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Stopping Effexor XR
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Stopping Effexor XR

I have been taking Effexor XR since March, 2005. I started with 75mg and by mid April was up to 225mg. I have recently become unemployed and cannot afford the medication anymore. It's going to cost me $200 a month just to buy the medication. I've told my doctor that I cannot afford it anymore and he just tells me to 'stay on it' but he's not paying for it. I'm going to have to quit cold turkey. I only have three days left of the medication. I'm also on Clonazepam. I take three 0.5mg tablets daily. I also want to get off of the Clonazepam but decided to wait until after I get over the Effexor XR. I don't think it would be a good idea to quit both of them at once. College starts back on August 29, and I don't want to be withdrawing while I'm trying to study. The horror stories that I've read scares me, but I have no other choice. Can you please tell me what withdrawal symptoms I will experience and how long they will last?
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You may not have any withdrawal symptoms. It varies. But you should not go off cold turkey because there is still some possibility of seizures to consider.  Space your last three pills and scrape up enough money so you can taper down over a three week period, going down to minimal dose 3 days apart for last week, then stop, and continue with the klonopin.
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Instead of stopping the medication totally ----- If you still feel as though you might benefit from EffexorXR ... Wyeth (the drug company that makes Effexor) has a patient assistance program that I've enrolled a few of my patients in.  It's very easy to use and is available on their website.

Most drug companies have these types of programs to help people such as yourself.

Also -- have you checked to see if your college/university has a medical plan that includes RX coverage? This might be an option too.
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Hey all,
    This is my first time on any forum. I've been a reader but I've never logged in and shared. I'd been on Effexor to help control the pain from Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (300mg a day) but gained a ton of weight. Also I had severe itching syndrome (my own term) and would need to sleep with a hair brush (new of course) just to get through the night. Naturally that causes depression even if you're on antidepressents. And the weight gain seemed to only hurt my chronic pain condition.
    But I was also just tested for ADD about two months ago - have it by the way, and now the testing center wants me to go on Wellbutrin for both depression and ADD. In preparation I went off the Effexor even slower than they recommended. Even then the symptoms made me feel like I was going to fall off the face of the earth. I couldn't turn my head without getting dizzy, but more than that I just felt like I was helpless to funtion on my own.
Now completely off Effexor I feel a bit better, but I just had a total hysterectomy 2 weeks ago and the pain and complications due to an infection has caused a Fibromyalgia flare up and you got it - more depression.
I'm really looking forward to beginning the Wellbutrin for the depression but I'm wondering if anyone has had success with combination therapy from an ADD stimulant drug in addtion to Wellbutrin. The testing center said it's possible to do both but before I go to my doctor and discuss options I'd just like to know a bit more from people who've been there.
Thanks and God Bless
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I just stopped taking Effexor about 2 weeks ago after 6 months of use. I decreased my dose slowly over 2 weeks before completely stopping. At first my body reacted to the corresponding decrease in seritonin by giving me adrenaline rushes during the day, I would conk out when I'd come home from work and sleep until the next morning, then things started to stablize in terms of sleep. Lately I feel kind of anxious, but mostly because I am going back to school after taking a semester off and am moving into a new place. My suggestion to you is to turn inwards and really ask yourself what you really feel- in which case you can work it out through self-analysis, meditation, writing, talking to a close friend, etc. I know a lot of my anxiety/depression was brought on because of my over active mind and my lack of self-control. I'm not sure what your unique problem is, but I have started studying Buddhism, Karate, and Yoga and they have inhanced my concentration and determination to beat this stuff without meds. Mental, spiritual, and physical excercise combined definitely helps. Good luck to you.
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Hi: I've been trying to wean my effexor xr as well. Motion sickness pills seem to help ALOT!!!!! I have been weaning for 2 weeks and got the tip to use the motion sickness pills to help with the dizzy feeling. They are really helping.Try some, hopefully, it will be better for you as well.
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I've been off of my effexor xr for about 5 days now and after talking to my pharmacist and doing some of my own research, ginger seems to help greatly with dizziness and nausea. Here is a link for the effects of ginger and how to take it. I've been chewing a 1/4" piece of peeled, fresh ginger every 4 hours and it is working miracles. Here is the link <a href=http://www.umm.edu/altmed/ConsHerbs/Gingerch.html#HowToTake>ginger</a>
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greetings to all! so very glad I found this forum.
        today is Day ONE for me
- trying to self-wean off of this horrid drug.
I have been on 150mg a day of XR for almost one year.
Yes, it did help me extremely thru some really, really rough times but now I believe the negative side effects outweigh the positive. (Also, no more insurance...)
I have not been able to sleep, the weight gain is disgusting,
but one of the worst side effects (and this is very hard to admit) is that this crazy drug makes me actually "crave" alcohol.
That was even hard to type :(
Am I the only one?
I want to get away from the E XR Monster.
So; I have chosen to try 75mg a day for 2 weeks and then 37.5mg a day for two weeks - Any advice on this logic? Any success stories out there?
Also interested in which vitamins might help.
Thanks to all & God bless
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I just want to say thank you to everyone that has shared their stories regarding the withdrawls of Effexor XR!  The stories have been a Godsend.  I truly believed that I was going insane.  I was on Prozac for 10 years and really had no side effects.  Just this past June I was experiencing quite a bit of anxiety due to many personal issues, so my doctor replaced my Prozac with Effexor XR.  I have never been so miserable in my life.  I told my doctor a month ago that I wanted off, so he recommended lowering my dosage week by week.  I started at 150mg and eventually went to 37.5mg and now nothing.  I have been having the worst side effects that anyone can imagine.  The nausea, dizziness, "shocking" sensation in my head, and many more.  I find it hard to believe that ANY Physician would prescribe this medication, let alone subscribe it and not mention the effects if and when you discontinue the use.  It's nice to know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  I'm looking forward to feeling "normal" again.

