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

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@arkiegirl

I’m so thankful I started reading this. I’ve been taking 75 mg of Effexor for 13 years. My doctor put me on it when my husband was battling cancer. I’ve tried several times to get off it with no luck. Last year I talked to my dr and I began tapering it down. I finally went to 37.5 and stayed there for 9 months. I have now gotten it to 37.5 mg every three days. Today is my fourth day without. Ive struggles a lot today. At what point is the point where you don’t take it? I’m going to call my dr Monday but wanted to see if anyone worked through the same issue. Thanks for any feedback

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Welcome to Mayo Connect, @arkiegirl. We are happy that you found this discussion.

I would encourage you to talk with your doctor again about the tapering-off process. Have you considering cutting the 37.5 tabs in half or getting a script for 25 mg.? This might be a more gentle way to withdraw if you feel it is necessary to withdraw completely from the Effexor.

I would encourage you to be gentle with yourself and take your time with this process. It does not have to be accomplished on anyone’s timetable but your own. Work with the process as you are comfortable doing so and keep in touch with your doctor.

Teresa

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I’m so excited to have a name for “brain zaps”! As others have said, they’re not painful at all, just disconcerting. It’s like swoosh inside my head that I can “hear.” It goes from one side to the other and back. It is what reminds me that I have forgotten a dose of Lexapro. (I have no other side effects from Lexapro–it’s been a very helpful drug.) As for Effexor…I tapered off about 10 years ago. It was really difficult. I was cutting tablets into quarters to get tiny doses at the end. Nevertheless, when I finally stopped, the vomiting was so bad that ended up in the ER for severe dehydration. A psychiatrist I saw later said he would have had me go onto another antidepressant during the Effexor taper, then taper off the second antidepressant, as Effexor seems to be more difficult to taper off of than other drugs.

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@lolita9

Just joined the conversation. I’ve only been on effexor for less than a year that my doctor and I decided to take me off. Side effects coming off when I do not take the 75 mg is horrendous. I haven’t told anyone in my family that I’m on this and now am alone in coming off. I’m so scared but I can only trust my doctor to help me through this. It help to read I’m not alone. I wish I never taken it.

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Hi, @lolita9 — just wanted to check in with you and see how your taper off of Effexor is going?

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Hello, @salela, and welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. It is helpful to have the community here to help articulate things various members have all experienced–you are right. Thanks for sharing some of your own experiences with” brain zaps.”

Thanks, also, for your suggestions about tapering off antidepressants.

Glad to hear your current medication, the Escitalopram Oxalate, or Lexapro, has been side effect-free for you. What improvements have you seen with your situation since you started taking it?

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Hello @richyrich, I am currently taking venlafaxine and I am just curious why you are trying to get off of it, if you don’t mind my asking. Are you having side effects? I’ve been on it now for about 8 yrs and what in reading about the withdrawal is really scary! I’m just wondering if I should ask my Dr about going off of it.

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I have been thinking of weaning as well but since reading all of the negative effects, I’m scared to. Why are you looking to get off? What are your side effects when trying? Have you tried slowly? It seems people are having better luck with Wellbrutrin. I don’t have any particular reason to wean except I’ve been taking it for 8 years and just would like to clean my body especially if it has these nasty side effects. I did feel better once one it but wanted to see if I could do without. Would love feedback as well.

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I’m a 45 year old woman who has taken 375mg Effexor for 12 years. I have been tapering off Effexor for the past three weeks in response to some blood test results that show I have to stop taking the drug. I’ve gotten down to 37.5mg in three weeks with no withdrawal symptoms whatsoever. If this is still an active thread, I’d be happy to share the protocol I’ve been following. If there is a desire out there to learn the details (dosages, brands), leave a reply and I’ll post more. Thanks!

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Oh please tell me how ! My doctors say it is a really bad drug to get off of
Connie

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My bad test results a month ago indicated that my liver was suffering damage from medication and was triggering autoimmune hepatitis. I’ve been reducing my medications ever since. I take a series of supplements and vitamins to help me get off the 375mg Effexor XR I’ve been taking for 12 years. I would recommend that anyone following this protocol take the supplements and vitamins for a month before trying to reduce your Effexor; also, make sure you are doing so under a doctor’s supervision in case there are any reactions to the supplements. Lastly, this protocol has helped me avoid any physical symptoms of withdrawal. It is important to be aware of emotional symptoms when coming off antidepressants. If you start having intense emotional symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.

