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Effexor XR Side Effects, withdrawal and alternatives
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Effexor XR Side Effects, withdrawal and alternatives

52 year old male, moderately high blood pressure, moderately high cholesterol and a history of depression. Taking BP medications [low doses Hyzaar and Cozaar on alternate days]; Lipitor and had been taking 50 mg of Zoloft daily for about 6 years. Also, to offset the feelings of lethargy from Zoloft my GP and I started a trial course of Provigil [modafinil], 200 mg daily in the morning. Started seeing a psychiatrist about 3 months ago in part because I felt the Zoloft had
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Everyone reacts differently, and by your description you are very sensitive.   Even though the drug is no longer active, the target cells have their own changed reactivity to naturally occuring serotonin, so there is still a withdrawal issue to consider.  You should consult with your psychiatrist, but experimenting with the schedule you suggested will probably work..also remember that as you lower the dose you are also lowering the side effects directly attributable to the medication.
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Check out this link. http://www.crazymeds.org/effexor.html
If you have any questions write back
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Thanks for the link, more or less confirms what I already knew first hand. Simply can't believe that a med that, at least anecdotally, has such a bad discontinuation syndrome would be so casually prescribed, much less allowed to go to market.
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Wow! how right you are, I am in your same situation and would like to get off but not sure how. I have also ran out and have been without it for several days and the side effects are awful lots of vertigo and nightmares,I have also gained weight and just don't feel like when I do take it like I and suppose to which is 99% of the time that it is all that great . My Dr. told me nothing about how difficult it was to come off of and I am pretty upste about it, sorry I dont have any answer for you but if you figure it out let me know thanks!
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Since I've experienced these side effects I've done considerably more research, both on and off line and I am appalled at how much information is already in the record and how ignorant, negligent or lazy my psychiatrist was in prescribing this drug so quickly while not informing me of the serious difficulty of withdrawal. Wow. Best as I can determine, there is really no way to avoid the withdrawal effect, cold turkey, tapering, or substitution of another drug don
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I took Effexor for a few days, but I was feeling awful, I quit after three or four days, I know is not enough time for it to work but it was enough time for the way it was making me feel.  Nothing was real, I felt like I wasn't in this world, and it made my panic attacks feel stronger.  I actually not taking any medication, but I  started to do more things with my life, and my children, I usually look for new ways of fighting this attacks, and each day I come to realize that this is from within, and only us can fight all this feelings.  When I start getting an attack I talk to myself and keep on telling myself that is only panic no more than that, and that panic is not going to kill myself.  I also laugh a lot and watch movies that make me happy, and if I need to cry, I cry lots, this also helps me clean my soul and feel much better after.  I know what all of you are going through, and I wish none of us should feel this way, but I thing this makes us go into another level, that not mahy go through in life, we just have to find a way to get out of it, to free ourselve.  Have a lot of faith, and be thankful for life as we have to make the best out of it.
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I totally agree with you that the docs are prescribibg this med way too freely without really explaining any of the effects. I had an awful experience with this. I had the shakes and tremors, I felt spaced out half of the time, and I even got to the point where I was suicidal. I simply stopped taking it after only one month , and oh my goodness. I have never had to withdraw from anything in my life until that. I thought I was really "crazy". I was nauseated, had severe nightmares (I rarely dream at all), snapping at the slightest thing. It was the worst thing I had to experience. Now I am back on Lexapro and feel pretty much back to normal. Good luck with this...
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As far as side effects go, I've been doing really well on Effexor XR. I know that unusual dreaming a side effect of Effexor, but I have taken it for 5 months now with night after night of constant dreams. I remember every single dream that I have during the night and wake up exhausted and annoyed. Could this really be a side effect even though I've been on it this long? I can't remember if the dreaming started before or after taking Effexor. I had this problem of constant dreaming a couple years back, also while on Paxil, but it went away after awhile.
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Quick update, decided to go cold turkey. Yeah I know, I know, but regardless of the advice on this and other forums about tapering, substitutions etc. the questions that remained were: Did I want to continue taking this drug, possibly forever and the answer is HELL NO! I fully apprecite the value of SSRI's in managing depression and I may take another drug in the future, but not Effexor. Secondly, could I tolerate the withdrawal symptoms. Well I suppose time will tell. One of the few benefits of a mispent youth growing up in the late 60's and 70's is a very clear understanding that "normal" and "reality" is a plastic concept, the brain is quite malleable and I am capable of functioning under less than optimal circumstances. As an aside, while I chose not to include the doctor that originally prescribed this med in this decision, all my MD's are on speed dial, I have a supply of the drug if the effects become unbearable. I have also completely stopped drinking any alcohol and seriously cut back on caffiene. I might also mention that I'm currently not working [not directly related to depression or meds] so I do have the time to "check out" as needed. That would not be the case in a month or so when I'm back at work, which is why I chose this time to withdraw.

Today is the third day and probably the best way to describe it is I feel very "stoned". No nausea, no crying jags, no "electric shocks" though I am experiencing some vertigo. The most dramatic effect has been on my sleep. The first 2 nights I experienced extremely vivid, but not unpleasant dreams. Like a multi-cinema with all screens going at once. Last night was different. I experienced very real nightmares, the kind where you wake up in a panic, thrashing around, flailing and I hallucinated a ghost [first for me], however after I woke up I simply lay in bed for a couple of hours watching TV and fell back asleep to vivid but not unpleasant or scary dreams. Odd as it sounds I actually believe that TV shows I watched before I fell aslseep influenced the flavor of my dreams. Before I fell asleep the first time, the last thing I remember watching was the beginning of the 2 part Godfather saga, where Vito Corrlene's family is murdered in Sicily and he immigrates to America, the last thing I remember watching before I nodded off the second time were infomercials for Girls Gone Wild. Go figure, but I guess it makes sense, what goes in effects what comes out. Today I'll concentrate on positive visualizations.
I don't want anyone think that I'm sitting around, a drooling, quivering puddle of nerves. I prepared an elaborate Mexican dinner last night and I spent some time in the woodshop. I just had to be a little more deliberate and mindful of what I was doing. I endure this experience chastened for my unquestioning acceptance of this medication from a "professional" who should have at least been more forthcoming re: side effects and withdrawal. I also draw comfort from the posts in this and other threads in the forum because its helped me know what to expect. That understanding has made the process much more bearable. I share my experience with the hope that it might also open a window for others.
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I tried to go 'cold turkey' giving up effexor - on the advice of a doc who knew basically nothing about the effects.

I felt like death warmed up - as some of you will relate to.  I got to the stage where I had to decide (after about 5 days) whether or not to carry on withdrawing or whether to go back on the tablets.  I went to another doc who couldn't really believe I'd just been told to stop them (I was on 150mg).  

He advised me to gradually lower my dose.  I was sceptical but thought that it couldn't be worse than the way I was feeling.

I basically went back onto 150mg for a month, then a month of alternate days 150mg and 75mg.  After that a month of 75mg, a month of alternate days 75mg and 37.5mg etc.

Unfortunately, for me, when I got down to just 37.5mg a day, I started to get weepy and irrational so decided to go back up to 75mg.  I am fine on that dose, have much fewer side effects than I did on 150mg and am happy to continue long term.

Everyone is different but I definitely found the gradual reduction approach MUCH better than just stopping all at once.

