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

@jakedduck1

sunshinestacy
Did you ever stop and think why some people might need a Prozac bridge? Did you ever consider people may be stopping to quickly and that’s why there are having these horrible withdrawl symptoms or that some people may be able to stop medications more quickly than others? The chances are much less likely to need Prozac if you stop your Effexor slowly enough.
Also it may have been easy for you to stop but it may not always be easy for everyone to stop even with the use of Prozac.
I'm glad your taper went so smoothly,
Jake

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@jakedduck1, for some people using Prozac as a bridge to complete a taper off of Effexor is highly effective and recommended. "Sometimes, even if you are slow and deliberate when weaning off an antidepressant, you still may experience symptoms of discontinuation syndrome. In these cases, your doctor may prescribe fluoxetine, which has been found to help ease discontinuation symptoms."
Reference: https://www.verywellmind.com/brain-shivers-as-effexor-withdrawal-symptom-1065516

@sunshinestacy and Jake, I hope we can continue to share experiences and support people on the forum with mutual respect. We all want the same thing – to help people get the help and support they need to meet their health goals.

@andy1962, fellow member @texasduchess has written about using Prozac as a bridge a few times buried deep in this long discussion (as Jake mentioned). Here are links directly to her related posts:
https://connect.mayoclinic.org/comment/126639/
https://connect.mayoclinic.org/comment/124461/

You may also wish to join the discussion specific to Prozac bridging
– Anyone tapered off Effexor and used Prozac as a bridge? https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/effexor-2/

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@colleenyoung

@kchastain, have you resumed taking your medication? I hope that you are feeling better. Please let me know how you are doing.

May I ask why you skipped 3 or 4 days? Were you wanting to stop taking the medication or had you simply forgotten to take it?

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I haven't been on the effexor very long, may 4 weeks steady
I was trying to evaluate my symptoms if it had increased my anxeity. I have resumed taking the effexor for the past 3 days. Sometines I don't like how it makes me feel. I also under went full gadtric bypass 21 years ago., and i am unable to absorb and metabolize meds normally . feel like im floundering, as i,am having trouble getting into behavioral med clinics etc to monitor and or evaluate for a different antidepressant. Thank you for reaching out

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@kchastain

I have skipped three days maybe four days of taking my effexor starting to have the flight fight feeling not sleeping well such vivid dreams that keep me awake with my heart pounding am I able to just restart or reinitiate this medication

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I also have five dreams not sleeping well. Fast heart rate awakens me as well. I am able to slow it down by deep breathing but that feeling is terrifying

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@kchastain

I haven't been on the effexor very long, may 4 weeks steady
I was trying to evaluate my symptoms if it had increased my anxeity. I have resumed taking the effexor for the past 3 days. Sometines I don't like how it makes me feel. I also under went full gadtric bypass 21 years ago., and i am unable to absorb and metabolize meds normally . feel like im floundering, as i,am having trouble getting into behavioral med clinics etc to monitor and or evaluate for a different antidepressant. Thank you for reaching out

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@kchastain, you mention that you are having trouble getting into a behavioral medicine clinic to help evaluate your medications and situation. May I ask when are the barriers you're facing? Are you able to speak with the doctor who prescribed Effexor for you? It sounds like you have questions that need to be answered by a medical professional.

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@sunshinestacy

I don’t think this forum is for people to be condescending and rude. And not only do I have over 30 years dealing with anti depressants but I also am
A medical professional are you? You seem to think you know more than I do just for no reason. Have you ever tapered off Effexor? Not matter how you do it it is the worst hell to go through. And it was a dr that used the 2 week Prozac bridge and it saved me and many many others from going through that hell. Everyone absolutely will have an easier time going off prozac as it has a 5 day half life where Effexor is only hours which is why one missed dose and your brain is zapping and you have severe dizziness. Also prozac takes its time to fully leave your system, 25 days so it’s much gentler then the 4 days Effexor leaves your system completely. And 10 down to 5 mg to alleviate all the Effexor hell is a million times worth it. So I don’t have to think I know. As do many doctors, usually the better ones

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I’m off Effexor one month today. It’s hell, u r right. I’m no better. There’s no sun in sight. My problem is I can’t go on anything else right now for complicated reasons do there’s nothing to help me. I know everyone is different but I have to get I. A plane in 5 weeks and there’s nothing to convince me that I can. Itching all over, feet burning and itching. Headaches 24/7. Brain zaps. Pain everywhere. No sleep. Any advice for living in hell?

