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

biggrin biggrin

17 likes, 204 replies

Report / Delete

204 Replies

Prev Next
  • Posted

    Thank you for posting this! I'm finally coming to a place where I'm thinking of coming off Ven and it's really helpful to see a positive experience in with all this pain.

    Report / Delete Reply
  • Posted

    Hi Oz82,

    It's some time since your post, and I'm very intrigued to find out how you're doing now? I really hope you get this message.

    I am slowly tapering off venlafaxine after taking it for 10 years. I do have some withdrawal symptoms, the most noticeable one for me is the totally numb feeling of not caring about anything, and feeling disconnected from everything around me. Despite this I feel determined to get off this stuff as I want to lose weight and try for a baby.

    The thing I'm really scared of is that some people are saying that these drugs do something to your brain and the problems last for life. Has this been your experience? I'm praying that when I'm eventually free of this drug I can start to rebuild my life, so imagine my horror when I read reports that it disturbs the brain so much that we can never really recover!

    That's why I thought I'd reach out to you to see how you felt after coming off the med and if you have found any long term problems.

    Looking forward to hearing from you x 

    Report / Delete Reply
  • Posted

    I have just completed a course of withdrawal from Effexor without experiencing any serious side effects. I had been taking a dose of 150 mg daily for about 25 years. I reduced the dosage by exactly 5 beads a day. Each capsule contained about 500 beads. Each day I carefully counted and noted the reduction in the dosage.  It took me 100 days, but at no time did I feel any side effects that I'd call even unpleasant... in the last two weeks or so some very mild brain zaps, but nothing else. And the zaps faded quickly. I recommend it: very slow, very steady. 
    Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      Thank you for your post, was lost as to how to slowly come off Effexor after 14 years.  Was on high dose for years but managed to get down to 75 but no luck dropping straight to 37.5 and then to zero.    I wish I had thought of your idea ages ago smile   I have been following your plan for 7 days and  as I am on 75mg should only take me about 43 more days.     Would like to  hear how you are going in the future, all the best to everyone on this post.
      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      Hi Betsy.

      I just recently discovered that it is possible to get these side effects several months after stopping effexor. I am pretty sure it happened to me, without realizing what it was at the time. It happened four months after quittinf effexor comepletely, after tapering off 225mg (probavlt a bit too quickly in the end). I just thought I eas getting more ill than ever, and never saw this as a result of quitting the medicine. I would be thankful if you could tell me about you experience with this, or where you got the information about the effects coming several months later.

      Jen

      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      Hi Jen, 

      Yes, that is exactly how it happened to me, no big withdrawal symptoms right after coming off too fast.  The first one I noticed a couple of months later was severe brain fog, inability to concentrate, forgetfulness and the like.  I thought I had adult-onset ADD because my mind was spinning away and I'd forget what I was doing halfway into doing it!

      After that, I had severe sweats, especially at night to where my bed sheets were soaked, and also during the day.  Thought it was menopause because that was happening, too.  I would also get these waves of prickly heat passing over my torso, especially at night.  I began to have severe anxiety when under stress at about four months out.  I had heart palps, increased pules (around 99 resting!) and increased blood pressure!

      About 6-8 months out was when the wheels started coming off the bus, severe insomnia, waking up with racing thoughts of fear and doom.  Worried about everyone dying, fear of being alone in my old age, fear about climate change, all kinds of global fear issues I had NEVER had before in my life.  

      I also had DP/DR, where a sunny day felt too bright and unreal, and it was scary.  Thankfully I didn't have a lot of that.  

      About 8 months out I tried to reinstate a little bit of Effexor.  I had been taking Sam-E and 5-htp (which really did nothing to turn the tide) and knew I couldn't take these together so stopped the day before starting Effexor, and ended up with more DP/DR, inability to sleep, severe anxiety and mild serotonin syndrome.  Quit everything and went to the doc a few days later in desperation, and he put me on Remeron.  That helped me sleep, helped my mood a little, but then pooped out and so I kept raising the dose, went up to 37.5 mg and was so non-funcitonal, demotivated, apathetic, agoraphobic and depressed that I couldn't bathe, eat, get off the couch or go outside.  It was all I could do to feed the horses and farm animals, and then I'd be back on the couch.  So, my doc reinstated 37.5 mg of Effexor because I had "tolerated it" well in the past.  This time, my mood turned around within an hour!  Talk about getting a fix of the drug you are addicted to!  That was 10 months out!