Hope that helps.
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I have been on effexor xr for almost 2 weeks now.  I have not really been diagnosed with anything specifically as of yet except for OCD and depression.  My OCD habits cause alot of anxiety in my life while the actual obsession doesn't last long I think about it all day.  For the last 6 years I have become withdrawn from everyone to the point now where I do not even feel to be apart of my family.  University has so far been very difficult for me due mainly to the fact that I am unable to concintrate for more then 10 seconds before my mind either begins to race or obsess about anything at all (usually something sexual).  I am never "happy" in fact I feel nothing, the only feelings I ever get are extreme anger and hatred with violent thoughts.  I am pretty good at holding in these violent feelings physically but release them verbaly.  My main question is just how effective can effexor be to someone with my symptoms?  Anyone know?
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I have been on Effexor 150mg for about a year.  Prior to that I had a terrible experience with Zololf.  I am being treated for depression.  Prior to using these medications I had some issues with job and personal life.  Little did I know that once on Effexor my problems would esculate into major issues.  My doctor didn't give me any information about these drugs nor did he seem the least bit concerned with the side effects I reported.  He just started changing the dosage which made matters worse.  In all the time I've taken these medications I have never felt worse.  I cam current coming off of Effexor and took the last 37.5mg tablet today.  My doctor wants me to start Lexapro but after reading actual patient's experiences I have vowed to take myself off of all these medications and persue counseling instead.  My wife can't understand why I had no emotions, spent days in bed with terrible headaches, and just plain didn't care about anything.  This all happened while on these medications, not coming off of them.  If I caould do it all over I would seek out counseling before ever getting into this medication nightmare.
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Ten days later - Its ironic and a little sad that after 6 years on SSRI's I can't really remember what "normal" feels like, but I feel pretty good. The worst withdrawal effects have for the most part subsided, I'm still having very vivid dreams, but my waking hours feel like they should. The sense of "altered reality" has subsided to the point where it feels no worse than a head cold; the sweats have passed, as well as the irritation and anxiousness. The, how does Wyeth describe it; Abnormal Male Ejaculation problems are gone. I know this is way too much info, but the guys out there reading this will know what I'm talking about. The elevated blood pressure that precipitated my initial concerns about the drug seems to have settled back down to where it was before @ 120/80. It
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While I am very concerned about Effexor withdrawal, I must say
that it has been very effective the 2 times I have taken it.
Both times I was in fairly bad shape and after having tried numerous other antidepressants without success I was simply a mess winding up in the hospital.

I stopped taking it the 1st time because it stopped working. I
was weaned off of it, and frankly don't remember experiencing withdrawal symptoms. I must admit though I could have been experiencing them but due to the shape I was in and that I was
taking many other drugs, a lot of them new, I couldn't say that part of what I was feeling wasn't due to withdrawal from Effexor.

I am currently taking it again. Once again it was the only drug that managed to pull me out of my personal black pit. However,
just recently I came to the realization it is no longer working.
So I asked my inept and incompetent psychiatrist PA to start me
on a new antidepressive. I mentioned to her that I was concerned about the withdrawal but that hopefully the new one would ease the symptoms. She told me she was not aware of any problems with the cessation of Effexor. I told her that it has a wide reputation for being difficult to withdraw from and she said she hadn't heard that. Basically, she blew me off and I doubt she has given it a second thought or even been curious enough to check it out. She didn't even give me instructions on
how to taper off until I asked. I could have gone home and just stopped it altogether had I not known about the withdrawal potential. Inexcuseable.

I have lowered my dosage by 75mg to 150mg 1Xday since Monday
and feel pretty good so far. But then again I may be feeling better due to the new antidepressant, Lexapro I started on Monday, as well.

I don't know if anyone else experiences this, too, but I often have difficulty in isolating just which one of my meds is the one causing any of the bad symptoms I happen to be having at the moment. Frankly, being Bipolar means spending a great deal of time taking medicine, thinking about medicine, feeling awful from medicine, trying out new medicines, finding the money to pay for medicine, refilling medicine, getting prescriptions for medicine, researching medicine, and cursing medicine.

