Effexor XR tapering and withdrawal symptoms- help!

Posted , 7 users are following.

This was August 2018.

I was on Citalopram 20mg for 15 years and for the past 2 it was no longer working for me anymore - I thought so. I was feeling quite down so decided to see a new psychiatrist. He put me on a cocktail of drugs to help with citalopram tapering and to introduce the Effexor XR. I started with 75mg of Venlafaxine plus 25mg Valdoxan and Xanax 1mg.

The Dr said that by November I will be feeling great and only on the max dosage on Effexor I would need, 150mg.

Suicidal thoughts, Insomnia, dry mouth, lost of appetite and anxiety. Couldn’t taste anything, which for me was very frustrating as food (and cooking) is one of my favorite things on earth. By November I was off of citalopran and on max dosage of Effexor. I decided to quit the other drugs, as I was feeling awful with the side effects. In December, I couldn’t take it anymore, stopped seeing the Dr and decided to start tapering Venlafaxine. It was when I first read the millions of forums about the nightmare that was to come out of this drug, it really scared the heck out of me.

People really suffering out there and the Drs never ever advise about the withdrawal symptoms.

I started reducing in 20mg per week till I got now to 25mg daily. It was bearable till I reached the 40mg, when I started having muscular pains, shiverings and numbness in my body which really freaked me out to the point I went to see a rheumatologist and a neurologist , thinking I was having a serious immune disorder. And it doesn’t stop there. Chills, headaches, neck pain, brain zappings, flu like symptoms. After MRI and several other tests, the doctors couldn’t find anything. I still can’t believe the suffering that this drug causes... I just can function as a normal person anymore. The pain in my body is excruciating.

I will start tomorrow on fish oil and vitamin B12 Complex with the hope it will ease the symptoms. I also read that Benadryl can help but is banned where I leave.

I know every person is different... would appreciate if someone could share any tips to help me on this transition. Thank you so much

0 likes, 9 replies

9 Replies

  • Posted

    Hello Pat6g08,

    We note from a recent post which you have made to our forum that you may be experiencing thoughts around self-harm. If we have misinterpreted your comments then we apologies for contacting you directly. But if you are having such thoughts then please note that you are not alone in this, and there are people out there that can help.

    If you are having these suicidal thoughts then we strongly recommend you speak to someone who may be able to help. The Samaritans offer a safe space where you can talk openly about what you are going through. They can help you explore your options, understand your problems better, or just be there to listen.

    Their contact details are on our patient information leaflet here: https://patient.info/health/dealing-with-suicidal-thoughts, which also offers lots of other advice on how you can access the help you may need.

    If you are having such thoughts then please do reach out to the team at the Samaritans (or the other people detailed in our leaflet) who will understand what you're going through and will be able to help.

    Kindest regards


  • Posted

    I am sorry that you are experiencing such symptoms. If it helps you, I can offer how I weaned myself to a lower dose of Venlafaxine.

    • Posted

      Hi Susan, thank you, I'd love to hearing all about it please.

      Today I went back to 40 mg and I felt much better.

  • Posted

    I am sorry that you are experiencing such symptoms. If it helps you, I can offer how I weaned myself to a lower dose of Venlafaxine.

  • Posted

    Hi Paty,

    You say you hope to be off in a couple of months but sound to be suffering horribly at the rate you are going. I think you need to step back and let go of expectations. I've been tapering this drug for nearly four years! I am doing such a slow rate because I want to a) take a least harm approach, minimizing suffering along the way and maintaining function and b) I want to be successful and not crash and burn after the taper only to be forced back on the drug! The reason people fail and end up back on the drug, thinking their "disease" has returned and they must need it, is because they came off too fast.

    Our neurons adapt to the forced elevation of serotonin and such by making compensatory changes to bring about homeostasis. The body doesn't WANT high levels of serotonin. It is these oppositional changes that cause all the trouble when we yank the drug away too quickly. And for some, too quickly can even be tapering over many months, not weeks. It is highly individual how quickly the body reverses those changes.

    Think about this: you didn't have all those crazy symptoms BEFORE you started the drug, it is quite clear that those symptoms are "iatrogenic," caused by the lack of the drug. Depression and anxiety happen to be symptoms that go along with all those other crazy symptoms, yet because they are psychological, people set those aside and say "you've relapsed and need to be on meds." Simply not true.

    So, the fact that you are highly symptomatic of WD right now means your nervous system is destabilized by the rate you have gone, and to make further cuts now would only increase/prolong your suffering. I recommend you hold where you are for a couple of months and let yourself settle down. Hurrying to get the taper over with is the last thing you need, especially with suicidal ideation, which is totally part of the withdrawal suite of symptoms. Nonetheless, it isn't trivial.