I have been reducing my Effexor by 75mg every 4-5days. It has always been beneficial for me to split my dose throughout the day. In other words, if I am taking 300mg, I take 150mg morning and night to keep the dose steady throughout the day. Now that I am taking 37.5mg, I am taking the dose only in the morning. I have only a few more days at 37.5mg before I come off the drug completely. I am also following the Paleo diet (recommended by my doctor for the autoimmune hepatitis) and exercise with cardio and weight training 4-5 times per week.

This is my daily medication protocol as of today:
Morning (taken first thing in the morning without food)
1 cap Vitamin D3 1000 UI
1 cap L-Tyrosine 750mg (to boost dopamine production in the brain)
2 cap probiotics (I take Dr. Tobias Deep Immune Probiotics, 4.4 billion)
1 cap Vitamin B6 100mg (to assist the L-Tyrosine)
1 cap Effexor 37.5mg

Night (taken at least one hour before bedtime)
1 cap L-Tryptophan 500mg (to boost serotonin production in the brain)
2 cap Omega 3 Fish Oil (I take Dr. Tobias Omega 3 2000mg Fish Oil w/ 1400mg Omega 3s – 800mg EPA, 600mg DHA)
2 cap Choline/Inositol 500mg/500mg (more a supplement for my Paleo diet, but I wanted to include it here as well)
1 cap Viatmin B6 100mg (to assist the L-Tryptophan)
1 cap multivitamin (I take Centrum Woman as it contains iodine for healthy thyroid support)

To assist with any anxiety, I have a prescription for 25mg Seroquel to use on an as-needed basis. I have only been needing the Seroquel rarely but when I do take it, I take it right before bedtime. I purchased all the supplements and vitamins from Amazon as they had the best selection and fastest shipping. I hope this information is helpful. I came up with this list through research into reducing Effexor and looking at supplements that can help boost neurotransmitters in the brain. If there are any questions about this series of supplements that I am taking, please message me or reply and let me know. Thanks.

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After an accidental cold-turkey (ran out of pills over a long weekend) that was horrible, I decided that I wanted to try to get off Effexor so I didn’t run that risk again. I talked to my therapist who referred me to an MD psych resident who agreed to oversee my tapering. I was at 150 XR for more than a year. About a month ago I went from 150 mg to 112.5 (reducing at 37.5 mg), for a week, then again to 75 mg for a week, etc., and finally down to 18.75 mg for a week. Tuesday (four days ago) was my last tablet. I felt pretty good until this morning when I woke up feeling dizzy and emotional–that sort of emotion when you want to cry at a Hallmark commercial. I have an appt with my psyche resident on Monday which is good. I really don’t want to be on meds. Before I was on Effexor I had been on Prozac for like 15 years and experienced the “Prozac Poop-out.” The Effexor got me through a really rough time, but the cold-turkey withdrawal freaked me out. I hope I can stay off the meds, though I acknowledge I have a a history of anxiety and that may not be possible. I hope the dizziness and emotionality are just the death-throes of coming off the Effexor. Fingers crossed. Would love to know if others had the dizziness/emotion in the final stages of their withdrawal.