For all the effort, it would be nice to feel somewhat normal for longer than an afternoon here and there. I've been at this 11 yrs. I have yet to be stabilized.
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dear batorama - First I'm happy that your experience withdrawing from Effexor has been relatively painless, though I'm sure that overlapping the old and new meds has probably blurred some of the effects of both. The important thing is that you are comfortable that the meds are doing the job you want them to do. Believe me you don't have to wonder if you are experiencing withdrawals or side effects, they are NOT subtle.
Your post illustrates the sometimes frustrating and always confusing problems of sorting out cause and effect. On 10/7 I came down with a very bad cold/sinus/allergic attack; [103 fever, nose running like a faucet, head stuffed like an old mattress] I was literally flat on my back until this morning when I felt well enough to check e-mail and such. I know my cold/sinus/whatever was not caused by withdrawal from EffexorXR, however I wondered if there was any link. Cold and flu like symptoms are among the withdrawal effects listed by Wyeth, as well as comments in this and other Forums. In my case, I suspect that the stress accompanying the withdrawal, resulted in a weakening of my immune system that made me more susceptible to environmental factors. The point is it's really hard to sort out cause and effect, both for individual patients but also for the drug companies. Drug companies hide behind these ambiguities. It gives them a great deal of wiggle room when responding to complaints or negative results.
On another note one very subtle side effect from 6 years of taking SSRI's that I've only recently recognized was how much my decision making ability had been compromised; not my ability to frame or analyze problems and arrive at conclusions but actually making a decision. Hard to put into words, but one of the reasons I started seeing my current psychiatrist was my in-ability to "pull the trigger", I just could not take the next step, even when the choice was clear. There is an element of self-doubt that creeps into your decision making process when you take these drugs. I'm sure this is in part due to the stigma contemporary American culture associates with "depression" but also to the "dampening" effect caused by the drugs effect on the brain's chemistry. I doubt much research has been done on the effect of serotonin on the decision making process, if anyone reading this post knows of any articles I'd love to read them.
Depression is real. I've known what its like to lay in bed at night and just wish there was a switch you could flip to just turn it all off. SSRI's had an important, life saving role in treating my depression, but these are extremely powerful drugs that are not well understood by those who manufacture, market  and prescribe them. The real clinical trial begins when the FDA approves the drug and we are the study group. There are competent, caring professionals in practice you don't have to accept paternalistic, cavalier of lazy behavior from your health care partner. Make informed choices.
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I need help! I'm not quite sure what I'm suffering from... depression, anxiety, or "altered brain chemistry after having tried a few SSRI's." I have been sorta in a "pithole" for the last 3 months. I have been having difficulty concentrating, suffering from confusion, insomnia, speech difficulty, and basically not wanting to do the things I once enjoyed. I am constantly worrying, especially at work. This whole thing started when I first tried Zoloft two months. I took it for about two days, then the second day, I had difficulty sleeping. I didn't sleep for about 3 days straight. I went to see a doctor and was diagnosed with "depression & anxiety" and said that it rooted from ending a previous relationship. Anyhow,I was given Ambien for sleep, which I took for about a week. I had to stop it after a week of taking it because I was experiencing some bad side effects --- "feeling like a walking zombie." This was also when my numerous doctor visits came about. To make the long story short, I was prescribed different medications, as some of them didn't work for or maybe I just didn't give them enough time to work. Trazadone, Valium, Klonopin, Wellbutrin, etc. I had to swtich from one medication to another for a period of one month. And I just didn't feel the same person that I was after having tried all these medication. I then decided to go to a Psychiatrist and again the same thing happened. I was prescribed Prozac & Sonata. After having taken Prozac for a week, I ended up developing some bad allergic reaction and I had to stop taking it. Sonata kinda work, it would allow me to sleep for 4-5 hours, but that's it. So I went back to the Psych and again I was switch to another medication - Lexapro and was given Prednisone for the allergies. Bad idea! I had to take the Prednisone for a week and ended up eating anything on sight. The only good thing about it that a week after taking Prednisone w/ Benadryl, my sleep cycle had come back! Yet I had to mess it up all over again when I decided to Lexapro. The first day I tried Lexapro, I ended up suffering from insomnia. So I am basically back to square one! I still don't like myself, I really don't know what to do anymore. I don't know if I'm just suffering from depression/anxiety, I don't know. I feel like I'm not making any sense anymore, and I'm not able to perform the way I was able to at work, again I don't know if this is from anxiety. Please help!
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I am weaning myself off Effexor. Not that bad so far (2 weeks) except for the nausea and lethargy (no nightmares so far). I was taking 75 mg twice a day and I've made it to 1 every 3rd day before the head zaps and disconnected feelings set in. I have also been feeling somewhat aggressive and have noticed myself being a bit "mouthy" (as we say here in the Southern US). I can't wait to be off this drug. My (ex)therapist was quite nonchalent (sp?) about it.
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I HAVE BEEN ON EFFEXOR XR FOR 5 YEARS, I HAD GAINED ALOT OF WEIGHT, BUT I THOUGHT I FELT GOOD. AFTER SEVERAL RECENT ENCOUNTERS WITH SOME SURPRISINGLY ATTRACTIVE WOMEN I REALIZED I COULD NOT " PERFORM ". I WENT TO MY DOCTOR AND TOLD HIM I WAS NOT HAPPY WITH THIS DRUG AND MYSELF, I WAS LAZY AND UNMOTIVATED. HE DECIDED TO PUT ME ON WELLBUTRIN SR. I WAS TOLD TO REDUCE EFFEXOR TO EVERY OTHER DAY, BUT AS YOU ALL KNOW EVEN IF YOU MISS A DAY IT MISERABLE. SO I DECIDED A.M.A TO QUIT COLD TUREY, I JUST WANT EVERY ONE TO KNOW THAT THIS IS THE WORST FEELING IVE EVER HAD. I HAD THE SHAKES, SWEATS, DIARREHA, LACK OF CONCENTRATION,NAUSEA,SHORT TEMPER AND THE GOOD OLD BRAIN ZAPS. I EVEN HAD TO GO SEE MY BOSSAT WORK AND EXPLAIN TO HIM WHAT WAS HAPPENING TO ME BECAUSE I FELT THAT HE THOUGHT I WAS ON SOMETHING ILLEGAL, WHICH IT SHOULD BE. THE ONLY THING THAT KEPT ME FROM GOING BACK TO EFFEXOR LIKE IT WAS CRACK,IS THAT I KNEW AT SOME POINT THE WELLBUTRIN WOULD KICK IN. I HONESTLY DONT KNOW IF I COULD HAVE STOPPED TAKING MEDICATION COMPLETELY, AND IF ANY ONE IS TRYIG GOD BLESS. I KNOW THIS SOUNDS CRAZY, BUT CONSIDER USING LOW DOSE OF WELLBUTRIN OR SOMETHING SIMILAR TO HELP YOU GET OFF THIS HORRIBLE DRUG BUT IM NOT A DOCTOR. NOW AS I WRITE THIS I AM AT DAY 7 EFFEXOR FREE. I STILL HAVE BRAIN ZAPS, BUT MOST EVERYTHING HAS STOPPED OR SUBSIDED, I HAVE SO MUCH MORE ENERGY NOW,MY  HEAD IS FINALLY CLEARING ITS NOT AS IF IAM IN A DREAM ANY MORE. AND MY DREAMS ARE CRYSTAL CLEAR. PLEASE DO NOT TAKE THIS **** OR IF YOU ARE GET OFF IT. I FEEL THAT I HAVE BEEN A ZOMBIE  FOR 5 YEARS. PLEASE IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS LET ME KNOW......       GOODLUCK TO EVERY ONE
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I have been on about four different kinds of antdepresent (laxapro, paxil, zoloft,prozac) and now effexor.  It has been two weeks since i started taking effexor.  I do not know if this is my wishfull thinking but I think it is working for me.  But after reading some of these posts I am a bit worried.  I mean effexor is my last resort. All other meds did not working for me.
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I have been on Effexor XR and Ambien for the past 3 years. This is after trying multiple antidepressants and sleep agents over the previous 5 years. The Effexor and Ambien worked well - felt good, slept good, minimal weight gain, minimal side effects. However, my family began complaining that I would "wander" at night (eat, fall, on rare occasions drink, and become an attention "*****" to quote my oldest daughter).

Over time, I became increasingly lethargic, had difficulty concentrating and felt dazed most of the time. The Effexor XR was increased from 75 mg to 150 mg and Ambien increased to 10 mg with some improvement in symptoms.

Recently I noticed a return in the lethargy, difficulty concentrating, difficulty communicating etc. My family shared with me specifics of my nighttime behaviors, increased irritability during the daytime alternating with blankness and staring into space.  This amounted to an intervention.

I stopped the Ambien and the Effexor XR cold turkey that night.  It has been quite a journey over the last 5 weeks. I suffered severe withdrawal symptoms and was unable to sleep for 4 consecutive nights. After four nights, I began taking Ambien 5 mg. for sleep and immediately felt better. I also began seeing my psychiatrist and therapist again who have prescribed Trazodone for sleep and stopped the low-dose Ambien. I have taken Trazodone for 2 nights now and have not slept. I am irritable and tired but feel much better off the Effexor and on the nights I don't take Ambien, I don't wander. I am hopeful the 3rd night on Trazodone will be better.

The psychiatrist I see is not familiar with the side effects of Effexor XR and the wandering, amnesic effects of Ambien and believes the nighttime activities are related to dissociative disorder. I strongly believe the medications are the culprit as my family noticed the behaviors began when I started the Effexor XR and the Ambien. I did not have those side effects on Imipramine and low-dose Ambien.

