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

now down to 37.5 mg but cant seem to go lower. I have found a compounding chemist who will make capsules in any lower dose so going to try that with a slower withdrawal.

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@wendyw

now down to 37.5 mg but cant seem to go lower. I have found a compounding chemist who will make capsules in any lower dose so going to try that with a slower withdrawal.

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@wendyw – Are you going to be changing to another antidepressant?

Jim

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@careth2

Hi there! I am new to Connect, but hopefully can offer some insight. I DID go off 150 Effexor XR (name brand) COLD TURKEY on January 2016. I survived it, but will never in my life EVER go off ANY antidepressant cold turkey. I had taken Effexor for at least 8 years, Zoloft prior to that and and Imipramine (sp?) as the first antidepressant (in all 25+ years on antidepressants.) It all started with running out of meds over a long weekend and deciding it was time to try to get off antidepressants to see how I would do. Since I had recently retired from teaching, thought this would be an ideal time to give it a go. In addition, Effexor just wasn’t helping all that much anymore (I thought.) The first 3 days I felt like I was going to die! When I realized that I wasn’t dying, decided to keep going to get it all over with. In addition to the symptoms you have heard about, I had deep bone/joint pain that felt like I was being pinched with clamps. Also had skin sensations and peeling, and noticed a strange smell on my skin. Each day got a little better and by the 3rd week started to function a bit more normally. I was very emotional, however, which caused my family great concern. Well, to make a long story short, the depression crept back in full and I am still trying to get my life back. I did everything I could to stay stable, including herbal supplements and took a vacation where I hiked 6 miles daily for 9 days on hilly, rocky terrain. I finally had to accept that I’m a person who will need antidepressants for the rest of my life. With the help of a PCP and counselor, I am on my 3rd antidepressant & may need to resort to going back on Effexor, because nothing seems to be working. All in all, in my opinion, the chronic depression is worse than the withdrawal symptoms that do eventually end. If you are a person with situational depression, you may be successful weaning off Effexor gradually. If I were to do it again, that’s what I would do (while replacing Effexor with something else.) Here are the things that helped me with the physical withdrawal symptoms:
1. Get plenty of sleep/rest.
2. Eat a very well-balanced diet (this is not the time to worry about your weight.) Lots of soup & easy to digest foods the 1st few days.
3. Drink plenty of water, including coconut water.
4. Have a glass of wine in the evening (if advisable.)
5. Get outside and walk or other excersize (the warm sunshine will feel good!)
6. Hot yoga 3-4 times per week. Stay in class even if you feel nauseous & can only do a few postures.
7. Soak in a hot tub (with bath salts if available.)
8. Use a good moisturizer on face & body several times per day.
9. Get several professional massages.
10. Take Tylenol for muscle pain, if OK on your stomach.
11. A heating pad is also helpful at bedtime or during naps.
12. If you are single & live alone, make sure a few trusted friends/family members know what you are doing.
13. In general, be kind & gentle to yourself.
14. NEVER give up! Keep going, even when you don’t feel like it (which will be often.) YOU ARE WORTH IT!!!

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my son has weaned himself down to 37.5 mg of Effexor but the side affects are terrible when he tries to cut that out. He has now gone to a compounding chemist who will make it in lower dosages in a slow release capsule. He says the times he has come off Zoloft were a breeze for him compared to Effexor. Everyone reacts differently.

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This is actually for my 40 year old son. He has been on several medications for anxiety over many years. His new psychiatrist said it was time to stop the Effexor as after this time it wouldn’t be doing much so he reduced dosage by half every 2 weeks. The last 37.5 mg has proven impossible to stop with severe side effects. Hence trying the compounding pharmacy. They are making some half strength but can make any strength in a slow release capsule. I think he will wait until he sees how he is with nothing. He has developed severe kidney stones since being on Effexor and I have read this can possibly be a symptom so at this point he just wants to be drug free and if necessary start with something without the side effects he has been having.

