Withdrawing

Posted , 11 users are following.

So this is yet another thread about the nightmare of coming off Venlafaxine... I've read all the threads and still feel I'm not sure how to do this.

I've been taking 1 75mg ER Venlafaxine capsule a day for probably 13 years - I've lost count :-/. 

I tried to quit cold turkey three times and it was a nightmare. Got upto 6 weeks but felt like absolute crap, experienced the following symptoms:

stomach aches, dizziness, vertigo, nausea, detachment, depersonalization, agitation, irritability, tearfulness, extreme anxiety, lethargic, lost appetite, wanted to stay in bed all day, really bad tinnitus, couldn't focus or concentrate, really bad mental fog.

I then reinstated felt fine again and then after a few weeks tried by removing a few mg at a time. Each capsule weighs roughly 270-85 and I decreased by 10mg every few weeks. I suffered some withdrawal effects but soldiered through them. As soon as I got to 240 it was the same nightmarish experience as cold turkey. So reinstated back to 260 and feeling better but still a little out of it.

I'm at a loss as to what to do. I tried bridging with prozac but it was the same. Do I try decreasing by 5 each month? That would take more than 4 years... :-/ Do I try 50% reduction and just try and battle through the misery and hold on for longer than six weeks? Just the idea of that terrifies me. I'm completely non functional in that state. My work has suffered a lot.

The other interesting thing is the side effects I've experienced over the past years - low libido, eye pain, sweating disappear when I get to 250. Which makes me wonder if there is some kind of binary functioning to the medication where if it falls below a certain threshold it isn't as effective? Will it be easier to drop further if I hold at 260 and just wait to settle? Just speculating, looking for some kind of hope I guess.

The other interesting thing is I stick to the same brand Teva but each time the capsules don't all weigh the same sometimes the average is 275 sometimes its 280 sometimes in between. And individual tablets can differ between the heaviest and lowest by upto 10mg. Given I'm super sensitive to even a 5mg difference I'm surprised they're allowed to do this.

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  • Posted

    Hi Urielle. You should never quit these meds cold turkey —— so I’m told. These are brain altering chemicals. Not to be messed with. Do some online research and get some exercise which will help with withdrawal symtems. Try a vigorous walk.  You must get your heart rate up in order for this to be effectve. And drink plenty of water. Stay positive. 
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  • Posted

    I agree with John059…

    I can´s say anything to your particular process but for me it´s like this: since I have connected this way and read about other people´s experience I already feel better with all the symptoms. I strongly believe that our attitude towards the meds Uand basically to everything) has a big effect. For example: John reminded me of the importance of exercise and only then I figured out that the symptoms had in fact been worse when I did not exercise, like being tired and of course not to speak about the weight gain.  So now, I go back to the gym and to regular long walks and feel much better. I also will reduce very slowly - that´s what I learned through reading posts in this forum and I got back to feeling more grateful for having this medication as the side effects are still "better" (preferible) than the pain I felt when I was totally depressed. At this stage I would not want to go back to that as I am not yet willing to accept living that way. But one day I want to go back to be just "me" without meds - even though spiritually I ask myself now who is that "me"? Is the one without meds more real or authentic than the one taking meds? Because this kind of medication has such an impact on the brain I find it very fascinating to ask this sort of questions… Sorry, I left now the main line of discussion…  :-)

