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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@lovetheocean

Update on my day-seven recovery from Effexor. Let me preface this by giving some antidepressant history. After a physical assault when I was a young woman, I was prescribed Librium for less than a year. That was a dastardly drug, but not much was available at the time. I was in therapy for twenty-five years. Simultaneously went to Al-Anon for thirteen years and several group therapy programs. I say this to let you know I was actively engaged in my recovery without antidepressants. I ran my own floral and plant business, did volunteer work, and learned to skydive. In the early 1990s I was prescribed Prozac which wasn't too bad, but it didn't do much for my depression; I had recently divorced. I took that for a short while. For the next twelve years I continued to run my own floral and plant business, did volunteer work, and adopted three children by myself, each from birth, from one family. Being a mommy was my dream come true! I was active in the children's elementary school, was a fixture on field trips, and did the photo shoot for the school paper when then-mayor, Gavin Newsom visited the school. We had to relocate in 2007 when the apartment where I lived for thirty years was sold. We moved closer to family and a fantastic public school system.

Then the bottom fell out of our lives. In 2007 my little girl died from complications from drowning, meaning that she did not die right away, but was in the hospital for two days until she died. I was new to the area, new job and at work when the state police called me to tell me about her accident. I had said goodbye to her that morning as she hugged and kissed me and gleefully scampered out the door to go to the lake with her Auntie and my other two kids. It was a horrible situation where everything that could go wrong, did. My sister left the water and the two younger ones, 7 and 10 were left to play. When she realized one was missing, none of the three lifeguards at the water's edge got off their dead asses to find my child. My then twelve-year-old tried to pull her floating little sister from the water. Only when she screamed for help (witnesses' account) did a lifeguard enter the water. There was NO life-saving equipment at the shore. When the fourth, supervising lifeguard brought the emergency bag from the office –dontcha think they would have the life-saving equipment AT THE WATER??– the ambu bag that could save her life was missing. That is the device that manually forces air into her lungs to force the water out. My son, 7, was still standing in the water, wondering what to do. Finally a woman took the kids into a circle of people while CPR was performed, without the breathing equipment. My daughter was taken to the emergency room. The ambulance people did use their ambu bag at that point, and she was alive.

I went to the emergency room from work, noticing way too many billboards for funeral homes enroute. I was immediately taken to her and after a time, she was pronounced dead. I held her feet and told her she had to get back into her body. I just kept talking to her. The corridor outside the room was packed with EMTs, family, and friends. Then, she had a pulse, to the shock of her EMTs. She and I went to the Children's Hospital where she lived for two days. My cousins watched my other two kids while I stayed at the PICU. I donated her organs. After she died, the state police had her autopsied, not a pretty thought. That right there is one horrible thing– I did not know where she was or when she could be buried and no one tells you anything specific. Meanwhile the state investigates you and asks things like, "Was she a sad child?", implying that she drowned herself. And showing up at the elementary school to question her siblings about our homelife. And do you dress her all up and bury her to rot away for eternity, or just burn her little body? What kind of artifacts do you put in the cremation container to bury? Decisions, decisions.

After her cremation and burial, I could barely move. I worked part time. I used bereavement gift money to fly us to the West Coast for another memorial service with our friends and her classmates. Nearly every teacher from the elementary school came to her service. The fifth grade class had an Oak tree planted in front of the school with a plaque. I spoke at both services as I wanted to tell more of her story and am comfortable with public speaking. Her little friend, whose mom and I secretly wished they would marry as adults, spoke at her service. He was also 10 years old. My life was in chaos. I felt as though I would jump out of my skin. As most parents who have lost a child will tell you, people evaporate from your life. They ghost you as if whatever you have, they might catch. They never say your child's name or mention them. The god brigade is all there to spew their fantasies. Everybody has an opinion about how and when you should "get over it and move on". There were occasional bright spots. Friends came from all over to the services. The guy at the paint store greeted me with heartfelt condolences as my little girl was my buddy who loved helping mommy and accompanied me to the store many times. Same with the guy at the sporting goods store who had just that week fitted her for shoes. Family friends scooped up her two siblings to take them for the day. The Boys' & Girls' Club gave them weeks of summer camp. My boss was very kind and I continued to work there for five more years.

Again, the house we rented was being sold and I moved us to another. My kids did not want to move as that meant their sister would really not come home. It was heartbreaking to suffer their grief.

Seven months after she died, during a routine yearly physical, I could not stop crying. That was when I was prescribed Effexor, February, 2008. I have taken it continuously for the past ten years. 150mg per day. It numbed the immediate pain and allowed scar tissue to develop around my broken heart. I developed a new career as a home stager for a local real estate developer. I have many friends now who belong to the worst club on the Planet. My depth of compassion is tempered by my outrage at the injustice of the state not charging anyone for anything and without admitting any wrongdoing, and after five years of legal shenanigans, awarding a paltry settlement. I don't even pretend to like my sister for being so negligent.

My older daughter graduated from college last year. My son is going to his second year of college. They are good kids. They have friends and lots of support. Both will move away from me after the summer.