Stopping the medications cold-turkey was very difficult but probably one of the best things I have done for myself. I, too, had a visit with my boss about what was going on with me so my behavioral and physical symptomatology doesn't get me fired!
Hang in there everyone - there is life after Effexor.
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Uh, I hope this is the answer to what has been happening to me the past few weeks, I never even dreamed it was connected. Just this morning I had a light bulb moment and decided to look up side effects to quitting Effexor and brought this site up.
Two weeks ago I came down with a flu bug, was in bed for the whole weekend. About this same time I had decided to start weaning myself off of Effexor for several different reasons. I was taking both Wellbutrin XL and Effexor XR and was just tired of taking so many medications ( I am also on hormone replacement therapy). The side effects I had from Effexor were not that totally bad; sweating and being hot when nobody else was, decreased sexual feelings, not as intense orgasms. I had quit about a year ago but don't remember feeling like this at all. For the past two weeks I have just felt awful, like the flu never went away. The worst part being a terrible stomach ache and being very bloated.  It felt like if I could just throw up or have a bowel movement I might feel better, but I couldn't. I've been very emotional and weepy, dizzy feeling (vetigo)? very loud ringing/buzzing in my ears, being very nauseated, increased migraines and like one of the other people posted on here, feeling like "death warmed over".
Wow, this may sound weird, but I hope the reason I'm feeling like this is due to my stopping Effexor. I've had all kinds of horrible thoughts like, maybe I have stomach cancer or some horrible disease. In fact I have a doctors appointment Monday morning to talk about a few issues, like my increasing migraines and feeling like I have been the past two week. I guess I will just suffer these feelings for another day and when I see my doctor ask him if how I'm feeling could be a side effect from stopping the effexor. But the most important question I have for him if it is, how long will this feeling last???? Because I would rather go back on it than continue to feel like this, thats for sure. I'll post back after my appointment to say what the outcome is.
Cindy
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Wow, it's nice to know that I'm not crazy.  I have always had similar effects whenever I forgot to take my dose the night before - the vivid dreams especially!  To quote other users, I definitely felt like "death warmed over".  Reading everyone's posts is making me consider saying "bye-bye" to this drug.  Not that I'll do anything drastic, but it's certainly food for thought.
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I've been looking for someone on this forum who maybe in similar circumstances to my own.  I'm 46, premenapausal and I've been on Effexor 225mg for one year now.  I previously went off the drug for one week as I was weaned off during a drug study I was involved in so I could get free medication.  Dosage was decreased gradually over three weeks (that went fairly well) and then I was without meds for one week.  I thought I would loose my mind before they got me started on it again.  Got started on Effexor in the first place because personal problems brought back my depression.  The Effexor was a God send at the time.  It totally numbed me out to everything.  Prior to meds I had hit rock bottom.  Crying alot, couldn't function doing normal daily activities.  Ultra sensative to everything.  Couldn't get out of bed, thought life was not worth living....etc.  I was thankful for Effexor as I was finally able to sleep without staying up all night reliving each days problems.  After one year I am now starting to feel like the medication has stopped working.  I have once again become ultra sensitive to everything and everyone.  Each day I wake up I'm not sure what kind of mood I am going to be in.  Will I be happy today or am I on the bottom trying to get up before I can even start my day.  If this med is no longer working then what is the alternative.  I'm not looking forward to going off Effexor as I know from personal experience it is a hard drug to get off of.  But my personal circumstances have not changed much and in some ways are even more troubled.  So I still feel like I need something but I am not really wanting to try another medication.  I didn't figure the depression this time around would be easy or fix quickly.  But if it is no longer working and I'm at the highest dosage where do I go from here?  Also I'm in a very bad place with my weight.  My normal weight is 125-130.  I'm now at 177 and climbing.  My whole body is under stress because of the extra weight which I assume is related to the Effexor. I'm down to one meal a day and I'm still gaining.  Also, I broke my toe and that has hampered me from getting exercise but this weight gain is abnormal.  Another side effect of the drug is the lack of ability to concentrate which is making it difficult for me to decide what to do.  I first called it memory loss but my psych. described it as lack of concentration.  Does anyone else out there fit my profile?  I need someone to talk to.
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I have been on 75Mg of Effexor for 6 years now and one side-effect that I have noticed is that my left eye vision is always seems to be blurry.  I have had Lasik surgery (3 enhancements within one year period, and I'm sure my Doctor is bewildered as to why he can't get me to 20/20 vision, especially with the new Wavefront Technology.)  Last week, I read up on some of the potential side effects of taking Effexor, and blurry vision is one of them.  So, I'm on my 3rd day of coming off the drug.  I read that the Amino Acid, L-Theanine, which is an ingredient in Green Tea, works to keep the brain in an "Alpha Wave" state.  This state is, Awake, but Relaxed.  The other waves are as follows: Delta Wave = Deep Sleep, Theta Wave = Light Sleep, and Beta Wave = Awake, Excited.  I have had anxiety and panic attacks most of my life, so much of the time the chemical imbalance must have placed me in "Beta Wave State."   I am on my third day without taking Effexor (Cold Turkey),and so far I have had no withdrawal symptoms!  None!  I take 200mg of  L-Theanine every 8 hours (thus, 3 X per day).  The only side effect that I have had so far is that my vision is now clearer, like it should have been after the the first Lasik Procedure I had a year ago.  Obviously, if the side effects start to happen, then I will go back on and do the slow withdrawal thing.  I know this sounds too good to be true, but go on the web and check out L-Theanine for yourselfs.  I will keep everyone posted on my progress.  Hope this helps someone!  sas90230
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I have been on Effexor XR for 3.5 years and I'm begginning to wane off of them.  I'm not quitting cold turkey.  I'm on 300mg daily and going to 150mg daily for the next 2 weeks.  Usually Doctors like another step between 300mg and 150mg, whether one is going up or down, but I'm being a little aggressive.  I want to see how I act without the meds and if I needed them in the first place, as I remember the Doctor giving me the meds rather hastily.  I have the side effects of excessive sweating and sexual side effects.  I also had the comment by multiple people that I'm somewhat 'distant' , 'blase' or 'nonchalant' about everything.  It was in fact a reason that my ex-girlfriend broke up with me.  I originally started taking the meds as a result of minor depression and anxiety disorder.  The effects of missing a dose can be rather disturbing as it feels like you are getting the flu or something.  One should not be amazed they feel like **** when quitting cold turkey.  I doing the prescribed method of stepping down.  My Doctor had no problem with me not taking.  Perhaps, just reducing the dose will make me feel more normal.  I'm not convinced the original Doctor I was seeing knew what the hell he was doing.  At any rate, I will post periodically to tell you my results.
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I've just recently discovered this board and have found many of your comments incredibly interesting and actually reassuring.  Over the past 8 years I've been on several SSRIs (zoloft, paxil(briefly), Celexa, Lexapro and finally Effexor for the past 3 years).  Over the past two years it has become clear to me that the medication was limiting my, creativity and ability to access my higher level cognitive functions.  I decided I needed to taper off the meds if I ever wanted to function at my full potential in life.  

The first time I tried to withdraw from Effexor was the most horrible experience of my life.  Along side all of the classic serotonin withdrawal symptoms came extreme anxiety for which there was no clear cause; insomnia, inability to eat, severe constipation, terrible nightmares, memory loss, significant reduction in my comprehension of just about any moderately complex issue.  I limped through life for over two months certain I had lost my mind and would never be normal again.  I saw counselors and a psychologist who did not see a connection between the cessation of Effexor and my mental state.  Ultimately I began taking the drug again and my state rapidly came back into balance.  I remained on the drug for six months until my wife became preganant, at which time I decided to stop the antidepressants in order to be at my best as a father.  

I am now 4+ months since discontinuing Effexor and they have been extremely trying and difficult times.  Work has been incredibly difficult, frustrating and confusing.  I have experienced terrible levels of unfounded anxiety for months on end.  The difference this time is a highly informed LCSW who has tought me effective behavioral modification techniques which include, breath work, meditation and "the work" as found in Byron Katies book "Loving What is".  I highly reccommend her techniques as a means to balance your thought processes when the anxiety comes on.  I don't attach to my thoughts, I calm my mind and bring it into harmony with my body this way.  Some times it is an ongoing process through the day, but it works for me.  

Even four months out, I continue to struggle with the effects of Effexor withdrawal syndrome.  Combining good and competent therapy with effective nutrition, excercise and behavioral modification techniques have brought me a long way. I feel I'm turning a corner in my life and reclaiming my intellectual and creative abilities.  More good days than bad now and hopes for a complete turn around over the next few months.

