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

@ksad
@tgbobbi
@harrington
I was on Effexor for 18 years (25mg for hot flashes)–be aware that it gets stored in body fat; you're not really off Effexor UNTIL that gets used up as well.

Antidepressants are VERY powerful; Effexor affects your brain's neurotransmitters–serotonin and norepinephrine. While reducing, or after getting off Effexor, it takes your brain a while to figure out how to rebalance serotonin and norepinephrine. Some of us even experience extended withdrawal symptoms (PAWS). I have been off Effexor for two+ years; I STILL occasionally have episodes of anxiety and agitation, but my withdrawal effects have improved GREATLY. If it weren't for COVID-19 lockdown isolation and no longer having the distraction of work, I'd probably not even notice them.

My withdrawal symptoms didn't begin until about six weeks after my last tapered dose. I was prescribed Valium short-term by a Care Now doctor when my akathisia and anxiety became overwhelming. She had me take 5mg Valium twice a day for three days straight (I stayed home from work) to "get ahead of the anxiety." Her "get ahead of it" strategy was pretty effective, but she prescribed 15 more tablets to use as needed and I'll take a half for those occasional episodes if they seem to be building.

I did not want to rely on Valium and through trial-and-error came up with a number of OTC medications and supplements that help me and have listed the supplements I take in previous posts (click on my name to go back through and read). The most helpful are l-tryptophan (DO NOT take while still on Effexor) and GABA. Ben*dryl, Bon*ine, or other seasickness remedies can reduce/minimize the dizziness/vertigo. Fish oil may be more helpful than krill oil for brain zaps. Here's a good article re how to mitigate withdrawal effects with supplements–https://www.4mind4life.com/effexor-withdrawal-symptoms.

Back in December, @cp6401 used the term "stress fragile" to describe how so many of us are during the process of getting off/reducing Effexor and even, afterwards. Distraction helps—reading, hobbies, work, chores, gardening, exercise, etc. I am mindful of what I watch (nothing frenetic, violent, or disturbing), read (cozy mysteries, or romances), or listen to (no atonal, or dissonant music)–some things are just too agitating. Also, very important–I learned how beneficial getting natural light to my eyes is to lifting my mood and calming me. I'm not suggesting sunbathing, but getting out and seeing daylight–take a walk, or at least, get out of your house for 5–10 minutes, even if it's just stepping out onto a patio.

Thu, May 21 4:52pm · Tips on minimising withdrawal symptoms from Effexor (aka Venlafaxine) in Depression & Anxiety

Dear tiff74–Whoops! I wanted to add more information, but took too long to edit my first reply.

Good job modifying your original tapering plan when you experienced uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms!

If you drop the same amount at every taper, that drop is a bigger percentage each time (75mg – 12.5mg to 62.5mg is a 16.7% drop; 62.5mg – 12.5mg to 50mg is a 20% drop; 50mg – 12.5mg to 37.5mg is a 25% drop, etc.).

You may want to make more gradual reductions than you have been to lessen withdrawal symptoms at each drop. Yes, this does mean that the tapering process slows down as you get further out, but in the long run, people more often have a successful exit from the drug.

Thu, May 21 3:55pm · Tips on minimising withdrawal symptoms from Effexor (aka Venlafaxine) in Depression & Anxiety

Dear tiff74–Getting off Effexor is not a race often won by rushing the process; your plan is a very fast taper with steep drops. You have 25mg tablets than can be cut into small pieces to allow "mixing and matching" dosages so you can make more gradual reductions. Folks are usually more successful dropping no more than 5–10% at a time and staying at the new level for weeks (even months) AND stabilizing before dropping again. Withdrawal symptoms (headache, anxiety, digestive issues, brain zaps, dizziness, nausea, etc.) are the big tipoff that a taper is being done too aggressively. Effexor is a very powerful drug that affects your brain chemical balance and it takes a while for your body to recalibrate and start balancing on its own.

Sat, May 2 11:42am · Tips on minimising withdrawal symptoms from Effexor (aka Venlafaxine) in Depression & Anxiety

I have had breast cancer twice. The first one diagnosed in 2000 was hormone-driven and I went on Effexor to control the hot flashes I developed when taking Tamoxifen (binds to estrogen and puts you into a chemically induced menopause). I was only ever on 25mg regular-release Effexor (about 18 years) and would have just stayed on Effexor if I had realized how much effect quitting Effexor would have. Even at a low dose, it has powerful effects on the brain.

Sat, May 2 11:32am · Tips on minimising withdrawal symptoms from Effexor (aka Venlafaxine) in Depression & Anxiety

I am not on any anti-depressant; I tapered off Effexor April 2018 because I no longer needed it to control hot flashes. I liked that you didn't give up on finding an anti-depressant that worked for you.

Thu, Apr 30 8:16pm · Tips on minimising withdrawal symptoms from Effexor (aka Venlafaxine) in Depression & Anxiety

I tried sublingual CBD for about a week for the anxiety I have since quitting Effexor; I didn't think it was doing anything for me. When I mentioned trying this to my new oncologist, he suggested a longer trial period (a month to six weeks) might be a better test of whether, or not it could help. I admit I haven't given it another go.

Sun, Apr 26 7:38pm · Tips on minimising withdrawal symptoms from Effexor (aka Venlafaxine) in Depression & Anxiety

The big tipoff that you are tapering too fast is withdrawal symptoms. It is not uncommon while tapering off Effexor to drop too fast and have anxiety and rage–often flash rage—going from mildly annoyed to I-want-to-throttle-you in seconds. Rather than taking up smoking again (you've been off six months!), you can get relief from your withdrawal symptoms by reinstating your Effexor, going back to a dose where you didn't have any WD symptoms (you might even need to up your dose some). You stay there for some weeks to stabilize before attempting ANY more tapering. When you do begin tapering again, only reduce 5–10% (or even less) and wait weeks before reducing again. With all the stress we're under with COVID-19, maybe just forget about getting off Effexor for the time being.

Tue, Apr 21 8:11pm · Tips on minimising withdrawal symptoms from Effexor (aka Venlafaxine) in Depression & Anxiety

@jackbud13 @jassyj @pups1978 @tb2011 @sharbare
As @brightwings and @colleenyoung have suggested, please read the posts on this blog.

I don't recall any medical doctors posting here; we're just folks who have tapered off Effexor, or are still doing it. When you read our posts, you will see that you are tapering too fast. The big tipoff is withdrawal symptoms. Most folks get relief by going back to the dose where they didn't have any WD symptoms. (You might even need to up your dose some.) You stay there for some weeks to stabilize before attempting any more tapering. When you do begin tapering again, only reduce 5-10% (or even less) and wait weeks before reducing again.

It is a SLOOOWWW process, but unless you MUST get off Effexor quickly (medical reasons, lost your insurance coverage, can't get a refill, etc.), there is NO need to rush this process and feel awful … and you will if you go too fast. Effexor is a very powerful drug that affects your brain's neurotransmitter levels—it takes time for your head to recalibrate these without the drug, or at lower levels of the drug … hence, the nausea, dizziness, insomnia, anxiety, etc.

You can click on anyone's name and read their specific posts. I have written about supplements that helped me with withdrawal symptoms and ways your doctor can help you taper including a "Prozac bridge."