I will say a special prayer for all of you that are experiencing these same effects.

Take Care!!
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Can anyone suggest natural or over the counter items to help with the withdrawals?  Also, any input on how long it took you to get through the withdrawals would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you!!
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you dont have to buy the full perscription they willwork with u and give u  half or even less then that as long as u have a refil try that
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I was on Effexor 150 for a year and started tapering in April. I cut my 150 into a morning & evening dose of 75mg. Then I started halfing each of them, 37.5 & 75, 37.5 & 37.5, 19 & 37.5 and just recently (last week) 19 & 19 - splitting a single capsule into 2. Each reduction has led to several days of dizziness, sickness, brain zaps, memory loss.....you name it, I had it. However I have found that ginger capsules have helped alot with the nausea and dizziness. I have tried to keep at least a month in between each reduction and just hope and pray that by the time I am done that I won't need anything else, but if I do then I plan on trying the naturapathic way before I go back on any more pharmacuetical options. Over the total of 4 years that I have been on meds (started by post partum depression after the birth of my second child) I have put on over 20 lbs, most of which appeared with the effexor.
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I WOULD LIKE TO ASK ANYONE THAT CAN CLEAR A FEW THINGS FOR ME. FIRST OF ALL I HAVE BEEN ON EFEXOR 150 FOR FOUR YEARS. NOW BY CO-INCEDENT I FOUND MYSELF ON THIS SITE WITH SURPRISINGLY OTHER PEOPLE THAT ARE ON THE SAME DRUG. I HAVE ASKED THE DOCTOR ABOUT SIDE EFFECTS BUT ALL HE KEEPS TELLING ME IS THAT AS LONG AS I'M HAPPY AND HE'S HAPPY THAT I AM HAPPY THEN EVERYONE IS HAPPY. FROM THE MAIL AND STORIES ON THIS SITE IT DOES'NT SOUND LIKE IT'S THAT OK TO BE ON EFEXOR. COULD YOU PLEASE ADVISE ME ON WHAT SORT OF SIDE EFFECTS THIS EFEXOR CAN LEAD YOU INTO. UP TILL NOW I HAD THOUGHT THAT THERE ARN'T ANY SIDE EFFECTS TO WORRY ABOUT. BY THE WAY I'M A 45 Y.O. MALE.PLEASE HELP ME BECAUSE I AM GETTING MORE AND MORE STRESSED NOW THAT I READ ALL YOUR MAIL.
THANKING YOU GRATEFULLY
P.G.
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My doctor put me on Effexor XR for 6 months for migraine headaches.  While on it my side effects were weight loss, decreased sex drive and ability to acheive orgasm, and frequency of urination.  The problem was getting off Effexor.  At my doctors suggestion I went from 150mg per day to 75 per day the first week, then 75 every other day the next week, to 37.5 the next week to stopping.  Immediately when I began tapering off I started having electric shock sensations, loud buzzing in my ears when I moved my head, and inability to sleep.  When I quit it compeletely I had all that plus confusion, agitation, irritability and depression, none of which I had before.  I have been off Effexor 2 months and I am still having parathesia(tingling sensation in my face and body) and shortness of breath at times.  My doctor has done an MRI and has not found any other explanation more than Effexor.   I just pray no permanent damage was done.  I'm not saying not to use Effexor and I know not everyone is affected this strongly however use caution when taking Effexor.  This is a powerful drug that might help people tremendously but I don't know of its long-term affects and neither does Wyeth! I cannot recommend it.
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I am a 35 year old physician (surgeon). I developed depression while I was in medical school.  I was initially placed on Paxil which I remained on into my surgical training. Towards the middle of my residency, the Paxil began to "poop out."  My psychiatrist decided to first wean off the Paxil prior to starting another medication.  During this time I experienced many of the same withdrawal side-effects being described with Effexor.  I eventually was started on Effexor with good results as far as my depressive symptoms.  
Although not exactly sure why, I feel that I no longer require the medication.  It likely has something to do with a decrease in my overall stress level which was associated with my professional training.  
Recently, I decided it was time to stop the medication.  I was on a fairly large dose, and basically did a gradual taper over a 3-week period.  I had no withdrawal symptoms until completely stopping the medication 2 days ago.  Prior to stopping completely, the last step in the taper was around 35 mg per day.  Today is day #3 off the medication and I am definitely feeling it.  At this point, the symptoms are very much like those I experienced coming off the Paxil, so I definitely think this is something common to SSRI-type drugs.  This is what I have noticed; 1) A general sense of cognitive haziness making it more difficult to focus/concentrate, 2) A feeling of dizziness with anything more than very gradual turning of the head which many describe as "brain bounce."  I also can reproduce this feeling at time by simply blinking my eyes or shifting my focus point, 3) A heightened sense of anxiety which I think is totally understandable given the unpleasant nature of the above, 4) Some nausea, especially "car sickness" when riding, not driving, especially if I try to read something, 5) Some diarrhea, which is what you would expect after stopping a medication which has "anticholinergic" properties (You probably noticed that Effexor can cause relative constipation.  This is a typical anticholinergic side effect. Another is dry mouth/decreased salivation.  It occurs to me as write this that  I am salivating more.  Again, this "rebound effect" is what one would expect after stopping such a medication.)  I am not having a recurrence of my typical depressive symptoms, and strangely my mood is often upbeat.
Flat out, this withdrawal phenomenon is real and it  really stinks!!!  However, I am dealing with it much better (at this point) than I did coming off the Paxil because I have a sense of what to expect.  When I stopped the Paxil, I had no idea what was happening and it was SCARY.  I want to emphasize that simply knowing what to expect has, thus far, made a huge difference.  I know that what I am feeling is withdrawal from a drug, nothing more. I am not "going crazy."  Although it is more challenging, I can still function well at work and at home.  I know that this will improve (it did with the Paxil after about 3 weeks), and in the end I am confident that I will be better for it.  I hope this helps you guys, I know it has helped me just writing it.

