Venlafaxine Withdrawal - Thoughts?

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Hi there,

I have been on antidepressants for 11 years, for OCD, and on Venlafaxine for roughly 6 years. At its highest i was on 225mg plus 5mg Abilify. About two year ago my OCD had been under control for a good few years so i wanted to come off the medication for that reason but also I was suffering with chronic tiredness (falling asleep at work) and headaches that the drs could find no explanation for and I thought the drugs might be causing this. So I started reducing my meds.

I am off the Abilify and have got the Venlafaxine down to half a 37.5mg tab in the morning and a quarter tab in the evening. This has not been without its problems though. I could deal with the nausea/head zaps etc but about five/six months ago I tried reducing from 37.5mg every day to every other day (on the 'advice' of my GP who said it was 'such a baby dose you should be able to come off it in two weeks' ha!) and this resulted in my having heart palpitations (rate of 130bpm) and severe shakes and ending up in A&E. GP and doctor in A&E were both sceptical that withdrawl could cause this. GP made me do a 24hr heart ECG thing which came back normal so she put it down to 'anxiety'.

There were other (less severe) instances of heart palpitations in the following months that became less frequent. Then yesterday I couldn't remember if i'd taken my Venlafaxine in the morning so I took a quarter of a 37.5mg tab in the afternoon and a half of a quarter (crazy maths i know) in the evening. I then woke up suddenly at 1am and proceeded to get violent shakes and a feeling of a burning sensation in my brain. I got my partner to call an ambulance but by the time the paramedics got here the shaking had stopped and they said i was ok to stay home.

Has anyone had similar problems with convulsive shakes or heart palpitations with Venlafaxine? I want to come off it but these symptoms are alarming and no one in the medical profession seems to understand, all are dismissive of Venlafaxine withdrawal and even more so if you mention what you've 'read online'! But reading other people's experiences of this nightmare drug are reassuring me that i'm not insane (or at least no more than i was anyway)

Thanks for reading

 

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  • Posted

    Hello,

    I'm sorry to hear that you've had such a scary time and also that doctors have been so dismissive. I've had similar symptoms both during withdrawal (and I am tapering down really slowly) and in the past when i accidentally missed a tablet. The heart palpatations are the scariest obviously...it's your heart. It never came to anything but did frighten me. And the shaking I've had too...really embarassing at work on one occasion. It's hard when doctors say things like 'it's only a tiny dose' etc... but i think there has been very little research into this. There does however seem to be lots of anecdotal evidence - like on this site - that is worth taking seriously. Just reduce as slowly as you posibly can. Good luck smile

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  • Posted

    I experienced heart palpitations.  It happens so quickly that it caused panic attacks when it occurred.  A word about doctors -- unless they have taken this vile drug and withdrawn from it, I don't believe they know what they are talking about.  My former doctor told me I should be able to go from 75 mg to total withdrawal in two weeks.  This stuff is poison and, as you have mentioned, when it doesn't work, they just add another drug on top. 
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  • Posted

    Yes, I had all of that and more.  I was taking venlefaxine for 20+ years, decided to get off of it.  Tapered down from 150mg to nothing within one month.  That was about three months ago, I am still having horrible withdrawl sysmtoms.  Shaking, sweats, cold sweats, tired but can't sleep, nausea, feeling like I am ready to have a heart attack and brain zaps...

    Hang in there, it does get better, I am just now starting to feel better.  But, do not take it everyother day, I cannot believe a doctor would tell you to do that?  The medication is only good for 24 hours so your just hurting yourself doing that.   I cannot believe any good doctor out there would even prescribe this horrible medication.  If they only knew how addictive it is???

    I was born with a bad body, have had 16 surgeries in the last 20 years.  I have had to wean myself off many different types of mediation.  Venlafaxine is by far the worst withdrawl I have ever experienced.  I even stopped smoking and that was easier to quit than getting off venlafaxine.

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    • Posted

      Hi Renee, I know it's been 5 months since your post, which I have just come across but I would realy like to know how you feel now

      I too was on 150mg, for 15years and tapered down to zero in one month.  It is now 18 days with no V and have had all the symptoms you mention above. Just when I thought I was over the worst I found myself  taking out my frustrations on my poor little dog today, hit him for barking when I had already told him to stop.  I NEVER hit him and felt so bad after, I know it is because of this evil drugs withdrawl.

      Guess I am in need of some reasurance that I willl not be like this forever.  Like yourself I to gave up smoking many years ago and even though it was hard to do and took me 3 attempts,  it was a breeze compared to this withdrawl nightmare from hell.

      I am not going back to a Doc and don't want to take any more meds to help get through this withdrawl,  I am a a strong willed person and have assured my little friend that I will not hit him ever again, I just need to know it will all get better in time.

      Hoping you are doing well and thanks for listening, I feel better for my little rant, regards  Annette.

