Getting off Venlafaxine: A long but successful journey

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Everyone,

I am a very private person but I felt I had to tell my story to give hope to others who are on this 'poison'.

How I got hooked:

I was in my mid 30's and life was going as well as any human could expect. I had the professional job I wanted in the organization I wanted. I married the love of my life. I had a beautiful house in a wonderful/safe community and two kids I adore. What could possibly be bad? If you met me you would say "Now that is one happy/funny guy." However, I was struggling DEEPLY in my soul. A depression was slowing starting to swallow my life to the point I dove into self help books and went to see my pastor to find relief. My life was imploding and I did not know why. I read so much about depression online and, though I could not understand how it could effect me, finally admitted to myself I was depressed. So, I went to see my physician.

*****Warning...DO NOT SEE YOUR NORMAL DOCTOR ABOUT DEPRESSION! SEE A SPECIALIST ON THE SUBJECT****

I went to my general Doctor for a physical to make sure everything was good. Finally I talked about my overwhelming depression. They started me on Effexor saying it happens and his will help. There was NO warning of thr side effects. There were no tests done. I could have just been crazy and they would have still given it to me. Grrrrr, I wish I could put this doctor through what I went through.

I got to the point (5 years and several dose increases later) that I wanted to get off. I just did not feel it was helping as I was still struggling. So, I read up on how to do it. I tried cold turkey once and also lowered my dose to a ridiculously small amount. I even staggered my small dose. NOTHING MATTERED! I still felt horrible with the typical things people have. I got to 21 days completely off it...and that was the worse day of any! I was so bad Icould not even drive so I had a friend take me to get some..it was that bad. Oh...it's like a freaking nightmare thinking back.

So I went on for a time as I researched more trying to find anything that helped people survive this withdrawal period. At last...I found it. I will say that not solution will work for everyone but this one did for me.

I read that taking Vitamin b12 complex and Omega 3 fish oil pills helped. I started taking them (1000 mg 3x a day with the fish oil), lowered my dose to almost nothing...and then stopped. My emotions were all over the place as it always was but the brain fuzz, tunnel vision and the other not so nice things were not nearly as bad. It still was not easy (oh.. The emotions.. Thank the Lord for a patient/supportive wife) but I DID IT! Took a month to feel completely free but I would have accepted 6 mos if I knew it would work.

If one person reads this and the vitamins help them get off of this crap then this post would have been well worth my time.

PS. PLEASE...see a real specialist. Was I depressed? Yes! Was my world imploding? Yes! However the depression was just a symptom. Only in the last year did I get the real diagnosis. I figured it out...by watching my son. He struggles with ADHD. I was watching him one day and said to my wife "I bet I would have been diagnosied as a kid". I did more research on ADD in adults and l realized I just learned coping mechanisms as I grew older. The problem is when you are so overwhelmed in life and the coping mechinisms fail that your crash HARD. You literally shut down. I went to see a specialist who ran tests. Finally he put me on Adderal (you can bet your sweet arse I researched this drug to the hilt). O.....M.....G my life changed. I don't procrastinate at work (because I could not stay focused) or at home. Everything is 10000000 times easier and ENJOYABLE. It changed my life.

Moral of the story...see professional help and find out the root of problem and deal with those...not the symptoms.

God Bless you who struggle with Effexor...you can beat it.

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6 Replies

  • Posted

    Oh my gosh, thanks for sharing,I got so much identification. 

    I am currently living in my bedroom, constantly freezing cold, depressed,not coping . I take 225 mg of venlafaxine a day .

    my story is I've always had depression, but I got on with it , up until 3 years ago I was taking citalopram 40 mg a day ,then I had to have a hysterectomy,fine,then I found out I had hepatitis c ,and the last 3 years I've gone through 2 treatments chemo type treatment ,which made you depressed. The doctor changed me to venlafaxine ,but I don't think they help,

    ive got my own business it's a cafe and I've had it for ten years, but the last 3 years I've not been working because of hep c being so debilitating and then the first treatment didn't work, and had to wait 2 more years to go through it again. 

