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

Hi, I was on cymbalta two different times and it generally helped me a lot. I transitioned to another med the first time due to insurance issues for a while and then went back on it. I don't remember any problems taperi g off of it to another drug.

I have to say though, that the second time i was on it, I did develop a manic episode that built after a few months of hypomania after I had been on it for about 6 months. I also received steroid shots during this time for Rheumatoid arthritis and was under extreme stress at work and home. Most notably, i did not talk to my psychiatrist about being hypomanic until it was too late apparently. For months i didn't need to sleep much and was highly productive. But then it tipped to mania and I couldn't sleep. That was my first manic episode, and I was 61! It took a few months to "come down." And then I really crashed into my worst depression ever.

I don't know how much each element contributed to the manic episode: cymbalta (it's a risk factor), steroids (another risk factor), and the extreme stress. My pdoc said she believes I was misdiagnosed with Major Depression when I actually had bipolar type 2. There is a lot in the lit about antidepressants triggering type 1 mania in type 2 patients.

I was put on many different meds, allergic to some(lamitrogene, lithium, depakoate), not responsive to others, and not covered when I lost my job and went on Medicaid. I have finally settled on Prozac (80) and seroquel (200 mg) for a couple of years and seem ok. I think i could be better. I did the dna test for medications this week and look forward to learning if something will work better. I don't recall having any physical withdrawal problems with going on and off all those meds. I DID have a bad reaction to seroquel at the 800 mg they prescribed. Horrible anxiety, nightmares, panic attacks. I reduced the dose immediately with my doc's ok.

So all of this is just a cautionary tale about the risks of any meds. And to be proactive with self observation, ensuring adequate sleep and relief if other symptoms arise. I know I waited too long to get help.

Be brave. Some of us NEED treatment all our life and we have to find out what works best. Only trial and error. Best wishes on your journey!
Cathy

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

I started taking it when I found out that my alcoholic husband was having an affair and completely ruined us financially. He got fired at the same time. I had to work so hard to get us out of debt and keep our house. It was a very rough time that got rougher when he died of cyrrhosis.
It is 7 years since then and I am married to a wonderful man and am retired. We have a great active life. I felt like I was ready to come off of it. If it turns out, I have to take something, then I will but it will be a much smaller dose and something other than Effexor.

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

I just joined this group……I was put on Effexor in November at 75 mg. I cut in half about three weeks ago and a horrible muscle tingling in legs and joint pain basically in my knees started. OF course I'm going to see my doctor but can't get an appointment for a few weeks. it comes and goes and especially bad today…does anyone know how long this will take? should I go back on and then taper slowly?

REPLY

@cathy615 Thanks for sharing your experience! It does make me feel better to at least try it. If anything, it should help me get off the Effexor at the very least according to my doc.

REPLY
@cdileonardo4

Hey how do you get down to half of a 37.5 my doc said do every other day. Better today last two been nauseous. Had no withdrawals until the last few days. Was on 150 then 75 then 37.5

Jump to this post

Been on since 2013

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

This site may help We are all different but these meds can be dangerous for some Some are helped by them I hate the withdrawal symptoms stopping Xanax Effexor made me very ill…..seems addictive

REPLY
@cathy615

Hi, I was on cymbalta two different times and it generally helped me a lot. I transitioned to another med the first time due to insurance issues for a while and then went back on it. I don't remember any problems taperi g off of it to another drug.

I have to say though, that the second time i was on it, I did develop a manic episode that built after a few months of hypomania after I had been on it for about 6 months. I also received steroid shots during this time for Rheumatoid arthritis and was under extreme stress at work and home. Most notably, i did not talk to my psychiatrist about being hypomanic until it was too late apparently. For months i didn't need to sleep much and was highly productive. But then it tipped to mania and I couldn't sleep. That was my first manic episode, and I was 61! It took a few months to "come down." And then I really crashed into my worst depression ever.

I don't know how much each element contributed to the manic episode: cymbalta (it's a risk factor), steroids (another risk factor), and the extreme stress. My pdoc said she believes I was misdiagnosed with Major Depression when I actually had bipolar type 2. There is a lot in the lit about antidepressants triggering type 1 mania in type 2 patients.

I was put on many different meds, allergic to some(lamitrogene, lithium, depakoate), not responsive to others, and not covered when I lost my job and went on Medicaid. I have finally settled on Prozac (80) and seroquel (200 mg) for a couple of years and seem ok. I think i could be better. I did the dna test for medications this week and look forward to learning if something will work better. I don't recall having any physical withdrawal problems with going on and off all those meds. I DID have a bad reaction to seroquel at the 800 mg they prescribed. Horrible anxiety, nightmares, panic attacks. I reduced the dose immediately with my doc's ok.

So all of this is just a cautionary tale about the risks of any meds. And to be proactive with self observation, ensuring adequate sleep and relief if other symptoms arise. I know I waited too long to get help.

