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

@woogie

Colleen, Thank you for posting the URL submitted by @eoz. The only problem is the print is horrible for me to even try to read. Did other people have that problem? I think it's all in capital letters which are running into each other. That's the only way I know how to describe it. I have been prescribed some of these meds and some of them I had filled, read the paperwork, then I shoved them in a drawer and never took them. I didn't realize some of the feelings I had were actually symptoms of taking and stopping the prescriptions. I just thought I was a mental case.

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Hi @woogie, the document reads well for me on my computer. Are you looking at it on a computer screen or on a phone?
You can try this PDF format, which may work better for you on a computer. It won't read easily on a mobile device. https://www.karger.com/Article/PDF/491524

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Hi @woogie I clicked on the link that Colleen shared and it seems to be in normal text. I do see where the PDF would be a little hard to read as the print is small, but if you switch to the tab that says full text, you can read it on the same page in larger print.

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Hi @littlesue and welcome to Connect. Congratulations on taking yourself off of the medication. According to The Addiction Center, Ambien is known to cause severe mood swings. I have included two discussions here on Connect that are discussing Ambien. Perhaps you would like to ask your question in these forums to seek the opinion of members that are currently using or have weened off of Ambien.

Ween Off Ambien with Melatonin – https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/weenoff-ambian-with-melatonin/

Switching Sleep Meds Nightmare Ambien vs. Amitriptyline – https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/switching-sleep-meds-nightmare-ambien-vs-amitriptyline/

@littlesue are you also currently taking Effexor? What is your experience with the medication?

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@sears

This Effexor dependency is too sad. What are these doctors thinking when they prescribe this? This drug needs to be taken off the market.

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I agree with you, sears, Effexor needs to be taken off the market. The withdrawal is wretched and painful. I was on 225mg Effexor XR for 12 years. I tried several times to taper down and get off but the withdrawal symptoms were so mentally and physically disturbing that I resumed taking the drug. This time I started in January 2020 and very gradually tapered down to approx. 10mg for the last week of June. My last dose was on July 1st. Still – nearly three weeks later – I have severe withdrawal symptoms with headaches, body aches and pains, brain zaps, fatigue, chills, disturbed thinking, severe mood swings, high anxiety, strange dreams and nightmares.

Doctors need to stop taking advice from drug pushers at pharmaceutical companies and educate themselves about the dangers of this drug. Doctors must try to grow some compassion for mental health patients, and stop prescribing drugs that make our lives hell on earth. Effexor was not superior to any of the other antidepressants (which eventually pooped out) I have taken, so I don’t know why it was prescribed by a celebrated psychiatrist at one of the “world’s greatest hospitals” in the Northeast.

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@seashore

I agree with you, sears, Effexor needs to be taken off the market. The withdrawal is wretched and painful. I was on 225mg Effexor XR for 12 years. I tried several times to taper down and get off but the withdrawal symptoms were so mentally and physically disturbing that I resumed taking the drug. This time I started in January 2020 and very gradually tapered down to approx. 10mg for the last week of June. My last dose was on July 1st. Still – nearly three weeks later – I have severe withdrawal symptoms with headaches, body aches and pains, brain zaps, fatigue, chills, disturbed thinking, severe mood swings, high anxiety, strange dreams and nightmares.

Doctors need to stop taking advice from drug pushers at pharmaceutical companies and educate themselves about the dangers of this drug. Doctors must try to grow some compassion for mental health patients, and stop prescribing drugs that make our lives hell on earth. Effexor was not superior to any of the other antidepressants (which eventually pooped out) I have taken, so I don’t know why it was prescribed by a celebrated psychiatrist at one of the “world’s greatest hospitals” in the Northeast.

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The majority of physchiatrists have zero compassion for their patients. It’s all about the money, here’s your poison script, see ya in 3 months, have a nice day! LOL! BTW Effexor is in my opinion worse than any benzo. I’d much rather taper a benzo than most of the anti depressants.

