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

@kla1960

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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Hi @kla1960 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)" in the Depression & Anxiety group https://connect.mayoclinic.org/group/depression-anxiety/

I did this so that you can read through the past messages and connect with incredibly knowledgeable and supportive members like @coloradogirl @nanke99 @2degrees @secretwhitepop @sheffieldsmith @cp6401 @jh31251 and so many others.

Kla1960, congrats on tapering off other prescriptions. You mentioned that you're currently on venlafaxine 75mg. Was that your max dose or have you tapered down to 75mg? What taper schedule has been recommended for you?

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Has anybody ever completely gotten off antidepressants? And live a normal life? No brain damage, no nothing? It seems like we’re all stuck on these meds for life.

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@sears

Has anybody ever completely gotten off antidepressants? And live a normal life? No brain damage, no nothing? It seems like we’re all stuck on these meds for life.

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I can’t take SSRI’s.. Getting off Effexor was the worst. Now I’ll take an occasional benzo to deal with my anxiety. Can’t really say about the brain damage….lol. A normal life? What’s that?

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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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What is the 5-10 method?

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@sears

Has anybody ever completely gotten off antidepressants? And live a normal life? No brain damage, no nothing? It seems like we’re all stuck on these meds for life.

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Yes, although I don’t know if what I had was actually depression to be honest. I went to my doctor and she said I was depressed I disagreed however I agreed to take Celebrex and I took it for maybe 3 to 4 months and then I went off of it with no problem. My brain damage is was caused from three years of comas about 10 of them but longest lasted eight months. I decided one day to except whatever life throws at me and to cope with it. I am a very happy person. I don’t have any anxiety. I believe in dealing with whatever comes along in life. If I did have depression it was obviously mild.
Jake

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@dywells6

What is the 5-10 method?

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@dywells6
Hello,
It’s where you reduce your current dose by 5 or 10% instead of a set milligram. If insurance will pay it’s best to have prescriptions filled at a compounding pharmacy. Although some people who have an easier time at reducing medication may increase the percentage.
Good luck,
Jake

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@jakedduck1

Yes, although I don’t know if what I had was actually depression to be honest. I went to my doctor and she said I was depressed I disagreed however I agreed to take Celebrex and I took it for maybe 3 to 4 months and then I went off of it with no problem. My brain damage is was caused from three years of comas about 10 of them but longest lasted eight months. I decided one day to except whatever life throws at me and to cope with it. I am a very happy person. I don’t have any anxiety. I believe in dealing with whatever comes along in life. If I did have depression it was obviously mild.
Jake

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@jakedduck1 Good for you, I am so glad that you don't need the anti-depressants. There are us who has inherited mental illness. Alot in my family has some sort of mental illness, The worse is my son who is bipolar 1. I am just depressive and anxiety complex. Had previously been diagnosed as bipolar 2. But my mom took her own life at 69. I'm 68 and will be 69 soon. I just can't imagine doing that there is too much in life to enjoy, even though I'm depressed now I think it was from that long 9 hour surgery on my back. I can't bend, twist. or lift anything too heavy. I'm on Lexapro and from a message on this post heard it can make you lose bone mass. My bones are soft and I'm on an injectable med to help to strengthen my bones. Best wishes to you
Wow, 3 years of comas, what caused them?

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@lilypaws

@jakedduck1 Good for you, I am so glad that you don't need the anti-depressants. There are us who has inherited mental illness. Alot in my family has some sort of mental illness, The worse is my son who is bipolar 1. I am just depressive and anxiety complex. Had previously been diagnosed as bipolar 2. But my mom took her own life at 69. I'm 68 and will be 69 soon. I just can't imagine doing that there is too much in life to enjoy, even though I'm depressed now I think it was from that long 9 hour surgery on my back. I can't bend, twist. or lift anything too heavy. I'm on Lexapro and from a message on this post heard it can make you lose bone mass. My bones are soft and I'm on an injectable med to help to strengthen my bones. Best wishes to you
Wow, 3 years of comas, what caused them?