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Eight years ago my doctor switched me from Zoloft to Effexor ER because I didn’t like the weight I had gained. (If I only knew then what I know now). I had been take Effexor ER 75 for almost 8 years for anxiety. I’ve only missed my doses a few times during that time and the withdraw effects were so serious that I thought I was really sick until I caught on it was the meds. I continued to gain weight, my memory loss is noticeable and had my family questioning me on it. I tried once 3 years ago to taper off and had a lot of stress going on so I went back. I had felt pretty decent and normal and was ready to give it a go again at getting off of this stuff. I didn’t like that though of being addicted to anything! I have now been tapering for 9 months. I went from 75mg ER to 37.5 ER. I did that for about 3 months so my body would adjust. I then went from 37.5 ER to 25 mgIR(non-extended release). The first night of this transition, I woke up in the middle of the night with my first full blown panic attack in almost 8 years. It was the first time my husband had seen me have one and I’m glad he was with me. I stuck with it as I am determined to get off this nasty Effexor that has taken control of me. With the help of the occasional use of Xanax .25mg. I take one and half tablets and it helps get me through tough times, especially when driving. I talked to my doctor and inquired about bridging weaning with Prozac as I’ve ready good things on this. 6 weeks ago, I started taking 10mg prozac daily and the 25 mg effexor IR. My anxiety got worse before it got better. I had another panic attack. I started having trouble getting to sleep at night, I just could not get my mind to shut down. My doctor recommended to take Benadryl to temporarily help. On the nights I tried to go without nothing and gave up and took a Xanax as it helped me relax to sleep faster than the Benadryl. I have cut out a lot of caffeine to help. Twice in the last 3 weeks I was able to sleep without help, until this past Sunday at church. I put in a prayer request for myself and my issues with anxiety and sleep. I have now had 5 days that I have been able to go to sleep without my mind racing. Some may say it’s the Prozac kicking in finally, but I believe otherwise. Regardless, 3 days ago as instructed, I cut my 25 mg tablets in half so I’m now taking 12.5 mg Effexor IR once a day. I was really, really nervous about this. But the worst effects I have had are the constant headaches. Every taper causes headaches that takes weeks to get better. As I know it’s part of the process, I do not take anything for them, I just do my best to tolerate. It has been a long and difficult journey. My family has had to see me vulnerable and dependent upon them at times. This can cause depression in itself, yet my faith and determination are helping me get through this. I will stay on this lower dosage of 12.5 until my body seems to adjust most likely a month or so. From there I intend to just be finished and then if all goes well, a quick taper off the prozac. I know that I may never be “normal” again, but I will be ok knowing I’m off the Effexor. I wished I had never been prescribed this to begin with and wouldn’t recommend it for anyone. While painful at first, I have no regrets over using the Prozac bridge during this transition. I fear how I would really feel without it. I apologize for the lengthy story, however I felt more details may help others relate as well.

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Can anyone tell me if heightened blood pressure is a side affect of Efexor? Also is a decrease from 150 mg to 75 mg too large a leap. My doctor just lowered mine that much. Then my dumbass after about two weeks desided to stop it all together. My b/p tonight was 145/100. Thought I was dying had to ice my head and take low dose aspirin because I thought I was having a heart attack. I’m trying to get off all my mental health meds for religious reasons. I see by all the other comments that’s it’s going to take longer and be harder than I thought. Thanks for any help you can give.
Dixie Sister

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Hello @dixiesister, and welcome to Connect.

Speaking from experience, unfortunately high blood pressure or hypertension is one of the possible side effects with long-term use of Effexor. But more concerning is that you “Do not stop taking this medicine without checking first with your doctor. Your doctor may want you to gradually reduce the amount you are taking before stopping it completely. This will decrease the chance of side effects, such as agitation, confusion, headache, irritability, numbness or tingling feeling, restlessness, trouble sleeping, or unusual drowsiness or weakness.” https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/venlafaxine-oral-route/precautions/drg-20067379

I’d like to invite @nanke99 @richyrich @cathy615 @hayleesmommy @bekinprogress @careth2 @linxy @elecia87 @lolita9 @salela, and others in this group to share their thoughts and insights as well.

@dixiesister, would you be able to share some more details? For how long have you been taking Effexor? May I ask why you decided to stop? We look forward to getting to know you.

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@kanaazpereira thank you for responding. Today I thought I was having a heart attack. I was so hot that I had one bag of ice tied on the back of my head and one on the bottoms of feet. B/p of 144/100 scared the hell out of me. The excessive crying really upsets me because I hate to cry for any reason. I’ve been on Effexor for 10+ years. I’m wanting off for Religious reasons. Once I found Yahweh (God) and read more of the scripture I found out he doesn’t want us to use anything that doesn’t grow in nature. When I read where that other person on here said that getting off Effexor was worse then trying to get off heroin it scared me.. but reading others made me realize it’s going to take longer than I thought. Thanks again for replying now I know since i aready take meds for my b/p.. I need to go have my b/p checked more often.

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@dixiesister

@kanaazpereira thank you for responding. Today I thought I was having a heart attack. I was so hot that I had one bag of ice tied on the back of my head and one on the bottoms of feet. B/p of 144/100 scared the hell out of me. The excessive crying really upsets me because I hate to cry for any reason. I’ve been on Effexor for 10+ years. I’m wanting off for Religious reasons. Once I found Yahweh (God) and read more of the scripture I found out he doesn’t want us to use anything that doesn’t grow in nature. When I read where that other person on here said that getting off Effexor was worse then trying to get off heroin it scared me.. but reading others made me realize it’s going to take longer than I thought. Thanks again for replying now I know since i aready take meds for my b/p.. I need to go have my b/p checked more often.

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@dixiesister – Where did you read that we should only what is found in nature?

Curious to know.

Jim

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