For those of you considering withdrawing from Effexor, know that it is difficult.  If you experience is anything like mine, be prepared for the fight of your life.  Remind yourself that the fear, anxiety, sadness, moodiness, agitation are not real but the products of thoughts brought on by a brain out of balance chemically.  Stay away from stimulants, caffeine and alcohol.  Excercise regularly and eat well and often, don't let your blood sugar levels drop, it makes things worse.  Don't overeat and watch your simple sugar intake.  It's literally mind over mind on this one folks.  You can find oversight within your own mind on what your brain is struggling with, you can separate reality from thought and you can make it through. Give your brain a chance to rebalance itself and you can do it.
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I am a 48 year old female who has been on Effexor for 2 years and wanting to get off.  I have been sick with the same cold, sinus infection, ear infection, sore neck, stiff shoulder, fuzzy eyesight for 4 weeks.  I was treated with 2 prescriptions of antibiotics for sinus infection and then they thought I had a possible ear infection.  At any rate I didn't get out of bed to take my Effexor on a regular basis so maybe I was having some withdrawal symptoms at the same time.  I can only describe my feeling that I get when I don't take it as a kind of fuzzy feeling throughout my entire body.  It just feels strange.  And I don't to often like to get too far away from home because I feel like just lying down whereever I may be.  I just got back from the health food store because I am goig to try the LTheatine like another Effexor user recommended.  My biggest problems that I have experienced while on Effexor have been weight gain that won't go away no matter how hard I try.  My memory has been terrible.  I wake in the morning and I don't want to get out of bed and help my daughter get off to school.  Then when I do get up I don't particularly get to the things that should be done.  It doesn't bother me if the bed doesnt get made or the dishes put in the dishwasher.  My husband asked me to type a one page document for him for business and i didn't do it for 6 weeks.  I could go on and on.  I am getting off and hopefully the L-Theanine will help.
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I have taken Effexor and my highest dose was 150mg XR/once a day (extended release capsules) for 1 1/2 years; I have been tapering for 8 months and I'm now at 28.06mg/for the day (using tablets).  I have had minimal withdrawal to this point and I attribute that to the very slow tapering and cutting doseage's at a rate between 5-10% (and no more than that) each time.

A DOSEAGE CUT of 5-10% example:

50mg x 5% = 2.5mg
50 - 2.5 = 47.50mg (new dose)

Next cut:

47.50 x 5% = 2.38mg
47.50 - 2.38 = 45.12mg (new dose)


Now for the how to's:


Instead of counting out granules (which really isn't accurate as granule capsule contents vary anywhere from 105 - 124 granules per capsule), use Effexor immediate release tablets (don't worry you won't feel any different than using the capsules. The only difference is that you will take one half of your tablet dose in the morning and twelve hours later take the second half of your dose.  


THE GOOD NEWS:  Effexor comes in tablets:  100mg, 75mg, 50mg, 37.50mg, and 25mg.  You can purchase a "pill splitter" from any pharmacy--the cost about $4.00 (american money) and split your pills in half, quarters, and even eigths--(with a little practice for the 1/8s).  Splitting tablets will enable you to have more control stepping done your medication.  When I got to a dose that is in between one of the tablet sizes listed above, I respectfully requested from my doctor a prescription of two different amounts of tablets (for example 37.50mg tablet and 25mg tablet).  When I was ready to step down from 37.50mg I did NOT want to go directly to 25mg--that is WAY TOO MUCH of a cut.  Instead this is what I did:


---I cut a 37.50mg tablet into eights = 4.66mg/per eight and then cut a 25mg tablet in half = 12.50 mg.  I would then take:  one 4.66mg plus one 12.50 mg =  17.16mg (morning dose) and then do the same thing 12 hours later.  17.16mg + 17.16mg = 34.32mg for the day.  I stayed at this new amount for a month.


Then I tapered to 31.24mg for the day. I got that by:  cutting a 37.50 in quarters = 9.37mg and cutting a 25mg into quarters = 6.25mg.  I then took 9.37mg + 6.25mg = 15.62mg in the morning and then same thing 12 hours later.  15.62mg + 15.62mg = 31.24mg for the day.  I stayed at this amount for a month.


I currently take 1/8 of a 37.50mg tablet = 4.66mg plus 1/4 of a 37.50mg tablet = 9.37mg.  4.66mg + 9.37mg = 14.03mg.  14.03mg + 14.03mg = 28.06mg for the day.


You can see this is MUCH EASIER on your system than going from 37.50mg to 25mg.


WHEN CUTTING YOUR PILLS  of differing milligrams, have some empty, clean, prescription bottles that are labeled (for example 4.66mg on one, 9.37mg on another, 6.25 mg on another, etc.) so that you don't get them mixed up.  As you cut smaller amounts it gets harder to distinguish what is what--the labeled bottles will keep you straight. Just be sure to put the correct amounts in the correct bottles!


BE SURE once you step down on a doseage that you remain at that amount for at least 3 weeks, preferably 4 weeks.  It will give your brain chemistry a time to adjust to the lower level of chemical serotonin.


DON'T BE SUPRISED as you get lower and lower on your dose that you may need more than 3-4 weeks to stablize; remember your brain is going through a HUGE change--give it the chance to even out.  It's not important how long it takes to taper from dose to dose, it matters that you take your time!


ALWAYS take Effexor with food in your stomach and drink plenty of water.


Do NOT eat or drink anything containing GRAPFRUIT, it can create a serious toxic reaction.


NEVER, EVER take St. John's Wort or 5-HTP--they have a serotonin in them.  Mixing them with an anti-depressant or taking then after you've been off of an anti-depressant for only a year of less can lead to SEROTONIN SYNDROME - a toxic and deadly condition.   Click on the following link to find out about it:  http://www.antidepressantsfacts.com/serotonin-syndrome-ADF.htm

  

NEVER, EVER take Effexor or any anti-depressant every other day--withdrawal will start and you will never get back on an even keel.  I know, I know your doctor told you to do this, but MOST doctors are truely ignorant of the hell they are about to put you through doing this.  If you are currently on this program get back to taking your dose everyday and after you are stabilized you can start your tapering.


DO NOT try to detox your liver, kidneys, and the rest of your body while tapering; it will make withdrawal more difficult.


PLEASE TAKE THE TIME to visit these webpages; they have critical and very helpful information for tapering:

http://www.antidepressantsfacts.com/reaction.htm


http://www.antidepressantsfacts.com/taper.htm


The best to everyone,
Sweettooth

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As I continue to research and find more information on this drug..I am just disgusted at the number of people who were misinformed..who is to blame for this

1. wyeth for informing physicians only 10% of people experience side effects (NOT true)...
2. my physician for not telling me of the side effects and so non-chalantly prescribing this drug to me..
3. me ...for not researching this drug before allowing it into my system..

Yes Effexor did help me get out of my hole..BUT it was me and continues to be ME who overcame and will continue to fight depression..its a daily battle.

I am upset..that I have to go thru these withdrawal effects..thinking something must be wrong with me..the electrical brain shocks..WOW that is scary ..yet when i complained to my doctor ..she totally dismissed me..
I am a 28 year old female..and fortunately..my friends nor family are fighting the same battle so when i try to talk to them about how i feel about this drug..they dont get it..
THank god for sites like this..
Reading the above post that 2,9 billion dollars was made on this drug last year alone is sad..
how can they put this drug out and continue to get people on this medication without informing them of the side effects...
its not right..!
Please inform me of sites that fight this drug or how we can fight wyeth and make it personal that they are affecting people in this way..

