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

@tonysdca

Just updating my experience with tapering from 75 mg Effexor after taking it for over 15 years. I have taken 3 months to get down to 18.5 mg every other day. I tried reducing faster but experienced more zaps, nausea, etc., so I began tapering more slowly from 75 mg to 37.5 to 18.5 daily to now 18.5 every other day. I have found that CBD oil does help. 3 drops sublingually twice daily seems to work for me. I still get occasional sharp head pains that last a few seconds, some nausea, and even constipation (not sure how much of that is related to venlafaxine). My psychiatrist did put me on 150 mg Wellbutrin XR when I started withdrawal from Effexor, and I believe that prevented me from relapsing into depression. I am trying to be very patient as the very gradual withdrawal has helped minimize the side effects of withdrawal from Effexor. Optimistically, I hope to be Effexor free within 3 months.

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I was taking 225 mg a day and forgot to pick up my meds so I've been into withdrawal for bout 5 or 6 days I feel bad and think I'm getting depressed this feeling of being lost and loneliness is getting worse so I've been crying called the nurse at doctors office and she was supposed to call me back but hasn't yet. All of the different emotions and withdrawal symptoms r bad is there something that will help til I get this worked out. I drank kratom last night and it helped as long as I was still I'm afraid of getting to depressed and being stuck in a hole I can't crawl out of.

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I don't understand why people romanticise "going cold turkey" it's potentially dangerous and has a higher failure rate. Being supportive is wonderful but implying that "I did it so can you" may have been a lead up to the prescription of the meds in the first place. Life changes are huge hurdles.. So is tapering. Be well

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Agree completely Buzzy

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@jakedduck1

I was on the Benzodiazepine drug Klonopin for seizures and you have to get off them slowly to avoid seizures. The doc said to cut it in quarters and take three quarters a week then half finally one quarter but it didn’t work so I cut that quarter in half and in half again etc till it was barely visible and finally it worked.
Effexor comes in both capsules and tablets but I believe the tablets are much more expensive (about $70 more, I think) so although not recommended taking the capsule apart and removing a tiny amount should do the trick. If money is no problem it would be easier to get the tabs and cut them.
I use to take the antidepressant Cymbalta and a UPS man delivered a package and we were talking and antidepressants came up. He said “You have a choice, to be happy or sad.” I thought about that for a few days and decided he was right and I decided to be happy and I was. I stopped my Cymbalta. It may not work for everyone but it sure is with the effort. Best of luck!!

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sorry for all the trouble U R having with these drugs…. I get weird dizzy headaches too which I never had before . . We all have differing experiences . NO one size fits all . Do not give up….

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@buzzybrain

I don't understand why people romanticise "going cold turkey" it's potentially dangerous and has a higher failure rate. Being supportive is wonderful but implying that "I did it so can you" may have been a lead up to the prescription of the meds in the first place. Life changes are huge hurdles.. So is tapering. Be well

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Hi buzzybrain,
I hope your comment wasn’t aimed at me. I never went off meds “cold turkey” depending what type of drugs you’re on it can be dangerous even deadly.
If your referring to my comment about deciding to “Be happy” it wasn’t easy for me. Nothing cold turkey about it and if I conveyed that my apologies to all. I only meant to relate my conversation I had with a man whose opinion was you can be happy or sad. I made more effort being happy and it was difficult but I succeeded, not everyone can.

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@kssm71

WOW! A lot of good tips and discussions. My daughter is 21 years old and her doctor (a new doctor that had only seen her a coupled of times) put her on 75 mg Effexor XR to help fight anxiety/migraines. The doctor felt this was the best medicine for her since she has tachycardia. Well, she wasn't even on it for 30 days before she had the full effects of this medicine and eventually went to the ER because of thoughts of harming herself and unable to function. They did not hold her there, but told her to go home and follow up with her doctor. Her father and I have been then for her and made she was not home alone for 2 weeks. Unfortunately, we are unable to take much time off because of no sick/vacation time available. She is unable to work and is now home alone for 3 to 4 days a week. She followed up with her doctor (a new one because the other one is no longer there). They have been tapering her off, one pill every other day and then try every two days and then referred her to a behaviorist. We have tried getting her into a professional, but no one in our area is available. I have left messages for other clinics outside of area and no one will return my call. She has tried the every 2 days one time and it was horrible sight. She starting having body tremors, couldn't breath and crying uncontrollably. We immediately gave her the pill and within 1 hr she was a little better. She followed up with her doctor and we asked about reducing her dosage and still do the every other day. The doctor was a little reluctant, but agreed to reduce it to 37.5 mg every other day. She is still unable to work at this time. She just cannot function in the real world.

