venlafaxine withdrawal - panic

Posted , 11 users are following.

Last year, I made three unsuccessful attempts at getting completely off of Effexor. The longest I lasted was two months and they were two of the worst months of my life. With the help of Prozac, I was able to decrease from 225 mg of Effexor to 75 mg and had no withdrawal symptoms. However, going from 75 mg to 0 mg of Effexor gave me terrible withdrawal. The Prozac virtually eliminated the physical symptoms but,  the problem I have with the withdrawal is the panic. It’s a kind of panic that I never experienced before I took Effexor. It feels almost like there are evil forces at play and there is something terribly wrong with my soul. I know that doesn’t sound rational but I can’t get rid of the terror that comes with it. It’s agony. I’m wondering if anyone else has felt this way.

3 likes, 40 replies

40 Replies

  • Posted

    I have felt this way. When i attempted withdrawing too fast or too soon. You just have to figure out which it is. If it is too fast, make smaller cuts (maximum 37.5 mg and stick on each lowered dose for at least 3 months AFTER all symptoms that crop up have eased up. Give the brain time to rebalance. If you have time and there is no medical emergency necessitating a faster withdrawal that is. If it is too soon - why are you going off it? Have you been on them long? And how long ago have you made your last drop and how long between cuts? Hope you feel better soon. When done at the right speed at the right time in therapy  withdrawal is really not that bad. I have stopped 3 times in the 12 years i was on it. The first two attempts were hell. Once was too fast and too soon, then it was too fast and finally i took 2 years for the final round of slow slow tapering off, once i was symptom free for at least one year (i waited for 2 years at maintenance before making small cuts as advised by my psychiatrist). All the best.
    • Posted

      Hi, thanks for your reply. I think you're rigth that I tapered too fast. I'm going off of it because it causes  me terrible anxiety. I've been on Effexor for over 15 years and it never occurred to me that's where the anxiety is coming from. In addition, I've developed a terrible fear of finding myself in a situation where I can't get to my medication (trapped in a natural disaster, going to jail, being kidnapped, going into a coma, etc.). Feeling that way is my worst fear. I just want this poison out of my system so I don't have to worry about being without it. My last cut was from 75mg capsule to 37.5 mg capsule with the help of Prozac on Saturday night. Based on my past experiences, if I feel symptoms, it won't be for a few days. So, other than the fact that I'm having anxiety about the possibility of feeling that panic, I'm feeling fine. Hopefully, this jump from 75 to 37.5 won't give me any withdrawal symptoms. I'm really nervous about that. If it works though, I'm going to do a slow taper like you recommend. I've read some people recommend a 10% per month taper. Thanks again
    • Posted

      Oh just gave me a flashback...I had forgotten about that part: "I've developed a terrible fear of finding myself in a situation where I can't get to my medication (trapped in a natural disaster, going to jail, being kidnapped, going into a coma, etc.)"....YES....I felt exactly the same. That was my biggest fear besides the fear of having a panic attack that lasts forever and going insane smile. Ugh. I take it you took it for depression and then ended up with a bonus effect of anxiety? Shouldn't be this way after the first few weeks on Effexor though. Effexor balanced me out so well that even now, years after taking it and twice as many with no symptoms at all, situations where I should by all rules be a wreck do not manage to tip me over the edge of panic. I have relearned how to cope and am able to diffuse. Sorry for your bad experience. It is a fact that all this medication helps with some things and messes with others. And effects are highly individual. That in itself is unsettling enough. I hope you feel 100% better soon one way or another!
    • Posted

      Yes, I took it for depression and ended up with anxiety. I've actually been on it for about 15 years. I was always a very passive participant in my treatment so I never questioned any of my doctors. My most recent doctor has really opened my eyes to a lot such as the fact that the Effexor is probably the reason for my anxiety. He is also the one who told me about the protracted withdrawal. I'm glad Effexor has worked for you. For me, risperidone was the drug that really changed my mood for the better. Thanks for your kind words.
  • Posted

    I went from 75 to 37.5 and stayed on that for a week without too much of a problem.  In hindsight I really wish I had stayed on that dose for two weeks then dropped to lower doses for two weeks at a time.

    Many recommedn 10% cuts for lessening the effects of withdrawal.  I wish I'd read that before I came off them, I really do.

    I too had anxiety and panic as a result of withdrawing.  For me there were two things going on:

    1. Physical symptoms of anxiety such as tembling/shaking inside, high heart rate, jittery feelings in the limbs, feeling too warm, sweating etc.

