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

@cmacy66

My daughter is trying to stop taking Effexor. She went to an "urgent" care doctor for the prescription – then again to get off (not same urgent care). The doctor told her to start taking every other day for a week and then stop taking all together. She is a MESS – dizzy, depressed, lack of energy, etc. I'm not sure if she should go back on the meds and then start taking the weaning process again. Also – not sure what qualified doctor we can get into soon to help oversee the process.
BTW – what is CBD oil?

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@cmacy66

I am alarmed that the doctor told her to withdraw from Effexor so quickly. Some comments on here say it can take a year to get off the medication. I recommend that she return to taking the medication, and find a doctor to oversee her slow withdrawal. I am not a medical professional, so I can't diagnose and my recommendations are based on my own and other's experiences. Please read through the posts on here to learn how others have gotten off Effexor. Most have taken a very slow and long time to get off the drug. It sounds as if 1 year is a good time frame.

To answer about CBD, it's a derivative of Marijuana/Cannabis that has no "high" associated with it. It relaxes and calms people and is legal in most states now. CBD has helped people withdraw from opioids and other addictions. It is not addictive and is very benign in your body with no known side effects. I used CBD to help me withdraw from Tramadol and used marijuana to help me quit smoking. I also use CBD to help my occasional anxiety.

I hope your daughter finds a physician to help her get off Effexor. Another alternative is to contact your pharmacist as they are very knowledgeable about how drugs act and how we react when we are withdrawing from a drug. My pharmacist was very helpful for my withdrawal from Gabapentin when my doctor wouldn't help me. Please keep us informed about your daughter's progress. Best wishes for a healthy withdrawal.

Gail
Volunteer Mentor

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After taking Venlafaxine for 8 years( up to 350mgs per day) I am now in the process of weaning from it. With the help of an amazing acupuncture practitioner I am down to 100mg every second day and will soon be reducing this. I also have some amazing friends who are available should I need them. I have been on and off of antidepressants for 50 years but have never felt as supported as I do now. To those who also walk this path I wish you well for now and your future.

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@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

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It's now May, 2018. I keep re-reading your post dated Nov. 2016. I don't know if you will ever read this, but I just wanted you to know that it is helping me through my withdrawal. I've been reducing from 150 mg since January 2018. I'm down to approx. 15 mg. I should just go ahead and as you say "rip off the band aid" but I'm a bit afraid to cut the cord. The last time I tried this, I got down this far and had a huge set back. I couldn't deal with it and went back on the drug. I'm not going to do it this time. The side effects of being on Effexor for 15 plus years have been debilitating. I'm done. Thanks for your encouragement.

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@congolia

I began my withdrawal journey on May 15, 2017. I was taking 225 mg daily.
Here’s what I’m doing:
I open a capsule and remove 1 “bead”; next day, 2 beads; next day, 3 beads, and so on. By August 28, 2017, I had cut one capsule and was down to 150 mg daily. I continued to remove beads until I got down to 1 capsule. Now I am down to about 20 beads left and am still going forward. Once or twice I felt uncomfortable, with brain shivers and tinnitus. I would stay at that dosage for a week and then continue. At today’s dosage, I am experiencing some discomfort, but if I stay busy, I can deal with it.
It is a slow and tedious process, but so worth it! My memory is much better, for one thing! The support of my family and friends helps, too. Feel free to reply to me here for friendly support, questions, or comments. I would like to see everyone get off this “medicine “.
Good luck, best wishes, and I’m praying for each of you.

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Hi, Lisa. Thanks for your kind welcome. I will connect with the members you noted.
I am not planning to transition to any other medication.

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Hello All,

I am on day 21 off Effexor and life is going really well. The first 7 to 10 days were the worst. Then the withdrawal symptoms began to taper off. It feels like I won the superbowl so I should head to Walt Disney World. In fact I might just do that. 🙂

I don't expect to share more on there as my journey off the medication is complete. Now it's time to build on all the positive changes and silver linings that happened over the past three weeks. If you need me please feel free to reach out. I wish you all the best on your journey. The experiences people have shared are filled with excellent insights and recommendations. Work with a doctor your trust who understands you and this medication. All the best.

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@jmanon

Hello All,

I am on day 21 off Effexor and life is going really well. The first 7 to 10 days were the worst. Then the withdrawal symptoms began to taper off. It feels like I won the superbowl so I should head to Walt Disney World. In fact I might just do that. 🙂

I don't expect to share more on there as my journey off the medication is complete. Now it's time to build on all the positive changes and silver linings that happened over the past three weeks. If you need me please feel free to reach out. I wish you all the best on your journey. The experiences people have shared are filled with excellent insights and recommendations. Work with a doctor your trust who understands you and this medication. All the best.

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Congratulations, @jmanon. Thank you for your testimony- it's helpful for other community members to see that there is a light at the end of the Effexor tunnel!

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@jmanon

Hello All,

I am on day 21 off Effexor and life is going really well. The first 7 to 10 days were the worst. Then the withdrawal symptoms began to taper off. It feels like I won the superbowl so I should head to Walt Disney World. In fact I might just do that. 🙂

I don't expect to share more on there as my journey off the medication is complete. Now it's time to build on all the positive changes and silver linings that happened over the past three weeks. If you need me please feel free to reach out. I wish you all the best on your journey. The experiences people have shared are filled with excellent insights and recommendations. Work with a doctor your trust who understands you and this medication. All the best.

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I tried to take a half a dose yesterday…BIG mistake. I barely made it to the chair beside me.

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@cmacy66

My daughter is trying to stop taking Effexor. She went to an "urgent" care doctor for the prescription – then again to get off (not same urgent care). The doctor told her to start taking every other day for a week and then stop taking all together. She is a MESS – dizzy, depressed, lack of energy, etc. I'm not sure if she should go back on the meds and then start taking the weaning process again. Also – not sure what qualified doctor we can get into soon to help oversee the process.
BTW – what is CBD oil?

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@gailb or anyone else with experience, would you feel the need to consult with your doctor before taking CBD? Also, does anyone know if this is something that people on immunosuppressants can take? I have a tiny prescription for lorazepam (my doctor gave me an Rx for 10 over a year ago and I still have a couple left) that I use when I have anxieties at bedtime, which due to some family situations has been somewhat frequent recently, but I have tried to go without the lorazepam. Perhaps the CBD would help with that.
JK

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Third day without Effexor. Ran out.

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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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Thanks for posting this! My mental health care provided (not my regular doctor) weaned me off Effexor in 6 weeks. I felt fine until a day after the day of my last dose. The provider didn't give me any insight whatsoever and I ended up doing most of my own research and luckily found this group. He had another antidepressant prescribed to start right away even though I told him I was taking a break, so I am not taking anything new. Maybe I should check with my regular doctor on the melatonin for anxiety. I have never experienced anything like getting that drug out of my system! Now, I am still going through some of the side effects, but not as bad as it was. I am hoping that some of the depression, confusion, anxiety, etc. I have been feeling are still the residuals of the Effexor. I am a little scared because I don't know when the after effects of the drug will be done and my feelings that are no longer masked by a drug will resurface.

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@lovetheocean

Third day without Effexor. Ran out.

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@lovetheocean That's great, but perhaps you should keep some on hand, just in case. Is the prescription refillable?
JK

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I don't have any and no way to get any. I live in a rural area and no pharmacy delivery. Didn't want to rag about my situation. My prescription is still active. I slept well after waiting a long time for sleep to arrive. I need and want to rediscover the real me without antidepressants. Thank you for your response.

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