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@wendyw

This is actually for my 40 year old son. He has been on several medications for anxiety over many years. His new psychiatrist said it was time to stop the Effexor as after this time it wouldn’t be doing much so he reduced dosage by half every 2 weeks. The last 37.5 mg has proven impossible to stop with severe side effects. Hence trying the compounding pharmacy. They are making some half strength but can make any strength in a slow release capsule. I think he will wait until he sees how he is with nothing. He has developed severe kidney stones since being on Effexor and I have read this can possibly be a symptom so at this point he just wants to be drug free and if necessary start with something without the side effects he has been having.

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@wendyw – Has your son discussed overlapping the stopping of Effexor and starting the new antidepressant? For many people, this greatly reduces the withdrawal symptoms. My doctor had me taper off Effexor at the same time as beginning Wellbutrin, and I don’t remember having any problems. Obviously, this varies greatly from one person to another.

Jim

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@wendyw

This is actually for my 40 year old son. He has been on several medications for anxiety over many years. His new psychiatrist said it was time to stop the Effexor as after this time it wouldn’t be doing much so he reduced dosage by half every 2 weeks. The last 37.5 mg has proven impossible to stop with severe side effects. Hence trying the compounding pharmacy. They are making some half strength but can make any strength in a slow release capsule. I think he will wait until he sees how he is with nothing. He has developed severe kidney stones since being on Effexor and I have read this can possibly be a symptom so at this point he just wants to be drug free and if necessary start with something without the side effects he has been having.

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Thanks Jim, that would probably be a good idea but he’s been on different meds for so long he wants to try without and see where he’s at.

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@wendyw

This is actually for my 40 year old son. He has been on several medications for anxiety over many years. His new psychiatrist said it was time to stop the Effexor as after this time it wouldn’t be doing much so he reduced dosage by half every 2 weeks. The last 37.5 mg has proven impossible to stop with severe side effects. Hence trying the compounding pharmacy. They are making some half strength but can make any strength in a slow release capsule. I think he will wait until he sees how he is with nothing. He has developed severe kidney stones since being on Effexor and I have read this can possibly be a symptom so at this point he just wants to be drug free and if necessary start with something without the side effects he has been having.

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@wendyw – I’m kind of at the same place. I’m going to talk to the neurologist on Tuesday about tapering off morphine and revisiting some of the neuropathy meds I’ve tried in the past, and see if any of them would help with the pain. The spinal cord stimulator has helped a lot, but it doesn’t do the whole job, especially if I’m on my feet for very long. Someone said that they had such a hard time getting off Effexor that they tapered on to another med temporarily while going off Effexor. Then they tapered off the other med, which didn’t have such severe withdrawal. I thought that sounded like a good solution.

Jim

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@wendyw

This is actually for my 40 year old son. He has been on several medications for anxiety over many years. His new psychiatrist said it was time to stop the Effexor as after this time it wouldn’t be doing much so he reduced dosage by half every 2 weeks. The last 37.5 mg has proven impossible to stop with severe side effects. Hence trying the compounding pharmacy. They are making some half strength but can make any strength in a slow release capsule. I think he will wait until he sees how he is with nothing. He has developed severe kidney stones since being on Effexor and I have read this can possibly be a symptom so at this point he just wants to be drug free and if necessary start with something without the side effects he has been having.

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Best wishes Jim. ATM my son is in the frame that he just wants to stop everything in case it’s causing his side effects

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Been trying to get off Effexor XL for a few weeks now. I was up to over 300 mgs. The brain zaps are terrible. The reason I want off so bad is the sweating. I’m constantly wiping my face all the time, and take showers to cool off. I weaned down to 75mgs, and then every other day. I just can’t do it. My ears ring, zaps all the time in my brain Daily, almost constant. I just took a 150mg to help me calm down. This is nuts!

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@travy

Been trying to get off Effexor XL for a few weeks now. I was up to over 300 mgs. The brain zaps are terrible. The reason I want off so bad is the sweating. I’m constantly wiping my face all the time, and take showers to cool off. I weaned down to 75mgs, and then every other day. I just can’t do it. My ears ring, zaps all the time in my brain Daily, almost constant. I just took a 150mg to help me calm down. This is nuts!