Depression will not be "cured" by drugs alone..
ITs about you.
You need to fight this battle daily
get positive people to surround you.
find happiness in the small things..
and push yourself a little extra every day..
I am much happier now..and am a better person because of this
yet we need to find a way to help people with depression..without just   prescribing this drug and others like it..i found the withdrawal effects were so scary and could easily make a person relapse..
I am still on 75mg a day ..and will be off one day..and be a true exeffexor ..
God Bless
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I had been on 140m if Effexor XR for 7 months.  Prescribed by my Doc as the "cleanest and safest of anti-depressants" on the market right now. I was placed on them for a mild depression that developed from heavy duty stress. He said it would take the "edge" off and that I should try it for a month or so.  Well after my bloodpressure skyrocketed do to the 140m dose, I was told to cut back to 75m a day.  That seemed to take the edge off. But I was begining to notice that my eyes were not focusing at times.  Also during a very hot and humid day, with temps reaching over 100 degrees my eyes felt like someone had pulled them out and stuck them in a microwave.  It felt like heat exhaustion or Sun Stroke.  But I had not been in the sun. Thats when I realized I had missed a pill that morning.  
I contacted my doc and he assured me that it wasn't the Effexor at all and that I should just stop taking them.  NOT decrees the dose, but stop taking them altogether.  Well I tried that and almost passed out.  So he said every other day of the 75m, ccouldn't do this either.  He would NOT beleive me that I was suffering what I found to be Vertigo.  My brother recommened I do some searching and found this sight.  
My doc was non supportive and beleives that Effexor XR has no side effects.  He is wrong, and inept in his ability to understand what he prescribes. Since August I have gone to the 37.5m cap for 30 days, then I had to actually split the granules that I know was not all that smart, but I couldn;t get the lower dose.  I have been Effexor XR free for 5 days, I have slight vertigo, but it lessens daily. At first i experinced migrains that were so fierce I thought I would have to take the full dose again.  I am not sure what route (if any) I will take in the future, but Effexor XR is not a choice.  Thank you and good luck to all of you who have taken and still take this med.   - Warr
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Learning from this web site and others, I realized the horrible withdrawal symptoms of Effexor XR. I have been slowly getting off this medication for the past month. I went from 3 pills a day to 2 to 1...and now nothing in hopes of getting pregnant. I was also taking neurotin (sp?) to give the EXR a boost. The medication worked very well for me against anxiety and panic attacks. I felt as though I had a nervous breakdown earlier this year and left work for two months. During this time, I started taking EXR/Neurotin. Now that I am off, I am concerned with the current withdrawal symptoms: stomach pain, dizziness, sweats, chills, crying spells, buzzing sounds in my head. I am relieved that I found the root of my problems this week. I am upset that I was warned before hand of the horrible...horrible withdrawal symptoms. Then again, he could have mentioned them and I down-played the advise because I didn't know the severity.

Ironicly, my doctor just returned my call and stated it was fine to discontinue the E-XR all together. However, if I wanted to take the edge off the symptoms, he could prescribe a much lower dosage for the next couple weeks. I quickly declined and will continue to go at it cold-turkey. I have three bottles of E-XR and neurotin that I would flush down the toilet if it wasn't so expensive.

On the up-n-up...my husband is very happy to have my healthy libido back and is supportive when it comes to all the negative side affects. It's great having my sex-drive back. That's the one thing that has made me feel sooooo good through all this.

My advise to anyone on E-XR and wants to get off...do it VERY SLOWLY. Good luck to Everyone.
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Been on Efexor 225mg per day for 6 months now. The depression has been beaten but I now have hypertension and high cholesterol which I never had previously. I have never been overweight, eat properly and exercise regularly and have keep tabs on my blood pressure and cholesterol. Is this a common side effect, my Doc now wants me to take medicine for the hypertension and cholesterol. I raised this issue with my Psychiatrist and Doctor and they both seemed rather non-commital in pinning down these side effect to Efexor. Has anyone had similar and rather drastic side effects?
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METHOD 1:

I have taken Effexor and my highest dose was 150mg XR/once a day (extended release capsules) for 1 1/2 years; I have been tapering for 8 months and I'm now at 28.06mg/for the day (using tablets).  I have had minimal withdrawal to this point and I attribute that to the very slow tapering and cutting doseage's at a rate between 5-10% (and no more than that) each time.  

Now for the how to's:
Instead of counting out granules (which really isn't accurate as granule capsule contents vary anywhere from 105 - 124 granules per capsule), use Effexor immediate release tablets (don't worry you won't feel any different than using the capsules---I know because I switched from the capsules to the tablets).  The only difference is that you will take one half of your tablet dose in the morning and twelve hours later take the second half of your dose.  

THE GOOD NEWS:  Effexor comes in tablets:  100mg, 75mg, 50mg, 37.50mg, and 25mg.  You can purchase a "pill splitter" from any pharmacy--the cost about $4.00 (american money) and split your pills in half, quarters, and even eigths--(with a little practice for the 1/8s).  Splitting tablets will enable you to have more control stepping done your medication.  When I got to a dose that is in between one of the tablet sizes listed above, I respectfully requested from my doctor a prescription of two different amounts of tablets (for example 37.50mg tablet and 25mg tablet).  When I was ready to step down from 37.50mg I did NOT want to go directly to 25mg--that is WAY TOO MUCH of a cut.  Instead this is what I did:

---I cut a 37.50mg tablet into eights = 4.66mg/per eight and then cut a 25mg tablet in half = 12.50 mg.  I would then take:  one 4.66mg plus one 12.50 mg =  17.16mg (morning dose) and then do the same thing 12 hours later.  17.16mg + 17.16mg = 34.32mg for the day.  I stayed at this new amount for a month.

Then I tapered to 31.24mg for the day. I got that by:  cutting a 37.50 in quarters = 9.37mg and cutting a 25mg into quarters = 6.25mg.  I then took 9.37mg + 6.25mg = 15.62mg in the morning and then same thing 12 hours later.  15.62mg + 15.62mg = 31.24mg for the day.  I stayed at this amount for a month.

I currently take 1/8 of a 37.50mg tablet = 4.66mg plus 1/4 of a 37.50mg tablet = 9.37mg.  4.66mg + 9.37mg = 14.03mg.  14.03mg + 14.03mg = 28.06mg for the day.

You can see this is MUCH EASIER on your system than going from 37.50mg to 25mg.

WHEN CUTTING YOUR PILLS  of differing milligrams, have some empty, clean, prescription bottles that are labeled (for example 4.66mg on one, 9.37mg on another, 6.25 mg on another, etc.) so that you don't get them mixed up.  As you cut smaller amounts it gets harder to distinguish what is what--the labeled bottles will keep you straight. Just be sure to put the correct amounts in the correct bottles!

BE SURE once you step down on a doseage that you remain at that amount for at least 3 weeks, preferably 4 weeks.  It will give your brain chemistry a time to adjust to the lower level of chemical serotonin.  

DON'T BE SUPRISED as you get lower and lower on your dose that you may need more than 3-4 weeks to stablize; remember your brain is going through a HUGE change--give it the chance to even out.  It's not important how long it takes to taper from dose to dose, it matters that you take your time!

ALWAYS take Effexor with food in your stomach and drink plenty of water.

Do NOT eat or drink anything containing GRAPFRUIT, it can create a serious toxic reaction.