KWW
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I am a 35 year old physician (surgeon). I developed depression while I was in medical school.  I was initially placed on Paxil which I remained on into my surgical training. Towards the middle of my residency, the Paxil began to "poop out."  My psychiatrist decided to first wean off the Paxil prior to starting another medication.  During this time I experienced many of the same withdrawal side-effects being described with Effexor.  I eventually was started on Effexor with good results as far as my depressive symptoms.  
Although not exactly sure why, I feel that I no longer require the medication.  It likely has something to do with a decrease in my overall stress level which was associated with my professional training.  
Recently, I decided it was time to stop the medication.  I was on a fairly large dose, and basically did a gradual taper over a 3-week period.  I had no withdrawal symptoms until completely stopping the medication 2 days ago.  Prior to stopping completely, the last step in the taper was around 35 mg per day.  Today is day #3 off the medication and I am definitely feeling it.  At this point, the symptoms are very much like those I experienced coming off the Paxil, so I definitely think this is something common to SSRI-type drugs.  This is what I have noticed; 1) A general sense of cognitive haziness making it more difficult to focus/concentrate, 2) A feeling of dizziness with anything more than very gradual turning of the head which many describe as "brain bounce."  I also can reproduce this feeling at time by simply blinking my eyes or shifting my focus point, 3) A heightened sense of anxiety which I think is totally understandable given the unpleasant nature of the above, 4) Some nausea, especially "car sickness" when riding, not driving, especially if I try to read something, 5) Some diarrhea, which is what you would expect after stopping a medication which has "anticholinergic" properties (You probably noticed that Effexor can cause relative constipation.  This is a typical anticholinergic side effect. Another is dry mouth/decreased salivation.  It occurs to me as write this that  I am salivating more.  Again, this "rebound effect" is what one would expect after stopping such a medication.)  I am not having a recurrence of my typical depressive symptoms, and strangely my mood is often upbeat.
Flat out, this withdrawal phenomenon is real and it  really stinks!!!  However, I am dealing with it much better (at this point) than I did coming off the Paxil because I have a sense of what to expect.  When I stopped the Paxil, I had no idea what was happening and it was SCARY.  I want to emphasize that simply knowing what to expect has, thus far, made a huge difference.  I know that what I am feeling is withdrawal from a drug, nothing more. I am not "going crazy."  Although it is more challenging, I can still function well at work and at home.  I know that this will improve (it did with the Paxil after about 3 weeks), and in the end I am confident that I will be better for it.  I hope this helps you guys, I know it has helped me just writing it.

