Venlafaxine withdrawal help please

Posted , 3 users are following.

I have been taking Venlafaxine for a couple of years.  Due to being diagnosed with SVT, my GP is taking me off it asap as he is worried it is affecting my heart.

I was on 2 x 75mg a day for a year.  Then 75mg per day for a month (no serious withdrawal problems).

I went down to 37.5mg two weeks ago and didn't really notice any serious side effects.  But in the last few days I have felt severely nauseous (like travel sickness), upset stomach, dizzy, heart racing, teeth grinding much worse, severe headaches.

Is this part of the withdrawal at 37.5mg or is it something else?

Any advice would be appreciated.

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9 Replies

  • Posted

    Yes, Sarah, that is withdrawal.  Your drops are pretty steep and it looks like your WD symptoms take a couple of weeks to develop after a cut.  You can choose to hold and wait until things settle, which could take up to a week or so, but if they continue, you might updose part way. What size tablets are you using for this?  If you have the 37.5 mg tablets, immediate release, you can break them in half and try taking 37.5 AM and half of that PM.

    Tapering this drug is tricky, and Effexor WD is one of the worst.  It is really important that you allow your system to stabilize between cuts, and to cut no more frequently than every four weeks, given the WD symptoms took two weeks to come on.

    37.5 mg is the minimum effective dose of this drug, and at that level 80% of the serotoinin receptors are blocked by the drug.  As you go drop from here, you will likely start really feeling WD because you will be cutting into that 80% significantly.

    That is why it is recommended to to cut no more than 10% of your previous dose at a time, every 3-4 weeks (probably four weeks in your case).  And, you need to listen to your body and not cut again if you are feeling WD symptoms.

    Let your doctor know about this, and ask if there is a liquid version you can get, so that you can use an oral syringe to measure smaller reductions than breaking tablets can afford.

    This is not a drug to get out of the system in a hurry and then be done with it.  It does't work that way!  Please see the following links for more information.  The one about depression has a link titled "Reducing ADs using a 10% reduction method" that explains why it is important to do so.

    I hope this helps! 

    Oh, and how is your heart doing as you have made the cuts?  Effexor WD can include heart palpitations, increased blood pressure and increased pulse rate, so I am wondering if you might have hit tolerance withdrawal while staying at 150 mg.

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    • Posted

      Hi I spoke to my GP earlier & he has prescribed some Prochlorperazine for the nausea. It has helped with the nausea & my heart rate has settled down which is a relief.

      I am staying on 37.5mg and seeing GP in a couple of weeks when I will probably go down to one every other day.

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    • Posted

      I'm glad your heart rate has settled. As for every other day, No no no! It is absolutely not recommended to alternate ADs every other day, especially Ven!  Ven's half life is only 15 hours, and even with the immediate release people can have inter-dose withdrawal, and absolutely you will have inter-dose withdrawal taking it every other day!  

      It helps to understand that these drugs cause actual physiological changes in the nervous system, such that the drugs are built into the system's operation, like a trellis that a vine has grown on.  Taking the drug away entirely for a day is like ripping the trellis out and expecting the vine to be able to stay up!  The system is thrown into chaos by having the full amount of drug it is used to one day and then zero the next.   Please read the topic in the above links "Why to do a 10% taper; it will explain further why it is necessary to go slower.  If you go on to the Surviving Antidepressants site and click on the intro link, scroll through looking for people who are dealing with Ven (such as myself!).  I thought I did a reasonable taper off a year ago summer but ended up in protracted WD hell for 10 months before finally reinstating.  I was lucky reinstatement worked, but often it doesn't.  It is much better to go too conservatively than to go too fast since you just have no way of knowing how WD will be for you.

