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

Liked by Bek, LynneB, kelly76, echams1 ... see all

@coloradogirl

So, I just finished this process with Zoloft (sertraline) and here are some things that worked for me. Your mileage may vary, but hopefully these are low risk for you to try.

1) You may need to ask your doctor for a slower tapering program than other patients. Some people are just more sensitive to dosage changes. Be aware that symptoms will get better, then may reappear each time you taper. AAFMA (practice group of family physicians) says that the symptoms typically last 1-2 weeks and as long as 4 weeks, so I just kept reminding myself that it was temporary.
2) Be watchful for things that make your symptoms worse. For example, caffeine seems to trigger the brain zaps for me (still, even after being off for several weeks), so I cut back my caffeine intake. I didn’t give it up completely (because I still need to function), but cut back on how much real coffee I was drinking, mixed decaf with regular, and switched to tea sometimes. In the end, I probably cut my daily caffeine intake in half, and it did help quite a lot.
3) Ibuprofen or other pain reliever can help with the flu-like body aches.
4) Benadryl helped with the brain zaps.
5) Exercise helped with both. Even if I wasn’t up to a run, a few blocks of walking would settle down the symptoms for a while at least. (Then, when they come back, just take another walk. We took a lot of walks for a while there).
6) Get enough sleep. As I came down off the meds, my normal sleeping patterns returned, which was great, but it did mean that I needed to plan time to let my body rest.
7) Pay attention to your diet. Your brain uses carbs to make seratonin, so now is not the time to go on the Atkins diet. Eat well and make sure you’re getting enough healthy carbs. You may crave sweets; I certainly did. I tried to counteract this by having bananas, graham crackers, and other healthy things I could snack on instead of sticking my head in a birthday cake like I seemed to want.

No lie – it’s a painful process, but this did really help make it easier. Also, at a certain point, when I was down the below the normal starter dose, I just ripped off the bandaid and went to zero. At that point, it felt like each taper was just prolonging the suffering. Don’t just go cold turkey from your current dose, though, as that can be dangerous. Also, don’t add any supplements or substitutes for the SSRI without talking to your doctor first (also dangerous).

And of course, watch for the return of depression / anxiety type symptoms. For a while it was hard to tell whether I was tired because of the change in meds or because my depression was returning. I figured as long as I felt okay enough to function and wasn’t thinking about being harmful to myself or anyone else, I could play it out and see. It turned out to be the meds and on the other side, I can see that I was more worried about it than I needed to be.

I wish you the best of luck and a healthy life.

Mardee

Jump to this post

@medfree17
How are you planning on handling the panic attacks? No plan means you are going to suffer. Please spend some time reading to see both how others handle the withdrawal rate reduction and how they handle the anxiety that comes with it. Smiling at you

REPLY
@coloradogirl

So, I just finished this process with Zoloft (sertraline) and here are some things that worked for me. Your mileage may vary, but hopefully these are low risk for you to try.

1) You may need to ask your doctor for a slower tapering program than other patients. Some people are just more sensitive to dosage changes. Be aware that symptoms will get better, then may reappear each time you taper. AAFMA (practice group of family physicians) says that the symptoms typically last 1-2 weeks and as long as 4 weeks, so I just kept reminding myself that it was temporary.
2) Be watchful for things that make your symptoms worse. For example, caffeine seems to trigger the brain zaps for me (still, even after being off for several weeks), so I cut back my caffeine intake. I didn’t give it up completely (because I still need to function), but cut back on how much real coffee I was drinking, mixed decaf with regular, and switched to tea sometimes. In the end, I probably cut my daily caffeine intake in half, and it did help quite a lot.
3) Ibuprofen or other pain reliever can help with the flu-like body aches.
4) Benadryl helped with the brain zaps.
5) Exercise helped with both. Even if I wasn’t up to a run, a few blocks of walking would settle down the symptoms for a while at least. (Then, when they come back, just take another walk. We took a lot of walks for a while there).
6) Get enough sleep. As I came down off the meds, my normal sleeping patterns returned, which was great, but it did mean that I needed to plan time to let my body rest.
7) Pay attention to your diet. Your brain uses carbs to make seratonin, so now is not the time to go on the Atkins diet. Eat well and make sure you’re getting enough healthy carbs. You may crave sweets; I certainly did. I tried to counteract this by having bananas, graham crackers, and other healthy things I could snack on instead of sticking my head in a birthday cake like I seemed to want.

No lie – it’s a painful process, but this did really help make it easier. Also, at a certain point, when I was down the below the normal starter dose, I just ripped off the bandaid and went to zero. At that point, it felt like each taper was just prolonging the suffering. Don’t just go cold turkey from your current dose, though, as that can be dangerous. Also, don’t add any supplements or substitutes for the SSRI without talking to your doctor first (also dangerous).