KWW
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I can’t tell you how happy I was to find this site. I’m a 52 year-old white male, with most of the normal complaints that come with the middle class life in America today, moderately high blood pressure, moderately high cholesterol as well as a history of depression that I believe is probably genetic. I am taking BP medications [low doses of Hyzaar and Cozaar on alternate days]; Lipitor for the cholesterol and had been taking 50 mg of Zoloft daily for about 6 years. To offset the feelings of fatigue and lethargy [could fall asleep at the drop of a hat] my GP and I started a trial course of Provigil [modafinil], 200 mg daily in the morning, a medication that was developed for narcolepsy. It actually helped quite a bit, though some might find the energizing effects a little overwhelming. It’s a new class of drug that acts on the dopamine receptor so it does not stimulate like caffeine or amphetamines, you are not “wired” but just “awake”. Biggest problem was the cost, the branded American Provigil runs around $6.00 a dose form the cheapest on-line pharmacy and it is not on the “approved” list of Blue Cross. I also take the normal panoply of multi-vitamins, SloNiacin, baby aspirin, CoQ10, and glucosamine for joints. Started seeing a psychiatrist about 3 months ago in part because I felt the Zoloft had “pooped out” and was not working anymore. He switched me to Effexor XR and I currently taking about 75 mg a day. The withdrawal from Zoloft was gradual over 2 weeks and fairly trouble free, except for extraordinarily vivid dreams. The first couple of weeks of Effexor XR seemed pretty normal; energy level was up, though I was feeling a little “off” which I attributed beginning a new drug. Because of miscommunication between my psychiatrist, insurer and drug store I had the misfortune of actually running out of my prescription and was without for a couple of days. I started feeling really, really bad, confused, anxious, vertigo, really out of sorts and I did not suspect the Effexor until the third day. I was able to refill the script and within a few hours of taking the next dose the problems disappeared. I discussed this with my psychiatrist and he “remembered” that Effexor XR has a very short life in the body, basically 12-15 hours, but since I was feeling better and my dose was so low he did not feel the need to change. 2 months later and I am experiencing all sorts of side effects. The first thing I noticed were headaches in the morning that turned out to be the result of an increase in blood pressure, which was quite odd since the meds I’m taking had me at text book 120-80. I also put on weight, my diet and weight had been stable for literally years and in 3 months I added 10lbs, first time in my life I was ever over 200 lbs. About 2 weeks ago I started overheating and breaking into drenching sweats at the slightest exertion, bending over to pick up a book. I also noticed that my vision was suffering, hard to describe, I wear glasses and have no problem seeing but it’s like one eye is out of alignment with the other. The sexual side effects are also very odd, my libido is actually up but my ability to maintain an erection and the ejaculate has almost disappeared, taking literally hours to achieve orgasm. The general caveat about SSRI’s and alcohol seem particularly cogent with Effexor, seems to amplify the effect in odd and dramatic ways, I usually have 2 beers with dinners but lately that has been a debilitating amount of alcohol.  

My question is, given the extremely short life of this drug in the system, what is the most effective strategy for withdrawal. This drug is not like Zoloft where each day lowers the amount of the drug in your system by half [If you just stopped taking the drug cold turkey, which I don’t recommend, Day 1-100 mg, Day 2-50 mg, Day 3-25 mg, Day 4-12.5 mg and so on]. My understanding is with Effexor XR that active part of the drug is completely out of your system in less than 24 hours, when you take your dose each day you are actually starting fresh. If this is true then the tapering discussed in this and other threads about Effexor doesn’t seem right. Seems to me by reducing the dose from one day to the next you are in fact going through a whole cycle of re-introduction and withdrawal each and every day, actually many mini-withdrawals. Does anyone have thoughts about a withdrawal regimen that reduces the doses but over a shorter time cycle 75 mg in the morning, 37.5 mg 15 hours later, half that 15 hours later and so on until you reach a dose so small that your body no longer reacts. Overall I’d say this is a not a good drug and would not recommend it to anyone, even at the lowest doses. It should probably not be on the market. I intend to replace it with another SSRI, something with less dramatic side effects as soon as I can figure out a way to get off of it


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Hi, Thanks for the informative posts. I was on effexor only for a week and half in which time I have taken 7 37.5 and 5 of 75 tablets. Can I stop cold turkey... If I do what are the sideeffects and how long will it take for me to get rid of all the side effects. Please help....
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My doctore just put me on effexor xr daily to manage my headaches and migraines.  Has anyone heard of this being prescribed for this purpose?  I can't find in anything I've read where this helps with daily management of headaches.
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Dear KathyMF,

My dr, a nuerologist who specializes in new onset of chronic headaches, just prescribed Effexor XR for my daily, chronic headaches that I have had since I gave birth to my daughter in June 05.  He said take 37.5mg first week, 75mg second week, and 150 mg third and fourth week.  I have taken the 37.5 for three days now and feel very nauseated.  I am also breastfeeding and trying to wean, which concerns me but I have been told by several reliable sources that it is relatively safe.  

I am so scared now after reading all the withdrawl (withdrawal) problems that people have had.  I wonder if there are any alternatives out there for us.