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    • Posted

      Worst drug ever to come off. I'm a week off it tomorrow and withdraw is beyond awful.
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  • Posted

    Hello'' its good that we can talk this way as some people don't seem to understand 'what its like ? yes its scary when you start to come of this drug ''and i wish i had never taken it '' at the moment i have started to be on 37mg of Venlafaxine '' and Fluoxetine 20mg for this week only '' and stay on Fluoxetine to see what i am like then ''and i do hope it works '' take care .
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    • Posted

      It's the drug not you. I think all of us that have come off this drug can agree the slower the better! The withdralls really suck. I decreased 10% every 10- 14 days at a time .i know others on this site have done it even slower. Also if your partner is by your side it really helps! My husband kept telling me it's the drug not you over and over. Read up on the withdraw symptoms of getting off this drug then you will know what to expect. It is all worth it in the long run. Do what is best for you! Everyone different. Keep writing on this site there is always someone that has gone through this as well!!
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  • Posted

    Hi again...just to say...i agree that every other day is bad idea - this drug has a really short half-life so is out of your system quickly...much better to take a smaller dose every day than a bigger dose every other day.

    I also read somewhere (no idea where so not sure how accurate this is) that it's the percentage reduction that counts. So if you reduce by 50% from any dose your body might react in the same way - even if that dose is very small. Essentially this means that the smaller the dose you get down to the slower you need to reduce.

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  • Posted

    A lot of pople here, icluding me, have withdrawn from Venlafaxine.  It took me 10months to come off 150g, and I did not get any withdrwals.  It sounds

     like you are getting wihdrawals, so stay on the dose you are on at the moment, and then when you feel better, wean yourself off very, very slowly.  It cannot be done too sowly.  Most people do it too fast, hence all the rotten things you are feeling now. 

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    • Posted

      Hi Anne, I'm also on 150gms and I've been on these for 20yrs! I don't suppose you kept a chart of dosage etc on how you decreased/weaned off of these please! Thanks :-)))
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  • Posted

    Thanks for your replies everyone. Good to know others have had problems. GPs need educating about this drug!
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    • Posted

      Hang in there! You can do it. We all have different situations, but have great support here.

      Keep up the good work!

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  • Posted

    Hiya, hope that you are doing well now and your withdrawal symptoms are long gone. Thought I would reply to your post in case what I have been through could help someone else...

    I was on Venlaflaxine 225mg for nearly 4 years along with Quetiapine (used with Venlaflaxine for major depression- I was v poorly and in a psyc ward for about 4 weeks). After being well for about 3 years myself and hubby started thinking about trying for a baby, and I needed some advice as to what to do. I had read that Venlaflaxine can cause problems in pregnancy and wanted to minimise any risks to bubba but also ensure that I stayed well myself (any decent mental health practitioner will weigh up the risks rather than just say "come off it all!"!)

    I fought hard to get referred to the Mother and Infant Mental Health Service (in the UK) for pre-conception advice and they were absolutely brilliant. They advised trying to come off Venlaflaxine over 6 weeks, slower if I needed to. Apparently Quetiapine is a lot safer in pregnancy so they suggested if I struggled I could temporarily up my Quetiapine rather than go back on Venlaflaxine.

    I withdrew from Venlaflaxine over 6 weeks, and am amazingly now clear of it (I've surprised myself esp after reading some horror stories on the internet about withdrawal from this med!). I am not saying it was easy. My main problems were nausea and alsoo those brain zaps that a lot of people have talked about, really horrible. The worst bit for me was going from 37.5mg to nothing. 

    I read a few stories of people that had used an anti histamine while withdrawing from Venlaflaxine and it really helped them, I dont pretend to understand the science behind it (!) but thought it was worth a go as the brain zaps/faint feeling were making it hard at work. Although Benadryl is the name I have seen mentioned I just bought a cheap antihistamine. I don't know if it was co-incidence, but literally the brain zaps/faint feeling all but disappeared the day after I started taking the anti histamine! Obviously everyone is different and I wouldn't say it would work for everyone, but definitely worth a try if you are struggling.

    Venlaflaxine no doubt saved my life, so am grateful for what it has done, but time for me to move on from it now!

    Good luck to all trying to come of Venlaflaxine, it can be done! 

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    • Posted

      Hi, I am still going through withdrawals as I am reducing v slowly due to having had heart palpitations while trying to come off. I've had three A&E trips due to them now. I will be reducing for at least another six months but i'm down from 225mg to approx 18.75mg (I split the pills). Good to hear you have managed to come off in six weeks, that's very quick! I keep meaning to try the Benadryl thing but if an anti-histamine does the job then I might just nab some of my other half's and try them out! 
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    • Posted

      Hiya glad you are doing okay although sorry you are still suffering with the heart palpitations that sounds really scary! Let us know how you get on with the antihistamines would be really interested to know if you notice any difference.

      I agree my 6 weeks was fast, I never thought I'd do it to be honest. Think my withdrawal was probably made a bit easier by also being on the quetiapine alongside venlaflaxine. agree with comments by the way that docs/psychiatrists are really ill informed about withdrawal from this med. don't understand why there is not more public info out there. It could prevent a lit of worrying etc.

      Best of luck to all x

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    • Posted

      Just a quick update- it seems maybe my 6 weeks was indeed a little fast. I've been struggling with depression symptoms returning over the last few weeks, and it got so bad I'm now back on a low dose of venlaflaxine, grr! I'd also stopped my therapy which on reflection was not the best plan. But- determined to try again once things are a bit more stable. Perhaps a bit slower! Good luck to all x
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    • Posted

      Hi Zippyp

      I came off venlafaxine in two weeks, I was on 225mg. I have been taking Benedryl, which helps with withdrawal. I am on my second week and it is getting easier. I went on to citalopram as it has less side effects.

      Hang in there x

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