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

@gb1988

I’m weaning off of Venlafaxine after only 2 mos of taking it. It caused violent personality changes in me – which is atypical behavior. As in I was yelling at my amazing, gentle boyfriend / soon-to-be fiancé over NOTHING and felt like I could just hit him. HORRIBLE. I felt BIPOLAR. Thank goodness he went through a personality change, too, years before we met when he was trying to find the right meds for his anxiety, so he understood, otherwise I guarantee our almost 2-year relationship would have ended that night. I was sobbing uncontrollably, angry…gosh it was horrible. The medication was supposed to make me feel better for goodness sakes, not turn me into a worse version of myself!

I initially went on it after Sertraline caused only one of my pupils to dilate, and at the advice of the ER pharmacist, I immediately stopped taking the Sertraline, as this can be indicative of a rare but serious side effect. I had wanted help with GAD and bad PMDD, no depression outside of my menstrual cycle. (Can’t take birth control or any other type of hormonal therapy, so I wanted to find alternative options for helping the PMDD.)

My doctor then put me on 37.5 mg of Venlafaxine and as I said now I’m weaning off of it due to the crazy personality change after 2 mos. I’m done trying meds after this; for my somewhat milder symptoms, it’s not worth the side effects.

It’s day 5 of weaning off, I took 1/2 pill per doctor’s advice for the first 3 nights, didn’t take it last night (night 4) and now day 5 I feel like I’m going to throw up. I have the jitters too.

However, I’m kicking myself because I had 4 cups of full caff coffee this morning about 4 hours ago (stupid!), and due to my extreme sensitivity anyway with caffeine, that made my nausea even worse. I feel like I’m about to burst into tears, too, because of not feeling well and the emotional changes of getting off the meds. If it’s this bad after only 2 mos taking 37.5 mg, I can’t imagine how terrible it would be for those on a large dose for years.

My body is HYPER sensitive to all things caffeine, alcohol, med related. My doctor even said she wouldn’t help me further with picking a 3rd medication to try, as my body indicates its more sensitive than others’. She referred me to a psychiatrist as they are “more familiar” with medications for anxiety, etc., and would do a better job picking a medication for me. But since the GAD/PMDD are mostly managable, I’m done with the experiment of trying medication to help – I gave it a good go.

I’m a 5’7”, 120 lbs, (29 yrs old), and my doctor said that having a smaller frame and lower dose should mean I won’t have as bad of withdrawal symptoms. Compared to others, I know she’s right, but as I’m typing this I’m fighting the urge to go try and throw up. AWFUL MEDICATION TO WEAN OFF OF! Do it gradually. Do not stop cold turkey – I am just so glad I was on a low dose for a short time. Doctor said it should only take 7 days for me to wean off since my dose was so small. Thank goodness it’s Saturday, so I can lie on the couch all day and I have tomorrow, too, to help me HOPEFULLY feel normal again by work Monday.

Tips: 1. Stay AWAY from caffeine 2. GRADUAL weaning off 3. Don’t give up! I’m also fighting the urge to take a half a pill today, but I don’t want to do that because that’ll set me back. I’m following my doctor’s weaning-off plan and in her words, there’s not much I can do to wean off since my dose was so small already. She said just to cut the pill in half and take the half pill for 3-4 nights.

Folks who are on very high doses, oh I feel for you. Blessings for strength to keep up the weaning-off path and not to relapse into taking it again.

I was petrified to wean off because “Doctor Internet” had so many posts about Venlafaxine being the worst medication of its kind you can possibly try to wean off of. Doctor Internet was right. It sucks, and I was only on 37.5 mg for 2 mos.

If possible, maybe ask your doctor about going on a different medication if you’re trying to decide between starting Venlafaxine (which is the generic brand of Effexor) and a different medication.

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Hi, @gb1988 — welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. So sorry to hear you went through such hard times when you went on the venlafaxine (Effexor). Truly a blessing that your boyfriend understands how these things can occur and was compassionate and understanding.

Thanks for your all the tips you've shared here about making decisions about going on venlafaxine (Effexor) and about tapering off this medication.

I'd love for you to meet @kdubois, a volunteer mentor here on Connect who has some experience with drug sensitivity and genetic testing related to drug metabolism. @gailb, another volunteer mentor, also may have some thoughts on drug sensitivity/fit for a particular patient, and potential testing in this arena. @seeker619 has also talked about this and may have some thoughts for you.

Please keep posting and let us know how things go for you over the weekend.