Kathy
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Thanks docwatty for sharing. Somehow it's comforting to know doctors can have mental health problems as well. (I do in no way mean to be insensitive! I'm not happy you have had mental health issues, I'm happy I'm as human as anyone.)
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Effexor XR was recommended to me by my radiology oncologist, when I saw him in January of '05, after I told him about the bouts of sweating I had been having for the last two months. I am through with menapause but have been on tamoxifen for over four years after breast cancer. Some doctors feel it could be from this medication. He gave me a sample box of E XR with a  week of 37.5 mg and a week of 75 mg. When I saw my GP doctor, he gave me the same sample boxes, enough for five months. I took the 37.5 mg for five weeks and the 75 mg for six weeks. I began to notice strange bruises, muscle twitching, and severe cramping in my feet, legs and hands. I mentioned it to my GP in passing and brought up discontinuing the med. He said not to do it cold turkey. That is when I found your site online and began reading all the side effects and how difficult it can be to go off it. I decided I didn't need a drug like this for the sweating, although the sweating was miserable, and the med did help. It sounds like a good drug for severe depression but I was not depressed. After reading everything all of you had to say about the drug and about getting off it, I decided to wean myself off of it. I went back to taking the 37.5 for a week, then 19 mg (half a capsule) for another week, and on Oct 1st nothing. After two days, I'm experiencing the vertigo, the empty feeling in my head and the "shocking sensations" in my head as "justmidge" mentioned in her comment. I have some Meclazine for vertigo and decided to try that for the dizziness. I don't want to go back on it to wean slower so I guess I'll see it through. Physicians do not do their job when it comes to giving the facts on medications, especially the ones you can become addicted to. I am an RN and should have known better and looked into it before I agreed to take it. I guess we are always looking for a quick fix and perscription meds are not always the answer. I am hoping with the cold weather coming, I have half a chance of not sweating to death along with the embarassment and maybe getting off the Tamoxifen in January hopefully will help. Thanks for listening. It does help to talk about it and hear that others are having similar problems with this drug. Good luck to everyone.



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I hear you. It's shame you were put on such a powerful, powerful psychotropic drug simply to diminish sweating. Hopefully everything is working out for you!
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I have been off of Effexor XR since Oct 4. A slight dizzy sensation remains and also the "shocking sensations" in my head. I only hope that these side effects aren't permanent. I hope everyone is doing well.
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I have been taking 75 mg of Effexor for almost 1 1/2 years.  I have gained 20 pounds in the last year.  I have recently started weaning off it because of the weight loss, sexual disfunciton, and my depression would come and go even though I was taking this medication.

There have been a couple of times in the past that I forgot to take my medication and the withdrawals were TERRIBLE.  I went from 75 mg to a week of 37.5 mg a day and now 37.5 mg every other day.  I have done the every other day for a week now and I am on my second day of not taking it and I must say that I am not doing very well.

Besides being terribly scared that I will never be able to stop taking this medication. I am having headaches, I want to puke, I can't sleep at night, I just want to bust out into tears, I can't think and feel as if I am in a fog.  I also have these weird sensations in my head like a just took a whole handful of white cross tops.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to deal with these unrully withdrawl (withdrawal) symptoms?
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I am sitting here writing this with tears running down my face.  I also took five weeks to dose down from 150 mg of Effexor to 75 then 37.5mg.  I am dizzy, sick, with nausia.  I compare this to stories I have heard about heroine withdrawal (oh, there goes another brain zap!)  Two weeks without this stuff and a Wellbutrin back up and I am still a wreck although the dark circles under my eyes have cleared up and I have already lost 6 pounds.  Oh, the alcoholic tendencies...GONE too.  Somebody get a lawyer to get his stuff off the market.  I am so angry and enraged that we are being duped into this drug.  Shame on the drug company.

Any suggestions to help this?  Drink a ton of water?  Wait it out...how long do these freakin brain zaps last?  I am so frustrated.
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Your stories all sound so familiar.

I've been taking Effexor for over five years. I've been up to 150mg/day of Effexor XR and have now been down to 37.5mg/day for two days.    I plan on staying at 37.5 for a week and then trying that amount every other day for a week.

I hope this time I can get off it for good.  Previously I weaned myself off, did "okay" for a week and then 'crashed'.  Just felt hopelessly depressed, and went back on the Effexor out of desperation.

The brain zaps are the worst, plus I'm already experiencing dizziness.   I will try the ginger as suggested above, and perhaps also try the motion sickness tablet (if necessary).

In my opinion, Effexor is a hellish drug --- and if I had known how almost impossibly difficult it is to quit this drug, I never would have started it.

Good Luck to all of us.