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  • Posted

    Hi Urielle,

    The short  answer (and unpleasant truth) is that it will probably you take several years to wean off the drug.  The longer you've been on it, the more difficult it is. I took Venlafaxine for close to 15 years. And, no matter how slowly you decrease, you will still experience some some degree of the symptoms that you mentioned: stomach aches, agitation , irritability, anxiety , difficulty focusing and the mental/cognition issues.  If you work (and even if you don't) , you will need to decrease extremely slowly or you will be almost unable to function.Some days you will feel like you can hardly focus,  but usually that is worse on the days following the dose reductions.  Maybe try decreasing by 5 mg every two weeks.  Remember, you are going to have some symptoms no matter how slow you go.  Expect them. Avoid sugar, it makes the anxiety and agitation worse. Omega 3's did help me a little.  So, reduce by 5 and hold for two weeks.  The initial reduction days you are likely going to experience the symptoms you mentioned but they shouldn't be insurmountable. By the end of the two weeks, you should feel the withdrawal symptoms lessen somewhat,  and your body sort of start to adjust to the new level.  Then, reduce by another 5 mg.  If you feel you have to stay at a particular level for an extra week because you don't feel you are adjusting,  stay an extra week.  You may hit a point where 5 mg every two weeks feels like to much. Remember, as you reduce,  5 mg becomes a larger percentage of the overall dose.  You may have to reduce by 2mg at some point, or even 1 mg per week, I know , I did.  I think once we decide we want off  this drug, we are eager for it to happen as soon as possible.  But when you've been on it for years, it is not something you can do rapidly.   I had to go in with the mindset that I was going to get off Venlafaxine no matter how long it took. I was in for the long haul, sort of like getting a college degree. (Ha) I think once you set that realistic expection you begin to have more control.  Side effects I had while on Venlafaxine were 30lb weight gain, low libido, and low energy.  It look me well over a year to wean off of 75 mg.  If I was doing it again, I'd probably go even slower.  Even after you've stopped, symptoms persist for months.  I've been off of this drug for 33 months, and do not take any others. Although it helped for the situation I was experiencing when I started it, if I had known then what I know now, I never would have taken it. I believe it has permanently affected my brain chemistry.  But, it is possible to get off of it.  Hang in there, and all the best!

     

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    • Posted

      Thank you! This gives me hope. I guess I should just shift my attitude and stop wanting to be off it completely. Thanks for the college degree analogy that was perfect. You're absolutely right about realistic expectations.

      Do you still experience symptoms 33 months later? It's amazing how even 10% reduction in this medication completely destroys me, I completely lack mental clarity and the mental fog takes over. It's like sleepwalking for months. I feel like when I reinstated I woke up again. 

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    • Posted

      This is all so true and such good advice. I think people think that 4 months is a long taper!  Did you lose the weight? And if so, how quickly? Started the journey from 150 mg of Effexor this week. Here's to the next 4 years.  Ha.

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  • Posted

    Hi, I would highly recommend finding a Homeopath and going to them for a consultation. I have found this very beneficial. I know some people would dismiss it, but I also know others who have tried Homeopathy and have had great success with it. Acupuncture is also very beneficial and often you can find people who will practice both! I have had difficulties in coming off Effexor. I had to change my diet...cut out wheat, dairy and sugar. Make sure  I did some exercise every day. I also did some Qi Gong every day (videos on you tube are good). Took Cod Liver Oil and Multi vitamin supplement and went to a Homeopath to help with the withdrawals. It can be done and again I recommend the Homeopath. At this stage, what do you have to lose.
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  • Posted

    Hi there. First, why are you weaning off? All of your anxiety and depression symptoms are coming back! Are you starting another medication? You mentioned Wellbutrin.

    I was on Effexor xr 75 for about the exact same time as you. My generic was discontinued and went generic again when I started having breakthrough anxiety and panic.... Which also coincided with a major life event. So my pcp doctor husband and one of his partners, who is my doctor, thought it would be a good idea to wean off Effexor and start Lexapro. It took me only two months to do so.

    I did every other day full dose, then every third day for two weeks. Occasionally I felt dizzy and nauseated, so I would take a half dose in between and continue the taper. I finally got down to 1/2 dose (37.5) every fourth day and went straight to Lexapro 10 mg. Had I not started on something else, I probably would have had to wean off completely before I felt any real withdrawal as well as NOT starting another med.But I'm pretty confident that I was over there worst of it.

    Unfortunately, Lexapro had the worst effect on me. My anxiety worsened after 3 weeks on 10mg and then 20mg for 7 weeks. I was a mess. So I went back on Effexor XR 75mg, but this time, name brand. (My insurance is covering it now.).

    I will tell you that exercise is KEY in weaning off. Three miles of vigorous walking with my dog every other day and I drank 2 liters of water everyday to flush my system. Just like everyone has said about exercise, it is absolutely necessary. It boosts the endorphines and works with the seratonin levels in your brain.

