My withdrawal experience so far

Posted , 6 users are following.

So I had been taking Venlafaxine for approximately 1 year, which was prescribed to me by a psychiatrist (as over the course of about 5 years my GP has tried me on Citlipram, Fluoxetine, Sertraline & Mirtazapine). I started on 75mg and over time increased to 275mg.

For the past 6 months I've noticed my depression worsen, and change (usually I am very emotional whereas I became totally numb). I was also getting more and more fatigued despite sleeping fine.

It was agreed with my GP that I would taper off my medication completely (instead of crossing over onto something else) and I tapered from 275mg over 4 weeks. My GP did not inform me that there would be any side effects yet alone the severity of them.

Whilst tapering my fiancé & I noticed an improvement in my energy levels which had a positive effect on my mood. However from the first day med free the withdrawal symptoms kicked in.

On the first day I was vomiting, as well as having body shocks.

On the 2nd day I felt constantly nauseous any dizzy and the body shocks were getting worse, I was also getting quite emotional. It was that afternoon my fiancé took to the Internet and found that other people withdrawing from Venlafaxine were reporting the same things, and also weren't told there were any side effects coming off this medication. Most sites recommended taking antihistamines and strong Omega 3 as well as multivitamins.

By the third day I was no longer sick at all but still getting persistent body shocks, nauseous and dizzy. I was also extremely tired and mood swinging. I started taking 1 multivitamin with Iron in the morning, and 1 Benadryl + 1 Omega 3 with each meal.

By the fourth day I was very emotional, and although physical side effects seemed diminished when sat still, if I stood up I felt very dizzy and body shocks worsened, although I no longer felt nauseous. I was very tired but couldn't get to sleep until about 3am.

Day5, after a sleepless night, feeling emotional and helpless I really really wanted to just start taking the medication against to feel better, but after a day off work to rest, I started to feel a little more in control.

At the time of writing this I am on my 6th day off the medication, I have been taking the benadryl & omega 3 for 4 days now. I don't know if they have helped, but I do know that I don't get nauseous at all, the body shocks are no longer as frequent and although I still get dizzy when standing up its no longer as extreme, I don't feel as if I'm about to keel over. I can also say that I no longer feel as emotionally unstable, and starting to feel a bit more positive like I did before I began tapering.

I will note that for me, smoking or drinking exacerbated the body shocks, so if you can I would avoid doing any of these.

I will update again in a week's time to note changes/progress.

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13 Replies

  • Posted

    Really weird how drugs affect people differently, I stopped 225mg of venlafaxine cold turkey back in September and did not have any withdrawal symptoms, I had been on Venlafaxine for 2 years. 

    Hope you feel better soon. 

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    • Posted

      Liam, you are one of the lucky ones!  Be careful, though about ever going on it again; those who come off no problem, go back on and then try to come off again are often sensitized and end up having WD, or they can even become intolerant of the med, having severe side effects when they never did in the past.


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  • Posted

    Miss Elle, I feel your pain, I too have gone through this withdrawals. They are awful, the shocking feeling you're having are what I've been told, are really called brain zips. Please Google this it's very interesting. I've been on the same medicine for three years now. I'm on 100mg 3 X a day. Godspeed, keep me updated.
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  • Posted

    Hi MissElle, 

    Hopefully you are past the worst of it and it will only get better from here on out.  For being on ven for a year, your GP was negligent in telling you to get off that high of a dose in four weeks!

    I will forewarn you that coming off so fast is about the same as going cold turkey, and people who CT will have healing that occurs in windows and waves.  Windows are the periods where you feel much better, few symptoms, and waves are where things get bad again.  People commonly fluctuate between the two over and over, with the waves getting less severe and the windows getting longer over time.  WD symptoms are signs that your nervous system is healing, but may include anxiety and depression, which is often interpretted as relapse by doctors, for which they want to medicate you again.  So, please go in with this awareness so that if it happens to you, you will understand and not be hair-trigger to go back to meds.