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I’m sorry you are having a frustrating experience. I still have not started weaning just yet. My doctor doesn’t like to start it in the winter so I’m waiting till January to start it slowly. Please keep us updated as all these different experiences helps us all at least be aware of possible side effects.

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@travy

Been trying to get off Effexor XL for a few weeks now. I was up to over 300 mgs. The brain zaps are terrible. The reason I want off so bad is the sweating. I’m constantly wiping my face all the time, and take showers to cool off. I weaned down to 75mgs, and then every other day. I just can’t do it. My ears ring, zaps all the time in my brain Daily, almost constant. I just took a 150mg to help me calm down. This is nuts!

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I just finished getting off Effexor. My last 37.5 mg dose was four days ago. I posted a few weeks ago about a number of supplements and vitamins I was taking that helped me get off the drug after taking 375mg for 12 years. I’ve seen similar posts from others that say taking omega-3 oil has been extremely helpful for them. I’ve also heard that others have found success taking a low dose SSRI like Prozac for a month until the Effexor is out of their system. Is your doctor aware that you have been tapering your dose? Most doctors are well aware of the difficulties people have coming off SNRIs and have treatment plans available that detail how to reduce the medication gradually. You also may need to be ramping up on a different medication if you are having issues with the Effexor.

Liked by Lisa Lucier

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Hi All – I’ve been on Prozac and then Effexor for close to 20 years now and began to wonder exactly why I was taking them anymore. At first, it was because of extreme stress and anxiety and was periodic low dosages. Within a few years, it became seasonal and I needed them through the winter as well. Then it was continual. My doctor at the time, who regularly sent me to a psychiatrist for evaluations, explained that it was like a “brain vitamin” due to chemical imbalances, so that I did not feel the stigma associated with it. Several years ago, stressors in my life between job and relationships brought my dosage up to 375mg per day. But those stressors are now gone, so I began to seriously question why I would still need to take this medication. I began to slowly decrease my dosage about every three months, of course, with my doctor’s awareness. I have finally gotten down to 37.5 mg and it is absolutely terrifying. The brain zaps, dizziness, vertigo, unfocussed thinking, heightened awareness of sounds and movements, sleep disruptions…. I’m afraid to get rid of the last dose. Thankfully my doctor is patiently working with me. Going every other day on the dose was too much, so I’m back on for 3 days at a time. On my off day, I’m to take a Clonazepam twice, 12 hours apart. Do this for two weeks, then reduce it to every 2 days, then 1 off with the Clonazepam. I am only to take the Clonazepam on my “off” days. I’ve reduced my caffeine intake, scheduled my sleeping, and a friend is now my activity coach, as everyone knows that physical activity will help you produce natural serotonin. I’m going to stay on this path and keep moving at all costs. My life is finally GREAT so why should I have to be on this medication? I’m not going to let the withdrawals control my life…..
I wish everyone luck in their journey to remove themselves, but please ask to remember to be PATIENT with yourselves. Try different types of dosage removals…. once you get to the lowest dose, maybe try extended the dosage time from 24 hours to 30 hours for a couple of weeks, then 36 hours and so on. My brain zaps occurred immediately at the 25 hour mark, so that is why I’m going every 3 days and then 1 off. We’ll see. I have high hopes and determination.
Again, thanks everyone for sharing their stories and good luck to you all.

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Hello @yorkiemama and welcome to Mayo Connect

I appreciate your post about reducing the dosage of your meds. I’m glad to see that you are doing this with your doctor’s assistance and support. That is so important.

Keep in touch as you feel comfortable doing so,

Teresa

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My son had half strength 37.5 mg made up at a compounding chemist and is taking daily for 2 weeks, then will get some 1/4 strength and do the same. It has been much better than weaning if the 37.5 mg

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Hello, Today is the 5th day after dose of Venlafaxine was cut in half. OMG I don’t think I should be driving and not sure about working! Each day has seemed to get worse however I am hopeful this is the bad before it gets better. The sweating at night is unbelieveable! I appreciate all the advice and helpful tips people have posted. Hopefully this doesn’t happen with each time the dose is decreased. #stayingstrong

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