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@lilypaws
Hello,
My comas were caused from continuous Convulsive Tonic-Clonic Status Epilepticus which is a severe medical emergency when a person has one seizure after another without regaining consciousness in between them.
I was put into an induced coma to stop them. It took eight months for them to stop. When they woke me up I had no memory at all, (Retrograde amnesia.) I was unable to perform the simplest tasks. I would think my memory loss would bother me the most but what hurts the most is my inability to play the piano. When I was brought home I didn’t even know what the piano was.
Take care,
Jake

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@coloradogirl

Hi @hopeful33250 and @linxy. Teresa, it’s hard to know what the brain zaps are unless you have had them, but for anyone who has gone off of one of these anti-depressants, it’s a common side effect. It feels like a slight electrical current that runs through your brain. They are usually not painful but they are very strange and disconcerting. (Some people also get them as a side effect of the meds or when increasing their dosage). In my case, I got them anytime I moved my head too sharply. The good news is that once you’re fully off the meds, they usually go away within a few weeks. Mine did at least.

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Hello, this is my first time here. I am Pat in Maryland. I will be speaking to my doctor this week and plan to tell her I want to get off Venlafaxine. I believe I am on 150mg. I also take 50 mg imipramine which I have been on for so long it has probably become part of my DNA. I may have to stay on it. Has anyone here read Kelly Brogan MD’s book on withdrawal from antidepressant drugs?

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@pattpooh

Hello, this is my first time here. I am Pat in Maryland. I will be speaking to my doctor this week and plan to tell her I want to get off Venlafaxine. I believe I am on 150mg. I also take 50 mg imipramine which I have been on for so long it has probably become part of my DNA. I may have to stay on it. Has anyone here read Kelly Brogan MD’s book on withdrawal from antidepressant drugs?

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@pattpooh Hey, welcome Patty Pooh. You must of liked Winnie the Pooh. Glad you are with us. I never had too many problems getting off of medicine. Now I am on Lexapro 20 mg, Lamictal 200 mg and Klonipin, which I only take at night to help me sleep with melatonin and sometimes Ambiem. Sometimes I do take Klonipin in the morning. I'm allowed 3 a day. One in the morning and 2 at night, but I only take one, because I'm on a muscle relaxant too. I haven't heard of Kelly Brogan MD"S book on withdrawal from antidepressants.
I'm not familiar with Venafaxine, that's probably the generic name. Good luck getting off of it. I really like Lexapro. Rexalta was my favorite, but I started having side effect from it with my mouth quivering. Oh darn I thought, found one that really worked and it that to me. I wish you the best and let me know how it comes out getting off of it. I'll remember patpooh.

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@pattpooh

Hello, this is my first time here. I am Pat in Maryland. I will be speaking to my doctor this week and plan to tell her I want to get off Venlafaxine. I believe I am on 150mg. I also take 50 mg imipramine which I have been on for so long it has probably become part of my DNA. I may have to stay on it. Has anyone here read Kelly Brogan MD’s book on withdrawal from antidepressant drugs?

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Hi there! And welcome! I have not read the book you’re talking about, but I did a lot of reading before I went off Effexor (venlafaxine). It’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about it and go very very VERY slowly. Give yourself lots of time so that you have minimal (if any) withdrawal symptoms. No need to put yourself through unnecessary hell! But, that being said, it is very possible to wean off :). I did it but I am not off antidepressants completely. (I was, but apparently I’m bipolar and am back on Seroquel and zoloft). But all is well.

It’s not a contest. Be good to yourself and stay in contact with your doc and us 🙂

Thanks for joining!

Suzi

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@pattpooh

Hello, this is my first time here. I am Pat in Maryland. I will be speaking to my doctor this week and plan to tell her I want to get off Venlafaxine. I believe I am on 150mg. I also take 50 mg imipramine which I have been on for so long it has probably become part of my DNA. I may have to stay on it. Has anyone here read Kelly Brogan MD’s book on withdrawal from antidepressant drugs?

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There's a lot of good information on this discussion board; I hope you'll start at the beginning and work your way through up to the present.

If your doctor suggests a tapering plan for you, please keep in mind that only you know how you feel. Many times doctors are more optimistic than their patients find comfortable regarding how quickly you drop and how steep the drops should be (based on the experiences related here and elsewhere on the web). Withdrawal symptoms are the big tip off that you are tapering too fast.

You don't mention how long you've been on venlafaxine—I was on it for 18 years for hot flashes (25mg regular-release, once-a-day) and found that it took about six weeks for me to use up the Effexor stored in my body tissues AFTER I tapered off; you really aren't off the drug until the stores are gone.

Let us hear from you and what your plan is. Much success.

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