I’m being weaned / tapered off of venlafaxine (Effexor slow release)

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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 i am

doing the right thing. i have yoga in the morning again which tends to tire me out later and helps me sleep at night. i will see how day 3 goes on 0mg. wish me luck!

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  • Posted

    Hello Natasha,

    I’m sorry you are feeling this way. Based on my experience so far, it won’t get better any time soon. But again, everybody is different.

    I had very similar symptoms as the ones you’ve described. Unfortunately my opinion is that the doctors (not generalizing, again based on my personal experience) don’t have a clue how to tapering patients from these evil drugs - they easily prescribe them though.

    I believe these drugs are a lifesaver for many people who suffer from many psychiatric disorders, but I believe that was not my case. Is it yours? How many people you know that are going thru a hard time because a lost or lower self esteem due to a specific failure on marriage, work, etc and go the doctor to see what is going on and leave with a prescription for anxiety and depression drugs? Yes anxiety pills to ease the side effects of depression drugs, and that goes on and on since sometimes you are forced to try several types till to find the right one. With citalopran I felt stable, not sad not happy, ultimately a mummy. This is MY personal experience, I know people who wouldn’t leave the bed for days if was not on antidepressants. I just think the doctors should be more conscious about it. But the make so much money out of this business that is almost impossible (for me) to trust a doctor these days.

    One another note, to jump from 225mg to 75mg and missing days is CRAZY.

    Here a recent article in NYT about how to wean patients from these drugs - it might take years!

    I’m now on 30mg of Effexor and I will take it easy - maybe one year - tapering it off from my system. I have still many WD symptoms, one day is better than the other, but if I knew it (if my doctor knew it too!) I wouldn’t have suffer as much I did to get to this point.

    I think you might need to go backwards to a higher dosage and start weaning off very slow.

    I hope I have help you somehow.

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    • Posted

      i thought this was quite a bit of a drop myself but didnt want to question my psyciatrist as he knows better. he told me it was going to be really difficult and didnt want me to do it and said this was a test and didnt think i would be able to cope with the withdrawals. the way my head works i like to challenge myself or annoy myself as a form of self harm so thought why not im 28 years of age i have been on anti depressents from age 22 i just feel i cant remember what i actually felt like before i was on them. every suicide attempt or irrational and impulsive thought or behaviour has happened whilst being on anti depressents. before this i self harmed and had bad depression and panic attacks and anxiety but never attempted suicide. in the past i fell into drugs and alcohol which made me even worse but numbed my pain. i have now been off of everything i feel isnt helping me mentally for 3months. i just felt i needed to change massively or i was going to end up dead. why do they put us on such dangerous medication? are we guinea pigs? are they trying to kill us off haha the mind wanders. apparently thinking outside the box also makes you crazy lol. i also found out an anti depressent is actually a type of anti histamine and most people can be withdrawing from histamine and can have allergy changes when coming off and to take an anti histamine daily to see if it helps. last night was awful. i suffer from sleep apnea so i wake up choking and suffocating alot (i cant use my cpap machine so currently waiting to be seen again) last night i was having severe sleep paralysis along with the suffocating and choking and thought i was going to die in my sleep so sat awake all night scared. i am waiting on my psyciatrist calling me today as i simply cannot continue as i lack sleep as it is. thanks for your reply it certainly helps knowing i am not alone and other people have suffered the same thing. my panic attacks were attrocious this morning. its weird how you can be suicidal and have panic attacks where you feel scared that you are going to die at the same time. the mind is so complex and i do not trust man made things or doctors as they are only human and we all make mistakes. i just keep telling myself it will get better but today has been awful. i ended up taking the 5mg vortioxitine as i couldnt suffer the heart flutters and feelings of falling from my body whilst awake. i am dissapointed in myself but at the same time i definetely think i was tapered off wrong and too much of a drop. thanks again

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    • Posted

      Hi natasha41669

      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

      Patient

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  • Posted

    i would have tapered down s lit slower this might have helped your side effects sounds like a dramatic drop

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    • Posted

      i thought this was quite a bit of a drop myself but didnt want to question my psyciatrist as he knows better. he told me it was going to be really difficult and didnt want me to do it and said this was a test and didnt think i would be able to cope with the withdrawals. the way my head works i like to challenge myself or annoy myself as a form of self harm so thought why not im 28 years of age i have been on anti depressents from age 22 i just feel i cant remember what i actually felt like before i was on them. every suicide attempt or irrational and impulsive thought or behaviour has happened whilst being on anti depressents. before this i self harmed and had bad depression and panic attacks and anxiety but never attempted suicide. in the past i fell into drugs and alcohol which made me even worse but numbed my pain. i have now been off of everything i feel isnt helping me mentally for 3months. i just felt i needed to change massively or i was going to end up dead. why do they put us on such dangerous medication? are we guinea pigs? are they trying to kill us off haha the mind wanders. apparetnly thinking outside the box also makes you crazy lol. i also found out an anti depressent is actually a type of anti histamine and most people can be withdrawing from histamine and can have allergy changes when coming off and to take an anti histamaine daily to see if it helps. last night was awful. i suffer from sleep apnea so i wake up choking and suffocating alot. last night i was having severe sleep paralysis along with the suffocating and choking and thought i was going to die in my sleep so sat awake all night scared. i am waiting on my psyciatrist calling me today as i simply cannot continue as i lack sleep as it is. thanks for your reply

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  • Posted

    Natasha, I am going to PM you with some information that Patient won't let me post here. I strongly advise you NOT continue forward with what is a cold turkey off of Effexor. Though antidepressants may improve symptoms in the short term, for which they were only ever tested, they were never meant to be used chronically, and in fact long term use causes chronicity of depression. They "poop" out and then you go on the medi-go-round of being switched to new ones or having others added. I've seen too many people on the antidepressant withdrawal forums who were polydrugged and still in very bad shape. It is not a way to proceed. There IS no disease process identified that causes depression and anxiety, though they have tried and still manage to disseminate the myth that these problems are caused by a chemical imbalance that these drugs supposedly treat.