      All the doctors and three p-docs I saw during all of this did not recognize protracted withdrawal from Effexor, even though I told them I had come off.

      I still didn't put 2 and 2 together, just thought I had a chemically imbalanced brain that would always need drugs.  But then I met someone who was in her 13th month of protracted withdrawal from Lexapro, and she gently guided me into realizing that was what had happened to me.  I went on the survivingantidepressant forum and quickly began learning that my experience was very common to people withdrawing from psych meds.  

      I was most convinced that what I had experienced was caused by dependency to the drug when people who were put on the meds for pain or other reasons than depression and anxiety (such as PMS) ended up with severe depression, anxiety and insomnia when in WD from these drugs!

      I have never had a brain zap the entire time.  I have had body zaps, even when on Effexor but probably in WD from reducing the dosage, which I did over the years since I had gone up to I think 225 mg at one point.  I was on it for 12 years, and other ADs for 8 year prior to that.

      What has been your symptom pattern, Moonbeamz?

      I'll send you a PM with some links.

      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      I freaked myself out last night trading early signs of psychosis. Convinced myself I am going mad and couldn't sleep. Then today I was in urgent care with my daughter cause she hit her head. I was reading something and zap ! I have only had a few but this came out of nowhere. Does that mean I'm still in withdrawal ??
      Report / Delete Reply
  • Posted

    Hello,

    I'm coming off this, i'm finding exercise helps. I'm exercising 3 - 4 times a week i'm reducing  1/2 a tablet every 2 to 6 weeks. Exercise and diet are helping A LOT!!!

    I've found sometimes I have panic attacks, but i'm using something called rescue remedy to help these.

    I'm finding i'm more alive than what i've ever been.

    Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      Hello James

      Thank you giving us your "way" of reducing Venlfafaxine.  I was put on it for panic attacks that were troubling me day and most upsetting at night, from sleep.  I, too, have been using exercise to gain some ground and self-confidence again.  Specifically, may I ask, do you jog/run?  I have just had to let my gym membership be put on hold - finances - despite finding the focus very helpful.  Would appreciate any reply you may give.

      Good for you ... brave steps.

       

      Report / Delete Reply
  • Posted

    Hi and thanks for your encouragement.I'm almost finished withdrawing from Effexor SR 75mg daily after 1 year. the first step down was to 37.5mg daily for a week, with little or no effects. This week I've just gone to 37.5mg on alternate days for a week with a similar result.

    On Friday last I took what I hoped would be my last 37.5mg but by Sunday, I'd developed dizziness, nausea, unaccounted for tears. I am planning (with GP) to keep going with this and am avoiding stemital et al. I guess it's a bit like going cold turkey.

    Going slowly about things seems to work. I'll keep you posted.

    Thanks again for your encouragement to tread softly.

     

    Report / Delete Reply
  • Posted

    This is great news ! So you had no brain zaps ?and what I call feeling of your brain moving inside your head or elastic band around your head and someone snapping it?no muscle aches and pains ? Have you been able to drop weight now ?Thanx for the info
    Report / Delete Reply

Join this discussion or start a new one?

New discussion Reply

Report or request deletion

Thanks for your help!

We want the forums to be a useful resource for our users but it is important to remember that the forums are not moderated or reviewed by doctors and so you should not rely on opinions or advice given by other users in respect of any healthcare matters. Always speak to your doctor before acting and in cases of emergency seek appropriate medical assistance immediately. Use of the forums is subject to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy and steps will be taken to remove posts identified as being in breach of those terms.

newnav-down newnav-up