Tips on minimizing 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

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@tambra

Best of strength to you. I pray for all the fellow drug addicts because of doctors. I am still clean. I do once in awhile get the brain charges going off if I have too much coffee. Working out”walking” at the gym has helped me tremendously

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Hi, @tambra — just wanted to clarify whether you are saying that walking at the gym has helped with any remnant side effects from tapering off venlafaxine (Effexor), or that it has helped with the depression?

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@efexnot

I am glad to see the recent posts on this very old thread. I would like to share a portion of my journey as well. I was on 375mg for about 8 years, and felt very emotionally blunted – not interested in pursuing intimate relationships and such. I am also in a much different place in my life now, and wanted to see what the 'real' me really felt like again.

I designed a very basic titration schedule where I would taper 37.5 milligrams/dose every week. This was working great for a few weeks, and until I got down to 187.50mg. THEN, the withdrawal effects hit me like a ton of bricks – every symptom mentioned – severe tinnitus, headaches, sweats, nausea, tremor, diarrhea, and overwhelming feeling of fear, and anxiety unlike anything I had ever experienced. This went on for nearly a week, and I made a very important decision: There was NO WAY that I wanted to spend another 5 weeks of titration feeling like this.

This is where I am now: 150 mg/day. After this week, I am speeding up the process, and cutting to 75mg for 4 days, then 37.5 for 4 days, then done. I understand that this will be absolutely miserable, but I simply don't have the patience or the time in my life to spend 5 weeks as miserable as I feel right now. I hope I am doing the right thing, and time will tell. Thanks to everyone for sharing your journeys! I will try to stay in touch here.

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I apologize in advance for spamming this thread with my personal story. I am just so excited to be doing this and can hardly contain my enthusiasm. Tonight, I took a major step toward making this a little more real: In my hand is the rest of my taper – 2 days of 150mg, 4 days of 75mg, and 3 days of 37.5mg. In the bag is the remainder of my supply that I have rather ceremoniously destroyed. 🙂

I also wanted to add some substantive comments on the original inquiry of this thread – "Tips on minimising withdrawal symptoms from [venlafaxine]". I have a couple tips that have helped me:

1. Propranolol – Propranolol is a beta-blocker (technically a blood pressure medication) that is often prescribed for performance anxiety. It is a mild anxiolytic, and has helped to take the edge off for me during periods of severe withdrawal. You may want to ask your prescriber if propranolol would be helpful for you. I have been using 10mg 1-3 times daily.

2. Clonidine – This one is a little more controversial. Clonidine is also technically a blood pressure medication – an α(2)-agonist; a very short-acting medication that is used in opioid, alcohol, and cocaine withdrawal. I figured I would give it a try for venlafaxine withdrawal, specifically for symptoms like agitation, fever, sweats, irritability. I found it to be quite helpful – especially at bedtime. If you do use this medication, be very careful – as I mentioned, it does have a short helf life, and should be taken one dose at a time, and ONLY as prescribed. It can drop your blood pressure quickly, and cause rebound hypertension if used inappropriately. I have been using 0.1 mg 1-3 times daily.

3. Benzodiazepines – This is also controversial, and is very patient-specific. If used very temporarily, and for the right patient, these medications can be very helpful to address the symptoms of acure withdrawal. For me personally, I have used 1 mg clonazepam once or twice daily.

Thanks, all, and warmest regards!

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@lilmac44

I completely stopped taking effexor at the end of November, 2017. I tapered doe over 9 months. I still had severe withdrawal symptoms. While these symptoms have subsided, I am still left with anxiety and extreme fatigue. I have experienced insomnia, depression, fluctuations with blood sugar and high cortisol levels at night. I don't know if this is a continuation of withdrawal or caused by some other physical problem. Of course I have not gotten any help from conventional medical doctors. Have had different blood tests done with the outcomes being in the "normal" range. I have been referred to an endocrinoligist, but that appointment is nearly 2 months in the future. In the meantime, I continue to live with this. At times, I can barely take care of myself and at other times it seems like I am finally starting to heal. I have an appointment next week with a holistic/functional doctor & I hope that I will get some insight into what's going on with me. What concerns me is the possibility that my long term use of effexor has permanently affected my body and that I will never be normal again. I took effexor for 12 years or more. Never once did the doctor suggest that it was time to stop taking this drug. Little did I know at the time, how antidepressants can effect your health. There is not enough information available to educate the public regarding the dangers of these medications. Someone should be held accountable.

