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

@sears

It’s imperative to taper this drug very slowly. It may be impossible for you to work while tapering. I would tell you to speak to your provider but it would probably be to no avail. If I were you I would go back to the dose that make the side effects go away and then search for a doctor that may be able to help you taper properly. This isn’t a race, it’s your brain and well-being.

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Thanks…I am considering doing that. I am concerned that I am going to go through these same symptoms once I get down to zero if I continue to taper since I am on the lowest dose that is prescribed. I have read about going down 5 -10 % by counting the beads in the capsule but if the symptoms are gonna be the same but only a little bit worse, is that worth it? I have already suffered the past few weeks, so do I just push through it?

I also looked at doing the Prozac bridge but am I going to have to go back on the effexor to do that?

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I think I had to be on Lorezepam to finally get off Effexor. And I feel your pain. It was hell!

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I have a low-level tinnitus on my left ear but doesn't bother me but I have a friend with higher level of tinnitus but he is also on statin for cholesterol and he claims that statin helps on lowering his tinnitus. Was wondering if there are any study on this or other folks have any experience with statin lowering the tinnitus? Thanks

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@nikkik

I have been taking 75 MG of effexor for about 5 years and then increased to 150 mg as I didn't feel it was working effectively anymore and was on that for a year before I consulted with my doctor to try something else. I started taking wellbutrin and we tapered myself down from the 150 to 37.5 over the duration of 6 weeks and that went relatively smooth (minus some moodiness and extra anxiety that I could handle) Once I started the 37.5 dose one day and nothing the next is when I started having severe issues. Word would not come to me, I had dyslexia with my numbers, I couldn't multi-task ( I work in a fast paced environment and require attention to detail). The brain zaps were increasing and the ability to function normally was not an option. I saw my doctor who offered for me to stay on 37.5 MG without weaning off anymore, which I didn't want to do, or stop taking the medication as the every other day was not working for me. I chose to stop taking the medication and take the rest of the week off of work to push through it. I have increased my omega 3s to 300 mg, am taking prenatal vitamins for the extra vitamins, magnesium, and benadryl (to sleep). I also take Epson salt baths every other day..I am on day 5 of no effexor. Day 4 was almost constant brain zaps and headache. I woke up today feeling OK and with hope. Since I was feeling ok, my husband and I went to supper and walked around home depot for an hour and my brain zaps and headache were back tenfold…once I got home and laid down without movement, they aren't bad again.
Is there anything else I can do to decrease the brain zaps? I feel I will be ok cognitively but I am not sure I can function at work for a full day with the brain zaps and I only have one more day off before they are expecting me back. Any advice is appreciated!!

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@sherry47
Stopping your medication completely is not a wise move. One lady stopped all at once and had a stroke so be careful. I’m willing to bet your taper was too fast even before your discontinuing it. One problem with doing it like your are is that you may start withdrawl symptoms down the road. Is there a reason why you can’t taper more slowly? Whats the rush. The slower your taper the better your chances are of not suffering the miserable withdrawls youve been going through.
One way I equate Effexor and the brain is that our brain needs a regular supply of glucose (it’s primary food source, around 20%) to function properly.
If you take Effexor your brain also depends on a regular dose of the medication. If you taper slowly enough your brain is more unlikely to notice the difference in taper amount. You mentioned taking it every other day and being off it for days. I wouldn’t recommend that. One problem is Effexors short half life, about 3-5 hours. I’m a strong believer in the 5-10% method. If your insurance will pay for a compounding pharmacy and your physician is willing to put you on a VERY SLOW taper maybe 10% you likely won’t even notice the taper changes every 2-3 weeks.
Good luck,
Jake

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@jakedduck1

@sherry47
Stopping your medication completely is not a wise move. One lady stopped all at once and had a stroke so be careful. I’m willing to bet your taper was too fast even before your discontinuing it. One problem with doing it like your are is that you may start withdrawl symptoms down the road. Is there a reason why you can’t taper more slowly? Whats the rush. The slower your taper the better your chances are of not suffering the miserable withdrawls youve been going through.
One way I equate Effexor and the brain is that our brain needs a regular supply of glucose (it’s primary food source, around 20%) to function properly.
If you take Effexor your brain also depends on a regular dose of the medication. If you taper slowly enough your brain is more unlikely to notice the difference in taper amount. You mentioned taking it every other day and being off it for days. I wouldn’t recommend that. One problem is Effexors short half life, about 3-5 hours. I’m a strong believer in the 5-10% method. If your insurance will pay for a compounding pharmacy and your physician is willing to put you on a VERY SLOW taper maybe 10% you likely won’t even notice the taper changes every 2-3 weeks.
Good luck,
Jake

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Jake,
Unfortunately, this is how my doctor advised me to taper. I understand I did it wrong, but now that I have done it wrong and have been off if for 6 days now, I am hesitant to start taking it again if I am almost over the withdrawal period.

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@nikkik

Jake,
Unfortunately, this is how my doctor advised me to taper. I understand I did it wrong, but now that I have done it wrong and have been off if for 6 days now, I am hesitant to start taking it again if I am almost over the withdrawal period.