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WOW
How did it come to this?
who is responsible for our problems?
IS it our physicians who prescribed the drug and in my case never mentioned any of the side effects I have experienced..
OR is it us..a patient ..in a situation where we just really wanted to believe our dr and see the light at the end of the tunnel without looking / researching the medication further.
OR is it the drug company who obviously did not do enough testing or give enough information on how harmful this drug can be...
I have been on effexor for almost 3 years..now supplemented with wellbutrin and yes it has helped me get out of the darkness..but i have to say..I did most of the work..
I just cant believe how unfortunate it is that all of us and many more are going thru this horrible time and are not given the correct information or assistance.
I am not yet an ex effexor BUT i am in the process of weaning ..and it SUCKS!!
I am so glad I am not alone..but I would not wish this on my worst enemy..
the "electrical shocks:
nausea, Hunger ,shakes dizziness sweats, confusion sleepiness headaches itchy skin, weight gain (even if you are watching what you eat /active lifestyle) etc etc..
I dont know whether the pros outweigh the cons..
how come the drug company hasnt helped us?
is anyone aware of any contacts for help for me..?
sigh...
anyways..KEep going on..Life is a beautiful struggle..
focus on the little triumphs and go one day at a time..
Bless
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I've read a few of everyone's comments, and frankly, they scare me. . . my doctor just perscribed me effexor XR 37.5mg for 1 week, and then 75 mg for a month . . . i have not started taking it yet because i wanted to do some research first to see what i was getting into . . . everyone here seems to hate the drug though, so i'm not so sure now i want to start taking it. . . but i want my depression to go away [naturally] so i was wondering, what do people think? should i take the effexor XR, or should i ask my doctor about getting something else?  My doctor kind of rushed me, and just handed me the perscription, she didn't tell me about the drug, or any of the side effects, which i don't think was fair, i had and still really have no idea what i'm getting into, the only drug i've ever taken is birth control. . . and i don't know if this affects anything, but i'm a little person, 5'2 and 108 pounds, would that make it harder for me to get off the drug?? I'm just really nervous about this after reading these posts. . . i don't want my situation to get worse, i need to focus on my studies. . . so again, should i take the effexor XR, or should i ask my doctor about getting something else?
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I think you should discuss things further with your Dr.
especially the side effects..
Effexor XR helped me..but its hard to get off of it
Depression is a life long battle and when you are in the midst of it .. there seems like no way out..
Effexor helped me get to the point i could start helping myself..
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I agree!  It's a real dilemma to know whether to recommend the Effexor, or not.  

It did help me too, to get back to having the will to live again, ...but at a very high price [seemingly unable to get OFF it!].

I suppose if one is in the depths of depression and ready to END it all (as I was!), then Effexor XR would be one of the answers.  

It did work for me, where some of the other A.D.'s didn't.

However, five ...almost six years later, I'm still trying to get OFF the drug.

I'm on DAY SEVEN now at 37.5 mg/Effexor XR (trying to wean myself off it), and tonight I'm feeling very depressed again.

I'm going to try and ride it out...

Good Luck Everyone!

P.S. I do think that the makers of Effexor XR (and the physicians)should make people aware that this is a difficult, if not impossible drug, to come off of.


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YES..ditto on everything that you said above..

I would recommend this drug ..if you have tried other alternatives and nothing seems to be working because..no matter how hard this drug is to come off ..

I will take the side effects over the depression..

I just cant believe that my physician didnt make me aware of these side effects ..in fact..she told me that that side effects are RARE...and on all the information I have researched..I have not a read one single post on someone who takes who has taken effexor that did not have side effects...

all in all..with drugs or without...depression will not go away solely because of of taking a drug...
it helps
but i found it in my situation..it ultimately was all up to me..you need to change your life..and start by finding the happiness in the small things in life..and start working your way up...
have good positive people surronding you..and push yourself a little extra every day..
I dont know everyone stories on how they realized that they were more than just sad..more than in a bad mood..but take my word ..there is a light at the end of the tunnel...you will find it..but you need to try and work hard at it..every day...
Keep your heads up!
God Bless
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INFORMATION TO HELP:

I.) THE VARYING SYMPTONS OF WITHDRAWAL

II.) HOW TO TAPER OFF OF EFFEXOR

*****************************************************************
I.) THE VARYING SYMPTONS OF WITHDRAWAL:

PSYCHIATRIC SYMPTOMS:

That Mimic Depression
Crying spells, Worsened mood, Low energy (fatigue, lethargy, malaise); Trouble concentrating, Insomnia or trouble sleeping, Change in appetite, Suicidal thoughts, Suicide attempts


That Mimic Anxiety Disorders
Anxious, nervous, tense; Panic attacks (racing heart, breathless); Chest pain; Trembling, jittery, or shaking


Irritability and Aggression
Irritability, Agitation (restlessness, hyperactivity); Impulsivity, Aggressiveness, Self-harm, Homicidal thoughts or urges


Confusion and Memory Problems
Confusion or cognitive difficulties; Memory problems or forgetfulness


Mood Swings
Elevated mood (feeling high), Mood swings, Manic-like reactions


Hallucinations
Auditory hallucinations, Visual hallucinations


Dissociation
Feeling detached or unreal


Other
Excessive or intense dreaming, Nightmares



MEDICAL SYMPTOMS:

That Mimic the Flu
Flu-like aches and pains, Fever, Sweats, Chills, Runny nose, Sore eyes


That Mimic Gastroenteritis
Nausea, Vomiting, Diarrhea, Abdominal pain or cramps, Stomach bloating


Dizziness
Disequilibrium; Spinning, swaying, lightheaded; Hung over or waterlogged feeling, Unsteady gait, poor coordination, Motion sickness


Headache


Tremor


Sensory Abnormalities
Numbness, burning, or tingling; Electric zap-like sensations in the brain; Electric shock-like sensations in the body, Abnormal visual sensations, Ringing or other noises in the ears, Abnormal smells or tastes


Other
Drooling or excessive saliva, Slurred speech, Blurred vision; Muscle cramps, stiffness, twitches; Feeling of restless legs, Uncontrollable twitching of mouth.

VVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVV

II.) HOW TO TAPER OFF OF EFFEXOR

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. 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.