Be brave. Some of us NEED treatment all our life and we have to find out what works best. Only trial and error. Best wishes on your journey!
Cathy

Jump to this post

I wonder if these MD's all know whats whats about these very strong drugs & their effects Thats just my take

REPLY

I was on venlafaxine for roughly 6 years @ 225 mg per day. Luckily Igot fired from the job that caused my anxiety issues. I took my last two months worth of meds and began to cut my dosages down over a 3 month period. I will not lie, it was hard but I did it and felt lousy while detoxing. each time i stepped down on the meds it took roughly two weeks for my braine to settle down where i would start to feel normal again, then two week later another step down, and feel like crap again until you’re completely off (3mo for me). My saving grace is that I had help with medical marijuana. I am not just talking about getting high on the THC portion!! I am talking about the CBD portion which is effective in treating Anxiety well as Epilepsy and doesn’t get you high. I have been off that horrible drug roughy 2 months and feel better in many ways. I hope you all find your PEACE ✌️ within!!! It is possibly. Goodluck.

REPLY
@mainecsnfan

I was on venlafaxine for roughly 6 years @ 225 mg per day. Luckily Igot fired from the job that caused my anxiety issues. I took my last two months worth of meds and began to cut my dosages down over a 3 month period. I will not lie, it was hard but I did it and felt lousy while detoxing. each time i stepped down on the meds it took roughly two weeks for my braine to settle down where i would start to feel normal again, then two week later another step down, and feel like crap again until you’re completely off (3mo for me). My saving grace is that I had help with medical marijuana. I am not just talking about getting high on the THC portion!! I am talking about the CBD portion which is effective in treating Anxiety well as Epilepsy and doesn’t get you high. I have been off that horrible drug roughy 2 months and feel better in many ways. I hope you all find your PEACE ✌️ within!!! It is possibly. Goodluck.

Jump to this post

@mainecsnfan
May I ask WHY you came off Venlafaxine? Do you feel that your job caused your anxiety and not something genetic? Now that you are off, do you have any more anxiety attacks or do you take CBD daily to prevent them?
I would appreciate any info you can give me.
After being on this site, I am thinking maybe I should come off the Effexor.
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

REPLY
@mainecsnfan

I was on venlafaxine for roughly 6 years @ 225 mg per day. Luckily Igot fired from the job that caused my anxiety issues. I took my last two months worth of meds and began to cut my dosages down over a 3 month period. I will not lie, it was hard but I did it and felt lousy while detoxing. each time i stepped down on the meds it took roughly two weeks for my braine to settle down where i would start to feel normal again, then two week later another step down, and feel like crap again until you’re completely off (3mo for me). My saving grace is that I had help with medical marijuana. I am not just talking about getting high on the THC portion!! I am talking about the CBD portion which is effective in treating Anxiety well as Epilepsy and doesn’t get you high. I have been off that horrible drug roughy 2 months and feel better in many ways. I hope you all find your PEACE ✌️ within!!! It is possibly. Goodluck.

Jump to this post

@mainecsnfan Wow! you really did it! Luckily you had medical marijuana. I'm doing well after about 12 days..almost only requiring a 1/2 of 75 mg tab. really taking only as a preventative because I have had some bed-hugging days, horrible dreams, ad infinitum. I have rescue pets I must take care of. Luckily my disability was recently approved. If MM was available in TN. You ate an inspiration to me to keep on keeping on. Thanks for sharing your story!!

REPLY
@mainecsnfan

I was on venlafaxine for roughly 6 years @ 225 mg per day. Luckily Igot fired from the job that caused my anxiety issues. I took my last two months worth of meds and began to cut my dosages down over a 3 month period. I will not lie, it was hard but I did it and felt lousy while detoxing. each time i stepped down on the meds it took roughly two weeks for my braine to settle down where i would start to feel normal again, then two week later another step down, and feel like crap again until you’re completely off (3mo for me). My saving grace is that I had help with medical marijuana. I am not just talking about getting high on the THC portion!! I am talking about the CBD portion which is effective in treating Anxiety well as Epilepsy and doesn’t get you high. I have been off that horrible drug roughy 2 months and feel better in many ways. I hope you all find your PEACE ✌️ within!!! It is possibly. Goodluck.

Jump to this post

@mainecsnfan Good for you, in fact, wonderful for you! I'm almost there too and have had very similar experiences as you in tapering down. Feeling so much better!

