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

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I’ve been taking Effexor for 3 years. Started tapering a few months ago. I just stopped completely two days ago after cutting a 25mg pill in half for two weeks. I thought I wouldn’t struggle too much since I got myself down on such a small dose… I was wrong. I am so angry and sad. My husband doesn’t understand. Plus he’s always gone (military). The other day I pulled into a parking spot and looked over at the car backing up next to me and thought I was actually moving forward. My car was in park. It caused such awful vertigo and I threw up for 20 minutes. I care for my two daughters (1 & 2 1/2) on my own and it is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I can’t do this anymore….

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@taylorwatkins13

I’ve been taking Effexor for 3 years. Started tapering a few months ago. I just stopped completely two days ago after cutting a 25mg pill in half for two weeks. I thought I wouldn’t struggle too much since I got myself down on such a small dose… I was wrong. I am so angry and sad. My husband doesn’t understand. Plus he’s always gone (military). The other day I pulled into a parking spot and looked over at the car backing up next to me and thought I was actually moving forward. My car was in park. It caused such awful vertigo and I threw up for 20 minutes. I care for my two daughters (1 & 2 1/2) on my own and it is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I can’t do this anymore….

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@taylorwatkins13

I am so sorry you are going through such a difficult time. I cannot imagine the struggle you have with 2 young children and a husband who is gone so often.
First, did you start to taper off with the knowledge of your doc? If so, were you given a plan?
Regardless, it is IMPORTANT that you contact your doc to inform him/her about what you have done and how you are feeling. There might be something he/she can give you to help you along. Several people in the group who came off of Effexor, did so with the assistance of a doc who gave them something to reduce the withdrawal symptoms. Then, there are those who did it on their own VERY slowly taking months and over a year to do it.

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE call the doc for help!!!!!!

Prayers that you get some peace….
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

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@taylorwatkins13

I’ve been taking Effexor for 3 years. Started tapering a few months ago. I just stopped completely two days ago after cutting a 25mg pill in half for two weeks. I thought I wouldn’t struggle too much since I got myself down on such a small dose… I was wrong. I am so angry and sad. My husband doesn’t understand. Plus he’s always gone (military). The other day I pulled into a parking spot and looked over at the car backing up next to me and thought I was actually moving forward. My car was in park. It caused such awful vertigo and I threw up for 20 minutes. I care for my two daughters (1 & 2 1/2) on my own and it is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I can’t do this anymore….

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Hi @taylorwatkins13
I'm so glad that you found this group on Connect and that you reached out. You don't have to go through this alone. I quite agree with @grandmar that you should contact your doctor. Please take time to call the doctor's office today. Tapering of Effexor is difficult and you may have to taper even more slowly as you get done to lower dosages.

The Connect community understands that you are in a difficult place right now and we want you to know that we are here for you. This is a safe place to talk as you feel the need. I also want you to know about the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 that you can call any time for immediate help.

I look forward to hearing from you again. It's been a few hours since you posted. How are you feeling now?

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@taylorwatkins13

I’ve been taking Effexor for 3 years. Started tapering a few months ago. I just stopped completely two days ago after cutting a 25mg pill in half for two weeks. I thought I wouldn’t struggle too much since I got myself down on such a small dose… I was wrong. I am so angry and sad. My husband doesn’t understand. Plus he’s always gone (military). The other day I pulled into a parking spot and looked over at the car backing up next to me and thought I was actually moving forward. My car was in park. It caused such awful vertigo and I threw up for 20 minutes. I care for my two daughters (1 & 2 1/2) on my own and it is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I can’t do this anymore….

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Thank you for responding. I did go to my doctor in the beginning and he gave me a chart with a tapering schedule. I guess I just did it too fast? I don’t know. Woke up this morning with a pounding headache and so so dizzy. So I guess it isn’t going to be any better today. What could my doctor give me to help?

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@taylorwatkins13

I’ve been taking Effexor for 3 years. Started tapering a few months ago. I just stopped completely two days ago after cutting a 25mg pill in half for two weeks. I thought I wouldn’t struggle too much since I got myself down on such a small dose… I was wrong. I am so angry and sad. My husband doesn’t understand. Plus he’s always gone (military). The other day I pulled into a parking spot and looked over at the car backing up next to me and thought I was actually moving forward. My car was in park. It caused such awful vertigo and I threw up for 20 minutes. I care for my two daughters (1 & 2 1/2) on my own and it is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I can’t do this anymore….

