Horrendous withdrawal

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I've been on Venlafaxine for roughly 4 weeks now, however due to my doctors messing up my prescription, I have not had a dose since Thursday after having ran out. I was on 70mg daily.

Since then, I have felt the worst I have in years. I'm constantly anxious and on the brink of tears, have very poor motor control (I've had to stop driving because I don't trust myself to a) stay awake at the wheel and b) react to my surroundings). Within half an hour of waking up I am phsyically exhausted and don't even have the energy to keep my head up and eyes open. I've been suffering from nausea, stomach upsets and pains, hot and cold flushes (I woke up one night from a horrendous nightmare and my bed and clothes were soaked with sweat, it was very disgusting and disturbing). I honestly feel like I have the flu, plus allergies, plus am going through the middle of a mental break down, it's horrible. I'm scared to go to sleep because of the sweating and vivid dreams, but I can't stay awake because I'm so tired, and because every time I stand up for longer than a few minutes I feel like I'm going to pass out. Not to mention I feel like I'm floating outside of my body and my brain is popping away to itself like there's little bees in there.

Reading around I think this has something to do with not having my meds, which is a bit of a relief (flu before christmas would not be good) but I feel like I'm living in a surreal world at the moment. I was not warned at all that this drug would have any symptoms like this upon withdrawal (I've been on cetalopram, fluoxetine, sertraline all before and occasionally missed doses thanks to doctors not getting my prescriptions right, but it has never had an effect this bad).

I'm just glad I'm not the only one who's been through this. It's very scary being 18 years old and feeling like you're about to drop dead of a stroke or heart attack any minute because you're blacking out and your heart won't stop racing. Just got to try and get through these next 2 days, as that's the earliest emergency appointment I could get after finding out my doc was refusing to dispense. sad Feel absolutely dreadful and missed so much college and work.

Has anyone found good ways to cope with the symptoms until you can get back on Ven? I rung up my psychiatrist explaining all of this and his answer was "well, that is a shame. I can't see you, though", so...

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17 Replies

  • Posted

    Are you well enough to get to a pharmacist, with a box or the slip of paper from your prescription or can you ring up the one who dispensed your last pack? They should be able to give you an emergency prescription to tide you over until you can see a gp. If they are dispensing for you regularly they may be able to give you an advance of a few tablets. Is there anybody who can go with you?

    Other than that I suggest you go to your gp practice and refuse to leave until they sort you out. Anyone prescribing should know how important it is for you not to miss a dose. I'm impressed that you've managed for this long. Venlafaxine has a very short half-life which is why you are suffering so much.

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    • Posted

      Jebjew is absolutely right about ven and the half life, and it is utterly incompetent for your doc to dismiss you while suffering from withdrawal! In future, always get your scripts filled at least a few days before you run out.  And keep this in mind for the future should you ever decide to come off of ven, because you MUST do a very slow taper to get off; the speed at which most docs tell people to taper is way too fast and causes people much suffering. 

      The WD from ven is notoriously bad, and just proves how powerful and ultimately dangerous this drug really is.  I know - I'd been on it for 12 years and tapering off, having finally put two and two together about mental decline.  My hands don't work and I drop things constantly, have fine motor skill deficits, and can't remember things, short term or long. 

      Moral of the story is please only use this drug to deal with an acute situation, and then taper off slowly when you are feeling good. This drug should NOT be used chronically!

      Good luck getting right!

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    • Posted

      The drug may not suit you, but there is no scientific evidence that it causes mental decline. This drug is not dangerous if used under supervision. There are many anti-depressants and I doubt that any of them suit all people who need these medications. I've had extremely bad reactions to some of them, but it is not helpful to tell everybody to come off them because they didn't suit you. I've been on venlafaxine chronically, I've also been on other things chronically, for some the illness won't go away by itself, no matter how much we wish that it would!

      You and I are not qualified to tell somebody what to take.