    2. My reaction to these symptoms, which, as you can probably guess, was to get more anxious ... so high heart rate, shaking etc etc.

    A vicious cycle that took weeks for me to break.

    The example you've given of a fear of something more dark at play may not sound rational but if it's any consolation I went through that too.  Fortunately I've come out of that but I can see why you have had this reaction and also why back in ye olden days people with the shakes or anything else would have been cast out under the presumption of some sort of 'force'.

    You might want to try some mindfulness exercises.  

    The one thing that made a massive difference to me to stop #2 above from happening was listening to health anxiety affirmations on my phone throughout the day.  There's also relaxation ones that sent me to sleep very peacefully.

    This was probably the single biggest turning point for me as now I just have the physical stuff going on but it's just a thing that happens.  I know why and I know it won't last.

    Hope this helps.  I've taken some solace from your post in that I thought it was only me having those sorts of fears so thank you for that.

    • Posted

      Hi a-jay,

      Thanks for your reply. I know what you're talking about with your reaction to the withdrawal symptoms. I decreased from 75mg Effexor to 37.5mg a few days ago and I keep getting minor anxiety attacks because I know I could start going into withdrawal at any minute.Then the anxiety attack makes me feel like I am going into withdrawal. I haven't though. I can tell because anxiety attacks, as bad as they are, are nothing compared to the panic I get when in withdrawal. So, I'm still good with the latest decrease at this point (only having minor brain zaps occasionally).

      It's good to know that you know what I'm talking about and that you have gotten through it. Thanks for the mindfulness and affirmation suggestion. I really want to take control of my body and stop relying so much on pharmaceuticals.

      Do you mind if I ask what you are taking now?

    • Posted

      I'm not on anything now.  

      Yesterday I also realised something important - the recongised withdrawal effects have just about completely gone.  I have a rare electric shock in the brian but it's now down to a 9v battery rather than the mains.

      There are other symptoms I have which I had thought were part of withdrawal but I remembered I had added these to the spreadhseet I use to track my progress.

      In case it's of any use these are:

      - inner trembling/shaking inside (not visible outside)

      - indigestion and heartburn

      - feeling too warm

      - a heavy throbbing pulse

      From what I have read I've not seen these mentioned with venlafaxine withdrawal very often or at all in many cases.  So it looks like these could be anxiety or something else.

      The thing is I am not anxious.  There was a time I was too scared to even go to sleep because for some reason I worried the core body functions would stop working and I would stop breathing.  That's how bad it was at some points.  Thankfully not now.

      I'll try to post an image of the tracking I've used.  Hopefully it will give some hope that the emotional bumps will subside.

    • Posted

      Wow, glad to hear you're free of psychopharmaceuticals. That is my goal. So, you went cold turkey off of Effexor and now feel almost completely fine a month later?

      I've experienced the heavy pulse and inner trembling when I was in withdrawal before.

      When you had severe anxiety, was it while you were on Effexor?

      Thanks for the spreadsheet, it's nice to see it worked out like that. It's a little hard to read but I can decipher most of it and it is nice to know that it will get better.

    • Posted

      I wasn't cold turkey, I tapered over 9 days (half dose for 7, third dose for 2 days).

      That's interesting you had the pulse and trembling stuff.  Did it pass or did you take anything for it?

      The severe anxiety was before I went on the pills.  I had a calf tear and other issues with it that led me to beleive it was a blood clot then a central nervous system issue.  Got myself so worked up I was shaking when I saw the doctor.  He put me on beta blockers first which has horrific side effects for me then I awoke into a panic attack after a couple of days of taking it.  He changed me from Propranolol to Atenolol and I still felt terrible.  Went onto Venlafaxine at the same time as the atenolol and it took a long time for things to get better ... actually I don't think they ever did to be honest.  Been a range of side effects and unexplained symptoms ever since, while I was on them and when I came off.

    • Posted

      Sorry about the font size on the sheet, that seemed to be the only way I could get it onto a page.
    • Posted

      That's a super-fast taper. Most people recommend a 10% per month taper which takes over 3 years.

      The heavy pulse and inner trembling were minor for me. My main symptom was the panic, which I now realize may be what's called a "mixed state". My systems would come in waves, about 20 times per day. So it was hard to tell what was working and what wasn't (I tried clonazepam, propranolol, and some herbal supplements my mom got me. There was something else I used for the nausea and my mood but, if I mention it on this website, my comment will get deleted).

      What are you doing for your anxiety now?

    • Posted

      I meant symptoms, not systems
    • Posted

      Thanks, that's helpful.

