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

I have dealt with depression for years and have been on various medications. For the last five years or so have been on both Venlafaxine and Welbutrin. I don't think there is any way I could get off of them. I am lucky I don't have anxiety also

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@paperwork4

I have dealt with depression for years and have been on various medications. For the last five years or so have been on both Venlafaxine and Welbutrin. I don't think there is any way I could get off of them. I am lucky I don't have anxiety also

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Hi @paperwork4 and welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. I see you joined last month, but this is your first post. Glad you found the group. How are those two medications working for you? Do you remember what medications you have taken in the past and what their effectiveness was?

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Good morning: I am new to this group and looking for some help on how to manage my withdrawal side effects from Effexor. I have been on Effexor for 15 years and its time to wean off with my doctors help. I have tried weaning off many times over these years with no success. The dose I have been on was 150mg for 15 years. My doctor started tapering down to 75mg and now I am on 37.5. I am now taking 37.5 each night and then skipping a day. I have ten pills left. The side effect i find most difficult is the dizziness, nausea, euphoria and flu symptoms. Any suggestions on what I can do to alleviate these symptoms?
K.

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@karathine99

Good morning: I am new to this group and looking for some help on how to manage my withdrawal side effects from Effexor. I have been on Effexor for 15 years and its time to wean off with my doctors help. I have tried weaning off many times over these years with no success. The dose I have been on was 150mg for 15 years. My doctor started tapering down to 75mg and now I am on 37.5. I am now taking 37.5 each night and then skipping a day. I have ten pills left. The side effect i find most difficult is the dizziness, nausea, euphoria and flu symptoms. Any suggestions on what I can do to alleviate these symptoms?
K.

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@karathine99
My first thought is your doctor has you tapering to quickly. Are you able to procure a new prescription preferably through a compounding pharmacy? Are you willing to share your taper schedule with us? It’s a reasonable assumption to make that since you’re having withdrawl symptoms your tapering too much at a time. I wouldn’t recommend skipping any days. From what people have shared few people find that effective although I know I’ve got at least one person here who does but she no doubt capers at a much slower rate than you currently are.
Good luck,
Jake

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@jakedduck1

@karathine99
My first thought is your doctor has you tapering to quickly. Are you able to procure a new prescription preferably through a compounding pharmacy? Are you willing to share your taper schedule with us? It’s a reasonable assumption to make that since you’re having withdrawl symptoms your tapering too much at a time. I wouldn’t recommend skipping any days. From what people have shared few people find that effective although I know I’ve got at least one person here who does but she no doubt capers at a much slower rate than you currently are.
Good luck,
Jake

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@karathine99
Hello again,
If you can’t get a new prescription I suppose the best option would be to count out the beads and make sure there’s an equal number in each one. I imagine it would be better than growing from 37.5 to zero but it won’t be a walk in the park for sure. This medication needs to be withdrawn extremely slowly I’m talking infinitesimally small cuts. after all you’ve taken the medication for 15 years In bed alone would require a longer taper. What difference does it make if you take a year or two to get off of it if it can be accomplished 100% withdrawal symptom-free.
Or by decreasing the number of beads in each capsule by more than equal parts so at the end there will be more on day 10 but very few on very few beads on your last day. That’s a super fast taper but hopefully it will be better than going from 37.5 to nothing.
Ideally, you need more medication for a VERY SLOW taper. Talk to your doctor and explain the withdrawals or go to the ER.
Sadly doctors are very ignorant when it comes to tapering this medication.
There was a psychiatrist in Europe who put many of his patients on Effexor and he also was taking it and decided to quit and so he used the same taper schedule he had been giving to his patients and was having the same withdrawals. At that point is when he became an advocate for the 5 to 10% taper Were you reduce the percentage of your medication every 2-6 weeks Depending on your tolerability.
I hope you get more medication growing off from this point probably won’t be easy.
Best of luck,
Jake

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Tapering off these meds is not a race. Take as much time as you need. And more importantly find a doctor that will work with you on an extremely slow taper. These docs hand these antidepressants out like candy and are clueless when one desires to taper. The majority want patients to taper waaaaay to fast. They want to get us out of their hair. They don’t care about the misery you’ll go through for many many months to years with a hastily done taper. This applies to Benzos also. Good luck.🙏