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    • Posted

      You might want to spend some time over at Mad in America, where they cite scientific articles.  There IS evidence from research showing that these drugs actually shrink our brain volume over time.  And the supervision, what supervision?!! I have witnessed countless stories here and elsewhere of people suffering through inappropriate actions of doctors. For instance, someone running out of their drug, going into severe withdrawal, and their doctor refusing to fill a script - case here in point!  That's a short-term harm, but several of my doctors just kept filling my scripts over the years without ever asking how I was actually doing!  
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    • Posted

      Well over in the UK on the NHS, they don't just leave you on it. I've lived all over the UK and my case is reviewed regularly. What the doctors don't necessarily understand is the severity of withdrawal problems.
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    • Posted

      Unfortunately, while they monitored me closely while I was on antidepressants under 18, since moving to adult services they seem to like the approach of smack the patient on a drug and leave them to it. The service I've had through the MHT and my GP has been worse than I could have imagined. The problem I have is when I say I'm not responding well to a drug, or that I need another script, every service's answer is "that's not our problem" - even though it is.

      It's shoddy, and the fact I have to put a second script in practically the moment I get one to ensure they can get it out on time is atrocious, I think. But that's the South West for you.

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    • Posted

      Trust me, jebjew, betsy is performing a public service for exposing this poison for what it really is. Unless you've been through the withdrawal, you really can't have an opinion about how someone feels about a medication. I try to warn everyone I can to stay off of venlafaxine.
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    • Posted

      Thank you, j17344.  I spend a lot of time on the Surviving Antidepressants forum where just a tiny fraction of the harmed end up with their suffering at the hands of psych meds, so yes, I am trying to help people make an informed decision about the drugs they are taking or are about to take.  There are lots of other ways to deal with issues such as anxiety and depression that are much safer.
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    • Posted

      I wish I'd known before starting just what an impact it has. Considering it's only marginally effective and helping with my BPD/depression/cyclothymia, if the pay off would be what I've been feeling recently I'd have steered clear. The doctor warned me of side effects that heart palpitations and stomach aches, but none of this.

      Thanks for sharing your experiences, I'm hoping I can talk to my psych about this when I see him next and see if there's a less… painful alternative (though the thought of coming of the drug and experiencing THIS again is stomach churning).

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    • Posted

      Hi scottch. I wrote somewhere else on this website about the great success I'm having using Prozac (fluoxetine) to get off of the venlafaxine. I'll copy and paste  for your benefit - Trying to get off of venlafaxine was hellish for me. I felt a depression deeper and an anxiety more intense than any I had ever felt before I started taking it. What made it worse is that these feelings were occurring simultaneously (mixed state). It was pure anguish, I couldn't do it. Then, my doctor prescribed Prozac for the withdrawal and it works like a charm. I was originally on 225 mg of venlafaxine and have weaned down to nothing using 20 mg/day for three days then 40 mg on the fourth day. Then, I continue in that manner. That's where I am at this point. I don't plan on stopping the Prozac for quite a while because I know the withdrawal can last months and I don't want to feel that way for even a second. Supposedly, getting off the Prozac is easy/easier.  Hopefully, that helps. I just can't imagine having to go through that for several months.
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    • Posted

      I have been through withdrawal and came off the medicine entirely back in April. 12 weeks later the original depression came back, just as it had been 20 years ago, so yes I know. I've been on plenty of other combinations before venlafaxine existed. They didn't work, I was non-functioning and the side effects of being *on* the drugs were dreadful. I've written plenty of posts about it. I'd have been dead these last 18 years without venlafaxine, so for me it is not poison.
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    • Posted

      Hi Jebjew, I am sorry that you have had such a rough go of it, I truly am.  I'm glad that you feel ven has been a saving grace for you.  But the fact that you had anxiety and depression return at 12 weeks still doesn't mean it was your original illness returning.  You just ran into the trouble that everyone does trying to get off of it.  Depression and anxiety ARE withdrawal symptoms.

      After I had my hellish protraced WD for 10 months, I did reinstate, not having realized what was happening.  It was like a light switch had been flipped, my mood lifting within an hour of that first dose.  It shouldn't have worked that fast after 12 months if it wasn't withdrawal, as we all know it takes weeks for these drugs to start working.  