And of course, watch for the return of depression / anxiety type symptoms. For a while it was hard to tell whether I was tired because of the change in meds or because my depression was returning. I figured as long as I felt okay enough to function and wasn’t thinking about being harmful to myself or anyone else, I could play it out and see. It turned out to be the meds and on the other side, I can see that I was more worried about it than I needed to be.

I wish you the best of luck and a healthy life.

Mardee

Jump to this post

@medfree17 and others . . .

I read recently in the NY Times that people coming off of Effexor have different levels of problems when they withdraw. Some are able to withdraw relatively easily, while others have very extreme reactions to withdrawal. As we all know, every body and everyone is different. What works for one person and seems so simple and quick, may be a disaster for another person. You will probably need to experiment to find out which person you are. If you are able to do the quick method, then by all means do that. But, if you have difficulty with side effects from withdrawal, then I recommend following the experiences and recommendations of those who have posted the ways and long length of time it took for them to safely withdraw from the drug.

Doctors often don't understand the full effects and difficulties of tapering off of drugs, unless they have taken and withdrawn from those drugs themselves. Pharmacists have a better understanding of how long it takes and can recommend to you how to schedule your drops in drug levels. However, since our bodies are different, any recommendations need to be tempered with your own experience. This is true for any drug on which your/our bodies have become dependent. It doesn't mean that you have a problem, it just means you are different from your neighbor. We can all get off any drug we have become dependent on or addicted to. It takes time and it may be unpleasant, but it can be done. If you want off, take the time it takes and be good to yourself while you are withdrawing. Best of luck.

Gail
Volunteer Mentor

REPLY
@coloradogirl

So, I just finished this process with Zoloft (sertraline) and here are some things that worked for me. Your mileage may vary, but hopefully these are low risk for you to try.

1) You may need to ask your doctor for a slower tapering program than other patients. Some people are just more sensitive to dosage changes. Be aware that symptoms will get better, then may reappear each time you taper. AAFMA (practice group of family physicians) says that the symptoms typically last 1-2 weeks and as long as 4 weeks, so I just kept reminding myself that it was temporary.
2) Be watchful for things that make your symptoms worse. For example, caffeine seems to trigger the brain zaps for me (still, even after being off for several weeks), so I cut back my caffeine intake. I didn’t give it up completely (because I still need to function), but cut back on how much real coffee I was drinking, mixed decaf with regular, and switched to tea sometimes. In the end, I probably cut my daily caffeine intake in half, and it did help quite a lot.
3) Ibuprofen or other pain reliever can help with the flu-like body aches.
4) Benadryl helped with the brain zaps.
5) Exercise helped with both. Even if I wasn’t up to a run, a few blocks of walking would settle down the symptoms for a while at least. (Then, when they come back, just take another walk. We took a lot of walks for a while there).
6) Get enough sleep. As I came down off the meds, my normal sleeping patterns returned, which was great, but it did mean that I needed to plan time to let my body rest.
7) Pay attention to your diet. Your brain uses carbs to make seratonin, so now is not the time to go on the Atkins diet. Eat well and make sure you’re getting enough healthy carbs. You may crave sweets; I certainly did. I tried to counteract this by having bananas, graham crackers, and other healthy things I could snack on instead of sticking my head in a birthday cake like I seemed to want.

No lie – it’s a painful process, but this did really help make it easier. Also, at a certain point, when I was down the below the normal starter dose, I just ripped off the bandaid and went to zero. At that point, it felt like each taper was just prolonging the suffering. Don’t just go cold turkey from your current dose, though, as that can be dangerous. Also, don’t add any supplements or substitutes for the SSRI without talking to your doctor first (also dangerous).

And of course, watch for the return of depression / anxiety type symptoms. For a while it was hard to tell whether I was tired because of the change in meds or because my depression was returning. I figured as long as I felt okay enough to function and wasn’t thinking about being harmful to myself or anyone else, I could play it out and see. It turned out to be the meds and on the other side, I can see that I was more worried about it than I needed to be.

I wish you the best of luck and a healthy life.

Mardee

Jump to this post

@medfree17

It sounds to me as if @parus may have misunderstood your post. If I understand you correctly, you are saying you just began taking Effexor one week ago at 37.5 mg. and you want to stop now. If that's true, I think it is safe for you to just stop. I'm not a medical professional, but it seems the longer you take this medication, the harder it will be for you to stop. Check with your pharmacist for their opinion. They are often the best resource for withdrawal information.