    People tend to want to get the drug out of their system as fast as possible, thinking it is the drug in the system that is is the problem and that once it is gone all will be well. In fact it is the oppositive. When the body has become dependent on the presence of the drug, it is it's hasty absence that is causing the problem!

    How are you accomplishing your cuts? You might even want to back up a bit to bring about stability.

    Cuts should not be made more frequently than every three to four weeks. It takes at least that long for the nervous system to respond. It can take four days for the body to register a cut, sometimes less and sometimes more, responding with symptoms. I think this depends on a person's detox enzymes since some have symptoms the same day when they miss one dose.

    I'm sorry you got caught up in this trap. Just so you know, I am now down to 1.8 mg and am not suffering withdrawal. What I am suffering from is PSSD from 20 years of AD use!

    • Posted

      Hi Betsy,

      Thank you for the support and for sharing your knowledge on the tapering process.

      I really don't know if I will ever be able to be off antidepressants. My doctor now put me on Desvenlafaxine to taper Venlafaxine, as he says Pristiq has less side effects than Effexor.

      It is just so debilitating to think how dependent our body gets on this drugs and the damage it causes if we want to get rid of it. I hope you can finally quit the 1.8 mg soon. How long did it take for you to reach this mark?

      Is there any treatment for the PSSD you are suffering from?

  • Posted

    I have been taking venlafaxine venlalic effexor slow release tablets for 4 years now. I was on 225mg a day. Before this I was on mirtazapine mertazapine for about 4 months. The first two months I felt great then the last two months I started to feel as if I wasn't in my body anymore, taking really bad panic attacks at night (to the point where I thought I was taking a brain hemirage and my sister and friend phoned an ambulance for me.) having to walk out of work for bursting in to tears for no reason and snapping at people for no reason. Before this I was on citalopram for 3 years which was fine until I was on the highest dose and felt it wasn't working for me anymore. I am being taken off venlafaxine as it messes with my sleeping terribly (lucid dreams, night sweats to the point where i wake up and my full bed and pyjamas are soaked with sweat, shouting in my sleep to the point people where scared! and generally being overly tired all the time. I was taking 225mg a day, my psyciatrist gave me orders to miss a day then take 75mg and continue for 8 before starting 5mg Vortioxetine(brintellex) for one week and continue with 10mg. I am now on my second day without anything as I have decided I want to see if I can manage without being on an anti depressent. I also take a mood stabiliser (lamotrigine 300mg daily) this was 200mg but was upped to 300mg when the venlafaxine was dropped to 75mg, I assume to help with the mood swings and emotions which come with the withdrawals. The beginning of the tapering in week one was extremely difficult (missing a day then taking 75mg the next) I had no control whatso ever with my emotions. Crying uncontrollably one minute then in hysterics the next. At absolutely nothing. head shocks. fuzzy eyes. diziness. blacking out for a second. panic attacks. severe anxiety and tension. severe worry and guilt for no reason. anger, guilt, fear, sadness. overthinking and rational thoughts. muscle jerks. weight loss. night sweats, nightmares, insomnia, sleep paralyses, racing heart, palpitations, heart flutters, feelings of falling when awake, flu like feelings, nausia, sickness, bowel problems and feelings of a full bladder or tingling in bladder. shaking, confusion. shaking and trembling inside. going from freezing to over heating in seconds. the last 2 days of that week the withdrawals started dying down. YOGA and excercise has helped massively with taking control of my thoughts and being aware of whats happening to my body. Going with the flow helped me, instead of thinking of past events or future possibilities, i tried focussing on what was hapening there and then and being honest about it and thinking rationally instead of with emotion. meditation and mindfulness helps with this type of calmness and controll. also using brainwaves (google the different types for the different states you can send your brain in to) closing your eyes and focussing on your breath whilst lying down really sends you in to a relaxed state with a clear mind. i tend to start with counting my breaths in throgh the nose out throug the mouth 12 times then i tend to pray for the half hour as i believe when you open your mind to an altered state you should protect yourself from UNKNOWN forces. unknown meaning we dont know enough about altered states or dreaming. i also use crystals for this purpose. drinking plenty of water and lemon has helped also. i am now on day two with 0mg and am

    beginning to feel the heart flutters and chills and head zaps again. I am hoping this is not just the beginning and things are going to get worse. my head has started doing over time researching in to what to do. Has anybody had the same situation before? I Dont know if i am doing the right thing. i will see how day 3 goes on 0mg.

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