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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@tiff74

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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Dear tiff74–Getting off Effexor is not a race often won by rushing the process; your plan is a very fast taper with steep drops. You have 25mg tablets than can be cut into small pieces to allow "mixing and matching" dosages so you can make more gradual reductions. Folks are usually more successful dropping no more than 5–10% at a time and staying at the new level for weeks (even months) AND stabilizing before dropping again. Withdrawal symptoms (headache, anxiety, digestive issues, brain zaps, dizziness, nausea, etc.) are the big tipoff that a taper is being done too aggressively. Effexor is a very powerful drug that affects your brain chemical balance and it takes a while for your body to recalibrate and start balancing on its own.

REPLY

Dear tiff74–Whoops! I wanted to add more information, but took too long to edit my first reply.

Good job modifying your original tapering plan when you experienced uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms!

If you drop the same amount at every taper, that drop is a bigger percentage each time (75mg – 12.5mg to 62.5mg is a 16.7% drop; 62.5mg – 12.5mg to 50mg is a 20% drop; 50mg – 12.5mg to 37.5mg is a 25% drop, etc.).

You may want to make more gradual reductions than you have been to lessen withdrawal symptoms at each drop. Yes, this does mean that the tapering process slows down as you get further out, but in the long run, people more often have a successful exit from the drug.

REPLY
@texasduchess

Dear tiff74–Whoops! I wanted to add more information, but took too long to edit my first reply.

Good job modifying your original tapering plan when you experienced uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms!

If you drop the same amount at every taper, that drop is a bigger percentage each time (75mg – 12.5mg to 62.5mg is a 16.7% drop; 62.5mg – 12.5mg to 50mg is a 20% drop; 50mg – 12.5mg to 37.5mg is a 25% drop, etc.).

You may want to make more gradual reductions than you have been to lessen withdrawal symptoms at each drop. Yes, this does mean that the tapering process slows down as you get further out, but in the long run, people more often have a successful exit from the drug.

Jump to this post

@ tiff74
Hello,
@texasduchess gave you a very valuable piece of information and I strongly suggest you follow her advice. Often times people believe that as long as they’re dropping their dose say by a certain milligram it’s fine but in reality it’s not, The percentage rate climbs often to 50% or more depending where you’re at in your taper and withdrawl effects are inevitable.
Best of luck for a successful discontinuation symptom-free taper, it’s definitely worth investing in the the additional time.
Jake

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Thank you both for the insight!! It’s helpful! I may slow it down a bit for my last two taper weeks (25mg and 12.5mg). We will see how I am feeling.
I know this is only a fraction of what I felt going off my Cymbalta. I had to go off that one cold turkey and boy was it brutal! Due to the effects Cymbalta had on me, I refused to take even one more pill! When I was on Cymbalta, I would sleep through the entire day not caring about my husband, kids, family… I had terrible thoughts about trying heroin and molly… I wasn’t afraid of anything. I didn’t care what anyone would say to me. I had these thoughts like I will do what I want when I want. I was having nervous breakdowns and in a bad mental state.

My sister was the one that brought it to my attention that maybe I should talk to a Dr. about going off the Cymbalta. Well that same day my sister said that, I ended up seeing a regular Dr. because I was unable to find or get into a psychiatrist and I was desperate! After talking with her, she told me to go off the Cymbalta and she prescribed me Xanax and Buspirone.

Within 24 hrs of going off the Cymbalta it was like I had just woken up from a dream! While I was on it, I didn’t notice I was a different person… but after I wasn’t on it, I had so much guilt! I couldn’t believe how terrible of a parent and wife I had been for that 4 months! I could NOT believe I was actually going to go through with finding heroin and molly to try “just cause it sounded fun”!!! I couldn’t believe how selfish I had been!!! Fear set in as I thought about my thoughts and how normal it felt to not be afraid to try heroin or molly. I didn’t care if I died when I was on Cymbalta. I swear when I was on it, I had no clue why my family was so worried about me! Why my mom and sister would call me and rush into my apartment thinking I was dead. Instead I was just sleeping. My husband was so close to leaving with the kids and filing for divorce and all of a sudden I thought “what have I done!?!”