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@seashore

I agree with you, sears, Effexor needs to be taken off the market. The withdrawal is wretched and painful. I was on 225mg Effexor XR for 12 years. I tried several times to taper down and get off but the withdrawal symptoms were so mentally and physically disturbing that I resumed taking the drug. This time I started in January 2020 and very gradually tapered down to approx. 10mg for the last week of June. My last dose was on July 1st. Still – nearly three weeks later – I have severe withdrawal symptoms with headaches, body aches and pains, brain zaps, fatigue, chills, disturbed thinking, severe mood swings, high anxiety, strange dreams and nightmares.

Doctors need to stop taking advice from drug pushers at pharmaceutical companies and educate themselves about the dangers of this drug. Doctors must try to grow some compassion for mental health patients, and stop prescribing drugs that make our lives hell on earth. Effexor was not superior to any of the other antidepressants (which eventually pooped out) I have taken, so I don’t know why it was prescribed by a celebrated psychiatrist at one of the “world’s greatest hospitals” in the Northeast.

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@seashore
I disagree about taking this pharmaceutical off of the market. I certainly agree with you on the following statement ” Doctors must try to grow some compassion for mental health patients.” The pharmaceutical company who developed this medication failed to do adequate testing & provide discontinuation procedures so we can’t totally blame the doctors although they should know by now from having enough complaints by their patients that they’re stopping this medication too quickly. A psychiatrist in France was taking this medication and he decided to discontinue this medication the same way he prescribed his patients to stop and obviously he had withdrawl symptoms. Then he stopped at a later time and he use the 5-10% method and it was very successful, he had no withdrawal symptoms at all and now he advocates the 5-10% method. It’s a shame people don’t come here first and read this thread to educate themselves on others experiences, if they did they wouldn’t have to experience the awful withdrawal symptoms. Obviously patients don’t have to obey their doctor and take these large cuts and suffer the withdrawal symptoms. But this drug does help a large number of patients so again I disagree that it should be taken off of the market. However I do believe the pharmaceutical company should educate the physicians who prescribe it.
Take care,
Jake

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@jakedduck1

@seashore
I disagree about taking this pharmaceutical off of the market. I certainly agree with you on the following statement ” Doctors must try to grow some compassion for mental health patients.” The pharmaceutical company who developed this medication failed to do adequate testing & provide discontinuation procedures so we can’t totally blame the doctors although they should know by now from having enough complaints by their patients that they’re stopping this medication too quickly. A psychiatrist in France was taking this medication and he decided to discontinue this medication the same way he prescribed his patients to stop and obviously he had withdrawl symptoms. Then he stopped at a later time and he use the 5-10% method and it was very successful, he had no withdrawal symptoms at all and now he advocates the 5-10% method. It’s a shame people don’t come here first and read this thread to educate themselves on others experiences, if they did they wouldn’t have to experience the awful withdrawal symptoms. Obviously patients don’t have to obey their doctor and take these large cuts and suffer the withdrawal symptoms. But this drug does help a large number of patients so again I disagree that it should be taken off of the market. However I do believe the pharmaceutical company should educate the physicians who prescribe it.
Take care,
Jake

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Jake –

I'm stunned by your heartless response.

You write: "It’s a shame people don’t come here first and read this thread to educate themselves on others experiences, if they did they wouldn’t have to experience the awful withdrawal symptoms." What an utterly odd thing to say. I didn't know this site existed until yesterday! Shouldn’t doctors and pharmaceutical companies be accurately advising patients?

You seem confused about how I have come off Effexor. I did not disobey my doctor and take “large cuts.” We discussed the process and I took 6 months – that’s six months – to taper down and off. Do you consider that "stopping this medication too quickly"?

Many patients have shared their difficult experiences with Effexor on message boards over the past 20 or so years. You admit that doctors and pharmaceutical companies have not focused enough on testing and discontinuation. Prior to starting Effexor 12 years ago, I discussed the side effects and withdrawal experiences Effexor patients were describing on message boards with my doctor and my doctor dismissed those experiences.

