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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@esuzabeth

Hello, all. Going to add in my experiences here in the hope that it will be helpful. I’ve been taking Effexor since 1998. I’ve tried to go off it three times. The first time (2001) I tapered down from a dosage of maybe 225 or 250 over a month. It was a horrible experience and I ended up in the emergency room of the local hospital because I was so freaked out and hardly able to function. Luckily, I was connected with a great psychiatrist and good counselor who helped me tremendously over the next few years. Much later, married, with a family and steady work and in pretty good emotional shape, I tried once again, under a doctor’s care (2008 or 9). We titrated me off over about 6 months. But once off the meds, it was a very short time period (I think two weeks or so) before I felt all of the deep darkness of depression returning. Having experienced a fairly normal, satisfying life for several years, I decided that taking meds was a better option than living in that darkness. I went back on Effexor at a 150 dose and stayed there until just prior to the pandemic.

A few different factors caused me to want to try again recently: worries about dependence on a drug that might not always be available, self criticism about using drugs as a crutch, and a long, long period of basically being “okay”. Once again, I started to feel that maybe I didn’t need to take meds anymore. I spent almost a year titrating down from a dose of 150 mg daily (XR). I experienced no real side effects from titrating down that slowly except for some sleep disruption on the lower doses.

However, at 37.5 mg every other day, I began to realize I was again deeply affected by depression. But it had arisen so slowly, and so subtly over time that I didn't realize what was happening. Much like the frog dropped in a pot of boiling water that jumps right out (Yikes!Hot!) vs. the frog in a pot of water that starts at room temp and is slowly warmed to boiling. The second frog never jumps out, just stays until it begins to cook cause the heat increases so gradually, the frog fails to notice it’s getting hot. The frog just stays where it is and dies.

About two weeks ago, I suddenly realized that I was, indeed, “cooking” and that the water I was in was effing hot! Oh no! I quickly conferred with trusted friends to get some perspective and found yes, I was extremely depressed again. It had happened so gradually, I just thought it was normal to feel like this every day.

Due to work pressures and a host of responsibilities this month, I haven’t connected with my PCP yet about needing to increase dosage. However, I’ve been dealing with Effexor long enough that I know what to do in terms of slowly increasing. Then, after Thanksgiving, I plan to connect with my PCP and also find a psychiatrist to review my experiences and make a plan. It’s likely that my long term dosage of 150 mg daily will again work fine for me.

Getting off meds is fine for folks who experience situational depression or who find they can, after a period of time on meds, recover their mental equilibrium. For me, I’m having to accept that depression is something that will always be with me. Effexor has worked for me. I’m certain it has kept me alive to reach the age of 55 just this week. I don’t like being dependent on it. But I try not to judge myself in the same way that I don’t judge my father, a diabetic dependent on insulin, or my sister, who takes thyroid medication and without it barely has energy to get through her days. If you do want to go off, titrate slowly – more slowly even than doctors will currently advise. It takes time, but can be done with a minimum of disruption to your physical and mental wellbeing.

Best wishes and true feelings of empathy out to all of you.

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My best friend is totally dependent on rheumatoid arthritis meds to keep from being a physical cripple. It’s no different than being on drugs to keep from being emotionally crippled.

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@sdiddy

I forgot to mention..I am going through withdrawal from Protiq, hence my symptoms.

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First of all, that's the taper l was given and it's a tough one. I wish l'd stood my ground and demanded to go slower, but l didn't. You're going 50% a drop, which is like jumping off a cliff. Especially tapering from another nasty one and if you're feeling crap, l wouldn't be surprised. The kind of tsper you're doing is far more likely to put you back on the greasy pole. Please consider asking to go slower. Please. So, slow down. You're more likely to go back if you keep going so fast.
Next, what's the post tapering plan. It helps if you don't have that to worry about.
Ok, work. I work from home, so it was easier not to go through this without unsympathetic eyes on you. I'd have said listen to books. It helps with mindfulness to have to follow a plot or a life, but nothing too heavy. And walk. I live in the country, so the walks are good. , with music. Don't sweat things. Give your body the chance to heal. If you're bp, then any drug you're on will be strong and might very well not be doing much good. Bp is the most painful mental condition to have, so be kind to yourself. Psychiatrists take it out of you. Plenty of rest. Slow down. Lastly, smile. The actusl bits of brain you use to smile get tangled up. Smiling makes you feel better
Right. That's enough to be going on with.
I'm off venlafaxine and my brain feels like it's been dragged through a hawthorn hedge. Try to get as much rest as you can. Makerel in sunflower oil with good veggies. Forgive yourself for any transgresions you might be punishing yourself for. Believe me, l'm further along than you and your poor body needs a break.
Lots of love and a prayer for good will. And l'll usually be around, so give us a shout if you feel alone
Xxxxxxx
Lizzi