Even though the Buspirone wasn’t doing a dang thing for my anxiety, I poured my Cymbalta down the toilet and swore I would NOT let myself take another pill and become this zombie that I don’t recognize!!!

It was by far one of the hardest things I have ever done, but I knew I had to! Before I went off the Cymbalta, I was one phone call away from having molly in my hand and if I tried long enough I could have had heroin in hand too I’m sure. I wanted to be a better mom, wife, sister, daughter, person, etc! I knew that medication changed me somehow and it scared me so bad!

As I rocked back and forth on the floor holding my head yelling “make it stop” and most likely looking like I belonged in a psych ward… I was having brain zaps, this crawling feeling under the skin of my skull that wouldn’t go away, a severe migraine, and body aches. I grabbed all our ice packs in the freezer, laid down and covered my entire head and neck with them. I took a Xanax and prayed for God to help me through this!

And he did! I know Jesus answered my prayer in that moment and he gave me the strength to get through that super hard time in my life!

I know it’s a marathon and not a sprint to get off these meds. I know I can slow down a bit and taper off slower if I need. We will see how I am feeling this Wednesday when I am supposed to drop down to 12.5 mg. So far, it’s been a little uncomfortable the first day or two that I drop my dose, but after that it gets a little easier. I will most likely stay on the 12.5 mg dose once I’m on it for 2 weeks instead of 1 week before I go completely off… or maybe it would be better to break the tabs in 4ths and take 6.25 mg for a week.

Again, thank you both for the advise! 😊

REPLY

Hello cymbalta is a powerful drug. I had this notion (I'm Irish!) of going on another drug as effexor was causing me aggravating digestive problems and a friend advised to ask doc about cymbalta. So I took myself off to the doc and requested cymbalta and then just lay on couch for 2 or 3 months. My limbs felt like dead weights though in a way I felt very relaxed and chilled and it brought clarity to my thinking. I had taken early retirement but I had deep insight that I wanted to be back r working doing sonething plus I broke off my relationship. I think it was the right thing to do but the point is that cymbalta seemed to cut through the prevaricating and doubt. But I stopped it and went back on effexor..there was no way my body could tolerate it.

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What could be more dangerous to exit: Fluoxetine, Cymbalta or Venlafaxine? I read Warnings and it's all really seems scary (

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@kansascute

What could be more dangerous to exit: Fluoxetine, Cymbalta or Venlafaxine? I read Warnings and it's all really seems scary (

Jump to this post

@kansascute I have read a lot of people having problems getting off of anti-depressants. I just had some side effects, but went off of it like the doctor told me too. Now, my daughter, a stupid psychiatrist, took her off of an anti-anxiety pill (xanax) and she had a seizure.
So, never cold turkey off of theses medicines. You need to slowly get off of them. I'm sorry you are having so much trouble. Don't read up on the side effects, alot of them do not happen. They just have to put them all down. Blessings

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@kansascute

What could be more dangerous to exit: Fluoxetine, Cymbalta or Venlafaxine? I read Warnings and it's all really seems scary (

Jump to this post

I have never been on Fluoxetine, but I have went off Cymbalta cold turkey (would never recommend this… it was SO unbearable and uncomfortable) and I am currently weaning off of Venlafaxine right now. Cymbalta and Venlafaxine aren’t “dangerous” to go off if you do it in increments. You can read my above posts to see my experiences with Cymbalta and Venlafaxine.
I pray everything goes well for you!!!

REPLY
@lilypaws

@kansascute I have read a lot of people having problems getting off of anti-depressants. I just had some side effects, but went off of it like the doctor told me too. Now, my daughter, a stupid psychiatrist, took her off of an anti-anxiety pill (xanax) and she had a seizure.
So, never cold turkey off of theses medicines. You need to slowly get off of them. I'm sorry you are having so much trouble. Don't read up on the side effects, alot of them do not happen. They just have to put them all down. Blessings

Jump to this post

I'm off effexor for about a month now. I've had slowly dissipating "brain buzzing", which now is very low. I'm still emotional, also slowly abating–I just watched "the Blind side" with my son last night and was pretty teary. My kids find it funny–we just laugh at it. Most notable is the difference in energy I have between before and after. I walk about 5 km every day trying to lose the muffin top on my belly.

