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

I have been on effexor since 2015 . I was put on it without being informed of anything about it and have been trying to get off ever since. My doctor won't help me so I am fixing to go cold turkey. It's getting more depressing being on it than it's worth. I have read what everyone has posted and all great if you have a doctor willing to help. Good luck to you all.

@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..??

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@kaoru1106
So sorry for what you are going through.
I had a similar experience.
After being in therapy for a while, my therapist suggested I see a psychiatrist for a 'little something' to take the edge off my anxiety. I agreed.
I was also prescribed Effexor XL 37.5 once a day and then twice a day.
I did VERY well on it. Only a tiny headache for a few days, but nothing that would make me want to come off.
My PCP thought I was doing very well and thought I should come off.
She never told me why or the possible impact.
The words addiction or withdrawal NEVER came up.
Rather than going back to the psychiatrist who prescribed them, I followed what my PCP suggested.
The plan was very much like yours.
By the time I was totally off my evening pill, I felt great!!!!!!!!!!
No side effects!
Then one day (I don't remember how much after stopping my pm pill) I was at a workshop for work.
It was actually a good one and I was having a terrific time and even laughing.
During the break, I went to use the bathroom.
(Sorry for TMI) I sat down to do my business, when an all too familiar thing started to happen.
My legs started shaking, then my body started to quiver along with the shaking and I broke out into a cold sweat with a cotton mouth.
I tried to get up to wash my face but my hands started to shake so much, I couldn't use them to help me get up.
I WAS HAVING THE ALWAYS FUN ANXIETY ATTACK.
Thankfully, my hubby was picking me up with my friends to go out for dinner.
By the time they came, the attack was over and I was 'normal'.
As soon as I got home, I took my pm pill.
Needless to say, I made an appointment to see the psychiatrist.
The taking of the pm did not help the anxiety attacks from coming back.
She asked why I went off without talking with her. I told her.
She told me that after you go off the pills, it won't work for at least 9 months.
So, we tried other meds, non worked and the 'getting on' process was horrible.
At 9 months I asked her if we would try the Effexor, again.
She put me back on them and although they never worked as well as they once did, they worked, but not as well as they once did.

Fast forward more than 10 years. I am now on the max dose.
I don't have anxiety attacks, but my brain is mush!
The Effexor has certainly gotten me through some rough times.
I've been on these pills for more years that I'd like to count, but I think it is time to come off.
I am facing the possibility of a couple of surgeries over the next few months, so coming off right now is not the answer.
I do know one thing from my previous experience……
1. Do this with my psychiatrist;
2. Do it VERY slowly, even if it will take me more than a year (and with all I take it will probably take that long)..

So that is my story.
I hope things work out for you!
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

@kanaazpereira

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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Thank you so much. I am very relieved to find this board. My entire life I have had very few answers as to what ails me. I keep requesting that doctors group my symptoms and individual diagnoses to see if they can come to a conclusive answer, instead of all these bandaid fixes I call them.
To answer your question about Quetiapine (Seroquel), I didn't take it as prescribed, as it made me sleepy. They wanted me to take it 3x /day, which is absolutely ridiculous. I'm telling you, the mental health professionals here keep you sick. A couple of months ago, my husband's son told me his therapist discussed with him that mental health has decided to take "a new approach" and focus on recovery. Um, ya think? Its ludicrous here.
That being said, I only take the Quetiapine (Seroquel) occasionally and if absolutely necessary. I remembered it was called "baby heroin" on the streets years ago, so have been very cautious. Yes, it helps with the anxiety and stress related symptoms by sedating you, but i have been one that believes in "pushing through it".
Pain is intense during the withdrawals. Yesterday was a very bad day for me. We have been hauling, cutting, splitting fuelwood, so yes, I have pushed myself too much.
This feels a lot like when i was in detox in 1990. After one week there, i went into full withdrawals. Deep body aches, and pain. Everywhere. My only suggestion for others is not to give in, and try very hard to keep busy. Push through the pain. Push through the anxiety. Distract yourself, i work in the gardens, (vegetables and flower). Even if it means sitting on the ground and doing it. Anything but curling up on the couch, which seems to amplify the pain, merely be cause one is focusing on it.
Tylenol extra strength is the only medication I will take.
I can't consider a class action lawsuit, because these medications have (and God) have kept me alive over the years, so they have done what they were supposed to

@kanaazpereira

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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One small aside…. everybody else is talking about taking around 150 mg. I was on 300mg. Were they trying to kill me?!

