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

@brightwings

I shared previously I used to have more than 250 personalities. I based that count by the names written in my 32 journals. Sorry I have to digress…Giggling….I very obviously have not been in control, its been a long road.
I never dreamed I would get to the incredibly good place I am in now.
So why this post. In the past few days as I pondered my life, I realized I HAVE ARRIVED AT MY TARGETED IMAGE OF WHO I WANTED TO BE.
.
Who are You going to be when you are finished healing?
.
When my personalies were starting to emerge in therapy, it was so scary. Who would I be at the end? Would I be someone I didn't want to be, didn't like?
It all felt so hopeless which made me feel more helpless.
.
My therapists helped me develop a picture of who I wanted myself to be when I was done.
.
We worked on a list of qualifications the new me should have. We also worked on a list of qualities I didn't want. Then I started developing little videos in my head and watched the new, improved, healed me handle different situations.
I watched other people to see how they handled situations. If I liked some aspect of that person, I added that quality to my list. Same with unbecoming aspects, they went on my didn't want list.
Today, I am 14 weeks Effexor free. My thinking is getting better, things are clearer.
I am giving myself a huge pat on the back.
.
I have arrived. I AM the Woman I wanted to be with the qualities I wanted. Oh, I still have things to work on…I will die with things to work on because that is who I am.
I am happy I have arrived. I love myself.
Do you?
.
What is the image of who you want to be?

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@brightwings What a great post. I am very happy for how well you have progressed.

I think I am may be in a similar position to you, I am close to who i would like to be, but do we ever totally achieve that? I do know that my medical ordeal helped my to progress. I like myself more now than I used to before that. I don’t worry about what others think too much anymore, “I am what I am”. Plus, I am so much appreciative of everything.
Do I love myself? Hmmm, probably not love but I do like myself. Overall, I am a fairly happy person. The only immediate negative think is the 10 pounds I have gained back, and the lack of willpower I seem to have to lose it. I swear, I gain a pound too for every day that i don’t get to the club and exercise. I missed today.
JK

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@contentandwell
Bright Wings stands up to applaud you. Good for you.
Oh, you reminded me of something it took me too long to do. Be grateful for what ever was happening.
Living in GRATITUDE puts me in control….even if it feels like I am not. It also brings peace!
Smiling at you all.
BTW: as I was sitting here, listening to my 3rd audio book, I picked up my crocheting and made this. I started it Friday nite.

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Since I started my audio books, I also made this. Original pattern.

0715181822

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@brightwings

Since I started my audio books, I also made this. Original pattern.

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@brightwings Very pretty. Crocheting is something I never really accomplished. I did a little knitting when I was quite young, and I have also done needlework — crewel and needlepoint — but now with my bifocal vision it's hard to do. I can only do that type of thing if I am watching TV or have something else to occupy me so I need to be able to see both.
JK

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Weaning from Effexor is not the same as weaning from other similar drugs. It has a reputation for being almost impossible to stop. Unfortunately, most of us learn this the hard way – AFTER we are taking it!! I feel strongly that it should only be prescribed to people who are really in an extremely troubled state. I’ve been weaning for close to a year (yep!) And am finally down to one pill a week from three a day and I am still struggling from awful withdrawals.
My process has been to reduce by one small step- like from three a day to two every other day – for a month! Before going down to two every two days- for a month etc. ANY attempt to speed this up has resulted in total meltdown. If you seriously want to wean, get onto your Doctors plan and prepare to be patient. I am currently going from one a week- for a month to one every 9 days- for a month- and KNOW from cruel experience that this is the ONLY road to success. This drug should be illegal

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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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Getting off Effexor has been compared to getting off heroin! Why are we not made aware of this until it is too late? Anyone want to start a Class Action? Count me in. This drug should be illegal except for extremely troubled patients. I was prescribed it for sleep while my father was dying…. seven years and a year of withdrawals later….

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@nanke99

Hi! I was on Effexor XR for a few years and got off it several years ago. It was a very difficult process, so I fully sympathize. You MUST wean off
VERY SLOWLY. I don’t remember what my dosage was at the time (225mg?), but it took me about 9 months. Please do not let that long time scare you, it’s worth going slow, that will be your biggest help w/ withdrawal. At the time I had a very difficult time finding any doctor with experience getting people off it.
Luckily I was advised to to find one and luckily I did. It is considered harder to get off than heroine. Not trying to scare you, just want to make sure you go as slow as possible. Mostly, I was moody/angry, had headaches, and some brain “shivers”. The brain shivers I already had while on the meds.
I think we went down in 25mg increments over several weeks for each reduction. Keep us posted and good luck! Just give yourself some time and it will be over before you know it!

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Xanax is very hard to get off of. as well ! Had to go to the ER with 300 BP Very sick Thought I was having a stroke. Got NO warning from MD Maybe they are clueless until patients tell them !!