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Hi
I am not sure. If you read through some of the posts you might get an idea or I am pretty sure someone will read this and give you some advice.
Just to be up front, I pnly tried to come off about 7 years ago but went back on. Ihave some heavy duty things going on so I won't try to come off now. When things calm down, it will be my turn. O will talk with my psychiatric doctor who monitors my meds. One thing O learned from before is to take it VERY slowly. My plan, is to take even a year or more, if needed.
Best of luck!

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@lalyfa

@jbf15324 that’s exactly why I started taking Venlafaxine but I took 75+37.5 mg daily. I went up to 150 mg at one point but started sweating profusely so dropped back down. Now that I know how horrible it is to get off this, I’m skeptical of trying anything else. Originally while my dr was weaning me off the Venlafaxine she added Wellbutrin which I only took for a week. When the withdrawals from venlafaxine started on the 3rd day after my last dose, I said this is enough of the anti-depressants. In hindsight perhaps I should have continued with the Wellbutrin till I was over the withdrawals but was afraid to have to go off yet another drug. I did gain weight while on the venlafaxine and was hopeful I’d lose some when off it. The ironic thing is that the first week of withdrawals I couldn’t eat much other than saltines sonlost weight. Now it’s completely opposite and I’m eating everything in sight which makes my depression worse! Ugh, it’s such a vicious circle. I am so appalled at how these drugs effect us now that I’m going through all this. I do know that if I have to go back on them, I will never come off them again.

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This sucks! I was put on Venlafaxine for menopause issues/symptoms (I resisted for a long time but finally gave in). The memory issues, weight gain, and horrible feeling if I missed a dose has made me determined to now be off the meds. I've been tapering very slowly for 5 months (-1 to -2 mg per day). Once I hit about 15mg/day the withdrawal symptoms were so bad that I've been staying at that dose – I"ve been in really bad shape for about a month now – sometimes get an hour or two a day where I feel OK, but the rest of the time miserable in bed (vertigo, nausea, dry heaves, exhaustion, body aches, agitation, moving around is super slow motion, etc). My doc is not helpful at all – tells me there is nothing to help, and looked at me like I had 5 heads when I told him how slowly I was tapering (he would have tapered me off in 3 weeks). I've been following some of the tips on this forum (fresh air, fresh ginger, lots of water, Benadryl & have been using CBD oil to no avail). I'm now wondering if I should go back to my doc and request a prescription for Prozac to help, or if there is something else more natural that might work – I want my life back!

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@taylorwatkins13

I’ve been taking Effexor for 3 years. Started tapering a few months ago. I just stopped completely two days ago after cutting a 25mg pill in half for two weeks. I thought I wouldn’t struggle too much since I got myself down on such a small dose… I was wrong. I am so angry and sad. My husband doesn’t understand. Plus he’s always gone (military). The other day I pulled into a parking spot and looked over at the car backing up next to me and thought I was actually moving forward. My car was in park. It caused such awful vertigo and I threw up for 20 minutes. I care for my two daughters (1 & 2 1/2) on my own and it is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I can’t do this anymore….

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Hi, @taylorwatkins13 — just wanted to let you know that I've had the experience before personally of tapering off of an antidepressant with a schedule given to me by the doctor years ago, and it turned out to be too fast. I ended up feeling super awful and knew I was in a bad place, and I had my husband take me to urgent care. I was given an anti-anxiety medication to take for the short-term over the weekend, and my tapering schedule was adjusted.

I think that my experience was no one's fault, as it was a common tapering schedule (adjusted for my dosage, height, weight, etc.), but I think that it just speaks to the differences in people's bodies and their metabolisms, etc.

So, your doctor could adjust your tapering schedule or add another medication for a bit, or perhaps another strategy. I'd certainly advise talking to him or her, as they would want to provide help if the tapering is not going well.

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My Dr only gave me 6 days to ween off effexor er and then start 40 MG of Cymbalta because I have a lot of pain and this antidepressant is know to help pain by day 2 of no effexor I was so very sick physically and mentally my head was spinning nausea pressure on my ears sedative to certain sounds just not a good feeling at all so I called him he took me off Cymbalta and put me on 10 MG Lexapro that was June 8th I have had so many things and feelings since this getting less but still a struggle of course everyone is different but as many have said take as much time to ween as your body and mind feel fit in my personal opinion my anxiety is worse then it's ever been good luck thinking of you all

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@sunflowermom4

Hi, I am not sure how to see if anyone replied to my question. I am on day 6 with 25mg of Effexor. I had been taking 75mg for almost two months, but the side effects were making things worse for me to get the rest that I needed. I've had days when I feel great, and other days where I cry over the silliest things. After tapering the 25 mg my doctor wants me to take a tablet once a day then stop. I was diagnosed with FND functional neurological disorder and PNES pschogenic non epilectic seizures. Today, I had multiple spells. I figured out they are triggered by stress and when I don't sleep very well. I was also told that I have mild depression. I really don't want to take something that has side effects when different things trigger it. Do any of you do natural things to help you out?