    That said, if your symptoms come back to an unacceptable level, you can resinstate a small amount of med to relieve symptoms.  I ended up doing that last year when I was in bad WD but didn't know it.  It worked.  However, it is believed the longer you've been off, the less likely reinstatemet will work. It did for me, though, 10 months out.  If you do need to reinstate, don't see it as a failure but as a sane thing to do to alleviate suffering.  Stabilize and then do a 10% taper per month from then on.

    I wish you success in getting off!

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  • Posted

    You mention "Benadryl".    Benadryl is a "brand" name and manufacturers will often market with a brand name but the medication itself has different formulas in different markets/countries.

     Sometimes they will market as a single drug formula and other times as a combination, and other times as modified release, but still use the same brand name.  In some cases you need a pharmacist to sort out the details. The doctors may not be fully aware here by the way.


     It is a poor practice by the makers and a trap for the unwitting consumer. Pity the international traveller.


    For this reason, it is important to include the particular formula to which we refer along with other relevant details on the pack.

    In your case is it Benadryl with plain diphenhydramine (and how many milligrams) or Benadryl with pseudoephedrine in with diphenhydramine or another antihistamine altogether etc etc, and is it liquid-filled capsules, or plain capsules or tablets?   You can see the minefield here. 

    Within the broad family of antihistamines, diphenhydramine and cyproheptadine are special cases with relevance to serotonin so we need to be very accurate.

    Good luck with your progress.

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  • Posted

    Hi MissElle

    I am just starting the process of withdrawal from 150mg (been taking this for about 1 year).  My doctor is concerned the Venlafaxine is affecting my heart rate.  Anyway I am cutting down to 75mg for the next 3 weeks and am then seeing my doctor again to see what we do next.

    I was interested to read that taking an antihistamine (Benadryl) helped you so will try that.  Even though it's only been one day on 75mg I do feel very light headed, "out of it" and loud noises are getting on my nerves.


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    • Posted

      Hi Sarah, 

      That was a 50% cut you made, very large as far as the brain is concerned.  Are you on the XR capsules with the beads inside, or is it a tablet? 

      Be prepared for more withdrawal.  It may not unfold within 3 weeks.  Just know that what you are experiencing is withdrawal, including increases in anxiety and depression.  This is NOT a recurrence of your initial problem.  Anxiety and depression are very common withdrawal symptoms, but a lot of doctors don't get this and try to medicate with another AD.  If it gets too severe, you can reinstate to the previous dose, stabilize, and then do a slower taper.  10% per month of the previous dose is recommended to minimize discomfort.

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    • Posted

      My GP wanted me to cut it by 50% as I have SVT and he is concerned the Venlafaxine could be affecting my heart rate so it is a serious reason to be coming off.  Then once I am off we will discuss whether I need to be on another AD.
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  • Posted

    Please check the pack of the Benadryl to ensure that it is the one that contains ONLY diphenhydramine.    Also, check any warnings.
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  • Posted


    Okay, so I have been off Venlafaxine for around 2 weeks now, and I am feeling so much better! 

    The physical side effects have almost completely gone, although I am still having quite extreme mood swings and crying at things randomly.

    As of 2 days ago I have started reducing my Bendaryl & Omega 3 from 3 times a day to 2 times a day, and although I have noticed and increase in my phsyical side effects it is minimal.

    Aside from low level occasional body shocks and feeling tired (my whole body is still exhausted) I'm not longer feeling nauseous, dizzy or having strong shocks etc.

    My plan is to reduce my Benadryl & Omega 3 down to once a day next week, and then stop altogether the following week. Given that during my tapering my energy levels did go back up (as I was feeling extremely fatigued when I was still on 225mg), I am hoping that once my body has settled down again my energy levels will go back up, as they plummeted agan when the withdrawal symptoms started happening.

    I'll update again after I have come off of my supplements all together, so in a couple of weeks time.

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