Please do not compare the withdrawal from Zoloft to Effexor- they are completely different for most people.
I am currently down from 150mg to 50mg of Effexor ER and it has taken me about a month. Gradually the side effects have gotten more intense and I am now at the point where the nausea and diarrhea are the most inconvenient side effect.
For some background, I’ve been on this medicine for about a year and a half and used it to transition jobs, move across the country, start a new life. It was GREAT for helping me get out of a bad headspace where stress and anxiety were causing depression. In the past I had been on Zoloft but it stopped working and instead of increasing the dose, I got a puppy. I had barely any issues with getting off the medication, maybe a headache or two but nothing too crazy. But then after a year Med free I was back at the doc asking for help. It’s a hard thing to do to ask for help like that but I learned the hard way that sometimes medication might be the only thing that works when your brain has been high jacked by negative thoughts.
I’ve been wanting to go off Effexor for awhile now but I literally need to take WEEKS out of my life to deal with these side effects. Migraines, diarrhea, nausea, cold sweats, sensitivity to light and sound, not to mention major mood shifts, jaw tightness, and wanting to sleep 15 hours a night. Missing just one dose of Effexor was enough to make me leave work sick. That is one of the reasons I don’t want to be on it anymore. Every doctor, pharmacist, nurse etc doesn’t realize how bad these side effects are, so when you forget to bring your medicine on vacation, expect drama. There is no magic pill that makes it better either, you just need a solid 4 hours for the ER to kick in once you finally get your dose. I’ve never experienced withdrawal to this extent, it’s hard to believe it’s “safe” or even worth it. If I were to get pregnant on this medication- the baby would have to go through theses side effects as well.
Currently I am in a good spot- I have some time, a good support system, and I’m living in a state where cannabis is legal. That is the other hang up- I like to use cannabis to treat my anxiety but that isn’t a treatment method that most doctors consider. It is actually helping a lot with weaning off Effexor. So has exercise, getting plenty of sleep, and always having a bathroom nearby.
The ER tabs are filled with these little beads- my fancy math skills calculated that each little bead is 0.5mg of the drug. So each day I take out about 1-2mg. As I mentioned earlier, I started at 150mg and after three weeks I am down to 50mg. Once I am down to 25mg I plan to just go off. I have a post it counting me down on the mirror of my meidince cabinet.
So far things are going ok. The symptoms are still there but not as bad as if I were to just stop cold turkey. The diarrhea is still at a point where it would interfere with my job and the nausea has been there for about three days now with cold sweats to really bring it all home. I truly can’t wait for this to be over.
Did the drug work? Yes. Would I go through this withdrawal process again? Absolutely not.