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

@secretwhitepop

No need to feel daunted by “counting” beads. Remember, you don’t actually have to count the beads in every single capsule. Just count the beads that you take OUT of the capsule. So for example, at first I took out five every single day for about three weeks, until I felt my body was used to the lower dose. You shouldn’t feel a thing, and if you do, stay on whatever dose you’re down to longer until the symptoms go away. It’s quite easy.

And I felt more in control this way.

Remember, XR means extended release. Those little beads are made to enter your system slowly. I wouldn’t add any more change to your meds since you take several.

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Since the amount of beads vary in each capsule you have to count the beads you take not the beads you take out.

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@lisa0878

No it don’t come in liquid form

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Just count the beads you take not the beads you take out as numbers very.

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Do you think we'll ever be "normal" again? Do you think this darkness will lift? Will it take years?

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Jake Saw dr yesterday and she’s given me diazepam to take. occasionally when feeling really tense. I finishEffexor on a reduced dose on Friday then 3 days without. Took 2 mg diazepam in afternoon yesterday and felt so relaxed. I start Prozac next Tuesday. Hope I’m on my way,

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@cjf

I have the same feelings. Unless you have experienced taking this med – they just don't understood. I love some of the remarks that say 'you are dependent NOT, you are not addicted ' I say ,'what's the difference – you can't get off effexor without suffering.

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It's funny you mention this–my psychiatrist keeps making this distinction and it's driving me crazy. She says 'it's not something people are addicted to, because if it were, it would be sold on the street by dealers!' I'm not sure why this distinction is important for her, but I completely agree that unless a person has experienced the life-altering and soul-crushing effects of the withdrawal of this thing, it's difficult for them to understand.
I weaned off slowly after taking 150mg/day for 10+ years and have been at zero for 4 weeks. I no longer experience the brain zaps or constant nausea, which is great. Unfortunately I still feel completely unmotivated, lethargic, depressed and I have no appetite. I have ridiculous crying jags seemingly for no reason at all and every morning I wake up at dawn filled with anxiety and dread. I've started taking a bunch of vitamins (B-complex, Omega-3s, ginger, magnesium) and am trying to eat healthy foods and go on the occasional walk, but it's difficult to "practice self care" when one feels this way. It's also difficult to find a time to go on said walk that I'm not crying hysterically, and I don't want to frighten the local children :p The occasional bit of diazepam does seem to help with the morning anxiety. My doctor prescribed a 3-day course of prozac but that didn't seem to do much. Benadryl didn't help with my main issues which are depression and anxiety. I'm afraid to go on a different anti-depressant as a "bridge" and face having to do this all over again, but I don't know how much longer I can deal with feeling like this.
I know this sounds like an endless, complaining rant, and I apologize for that. I'm looking for a bit of guidance, I suppose. I know that everyone is different, but can anyone who's been through this tell me, after being on this medication for a few years and going off of it, once you were taking ZERO medication, how many weeks did it take for you to feel human again? I don't mind physical symptoms but I feel like I'm barely functioning and this medication's half-life is so short that I suppose I (naively) expected the emotional withdrawal to be over by now. I don't need to feel AMAZING, I just want to know when I *might* hope to be able to stop crying and be in any way productive again. I hope you are all staying strong and taking care of yourselves as best as you can!

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@db1

It's funny you mention this–my psychiatrist keeps making this distinction and it's driving me crazy. She says 'it's not something people are addicted to, because if it were, it would be sold on the street by dealers!' I'm not sure why this distinction is important for her, but I completely agree that unless a person has experienced the life-altering and soul-crushing effects of the withdrawal of this thing, it's difficult for them to understand.
I weaned off slowly after taking 150mg/day for 10+ years and have been at zero for 4 weeks. I no longer experience the brain zaps or constant nausea, which is great. Unfortunately I still feel completely unmotivated, lethargic, depressed and I have no appetite. I have ridiculous crying jags seemingly for no reason at all and every morning I wake up at dawn filled with anxiety and dread. I've started taking a bunch of vitamins (B-complex, Omega-3s, ginger, magnesium) and am trying to eat healthy foods and go on the occasional walk, but it's difficult to "practice self care" when one feels this way. It's also difficult to find a time to go on said walk that I'm not crying hysterically, and I don't want to frighten the local children :p The occasional bit of diazepam does seem to help with the morning anxiety. My doctor prescribed a 3-day course of prozac but that didn't seem to do much. Benadryl didn't help with my main issues which are depression and anxiety. I'm afraid to go on a different anti-depressant as a "bridge" and face having to do this all over again, but I don't know how much longer I can deal with feeling like this.
I know this sounds like an endless, complaining rant, and I apologize for that. I'm looking for a bit of guidance, I suppose. I know that everyone is different, but can anyone who's been through this tell me, after being on this medication for a few years and going off of it, once you were taking ZERO medication, how many weeks did it take for you to feel human again? I don't mind physical symptoms but I feel like I'm barely functioning and this medication's half-life is so short that I suppose I (naively) expected the emotional withdrawal to be over by now. I don't need to feel AMAZING, I just want to know when I *might* hope to be able to stop crying and be in any way productive again. I hope you are all staying strong and taking care of yourselves as best as you can!

