Success with venlafaxine withdrawal

Posted , 77 users are following.

Hi guys,

After 6 long years on venlafaxine, I have finally gotten off the drug. I don't know if this will be of any use to anyone, but I wanted to share some hopeful words and tips for anyone trying to come off of this nasty medication. I should clarify, however, that I am not angry for having been put on this medication, as I am sure it saved my life. That being said, 6 years, 225mg/day and an additional 20kg later (!!! just awful !!!) I am so glad to be Effexor free.

The details:

I was taking Effexor XR and had been on my maximum dose for 3.5 years. Prior to that I was on 150mg for about 2 years. I took 3 x 75mg capsules every morning as a once a day dose. Taking three tablets was initially to save money (for some reason it was cheaper here in Australia to do it that way) but it ended up having the extra bonus of making withdrawal easier.

What worked for me may not work for everyone, but this is the approach my GP and I came up with. Most was my own plan, based on what I found worked, but my GP gave me the initial "tablet dropping" idea and trusted me to take it slowly, listen to my body and see her as needed. It worked very, very well, with minimal side effects. If it helps even one of you it will be worth having posted this.

First things first:

1. Make sure you are taking care of yourself and are in a good place emotionally before even contemplating withdrawal.

2. You are going to need supportive people around you- I don't know if I could have done it without my boyfriend. Tell your family/friends AND DOCTOR what you are doing. This is crucial. You may also want to tell someone you trust at work what is going on, so they know why you may seem a little dazed every so often.

3. Make sure you are eating really well. I switched to a vegan diet about half way through and, although this is not for everyone, this made withdrawal so much easier. I am sure the huge amounts of vegetables made a difference. I especially noticed that days when I ate lots of sea vegetables I coped best with symptoms, so consider working them into your normal diet.

4. Take a multivitamin and drink lots of water. At least 2 litres a day. This will help minimise the horrible nausea you will probably experience.

5. Drink ginger tea/use ginger. This is also for the nausea and I found it was essential in the days after stopping completely. It really does help. I also wondered if some people might find a prescription for maxalon or stemetil helpful, as the nausea and dizziness was the worst for me.

6. Get lots of sleep. I mean heaps of it. Anyone who has withdrawn from this med (or even skipped a dose!) knows how tired you will get.

Now the tablet reduction:

I started by reducing my total weekly dose by 1 tablet per week (taking 2 tabs one day and 3 every other day) for a few weeks. This sounds like nothing, but even this produced quite bad side effects at first (teariness, exhaustion, dizziness and nausea). Only when I was comfortable (ie no side effects) with this dose regimen did I move on.

Then, I took 2 tabs instead of 3 on two days a week for a few weeks until I was comfortable (making sure to space the 2 tablet days out, eg Sat and Wed). Then I got into the habit of taking tablets as follows. I made sure to plan/write all of this down on our calender beforehand, to use as a guide and make sure I didn't mess it up:

3, 3, 2, 3, 3, 2, 3, 3, 2 etc for about 3 to 4 weeks

Then:

3, 3, 2, 3, 2, 2, 3, 3, 2, 3, 2, 2 etc for about another 3 weeks to month.

Then:

3, 2, 2, 3, 2, 2, 3, 2, 2, 3, 2, 2, etc for about a month. Then when I got to 2 tablets (150mg) a day on every day of the week I rested on that for quite a while (mostly as I was nervous about going too fast). Then, I did a pretty much similar thing to get down to one tablet a day. Then the same to get to 37.5 mg. I actually stopped pretty abruptly from the 37.5 mg stage, as I felt entirely ready. After that I had about 5 days of feeling pretty crappy, with symptoms as above, then I started getting better. Day 3 with no drugs was the worst for me.

So, in the end, it took me about 8 months to go from 225 to nothing. I know that seems an eternity, but I think that is why I coped so well. Five days after dropping from 37.5mg to nothing, I had almost no symptoms. Seven days later I had none. Even if you take nothing else from this, please know that it is possible to get off of this nasty drug BUT you must be careful, listen to your body, do it with support from those around you and in communication with your GP.

Good luck to all of you

xx

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  • Posted

    Just want to say congratulations, and thanks for the advice x
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  • Posted

    Thank you smile I think it's important to share good news and tips as well as the bad.

    x

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  • Posted

    It's great to hear that your are of the meds and doing great smile. I wish I had come across this before. I have gone completely to zero after a year of taking the meds. I am having the most horrendous withdrawals, that I don't know if to go back on them or continue. I am so scared sad
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    • Posted

      Hi Kim. I am on day 8 of going cold turkey from 150mg since Jan 2013. Not sure how I'm feeling but don't seem to be experiencing a brutal withdrawal. Is the worst yet to come? is anyone else like this?

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  • Posted

    Hi Evyivy,

    I am so sorry to hear that you're having bad withdrawal symptoms. I know from earlier on that when I tried to reduce my effexor too soon my symptoms were quite nasty - I would not wish that on anyone.

    Do you mind if I ask how long you have been taking no medication, what dose you decreased from and how rapidly? I really think that your withdrawal symptoms will pass completely if you taper slowly enough. From what I understand taking things slowly is key. Also, if it provides any hope, after about 1.5 to 2 months post effexor I feel great and have had no ongoing side effects.

    Importantly, do you have a supportive GP who knows about what you're going through? It is always good to check in with them for emotinal and physical support. Perhaps he/she can also help treat some of the side effects (eg with anti-nausea meds). If you have any questions about my experience, I will be happy to let you know.

    Best of luck - I really hope thngs get better for you soon.

    xx

    PS. I was also wondering if anyone has had any luck reducing their weight post-effexor. My weight will not budge, despite diet control and exercise. Any news of positive results would be so wonderful.

