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

@johnnydelo

I've been on Effexor ER for many years, I was at 150mg and tapered down to 1/4 of a 50mg so 12.5mg. When I try to stop the 12.5mg I get dizziness and I have a very hard time falling asleep when I do I have weird dreams and keep waking up, when I do fall asleep it happens over and over. The ween has been over 6 months and this time stopping completely has been 3 doses off of it. Should I just stick it out? How long will it take? Is there anything I can do to get some decent sleep?
Thank you in advance,
John

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John, I feel your pain. I would say to stick it out but can give you NO intelligent guess as to how long it will take.
The sleep thing can be even worse than brain zaps as far as side-effects go. It keeps the brain/ body from resting. You wake up feeling crazy and exhausted. I did anyway. I was so done for the day and it had literally just begun. Talk about feeling hopeless.
You are not alone.

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@sherry47

John, I feel your pain. I would say to stick it out but can give you NO intelligent guess as to how long it will take.
The sleep thing can be even worse than brain zaps as far as side-effects go. It keeps the brain/ body from resting. You wake up feeling crazy and exhausted. I did anyway. I was so done for the day and it had literally just begun. Talk about feeling hopeless.
You are not alone.

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I had to go back on 12.5mg I guess I'll try a smaller dose for a while. I'm guessing at 12.5mg it's not actually doing anything for me besides keeping me tied to it.

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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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Thank you. I "accidentally" have to end it. I can't make contact with my doctor, to refill the prescription. My bad. Tom

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@tomfranpat

Thank you. I "accidentally" have to end it. I can't make contact with my doctor, to refill the prescription. My bad. Tom

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Yikes! These things happen, but stopping Effexor/venlafaxine "cold turkey" whether on purpose, or accidentally, is NOT good—a previous poster on this thread had a stroke when she did this; blood pressure changes can be dramatic, motor skills can be severely impaired, or balance issues/vertigo can occur. Your pharmacist may be able to contact your doctor, or even give you some pills to tide you over. Keep calling your doctor, too. You could call a walk-in doc place to see if they will prescribe this medication if you can come in (you'll probably have to pay for an exam, first). If you have ANY pills left, try to "stretch" them out by taking them more hours apart, of if your Effexor/venlafaxine is in tablet form, cut them to take less for now while keeping the cut-off bits to make up at least some dose until you can get your prescription filled.

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Hello there. Looking for some advice from what looks like a wonderful forum. Have only been on Effexor for a month and an withdrawing. Was on Citalopram previous to Effexor for 2 years approx. went to Effexor for a change. Am tapering 3days x75, 2×37.5 then every other day for 3 days then stop. My drs recommendation. Having nausea and anxiety in mornings. Any tips here. I hate this anxiety. Love all the great support here.

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@bev098890
If it were me I wouldn't stop that quickly regardless of what a doctor suggests. Although you have been on it a short time. I definitely wouldn't skip days on this medicine.
Good luck,
Jake

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@jakedduck1

@bev098890
If it were me I wouldn't stop that quickly regardless of what a doctor suggests. Although you have been on it a short time. I definitely wouldn't skip days on this medicine.
Good luck,
Jake

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What would you suggest Jake. Dr wants me to swap to Prozac but I want none of them

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@bev098890

Hello there. Looking for some advice from what looks like a wonderful forum. Have only been on Effexor for a month and an withdrawing. Was on Citalopram previous to Effexor for 2 years approx. went to Effexor for a change. Am tapering 3days x75, 2×37.5 then every other day for 3 days then stop. My drs recommendation. Having nausea and anxiety in mornings. Any tips here. I hate this anxiety. Love all the great support here.

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These doctors have GOT to wise up about these physchiatric meds. They should not be prescribing them until they figure out how to do tapers without half killing their patients. You’re doctor is way off base here as to how to taper this drug. Effexor is an especially difficult med to taper. It must be done very very slowly over many months. His taper is way too fast. Good luck and God bless.

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Ok am going back to my doctor tomorrow so will requestion her. I think because she was changing me to Prozac , she tapered like that. I want to go off any meds and try to manage my anxiety. I’m on a 37.5 today.

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@bev098890
Are you taking Prozac currently in addition to the Effexor?
How is the taper going have you had any side effects?
Best of luck,
Jake

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Hi Jake
No, tapering off Effexor then Prozac. Spoke tp psychiatrist and he said thectaperimg is ok as only on it for 1 month. He said it’s depression now causing side effects like waking with nervousness and nausea. I am taking Effexor every other day now till Sunday at 37.5 . Then on to Prozac. By lunchtime I am eating then get a bout of the same side effects.

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@bev098890
If I was trying to get off Effexor I'd use the 5-10% method. I would ask my doctor to write a prescription to a compounding pharmacy to take, for example, 10% less of whatever dose I was on and take that dose for at least 2 weeks and probably 3 weeks. Since people react so differently some take each dose 6 weeks or longer. I believe there’s a woman here who takes each lower dose for three months at a time. If I remember correctly she hasn’t had any problems although she does use a different tapering technique. It takes time but usually without withdrawals. Some people seem to need (or think they need) to use Prozac to get off Effexor but from what I've read many of those people were tapering, in my opinion, to quickly. Why add another drug (especially a Benzodiazepine) unless it's essential since then you have two drugs to get off of. Who wants that headache. I would try to invest all my time in getting off Effexor. The good thing is that you haven't been on it very long so it may be easier for you to stop.
There was a doctor in Europe (France I believe)
and he was prescribing Effexor to patients and eventually took it himself. his patients were complaining about horrible side effects when they were stopping the medicine. Eventually he stopped as well and finally understood what his patients were going through. He then began using the 5 to 10% method and became an advocate for that method.
I normally get off medications without any problems but the benzodiazepine seizure drug Klonopin was the exception.
Just a few thoughts.
Good luck,
Jake

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