      37.5 mg is the minimum therapeutic dosage.  I have tapered down to 29 mg over the past six months, and I feel way better now than I even did when I started it up again.  I had been on it for 12 years.  The brain is very slow to recover after having it around that long.  Slowly titrating the drug down, very slowly, allows the brain to adapt to its absence, since the brain had remodeled to allow for its actions.  I am talking 10% reduction of the previous dose per month.  Most people don't know about doing it this slowly, especially the doctors, who declare that your original illness has returned if it happens outside of 6 weeks! 

      I'm not telling you to go off your ven.  That is your choice and that is fine.  But I do want to leave you with the knowledge about all this.  You had a reason for going off ven once before, and you may have a reason again.  Hopefully this knowledge will allow you to do so successfully in the future.  I will leave you with this following quote from Dr. Peter Breggin's website (he is a psychiatrist) and then I will leave you alone:

      Antidepressants: SSRIs such as Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Celexa, Lexapro and Viibyrd, as well as Effexor, Pristiq, Wellbutrin, Cymbalta and Vivalan

      The SSRIs are probably the most fully studied antidepressants, but the following observations apply to most or all antidepressants. These drugs produce long-term apathy and loss of quality of life. Many studies of SSRIs show severe brain abnormalities, such as shrinkage (atrophy) with brain cell death in humans and the growth of new abnormal brain cells in animal and laboratory studies. They frequently produce an apathy syndrome -- a generalized loss of motivation or interest in many or all aspects of life. The SSRIs frequently cause irreversible dysfunction and loss of interest in sexuality, relationship and love. Withdrawal from all antidepressants can cause a wide variety of distressing and dangerous emotional reactions from depression to mania and from suicide to violence. After withdrawal from antidepressants, individuals often experience persistent and distressing mental and neurological impairments. Some people find antidepressant withdrawal to be so distressing that they cannot fully stop taking the drugs.

       

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    • Posted

      I think we had better stop communicating because you are clearly an expert on my health (and everybody elses?)  and a dangerous one at that.

      How many times do I have to tell you:

      I was ill before I took any medication.

      I was ill on many other medications.

      Venlafaxine just happens to suit me.  

      I know I didn't last long enough to fully get over all withdrawal symptoms.

      I and my family and my medical team know what the original illness looked like and I recognised it as soon as it came back.

      I really really do not suffer from apathy! For evidence look at my responses.

      I have not lost quality of life.

      I'm not convinced by your evidence for brain abnormalities and brain death, though if this is true I wouldn't care, given the life medication has given me.

      Perhaps I should never have been on medication and spent my life unable to move or speak. I spent 3 years of illness in the 1980s and resisted taking any form of medication. I would have died. I actually think you are more dangerous than the many people who think you should just pull yourself together, because you are advising *all* people to come off their medication. Perhaps the majority of people with anxiety and depression don't need anti-depressants and they are certainly over-subsrcibed, but there are a small number that do and I bet my life that I'm one of them.

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    • Posted

      While we're citing science you might like this abstract:

      Serum level of venlafaxine is associated with better memory in psychotic disorders.Steen NE1, Aas M2, Simonsen C2, Dieset I2, Tesli M2, Nerhus M2, Gardsjord E2, Mørch R2, Agartz I3, Melle I2, Vaskinn A4, Spigset O5, Andreassen OA2.

      Schizophr Res. 2015 Oct 26. pii: S0920-9964(15)30021-9. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2015.10.021.

      ".......Venlafaxine seem to be associated with better verbal memory in bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. This suggests a possible beneficial role of certain antidepressants on cognitive dysfunction, which may have clinical implications and provide insight into underlying pathophysiology. However, the current findings should be replicated in independent samples."

       

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  • Posted

    Hi mate .... The doctors should not let you run out ... I would be on the phone to them askin for a prescription ... Or if anyone has any spare near you ... I have some spare but you obviously dont love in south shields mate .... I would deffo deffo ring the doctors and tell them ur not well and need a script to get them
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    • Posted

      I ended up going A&E in the end after I couldn't get an emergency doctor or psychiatrist appointment. After they managed to liase with the other teams, apparently the issue is that my psych had failed to inform anyone he'd changed me onto Ven, and had failed to fax through the details when I put in my request over a week ago.

      Great!

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