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

Want to get off Effexor

Hello everyone,

I hope someone can provide insight into Effexor and CBD or Hemp oils. I have been on Effexor for about a year (3 time since starting anti-depressants 5 years ago). I want to get off this medication and have tried in the past. The withdraws have been so bad that I went up going back on it. We hope to get pregnant within the year and I do not want to be on this while with child. My doctor has suggested switching to Celexa (also have been on) but I am wondering if I will still experience withdraws when immediately stopping Effexor and starting Celexa. Ideally, I would like to be on no medication and go a more natural route. I have been looking into CBD/Hemp oils. Does anyone have experience with this? Thank you.

Lindey

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@lindeyt01

Want to get off Effexor

Hello everyone,

I hope someone can provide insight into Effexor and CBD or Hemp oils. I have been on Effexor for about a year (3 time since starting anti-depressants 5 years ago). I want to get off this medication and have tried in the past. The withdraws have been so bad that I went up going back on it. We hope to get pregnant within the year and I do not want to be on this while with child. My doctor has suggested switching to Celexa (also have been on) but I am wondering if I will still experience withdraws when immediately stopping Effexor and starting Celexa. Ideally, I would like to be on no medication and go a more natural route. I have been looking into CBD/Hemp oils. Does anyone have experience with this? Thank you.

Lindey

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@iindeyt01: @LLndeyt01, I have taken Effexor [and several other anti-depreaasants] in the past and then discontinued it, so I understand your concern about withdrawal symptoms. In case you suddenly stop Effexor [as I did] and immediately start Celexa, there is a high probability that you will experience severe withdrawal symptoms. You haven't written what dose of Effexor you are taking. CBD/Hemp oil is not an anti-depressant but an anti-anxiety substance, so it may not be advisable to substitute it for an anti-depressant.

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@lindeyt01

Want to get off Effexor

Hello everyone,

I hope someone can provide insight into Effexor and CBD or Hemp oils. I have been on Effexor for about a year (3 time since starting anti-depressants 5 years ago). I want to get off this medication and have tried in the past. The withdraws have been so bad that I went up going back on it. We hope to get pregnant within the year and I do not want to be on this while with child. My doctor has suggested switching to Celexa (also have been on) but I am wondering if I will still experience withdraws when immediately stopping Effexor and starting Celexa. Ideally, I would like to be on no medication and go a more natural route. I have been looking into CBD/Hemp oils. Does anyone have experience with this? Thank you.

Lindey

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@lindeyt01 Welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect, a place to give and get support.

You want to be off of Effexor and all anti-depressants before you try to get pregnant. You have tried in the past to get off of Effexor but due to the withdraw symptoms you had to go back to your normal dose. You want to find a natural replacement for Effexor. Did I get that right?

Effexor is notoriously one of the most difficult anti-depressants to ween off of and emotional support is important. You will notice that I moved your question to a previous discussion related to minimizing withdrawal symptoms of Effexor. I did this so you could connect with members like @hopalongnm3 @secretwhitepop @sunshinebb @sears @karathine99 @olivia75 that can offer you emotional support and suggestions.

Below I have linked related discussions where members like @jeanster @jojo5 @behrouz @texasduchess @sears @doorman @vickimurray have recently discussed the topic of Effexor. You may wish to scroll through the previous discussions and posts for information and to connect with members.
– Effexor discontinuation symptoms: Missed 2 days (150 mg) https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/effexor-discontinuation-symptoms/
– Long term effects AFTER withdrawing from Effexor https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/long-term-effects-after-withdrawing-from-effexor/

You have posted in the topic linked below regarding Effexor and CBD oil.
– Weaning off Effexor with CBD Oil https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/weaning-off-effexor-with-cbd-oil/

May I ask if you intend to use CBD oil during pregnancy or as a means to lessen the withdraw symptoms of effexor? I'm wondering if you have a positive relationship with your provider that prescribes you Effexor? Would you feel comfortable running non-medication alternatives past your provider?

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@lindeyt01

Want to get off Effexor

Hello everyone,

I hope someone can provide insight into Effexor and CBD or Hemp oils. I have been on Effexor for about a year (3 time since starting anti-depressants 5 years ago). I want to get off this medication and have tried in the past. The withdraws have been so bad that I went up going back on it. We hope to get pregnant within the year and I do not want to be on this while with child. My doctor has suggested switching to Celexa (also have been on) but I am wondering if I will still experience withdraws when immediately stopping Effexor and starting Celexa. Ideally, I would like to be on no medication and go a more natural route. I have been looking into CBD/Hemp oils. Does anyone have experience with this? Thank you.