@fallenangel13

I have been on effexor since 2015 . I was put on it without being informed of anything about it and have been trying to get off ever since. My doctor won't help me so I am fixing to go cold turkey. It's getting more depressing being on it than it's worth. I have read what everyone has posted and all great if you have a doctor willing to help. Good luck to you all.

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@fallenangel13

I'm a Volunteer Mentor with Mayo Connect and as such am not a medical professional. However, I'm concerned that you are thinking of going off Effexor cold turkey. This drug carries very strong and potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Even though your doctor won't help you, your pharmacist may be willing to help. My pharmacist saved me a lot of pain by helping me withdraw from Gabapentin a year ago when my pain doctor wouldn't help.

Read through the previous posts on Mayo Connect and you will find that people who have successfully withdrawn from Effexor have had to go very slowly to do so. Also, some people have been put onto another antidepressant without the bad side effects of Effexor, for a period of time. Then they have been able to withdraw from their new medication more easily.

I hope you can learn from other's experiences with the withdrawal from Effexor. Please stay with us on Mayo Connect as you proceed your withdrawal process and let me know how you're doing physically and emotionally.

Gailb
Volunteer Mentor

@fallenangel13

I have been on effexor since 2015 . I was put on it without being informed of anything about it and have been trying to get off ever since. My doctor won't help me so I am fixing to go cold turkey. It's getting more depressing being on it than it's worth. I have read what everyone has posted and all great if you have a doctor willing to help. Good luck to you all.

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Do NOT go cold turkey! It's dangerous! Very, very slowly decrease the dosage. Very slowly!

@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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I came off of Paxil breaking the pills in two, taking half until I felt like I could stand it. Then a half of a half, then down to crumbs, every other night, then every third night etc. go as fast or slow as you need to. I did it gradual and found that I would have to increase a day or so then taper back down. You can do it. However, what I have found is that I really can’t go off of antidepressants. I am now on lexapro which isn’t as good as Paxil but I apparently will have to be on

I agree with darial. I’m not a medical professional. It took me almost 6 months to get off of Effexor XR 75mg. Without my pharmacist assistance I’d still be on it. Talk to your pharmacist. They understand all of the side effects and will help you be successful. Good luck!

@fallenangel13
DO NOT GO COLD TURKEY. DO NOT!
Click on my name and read my first post. That is what is waiting for you if you do. I had a mini stroke by doing that before I found this site.
I am an RN. I am aware that relationships can be complicated between doctors and patients but something doesn't feel right here.
If your doc won't help you, find one who will. There are plenty of docs and PA's out there.
Smiling at you, Bright Wings

@jakedduck1

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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Konipen was hard for me to get off of. How long did it take you.

@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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Thanks Really low today 75 and counting

@fallenangel13

I have been on effexor since 2015 . I was put on it without being informed of anything about it and have been trying to get off ever since. My doctor won't help me so I am fixing to go cold turkey. It's getting more depressing being on it than it's worth. I have read what everyone has posted and all great if you have a doctor willing to help. Good luck to you all.

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Careful   Come off it s l o w l y 

@jakedduck1

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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Thanks for the info

@jakedduck1

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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@121314
Hi!
I can bet it is hard for you. My understanding is that Colonapen is a go to drug that you take when your regular meds aren't enough and you are having an anxiety attack. It is not meant to be taken on an on-going basis.
I am not in the medical field, but I do suggest you go to a doctor who can monitor you as you try to come off.

Good luck to you!!!!!!

Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

@121314
Hi there, why do you have to be on Antidepressants? Are you Bipolar (although that’s not a depressive disorder, but unipolar is, as I understand it) or have schizophrenia or melancholic depression or some other type. Have you had you vitamin D checked, low D can cause depression in some people. Have you had your Thyroid and other blood tests done?

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