I'm praying for all of you to cope with depression/anxiety/medication that's suitable for you and/or trying to wean off it. I first experienced depression and anxiety at 16 and it terrified me. I never felt so alone in my life. I remember telling my parents that I wanted to see a psychiatrist and it felt like I was telling them that I was a serial killer–it felt like I was asking for something that would become a deep family secret. Now, at 55, I'm a high school teacher and I openly tell my students about what I've been through and how it had such a oppressive effect on my youth. There's a much better supply of medication to address such dark feelings now and I don't want any of my kids to be going through this alone. My parents got me an appointment with a psychiatrist, which was absolutely horrible. I thought I would lie on a couch and talk while he'd unravel some dark thing inside me and I would be cured. Live and learn. He had no time to talk, laughed at one point, and wrote me two prescriptions: one, for an antidepressant (whose name I can't remember) and one of an anti-anxiety medication (ativan). I would wish either of these two medications on no one, not even my worst enemy. The antidepressant made me so sleepy I couldn't stay awake and the ativan helped anxiety somewhat but made me a basket case if I missed a pill. I never thought I would live to this age, go to university, have romantic relationships, have children or a job. I didn't think I would live this long. I had come to terms that a regular life was no longer in the picture and that I would soon be institutionalized and spent the rest of my days in a psych ward. Miraculously, I suffered through it for about two years and it disappeared as mysteriously as it appeared in the first place. Over the next few decades it was always there, in a far diminished state–just enough to remind me to "not get to comfortable". At age 39, my mother was dying of cancer and I was going through a relentless battle to see my newly born son as his mother was trying to keep me from him. My doctor put me on effexor and I realized that medical profession had come a long way since my teens. I tried to quit cold turkey a few times and, each time, thought I was losing my mind. My friend, who had become a psychiatrist, said that I would have to wean off effexor. It didn't make sense to me because, I thought, "won't that just be like a somewhat lesser torture drawn out over several weeks. I started weaning years later (this last February), tapered it down and now I feel great.

I hadn't plan on writing such an autobiography at this time. I just sincerely wish all of you the best. I've known several people who take AD's or anxiety cocktails and many have struggled with finding the right recipe by trial and error. Depression, anxiety and often the medication that goes with it can have a debilitating effect that is not understandable to those that have not experienced it. Other people seem to think that depression makes you feel sad all the time and anxiety makes you feel like you've just drank 10 cups of coffee. I had a group of students in my English class that did a presentation about depression: they laughed and subtly mocked those with depression, saying that those with depression just "need God in their lives" and implied that they just feel sorry for themselves. Another student outed himself in the class as one who experiences depression and they condescendingly patted him on the back and said "it's okay", with a smirk. I was apoplectic. I told them that they had no idea what they were talking about and gave my life story. After class I talked to my student that had depression and he understood that they had no idea what they were talking about. I then gave a free lesson on meditation to any students that were interested. Meditation has helped tremendously at keeping depression at bay.

Whether you want to continue medication, consider it or go off it, please do not be afraid to do what is necessary. Nothing is permanent. There are great days in store for you and it doesn't have to ruin your life. I hope that, one day, you'll look back at such dark times, like I have, and say "Thank God I fought through it."

REPLY
@2degrees

I'm off effexor for about a month now. I've had slowly dissipating "brain buzzing", which now is very low. I'm still emotional, also slowly abating–I just watched "the Blind side" with my son last night and was pretty teary. My kids find it funny–we just laugh at it. Most notable is the difference in energy I have between before and after. I walk about 5 km every day trying to lose the muffin top on my belly.