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The likelihood you're almost over the withdrawals is very slim, I'm scared to reinstate after being off 5 weeks but I'm in hell, I tried the prozac bridge…it didn't work and actually think it made me worse, I stopped that last week and have no idea what to do now

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@nikkik

Jake,
Unfortunately, this is how my doctor advised me to taper. I understand I did it wrong, but now that I have done it wrong and have been off if for 6 days now, I am hesitant to start taking it again if I am almost over the withdrawal period.

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@nikkik
Maybe since some patients don’t have any problems getting off Effexor the shortsighted doctors assume no one has any problems discontinuing this drug. I would think that the medical profession would be hanging their heads in shame by their lack of knowledge and causing their patients to experience such unnecessary agonizing withdrawal symptoms. Whatever happened to the Hippocratic oath? I thought it was required that new physicians had to swear to uphold specific ethical standards. But even if tru doesn’t mean they have to believe in them.
Apparently that oath has become meaningless. Just a requirement to get a degree, as unimportant as today’s marriage vows are to many. If it were me I wouldnt hesitate to bring up the oath to your doctor not that it will accomplish much. Unfortunately most doctors don’t seem to know or care how to safely get their patients off this medication. Your in a bad place now, I understand your hesitation & frustration.
I have read some members use certain supplements to ease their symptoms. Others know more about supplements than I do. Hopefully they will have some suggestions for you. @texasdutchess might have some ideas as might @sears
Some recommend adding prozac or similar, I don’t like the idea of adding more drugs to get off another one but it has helped some in the past but I’d only do that as a last resort. You seem to be up the creek without a paddle, I just wish I was able to give you the answers you need to help get you safety get off this medicine but that was your doctors responsibility and s/he clearly failed you. I would suggest you look for another doctor but when it comes to doctors helping patients get off these types of meds I’m afraid we’re all “in the soup.”
Good luck to you in spite of your doctor,
Jake

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@nikkik

Jake,
Unfortunately, this is how my doctor advised me to taper. I understand I did it wrong, but now that I have done it wrong and have been off if for 6 days now, I am hesitant to start taking it again if I am almost over the withdrawal period.

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Gotta agree with @nat31 that it's unlikely that you're over the withdrawal period.

Also, @sears and @jakedduck1 are giving good advice—reinstating NOW to at least 37.5 mg (or higher if that's what it takes) to reduce, or eliminate the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms will allow you to FUNCTION normally.

@jakedduck1 mentioned using a compounding pharmacy to create other dosages. Also, venlafaxine is available in different capsule and tablet dosages. I personally was on 25 mg tablets (immediate release) that could be cut and as I tapered, I was able cut to the tablet into halves and quarters and shave off slivers to mix and match appropriate reductions.—
https://www.drugs.com/venlafaxine.html
https://www.uspharmacist.com/article/venlafaxine-hydrochloride-15-mg-ml

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@texasduchess

Gotta agree with @nat31 that it's unlikely that you're over the withdrawal period.

Also, @sears and @jakedduck1 are giving good advice—reinstating NOW to at least 37.5 mg (or higher if that's what it takes) to reduce, or eliminate the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms will allow you to FUNCTION normally.

@jakedduck1 mentioned using a compounding pharmacy to create other dosages. Also, venlafaxine is available in different capsule and tablet dosages. I personally was on 25 mg tablets (immediate release) that could be cut and as I tapered, I was able cut to the tablet into halves and quarters and shave off slivers to mix and match appropriate reductions.—
https://www.drugs.com/venlafaxine.html
https://www.uspharmacist.com/article/venlafaxine-hydrochloride-15-mg-ml

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Do you think I could reinstate after 5 weeks off and a failed prozac bridge? I'm so miserable and the anxiety/restlessness is beyond manageable. I did taper for 6.5 months but seems that was too fast. 10 year user, 6 on 150mg and 4 years on 225mg

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@nat31

Do you think I could reinstate after 5 weeks off and a failed prozac bridge? I'm so miserable and the anxiety/restlessness is beyond manageable. I did taper for 6.5 months but seems that was too fast. 10 year user, 6 on 150mg and 4 years on 225mg

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Yes 6.5 months was way too fast. I tapered Paxil over a nine month period. Was doing great for months then all hell broke loose and I wound up in the hospital. Effexor and Paxil are probably the two hardest to taper. You have to go extremely slow. Most doctors are totally clueless in regards to tapering. I still don’t understand why the doctors and pharmacists think these drugs are great and hand them out like candy. Every bit as bad as bad as a benzo in my opinion.

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@kbschoe

Thanks for this. I've been on Effexor for 21 years. Just working to get off now. No depression issues these days but the side affects are tough. I was looking to see how long they would last. Been easing off for 6 weeks and would love to be done with the dizziness, headaches, sleep issues. Your advice is very helpful.

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I know you’re excited to get off the drug, but please, please go slowly. Your brain will thank you.

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@kbschoe

Thanks for this. I've been on Effexor for 21 years. Just working to get off now. No depression issues these days but the side affects are tough. I was looking to see how long they would last. Been easing off for 6 weeks and would love to be done with the dizziness, headaches, sleep issues. Your advice is very helpful.

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It took me a year to slowly taper, I also cut my 25 mg. tablet into quarters. I am now on 12.5.

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