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May 19th 2021 I went to zero. Not human yet. Its better than it was for sure but still have this cloud over me.

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@cjf

I have the same feelings. Unless you have experienced taking this med – they just don't understood. I love some of the remarks that say 'you are dependent NOT, you are not addicted ' I say ,'what's the difference – you can't get off effexor without suffering.

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Your comment about unless the person advising you has taken (and tried to get off) the drug, they do not understand. I am currently tapering off Zoloft. I am in that special 4% of people who are extremely sensitive to the drug. SInce I refused a "bridge drug" and to make tapers I felt were too large, she says she has no idea how to help me. After lots of research on-line, I found the book "The Anti-Depressant Solution" by Dr. Joseph Glenmullen. Dr. Glenmullen has 30 years experience helping people discontinue Zoloft and other medication. Following his advice, I discovered that I can only taper 0.4mg at a time without being in complete misery. Hopefully the book will help you and others.

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@sherry47

May 19th 2021 I went to zero. Not human yet. Its better than it was for sure but still have this cloud over me.

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I'm so sorry 🙁 Did you taper or quit cold turkey? Has your doctor got any advice? The most frustrating thing for me is that the medical community seems to know so little about any of this. When I ask my doctor if she thinks this is still withdrawal or if this is my "new normal," she is noncommittal. When I ask if she has any idea how much longer this might last if it IS withdrawal, she can't even hazard a guess…. It seems crazy to put people ON these medications if so little is known about the effects of coming OFF them 🙁 If the doctor who first prescribed me this medication had told me about ANY of this, I never would have taken it!

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@dcclowdus

I, too, have been on Effexor for over twelve years. My question to you, did you have problems concentrating, did you have a Don’t Care Attitude and was it very hard for you to get motivated and enjoy life before coming off? I have an appointment with my mental health doctor next week. We talked about me coming off and maybe trying Trintellix at my last appointment.
I so want my life back. I’m taking Effexor, Buspar and Wellbutrin and more depressed than ever.

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This describes EXACTLY how I have felt on Effexor. I kept thinking it was the depression, and doctors would add other medications, or switch me to different ones, but nothing changed. I kept thinking back to before I was on anything (I was originally prescribed Paxil at 19 years old for social anxiety) and realized that even though it made me anxious, I was at least able to get things done and previously, and remember things. I'm still struggling with the depression and anxiety of withdrawal, but it's so nice to read that I'm not the only one who feels as though the medication sapped their zest for life!

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@db1

I'm so sorry 🙁 Did you taper or quit cold turkey? Has your doctor got any advice? The most frustrating thing for me is that the medical community seems to know so little about any of this. When I ask my doctor if she thinks this is still withdrawal or if this is my "new normal," she is noncommittal. When I ask if she has any idea how much longer this might last if it IS withdrawal, she can't even hazard a guess…. It seems crazy to put people ON these medications if so little is known about the effects of coming OFF them 🙁 If the doctor who first prescribed me this medication had told me about ANY of this, I never would have taken it!

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I tapered from November to that May 19th date. Ended up in the ER twice. I didn't know what the brain zaps were. I thought I was having mini strokes. My doctor had me taper from 225 to nothing in 3 weeks. Not good.
Her suggestion was to either stay on the low dose indefinitely or to check myself into an mental health institution. The doctor that prescribed the Effexor would not return my call or the calls from my doctor. Very frustrating.
I 100% agree with you, if I had any idea that the hell I have been through was even the smallest possibility, I would have never switched over to Effexor. The kicker for me is that I had put myself into an alcohol rehab and that is where they prescribed the most addictive pill I have ever had.

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@sherry47

I tapered from November to that May 19th date. Ended up in the ER twice. I didn't know what the brain zaps were. I thought I was having mini strokes. My doctor had me taper from 225 to nothing in 3 weeks. Not good.
Her suggestion was to either stay on the low dose indefinitely or to check myself into an mental health institution. The doctor that prescribed the Effexor would not return my call or the calls from my doctor. Very frustrating.
I 100% agree with you, if I had any idea that the hell I have been through was even the smallest possibility, I would have never switched over to Effexor. The kicker for me is that I had put myself into an alcohol rehab and that is where they prescribed the most addictive pill I have ever had.

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That is so disheartening. I hope you have since found a doctor/psychiatrist who is more helpful! I'm sorry to hear that you still have the cloud, but I'm glad that things have improved. It makes you wonder why there aren't doctors who specialize in helping patients wean off these drugs. Though when you try to search the internet for information about withdrawal from them or search for "discontinuation syndrome," the first few links that come up are ads for rehab centers, so it's not as if it's a secret that these issues exist.

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@brightwings

@lilypaws
Another tip
SING
SING AT THE TOP OF YOUR LUNGS.
You will recieve huge amounts of endorphin dumps.
.
Fake it till you make it gets you a long way.
.
Bubble baths, blowing bubbles,
GO FLY A KITE .
JUMP ROPE
Skip to the next house and back.
Do what you gave you happiness as a kid.
Go play tea party.
Watch kids movies.
Get the picture?
Bright Wings, smiling at you because I care

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Hello @brightwings,

I hope all is going well for you. It has been a while since you last posted on Connect and I was wondering how you are doing.

Will you post an update?

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