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I've previously posted on another discussion thread about coming off venlafaxine - I was about to take the plunge myself - but rather than re-post on that thread I thought I'd start a new one to give my account of my experience and I hope a chance of light at the end of that awful tunnel for others.
Diagnosed with clinical depression many years ago most of my adult life has been spent on one or another SSRI - finally arriving at venlafaxine ten years ago as nothing much else was helping. At this time my mood was scraping the bottom of the barrel - emotionally I was empty & swung between desolate and merely oppresively sad.
I can't completely right off vnlfx - it did lift me initially and give me motivation, but unfortunately over the years the efficacy weakened and therefore the dose I was taking increased - until at the beginning of 2012 I was on 300mg daily.
As I progressed through last year it became obvious that not only was vnlfx not helping me in anyway, it was also producing some alarming side effects - these had crept in slowly over the years and I had been so caught up with my mental health I hadn't noticed. Forgetting a dose resulted in the most debilitating nausea, dry mouth and brain zaps - I began to fear going away and forgetting my medication or not being abe to get to the pharmacy for a prescription and running out. All the time I continued presenting myself as a contented, together, capable professional woman, and as any of us who suffer mental illness know, this 24/7 act is absolutely exhausting. By the autumn of this year I was sleeping in huge chunks. The sedative effect of the drug combined with being asleep being an excellent way of hiding from my problems, I found it all to easy to succumb to sleep. I'd sleep for ten hours solid at night, then wake for a few hours in the morning, feel sleepy and give in - only to wake again briefly during the evening before the cycle began again. Luckily working a shift pattern as well meant I could get away with this, but my non-working hours were spent asleep & hiding from the world.
I don't know why the lightening bolt hit, but once day I became aware that this was no quality of life & went to see my GP about withdrawal from vnlfx. I must emphasise here that my GP has been wonderful during the entire time I have known her, and I'm aware that I'm lucky to be in this situation. She was aware of anecdotal evidence of vnlfx withdrawal syndrome and we made a plan for a very slow dose decrease - suffering such marked side effects when late taking my meds meant that we were expecting a tough ride.
I cannot emphasise too much just how important it is to go slowly slowly slowy, and to reduce your dosages by tiny amounts. Each time I cut down too quickly, or reduced the dose too quickly I'd be pole-axed by side effects and mental disturbance. A couple of times I did think about giving up, and remaining on vnlfx for life - but the thought of returning to that hideous emotional no-man's land was enough to motivate me to pick up & go back to the previous 'good' dose again & persevere. The key stage was probably getting down to a quarter of a 37.5mg tablet (told you the dose reduction needs to be minute!) and then my doctor adding in fluoxetine 20mg for two weeks before I took the plunge and took my last ever dose of vnflx. That was over six weeks ago and the relief I feel now is immeasurable. I now have clarity of thought and emotion to the extent that I can't ever remember having before. Don't get me wrong, I'm still clinically depressed, there is no magic wand, but I feel just like I have been released from venlafaxine taking my mind prisoner. I don' t think that unless you have experienced this drug first hand you can possibly imagine just how much it really ***ks with your mind - absolutely terrifying.
Key to my success has been managing to find a therapist that by some fluke I have a superb connection with and weekly sessions with her have been more valuable to me than any drug ever has. I expect to be seeing her for a very long time to come - to reiterate i'm by no means 'cured' but am happy at last to be back in control of my mind.
Happy to pass on further details of what worked for me on my withdrawal - I kept a diary, helps you have faith to get through the bad days - but please don't expect miracles, I know that just because it's worked for me it may not suit anyone else.
But - please do have hope! I was one of the many in despair on here a few months back not ever being able to see a way to get free of this hideous drug, but I've done it, so it can be done
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