REPLY

Bright wings checking in…Today I am 9 weeks antidepressant free. I know the only reason I was able to succeed getting off the drug was CBD oil and Sacred plant medicine. The next ceremony is on the 23rd and I am ready!
Ok so to evaluate how I am doing…my life is calm. However, other folks lives around me are not calm. I am easier to get grumpy at the ongoing drama that just won't let up in their lives. I care about these folks, so I am being as supportive as I can while still taking care of myself. That means sometimes I just have to get off the internet. I know I have to take care of myself because folks will just use me up if I don't. Been there, done that, don't want to do it again.
I have recently hooked up with my graduation class. Our 50 year reunion is in October. I am so excited. I lived to be invisible in high school. I didn't understand I was doing this at the time. I want to do a stand up comedy routine. I know I will have the folks who attend roaring with laughter.
My abuse was ongoing in the night but I had developed so many personalities to handle my ongoing sexual abuse that started at age 3 months. BTW I integrated the last of my personalities on 1/11/11.
Because of my multiple sclerosis, I have to be careful about getting too hot. However, I am eager to get my kayaks out and hit the river again. I live in the beautiful Ozarks and the rivers here are what drew me here.
I am here for you all. I read every post. Sending you my beautiful smile and all the encouragement I have. Bright wings

REPLY

WOW! A lot of good tips and discussions. My daughter is 21 years old and her doctor (a new doctor that had only seen her a coupled of times) put her on 75 mg Effexor XR to help fight anxiety/migraines. The doctor felt this was the best medicine for her since she has tachycardia. Well, she wasn't even on it for 30 days before she had the full effects of this medicine and eventually went to the ER because of thoughts of harming herself and unable to function. They did not hold her there, but told her to go home and follow up with her doctor. Her father and I have been then for her and made she was not home alone for 2 weeks. Unfortunately, we are unable to take much time off because of no sick/vacation time available. She is unable to work and is now home alone for 3 to 4 days a week. She followed up with her doctor (a new one because the other one is no longer there). They have been tapering her off, one pill every other day and then try every two days and then referred her to a behaviorist. We have tried getting her into a professional, but no one in our area is available. I have left messages for other clinics outside of area and no one will return my call. She has tried the every 2 days one time and it was horrible sight. She starting having body tremors, couldn't breath and crying uncontrollably. We immediately gave her the pill and within 1 hr she was a little better. She followed up with her doctor and we asked about reducing her dosage and still do the every other day. The doctor was a little reluctant, but agreed to reduce it to 37.5 mg every other day. She is still unable to work at this time. She just cannot function in the real world.

Does anyone out there have some advise for us? We have never been through anything like this before and as you can imagine, scared to death.

REPLY
@kssm71

WOW! A lot of good tips and discussions. My daughter is 21 years old and her doctor (a new doctor that had only seen her a coupled of times) put her on 75 mg Effexor XR to help fight anxiety/migraines. The doctor felt this was the best medicine for her since she has tachycardia. Well, she wasn't even on it for 30 days before she had the full effects of this medicine and eventually went to the ER because of thoughts of harming herself and unable to function. They did not hold her there, but told her to go home and follow up with her doctor. Her father and I have been then for her and made she was not home alone for 2 weeks. Unfortunately, we are unable to take much time off because of no sick/vacation time available. She is unable to work and is now home alone for 3 to 4 days a week. She followed up with her doctor (a new one because the other one is no longer there). They have been tapering her off, one pill every other day and then try every two days and then referred her to a behaviorist. We have tried getting her into a professional, but no one in our area is available. I have left messages for other clinics outside of area and no one will return my call. She has tried the every 2 days one time and it was horrible sight. She starting having body tremors, couldn't breath and crying uncontrollably. We immediately gave her the pill and within 1 hr she was a little better. She followed up with her doctor and we asked about reducing her dosage and still do the every other day. The doctor was a little reluctant, but agreed to reduce it to 37.5 mg every other day. She is still unable to work at this time. She just cannot function in the real world.

Does anyone out there have some advise for us? We have never been through anything like this before and as you can imagine, scared to death.

Jump to this post

so sorry This is an example of what these drugs can do to many folks. They are to be taken very seriously Its just my opinion but I think doctors give them out too freely before discussing all the facts Would not be surprised if a few years from now the FDA puts more warnings on such drugs

REPLY
@mainecsnfan

I was on venlafaxine for roughly 6 years @ 225 mg per day. Luckily Igot fired from the job that caused my anxiety issues. I took my last two months worth of meds and began to cut my dosages down over a 3 month period. I will not lie, it was hard but I did it and felt lousy while detoxing. each time i stepped down on the meds it took roughly two weeks for my braine to settle down where i would start to feel normal again, then two week later another step down, and feel like crap again until you’re completely off (3mo for me). My saving grace is that I had help with medical marijuana. I am not just talking about getting high on the THC portion!! I am talking about the CBD portion which is effective in treating Anxiety well as Epilepsy and doesn’t get you high. I have been off that horrible drug roughy 2 months and feel better in many ways. I hope you all find your PEACE ✌️ within!!! It is possibly. Goodluck.

Jump to this post

Good to know
My heart rate was high this morning. But would take long breathes etc walk around etc and came down. Took a little bit. Usually I would freak out

REPLY
Please login or register to post a reply.