Heart problems with withdrawal?

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Hi there,

I've been trying to come off venlafaxine for about 18months after being on them for 7 years (before that other antidepressants for 7 years) and now i'm down from 225mg to less than 37.5mg. Last year I tried to go from 37.5mg to zero and ended up with heart palpitations and convulsive shakes and went to A&E. Since then I have bought a pill splitter and since 2nd April I've been taking approx 14.15 mg in the morning (3/8 of a 37.5mg tablet) and approx 9.38 mg in the evening (1/4 of a 37.5mg tablet). But pill splitting is not an exact science and sizes of the split pill vary.

Anyway for the past 4 months or so I've been having this thing where just as i'm falling asleep my heart seems to stop beating and then it restarts again with a jump and I wake out of breath. I have seeen multiple GPs who have just said it's not sleep apnoea and it's 'probably anxiety'. This has been getting worse over the past week or so to the point where two nights ago it was happening repeatedly for four hours and I was unable to get to sleep til early morning. It was the weekend so I couldn't see a GP so I called 111 and they made me go to A&E who did an ECG and then tried to give me diazepam and sent me home. (luckily last night it only happened a few times before i was able to sleep for the rest of the night).

I just wondered if anyone has experienced this with withdrawal? I'm trying to reduce as gradually as i can but I can't split the pills any smaller! I need to get off this drug so that I can try to get pregnant so I don't want to wait years and years.

thanks in advance

1 like, 14 replies

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14 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi have you spoken to your gp ref this? Surely they must have a way of doing this as others must have had the same problem. I'm sorry but I've no experience of being weaned off venleflaxine as after taking an overdose on 375mg long term, I had to go cold turkey (seriously not recommend). Good luck with getting off this and good luck with getting pregnant. 
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    • Posted

      Thanks for replying. I have spoken to several GPs but to no avail. They don't believe coming off venlafaxine can be this hard and just say I must be suffering anxiety. I suffered with OCD for ten years and I was anxious then, now I'm not anxious and they want to tell me I am!
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  • Posted

    I just came off venlafaxine and didn't experience the heart problems you describe. Most of my withdrawal trouble was with the 37.5mg to zero dose, though. I'm just wondering if you are prelonging things by splitting tablets for this long. Can you make sure somebody is around at night when you finally drop the last dose? That way if you do get those scary symptoms, somebody is there to support you.
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  • Posted

    Hi.

    I have been on 225 ven for 5 years and after repeated requests to my GP i have decided to come off as i'm fine now.

    Several people on here gave me good advice so i took the plunge. I probably dropped by too much ( down by 37.5 per day) but held out and 2 weeks in i feel more alive already. However i too have been experiencing palpitations mostly at night aswell. Of course i can't go to my GP as he will say i am coming off too quickly without his advice so am trying to ride it out. I

    It is interesting how many symptoms the GP's put down to anxiety, there is obviously something in this drug that causes these symptoms. I personally feel that most of them including the physc's who put us on them have no understanding of what they do to us, its easy to put us on them but no idea how to get us off.

    My depression was down to a life circumstance which i resolved although the ven did help i doubt i needed such a high dose. I am braced for more horrible withdrawal problems but after reading lots of accounts will see them through.

    You have done very well to get so far and i am sure someone here will help you with the final steps. Good luck with your pregency and in a few years the days of venlofaxine will be a distant memory.

    Ian

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    • Posted

      Thanks for repling. Yes drs definitely don't understand how hard it is to come off these drugs, I think handing them out is an easy option as it's less resource-draining than offering counselling/CBT but they need to recognise that there are real problems in withdrawal.
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  • Posted

    Love your name!!  I took 10 months to wiuthdraw from Venlafaxine.  Like you I got a pill cutter and that way could reduce the dose really slowly by cutting the pills into smaller and smaller doses.  You are doing really well as you were on a high dose.  I was on 150mg daily. 

    I am sorry you are getting bad heart palpitations.   Oh what a trauma to have to go to A&E.  I am glad they did a thorough check up.  I don't know if it is any consolation to say heart palpitations are very common with anxiety.

    I did not get any side effects with withdrawals but aboiut 9 months later I got bad gastritis and nausea so that may be connected.  It could well be that what you are experiencing now is due to the withdrawals. 

    When I split the pills at the end I was taking just a few crumbs on a finger tip.  You sound as if you are doing it exactly right.  Let your body relax now, and don't go any smaller until your heart palpitations stop.  Does not matter how long it takes you.  Sounds like you need to stabalise on the dosage you are on now.  I don't think it will be years and years, perhaps just a few more months.

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    • Posted

      Thanks for replying. I am not due to reduce again (according to my self-drawn up plan) for another 3 weeks or so so hopefully things will be ok then. I am still having the heart stopping waking me up but no palpitations at other times and I'm able to get to sleep eventually so here's hoping it will tail off a bit!
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  • Posted

    GPs need to do more research into the withdrawal symptoms by checking out sites like this. I can confirm as others had found that it is horrible. A member of the crisis time informed me that it's worse than coming off heroin. And anxiety was not one of the symptoms. I seriously think someone should be doing some research on this 
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    • Posted

      I agree. GPs vastly underestimate the difficulty of coming off to the point of denying it's a problem. (Thus making already vulnerable people feel that they're crazy!)
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  • Posted

    Hi maybe if we all bring it up to our gps and mention these sites it would kick them into doing something. Otherwise nothing will ever change! 
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    • Posted

      I do mention that I've spoken to people online who share my withdrawal symptoms but as soon as you mention 'online' their eyes glaze over like 'oh she's one of *those* who thinks she can diagnose herself' haha but I agree the more we mention it the more they have to acknowledge there's a problem
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  • Posted

    Hi it's not about diagnosing ourselves it's about sharing information so that others are aware of symptoms they may experience. As a Dr who hasn't been on the medication they have no idea of what you're likely to go through. Even the BNF doesn't include everything we need to knows!
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    • Posted

      I do sympathise with GP's who can't research everything but they could get advice from the Dr's who who put us on them or even the crisis teams.

      I've seen my GP today who disapproved of me " going on sites like that" but he did show me the one letter he 'd had from the physc it concluded " leave him on ven at 225mg for at least 2 years or indefinately if you feel appropriate". That was October 2011.

      Since then i secured a job i love, had a daughter and moved into a new home and of course got well. I have seen my GP on numerous occassions during that time asking to come off greeted with " i think you still need them".

      I found this site by accident and glad i did because reading other peoples circumstances ( many thanks to you all) i realised that it is possible to get off venlofaxine.

      Maybe we should all form a group to raise awareness to help no doubt the many thousands who think they are on these for life because who knows what effect long term use will do to our bodies. I personally now have high blood pressure and a high cholesteral which my GP says maybe down to the meds. I don't smoke, drink and have a very healthy diet and am not over weight so what else can it be.

      Sorry to go on but feel very strongly about this

      .

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  • Posted

    Ian I agree with you setting up an awareness group is an excellent idea. For me the psychiatrist just diagnosed then prescribed the venleflaxine . That's it as if I've done my job no thought of how this may have serious repercussions. I feel lucky to have only been on it for a number of months,  but the side effects and withdrawal symptoms have put me off ever using depression medication again. This has left me going through personal crisis without anybody to talk too.  I seriously hope you get to come off this medication without the horrendous side effects and that you continue to enjoy your life, family and work. Good luck
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