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@tundra

I'm not coming off effexor but am tapering a Benzo right now and it's tough but doable. I'm a fighter and will be a winner. I saw my Psychiatrist today after she received the results of my genetic testing. My body is not tolerate of anything but Pristiq. Both she and I decided I'm going to continue my 6 month taper off my Benzo and call it done…..No more pills. I am however with her approval going to try CBD oil to aid me in my withdrawls. You can do this. Jump in and get your life back. One day at a time, low and slow in the taper. You deserve to be free and happy. There are a lot of us out here tapering and supporting…My Very Best

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Hi Lisa, I had genetic testing because I have fought for 15 years with anxiety and depression. I wanted off of Benzo's and was going to try SSRI's but my doctor and I have decided not to. I am extremely sensitive to all meds so I'm tapering off my Serax at 10% a month and using CBD to help me. My Psychiatrist is working with me through the tapering and my CBD's. I am looking for positive stories and am staying clear of doom and gloom. I had hit tolerance about 3-4 months prior to starting my taper so I've been fighting hard for a while now.

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@nanke99

Hi! I was on Effexor XR for a few years and got off it several years ago. It was a very difficult process, so I fully sympathize. You MUST wean off
VERY SLOWLY. I don’t remember what my dosage was at the time (225mg?), but it took me about 9 months. Please do not let that long time scare you, it’s worth going slow, that will be your biggest help w/ withdrawal. At the time I had a very difficult time finding any doctor with experience getting people off it.
Luckily I was advised to to find one and luckily I did. It is considered harder to get off than heroine. Not trying to scare you, just want to make sure you go as slow as possible. Mostly, I was moody/angry, had headaches, and some brain “shivers”. The brain shivers I already had while on the meds.
I think we went down in 25mg increments over several weeks for each reduction. Keep us posted and good luck! Just give yourself some time and it will be over before you know it!

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How has that been working for you?

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Can the withdrawal symptoms include paranoia, anxiety or strange nightmares?

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@kerwea

Can the withdrawal symptoms include paranoia, anxiety or strange nightmares?

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Kerwea, I am one week off of Effexor and I am having paranoia feelings like I can't breathe. I've been sleeping in my recliner in an upright position. It is causing anxiety and panic. Yes to nightmares and very vivid dreams. Add to this I have bad vertigo and finding it hard to focus. Not fun.

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No Advice richyrich, I'm on my second try and I don't know if I'll be able to make it.

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@kerwea

Can the withdrawal symptoms include paranoia, anxiety or strange nightmares?

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I mentioned it to my doctor and she just brushed it off and said no. She did that with something else too. I think it's time to doctor shop.

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@kerwea

Can the withdrawal symptoms include paranoia, anxiety or strange nightmares?

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Hello, @kerwea — wanted to add my welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect .Sounds like your withdrawal has been a rough go. Terribly sorry your doctor did not attend to these side effects.

You mentioned possible doctor shopping. Do you have other good possibilities where you live?

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@kerwea

Can the withdrawal symptoms include paranoia, anxiety or strange nightmares?

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Hi, @poisonivy — that, too, sounds like a very challenging withdrawal. So sorry to hear about it. Especially scary that you feel at times like you can't breathe.

Have you by chance gotten to talk to your doctor about what you are experiencing?

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@kerwea

Can the withdrawal symptoms include paranoia, anxiety or strange nightmares?

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I left a message this afternoon. Hopefully, she will call me tomorrow.

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I have been taking Effexor/Venlafaxine for stress induce menopause hot flashes.
I quit cold turkey once because I blame it for gas and weight gain. What a mistake that was. All I did was cry.
Now I am told I have dry mouth and this med can be the reason. I don't know what to do

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@nanke99

Sure, my pleasure! I would not go cold turkey! Not just the pain but the mental & emotional effects are unpredictable and could be dangerous. Do you have a doctor experienced with this? It is important to find one with specific experience w/ Effexor withdraw. When I did it years ago, there were very few, but now you should be able to.
What is your current doctor saying?

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I had almost unbearable withdrawal problems every time that I tried to quit effexor & always went back.
The solution for me and several others (after I told them of the solution) has always worked. VERY SIMPLE…….
TAKE PROZAC FOR 7 DAYS ALONG WTH THE EFFEXOR. AFTER 7 DAYS, STOP TAKING EFFEXOR AND CONTINUE PROZAC
FOR 7 DAYS….NO WITHDRAWAL…. From this point I still had the same problems that I had before taking effexor in spite of taking 4 or five drugs suggested by my doctor..I hope you can find a solution to this part of the problem.

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