my doctor is an anomaly!). Actually, she’s a nurse practitioner.

Anyway, it got to be too much. She put me on lexapro and after only a few days my anxiety went through the roof! It was awful! She had me stop that and come in to see her.

She prescribed me Seroquel. Seroquel is used for bipolar disorder (which I’ve never been diagnosed as having!). She said low dose of Seroquel for one week as a mood stabilizer then add low dose of zoloft as a mood lifter.

25 mgs of each.

Now I’m at 50 mg of zoloft and down to a half a 25 mg of Seroquel and I’m very very stable and very very content.

Finally.

My basic point is, so t let low doses of stuff fool you. Don’t go cold turkey in even the lowest crumb of a dose. You will feel it. Give your self lots of time. This medicine is effecting your brain and it takes time to adjust.

Please be slow. Slower than you’re doing now.

Talk to your doc about the meds I’m on and see if they’re familiar. I’m not saying you have what I have. I’m just curious if your doc is well-verses on this very important subject. I totally totally lucked out.

ALSO – during my 6 month med free stint, I had so many wacky things happen. One of which was phantom smells! Another was the development of vertigo that I still suffer with.

Take it easy and take this very seriously. I’m convinced that, while doctors mean well, no one knows exactly how or why some medicines work for some and not for others.

Be well!

Jump to this post

I thought I was going through an overly gradual tapering when I weaned off effexor from 300 mg down to 0 over a 3 month interval (I had tried a clean break at one point and thought I would lose my mind). Then I read on this blog that my weaning was over-ambitious. I did the same as secretwhitepop, dumping out beads–then weighing each capsule on a microscale.

I noticed that, when I hit zero mg, I felt a little buzzy, emotional and irritable but it's been getting better day-by-day. It's been about a month pill-free but I feel amazing: no fatigue, I get up at 8 in the morning full of energy, my sex drive has re-emerged from its virtually impotent previous state, I'm exercising, I'm losing weight and getting my ambition back. I have much more confidence in my ability to accomplish things–whereas before I couldn't commit to the smallest task because the thought of just beginning was overwhelming. I have to say that meditation has helped.

I feel very lucky. I hope this improvement in my life continues and I wish it upon all of you. I feel like some of us will look back upon these times as "the dark ages".

REPLY
@shermananski

I tapered off the last 37.5 over the course of a few weeks. You all are going to say "don't do that!" And, I'm like, "I feel fine!" One thing that happens when I'm on anti-depressants is I can drink alcohol and not get drunk or have hangovers. I'm still experiencing that… (I know, don't drink, working on it, again). I might be off Effexor, but my brain is not back to normal, as others have expressed on this list. I think it can take months for that to happen, which is super scary. The last time I went off an anti-depressant (Paxil) I relapsed horribly. But, I had big stressors at that time. My friend, a counselor and academic wellness center director, says find another med you can tolerate with fewer side effects, now, before you relapse again. My psychiatrist, a resident at a regional hospital, doesn't necessarily recommend that but went through some options with me. None sounded great. I wish I never, ever got on the stuff. I think when you're hit with depression you need to bow out of life and recover, like having TB before antibiotics. These drugs are just making it worse. Argh.

Jump to this post

Effexor and Paxil are the worst to taper in my opinion.

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@spec

I've been taking Effexor for 16 or 17 years. It stopped working 2 years ago. I've been weaning down from 300 mg of Effexor for over a year now. I'm at 37.5 every other day and it's been rough. Flu like symptoms and the electric shocks and of course anxiety. My plan has been wean down a step, hold steady at this dose for 4 weeks, then wean down again, hold stead for 4 weeks etc. I am taking a truck load of other meds to help with the weaning: Cymbalta, Buspirone and Gabapentin. They seem to help. At my current rate, I'll be off Effexor mid Feb 2020. Then hopefully drop some of these other meds after my body adjusts to the new normal. I imagine I'll be taking Cymbalta for like, ever. My problem is anxiety primarily but depression is a close second.