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Can you take the medication for dizziness? Does an antihistamine help? Or a benzodiazepine? My heart is going out to you.

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Wow, I have to say that this thread is fantastic. I've been looking through many of the posts since I found the site last week. Thanks to all who have contributed.

A switch in insurance prompted me to get off of Effexor, which I had been on for four years but didn't like as much as Lexapro, which I had been taking previously (switched to Effexor because Lexapro lost effectiveness for me). I've been taking Buproprion now for three months while at the same time weaning off of 225mg of Effexor. My Dr. had me on a taper that took me down to 150mg for three weeks and then 75mg for three weeks and then completely off. I had noticeable symptoms for a few days at each stage but nothing I couldn't handle…until the day after I stopped the Effexor completely. Terrible nausea, dizziness and sweating that day so I contacted my doctor to ask if he saw any issue with splitting the 75mg capsule and going down to 37.5 mg per day. He agreed with that approach so that's what I did for about four weeks with good results.

Last week I decided I needed to take another step so I further split the 75mg capsule down to approx. 18.75mg daily (eyeballing it so obviously not precise). That reduction has been rough. I felt terrible the first day and my stomach continues to be unsettled, especially in the morning. My plan moving forward is to stay at this dosage (18.75mg/day) until I feel better and then reduce again. I have 20+ of the 75mg capsules left so they should last me for quite awhile since I'm only taking 1 every four days. Does that seem like a reasonable approach? I'm concerned about getting stuck at a stage and prolonging the withdrawal symptoms longer than necessary.

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@jenapower

Hi it’s jenapower (aka. Jen), I’d love to have some great input about Effexor, but I only had a brief experience with it. I was giving it to help prevent migraine headaches, not depression. So my experience was different. I’m one of the few people that it puts weight on, 30lbs in about 3-4 months. I’m a very small person normally, so this was very apparent. I don’t remember tapering off of it, but I must have considering what everybody is saying. I really don’t have any memory of having any problems getting off of it probably because no one told me I would. As soon as I stopped taking it, within another three months, 30lbs were gone. So I can’t take any kind of antidepressant in that category. I think Prozac, Effexor, and now Cymbalta are all very similar. I was given Cymbalta recently for fibromyalgia and other pain. I immediately started putting on weight, told the doctor and I quit taking it. Again I’d taken it for a few months, just like the Effexor, but never had any withdrawals. They probably said to taper it down, but I was too ignorant to know anything could happen. Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful with a withdrawl plan. Good luck, it seems like a difficult thing to do. Someone said it’s as addictive as heroin, that surprises me. I thought all the strong opiates were like getting off heroin. I just stopped all opiates about two months ago. I had a few symptoms but not many. I hope it works out for everybody. I wish I could be more helpful. Jen

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is EFFEXOR AN Opiate? Of course, that’s not my understanding. But……

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@gamesjr

is EFFEXOR AN Opiate? Of course, that’s not my understanding. But……

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@jeremym – Welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. Took Effexor for several years but I did withdraw very, very slowly giving my brain time to readjust with the guidance of my PCP. I encourage you to do so! It can be very dangerous for you to speed this process up.

