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

@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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Thank you for this information. I am experiencing nausea and a strange sensation associated with eye movement. It feels like my brain short circuits when I shift my eyes left or right. Very concerning and it also increases the nausea. I cut down for a week to half dose of venlafaxine, then went cold turkey. I was taking 75mg daily for hot flashes. It did really help the hot flashes. I decided to get off the meds to see if I was still having the flashes—I am! However, knowing how uncomfortable it is to get off this drug, I am not getting back on it.

@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

@iamgirlking
Hello, welcome. You are in the right place. BTW I absolutely love your name. It gives you power and strength, even if you don't exactly feel that way. Claim that strength now because you are about to decent into h ell if you continue to get off the drug so fast. I know from experience. Click on my name to read my condition when I arrived. I know what I am talking about, I am now 14 weeks drug free.
So please go take 1/2 a pill since that was your last dose. I had a stroke from getting off to fast. Your symptoms have just started. I feel alarmed for you. Take a half dose now…please…..Bright Wings
.
Then come back and start reading to see how others weaned off it. We have many in the process and some have been successful. I will call other folks to help. Claim your name. You will need that strength and determination to get off this.
We can handle the hot flashes later.
@jakedduck1 @coloradogirl

@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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Hi. Are you doing fine on cbd oul?

@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!

Jump to this post

Wondering if you continue on cbd oil. How long are you already on cbd oil? Have you had to adjust doses over time?

@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

@brightwings I am so impressed with what those of you have gone through to get off these drugs, but please remind me again — why are so many people so anxious to get off of them? I would like to know to be able to understand someone I am close to who is not trying to get off but I suspect should.

I have gotten the impression from some posts that being on these drugs tends to dull your senses/emotions over time? Is that accurate or did I misinterpret something?
JK

Its not been the best night. Tired of struggling. Been on this road since 1986. When do I get to arrive?
Head pounding, tears dripping. Missed taking my edibles on time 4 pm and 8 pm. Huge consequences. Didn't eat on time cuz I wasn't hungry.
I DONT WANT TO LIVE ON A FREAKING SCHEDULE.
Discouraged, I know all will be ok, at least I hope. I just want to say, its not always easy.

Please forgive me. Yesterday was a rough day and night. Today I will follow a schedule.

You are human and allowed to have your bad days just like everyone else. Hang in there. Soon everything will be better.

Never stop taking it cold turkey EVER. You could be hospitalized even death can occur. I’ve seen to many people not take the seriousness and real dangers of quitting this medication. There have been some very lucky people here, Susie for one.
Effexor has a shot half life, probably the shortest of the antidepressants. Because of this the withdrawal symptoms can occur quickly. All this is affected by your metabolism, so if metabolism is slow your withdrawal symptoms will take longer to appear since your body will take longer to get rid of the medication. With a fast metabolism the opposite will occur. Many will have some symptoms if they miss just one dose, especially with a fast metabolism.
Effexor withdrawal symptoms varies from person to person but can take anywhere from 10 days if on a low dose and taken for a short time to a month and even longer depending on strength and time you’ve been taking it. It also depends on the person. If I were stopping it I’d only decrease my dose by 10% to an absolute high of 25% and if any of the multitude of symptoms showed up I’d immediately increase it and reduce the maximum to maybe 15%. Always take a dose every day. Never skip a day/days. And take your new dose at least 7 days before taking a lower dose. Some may have or want to take it longer. The point I’m trying to make is that you shouldn’t have ANY SYMPTOMS while stopping Effexor. And when you take your last dose you’ll be Effexor free and never have another symptom. If however you have been abusing it your outcome may not be as good and problems could possibly occur in the future.
Wishing everyone the very best of luck, and please remember small doses over a longer time is the key