    The thing is I am now virus undetected and I don't know whether it's gonna take time to recover from the barbaric treatment ,or if I'm still depressed.

    i don't want to go out, don't want to see anyone, lost my motivation, and don't feel like I can cope with things anymore. Everything's just too much.

    i used to be a workaholic and could multitask ,run the cafe ,do everything,

    but now I can't seem to fight my way through this.

    im seeing my nurse on Friday and was going to ask her if she could put me back on citalopram, but also I was thinking of asking her if she could refer me to see a specialist ,to get the right diagnosis, do I ask to see a psychiatrist. I know I'm not mad but I'm not right, hep c and depression has changed me, knocked me for six, I used to be full of energy, happy, loved my job, now I don't want to go back, and can't be bothered. And that's not me. Everything is too much effort . 

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  • Posted

    Awesome for you. I'm 3 months off Effexor and 5 weeks off Prozac ( I tried that for a month I didn't like it). All for what stared as panic attacks 14 years ago. Now off the Effexor I have more problems than before. Everyone keeps saying they are withdrawal issues. But after 3 months? And 5 weeks on nothing?? I have intrusive thoughts that stick in my head like ocd. ( never had that before) among all the other issues I'm having. One or two days it's one thing then the next it could be something else. Its very frustrating and I keep thinking I need to give in and go back on meds just to clean up with that Effexor did to me. It's crazy how these pills messed up my brain. I'm afraid of its doesn't get better soon I will be on them for life. I never had depression just bad anxiety for a month and then they put me on meds. Which helped for years I guess. But then they stopped helping and I felt far worse than when I started. I hope my brain can heal itself.
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    • Posted

      One psych even said take a mood stabilizer or don't come back. Needless to say I switched psychs.
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    • Posted

      It has been 2 months since your post and i was wondering if you stabilized in the meantime? I wanted to say, for what it's worth now that it sounds to me like you simply weaned off too fast. Obsessive and Intrusive thoughts can start at the beginning of therapy with venlafaxine and can also show up upon lowering the dose and more than likely after stopping too fast or too soon. If you lowered the dose and did not wait out the 3-9 months or more to ensure you are absolutely symptom free for at least 3 months before the next dosage decrease....you may have shot yourself in the leg. Because your symptoms after 3 months off effexor sound like your brain got stuck at an uncomfortable zone due to not being given the chance to reboot after a dosage cut. If you are still suffering consult your doctor and reinstate whatever drug he thinks will help, likely effexor, until you stabilize fully and remain stable for at least 6 months until withdrawing very very slowly. Wishing you the best.
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  • Posted

    Hi PassionFruit, 

    I am so happy for you that you got free of the evil Effexor!  I must say, though, that YOU were the one who figured out what was wrong, not the doctors.  Had you gone to a P-doc not knowing what you figured for yourself, it is just as likely that you would have been medicated for depression and possibly ended up on a cocktail!  They SURELY would have put you on an antidepressant because you were complaining of depression!  And it isn't just Effexor - all the SSRIs, SNRIs, etc. have side effects and are difficult to get off of.

    I was on Effexor for 12 years and came off too fast over a year ago, but I didn't not have extreme wd symptoms up front.  It took months for them to show themselves but by then no one recognized them as wd symptoms.  10 months later I ended up back on, not because anyone figured it out but because it was a drug I had "tolerated" in the past.  I was deemed "relapsed."  Well, you know these drugs are supposed to take many weeks to start working, but within one hour of taking Effexor again, I was "fixed," a true sign of dependency!  

    People don't realize that these drugs actually cause the brain to change; it remodels to take into account the drug's action, so when you come off, those changes are still there and they cause an imbalance that causes the withdrawal.  It takes time to grow a new brain again when you come off, which is why withdrawal can last so long even though the drug is well out of the system.

    Anyway, congratulations on fixing yourself LOL!

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  • Posted

    P, thanks so much for writing your experience! I too have ADHD. I was diagnosed in high school some 25 years ago. Recently went back to school for my mba and it has been a nightmare. 

    Like you, I also take Effexor after I begged my Dr to do an out of the box blood work, which revealed low levels of  serotonin. I find without an anti-depressent, I don't enter the deepest levels of sleep. 

    After years of supplements, strict diet, and healthy living, I eventually had to go on the men's as natural remedies would not bring sleep.

    I'm convinced that somehow an ADHD brain depletes serotonin reserves if ADD goes untreated.

    All that to say, it's awesome you're on the right medication to treat the right diagnosis! 

    Just one question, was/is your Dr a specialist dealing with ADD in adults? And how did you find said specialist? I need to find one to treat me as well.

    Again, thanks for your initiative in writing!

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