Who am I now? I have been considering this question quite a lot. After a week off Effexor, the brain zaps are not as strong and I am learning to coexist with them. The sorta audible knocking sounds are fewer. Last night was the first one with terrible muscle pain. I have done nutritional detoxes before with the supervision of a nutritionist. Toxins settle in my large muscle groups and I think that is what causes the pain. I know this is temporary. I was on the sofa for a while, then my bed, then sofa, ugh! Miserable. I got myself to sleep by deep breathing until I dozed off. Then the pain would wake me up. Took a hot shower at dawn which helped. Had some ice cream yesterday and got a headache –I know– should not have sugar during detox. I had a small cup of coffee today which eliminated the muscle pain. I have been eating small meals more frequently. I am not a drinker. I haven't ventured out for a walk, though have done some stretches at home. I have been puttering. I would like to try cannabis oil that so many have recommended. I have been momentarily weepy, sometimes pissed off. Not too bad, as it goes away. So, even though this has been a challenge, I can gut this out. It is not as scary as jumping out of airplanes or travelling halfway around the world to adopt my children. It is not as horrible as my daughter dying or saying goodbye to friends I had for thirty years before we moved here. I will probably move again in a few months to a less rural area with more social opportunities and a great chandelier store. Mostly I want there to be life without Effexor. Thank you for letting me express myself. xoxo

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@lovetheocean, My heart and soul reach out to you with love and gentle healing. Your loss is devastating, I am so sorry this happened to your daughter, you, and your family. What you shared demonstrates your incredible strength and the creative energy you have used to re-do your life and re-invent yourself. Give yourself some rest and rejuvenation as your new you emerges. Hugs, Cathy

Liked by lovetheocean

I have been on Effexor for 2 years. I share every bit of your story. I was not prepared for the brain freeze, as referred to here. For me it was like my brain separated from my skull,rolled around like on a roller coaster and came to an abrupt stop, like hitting a wall. Continuously. Am I the only one who did not know the drug was banned in the US? Or am I misinformed. Thank you for allowing me to join your group.

@lovetheocean

Day six without the 150 mg a day. Ten years. So far my reaction has been brain zaps, not constantly, but definitely annoyingly there. Getting some body aches and low back pain, but that is probably due to resting so much. Some fear of the future. I do not know many people. Have kept my almost-adult kids in the loop. Weird almost-but-not-quite noises that are more of a sensation than a sound. Onward.

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@lovetheocean I have heard that one about flexing and relaxing muscles also. Maybe I will try that one again tonight.
Jk

No you are not the only one who didn't know. I had no idea either. If its banned, how is it still being prescribed.

@tennessegirl
How long have you been off the drug?

I have been astounded to read here how many people have had problems with Effexor. I have not taken it nor would I if you paid me! I was surprised to find that Mayo Clinic mentions it as one drug that can be used for Panic and Anxiety Disorders. I would hope that nobody I know and care about would touch it with a ten foot pole!
Comments would be appreciated.
Ainsleigh

Liked by Parus

Hi, @ainsleigh — I've moved your post here about your feelings about reading about problems Mayo Clinic Connect members have posted related to venlafaxine/Effexor, as many of those who have discussed this medication have done so in this thread. Hoping members like @brightwings @tennessegirl @arachel @jmanon @pinktart @susanknits will share some of their insights on its use in light of experiences members have shared.

I read this as I was doing something else. I thought about there being no Effexor and I felt glad. Then I realized if It was banned I would probably be dead. Yes I was on it 26 years AND IT KEPT ME ALIVE.
My Docs tried 17 different antidepressants. This is the only one that worked.

@liz223

My heart hurts for you. I lost a young adult child. Maybe someday I can write my story.

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Sharing has always helped me. I hope you can and will share with us when you are ready. Sharing has always lightened the heavy load I used to carry. Smiling at you in support. Bright Wings

@brightwings

Thank you for honoring us with your story. I know you posted an hour ago and I have been processing this gut wrenching and beyond account of your path of Effexor.
I understand more than you can know because of the loss of 2 infants to abuse. I understand……
Hurrah for you for being brave enough to share a pain like no other…the loss of your child. She was the child of your heart, if not your body. I know there are many kinds of pain in the world but this is like no other in my humble opinion.
I am here with you and I suspect there are others coming to stand with you as you open this tremendous pain to share so the burden is not so heavy.
Now you stated you don't know who you are anymore. Boy, I can so relate to you with this. When I was 5, I declared I would be a nurse. I did too, until I became disabled after an operation. Long story short, I had to develop a new identity. Thank you for sharing. I am with you. Brightwings

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@lovetheocean
Share away, we are here to support each other. I for one will be here for you. Bright Wings

@liz223

My heart hurts for you. I lost a young adult child. Maybe someday I can write my story.

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@liz223
My mother lost her first born when my brother committed suicide. He was successful with his 3rd attempt. Its a terrible thing for a family to go thru. We will be here when you choose to share. Perhaps it is time to let go of this so exquisite pain you have held so long. You are the best one to decide when and where you let go. Smiling at you, Bright Wings

@brightwings

No you are not the only one who didn't know. I had no idea either. If its banned, how is it still being prescribed.

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My Dr quizzed me especially and specifically about it on my last appointment. I came home, read everything I could find. Let me say I should have used the words "is being banned". Could you imagine all of us nutball being suddenly cut off?!

@brightwings

@tennessegirl
How long have you been off the drug?

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Not off! Want desperately to be off! I have read it is being banned in the US. Anyone else?

@ainsleigh

I have been astounded to read here how many people have had problems with Effexor. I have not taken it nor would I if you paid me! I was surprised to find that Mayo Clinic mentions it as one drug that can be used for Panic and Anxiety Disorders. I would hope that nobody I know and care about would touch it with a ten foot pole!
Comments would be appreciated.
Ainsleigh

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Don't! With any length pole!

@brightwings

I read this as I was doing something else. I thought about there being no Effexor and I felt glad. Then I realized if It was banned I would probably be dead. Yes I was on it 26 years AND IT KEPT ME ALIVE.
My Docs tried 17 different antidepressants. This is the only one that worked.

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I've lost count of how many and I am glad it is being banned!

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