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

My Dr. recommended reducing beads in capsule (37.5 Effexor XL). Looked up said 100 beads in capsule & to reduce by 5 spanules or beads daily. I divided 37.5 by 100 x 5 to see mg decreasing daily. But day after first 5 removed I felt much better. Be sure & get gelatin empty capsules if running low on MED, as taking the beads without the gelatin capsule can release to much to quick & result in overdose. I’d tapered off cymbalta over a decade ago on my own & counted beads and did a taper that took a year! Had read overdoses & deaths from those reducing dose due to dissolving in water and overdoing.
I'm not sure if taper will work as we are all different. However if I feel bad I will restart a taper that's much longer. I remember from Cymbalta when reduction to soon as I'd feel anxiety. When happen I'd take even longer on that reduction. When quitting effexor xl cold turkey switching to another same or similar type – such Prozac is suppose to help and easier to discontinue slowly.
I'll post as only on day 5, and days prior were fine but today I've not wanted to get off couch!
I understand as I'd did cold turkey then take couple days. Knew my exhaustion. Emotional feelings. & dozen other symptoms was the effexor. I hope everyone going through knows they will be OK eventually, I would have never taken Had I realized it was one of two antidepressants hardest to quit!
Anybody tried the 21 day stepdown. Have a feeling going to take longer & sorry if repetitive info. Just trying to help in some way! Thank you

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Hi all, I have been on effexor for coming up 10 years. I am just starting the process of tapering down. Im really freaked out as i have been told it is really difficult to come off. Any advice???

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Welcome to Connect, @katbird and @tarsh,

I would have never thought of reducing the number of beads in the capsule as an option to wean off Effexor! Thanks so much for sharing your doctor's suggestion, @katbird.

@tarsh, you may notice that I moved your message and combined it with this existing discussion as I thought it would be beneficial for you to be introduced to the many members who have discussed their experiences while tapering off Effexor (Venlafaxine).
If you click on VIEW & REPLY in your email notification, you will see the whole discussion and can join in, meet, and participate with other members talking about their or their loved ones' experiences.
May I ask if you are starting this process on your own or with the help of your doctor?

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I have been on antidepressants since 1990. I was switched to Venlaflaxine a number of years ago, and was up to 300mg per day. Due to issues with the local Canadian mental health office, and health issues, my family doctor started weaning me off at 37.5 mg decreases every month. During the time of taking Venlaflaxine, I experienced the zaps in my head, dizziness, everything. My eyes had become very dry, with my optometrist suspecting Sjogrens Syndrome. A couple other doctors suspected the same. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 1990 as well. My pain threshold is fairly high, but what I have been feeling is becoming intolerable. After a bunch of bloodwork, Sjogrens was ruled out, and the blame returned to fibromyalgia and Venlaflaxine. I am down to 150mg per day, currently, and am considering staying at this level for a little while to see if some of my present symptoms wain a bit. I am 55 and want off these medications. My family doctor is wanting to wean me back to my tolerance level, as I was diagnosed with PTSD/psychosis, and does not want my issues to resurface.
My concern is, I now feel like I am having menstrual cramps, have been having severe issues with constipation (worse than my norm). They have done a gastric scope and colonoscopy, (no severe issues found), and a CT scan, for which I am waiting the results..
I am always doing physical work around the household and property, so I know I am in pain from that as I have problems with pushing myself. However, the menstrual cramp sensation is new. Being a recovering addict/alcoholic (27 years) I understand and am familiar with withdrawals, and thought I would search out withdrawal symptoms from Venlaflaxine. My doctor warned me that it could be bad. So, I am very happy to have found this board. Thank you very much.
When I finally got in to see my new psychiatrist, (3 in 2 years, 3 therapists in 2 years. When i told them it was ridiculous, and i didnt want to have to tell my story every single time, and while experiencing flashbacks, they told me changes are a part of life. I told the psychiatrist that my doctor and i were weaning me off the venlaflaxine, he appeared dismayed, and asked if i still had my quatiapine (sp), and that i could use that to help me. Ideas?