Lindey

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@lindeyt01
“The withdraws have been so bad that I went up going back on it.”
Could you share your previous taper schedule?
Jake

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Effexor truly needs to be taken off the market.

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@jakedduck1

@lindeyt01
“The withdraws have been so bad that I went up going back on it.”
Could you share your previous taper schedule?
Jake

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The first time i tapered my doctor had me continue to take 10 mg of Celexa for a few weeks in addition to 37.5 mg of Effexor, this did help with the side effects. At the time I had not been on Celexa very long before switching.

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@texasduchess

Erectile dysfunction. Several female posters on here experienced the feminine version of this, too.

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I experienced the female version on Celexa.

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@hopalongnm3

I was forced to withdraw from venlafaxine cold turkey a few years ago because I lost my insurance, and could not afford to buy the medication. It’s very difficult, and it takes a few weeks. (Our lovely US health system:()
Look into benzodiazepine withdrawal techniques. There are many YouTube videos that you can utilize. There is a method developed by a doctor in the UK for withdrawing in microdoses. You might be able to work with a compounding pharmacy to very very slowly withdraw from this medication.

Good luck, if you have any questions let me know

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@hopalongnm3 Thank you for your support. I watched an episode of Our America with Lisa Ling that discussed the microdosing.

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@nanke99

Hi! I was on Effexor XR for a few years and got off it several years ago. It was a very difficult process, so I fully sympathize. You MUST wean off
VERY SLOWLY. I don’t remember what my dosage was at the time (225mg?), but it took me about 9 months. Please do not let that long time scare you, it’s worth going slow, that will be your biggest help w/ withdrawal. At the time I had a very difficult time finding any doctor with experience getting people off it.
Luckily I was advised to to find one and luckily I did. It is considered harder to get off than heroine. Not trying to scare you, just want to make sure you go as slow as possible. Mostly, I was moody/angry, had headaches, and some brain “shivers”. The brain shivers I already had while on the meds.
I think we went down in 25mg increments over several weeks for each reduction. Keep us posted and good luck! Just give yourself some time and it will be over before you know it!

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I just came across this group and am grateful for it. I am on week 4 of tapering with Effexor and the struggle is real. This has been so hard and I’ve been tempted to either stop all together or just go back on it. I want to cry a lot but no tears come, it is just the physical feeling of crying and it comes out of nowhere. I get up at 4am and pace for an hour. I am not a runner at all and the other day I sprinted a block and a half because of the frantic feeling I was experiencing. I either want to stuff myself full of Hershey kisses or never eat again. Therapy helps but this is really hard and tough I think for people who have not experienced it to truly grasp. Thank you for being here.

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@dmp532

I just came across this group and am grateful for it. I am on week 4 of tapering with Effexor and the struggle is real. This has been so hard and I’ve been tempted to either stop all together or just go back on it. I want to cry a lot but no tears come, it is just the physical feeling of crying and it comes out of nowhere. I get up at 4am and pace for an hour. I am not a runner at all and the other day I sprinted a block and a half because of the frantic feeling I was experiencing. I either want to stuff myself full of Hershey kisses or never eat again. Therapy helps but this is really hard and tough I think for people who have not experienced it to truly grasp. Thank you for being here.

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Withdrawal symptoms are the big tip off that you are tapering too fast; tapering off slowly minimizes them. You and your doctor (if it's his/her tapering plan) might want to reconsider the speed at which you are tapering and the amount you are dropping with each taper.

You can click on my name and read my previous posts. 9/26/2020 has links to articles about helpful supplements and ways your doctor can mitigate/ease withdrawal.

@cp6401 used the term "stress fragile" to describe how so many of us are during the process of getting off/reducing Effexor and even, afterwards. I certainly recognize your need to run and pace—it's a fight, or flight reaction. Distraction helps—reading, hobbies, work, chores, gardening, exercise, etc. I was mindful of what I watched (nothing frenetic, violent, or disturbing), read (cozy mysteries, or romances were good), or listened to (no atonal, or dissonant music)–some things were just too agitating. Getting natural light to my eyes was extremely beneficial for lifting my mood and calming me … not sunbathing, but getting out and seeing daylight–take a walk, or at least, get out of your house for 5–10 minutes, even if it's just stepping out onto a patio.