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@sears

Tapering off these meds is not a race. Take as much time as you need. And more importantly find a doctor that will work with you on an extremely slow taper. These docs hand these antidepressants out like candy and are clueless when one desires to taper. The majority want patients to taper waaaaay to fast. They want to get us out of their hair. They don’t care about the misery you’ll go through for many many months to years with a hastily done taper. This applies to Benzos also. Good luck.🙏

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@karathine99
@sears makes a valid point regarding how freely the Antidepressants are prescribed. I'm sure if physicians prescribed them by meeting the necessary criteria there wouldn't be near the amount there are. Sadly responsibility is at least in my opinion lacking in many doctors.
Health & happiness,
Jake

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@karathine99

Good morning: I am new to this group and looking for some help on how to manage my withdrawal side effects from Effexor. I have been on Effexor for 15 years and its time to wean off with my doctors help. I have tried weaning off many times over these years with no success. The dose I have been on was 150mg for 15 years. My doctor started tapering down to 75mg and now I am on 37.5. I am now taking 37.5 each night and then skipping a day. I have ten pills left. The side effect i find most difficult is the dizziness, nausea, euphoria and flu symptoms. Any suggestions on what I can do to alleviate these symptoms?
K.

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I agree with @jakedduck1 and @sears—your taper is very fast. The withdrawal effects are what keep folks on this medication; tapering off slowly minimizes them. The stories on this blog show that most tapers are TOO FAST–the drops are too steep and the wait before dropping again is too short. Skipping days puts you into withdrawal every other day. Note, too, that Effexor gets stored in body fat. For long-term users—you're not really off Effexor UNTIL that gets used up as well.

Effexor is a very powerful drug that affects your brain's neurotransmitter levels—it takes time for your head to recalibrate these without Effexor, or at lower levels of the drug … hence, the nausea, dizziness, insomnia, anxiety, etc.

OTC medications and supplements can help with some of the withdrawal symptoms. Ben*dryl, Bon*ine, or other seasickness remedies can reduce/minimize the dizziness/vertigo. Fish oil may be more helpful than krill oil for brain zaps. If by "euphoria" you mean agitation, or a mania in which you can't relax and feel you must move, I found supplementing with GABA calming. Taking L-tryptophan helped me as well, but you CANNOT take L-tryptophan (or 5-HTP) while still on Effexor. Here's a good article re how to mitigate withdrawal effects with supplements–https://www.4mind4life.com/effexor-withdrawal-symptoms.

* * * * *

You say your doctor is helping you to get off Effexor. Talk to him/her about your withdrawal effects. Ask for help with these. Will he prescribe a "Prozac bridge" to get you off Effexor at this point? (Essentially, the Prozac cushions the effect of no Effexor and lets you "ride out" the withdrawal process.–https://natashatracy.com/treatment-issues/withdrawal/antidepressants-effexorpristiq-venlafaxinedesvenlafaxine/. See also https://www.depressionforums.org/forums/topic/107532-coming-off-of-effexor-with-prozac-bridge/.) Your doctor can prescribe a different formulation of Effexor; I was on 25mg regular-release tablets that could be cut, or he could specify a certain brand of capsules (@farm_mom found Teva had the most consistent size and number of beads within a capsule–helpful to those counting and throwing out beads to taper; see @sandij, or @doorman on how to do this). Or your doctor can write a prescription for a compounding pharmacy to make tapered doses for you—the extra cost may well be worth it because you can glide down in incremental amounts, rather than make rather large jagged drops.

* * * * *

There's a lot of good information on this discussion board. I HIGHLY recommend that you start at the beginning, work your way through up to the present and READ it all.

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@karathine99

Good morning: I am new to this group and looking for some help on how to manage my withdrawal side effects from Effexor. I have been on Effexor for 15 years and its time to wean off with my doctors help. I have tried weaning off many times over these years with no success. The dose I have been on was 150mg for 15 years. My doctor started tapering down to 75mg and now I am on 37.5. I am now taking 37.5 each night and then skipping a day. I have ten pills left. The side effect i find most difficult is the dizziness, nausea, euphoria and flu symptoms. Any suggestions on what I can do to alleviate these symptoms?
K.

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Hi Karathine99. I’m glad you found this forum. It got me through my withdrawal and it will help you, too. First, I want to let you know that you will be ok and you will get through it.

Secondly, I don’t recommend ever skipping a day. If you are doing well on 37.5mg, hang out there for a while. Let your body get used to it. But take it everyday.