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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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I was on zoloft for 2 years and it did not work for me as my mind became very numb – my psychiatrist insisted this was the right medications,and did not want to help me taper off – my mayo clinic neurologist working in the same hospital listen to me and in 3 weeks I was off zoloft – yes he replaced the safe Zoloft with the very addictive Ativan but ONLY TAKEN AS NEEDED – this has now been 2 years and I know doctors may not agree that I get 60 Ativan .o.5 for 3,months but it has changed my life – my neurologist is the chairmen of the Commitee approving drugs for use in thailand and Ativan is strictly controlled and can only be purchased at hospitals -.valium and Librium can be purchased over the counter in most pharmacies.

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I'm so glad you've joined us here on Connect, @darlal.
I'm tagging @cathy615 @anniegk @giacamosgirl58 @derryman, as they will perhaps have more insights about Quetiapine (Seroquel). You might also wish to go through this discussion about the same, on Connect:
https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/seraquel/

May I ask if you've continued to take Seroquel, while tapering off Effexor? If so, has this approach helped?

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I am on day 5 of no Effexor, and was so glad to find this discussion group and be able to see other’s experiences.
I was originally on 75mg, cut to 35.5mg and after a few days couldn’t handle the withdrawal symptoms and went back up to my original dose. After 6months I was ready to try again and went back to half dose with only a few days of withdrawal. Just last week my doctor said I could try going off it completely.
It is not easy- I have severe dizziness and sleeplessness. The brain “zaps” are intense, and I feel exhausted, but I’m determined to see this through. Today I’m very emotional and was worried my depression and anxiety symptoms were returning. After finding this thread and reading other’s similar experiences, I’m sure these are just additional withdrawal symptoms.
I’m going to cut out my caffeine intake and add more exercise until I feel better. I’m glad that I had this drug when I needed it- it truly did help me, but I don’t think I will go on it again. If my depression and anxiety returns, I will opt to try something else with less severe withdrawal symptoms.

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@writerelh

I am on day 5 of no Effexor, and was so glad to find this discussion group and be able to see other’s experiences.
I was originally on 75mg, cut to 35.5mg and after a few days couldn’t handle the withdrawal symptoms and went back up to my original dose. After 6months I was ready to try again and went back to half dose with only a few days of withdrawal. Just last week my doctor said I could try going off it completely.
It is not easy- I have severe dizziness and sleeplessness. The brain “zaps” are intense, and I feel exhausted, but I’m determined to see this through. Today I’m very emotional and was worried my depression and anxiety symptoms were returning. After finding this thread and reading other’s similar experiences, I’m sure these are just additional withdrawal symptoms.
I’m going to cut out my caffeine intake and add more exercise until I feel better. I’m glad that I had this drug when I needed it- it truly did help me, but I don’t think I will go on it again. If my depression and anxiety returns, I will opt to try something else with less severe withdrawal symptoms.

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Congrats FYI When I stopped Prozac I had no withdrawal . Effexor and Xanax for me are a huge problem trying to cut back or stop. Weird headaches… dizzy… spacey . Its horrible that many MD's do not warn of these withdrawal effects Scarier yet Do they not know the extent of these problems or how widespread they are ? Millions take these drugs Makes me wonder how folks managed before drugs ? Guess they had to tough it out, give up, or heaven forbid , harm themselves…

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@tarsh

Hi all, I have been on effexor for coming up 10 years. I am just starting the process of tapering down. Im really freaked out as i have been told it is really difficult to come off. Any advice???

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tarsh Just take it slow Best wishes

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My doctor prescribed Effexor XR 37.5 mg to treat menopausal symptoms, especially irritability, hot flashes and night sweat. I was taking for about a year and half. I noticed that I am getting weight around my middle stomach and waist area. I learned Effexor could cause that extra pouch on stomach so I have decided to wean off. I went to talk to my doctor and she prescribed generic Venlafaxine IR 25mg and gave me a schedule: twice a day for week 1, once a day for week 2, every other day for week 3 and once a week for week 4 and off. I am now 5 days off med, The second day I started having feeling of walking in the cloud, nausea, and headache. The third day, nausea got really bad, and I also had emesis. I feel like I am having motion sickness, and hot flashes and chills every 5 minutes…I followed the schedule…..but wonder it was too fast…?? I might have to go back to take it again….but I am very scared can I ever get it off..??