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It's odd but I am "trying" to give personal experience advice and having a very rough morning here… lots of irons in the fire… waiting for phone calls, blood test results etc. but phsycially with my illnesses about a 3/10 – been there, done that, is appropriate quote, but still here, still happening isn't as funny.. just having a daily shower is a feat for me and feeling sorry for myself is easy…. thoughts go to all who are suffering, short term, long term, older, younger, physically, mentally…. emotionally. Gone are the days where I could face one medical challenge at a time, raising 2 children and working, but this has been a long long stretch, my bed covered with files, printed articles, diary….. no family dr. so relying on clinic dr. but she was good over phone yesterday and spouse zipped me up to our hospital for blood tests. in on way I hope they dont find anything yet in another I do: so I can say: told you I had "something." Take care everyone… tape I listened to last night he said: make a wish for deep sleep, a relaxed body and a Peaceful mind… I wish that for us all too, especially the last one. J.

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@coloradogirl

So, I just finished this process with Zoloft (sertraline) and here are some things that worked for me. Your mileage may vary, but hopefully these are low risk for you to try.

1) You may need to ask your doctor for a slower tapering program than other patients. Some people are just more sensitive to dosage changes. Be aware that symptoms will get better, then may reappear each time you taper. AAFMA (practice group of family physicians) says that the symptoms typically last 1-2 weeks and as long as 4 weeks, so I just kept reminding myself that it was temporary.
2) Be watchful for things that make your symptoms worse. For example, caffeine seems to trigger the brain zaps for me (still, even after being off for several weeks), so I cut back my caffeine intake. I didn’t give it up completely (because I still need to function), but cut back on how much real coffee I was drinking, mixed decaf with regular, and switched to tea sometimes. In the end, I probably cut my daily caffeine intake in half, and it did help quite a lot.
3) Ibuprofen or other pain reliever can help with the flu-like body aches.
4) Benadryl helped with the brain zaps.
5) Exercise helped with both. Even if I wasn’t up to a run, a few blocks of walking would settle down the symptoms for a while at least. (Then, when they come back, just take another walk. We took a lot of walks for a while there).
6) Get enough sleep. As I came down off the meds, my normal sleeping patterns returned, which was great, but it did mean that I needed to plan time to let my body rest.
7) Pay attention to your diet. Your brain uses carbs to make seratonin, so now is not the time to go on the Atkins diet. Eat well and make sure you’re getting enough healthy carbs. You may crave sweets; I certainly did. I tried to counteract this by having bananas, graham crackers, and other healthy things I could snack on instead of sticking my head in a birthday cake like I seemed to want.

No lie – it’s a painful process, but this did really help make it easier. Also, at a certain point, when I was down the below the normal starter dose, I just ripped off the bandaid and went to zero. At that point, it felt like each taper was just prolonging the suffering. Don’t just go cold turkey from your current dose, though, as that can be dangerous. Also, don’t add any supplements or substitutes for the SSRI without talking to your doctor first (also dangerous).

And of course, watch for the return of depression / anxiety type symptoms. For a while it was hard to tell whether I was tired because of the change in meds or because my depression was returning. I figured as long as I felt okay enough to function and wasn’t thinking about being harmful to myself or anyone else, I could play it out and see. It turned out to be the meds and on the other side, I can see that I was more worried about it than I needed to be.

I wish you the best of luck and a healthy life.

Mardee

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I have been taking venlafaxine HCL ER Cap 37.5 mg since 2017. recently I felt they were making me nausea. I have decided to get off of them. I take capsules therefore, I would break them open and count the little pebbles and took like this,. The first week I took 1/2 of capsule pebbles daily, next week 1/3 capsule pebbles daily, then this last week 1/4 of capsule pebbles. Today is friday 3-5 and I am now off the pills totally. I don't feel depressed at all. Symptoms are bad nausea, sweats, feeling cold, vivid dreams. The nausea is the worse, I ve tried everything to help rid me of the nausea, nothing works. I am in hopes that I am doing the weaning the proper way. My dr. suggested for two weeks take1 pill every other day. I didn't feel that would be good so I did not follow her instructions. Is there someone at Mayo Clinic Connect who can suggest something for the nausea. Thank you

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