Gail
Volunteer Mentor

REPLY

Darn I just lost a long text. I was laughing at Jimmy Kimmel.
Ok back to another part of my getting off Effexor. Last summer, I was at my 6th Sacred Ceremony. My medicine man, Doug Byland told me if I got off the antidepressant, I could attend an Ayawaska Ceremony and he could remove the original cause of my depression. I started jumping with joy. Me, This sweet looking granny with the twinkle in my eye actually was jumping. I'm 67, too old to act like that or so I thought.
He was telling me I could actually have what I had been working for since 1986. Remove any of the effects of my abuse AND the cause of my depression. WOW
BUT I HAD TO BE COMPLETELY OFF ANY ANTIDEPRESSANTS OR I COULD DIE. It seems Ayawaska combined with antidepressants causes serotonin toxicity. Too much serotonin can kill you.
Well, that was just what I needed to hear to chuck the med. Do NOT COME OFF THE MED LIKE I DID.
Anyways, I had to be off the drug for 6 weeks before I could attend that ceremony. I attended the Ayawaska ceremony on 4/28 and 4/29, 2018. Go read the difference in my writing from before the ceremony and after. AMAZING, What he promised the Sacred Plant Medicine could do happened. I am no longer depressed.
I am still in withdrawal and still have MS so I feel crappy, but my goal had been reached. Depression ended.
Now I have decided after 12 peyote ceremonies, its time for me to step up into leadership again.
So this week I am writing a proposal to set up conferences to train Medicine People. I want to be a medicine woman, but I want to be trained to be a qualified medicine woman.
I have 11 years of setting up conferences both as a presenter countless times in many states and worked on the committees to bring the whole hotel conference up and running each year, 4 of them being international conferences.
I was the assistant to the President of VOICES, (Victims of Incest Can Emerge Survivors) for the last conference I worked on. Only thing is she was hospitalized 10 days before the conference started.
SO, I was shaking in my boots as John Wayne so eloquently stated about courage. "Shaking in your boots but doing it anyway." But I brought that conference up and running along with the whole team. I believe we had more than 100 people attending the 3 day conference.
This week I just have to figure out how to write a proposal. I started using computers in 1986 but I don't believe I have ever written a proposal. Any tips would be sincerely. appreciated.
I am so excited. Enough of this sitting around. I have things to do, I am taking that action to make a change in my life. YIPPEE SKIPPEE Good night all

REPLY
@coloradogirl

So, I just finished this process with Zoloft (sertraline) and here are some things that worked for me. Your mileage may vary, but hopefully these are low risk for you to try.

1) You may need to ask your doctor for a slower tapering program than other patients. Some people are just more sensitive to dosage changes. Be aware that symptoms will get better, then may reappear each time you taper. AAFMA (practice group of family physicians) says that the symptoms typically last 1-2 weeks and as long as 4 weeks, so I just kept reminding myself that it was temporary.
2) Be watchful for things that make your symptoms worse. For example, caffeine seems to trigger the brain zaps for me (still, even after being off for several weeks), so I cut back my caffeine intake. I didn’t give it up completely (because I still need to function), but cut back on how much real coffee I was drinking, mixed decaf with regular, and switched to tea sometimes. In the end, I probably cut my daily caffeine intake in half, and it did help quite a lot.
3) Ibuprofen or other pain reliever can help with the flu-like body aches.
4) Benadryl helped with the brain zaps.
5) Exercise helped with both. Even if I wasn’t up to a run, a few blocks of walking would settle down the symptoms for a while at least. (Then, when they come back, just take another walk. We took a lot of walks for a while there).
6) Get enough sleep. As I came down off the meds, my normal sleeping patterns returned, which was great, but it did mean that I needed to plan time to let my body rest.
7) Pay attention to your diet. Your brain uses carbs to make seratonin, so now is not the time to go on the Atkins diet. Eat well and make sure you’re getting enough healthy carbs. You may crave sweets; I certainly did. I tried to counteract this by having bananas, graham crackers, and other healthy things I could snack on instead of sticking my head in a birthday cake like I seemed to want.

No lie – it’s a painful process, but this did really help make it easier. Also, at a certain point, when I was down the below the normal starter dose, I just ripped off the bandaid and went to zero. At that point, it felt like each taper was just prolonging the suffering. Don’t just go cold turkey from your current dose, though, as that can be dangerous. Also, don’t add any supplements or substitutes for the SSRI without talking to your doctor first (also dangerous).

And of course, watch for the return of depression / anxiety type symptoms. For a while it was hard to tell whether I was tired because of the change in meds or because my depression was returning. I figured as long as I felt okay enough to function and wasn’t thinking about being harmful to myself or anyone else, I could play it out and see. It turned out to be the meds and on the other side, I can see that I was more worried about it than I needed to be.

I wish you the best of luck and a healthy life.