I'm praying for all of you to cope with depression/anxiety/medication that's suitable for you and/or trying to wean off it. I first experienced depression and anxiety at 16 and it terrified me. I never felt so alone in my life. I remember telling my parents that I wanted to see a psychiatrist and it felt like I was telling them that I was a serial killer–it felt like I was asking for something that would become a deep family secret. Now, at 55, I'm a high school teacher and I openly tell my students about what I've been through and how it had such a oppressive effect on my youth. There's a much better supply of medication to address such dark feelings now and I don't want any of my kids to be going through this alone. My parents got me an appointment with a psychiatrist, which was absolutely horrible. I thought I would lie on a couch and talk while he'd unravel some dark thing inside me and I would be cured. Live and learn. He had no time to talk, laughed at one point, and wrote me two prescriptions: one, for an antidepressant (whose name I can't remember) and one of an anti-anxiety medication (ativan). I would wish either of these two medications on no one, not even my worst enemy. The antidepressant made me so sleepy I couldn't stay awake and the ativan helped anxiety somewhat but made me a basket case if I missed a pill. I never thought I would live to this age, go to university, have romantic relationships, have children or a job. I didn't think I would live this long. I had come to terms that a regular life was no longer in the picture and that I would soon be institutionalized and spent the rest of my days in a psych ward. Miraculously, I suffered through it for about two years and it disappeared as mysteriously as it appeared in the first place. Over the next few decades it was always there, in a far diminished state–just enough to remind me to "not get to comfortable". At age 39, my mother was dying of cancer and I was going through a relentless battle to see my newly born son as his mother was trying to keep me from him. My doctor put me on effexor and I realized that medical profession had come a long way since my teens. I tried to quit cold turkey a few times and, each time, thought I was losing my mind. My friend, who had become a psychiatrist, said that I would have to wean off effexor. It didn't make sense to me because, I thought, "won't that just be like a somewhat lesser torture drawn out over several weeks. I started weaning years later (this last February), tapered it down and now I feel great.

I hadn't plan on writing such an autobiography at this time. I just sincerely wish all of you the best. I've known several people who take AD's or anxiety cocktails and many have struggled with finding the right recipe by trial and error. Depression, anxiety and often the medication that goes with it can have a debilitating effect that is not understandable to those that have not experienced it. Other people seem to think that depression makes you feel sad all the time and anxiety makes you feel like you've just drank 10 cups of coffee. I had a group of students in my English class that did a presentation about depression: they laughed and subtly mocked those with depression, saying that those with depression just "need God in their lives" and implied that they just feel sorry for themselves. Another student outed himself in the class as one who experiences depression and they condescendingly patted him on the back and said "it's okay", with a smirk. I was apoplectic. I told them that they had no idea what they were talking about and gave my life story. After class I talked to my student that had depression and he understood that they had no idea what they were talking about. I then gave a free lesson on meditation to any students that were interested. Meditation has helped tremendously at keeping depression at bay.

Whether you want to continue medication, consider it or go off it, please do not be afraid to do what is necessary. Nothing is permanent. There are great days in store for you and it doesn't have to ruin your life. I hope that, one day, you'll look back at such dark times, like I have, and say "Thank God I fought through it."

Jump to this post

Wow! What a fabulous post! And how wonderful that students have such an amazing teacher. Thank you! You have helped me and I’m sure countless people feel less alone.

God bless!

REPLY

Hi all! I'm new to the group, but have been reading pages and pages of old postings. Here's my story and an ask for assistance.

I have been on 150 mg of Venlafaxine (generic Effexor) for many years for chronic depression and anxiety. For several reasons, I wish to quit taking this medication. I know how painful withdrawal can be, having been through it accidentally over a holiday weekend when I ran out of pills several years ago.

I am working with my psychiatrist, who lowered my dosage from 150 to 112.5 back in March. She thinks I should not discontinue use, as in her opinion it is "working." Yes, my depression and anxiety are in check, but I still do not want to be on THIS drug. (I have pretty much tried everything else though.) So she agreed reluctantly to assist me. Due to the pandemic, I have not seen her for a few months. On my own, I tapered from 112.5 to 75 mg. After a month on 75 mg, I then went down to 37.5 the last couple of weeks. I have had NO withdrawal symptoms with each reduced dosage. I now want to taper to 0. This seems to be the hardest step from what I've read. Not sure if I should first try the 37.5 mg every other day? Or remove the beads inside the capsule (seems tedious)? Since I've had no other withdrawal symptoms could I do this quickly? Or is this last step the one that needs to be dragged out the longest?

