Off Venlafaxine! Help!

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Hi....I'm on day 7 of no venlafaxine and I've been feeling great up until today, had a sudden burst of anxiety and felt a panic attack coming on but it subsided. The dizziness is awful and I'm now lay in bed trying to pretend I'm fine as I'm so scared of having the panic attacks again. I'm also aching all over and on the verge of tears for no apparent reason! I hate the heavy feeling on my chest, and the hot zaps I get in my ears and head. It's so good to know that there's so many people going through this too, helps a little, not feeling alone. When will this stop though? I don't want to go back on the tablets, I've came off as we're wanting to try for a baby and my doc said I should get off the meds first but I'm assuming other people have had children whilst still taking it as its too hard to get off!! If I fail and end up on these tablets again, will it be ok to have a baby?

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  • Posted

    Hi Kit, 

    How quickly did you come off ven?  Did you do a cold turkey?  It is never recommended to do a cold turkey off ven or any other SSRI/SNRI!  Even the manufacturer label states such!  

    Even if you did a doctor-prescribed "taper," most doctors have their patients taper much too fast (over weeks) which amounts to a cold turkey as far as the nervous system is concerned.  

    I hate to say that you have only experienced the tip of the iceberg and have only just begun.  Protracted withdrawal from sudden cessation of ven can go on for months and even years, though the physical symptoms should get better earlier on.  It is the emotional ones that are so devastating, from my experience of protracted withdrawal for 10 months.  I ended up reinstating as I thought I was going to die otherwise!  I didn't know it was withdrawal at the time, as none of the many doctors I saw recognized it, and in general the medical establishment refuses to if it is beyond a couple of months.

    Though you don't want to go back on, your best bet is to reinstate and do a slower taper off.  I'm willing to bet the taper you did was way too fast.  Reinstating at the last dose before you jumped off should bring some relief.  You could then do a slow taper from there. I don't know if this link will pass moderation but if it does, it will help explain things:

    https://patient.info/forums/discuss/withdrawing-from-antidepressants-and-benzos-safely-485891?page=0#1809368

    As for a baby, it's a shame doctors put women on these drugs who are of child bearing age and don't explain to them the difficulty of coming off!  Before risking getting pregnant on ven, I'd do some web researching to look into it.  There must be a reason why doctors want women to stop, and I'm guessing harm to the baby.  

    You may have to put the pregnancy plans on hold until you can taper off properly  I'm sorry to have to say that.  There is no way to determine how long withdrawal will last or how bad it will get for you if you continue off. 

    Withdrawal from quick tapers and cold turkey cessation does not occur in a linear fashion, gradually getting better.   Instead, it happens in a windows and waves pattern, where you may feel better (a window) followed by getting worse again.  In general, the waves should get less severe over time, but I have read of accounts where waves months out were worse than ones in early days!  There is just no knowing how it will go for you. And that is why the withdrawal "experts" recommend reinstating when the prospect is still on the table, as a harm reduction strategy. The idea is to very gradually wean off the drug such that the nervous system has a chance to adapt without such wild wd symptoms.  Then, when you finally jump off at the end of the taper, there may still be withdrawal but it won't be as severe, more tolerable.

    Withdrawal is a sign of nervous system healing, adjustment, but when you come off too fast and from too high a dose, the chaos from the subsequent imbalance is much more extreme.  I guess you could even say that the end point might be the same in terms of length of recovery, but the experience while getting there much gentler with the slow taper method.

    If you decide to forge ahead, doing so with awareness is key.  Know that the physical symptoms are from the imbalance that the body is trying to recover from, and that they won't last for ever.  When the anxiety, depression, insomnia and OCD get bad, you will feel desperate and afraid, but know this going in and hopefully you will be able to mind-over-matter your way through.  It can be very tough going and very scary. 

    I wish I had know what was happening to me while I was in it.  Reinstating at 10 months was like starting over again.  I have no idea how I would have proceeded if I'd known what was causing the madness.  Maybe I would have had the strength to forge ahead, but I just don't know! 

    You know yourself better than anyone.  Are you the kind of person that can take this information and have confidence that you will be able to handle it now that you know? 

    Whichever way you decide to go, you might want to join the support forum in the link, a private non-profit that was developed by peope like you and me having gone through this, for the fact that there was nowhere else to turn.  There is much comfort to be found there, as well as tons of tips for self-care while in withdrawal.

