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3 days ago · Tips on minimising withdrawal symptoms from Effexor (aka Venlafaxine) in Depression & Anxiety

You can click on my name, or anyone's name on this thread and read all their posts. I have quite a few, so I'll reprise my history.

I started taking 25mg Effexor in 2001 for hot flashes (an off-label use). My breast cancer was estrogen-driven so I was given tamoxifen–it binds up the estrogen in your body which put me into a chemically induced menopause.

In the Fall of 2014, I was diagnosed with a different breast cancer. I asked my oncologist if I should get off the Effexor as my treatment was going to more grueling and I probably didn't need it for hot flashes anymore, anyway. He told me to hold off–not to rock the boat right now.

I waited until the Spring of 2018 and tapered off by cutting my small flat tablets into tinier and tinier pieces. I took two months to get off 25mg. I was fine for about six weeks after the taper. Then, I began experiencing all the symptoms of Effexor withdrawal–anxiety, insomnia, agitation, shakes, akathisia, fear, dizziness, etc. I had been on Effexor for almost 18 years–I think six weeks is how long it took for my body to "use up" all the stores of this drug stored in my body tissues.

6 days ago · Tips on minimising withdrawal symptoms from Effexor (aka Venlafaxine) in Depression & Anxiety

Here's the link to the Ashton Manual; it can be downloaded as a PDF and for the Nook, or Kindle–

https://www.benzoinfo.com/ashtonmanual/

6 days ago · Tips on minimising withdrawal symptoms from Effexor (aka Venlafaxine) in Depression & Anxiety

I am glad today is a better day and that you were able to get enough quality sleep last night. If we each had a crystal ball, we'd make a LOT of different choices. I agree with @sheffieldsmith that anyone thinking of tapering right now should hold off and if already started, hold where they are; sheltering-in-place and social distancing are stresses enough. If you can, avoid the news and agitating/violent TV, movies, books and music. A regular routine and taking meds/supplements on schedule help maintain an even keel (you mentioned you had forgotten about your thyroid medication). I will be off Effexor two years shortly–it does get better.

Mon, Mar 30 2:05pm · Tips on minimising withdrawal symptoms from Effexor (aka Venlafaxine) in Depression & Anxiety

The withdrawal effects are what keep folks on this medication. Tapering off slowly minimizes them; the stories on this blog show that most tapers are TOO FAST–the drops are too steep and the wait before dropping again is too short. Skipping days puts you into withdrawal every other day.

Effexor's effect on your brain neurotransmitter levels is very powerful and it takes TIME for you to adjust to lower levels of the drug, especially if you've been on it long-term.

You can read on here where others found relief by going back to the dosage where they weren't having withdrawal symptoms, or at least, having symptoms they could handle and stabilizing there for weeks/months before tapering by much, much less and much, much slower.

Have you told your doctor(s) today what is going on? What is their advice? Especially re the prescriptions you have? You can ask if these would be helpful to your current situation.

Sat, Mar 14 2:49pm · Trading Tips and Coping Strategies to Taper off a Medication: Meet @texasduchess in About Connect: Who, What & Why

You don't say why you have PTSD, why you want off benzodiazepines, or what you are taking and how much. I am not a doctor, just someone like yourself with a problem who found the Mayo Clinic Connect forum. YOU ARE IN THE RIGHT PLACE to learn more and get help.

I am sorry you are suffering and not finding help; the NORM is that doctors don't know how to get someone off a drug. Here's an article where two doctors are bucking "accepted" psychiatric guidelines for getting patients off drugs and recommending a different way– https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/05/health/depression-withdrawal-drugs.html.

SleepFoundation.org says, "Treating patients with PTSD for sleep disorders has sometimes been heartbreaking. Until the past few decades, people with PTSD were not treated for it, because the condition had not even been described. Today, treatments have evolved and patients can benefit from them.

"Treatment should be coordinated by an expert in treating PTSD, most often a psychiatrist. The therapies that may be effective are the 'talk therapies,' often in concert with medications. Two drugs have been approved by the FDA to treat PTSD: sertraline (Zoloft®) and paroxetine (Paxil®).

"In an exciting development, recent research shows that an 'old' drug, prazosin, originally used to treat high blood pressure, may be effective in reducing the nightmares in PTSD patients. It is believed that norepinephrine may play a role in causing sleep disturbances and nightmares in PTSD, and prazosin reduces the levels of norepinephrine in the brain."–https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/ptsd-and-sleep

You can get help. It won't be easy, but online sources have opened the world to us. Those of us here on these Mayo Clinic Connect forums weren't satisfied with our doctors' responses to our issues, or couldn't find help locally. Let me encourage you to look around this site–type in PTSD, insomnia and benzodiazepine withdrawal (or tapering off of), see what pops up and READ IT ALL. Good luck and healing to you, bubberonnie.

Sun, Mar 15 4:33pm · Trading Tips and Coping Strategies to Taper off a Medication: Meet @texasduchess in About Connect: Who, What & Why

Hi, JK. My husband says I have "girl-o-vision" when it comes to photos of myself (term comes from the Eyebeam cartoon strip in which the female characters hated having their pictures taken and thus, most photos of themselves).

Some years back, you could find "palettes" of high-content chocolates made from cocoa grown around the world. Each chocolate disk was labelled as to the country of origin and cocoa percentage (some were as high as 85%). We enjoyed comparing the various chocolates–kind of like doing a wine-tasting. You could definitely perceive the flavor difference in cocoa from one country to the next. Some of the higher percentage chocolates were lovely if they had enough fat to give them a good "mouth feel," but whew, a few were a bit too dry–like trying to eat dry cocoa powder used in cooking.

Sun, Mar 15 12:44pm · Tips on minimising withdrawal symptoms from Effexor (aka Venlafaxine) in Depression & Anxiety

From the experiences recounted on this forum, doctors routinely give/recommend to patients tapering schedules that are TOO FAST. Your doctor may be guiding you, but only you know how you feel; unless you're in a big hurry for medical reasons (i.e., Effexor is making your blood pressure spike dangerously, or you're pregnant), slow down–WAAYYYY down. You will know if you are tapering too fast–withdrawal symptoms are the big tip off.

I was only ever on 25mg regular-release Effexor/venlafaxine–it came as very small (approx 1/4 inch), flat, dry tablets; usually round, but occasionally my refills were 5-sided, or oval-shaped; color was usually pale pink/salmon, or yellow. These were all very easy to cut with a pill cutter. You could cut these into halves, quarters, or even smaller with a razor blade, or Exacto knife and mix-match to get smaller doses as you taper.

Folks have opened the capsules and counted/removed beads; it is tedious and is somewhat hit-and-miss as the number/sizes of beads within a capsule varies from capsule to capsule within a bottle of pills. Your doctor could specify a specific brand of capsule–@farm_mom found Teva had the most consistent size and number of beads within a capsule. See @sandij, or @doorman on how to count/throw out beads to taper.