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

@grandmar

Good Morning All
I've asked this question a couple of times but I have not gotten any answers.
I have been on Effexor for many years.
I see that so many of you either came off or trying to come off.
I don't know why so many no longer want to be on it.
Is there something I should know???????
What are your plans when you come off or what are you doing now that you are off?
My main reason for starting Effexor has been for anxiety attacks.
If that is why you use(d) Effexor, what will you do now when you get an attack?
Thanks all…
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

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@contentandwell

I take Citalopram and have no side effects from it. I am happy I'm taking it, although I may have trouble getting off it if I ever need to for some reason. I say that because I had trouble getting ON it at first. The doctor just told me to start with the full dose. I had a really bad reaction, nearly passed out and my blood pressure was sky high. I decided to cut the pill in half the second day and that helped. It still took me about 5 weeks to become comfortable with the medication. I stayed at 1/2 the dose for over 6 months before a new doctor upped me to the full 40 mg dose. I had no problem with that. I am thankful that Citalopram has worked so well for me. I plan to take it or Lexapro, for the rest of my life.

Gail
Volunteer Mentor

REPLY
@grandmar

Good Morning All
I've asked this question a couple of times but I have not gotten any answers.
I have been on Effexor for many years.
I see that so many of you either came off or trying to come off.
I don't know why so many no longer want to be on it.
Is there something I should know???????
What are your plans when you come off or what are you doing now that you are off?
My main reason for starting Effexor has been for anxiety attacks.
If that is why you use(d) Effexor, what will you do now when you get an attack?
Thanks all…
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

Jump to this post

Thank you, JK
Sometimes I do the same thing as I do when I talk….I say too much. But like you said, I feel I need to share in order to be understood.
I was put in Effexor for anxiety. It was until a few years ago that I found out it is also used for depression.
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

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

@danalee5
Hi
May I ask HOW you know you no longer need the Effexor? My doctor said the same thing to me many years ago and she way wrong.
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

REPLY
@grandmar

Good Morning All
I've asked this question a couple of times but I have not gotten any answers.
I have been on Effexor for many years.
I see that so many of you either came off or trying to come off.
I don't know why so many no longer want to be on it.
Is there something I should know???????
What are your plans when you come off or what are you doing now that you are off?
My main reason for starting Effexor has been for anxiety attacks.
If that is why you use(d) Effexor, what will you do now when you get an attack?
Thanks all…
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

Jump to this post

@grandmar I do the same, so I understand perfectly.
JK

REPLY
@grandmar

Good Morning All
I've asked this question a couple of times but I have not gotten any answers.
I have been on Effexor for many years.
I see that so many of you either came off or trying to come off.
I don't know why so many no longer want to be on it.
Is there something I should know???????
What are your plans when you come off or what are you doing now that you are off?
My main reason for starting Effexor has been for anxiety attacks.
If that is why you use(d) Effexor, what will you do now when you get an attack?
Thanks all…
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

Jump to this post

I haven't learned how to post on my own yet so I just respond to post hope that's OK my frist post was on the 7th or 8th but besides that why would you choose Lexapro? That's what my Dr prescribed me when he gave Cymbalta and weaned me off effexor and by day 2 of no effexor I was a horrible mess 3 days at 75 and 3 days at 37.5 then none went to 30 MG Cymbalta only on that 2 days then switched to 10 MG Lexapro I still am having many different withdraws seems a bit less on some and more on other memory is horrible but seems some better I find my self staring off in blank space sometimes not sure how long but catch myself doing it a lot and I could sleep 15 hours +and now am having a very hard time getting 6 hours without waking several times with strange dreams that keep me trying to put the pieces of it together strange feeling I know one thing for sure I'm not dead from the withdraws so it won't kill ya even at times I feel I'd be better off I just don't know what to do kids ant even explain how I get the ups and downs but never taking another antidepressants besides 10 MG Lexapro and I want off that asap I'm tired of being a per say pin cousin on theses drugs I smoke thc 4 to 8 times a day and that really has been helping with the anxiety part hope everyone keeps posting it helps me to see I'm not alone and try somethings that help others

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Ok, so has anyone tried Cymbalta? I just saw my Dr. today and that's what she put me on. She said if I do need to come off it, it won't be as bad as the Effexor. (Not sure if I believe her). I'm hesitant to try it because of the issues with the Effexor. While taking Effexor, I felt/feel fine….it's only been since trying to come off it. Any input would be appreciated. Thanks!!

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Cymbalta ? Not sure but I would check first Seems most of these type of drugs have side effects for lots of folks Xanax as well

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Keep reading here May find help As for me Xanax and Effexor Gave me bad effects when trying to get off or taper off.

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@grandmar

Good Morning All
I've asked this question a couple of times but I have not gotten any answers.
I have been on Effexor for many years.
I see that so many of you either came off or trying to come off.
I don't know why so many no longer want to be on it.
Is there something I should know???????
What are your plans when you come off or what are you doing now that you are off?
My main reason for starting Effexor has been for anxiety attacks.
If that is why you use(d) Effexor, what will you do now when you get an attack?
Thanks all…
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

Jump to this post

maybe your body was trying to tell you something when you had trouble ' getting on that drug' Getting off is the main problem for many

REPLY

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?

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