      Today has been really bad for me, demoralisnig after a good night I felt.  Headache and weird sensations that washed over me, thought I was going to have to go to the hospital.

      I had a really bad reaction to propranolol so can't take that and would prefer to avoid more pills.

      To be honest I am not taking anything for anxiety now.  I don't feel stressed or anxious yet somehow my body is exhibiting symptoms of stress and anxiety (tremor, right vocal chords, stomach issues, brain fog, headache ... the list goes on).

      I've been doing midnfullness meditation/relaxation but it's like there's something that poisons me and returns the body to these weird things even when I don't actually feel I have anxiety.  Very weird.

    • Posted

      I'm so sorry you're not feeling well. I think you're making a good decision by trying to treat your anxiety without meds. If you haven't been to the site Surviving Antedepressants, I recommend going there. There's a lot of info and they are really good about answering your questions. They do mention that withdrawal symptoms can come and go.

      I know what you mean about having anxiety sensations but not having anxiety. It really is like a poison. The mixed state that I go into during withdrawal cannot be helped with any skills I've learned in therapy. I just have to sit through it until it passes and its agony.

      I hope you start feeling better soon.

    • Posted

      Thanks.  I've got a blood test on Friday to see if there's something else going on.

      I've read some stuff on that site too, thanks.  The weird thing is I don't even know if I have anxiety, I don't consciously feel anxious about anything but have all these weird physical symptoms.

      Trying to do as you suggest and just ride this out.  The weird thing is I came of venlafaxine before many years ago and never had these problems.  Emotional imbalance yes for about a month but none of these physical things.

    • Posted

      That is strange that you're having trouble now but not before. Who knows with these drugs. As far as riding it out, do what is best for you. Right now, I'm at a point where I am questioning everything I know about pharmaceuticals and I really don't have good feelings towards them. So, I'm biased.

      I know what it's like to experience those anxiety symptoms but not actually be anxious. But I can't get my body to stop feeling that way, no matter how much I rationalize or use my other coping skills.

      Good idea getting a blood test. I hope that gives you some answers.

    • Posted

      Hi a-jay,

      There's a facebook page that I follow about Effexor side effects and withdrawal and there's a person who commented that she is experiencing "internal shaking". I'm just wondering what you did to help alleviate this symtpom.

      Also, did you get the results of your blood test?

    • Posted

      Thanks.  I'm on the same group.

      The internal shaking first thing in the morning seems to have stopped but I awake now with a throbbing pulse in my head, headache, limbs jittery as if I've just been about to fight.  All this immmediately when waking up.  Also feel a strong pulse in my belly most of the time too, most noticeable first thing in the morning, along with feeling too warm almost all of the time.

      What may have stopped the shaking was a chiropractic adjustment as my atlas bone was out of alignment as I had suspected.  

      I got the blood test results but they showed nothing.  Everything was in the normal range except for white blood cell count but the good doc I spoke to this morning said some peolpe have this low anyway (mine were low in January too before all this).

      To my surprise B12 was higher than the normal range (I had been supplementing with a spray the week prior to the test).  The only other thing in my mind was that magnesium was at the bottom of the healthy range (0.7-1.0) and that's despite supplementing and having salts baths.  The doc said that the range is such a small window that this isn't a concern.

      For some reason they didn't test thyroid though they said they would.  The doc I spoke to this morning apologised for this and has added it onto Wednesday's test so that'll be thyroid TSH, T4 and also testing for Lyme disease.

      I'm debating whether to go back on the venlafaxine as I had none of these things whilst on it.  I think I'm going to wait for the results of these tests first but I'm really struggling with all of this.

    • Posted

      I'm sorry you're having such a hard time. I understand the struggle. For me, it looks like I'm just going to have to do the slow taper. That may be what you end up wanting to do also. If I were you, I would start back on the lowest dose where I felt stable and start the taper from there. Although, it would be nice if they found something in your blood tests that can be treated without pharmaceuticals.

      I decreased from 75 to 37.5 and was doing great for 3 weeks. Then I started feeling funny yesterday and this morning woke up to my heart pounding out of my chest and I felt like I was starting to go into a mixed state. So I opened a 37.5 mg capsule and took out half . I took that then just laid in bed all day, now I'm feeling a little better. From here on out, I'm doing the 10% taper.

    • Posted

      When I try to get off effector, I have had the same problem. I wake up and think that my body is shutting down and I can't breathe.

Report or request deletion

Thanks for your help!

We want the community to be a useful resource for our users but it is important to remember that the community 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 community 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.