NEVER, EVER take St. John's Wort or 5-HTP--they have a serotonin in them.  Mixing them with an anti-depressant or taking then after you've been off of an anti-depressant for only a year of less can lead to SEROTONIN SYNDROME - a toxic and deadly condition.   Click on the following link to find out about it:  http://www.antidepressantsfacts.com/serotonin-syndrome-ADF.htm


Drugs that may induce serotonin syndrome when taken with antidepressants (not a complete list)
ecstasy
cocaine
lithium
St John's wort (Hypericum) - herbal antidepressant
diethylproprion - an amphetamine
dextromethorphan - found in many cough suppressants
Buspar (buspirone) - for anxiety
Selgene, Eldepryl (selegiline) - for Parkinson's Disease
anti-epileptics - Tegretol, Carbium, Teril (carbamazepine)
analgesics - pethidine, Fortral (pentazocine), Tramal (tramadol), fentanyl
anti-migraine drugs - Naramig (naratriptan), Imigran (sumatriptan), Zomig (zolmitriptan)
appetite suppressants - phentermine and fenfluramine
tryptophan - an amino acid
  

NEVER, EVER take Effexor or any anti-depressant every other day--withdrawal will start and you will never get back on an even keel.  I know, I know your doctor told you to do this, but MOST doctors are truely ignorant of the hell they are about to put you through doing this.  If you are currently on this program get back to taking your dose everyday and after you are stabilized you can start your tapering.

PLEASE TAKE THE TIME to visit these webpages; they have critical and very helpful information for tapering:  http://www.antidepressantsfacts.com/reaction.htm

http://www.antidepressantsfacts.com/taper.htm


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METHOD 2:

WATER TAPERING - makes possible tiny reductions in medication.


***CAUTION*** This method can ONLY be done with tablets.    XR (extended release) versions of medications CANNOT use this method; it will lead to overdose.


Here is a better WATER TAPERING method than the previous one I had posted (which I have removed).


Equipment needed:
a tall lab cylinder that holds 250 ml
a small lab cylinder that holds 10 ml
a dropper or syringe
a mortar and pestle
a small battery-operated mixer
a continuing supply of the med. you are using


Process:
Grind the tablet in the mortar and pestle.

Fill the tall lab cylinder to a predetermined amount of water.  Use this same amount of water each time you make a reduction.  The amount you start with will determine  just  how small the cut is.  Another words the greater amount of water you use, the fewer medicine particles per ml will be suspended in it.  The less water you use the greater the amount of medicine particles per ml will be suspended in it.


How to determine the amount of cut you'll be making:
Divide your dose by the milliliters of water you intend to use to find the amount of drug per 1 ml of water.


Examples:
37.50mg Effexor tablet divided by 200ml of water = 0.1875mg per 1 ml of water.

37.50mg Effexor tablet divided by 150ml of water = 0.25mg per 1 ml of water.


Pour a little of the water in the cylinder onto the powdered drug and grind it some more. Then rinse the mortar into the battery-operated mixer, using the water in the cylinder until all of the powder in the mortar and on the pestle has gone into the mixer, as well as the rest of the water in the cylinder. The mortar will become colored from the dye used in the pills, do not be concerned about that.

Hit the spin button on the battery-operated mixer. This puts the drug particles into suspension in the water. There is no need for the pills to dissolve or be water soluble; putting the particles into suspension is sufficient to insure random dispersal for long enough to adjust your dosage.

While the mixer is still ON, take the dropper and remove a small amount of the water. Use the small lab cylinder to measure this amount to 1 ml. Discard this amount and drink the water that remains in the mixer. Then add a little more water from a cup and hit spin again to get all the residue out of the mixer and drink that. The next dose, repeat the process but discard 2mls of water and drink the rest.

The advantage to this method is that as long as you have a sufficient supply of tablets, you can reduce at your own rate and make tiny reductions. The brain doesn't differentiate between very small reductions of dose over a few days, but the cumulative cuts do add up so if you feel withdrawal setting in, STOP and let your body adjust.

Now all you have do is find the equipment.  A Power Mixer can be obtained from www.bodybuilding.com.  It's called the Personal Power Mixer. Or just go to www.Google.com and type in the words "Power Mixer", I'm sure you'll find lots of places that sell them and then you can look for the best price. The same thing goes for graduated cylinders and mortars and pestles.  Here is website so you can at least see what they look like, www.pharmex.com.  

Sweettooth
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Hi, I've been on Effexor XR for about 2 months and I've noticed recently that I have been having really vivid and disturbing dreams. It's really weird. And quite disturbing, but it seems the dreams come for most people while they are getting off the drug. Does anyone else have this problem while taking the medication?
Cookie5
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Hi everyone. I have been reading this discussion board and others like it avidly now for about a month. It has been a huge help and support to know that others have expereinced what I have been going through with this awful drug.  I was only on Effexor 75mg for 3 weeks, yet the side effects were horrific (chronic insomnia, nausea, migraines, fatigue) that I demanded my doctor take me off it.

She offered me a reduction schedule that lasted 5 days!! After 2 days I rang her and told her I would be doing my own reduction over the next month. What followed was one of the worst months of my life. I had one week off work and I have never been so sick in my life, vomiting, diareaha, nausea, painful heaadaches that dont respond to medication, fatigue, ringing in my ears. I had to go and stay at my mums and was completed incapacitated at times. I stablised on a lower dose so I could return to work, and decided to reduce my dose slightly every Friday and try and cop the worst of it over the weekend.  I managed this for 3 weeks and went to work every day with these painful headaches and awful nausea. Nothing I took for the headaches helped, but ginger did help for the nausea.

I took my last Effexor dose 6 days ago. It was a a very low dose of 10 of those little balls from the XR capsule - equivalent of about 3 gms of the drug. I felt ok for the first 3 days, the physical withdrawals more or less have gone, but the last 3 days I have been "out of control". My emotions are all over the place, I cant stop crying, I am having suicidal thoughts (not that I am planning to follow through on them), I feel desperate and have not been able to go to work this week.

Is this normal? Did anyone else feel like this in the first week coming off the drug? How long does it last? I know that my doctor would say it is the depression symptoms returning but I know that is not the case - I did NOT feel like this before starting on Effexor.  My doctors are ill informed about the side effects of taking this drug and coming off it and I feel that they think I have exaggerated the effects I have experienced the last month. It makes me so mad.

Anyway, thanks for reading, and all replied very much appreciated.
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WELL ITS BEEN ABOUT 6 WEEKS NOW IVE BEEN OFF THIS HELL PILL
I WENT ON WELLBUTRIN, THIS DIDNT REALLY HELP MY WITHDRAWALS. WHICH ARE POSTED ABOVE. ONLY SIDE EFFECTS ARE OCCASIONAL ELECTRIC ZAPS, AND A BIT EMOTIONAL. I ACTUALLY QUIT SMOKING AFTER 21 YEARS AND MY NEXT STEP WILL BE GETTING OF THE WELLBUTRIN, WHICH I DONT THINK WILL BE DIFFICULT AFTER THIS.
THINGS ARE LOOKING UP. I DONT RECOMEND QUITING COLD TURKEY LIKE I DID, I THINK THATS WHY I STILL HAVE THE ZAPS, BUT THEY ARE SUBSIDEING. AND I THOUGHT YOU MIGHT ALL ENJOY THIS, I TOLD MY DOCTOR WHAT I HAD GONE THROUGH AND HOW BAD IT WAS, AND HIS RESPONSE.................. " SORRY, DONT KNOW WHAT TO TELL YOU"
THATS BEAUTIFUL I THOUGHT. GOOD LUCK
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Well I am happy to report that the out of control emotions and constant crying have stopped - It is now 10 days since I stopped Effexor. The uncontrollable sobbing lasted about 4 days. I am still getting a few headaches but they are a walk in the park compared to the ones I had while withdrawing.