@jakedduck1

Never stop taking it cold turkey EVER. You could be hospitalized even death can occur. I’ve seen to many people not take the seriousness and real dangers of quitting this medication. There have been some very lucky people here, Susie for one.
Effexor has a shot half life, probably the shortest of the antidepressants. Because of this the withdrawal symptoms can occur quickly. All this is affected by your metabolism, so if metabolism is slow your withdrawal symptoms will take longer to appear since your body will take longer to get rid of the medication. With a fast metabolism the opposite will occur. Many will have some symptoms if they miss just one dose, especially with a fast metabolism.
Effexor withdrawal symptoms varies from person to person but can take anywhere from 10 days if on a low dose and taken for a short time to a month and even longer depending on strength and time you’ve been taking it. It also depends on the person. If I were stopping it I’d only decrease my dose by 10% to an absolute high of 25% and if any of the multitude of symptoms showed up I’d immediately increase it and reduce the maximum to maybe 15%. Always take a dose every day. Never skip a day/days. And take your new dose at least 7 days before taking a lower dose. Some may have or want to take it longer. The point I’m trying to make is that you shouldn’t have ANY SYMPTOMS while stopping Effexor. And when you take your last dose you’ll be Effexor free and never have another symptom. If however you have been abusing it your outcome may not be as good and problems could possibly occur in the future.
Wishing everyone the very best of luck, and please remember small doses over a longer time is the key

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I appreciate your information. Have been reducing my weekly dose by 4 beads daily ,going one week at a time, for the past month. No adverse effects so far. I don't care how long it takes!
Have been taking Effexor for about 7 years. It was helpful with mood and anxiety after I had maxed out on Celexa. Taking turmeric now which is helpful and life stressors are much less.
So we'll see!

@jakedduck1
Your advice was very clear and informative! I do have one question: You said, "If however you have been abusing it your outcome may not be as good and problems could possibly occur in the future." Could you explain what you meant by abusing it? Thank you.

Checking in…ok I figured out what I did. I am obviously still not thinking straight even being drug free 4 months.
I started cutting back on my CBD oil cuz I was running out. Silly me, I was thinking it was a choice. Oviously not a choice. I sent someoneme for some more but at 225 mg. Not the 600 I was taking. Its going to be a long time to payday on the 3rd.
Do you know I kept thinking yesterday was Saturday? Last Saturday no less. Its really Thursday. My respect for the CBD oil grows.

Where’s my post??????

@brightwings

Please forgive me. Yesterday was a rough day and night. Today I will follow a schedule.

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@brightwings there is nothing to forgive. If you need to vent, then vent.
JK

@jakedduck1

Never stop taking it cold turkey EVER. You could be hospitalized even death can occur. I’ve seen to many people not take the seriousness and real dangers of quitting this medication. There have been some very lucky people here, Susie for one.
Effexor has a shot half life, probably the shortest of the antidepressants. Because of this the withdrawal symptoms can occur quickly. All this is affected by your metabolism, so if metabolism is slow your withdrawal symptoms will take longer to appear since your body will take longer to get rid of the medication. With a fast metabolism the opposite will occur. Many will have some symptoms if they miss just one dose, especially with a fast metabolism.
Effexor withdrawal symptoms varies from person to person but can take anywhere from 10 days if on a low dose and taken for a short time to a month and even longer depending on strength and time you’ve been taking it. It also depends on the person. If I were stopping it I’d only decrease my dose by 10% to an absolute high of 25% and if any of the multitude of symptoms showed up I’d immediately increase it and reduce the maximum to maybe 15%. Always take a dose every day. Never skip a day/days. And take your new dose at least 7 days before taking a lower dose. Some may have or want to take it longer. The point I’m trying to make is that you shouldn’t have ANY SYMPTOMS while stopping Effexor. And when you take your last dose you’ll be Effexor free and never have another symptom. If however you have been abusing it your outcome may not be as good and problems could possibly occur in the future.
Wishing everyone the very best of luck, and please remember small doses over a longer time is the key

Jump to this post

You take tumeric for depression? Pills or powder was it prescribed by naturopath dr? Never heard of tumeric for depression

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