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    • Posted

      I was also on Venlafaxine and just finished week 4 of withdrawal symptoms.

      I Have been on it for 4 years. The last 2 i have been on 300mg a day.

      When my doctor and I decided to wean off. We went from 300 to 150 and on the 150 for 3 weeks. Then it dropped to 75 for 2 weeks. 

      The horrific symptoms begin a couple of days later. Nausea and lack of appitite At first I thought I was getting the flu. But Then i got real bad pains in my legs strange sensations and bad muscle pain was so awful for me.

      I went to the emergency room and urgent care so much those first 2 weeks. 

      During that time i was given a muscle relaxant pain meds which helped with the muscular aches.

      But i still feel these sensations in my limbs. Without the relaxant when i would get relaxed enough to fall asleep at the point my arms and legs would ache really bad and prevent me from sleeping. 

      They also gave me a low dose of venlafaxine of 25 mg but it didnt do much helping with the head stuff. If i would want to do something my body just didnt follow it was hard to think just like it would be say if i had to flu I have chills like i would with the flu.

      The 25 mg was for 2 weeks. But the muscle and strange pain in my limbs is the worstest part of this withdrawal. And i am still getting it full swing since i stopped the pain relievers and muscle relaxant to see how bad it was and it is still bad.

      Hopefully I have a couple of weeks left. Im assuming in another month these symptoms will be gone. But this is my first occurance with withdrawal.

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  • Posted

    hi I am back, sorry for no replying sooner. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your advice.

    I haven't been able to reply sooner as I became very ill. Going cold turkey from these meds is not a good idea. Although I feel proud of myself as I am now off the meds, it was a very dangerous thing to and I went to hell and back. I am still suffering the withdrawals, today has been particularly bad with the dizzy spells, unsteady vision and brain zaps. I think I was feeling better and then tried to catch up on everything! ONCE AGAIN THANK YOU XXX

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  • Posted

    Hi Evyivy,

    I'm so glad to hear that things are going better for you! It can be such a scary time, but you will get through it!

    Good luck with everything- I'll be thinking of you, as I'm sure many others will be!

    xx

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  • Posted

    G'day Oz82

    Your wisdom comes from experience ... and I am so glad when I Googled Venlafaxine withdrawal this morning I clicked on this thread. I have been feeling quite wretched and the strength and support offered by your words came shining through to me. I reached a point a two or three weeks ago when I thought not only was Venlafaxine not controlling my fibromyalgia pains and stress but my body, especially digestive system, was reacting to the point that I wanted to stop it immediately ... which I did. I mentioned it to nobody but know now that the side-effects are a lot to handle on your own. I know the way to go is forwards but have taken from your words some courage to perhaps share some of this burden.

    Thank you.

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  • Posted

    Hi - firstly, thank you so much for sharing this! I have been on 225 mg (capsules) per day for the past 8 years. I am now 26 and looking to reduce my dose slowly to come off permanently.

    Two weeks ago I reduced my dose by 37.5 mg to 187.5 mg per day, and haven't really noticed any side effects until a few days ago when I noticed I was feeling incredibly tired, had a strong headache (very unusual for me) and was very short and irritable with people. Have had no nausea - if anything my appetite has increased! My weight has remained steady throughout my time taking Effexor, and has always been on the low end (BMI = 19.5).

    My plan is to continue taking 187.5 for the next 2.5 months - I don't think there's anything wrong with taking things slowly and being careful. After all, if you've been on Effexor this long - what's another year to come off it? I have also tried to come off in the past by reducing 37.5 mg per month - had to go back to regular dose once I hit 150 mg.

    Will try to remember to update later down the track.

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  • Posted

    I couldn't agree more with oz82. I just came off Effexor 300 mg daily (4 x 75 mg) after 6 years. I tried twice but went way too fast. First time I ended up so badly depressed I could not get out of bed nor eat for almost 2 weeks. But for my boyfriend at the time I don't know what would have happened. Second time I went still a bit too fast and had to swing to a halt at 150 mg due to withdrawal symptoms. I then tapered down to 75 mg with moderate to severe symptoms but hung in there until I stabilized. Then I dropped down to 37.5 mg which was a breeze compared to the 75 mg drops. I waited again until stabilized and then dropped the last 37.5 mg. 

    I have to honestly say, I have a very high tolerance for pain and discomfort but withdrawing from Effexor is not for the faint hearted. The best advice is go slow, slow and slow.

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    • Posted

      Hi, I know this is an old post but I'm looking for some advice. Do you remember how long you stuck it out on the 75mg? I'm going through some rough times here and was thinking about reinstating 112.5mg Not sure whether to ride the wave?

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    • Posted

      I wouldn't reinstate the drug into your system.  Keep at it.  I have been trying for years to get off this poison and determined to get off of it.  I have been using B12, Benadryl, Vit c, Fish Oil and Ativan. to help through the withdrawals. 

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  • Posted

    I just want to congratulate you. What you have done is commendable and as I know from experience a hard thing to do. I too was on venlafaxine xr 225mg for 8 years. The reasons I was put on it was because of a situation that caused depression, panic attacks which led to seizures and it replaced other medications that I had been on for almost 30 years for the same reason. I have tried  to wean off of it twice before but with no help from my gp. I was diagionised with Afib last summer and the cardiologist wanted me off as the venlafaxine was working against my heart medications. Still my gp would not help. I was referred to a Psychiatrist who, thank goodness, agreed with my cardiologist. I started weaning last October 37 1/2 every time the side effects cleared up from the last weaning. I took my last pill the third week of February and although I still have some side effects have had no depression, panic attacks or seizures. I am sure the other side effects will disappear eventually. When I saw my gp for other reasons last week and told him I was off the venlafaxine what did he do but offer me more. Sometimes you just have to wonder.
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