Mardee

Jump to this post

@medfree17 @gaib
Excellent post Gail. The only thing I would add is she can also cut the tabs in half IF she does have any symptoms.
Gail, is there any way you can repost that article here or post a link to it?

REPLY

@richyrich
Now its 2 years since you started your withdrawal from Effexor. How are things going now?

REPLY

Checking in…I slept wonderfully and I realize I am feeling different inside. I am back to my old self. Happy, bubbly and already sending love and jokes by messenger. Haha, I invited my long lost nephew, my brother's son, to go camping with me in upper Wisconsin. I have not seen him since he was 10. He is now 44.
What a different day from yesterday. I am so thankful.
Do I dare think that the withdrawal is over???? We will see, won't we.
Anyway, one day at a time and if that is too large a chunk of time, make it hour by hour. Have a great day everyone. I know I am!

REPLY

@coloradogirl
Hello, I am bright wings from Mayo Clinic Connect. I am not sure you realize what a hero you are in many of the folks eyes who are withdrawing from Effexor. So many folks are still using your technique of counting Effexor beads.
So how are you doing now? I hope you will come and spend a few minutes letting us know how you are doing now. Smiling at you, Bright Wings

REPLY

I have reduced from 150mg to 75 mg about 6-7 weeks ago and are still having withdrawals. My Nurse Practioner wants me to be withdrawal free before reducing to 37.5 mg.
I read that it takes 2-4 weeks to get through the symptoms. Has anyone else had symptoms this long? Sometimes I feel very confused and can’t concentrate.

REPLY
@karhvp

I have reduced from 150mg to 75 mg about 6-7 weeks ago and are still having withdrawals. My Nurse Practioner wants me to be withdrawal free before reducing to 37.5 mg.
I read that it takes 2-4 weeks to get through the symptoms. Has anyone else had symptoms this long? Sometimes I feel very confused and can’t concentrate.

Jump to this post

@karhvp @parus @lovestheocean @tennesseegirl
Welcome to our group. Hmmm, about what your PA is saying….I sincerely hope you get to reading other experiences from the like minded folks here to see what withdrawing from Effexor is really like. I myself started getting off the drug last summer. I took my last dose of Effexor the 2nd week of March. I think my withdrawal ended yesterday.
In my humble opinion, you will end up withdrawing from this drug twice if you follow her instructions.
Now you did not share what dosage meaning are you on extended release caps? If you are, there is a way of opening the caps to remove beads of Effexor and reduce the dosage that way.
What do the rest of you think about what her PA is suggesting.
Again, welcome to our group. You will find lots of support here. The most important thing you can do is get to reading. Smiling at you, Bright Wings

REPLY
@karhvp

I have reduced from 150mg to 75 mg about 6-7 weeks ago and are still having withdrawals. My Nurse Practioner wants me to be withdrawal free before reducing to 37.5 mg.
I read that it takes 2-4 weeks to get through the symptoms. Has anyone else had symptoms this long? Sometimes I feel very confused and can’t concentrate.

Jump to this post

I know that it takes me at least 4 weeks to start feeling like myself, and my dosage reductions have been much smaller than yours. I also experience confusion and difficulty concentrating. Perhaps a smaller reduction next time would be easier. Hang in there!

REPLY
@karhvp

I have reduced from 150mg to 75 mg about 6-7 weeks ago and are still having withdrawals. My Nurse Practioner wants me to be withdrawal free before reducing to 37.5 mg.
I read that it takes 2-4 weeks to get through the symptoms. Has anyone else had symptoms this long? Sometimes I feel very confused and can’t concentrate.

Jump to this post

@amalia78 Here is a thought, have you tried CBD oil. It has really helped me in so many ways. Be kind to yourself.

REPLY

CBD OIL
IS IT WORKING FOR YOU AND HOW DOES IT HELP?

REPLY

Hi Everyone. Day ten quit Effexor progress report. Feeling pretty darn good. Still some zaps, but they are subsiding. Some weird "noises" that even I cannot describe except to say they are going away. A bit of coffee in the morning helped my body aches which seem to be way down. I am sleeping like a rock and for many hours. I haven't slept a solid stretch in years.
And, I have feelings. I have been weepy at the sad news and laugh at the funny stuff. I have been quicker to anger than I can remember for a long time. Much less likely to take shit from people. "Get off my lawn" hahaha. Taking it a day at a time and not trying to be my own hero.

One thing that has changed a lot is that I am starting to do things I used to do every day. Onward.

REPLY

I’m in the middle of this at the moment and it’s killing me. I feel so nauseous. I purchased medince for nausea at CVS and it has not helped AT ALL. I’ve been sleeping a lot because I can’t stay awake without feeling sick to my stomach. I hate being awake. All I wanna do is cry.

REPLY
Please login or register to post a reply.