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    • Posted

      Hi Sarah,

      I am coming up to the second week of being weaned off venlaxafine and I am currently taking one tablet every other day and I have to say the side affects have been absolutely disgusting! I have never felt so crap it's like a really bad anxious hangover that lasts all day and night! I've been prescribed anti sickness tablets to take the edge off thank god but my doctor has told me to stArt taking one every Third day from next week but I don't feel ready as I still am suffering with every side affect you said plus more! It feels like i have the flu as well as a hangover and a panic attack all in one it's terrible and I want to let the world know how evil these tablets are!!!! Wish I never started these horrible things! I really hope your symptoms ease off very soon as I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy! I'm glad I'm not the only one that is concerned! X

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    • Posted

      Oh dear, Dani, your doctor is totally doing this wrong!  Venlafaxine has a very short half life, and doing alternate days is not recommended because your system is starved of the drug and then gets the full hit - it is very difficult for your system to adjust this way.  It is not about getting the drug out of your system and then all will be well, as people think!  Your nervous system remodeled to the presence of the drug, rebuilt itself around the drug; to take the drug away altogether is throwing you into withdrawal on the off days and back up to full strength on the on days.  

      Coming off of Effexor can lead to horrendous protracted discontinuation syndrome, and you are only scraping the surface with the symptoms you are experiencing now.  I'm not trying to scare you but this is serious stuff.  I know, since I went through protracted withdrawal for 10 months before ending up back on Effexor, and mirtazapine to boot. I didn't realize what was happening to me.  I am hoping that I can spare you the pain.  

      I know this means challenging your doctor, and we are taught not to do that, to trust that our doctor knows best.  The thing is, p-docs and GPs simply don't even acknowledge protracted withdrawal, and have no understanding of how to get people off these meds!  

      There is a support forum called Surviving Antidepressants that is run by people who have been there and done that, and suffered great harm by the irresponsibly fast tapers their doctors had them do.   I recommend you join and create an intro and seek advice there.  It's free and anonymous.  

      Ven should not be weaned off over the course of one month.  The recommendation is actually 10% per month.  The forum discusses this and explains how to do it.  You can either get a liquid prescription, or make a liquid yourself to titrate your dosage, since ven doesn't come in pill sizes that fascillitate a proper taper.  

      And you should absolutely NOT continue tapering when you are still feeling horrible - that is just asking for the wheels to completely come off the bus!

      Just do a search for "protracted withdrawal Effexor" and you will come up with more information.

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    • Posted

      Hi Dani

      Sorry to hear you're suffering.

      I have actually felt not too bad in the last few days, headaches nearly gone, nausea decreased slightly. I am still on 37.5mg but will be cutting my tablets in half for the next few weeks as so many people have said not to go every other day as it has such a short half life. I really hope you feel better very soon xx

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    • Posted

      Just a reminder, Sara - please do not cut if you are having symptoms, still.  Symptoms mean your system is still destabilized by the last cut, and to add another cut on top of that, you will really be setting yourself up for worse.  It is recommended by the withdrawal authorities (including the Ashton Manual, which is for benzos but applies to all psych meds) that you taper by 10% no more often than every 3-4 weeks, only doing so if you are stable, not having wd symptoms.  This is in hopes that the nervous system can make step-wise adjustments with the minimum amount of discomfort.  Unfortunately people are of the belief that if they get the taper over with faster, the drug will be out of the system and that withdrawal will be over faster, but this is not true with psych drug withdrawal; if anything, withdrawal becomes more severe and prolonged with this approach, causing greater suffering and likelihood of reinstatement.  Also, sometimes reinstatement won't even work.   I strongly encourage you and everyone here to join the Surviving Antidepressants forum where you will get spot on guidance for tapering successfully.  There is also a huge amount of educational materials on there explaining the whole process, what happens to the nervous system on these drugs and why it is so important to do the slow taper.  Also, Enis Moderator put together this page that includes a link to SA and why it is important to do the 10% taper:

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    • Posted

      I have read all of your posts and understand what you are saying re withdrawal. But the reason I am coming off Venlafaxine is due to my GP being very concerned it is affecting my heart so I do need to be off it soon.

      I have been able to function quite normally the last few days (I have Fibromyalgia) and have been on 37.5mg for nearly 4 weeks before I halve that.

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