@gamesjr– I hope that this helps:

Medicines like Effexor are called selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SSNRI). It works by increasing and regulating the levels of two different neurotransmitters — norepinephrine and serotonin — in the brain. They treat depressions and sometimes other things. But they aren't opiates, even if both need a withdrawal program. And Effexor is used to help with opiate withdrawal. These drugs have been a major breakthrough in treating depression. An SNRI works by elevating a person’s mood by preventing the reuptake of “feel good” neurotransmitters like serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain, but unlike opiates getting high isn't a side effect.
One drawback of stopping it cold is toy will likely experience what is called SSRI discontinuation syndrome, which mimics withdrawal symptoms. These can occur when a person abruptly stops taking the drug, decreases the dose too rapidly, or even after skipping an individual dose (if their dosage is high enough). In addition to these physical effects, withdrawal from venlafaxine in those who are misusing it may result in unwanted psychological effects as well. These include nausea, depression, suicidal thoughts, disorientation, panic attacks, and confused thinking.

Opiates are a different breed of animal.

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@sadiesmom

I totally agree with you about it being a life-long disease. I didn’t have it until I went through my divorce and the loss of my son. I think that once the chemicals in your brain are shaken up, there’s a slim chance that they will ever return to “normal”, whatever that is these days. The reason I wanted to wean off of the Effexor after 14 years of taking it is because I am experiencing critical physical symptoms that, according to the Effexor warning label, are caused by long term use of this drug. I was suicidal after my divorce….had been married to my hs sweetheart for almost 30 years and my son was in Iraq on his second of his third tour with the USMC. I had a nervous break down. In the meantime, I lost the best job I ever had in my life; one that would ensure financial stability through the divorce. I had to leave the dream home we had built ten years before, my son came home from Iraq very depressed and I worried to death about him. Then when he had to deploy for a third time, I tanked again and had to be hospitalized. When my son passed away in 2012, I went on disability because I couldn’t deal with the grief of losing my 29 year old son. I really think my mind and body have never healed from one tragedy before the next struck. The Effexor caused me horrendous brain fog to the point I could barely take care of myself and my dog. I literally didn’t know where I was half the time. I couldn’t go to the grocery store, do laundry, cook for myself, dishes….nothing. My house went to complete hell. I slept probably 16 or 18 hours a day. I gained 50 pounds in about 4 months which sent my bp skyrocketing….my doctor increased the Effexor because of my critical state which only made my bp worse. I just turned 60 and am beginning to truly worry about my physical health as it relates to the drugs I am ingesting….Please, please, please, anyone who is taking antidepressants READ THE WARNING LABEL EVERY SINGLE TIME YOU GET A REFILL. Side effects change and the date of the last update is on the BACK page in teeny tiny little numbers in the left hand corner of the warnings instead of in big, black bold letters on the FRONT. I am convinced that the cocktail of antidepressants the VA gave my son caused his suicide. Today, we are losing 20-30 Veterans a DAY by their own hand. 90% of it is because of the medication that the VA prescribes. It is absolutely criminal. Big pharma contracts with the government, gets these men and women addicted and then they die by their own hand. I think it’s cheaper for the government to buy the drugs than treat them medically for their problems. That’s another chapter in the book, though, and I won’t bore you with statistics most of you don’t even care about.

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no, we care. Thank you and God Bless you.

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I was on Effexor for six years when my primary care physician asked me if I wanted to get off this medication. Although I was very thankful for having had the relief from my anxiety during that time, I felt I was ready to try and stop taking venlafaxine. I had been taking 75 mg twice a day and he changed that to 37.5mg twice a day. I did this for about seven months when there was an unexpected supply interruption and I ran out of medication for ten days. I took this as a sign and decided that this was the stopping point. It has been two months and I have had no significant side effects. One observation I have made is that I am experiencing occasional ‘melancholy’ where I reminisce about people, places and things: especially deceased family and friends, “the good ole days”, sort of reaching out to try and grab onto the past. It usually passes quickly (a minute or less) but is pretty emotional in the moment – sadness. Nothing more serious than that and I cannot say for certain that it has anything to do with cessation of the drug. However, I thought it might be helpful (if only for me) to share this experience. Thank you!

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Anyone here still around on this thread

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