I was on Effexor for about 20 years. The highest dose I took was 75mg. I weaned off very slowly by opening up the capsules and slowly taking out more and more beads. How slowly? Well, let’s just say it took me 18 months to wean off the last 37.5mgs. I would remove 5 beads from each capsule of a months’ worth. Then the next month I’d take out ten beads from each capsule.

It was slow going but I had very little withdrawal symptoms.

So, my story is this, however… I was 6 months totally med-free but my old anxiety and depression crept back in… I am back on an antidepressant (zoloft) as well as a mood stabilizer (seroquel) and I feel great. Lowest dose of each and I even cut the seroquel in half. (I informed my doc and she is good with it)

So look. Life is short but plenty long enough to taper slowly. You don’t need to spend one miserable day! And just so you know, you can do it 🙂

I’ll be watching for your posts. Stay in touch! This is a great group.

👍

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@secretwhitepop

Hi Karathine99. I’m glad you found this forum. It got me through my withdrawal and it will help you, too. First, I want to let you know that you will be ok and you will get through it.

Secondly, I don’t recommend ever skipping a day. If you are doing well on 37.5mg, hang out there for a while. Let your body get used to it. But take it everyday.

I was on Effexor for about 20 years. The highest dose I took was 75mg. I weaned off very slowly by opening up the capsules and slowly taking out more and more beads. How slowly? Well, let’s just say it took me 18 months to wean off the last 37.5mgs. I would remove 5 beads from each capsule of a months’ worth. Then the next month I’d take out ten beads from each capsule.

It was slow going but I had very little withdrawal symptoms.

So, my story is this, however… I was 6 months totally med-free but my old anxiety and depression crept back in… I am back on an antidepressant (zoloft) as well as a mood stabilizer (seroquel) and I feel great. Lowest dose of each and I even cut the seroquel in half. (I informed my doc and she is good with it)

So look. Life is short but plenty long enough to taper slowly. You don’t need to spend one miserable day! And just so you know, you can do it 🙂

I’ll be watching for your posts. Stay in touch! This is a great group.

👍

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Hi Secretwhitepop:
I really wish doctors had better training when it comes to this but then again I dont feel the pharmaceutical companies strategize on how best to come off of these meds either.
I never thought of removing the beads from my pills. I have to agree that skipping a day has not served me well. I am going to try this.
Thanks
Katharine

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@karathine99

Hi Secretwhitepop:
I really wish doctors had better training when it comes to this but then again I dont feel the pharmaceutical companies strategize on how best to come off of these meds either.
I never thought of removing the beads from my pills. I have to agree that skipping a day has not served me well. I am going to try this.
Thanks
Katharine

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I agree! Some docs are aware of withdrawal issues, but too many aren’t. Since the half life of Effexor is so short, you should start feeling better once you get a steady (albeit smaller) dose back in your system.

I think I was fortunate. My doc (nurse practitioner) had me set appointments for her regularly once I explained that I was weaning off. (My weaning happened “between” doctors due to a family move. I think the former doc didn’t understand as much as my current doc)

Anyhow, take it slow and stead and make sure you ask family or a close friend if they are noticing anything awry. I put my family through a lot… lots of crying jags. It was awful!

Thankfully better now!

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Counting beads from capsules and splitting pills are regularly talked about in this discussion. We took the question of cutting pills to a Mayo Clinic pharmacist and this is what she had to say:

"Each patient should consult their clinician for individualized recommendations for tapering off antidepressant medications. Tapers should be individualized with consideration for the specific medication to be tapered, current dose, how long they have been taking the medication and other factors based on the clinicians expertise.
In some cases tablets may be split. Capsules should never be split. Removal of beads from capsules to accomplish titration is not a recommended method of tapering. Taper schedules can extend for several weeks if the patient's situation requires a slower taper. Tapers are sometimes shortened in the case of adverse effects or other patient factors. You can read more about antidepressant withdrawal here https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/expert-answers/antidepressant-withdrawal/faq-20058133."

I agree with the experiences shared by many members on this forum. Take the time to taper slowly. Advocate for this need with your physician. To support your discussion with your doctor, you may find the points made in this discussion and New York Times article helpful:
– Patients are teaching doctors online about antidepressants https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/patients-are-teaching-doctors-online-about-antidepressants/

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