    But seriously, I think you might need to reevaluate why your weaning off. If you felt good and were functioning on Effexor, why stop? Personally, having anxiety and panic were like living in hell. In fact this is what I imagine hell to be....pure mental and physical torture. There's no way I ever want to go back to that state again.

    God bless you on this journey. It's a tough one to travel no matter what you decide to do. Let us know how you're doing as you go forward, okay?

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    • Posted

      Thanks! No my symptoms were never this, I never experienced anything like this especially the depersonalization, detachment, agitation, nausea etc. Anxiety and depression did get bad when I was a teenager but I believe it was mostly situational. My life has improved a lot since then and I don't have the same pressures or stressors.

      I do wonder if I tried a different bridge it might help, I tried prozac with no success. I consulted a psychiatrist but she was incredibly unhelpful. Maybe I'll try consulting another one. I wish there was some way I could find one who has experience in this. The ones I've seen just have the standard advice.

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  • Posted

    I'm devastated reading these threads but don't know how to post for help.

    After deciding to end my life in December I was referred to the Mental Health Unit. The took me off Citalopram over 4 weeks tgen commenced me on Venlofaxin moving me from 37.5 to 150XL over 3 weeks.

    I haven't got on with it and it's made me I'll so they starting to reduce it to get me off. Been trying for 4 weeks and finally after cutting 37.5 in half to reduce further for 5 days in off. Had it. But god am I going through Hell on Earth. Just now I was going upstairs wobbling all over and we'd myself! I didn't even want the loo and couldn't work out what was happening for a second! HOW after less that 3 months on a drug can all this be happening. I'm sobbing. Staggering dizzilly EVERY time I move. Fizzing and zapping in my head. Feel so nauseous. Very loose bowels. Head pounding. Freezing. Sweating...you name it. This drug should never be given. Nobody deserves this.

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    • Posted

      Yeah it's crazy how much of an impact this drug can have. I hope doctors and psychiatrists are paying attention to how negative an impact these drugs can have. I remember trying to come off this 9 years ago and the dr simply didn't believe me, at least now the dr's seem to understand that this is a common problem.

      Also just typing that I tried to come off this 9 years ago is crazy. I've been taking this drug simply because it was easier to keep taking the pill then deal with the withdrawal... insane.

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    • Posted

      It's beyond belief. I was actually crying, reading the things folk are saying. If I'm like this after such a very short period if taking this drug , I cannot imagine the hell the long term folk are going through.

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    • Posted

      Hi Linda. Your life is so precious!!!!!! Please I hope you're getting the help you need! Remember nothing lasts forever. Not these symptoms, not anxiety, not panic. It's all about how we handle it and manage everything. Life is a rythym of highs and lows. I put everything I can in God's hands and trust he knows what he's doing in my life. It's not easy because we think we know what's best for ourselves. Not true at all. I've surrendered my will for God's. There was such a peace after I made that decision many many MANY years ago. But the world creeps in and screws up the plan God has for me, and so often I listen to the world. When I keep focused on God, my panic and anxiety go away, I enjoy my life, my kids, my grandkids, and I know that whatever crap is going on in my life, it'll pass.

      I've been on this medication for well over 13 years, and withdrawing from it is very hard but doable. I have done it in 2 months. It still works great for me and I have no plans to get off every again. I'm a better version of myself. But your symptoms seen normal, maybe a little extreme, but that could be because you're tapering too fast. I would recommend you talking to your doctor.

      Please, come here for support! And if you need to call an emergency number because you're fragile, call!!!! You're too important and precious!!!

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    • Posted

      Beautiful response!

      Your way sounds like 12-steps...Yes, giving over to my Higher Self (god or whatever people want to call it - definitely a power bigger than my ego, compassionate, loving and supportive) always works. When I forget, I am in trouble!

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  • Posted

    There are Facebook groups which give advice on tapering venlafaxine including advice on supplements to help alleviate some of the withdrawal symptoms. That's where I got my info and I'm now on 150 having dropped from 225

    .

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