Jump to this post

Hi there, I am currently weaning off Effexor right now. I was taking 75 mg once per day. I’ve been on it for about 2 yrs.
My Dr. prescribed me 25 mg tabs and basically left the decision up to me on how I chose to wean off. He said it all depends on what my body can handle. He recommended that with each drop in dose to stay on it for 1 week before dropping dose down again.

I thought, the quicker the better… so I started with dropping 25mg at a time. Well my second day, I had a severe migraine and was super tired and ended taking nap after nap. I realized that I had completely forgotten to take my meds that morning (which is when I take my Effexor) and I thought that I would just skip one day and start back again the third day since it was already late into the evening of the second day.

The third day I woke up feeling drunk. NOT a good/fun drunk feeling!! A “make it stop” drunk feeling! I couldn’t see straight, it was hard to walk without being clumsy, I was having brain zaps, I was so so tired, I had the worse migraine ever and I felt super nauseous.

My first thought was that it could be a withdrawal from the Effexor… so I quick took my meds including 50mg of Effexor.

Within a couple hours l, I slightly started to feel better and knew everything I was feeling was from the Effexor… so after experiencing a feeling I never wanted to feel again and not fully better, I decided to wean off the Effexor even slower than I had planned. So half way through the day I went and took another half a 25mg tab (aka = 12.5mg).

The third day that I started taking 62.5mg (2 1/2 tabs) I started over, so I stayed on that dose for 7 days.

I have been dropping down 12.5mg (1/2 of a 25mg tab) every 7 days.

My first week was the worst!! By the time I got to day 5-6 I was seriously contemplating staying on that 62.5mg dose for another week cause I felt so uncomfortable.

Daily I had, headaches, nausea, no appetite, felt tired, irritable and my head felt that annoyed feeling like something was crawling in my in my skull.

Day 7 came and I prayed that Jesus would help me pull through, cause I was going for it!

I went down another 12.5mg tab.

Again, week one was the worst! So remember that!

Each week that I drop down 12.5mg, the first and second day I have a bad headache, feel irritable off and on, I’m tired, I feel kind of spacey and mildly have that uncomfortable feeling in my head.

I am currently on my second day of taking 25mg. I can not wait to be off this medication! Antidepressants are one of the worst meds to wean off, but for me I felt like now is the time.

I am taking Gabapentin, Xanax, Adderall and Flexoril along with the Effexor.

I was hopeful that I wouldn’t be reliant on meds for the rest of my life. No matter what my family or friends would say, I have been dead set on “I need these meds” whether it is circumstantial or not. I felt very strongly that I was not ready to go off any of them even though deep down I knew God didn’t want me to be on them. He wanted me to rely on him, not on medications.. But hey, the one thing that these meds had helped me with was not drinking alcohol. I am too afraid of dying from interactions it may cause… so I felt like it was justified. I had been praying that when God wanted me to, that I would feel a desire to go off my meds.

One day, out of the blue, that feeling came. I was ready! Part of me was scared, but part of me was excited. I prayed that I would not lose that desire before my next psych appt. Well my appt came and I hesitated… but I finally said that to be honest, I don’t want to be on these meds forever and I would like to start weaning off them. My Dr. said okay and suggested we only do one at a time and asked which one I want to go off first. I chose Effexor because of the horrible experience I had going off Cymbalta!

This is only the first medication I have started to wean off, but I can’t tell you how excited and accomplished I am already feeling!

I honestly can’t wait until I don’t need to rely on meds! Even when I was adamant about staying on these meds… I still thought “what if I get stranded on an island and I don’t have these meds? Omgosh it would be unbearable!” Yeah, if you couldn’t tell I have a little bit of anxiety. Lol…

Well what I can say is this is only the beginning of my story! Obviously God gave me the desire to get off my meds now for a reason. I don’t know what that reason is yet, but I believe everything happens for a reason.

Hopefully my story helps someone on here!
💗💗💗💗💗💗💗💗💗💗💗💗💗💗

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