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@adanaya

First of all, that's the taper l was given and it's a tough one. I wish l'd stood my ground and demanded to go slower, but l didn't. You're going 50% a drop, which is like jumping off a cliff. Especially tapering from another nasty one and if you're feeling crap, l wouldn't be surprised. The kind of tsper you're doing is far more likely to put you back on the greasy pole. Please consider asking to go slower. Please. So, slow down. You're more likely to go back if you keep going so fast.
Next, what's the post tapering plan. It helps if you don't have that to worry about.
Ok, work. I work from home, so it was easier not to go through this without unsympathetic eyes on you. I'd have said listen to books. It helps with mindfulness to have to follow a plot or a life, but nothing too heavy. And walk. I live in the country, so the walks are good. , with music. Don't sweat things. Give your body the chance to heal. If you're bp, then any drug you're on will be strong and might very well not be doing much good. Bp is the most painful mental condition to have, so be kind to yourself. Psychiatrists take it out of you. Plenty of rest. Slow down. Lastly, smile. The actusl bits of brain you use to smile get tangled up. Smiling makes you feel better
Right. That's enough to be going on with.
I'm off venlafaxine and my brain feels like it's been dragged through a hawthorn hedge. Try to get as much rest as you can. Makerel in sunflower oil with good veggies. Forgive yourself for any transgresions you might be punishing yourself for. Believe me, l'm further along than you and your poor body needs a break.
Lots of love and a prayer for good will. And l'll usually be around, so give us a shout if you feel alone
Xxxxxxx
Lizzi

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Thanks! Yesterday I was off generic Pristiq completely for a full week now. I am starting to feel better. I was taking it for depression only.

Funny, I am able to actually feel feelings better than I have in years. And, thankfully they are not the enemy. My dreams are crazy….complete plots that unfold all night.

The worst physical symptom is my ear. The damage done to my right ear by meniers disease seems to have been helped by Pristiq but the symptoms caused by withdrawal are annoying only. Nothing compared to menieres.

So…in conclusion… after 6 to 7 years (I can't remember!) Taking Pristiq and tapering for few days, I went cold turkey and it was uncomfortable.. but not beyond what I could handle. Emotionally I feel way better. I also have been able to write and create art more and that helps more than I can say…

I am not anti meds…but it was time to try something different. Maybe knowing I made a decision is good too.

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I accidentally completely stopped taking my Effexor 75 mg 3x a day when I was very low on it. I meant to call my mail order pharmacy to see why it wasn’t auto filled but forgot and also forgot to include what I had left of the medicine in my daily pill containers. Had a nightmare last night but tonight had a horrible one. Very nauseated, sweats, feeling horrible. Have been on it for a years. Help, what do I do. Forgot because I have been feeling bad from bad reactive hypoglycemia, for which I have been looking into for a referral to Mayo.

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@jcq

I accidentally completely stopped taking my Effexor 75 mg 3x a day when I was very low on it. I meant to call my mail order pharmacy to see why it wasn’t auto filled but forgot and also forgot to include what I had left of the medicine in my daily pill containers. Had a nightmare last night but tonight had a horrible one. Very nauseated, sweats, feeling horrible. Have been on it for a years. Help, what do I do. Forgot because I have been feeling bad from bad reactive hypoglycemia, for which I have been looking into for a referral to Mayo.

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Hi @jcq and welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. You will see that I moved your post so you can connect with people who have had withdrawal symptoms from effexor.
they say expect it to take 4 to 6 to 8 weeks to feel that the Effexor is working again –https://www.drugs.com/answers/back-effexor-xr-2393131.html

How long have you been off of it? Have you since called your pharmacy or physician?

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I’m sure your doctor will write you an emergency prescription.

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