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Hi, @sunflowermom4 — to see if you received any replies to a post, you may 1) look on your personal email account associated with Mayo Clinic Connect and see if you got any email notifications about responses to your post, or 2) on Mayo Clinic Connect, you may either click on your name or on your avatar (little circle at the upper right with an outline of a person or your personal photo), then click on My Profile. You will see at the bottom of your profile page your previous posts are listed. Go to the post for which you were looking for responses, and click on View & Respond. This will take you to the exact post, and you can see if anyone posted afterward responding to you.

Your might also be interested in our Brain & Nervous System group, https://connect.mayoclinic.org/group/brain-and-nerve-diseases/.

You mentioned having multiple spells yesterday. How are you feeling today?

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I started the tapering months ago. It was going pretty well. Any time I would go down in dosage I would feel pretty tired the first two days but it would level out and I’d feel fine. But for some crazy reason, going from 12.5 mg to nothing is messing me up so bad. I guess my body is in shock from not having anything in my system for the first time in several years? I don’t want to go back on it. I want to tough it out and be done with it forever. I just don’t want these withdrawals to last months. I can’t do months of this. I have decided to have a friend drive me to urgent care later. My doctor can’t see me today. I hope they can do something for me. I live on a military base and go to a naval hospital for care and they are quite passive.

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@taylorwatkins13 — I think that's a good plan to have your friend take you to urgent care. Good to also have a friend in the loop and looking out for you during a tapering process, since it can be a bumpy road.

Will you post an update on how it goes?

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@lalyfa

@jbf15324 that’s exactly why I started taking Venlafaxine but I took 75+37.5 mg daily. I went up to 150 mg at one point but started sweating profusely so dropped back down. Now that I know how horrible it is to get off this, I’m skeptical of trying anything else. Originally while my dr was weaning me off the Venlafaxine she added Wellbutrin which I only took for a week. When the withdrawals from venlafaxine started on the 3rd day after my last dose, I said this is enough of the anti-depressants. In hindsight perhaps I should have continued with the Wellbutrin till I was over the withdrawals but was afraid to have to go off yet another drug. I did gain weight while on the venlafaxine and was hopeful I’d lose some when off it. The ironic thing is that the first week of withdrawals I couldn’t eat much other than saltines sonlost weight. Now it’s completely opposite and I’m eating everything in sight which makes my depression worse! Ugh, it’s such a vicious circle. I am so appalled at how these drugs effect us now that I’m going through all this. I do know that if I have to go back on them, I will never come off them again.

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@jbf15324

Yes, since you've been struggling with the nausea, dry heaves, etc. for a month, you should see your doctor. Others have been put on Prozac to help their withdrawal symptoms. They have said the Prozac is much easier to withdraw from when they're ready. Sorry to hear that despite your long withdrawal time, you're still struggling. Doctors just don't understand how long it takes to get off any drugs they haven't taken themselves. Pharmacists are far better at helping withdraw as drugs are their area of expertise. You might want to ask your pharmacist if Prozac or some other medication would be helpful to take while you're getting off Effexor, and then let your doctor know. I'm hoping the best for you. Please keep in touch with us and let us know how you're doing and what's working or not for you.

Gail
Volunteer Mentor

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I just wanted to give my update. First of all, thank you very much for the support!! I was so grateful that I have so many people out there who could understand what I was going through. Anyway so I spent that weekend in my bed fighting with nausea, headache, and dizziness. As many of you mentioned that it was too fast for me to quit taking Effexor and I agree..but I just did not want to take this med in my system anymore. By the middle of following week my nausea got much better and headache stopped. Right now my only issue is having light headed feeling here and there. My hot flashes and night sweats are back but I think I will find natural way to deal with it. I am planning to back to my exercise routine and better diet! Thank you very much for the support! And if you are going through withdrawal good luck. I hope you can beat it!!! Thank you!!

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FYI Effexor is not the only drug that causes withdrawal For me Xanax was horrible when I missed 3 days MD had NOT warned me about that

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