Effexor tablets come in: 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. If you are at 150mg Effexor XR, then ask for a prescription of 50mg tablets and 37.50mg tablets. Purchase a pill splitter at any pharmacy ($4.00).

Start out by taking the exact amount you are on now so that your body can adjust to your new dosing schedule. Here's how:

--Take one 50mg in the morning + 25mg (split one 50mg in half) = 75mg
--12 hours later take one 50mg + 25mg = 75mg
--75mg + 75mg = 150mg for the day
**Do this for two weeks and then start your tapering.**


Always take 5-10% of your last doseage amount, subtract that amount from your last doseage amount = your new doseage amount.



TO BEGIN TAPERING:
--150mg x 10% = 15mg

--150 - 15mg = 137.50mg

Take one 50mg + 18.75mg (cut one 37.50mg in half) = 68.75mg

--12 hours later take one 50mg + 18.75mg = 68.75mg

--68.75mg + 68.75mg = 137.50mg for the day

STAY AT THIS AMOUNT FOR ONE (1) MONTH - your brain chemistry needs to adjust.


**The next time you make a cut you will take 5-10% of 137.50mg**

**Always stay at your new doseage until you stablize--one month at the very least.**

*WHEN CUTTING YOUR PILLS* of differing milligrams, have some empty, clean, prescription bottles that are labeled (for example 18.75mg, 12.50mg, 9.37mg, 6.25mg, 4.66mg, 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!

*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.


*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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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.

I am not in anyway affiliated or profit from the above companies.


Sweettooth
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I have been taking Effexor 75mg for several years for depression.  It has worked fine until recently.  Three weeks ago my doctor a Psychatrist, upped the dosage to 150 mg daily.  After two weeks of taking this dosage, I did not feel any better, so last Tuesday he put me on Paxil 10mg.  When I got up to leave his office I asked him if it was okay to just stop taking the effexor and begin the Paxil. He said yes. I took my first Paxil Wednesday. Thursday I woke up in the early morning with what I describe as "shocking" in my head. It wasn't too bad and I thought maybe it was sinus.  I again woke up Friday morning with this "shocking" in my head. As long as I sat and looked straight ahead I was okay, but when I got up and moved around I immediately was "shocked" over and over, along with being totally dizzy and nauseated. By 2:30pm Friday I was so sick and shaking and thinking I was dying that my husband took me to the hospital.  I described my symptoms to the ER doctor, which she kept calling a headace. When I described the "shocking" in my head they looked at me like I was crazy. They did a CT Scan, and spinal tap, and after 8 hours there I was sent home with a diagnosis of Anxiety. When I woke up this morning with the same awful symptoms, I typed in "shocking sensations in the head" at google.com and came to this site.  I was so totally happy to finally find other people who had the symptoms that I was having, and to know I was not going crazy.  I am calling my doctor first thing Monday and giving him a lesson in Effexor withdrawal, and a piece of my mind.
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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 replies very much appreciated.
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The last thing I expected going on the web and searching
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Thank you for your very helpful comments.  I'm putting up mine because I hope someone might benefit from knowing just what could happen on this drug.  

Effexor was very effective in pulling me out of a depression.  In retrospect I feel that since the depression I experienced was clearly related to being overwhelmed by some stressful events, I think that I might have been better off getting help from a person instead of the drug.  That's just a comment for anyone who might be considering Effexor.

I was very happy with the med after the first month, because it did exactly what it was supposed to do, the depression completely lifted.  I can't say I was any happier, just less - depressed.  

My personality changed significantly while on Effexor.  I am normally a sweet and nurturing person who cares deeply about other people.  Once I began to take Effexor, I found myself acting agressive from time to time, not hesitating - I had conflicts with co-workers and didn't hesitate to tell them just what I thought of them.  I didn't mention this to my doctor.  I'm not sure why.  I think it was because I felt stronger and more empowered to express myself and I liked that, but at the same time, it's pretty important to weigh the benefits against the possible ramifications that real events can have on your relationships with others.  

I gained a significant amount of weight, enough that it really shows:  30 pounds.  New wardrobe anyone?  Stretch knit is now my friend.    

You wonder why the warning from Wyeth is not to consume alcohol with this drug.  They don't explain it.  For me, alcohol consumption went way up, no worries for me (the drug really does eliminate the anxiety that you might feel wondering if you're turning into an alcoholic, and I never had a hangover on Effexor!) My husband and I are a couple that used to enjoy a glass of wine with dinner, very moderate and mindful in our alcohol consumption and choices, we used to look forward to choosing and understanding wine, it has been one of our common interests - but that deteriorated quickly when I started taking Effexor.  My husband was VERY concerned, especially when I started buying bottles of hard alcohol.  He has luckily been supportive and stuck with me.  I can imagine that under some circumstances this could be catastrophic.  I think there's a real danger that this med can be very harmful if you enjoy wine, even just a little bit.  (yes, that was pretty hard to type, wasn't it?  It is a very loaded and very serious problem that people should consider.)  

I am easing off for a couple of months and have reached the time to stop altogether.  I was on 75mg daily for about 8 months and for the last month I took 37.5mg with no problems.  Two weeks of skipping days with no problem.  Four days ago I stopped altogether.  Now I am getting the revving electrical brain thing when I am awake and although it's not painful, it's scary.    