You write: “…this drug does help a large number of patients…” Effexor helped me! But it is not worth the nasty side effects and withdrawal experiences. There are other equally effective antidepressants available without Effexor’s downsides. This is why I advocate for removing Effexor from the market. Perhaps then doctors and pharmaceutical companies will be held to a higher standard.

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@seashore

Jake –

I'm stunned by your heartless response.

You write: "It’s a shame people don’t come here first and read this thread to educate themselves on others experiences, if they did they wouldn’t have to experience the awful withdrawal symptoms." What an utterly odd thing to say. I didn't know this site existed until yesterday! Shouldn’t doctors and pharmaceutical companies be accurately advising patients?

You seem confused about how I have come off Effexor. I did not disobey my doctor and take “large cuts.” We discussed the process and I took 6 months – that’s six months – to taper down and off. Do you consider that "stopping this medication too quickly"?

Many patients have shared their difficult experiences with Effexor on message boards over the past 20 or so years. You admit that doctors and pharmaceutical companies have not focused enough on testing and discontinuation. Prior to starting Effexor 12 years ago, I discussed the side effects and withdrawal experiences Effexor patients were describing on message boards with my doctor and my doctor dismissed those experiences.

You write: “…this drug does help a large number of patients…” Effexor helped me! But it is not worth the nasty side effects and withdrawal experiences. There are other equally effective antidepressants available without Effexor’s downsides. This is why I advocate for removing Effexor from the market. Perhaps then doctors and pharmaceutical companies will be held to a higher standard.

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@seashore, welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. You mentioned that Effexor helped you. What led to your decision to taper off the drug? What was your taper schedule? Did you have to modify it along the way?

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@seashore

Jake –

I'm stunned by your heartless response.

You write: "It’s a shame people don’t come here first and read this thread to educate themselves on others experiences, if they did they wouldn’t have to experience the awful withdrawal symptoms." What an utterly odd thing to say. I didn't know this site existed until yesterday! Shouldn’t doctors and pharmaceutical companies be accurately advising patients?

You seem confused about how I have come off Effexor. I did not disobey my doctor and take “large cuts.” We discussed the process and I took 6 months – that’s six months – to taper down and off. Do you consider that "stopping this medication too quickly"?

Many patients have shared their difficult experiences with Effexor on message boards over the past 20 or so years. You admit that doctors and pharmaceutical companies have not focused enough on testing and discontinuation. Prior to starting Effexor 12 years ago, I discussed the side effects and withdrawal experiences Effexor patients were describing on message boards with my doctor and my doctor dismissed those experiences.

You write: “…this drug does help a large number of patients…” Effexor helped me! But it is not worth the nasty side effects and withdrawal experiences. There are other equally effective antidepressants available without Effexor’s downsides. This is why I advocate for removing Effexor from the market. Perhaps then doctors and pharmaceutical companies will be held to a higher standard.

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@seashore
Good morning,
I’m sorry you found my comment to be heartless. Although it may not have been as compassionate as you may have thought it should have been. I don’t believe I ever targeted you specifically. I never said you disobeyed your doctor or that you took large cuts. Yes, I do believe 6 months is to short to taper off 225mg after taking it for 12 years. Admitting I’m not a medical professional, it’s simply my opinion based on thousands of posts here and other forums. You said I seem confused about how you came off Effexor. I don’t know how I could be confused since I had absolutely no idea how you came off of it. I never saw what your taper schedule was. I am not a medical professional and my opinion is based on the thousands of threads I have read here and on other forum’s and the consensus has been they were having withdrawal effects because they have been coming off it too quickly. It is a perfectly logical and normal conclusion to come to. But the sad truth is regardless of whether people have taken this medication for a few months 10 years or 30 years when they decide they wanna quit they want to quit fast. One lady here who was a medical professional was on it for 30 years, she came off too quickly and had a stroke.