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    • Posted

      Betsy and Natasha,

      I believe everyone on these forums has the VERY BEST intentions to help one another but every person's situation is unique and you should NEVER take medical advice from this forum over your doctor who knows you & your medical/emotional situation better. By all means, bring ideas from here to your doctor, discuss them, challenge his or her recommendations and expect explanations. That is called advocating for yourself, but always keep your doctor informed of what you are doing and adding or subtracting from your meds, etc. Even OTC meds can have interactions that could exacerbate symptoms or be life threatening.....especially when you are talking about psychiatric drugs!

      Best of luck to you both!

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  • Posted

    Knowing how bad symptoms of withdrawal are after missing just 1 day I would expect that the reduction your were told to take is nothing short of stupid!!!! My only doubt would be that your Dr thinks that the other medication you are on should help, but I doubt it.

    I'm only on 75mg a day, any time I miss a day I am ill for the entire day following, assuming I don't miss my next dose.

    The one time I came off, cold turkey due to never having withdrawal from previous medication, I was left bed ridden for two weeks with the side effects you explained.

    Being a single parent I have no one to take up the slack so hen I taper off I'm not going to use Dr's advice, as my experience trumps it, I'm going to do it a lot slower over a lot longer time period

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  • Posted

    Just wanted to add some positive experience to coming off Venlafaxine...

    I went from 225mg to 150mg overnight with no side effects that I was aware of. I take Omega 3 , Thiamine and Vit B Strong.

    I'm now on 75mg after doing the same, overnight and again, no withdrawals.

    I will reduce one more time until its out of my system.

    I leave around two weeks in between each reduction.

    Been on it for 4 years and also take Topiramate 300mg.

    Wish you well.

    Please post on to let others know it's not always bad.

    Wishing you well.

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    • Posted

      Hi - I'm on 150mg Venlafaxine since Apr. I'm curious to know what Omega 3, Thiamine and Vit B you take. THanks!

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  • Posted

    NATASHA41669: I'm sorry you have to go through this; it really is hard. Unfortunately, venlafaxine /Effexor is one of, if not the worst, antidepressants to get off of as far as withdrawal symptoms. I was on 75 mgs-150 mgs for anxiety for almost 10 years following a difficult divorce (aren't they all), and I had tried to get off it 3x before 2018 but the withdrawal symptoms made life too difficult to meet my daily responsibilities so I always went back to taking it. I agree with other postings that unfortunately many physicians (even psychiatrists) are not truly educated about safely and HUMANELY tapering down off these meds. When I started trying to get off it again SEPT 2018 I found a book that really helped me get through the worst of it, to recognize what & why I was experiencing what I was and recommending certain supplements (he doesn't sell them, just explains why they help). It's called: The Antidepressant Solution, by Joseph Glenmullen, M.D. Truly, knowledge is power, and I know I felt powerless and like I was going crazy trying to get off this med prior to getting his book.

    Glenmullen explains in plain language what to expect, why symptoms are happening in our bodies and how to differentiate between withdrawal symptoms and return of anxiety/depressive symptoms. Additionally, he recommends timing for lowering of doses based on your individual symptoms, not a random schedule set by a medical journal somewhere. This is a critical difference between him & most of the medical establishment. Thankfully I have a wonderful PCP who knew me well enough to realize his recommended tapering was negatively affecting my life. The worst things were the HORRIBLE nightly anxiety attacks, irritability (I heard the "B" word a lot before getting the book) and brain zaps that made me jump every time I tried to get off Effexor before, but following Glenmullen's guidelines I could tolerate the withdrawal symptoms and am now FINALLY free of that drug! It took me 8 mos. and I was on a low dose. (I do have XANAX for situational anxiety attacks-I'm claustrophobic, but am otherwise happily living without meds.) HANG IN THERE! And stay in close contact with your doctor if you are finding any part of it intolerable. Best of luck to you!

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    • Posted

      Hello Thankful.... I, too, am taking 75 mg of Effexor daily and am trying to wean off. I actually took individual grains out of the capsules (3-6 daily), but went too fast i guess and the terrible withdrawal symptoms kicked in once I had removed about 40 grains and never went away until i was back up to the full 75 mg dose. (I counted around 240 in each capsule). Can I ask what plan you used to taper over the eight months? My doctor wants me to switch to Prozac for a few weeks and then taper off that but right now I'm so confused I am unsure how I will procede.

      Here's the plan she gave me: Week 1: alternate 75mg and 37.5 mg

      Week 2: 37.5 mg Effexor plus 10 mg. Prozac

      Week 3: 20 mg. Prozac

      Week 4: alternate 20mg and 10 mg of Prozac

      Week 5: 10 mg. Prozac

      Week 6: alternate 10 mg and 0 mg. etc...

      I wonder if anyone else here has used Prozac to wean off Effexor?

      Thanks for your help.

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    • Posted

      cyd2006--I can't tell you much about adding other psychotropic meds to help get off Effexor except that I have heard of that being done. My concern as a patient would be that if I had any negative symptoms I would then have 2 drugs that could be causing it and that would complicate deciding what to do. Generally, I would caution you about how fast you are scheduled to taper (changes to your dosages every week) so your body and brain will be constantly adjusting and thats when the symptoms are the worst. The Antidepressant Solution focuses on recognizing negative symptoms and making changes (stepping down dosages) slowly enough to allow your body and brain to level out after each change before changing again. hope this helps. Listen to your body-you know it better than anyone else! Good luck!

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