Does anyone out there have some advise for us? We have never been through anything like this before and as you can imagine, scared to death.

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Effexor is the devil, I have been on it for years. It was found to be addictive. My doctor told me that after I had been on it for years. He didn't know at the time either. I have got down to one third the dose I was on.. I have had a awful time this time. I want to be be rid of it. I'm not depressed like I used to be very long ago.
I wish everyone luck at ridding themselves of this awful drug.

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Effexor & Xanax can cause lots of serious problems trying to quit… for many folks

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@amelia42

Hi everybody. I'm happy to have found this forum. I'm also weaning off Effexor and I heard the horror stories about the process. I was feeling pretty confident when I went from 300mg to 225mg to 150mg. I have been doing this under my doctor's care and was surprised how easy it has been. Until now. I'm now at the 75mg mark and it has been horrendous. The third day in I started to feel a lot of vertigo, weird brain zaps and lack of coordination. It got so uncomfortable I started taking 150mg again for a couple days. I wanted to try it again so have stuck out the 75mg for about 2 weeks. I thought I had the flu last week when I started having a nauseous "car sick" feeling that kept me pretty home bound. This feeling has only gotten worse over the last week. Horrible headaches, diarrhea, I feel like I'm in slow motion if that makes sense. I feel edgy like I want to jump out of my own skin. It's extremely unsettling and quite honestly, I'm scared. I feel like I may lose control. I'm not sure how to describe it properly, almost like I'm fearful the withdrawals will get so bad it will overcome me. I'm near tears writing this because I really must get off this med since it's been 15 years and doctors have told me this is basically ineffective in mood disorders (bipolar 2).

I did call the doctor today who was not in. Hoping to hear tomorrow. Anyone have any wisdom on a time frame or coping methods to get through this?

I'm curious why such a drastic shift from the 150mg to 75mg. Has anyone alternated 150mg and 75mg for awhile? I'm willing to push through this if there's hope here. I don't want to have to take this med the rest of my life just to avoid the withdrawals.

Anyone successfully off completely that can send a bit of motivation my way? This is horrible. Not sure if I can pull this off. I'm trying!

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Omg that sounds like me! Just got down to 75mg (a 3 week process from 150) and feeling awful! Today the diarrhea started. Oh the vertigo and fatigue!! But determined to hang in there and get this done. Here's a weird question – are you (ahem) excitable? That's the only good part (my husband agrees!). Ugh.

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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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To dianrib….You learned an all to hard lesson didn’t you.

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I have been on 300 mg of effexor approximately 15 years. I'm down to 150 mg in two weeks. As I'm coming off, I am being titrated on to cymbalta 60 mg.I know my bipolar issues require an anti depressant. I'm not willing to go through all that again.I accept that I need meds to function normally.
The first step down, I thought I had the worst flu ever, my sinuses swelled up and I even ran a low fever. But, at the 5th day, I started feeling sooo much better. It was wonderful. What I did to get through it was lots of rest, all the fluids I could tolerate and I ate healthy meals.I used acetaminophen and ibuprofen for the pains. I have not yet had brain zaps. It has been in the mid 90's outside so I stayed in the air conditioning. At times I felt unable to think clearly. I did something really stupid. I already have four dogs and took on a fifth one. So try not to make any big decisions. Now that I can think more clearly, I may be rehoming the 5th dog soon.
Next week I step down 75 mgs so Im prepared and know it will not be pleasant. I plan to do all the self soothing I need to get through it especially guided meditations for healing on youtube. I am going to set up a "care" station next to where I usually sit…otc pain meds, gatorades, dried fruit snacks, etc. I'm very lucky that I have klonopin .5 mg to help with severe anxiety as needed.
I wish you self love and self compassion…be extra good to yourself during this transition.

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Hi All…
I just received my refill of Effexor.
For the first time (bad me), I actually took the time to read the enclosed paper work.
NOT ONCE does it mention the word ADDICTIVE (or any version). All it did say was to consult your doc before you come off . It also suggested coming off slowly in order to try to limit reactions.
Again NO mention of the word WITHDRAWAL.
Although many of us are still on Effexor, we had read the posts by those trying to come off. So, we all know what I shared.
The reason I told you about this is because in case you were not aware (like me), the paperwork from the manufacturer does NOT mention the words addictive or withdrawal.
JUST SAYING…..

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