You mentioned there are other equally as effective anti-depressants and that may well be true for you and some others but it’s not necessarily true for everyone. A number of people have said Effexor is the only drug that helped them. It’s possible some of those may not have tried every single anti-depressant on the market but I can only go by what people are kind enough to share.

I do believe doctors need to be more enlightened to some of their patients needs.
You obviously have strong opinions as do I so I hope we can agree to disagree.
Have a nice day,
Jake

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@jakedduck1

@seashore
Good morning,
I’m sorry you found my comment to be heartless. Although it may not have been as compassionate as you may have thought it should have been. I don’t believe I ever targeted you specifically. I never said you disobeyed your doctor or that you took large cuts. Yes, I do believe 6 months is to short to taper off 225mg after taking it for 12 years. Admitting I’m not a medical professional, it’s simply my opinion based on thousands of posts here and other forums. You said I seem confused about how you came off Effexor. I don’t know how I could be confused since I had absolutely no idea how you came off of it. I never saw what your taper schedule was. I am not a medical professional and my opinion is based on the thousands of threads I have read here and on other forum’s and the consensus has been they were having withdrawal effects because they have been coming off it too quickly. It is a perfectly logical and normal conclusion to come to. But the sad truth is regardless of whether people have taken this medication for a few months 10 years or 30 years when they decide they wanna quit they want to quit fast. One lady here who was a medical professional was on it for 30 years, she came off too quickly and had a stroke.

You mentioned there are other equally as effective anti-depressants and that may well be true for you and some others but it’s not necessarily true for everyone. A number of people have said Effexor is the only drug that helped them. It’s possible some of those may not have tried every single anti-depressant on the market but I can only go by what people are kind enough to share.

I do believe doctors need to be more enlightened to some of their patients needs.
You obviously have strong opinions as do I so I hope we can agree to disagree.
Have a nice day,
Jake

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Whether I came off Effexor too fast or not is something I don't want to discuss with you any further. My doctor thought we had a sound plan and I did too. I’m not going to second guess my doctor or chastise myself. That doesn’t get me anywhere but into a deep dark hole. Plus, it’s too late now – and I will never go back on Effexor. It’s also not helpful when other people who know nothing about me become scolds instead of trying to be kind. I’m not angry anymore. I realize you probably can’t help yourself. My sole focus now is withstanding withdrawal for however long it takes.

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@seashore

Whether I came off Effexor too fast or not is something I don't want to discuss with you any further. My doctor thought we had a sound plan and I did too. I’m not going to second guess my doctor or chastise myself. That doesn’t get me anywhere but into a deep dark hole. Plus, it’s too late now – and I will never go back on Effexor. It’s also not helpful when other people who know nothing about me become scolds instead of trying to be kind. I’m not angry anymore. I realize you probably can’t help yourself. My sole focus now is withstanding withdrawal for however long it takes.

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God bless! We’re here for you! I respect Jake’s enthusiasm for Effexor, but in my humble opinion this med is poison, as bad if not worse than any benzo and yes I stand by my opinion that this particular drug should be banned. I’m so sorry the doctors we trust just don’t get it. No understanding at all. Slow taper, fast taper they don’t get it! How many years have benzodiazepines been on the market? How many people have been prescribed these for years and years? Effexor is fairly new. The docs don’t even really understand the antidepressants yet! No one really knows for sure how they work and new research is telling us antidepressants are just placebos. The ONLY med that really truly works for anxiety are benzos, yet the docs love to push the antidepressants for severe debilitating anxiety. All these meds are poison. At least allow us to take a poison that works.

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I would appreciate any input about anyone's experience with this. This is my only psychotropic drug remaining. I am a Retired RN and gave undergone successful deprescribing of other rxs. It is time for me. I have past trauma history and yes been psychiatry " victim" long enough.

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