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Checking in: I am extremely tired. I must have cut down my edibles too much. I am using 16 times less now. I started with 2 whole ones. Now I cut each one into 8 pieces. I only had one tiny piece last night. I will up that again tonight to 2 pieces like I used before. I was up at 430 am. Only 5 hours sleep is not good for my multiple sclerosis.
However today, being my own detective to be in charge of my challenges, I am wondering if my sleep disorder is re-emerging. I will monitor this more.
I know after 26 years of Effexor, being off for only 14 weeks means all my brain wiring previously controlled by Effexor has not yet been rewired. I really am having much more difficulty writing today. Usually I just bang the posts out. This is my 3rd edit.
I am still not aware of any dreams or am not aware of any. Hmmmm, I just realized I have not had any dreams since the nightmares caused by withdrawing in November. That's when I had the mini stroke which I have recovered from. I am so grateful for that.
I am still having problems processing information I hear at times. I sometimes have to make a little video in my head to understand things or write it out to understand things. Now, is this withdrawal or multiple sclerosis? Could be either.
I am so lucky to have the good kind of MS. Mostly it is my balance at times, I used to fall over instantly, often. I have learned to control that using the wedding hesitation step. I can balance my wobbling by keeping my toe pointed down into the earth when I get wobbly. I often have no warning my balance is going. So I have taughtmyself if I feel my balance going, just pause with my toe pointed. I rarely fall now. Other than brain challenges, I am pretty good except for getting too hot. I will lose my life as I know it if I get too hot, sometimes for months. Like I said, I am one of the lucky ones.
The other challenge I notice is still with problem solving. Sometimes, I just can't figure out what I am trying to do. Oh well, THIS TOO SHALL PASS. Smiling as soon as I wrote that. That phrase always gives me hope. I know things won't always be this bad. BRIGHT WINGS

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Wow, I can see how messed up my grammar and punctuation are in the above post. So many unnecessary words.
Now I need to figure what caused this huge change overnight.
Dilema…..to help my sleep disorder I can not take naps. To help my MS, naps everyday are good. (Only in times extra care is needed.)
.
For me, LAYING DOWN and THINKING of troubling things in my life CAUSES AN AVALANCE OF BAD CHEMICIALS in my brain. Yours too.
Then I just made my day and mood much harder. Are you doing that too?
.
Oh, if I could just remember all the little tricks I used to heal myself and all my many personalities. What a book I could write.
I have decided to try the nap. And take a corner of edible now. Then another one before sleep.
Oh yup, I just figured it out. I skipped the one that would have allowed me to sleep longer. Phew, that took a long time to figure out. Laughing.
I am hitting the bed. Got things on the right path again. Nighty night, Bright Wings Chucking

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As I sit here proud of myself, I am aware of that back round anxiety ramping up again and accelerating quickly…I am off to take care of myself. Have a great day, waving her majestic wings as we take off to see what there is over the majestic Ozarks.

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I got off gabapentin quite quickly. Been on the max dose of it which is 3,600mg but I’ve heard of people taking 6,000mg with no side effects. I now take 900mg my doc feels it helps neuropathic pain, maybe so but not mine. Personally I think to many off label uses are being used for to many different drugs, just my opinion. You can’t stop it all at once being an anti seizure medication. I can’t believe this whimpy drug is being used as a recreational drug at such low doses. I have been very powerful meds and never felt a high or whatever dope attics feel. Just speculating here but I wonder if a person really needs a medication if they can’t get high??? Anyone know???

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@nanke99

Sure, my pleasure! I would not go cold turkey! Not just the pain but the mental & emotional effects are unpredictable and could be dangerous. Do you have a doctor experienced with this? It is important to find one with specific experience w/ Effexor withdraw. When I did it years ago, there were very few, but now you should be able to.
What is your current doctor saying?

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@gailb

I can’t understand how a sublingual form of medication although I won’t call Marajuana a drug takes so long to work. Do you understand why??

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Anyone know why these pages go to page 8 instead of the last page (90)

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@brightwings

Checking in: I am extremely tired. I must have cut down my edibles too much. I am using 16 times less now. I started with 2 whole ones. Now I cut each one into 8 pieces. I only had one tiny piece last night. I will up that again tonight to 2 pieces like I used before. I was up at 430 am. Only 5 hours sleep is not good for my multiple sclerosis.
However today, being my own detective to be in charge of my challenges, I am wondering if my sleep disorder is re-emerging. I will monitor this more.
I know after 26 years of Effexor, being off for only 14 weeks means all my brain wiring previously controlled by Effexor has not yet been rewired. I really am having much more difficulty writing today. Usually I just bang the posts out. This is my 3rd edit.
I am still not aware of any dreams or am not aware of any. Hmmmm, I just realized I have not had any dreams since the nightmares caused by withdrawing in November. That's when I had the mini stroke which I have recovered from. I am so grateful for that.
I am still having problems processing information I hear at times. I sometimes have to make a little video in my head to understand things or write it out to understand things. Now, is this withdrawal or multiple sclerosis? Could be either.
I am so lucky to have the good kind of MS. Mostly it is my balance at times, I used to fall over instantly, often. I have learned to control that using the wedding hesitation step. I can balance my wobbling by keeping my toe pointed down into the earth when I get wobbly. I often have no warning my balance is going. So I have taughtmyself if I feel my balance going, just pause with my toe pointed. I rarely fall now. Other than brain challenges, I am pretty good except for getting too hot. I will lose my life as I know it if I get too hot, sometimes for months. Like I said, I am one of the lucky ones.
The other challenge I notice is still with problem solving. Sometimes, I just can't figure out what I am trying to do. Oh well, THIS TOO SHALL PASS. Smiling as soon as I wrote that. That phrase always gives me hope. I know things won't always be this bad. BRIGHT WINGS

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@brightwings Sounds you are doing despite the problems. Go take a nap. 😉 I find I need one often. When I mentioned to my PCP that I am tired a lot and often take a nap in the afternoon he asked, "what's wrong with that?" Of course I am older than you are though.
JK

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@jakedduck1
My stepfather started programming computers in 1966. I started using them in 1986. I have yet to figure out how this crazy site works. I feel sorry for the new folks cuz their posts can show up anywhere. It makes it hard to stay on top of new folks posts and they need the immediate attention.
Wow, Leonard, that drug put me on the couch for 3 weeks. It made me so dizzy. I needed it for the inner ear thing I had going on, can't think of the name but it made that famous artist cut off his ear. I was so glad to be off that med. I won't take it again.
Sounds like it has been working for you though. Smiling at you, Bright Wings

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