Venlafaxine Tapering off

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Hi there- I'm hoping for a bit of advice/support- I've never been on a forum before! I was diagnosed with atypical treatment-resistant depression about 4 years ago (I'm 27 now). Main symptoms were complete lack of energy (I'm usually very active), intense brain fog, couldn't use my brain for anything really! Over the past two years and this year especially I've been back to my normal self- back to gym every day, and have finally been accepted to medical school. I'd like to come off them now because I'm worried about needing to do night shifts- I usually take my pills at night and they totally wipe me out. I was on Efexor 375mg + Avanza 60mg- and have been told by my doc to reduce Efexor first. Am now down to ~240mg Efexor + Avanza 60mg. This past reduction, about a week ago, I reduced approx 15mg (by splitting a capsule) and I've been quite anxious, foggy in the brain, and really needing to concentrate to get anything done. Is this normal??? Because these were very similar to my initial depressive symptoms I'm worried it's the depression coming back (this worry probably isn't helping things!).

Any help, thoughts greatly appreciated smile

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  • Posted

    Hi,

    I'm no doctor but I'm pretty sure it is the med reduction causing you these symptoms. The problem is those of us who get depression always panic that it is returning.

    That being said it doesn't belittle the side effects of withdrawal which can be pretty horrible. Especially with Venlafaxine - just take a look at the forum to see what people are going through trying to reduce it. If you can take time out while you come off the pills then I would. I treat it as having long term flu but I'm lucky I am freelance.

    I've been off Venlafaxine for two weeks now. I still get complete brain fog days and occasionally burst into tears or feel like punching a wall. I also get horrible 'electric shock' jolts through my body.

    Hang on in there. Be kind to yourself. Read the forums, some people have found certain cold remedies which subtly mimic Venlafaxine help reduce the symptoms of you don't have the luxury of being able to take time out.

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    • Posted

      Thanks very much odishon that's very helpful smile I know what you mean about the electric shocks- I get them in  my head (brain zaps) when I'm exercising, and I find the body ones wake me up during the night- pretty potent drugs aren't they!

      The logical part of my brain knows it's the withdrawals, but there's always a bit that panics because there's no way I'm going back to how I was when I was unwell!

      Thank you so much for taking the time to respond- I will hang in there and look after myself smile 

      All the best

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  • Posted

    I'd like to add that you should not make any further cuts when you are having any withdrawal symptoms!  Docs do us a disservice by putting people on a taper schedule without respecting the fact that a) it is way too fast and b) it is way too steep and c) that further cuts should not be done when there are withdrawal symptoms!  WD symptoms are a sign of nervous system destabilizatoin from the reduction, and to do another cut while still having them is adding more instability on top of it!  

    Your doctor had you do about a 35% cut.  I'm assuming the 15 mg came off the 240 mg, so less than 10% but you are having classic withdrawal symptoms, a sign that things are going too fast.  Unfortunately, getting off the med faster does not equate to getting withdrawal over with faster. 

    I came off of 75 mg of ven much too fast a bit over a year ago, and had protracted withdrawal, complete with the worst anxiety, depression and insomnia of my life, for 10 months before reinstating.  People end up failing to come off and reinstating all the time, because this drug is so very hard to come off of.  i was on it for 12 years and now realize that my taper was much too fast and that I will have to go extra slow to succeed.

    See the topic Reducing Antidepressants using a 10% withdrawal method in the following thread:  

    https://patient.info/forums/discuss/depression-resources-298570

    I wish you luck.  My taper is going very well, and I hardly notice any withdrawal symptoms.  If you go slow enough you may never notice any symptoms. 

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    • Posted

      Thanks very much for that- such a good point too! The taper schedule really doesn't take into account different peoples' metabolisms, so I'll be sure to listen to my body from now on. Interestingly my withdrawal symptoms reduce significantly after a good sweat at the gym- amazing what exercise can do to the brain!

      Thanks again smile

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    • Posted

      You can do it!!!! I'm on day 15 of 'No venlafaxine' and I feel good, the withdrawal is awful and will be worse some days than others but don't panic.....I think that's the most important thing to remember (and tell yourself)......it's just withdrawal....not the depression returning. Mind over matter truly works! (In my opinion) I was anxious last week for a couple of days and I had to give my head a shake and tell myself that I do not need these tablets so get on with it! Haha sounds silly I know, but it really works for me. Just take it easy, ven is one of the hardest to come off so take your time and do the taper how you feel is best. Good luck!
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    • Posted

      Congrats on being ven-free! You're totally right, when I feel the anxiety coming on, telling myself to breathe and not freak out because it's not coming back really works smile
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