I should add, even though I've reduced my dosage from 150 to 37.5, I still feel happy with no anxiety (during this pandemic no less!), and no depression. Makes me think I've been over medicated for years. I am hopeful with the many life changes I've been through the last few years (sleep apnea treatment, retirement, and now grandchildren) my "chronic" issues won't come back. Perhaps naive, but I feel I owe it to myself to try. Thoughts? Appreciate all feedback.

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@2degrees

I'm off effexor for about a month now. I've had slowly dissipating "brain buzzing", which now is very low. I'm still emotional, also slowly abating–I just watched "the Blind side" with my son last night and was pretty teary. My kids find it funny–we just laugh at it. Most notable is the difference in energy I have between before and after. I walk about 5 km every day trying to lose the muffin top on my belly.

I'm praying for all of you to cope with depression/anxiety/medication that's suitable for you and/or trying to wean off it. I first experienced depression and anxiety at 16 and it terrified me. I never felt so alone in my life. I remember telling my parents that I wanted to see a psychiatrist and it felt like I was telling them that I was a serial killer–it felt like I was asking for something that would become a deep family secret. Now, at 55, I'm a high school teacher and I openly tell my students about what I've been through and how it had such a oppressive effect on my youth. There's a much better supply of medication to address such dark feelings now and I don't want any of my kids to be going through this alone. My parents got me an appointment with a psychiatrist, which was absolutely horrible. I thought I would lie on a couch and talk while he'd unravel some dark thing inside me and I would be cured. Live and learn. He had no time to talk, laughed at one point, and wrote me two prescriptions: one, for an antidepressant (whose name I can't remember) and one of an anti-anxiety medication (ativan). I would wish either of these two medications on no one, not even my worst enemy. The antidepressant made me so sleepy I couldn't stay awake and the ativan helped anxiety somewhat but made me a basket case if I missed a pill. I never thought I would live to this age, go to university, have romantic relationships, have children or a job. I didn't think I would live this long. I had come to terms that a regular life was no longer in the picture and that I would soon be institutionalized and spent the rest of my days in a psych ward. Miraculously, I suffered through it for about two years and it disappeared as mysteriously as it appeared in the first place. Over the next few decades it was always there, in a far diminished state–just enough to remind me to "not get to comfortable". At age 39, my mother was dying of cancer and I was going through a relentless battle to see my newly born son as his mother was trying to keep me from him. My doctor put me on effexor and I realized that medical profession had come a long way since my teens. I tried to quit cold turkey a few times and, each time, thought I was losing my mind. My friend, who had become a psychiatrist, said that I would have to wean off effexor. It didn't make sense to me because, I thought, "won't that just be like a somewhat lesser torture drawn out over several weeks. I started weaning years later (this last February), tapered it down and now I feel great.

I hadn't plan on writing such an autobiography at this time. I just sincerely wish all of you the best. I've known several people who take AD's or anxiety cocktails and many have struggled with finding the right recipe by trial and error. Depression, anxiety and often the medication that goes with it can have a debilitating effect that is not understandable to those that have not experienced it. Other people seem to think that depression makes you feel sad all the time and anxiety makes you feel like you've just drank 10 cups of coffee. I had a group of students in my English class that did a presentation about depression: they laughed and subtly mocked those with depression, saying that those with depression just "need God in their lives" and implied that they just feel sorry for themselves. Another student outed himself in the class as one who experiences depression and they condescendingly patted him on the back and said "it's okay", with a smirk. I was apoplectic. I told them that they had no idea what they were talking about and gave my life story. After class I talked to my student that had depression and he understood that they had no idea what they were talking about. I then gave a free lesson on meditation to any students that were interested. Meditation has helped tremendously at keeping depression at bay.

Whether you want to continue medication, consider it or go off it, please do not be afraid to do what is necessary. Nothing is permanent. There are great days in store for you and it doesn't have to ruin your life. I hope that, one day, you'll look back at such dark times, like I have, and say "Thank God I fought through it."

Jump to this post

I would be interested in your tapering schedule you used to get off of Effexor since Feb.

REPLY
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