My advice to anyone trying to withdraw - if your doctor tells you to decrease over a matter of days, or to just stop taking Effexor altogether "Do not listen to them! They dont know what they are talking about!!" Listen to the people who have had to go through this before you. I have found doctors to be of no use at all through this experience.

Here is my advice for what it is worth:
1. Reduce very very slowly - I was only on the drug 3 weeks, yet it took me nearly 4 weeks to get off it! Go figure! If you are on a high dose and have been taking the drug for more than a few months, you will need to reduce over a period of a few months or even more.
2. Reduce your daily dose by about 10 - 15% if you can handle it, and stay there for 2 weeks before reducing again.
3. Dont listen to doctors who tell you to take the med every second or third day - when you do this you will just send your body into withdrawal. Because of the low half life of Effexor you will most probably start to feel sick if you miss a day.It is much better to take it every day and lower the dosage over time.
4. I have heard that the lower reductions just before you stop altogethr can be more horrible than the bigger ones - you may need to decrease more slowly as you get closer to coming off the drug completely. This means you will need to cut up pills, or break open the capsules.

The last week or so of my reduction went like this.

I opened the 75 mg XR release capsule and counted the granules - there were about 250, which meant roughly 3.3 granules was equal to 1 gram of the drug. On Friday I took 40 granules, Saturday 35 granules, Sunday 30 granules etc until the last day I took 10 granules.

The doctors will tell you not to do this but it is the only way I could get the doses small enough. Make sure you dont break or crush the granules - carefully pop them on your tongue and swallow or put them in a teaspoon of yoghurt or something.

Make sure you always eat and drink a big glass of water.

5. Other things that helped:
- Ginger for nausea - it doesnt take it away completely but does take the edge off
- Benedryl(diphenhydramine hydrocholoride). Depending on the country you are in it is sold as an antihistamine, or an OTC sleeping aid. These did seem to help me with the headaches and sleeping at night.
- I've seen other postings where people recommend taking fish oil supplements, which I did, but I dont know if it helped any. I'm sure its good for me anyways.

To all of you trying to deal with this horrible drug, be gentle with yourself - you may need to take time off work - personally I have had to take 8 days off work because of Effexor - I'm lucky I have an understanding boss.

Good luck everyone - you will get through this. Take care
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In an effort to find an easier way to taper, especially at the smaller doses of medication I came across the option of using a "Compounding Pharmacy"--a customized medication preparation by a pharmacist according to a doctor's specifications to meet a patient needs.

The compounding pharmacy said they can make a liquid form of Effexor using water, however it becomes less stable (could affect the potency) and has a very short shelf life (not half life); probably also needs to be refrigerated.

What they are going to do instead is crush the tablets and make up capsules in whatever dose amount I need.  For instance, I'm at 25mg, so for my next cut I will need 5% less.


25mg x 5% = 1.25

25mg - 1.25 = 23.75mg new dose for the day


She will then prepare capsules in doses of 11.875mg each so that I can take one in the morning and then one in the evening; 11.875mg + 11.875mg = 23.75mg for the day.  

I've also specified that I want the Effexor Brand and not the generic as I've read that generics can have as much as a 20% difference in potency (which is allowed by the FDA).

Now I just have to ask my doctor to write the prescriptions to the compounding pharmacy instead of my regular pharmacy.

The beauty of this approach is that you can have as very small or as large a cut as you need because these pharmacies have the sophisticated equipment to accurately do this.  

Here is a link to learn about compounding pharmacies:

Hudson's Guide:  Compounding Pharmacies

http://web.mit.edu/hudson/www/compounding.html



Here is a locator to find one in your area:

International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists Referral Service:

http://ist.intsoftec.com/iacp/referral_service/index.html

**The only draw back to this approach may be the financial aspect of it.  Most Compounding Pharmacies require paying upfront and not all insurance companies will reimburse for this service.

Sweettooth
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Cookie 5 I have been on Effexor for 7 mos and I just recently started having very weird and somtetimes disturbing dreams.  

I also experience the withdrawl (withdrawal) symptoms after missing only 1 day.  My doctor never told me about the withdrawl (withdrawal) symptoms, I looked up most of ther information regarding Effexor myself.  I had a hard time deciding whether to continue and decided that it was working for me and that the withdrawl (withdrawal) would just have to be dealt with when it was time.  I have tried other anti-depressants Paxil, Zoloft, Wellbutrin XL, this one by far seems to work the best.  

I think it may be time to up the dose again, I was hoping the 150MG I was on now would be enough.  But I also wonder if the dreams are making me feel this way.  They are very weird.  I think this scares my husband when I talk about the dreams, I am sure he thinks it the meds.  He has a hard time I think understanding what I get so depressed about.  

Well I just thought I would share.  It is nice to know other people go through the same things.  I have a pretty understanding family, but still nice to communicate with others about it.
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i have been taking effexor for about four years and i find the drug has made me a new person,but if i miss a dose i have severe withdrawls.it feels like i am living in hell.but when i get back on track i feel great.since i started taking these meds, i have put on 40 pounds and i eat very little.and if i try to wean my self down to a lower dose the side effects start all over again.my doctor told me i will probably be on this for the rest of my life.it is so hard to deal with the thought of having to rely on pills to be a normal person and not have bad mood swings and cry all day long.i always ask my self why me i just think that this medication is excellent for turning your life around but their is always the bad that comes with the good.
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I sit here AMAZED reading all of these posts.  As a former pharmaceutical sales rep. for Wyeth, as well as 5 years of ingesting 150mg XR capsules daily , I can honestly say that I was NEVER informed of these withdrawal effects either by Wyeth or my physician.  (I am meaning completely going off the drug).  

With a B.S. in psychology, I felt very comfortable selling Effexor XR - 'brainwashed' by Wyeth during training that XR was a wonder drug.  Of course I read and memorized the package insert...it DID NOT substantiate the horrific withdrawal effects of missing a dose or total effects of going off the drug.  In fact, the salesforce was not encouraged to inform prescribers of the pitfalls of XR, but to concentrate on other SSRI/NRI, I.E.  Paxil = Excessive weight gain 'Pack it on paxil, '  Zoloft was for wimps - very mild, Prozaz = Old school, etc... So for many of you that do not get the support or information from your MDs, please understand ALL of the drug companies have sales reps pushing drugs; the prescribers can't possibly know everything....Also remember, these docs are being 'well taken care of' by these drug reps.' and will learn to depend on the reps. information and not take the time to review information themselves.  My advice - RESEARCH BEFORE TAKING ANYTHING!

Personally, I have taken XR for 5 years and it has worked well for me. However, now that I am trying to titrate and go off of XR completely; I feel absolutely terrible.  I have tried a few times to go off, but never had the discipline to tolerate the symptoms.  This time, I am determined.  I am happy to have found this post and feel for all of you that I may have had some part in your getting a prescription.  My apologies....

As for the 2.9 Billion in sales of XR last year, it is also very, very infuriating to know that in 2003 (my last year working for Wyeth), 2 Million dollars was spent on Effexor XR GREEN PENS!!!  Yes, this was announced in one of our quarterly meetings.  $2million on pens....Maybe Wyeth should be spending that money educating or researching on the REDUCTION of these horrific symptoms plaguing all of us!!

The best to all of you....
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