     

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    • Posted

      Wow thanks for all of the advice! It's greatly appreciated! I didn't go cold turkey, I was on a dose of 175mg and have been reducing that for 6 months! I finally got down to 37.5mg in December and felt fine to stop but now I realise that I've probably done it too quickly as I was only on that low dose for about a month and even though it's low, I could still feel the effects from stopping the very next day! I do recognise the withdrawal symptoms, I've been reading lots about it and also other people's accounts so I'm prepared and can relax and tell myself it will go away eventually. The anxiety is the worst for me, if I feel like I can't control it and it's getting worse I go into a panic about having actual panic attacks as they're so so bad! I do feel confident that I can go forward without taking the tablets, at least I did yesterday 🙈
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    • Posted

      Well, I think you have the right attitude for going forward, Kit!  I do hope you succeed!  And you did a much slower taper than most docs would have one do!  

      I read a paper that talks about occupancy of the receptors that these drugs block, and at 37.5 mg Effexor, 80% of the receptors are still blocked - that's a huge amount!  So, to go from 80% to 0% in one month is a tremendous drop!  

      If you had the extended release version with the little beads inside, you can always open up a 37.5 mg capsule and take a fraction of the beads to relieve symptoms and then do a micro taper off that number of beads.  Just for your consideration, just in case!

      Good luck - I'm rooting for you!

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    • Posted

      Thank you!

      I didn't actually tell my doctor, I just did it myself, the way I wanted. I researched what other people had done and tried that. My brother has been on Effexor 175mg for 15 years!! He's now on 212.5mg daily and says he will never be able to stop. It upsets me that his doctor hadn't tried to help him reduce over the years and just hands them out. I didn't really want to listen to the doctor too much because unless he's been on them himself he can't really understand. I feel a little better than I did earlier, I'm hoping I'm one of the few who get over the withdrawal pretty quick!

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    • Posted

      I forgot to say, I'm pretty amazed that 80% of the receptors are blocked at the low dosage!! No wonder it's so damn hard to get off them! I'm not looking forward to feeling so delicate going forward! Crying at the drop of a hat........being a nervous wreck again, I know it will all come back. 😥 Maybe I won't ever be the person I was before, before I got depression, before the anxiety. Maybe once we've experienced this, it changes us forever?
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    • Posted

      Yup, I sort of was on the same road as your brother; no one ever questioned my being on them for so long and just kept filling scripts.  Good for you to be an independent thinker!   You might just be a lucky one. A friend and I were discussing the genetic test for cytochrome p450 that supposedly allows doctors to determine which AD is right for people.  They identify poor metabolizers, where the person can't clear the drug fast enough so has extreme reactions to the meds. I suspect those folks have a harder time withdrawing because they had more remodeling due to not being able to clear the drug effectively.  Fast metabolizers clear the drug too fast, so they are the ones that some ADs just don't work for because of clearing it out too fast; they are also the ones that don't have side effects for the same reason, I imagine.  Also, they probably are able to come off the drugs more easily because the drugs never hung around long enough to cause the remodeling.  Hopefully you are one of those!  I'm just speculating about how this all pertains to withdrawal.  There are some fortunate folks who seem to have no troubles coming off these drugs, but we never hear from them because they're off living their lives, not looking for answers on these forums!

      Good luck, Girl!

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    • Posted

      Haha exactly! I feel great today......no withdrawal at all! I had zero sleep last night and couldn't stop crying but today I'm good! Just very slight dizziness which I'm so used to now I almost don't even notice it. The future looks bright and drug free ☺️👍🏻
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    • Posted

      Hi kit,

      I have been weaning off this awful drug for the past month and I'm now on day 3 of no drug and I feel so much better than before as I had to take one every 3rd day. I am concerned how I'm going to feel tomorrow as itl be the longest I've gone without but I'm so determined to never ever have to take that awful stuff again!! Reading your experience has given me hope and made me feel a lot better so thank you so much and I hope everything goes smoothly for you smile xxxxx

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    • Posted

      Hi Dani, I think that can be one of the main problems.....we worry about tomorrow. Stop worrying and stay positive, tell yourself tomorrow will be good and if it's not you will deal with it. More positive thinking is the key!! X
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