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These drugs are hard to kick for most. Maybe taper off a bit slower I'm having same issue with Effexor . Xanax is a major problem for me as well Got very sick when I did not take for 3 days. Ran out . Had to go to ER …horrid headache , threw up, 300 BP That scared me to death The anxiety was horrible and I tried everything to calm down TV, counting backwards, meditate , telling myself it was all in my head ..except it was not I was having intense physical distress Good luck I blame my MD for NOT warning me about withdrawal MD oath ' First Do NO harm " ?

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@writerelh

I am on day 5 of no Effexor, and was so glad to find this discussion group and be able to see other’s experiences.
I was originally on 75mg, cut to 35.5mg and after a few days couldn’t handle the withdrawal symptoms and went back up to my original dose. After 6months I was ready to try again and went back to half dose with only a few days of withdrawal. Just last week my doctor said I could try going off it completely.
It is not easy- I have severe dizziness and sleeplessness. The brain “zaps” are intense, and I feel exhausted, but I’m determined to see this through. Today I’m very emotional and was worried my depression and anxiety symptoms were returning. After finding this thread and reading other’s similar experiences, I’m sure these are just additional withdrawal symptoms.
I’m going to cut out my caffeine intake and add more exercise until I feel better. I’m glad that I had this drug when I needed it- it truly did help me, but I don’t think I will go on it again. If my depression and anxiety returns, I will opt to try something else with less severe withdrawal symptoms.

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Always reduce your meds slowly. I have found some docs reduce meds to quickly. SLOW AND STEADY is the way to succeed.

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Sure you can get off it, just remember to get off it slowly. I never thought I’d get off Klonopin but I kept cutting it until I was taking tiny pieces very tiny pieces. It took a long time but I did it without any problems. Wishing you the best.

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@writerelh

I am on day 5 of no Effexor, and was so glad to find this discussion group and be able to see other’s experiences.
I was originally on 75mg, cut to 35.5mg and after a few days couldn’t handle the withdrawal symptoms and went back up to my original dose. After 6months I was ready to try again and went back to half dose with only a few days of withdrawal. Just last week my doctor said I could try going off it completely.
It is not easy- I have severe dizziness and sleeplessness. The brain “zaps” are intense, and I feel exhausted, but I’m determined to see this through. Today I’m very emotional and was worried my depression and anxiety symptoms were returning. After finding this thread and reading other’s similar experiences, I’m sure these are just additional withdrawal symptoms.
I’m going to cut out my caffeine intake and add more exercise until I feel better. I’m glad that I had this drug when I needed it- it truly did help me, but I don’t think I will go on it again. If my depression and anxiety returns, I will opt to try something else with less severe withdrawal symptoms.

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@writerelh

If you decide to try another antidepressant, I recommend that you ask your doctor for a DNA test that will indicate whether or not the tested antidepressant will work for you. This will cut out the experimentation with unknown drugs until you find the best one for you. I don't know the cost for doing this test, but I know from this community that people are using the tests now. Best of luck getting off the Effexor. Read the ways others have used to withdraw from Effexor; be sure to go slow. Some have taken as long as a year to withdraw.

Gailb
Volunteer Mentor

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@kaoru1106

My doctor prescribed Effexor XR 37.5 mg to treat menopausal symptoms, especially irritability, hot flashes and night sweat. I was taking for about a year and half. I noticed that I am getting weight around my middle stomach and waist area. I learned Effexor could cause that extra pouch on stomach so I have decided to wean off. I went to talk to my doctor and she prescribed generic Venlafaxine IR 25mg and gave me a schedule: twice a day for week 1, once a day for week 2, every other day for week 3 and once a week for week 4 and off. I am now 5 days off med, The second day I started having feeling of walking in the cloud, nausea, and headache. The third day, nausea got really bad, and I also had emesis. I feel like I am having motion sickness, and hot flashes and chills every 5 minutes…I followed the schedule…..but wonder it was too fast…?? I might have to go back to take it again….but I am very scared can I ever get it off..??

Jump to this post

@kaoru1106

I am not a medical professional, but does sound like you have withdrawn too fast. Read through the previous posts on this thread and go back to the level you think will keep you stable. Then go VERY slowly cutting back on the drug. Some on these posts have taken as long as a year to withdraw from Effexor. You can do it, but going slowly will allow you to still function in your life. Most doctors don't understand the length of time it takes people to get off these drugs. Sometimes your pharmacist has more information about withdrawal and how to do it, but then each of us is different. Listen to your body as you are withdrawing. Best of luck.

Gailb
Volunteer Mentor

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