I noted that one person said that half the battle was knowing what to expect, and that's reassuring to me, since I think I can live with the withdrawl (withdrawal) as long as it does not last too long.  I really feel that being off Effexor is more important than the side effects coming off.  Which leads me to my big question:  

How long can I expect to have these revved up brain surges?  It is enough to interrupt my normal activity.  It's kind of like some kind of adrenaline but at the same time it's concentrating around my upper body.  I would like some answers from people who have gotton completely off Effexor and now are completely side-effect free.  

These are not happy pills.  Effexor is a powerful medicine.
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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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WELL IM RELEAVED IM IN THE SAME BOAT.THIS IS MY THIRD DAY OFF OF THIS Fn DRUG . I AM GOING TO PUT A SIGN ON THE BACK OF MY CAR . AND PARK AT THE DOCS OFFICE.MAYBE BECOME A ACTIVIST FOR A EFFEXOR FREE AMERICA. I THINK I CAN DEAL WITH A FEW PANIC Attacks i already feel better can tell you that this is pure hell. I'm not a small man. but I'm not stronger than this effexor right now. i had to stop because i lost my insurance . and it gave me high blood pressure. and my kidneys were in pain. now my blood pressure is better my kidneys feel better. and now hell has set in for while. can anyone tell me if this has happened to them.
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This is my first time posting anything on a site like this.  But I was in awe at the number of people who are experiencing the same things as myself.  I am a 24 y.o. female that was plced on Paxil and then Effexor du to aniexty, depression and panic attacks.  I have asked my doctor to take me off of this medicaton, but he says due to the pressures of college he wants me to stay on for a while.  I was okay with this until a drug rep came into work one day a made a rather crude comment about to someone else about the medication I was currently taking.  My co-worker asked this particular drug rep their opinion on Effexor.  SHe replied with a sly grin, "Yeah, we all have a saying about Effexor.  We say to give her Effexor and let's see how THAT effects her."  I was in shock.  THis gave me the impression that this drug was being given to shut people up about the symptoms.  I decided to begin to take myself off of the medicaine at that point.  I slowly decreased my dosage, but in no particular pattern.  I supplemented the increased anxiety with Clonzapam 0.5 mg.  I finally ran out of meds. and quit almost cold turkey.  My mother had been almost forcing me to come off, nt really understanding what is involved in coming off these meds.  By the way my mother and father are who pay for my doctors appts and meds until I graduate.  It has been real tough, and I probably should not have quit the med this way.  But, I increased my activities, I exercised more to keep the levels of stuff flowing in my brain.  I made myself keep a positive outlook on everything.  I felt as though I could not let myself see the negative in anything.  I am still working thorugh withdrawls, but overall I seem happier than I was when I was on the med.  My only fear is what may and can happen coming off so apruptly.  Any suggestions or asdivce would be greatly appreciated.  If it is ultimately dangerous for my health to stop so apruptly I want to know.  But it has been about 2 weeks since my last dose, any advice would be appreciated.
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I have taken effexor for four years and 2 weeks ago I went to the doctor to try to start weening myself off.  I started taking the drug when I was 16.  No one ever told me how hard it was to stop taking the drug.  I have taken 75mg the whole time. My dr. only gave me 7 /37.5mg pills to ween me off.  This has been horrible.  I have experienced awful withdrawl (withdrawal), as well as everyone else has. Over the past four years I have gained about 60 lbs. I have to say that when I was taking it I never had any problems, aside from weight gain. It has been four days since I have taken anything.  I am having nausea, diarrhea, dizziness, not feeling like myself(disassociation), tingling in my face and lips.  I was just wondering how long this will last.  I dont know how long I can take this.

Somethings I have heard that helps are,
dramamine, For dizziness and nausea
fish oil supplements
oils such as jasmine and lemongrass
omega 3
Some of these things I found just researching depression and natural treatments

It does help to know that I am not the only one who has expierenced this. I tell my family and they just dont understand what I am feeling.

My main mistake was letting my dr. give me just 7 pills. On the effexor website each time you step down you need to stay at that dose for at least 2 weeks before going down more.
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I have been taking Effexor XR 75mg for 4 years now. I had no prior history of depression, panic attacks however due to some marital problems everything started. My life is much better now and things are completely worked out. My Dr wants me to try to come off the effexor for several reason, 1. she thinks I no longer need it 2. I have been sweating horribly 3. I have gained about 15pds. 4. tired a lot. She suggested 37.5 mg of Effexor XR for 2wks along with I believe 10mg of Prozac at the same time. She said that this will help withdraw and that Prozac stays in your body longer then Effexor so I should be fine....anyone wean off it this way??????????????? I am so scared to try and I really need some encouragement or help..................................
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Look up "Gwen Olsen" on youtube or google video.
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I have been taking effexor xr 75mg for four days and want to stop. If I stop completely will I get withdrawal after taking it for such a short period? Has anyone else stopped after a few days only? Would appreciate hearing any experiences.
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