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I have been on Effexor for over 20 years weaned off just 3 weeks ago and taking CBD oil that helps so much with the withdrawals!
You will be fine! Just remember one day at a time and let me know if you want info on my CBD oil wow couldn’t go without it

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Just be careful to go VERY slowly…..In my case, I wish I would have spread the decreased dosages by at least one month….not by the week. I had taken it for almost 10 years, though. The withdrawal almost killed me….I think if I would have taken it slower, the symptoms might not have been as bad. I'm 6 months out since the weaning process began, am completely off of the Effexor but I think i am still having withdrawal symptoms, especially the fatigue and gastric issues. UGH! If I knew then what I know now, i would have never taken that first Effexor capsule…..best of luck!

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Finally Effexor free!!! It took me 1.5 months- started at 150mg and then removed an increasing amount of the tiny beads in the ER capsule. Week 1: down to 100mg Week 2: 75mg Week 3: 50mg Week 4- 25mg and then I finally just stopped last Wednesday

To say this has been a journey would be an understatement. I always took my Effexor at night and some days the symptoms would escalate right before it was time for my last dose. If I was having particularly bad vertigo or nausea I would increase my tapered dose just a bit to get through that day. I’m still getting brain zaps and vertigo but nowhere near when I first started tapering down. Insomnia is something new – I could sleep 12hoira a day on Effexor with no issues but now I can sleep just 5 hours and wake up feeling ready to go. My emotions are coming back full swing too HELLO THERE ANXIETY! It’s so bizarre having these feelings and passions return after a year of being on Effexor. My friends and family have been warned and I’m quick to let them know if I’m feeling anxious (mostly in the car).

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Tips for withdrawal:
-Let your friends and family know what is going on and ask them for their support – this way if you flake on them because of symptoms they are a little more understanding.
-LAUGH at yourself and your ridiculous emotions- if they come across as inappropriate, they probably are
-Stay away from booze
-CBD will help with brain zaps, anxiety, and nausea
-Exercise on days you feel up to it
-Get plenty of sleep
-Commit to being Effexor free – if you give up now you will just start all over again.
-Know that most MDs will try to treat your symptoms with medications because that is what they were trained to do, this might not be what you need and the meds probably won’t help until the detox is finally over.
-Staying hydrated and eating smaller potions helped with the nausea or maybe it was a result of the nausea?
-Get plenty of carbs! That is what fuels your brain and should help it repair itself.
-Isolate yourself if you are feeling bitter, angry, or irritated. It’s not your loved ones fault that this med changed your brain chemistry.
-Replace negative coping mechanisms like alcohol with positive ones like exercise

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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 am looking for information also on using CBD oil to use to taper off my benzo. I have high anxiety and have gone into tolerance with my benzo. I do NOT want to up my meds. I am currently down to 30mg a day but like you would love to know if passing CBD pass my Psychiatrist would be worth a try. I need all the info I can get prior to my appt with her May 4th. I also just had a genetic swab done for my tolerance with any medication. Good Luck to you

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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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Please please look into buying CBD oil from hempworx the only way I got off my Effexor!
100% pure oil won’t make you high because of the low low THC.03 order the 500 natural flavor not peppermint because peppermint is a simulate makes my anxiety worse!

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The only way that I could do it was with CBD oil! Looked at so many but finally found Hempworx amazing won’t make you high because of the low low thc .03 helps with mostly physical and mental issues life saver for me

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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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CBD oil! Used for mental and physical pain and withdrawal from meds! All natural unbelievable saved me from horrible withdrawals

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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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Thanks so much for your input..

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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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Hello @jasiowa, Welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect!

There are different levels of compounds found in the natural hemp or cannabis plant. CBD levels vary depending on how the plant is bred. Most CBD oil comes from industrial hemp, which usually has a higher CBD content than marijuana.

Makers of CBD oil use different methods to extract the compound. The extract is then added to a carrier oil and called CBD oil. CBD oil comes in many different strengths and is used in various ways. It is always best to discuss CBD oil with a qualified health care practitioner before using it.

What brings you to Mayo Clinic Connect?

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