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How long is Effexor withdrawal supposed to last?
A little over two months ago I stopped taking Effexor after slowly weaning off of it.  I had horrible withdrawal symptoms: nausea, fatigue, and dizziness.  After two months I don't feel any better.  Needless to say, I'm really scared.  I can hardly function at my job and am very frustrated and angry.  This medication has ruined my life.  Waking up in the morning is the worst part of my day.  All I have to look forward to is dizziness, fatigue, and attempting  to function.

How long did you symptoms last?  Are they supposed to last this long?
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I have to agree with you, I was told the WD's are akin to heroine - pretty much identical. I know that I was physically sick to my stomach several times, had the chills and shakes massive mood swings and paranoia. It sounds like what happens when you detox from alcohol as well.  If you can do a very slow taper it's better, and if you are switching to another med in that class or a SSRI it'll be easier.BUT if someone has tried several drugs in that class or ssri's - it may be time to move over to another med class altogether, they work just as well.  
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In reading posts I noticed that no one really answers the question about how long it takes. I think that's because it varies so much from person to person.

I stopped taking Effexor in January. It was absolute hell. It's now mid March and I can say that I am no longer suffering. I added supplements (see Jan 25 post), I've taken up exercising on a regular basis, and I journal a lot. The thing I notice at this point is that I'm much less tolerant of things that I used to shrug off, and I now have about 36 hours every menstrual cycle where I just want to cry and I do. Though after a few cycles I've gotten to where I can laugh about it, even while I'm crying, 'cause I know that it's just unmedicated hormones and it's temporary.

I think that Effexor dumbed me down a lot more than I realized and now I'm having to relearn how to deal fully with my emotions. But, I have no more symptoms. No more feeling sick and no more strange and chronic headaches. I'm thrilled to be free of this drug.

I still have the prescription my doc wrote me for Prozac, and the samples she gave me, and I will start them if I need to. But I'm feeling pretty good and I think that stopping the Effexor was one of the best things I've ever done for myself.

There are people who think that Effexor should be taken off the market. I was feeling that way for a while, but I think that it has it's place, it just needs to be prescribed more carefully. It should be used as a last resort and people should be well informed of it's effects and the nightmare of cessation.

Hang in there. Take good care of your health in all ways possible. Communicate with your doctor and if your doctor isn't up on things, either help educate them or find a different doctor if you have that option. Many GPs just don't know or believe that the withdrawal is as bad as we know it is. It really doesn't help when you are dealing with depression and withdrawal symptoms and your doc thinks you are overreacting.

Most importantly, educate yourself and be on your side.
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Coming off Effexor is indeed a very personal thing. It varies greatly between people. I've been on it 3 times, including currently, as it's the most effective med I've had.

The first time I came off it took about 3 months for all side effects to cease. The most severe were hard to describe. Visual distortion, spatial distortion. Enough to say "Don't drive" and don't stand up too quickly. SOrt of dizziness but not really. Sort of like watching something with strobe lights on. The image changes but you don't see the movements. I could not look sideways in the car so had to give that up.

3 months and it was awful. Second time coming off? Not a thing. Nothing at all. 3rd time? Who knows? In the meantime it helps me greatly so it's OK for now.

Many do make the mistake of coming off without asking the doc and doing it alone. Big mistake. Must be supervised in case it goes badly wrong.
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For all those getting off Effexor, Are you planning to do anything about your depression?  I would love to be off of anti-depressants permanently but function so much better on them.
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my husband has been off effexor 30 weeks and 5 days. he has good days, where he is his "old" wonderful self. but the bad days still happen. the last two days have been bad. he feels 'broken', unable to function, lackluster. add to that agitated, defiant, and very mean. he cannot sleep at night, wakes me up because he's angry that i can sleep. when i try to speak, he rants and yells at me,,,it's very unpleasant.  i do not know what to say to make it better, have told him so,,,he says that's a cop-out, says i'm worthless, i'm just "there". it's very frustrating for the both of us. he feels alone, feels i'm not compassionate or caring. i feel alone, not knowing what to do or how to approach the situation. it hurts like hell to see him suffer.
he's been doing what he can, takes appropriate supplements, eating healthier, getting better exercise, tries to stay calm,,,
i know each person is different but it's been over 6 months now. i may not be feeling and experiencing what he is physically, but i'm seeing and experiencing from a different perspective. it's equally scary to me.
i'm open for any and all suggestions to help me be a better support. i know time is a healer but i'd speed up that process if i only could.
damn wyeth for this drug!  as my husband says,,,let them take it then try to get off of it,,,,taste of their own medicine. ha, that'll be the day.
thanks for listening, may God bless everyone going through this too.
signed, a concerned wife
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I started weening off Effexor XR in Jan (very, very slowly) and have been off of it for 2 weeks now. (My last dose was as low as 1/2 pill of 25 mg.)  Weening off wasn't that bad for me, but now that I'm not taking anything I feel irritable one minute and then calm the next. Everything my husband says or does bugs me and I just bite my tongue not to say anything. I spoke w/a nurse friend of mine, who went off Eff. awhile ago, and she said that it took her a few months to feel herself once she was completely off of it. While she was weening off she was crying constantly and angry the next. (I don't think she weened off of it as much as I did.) I feel I would have gone back on it if it wasn't that I talked w/her. While I was on it I felt great. I felt calm and not as anxious. I wanted to go off of it just to be off of meds. (I had thyroid cancer last year and I want to take better care of myself and only be on natural supplements.) Hopefully w/talking to each other we can get through this, even though it sounds like it might take awhile.
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I have no idea if this would help, but my dr told me when I was weening off that if I needed help she could put me on a low dose of something else. I think this other med. doesn't have the w/drawals like Effexor does.
Does your husband go to a doctor who truely understands the w/d and someone he can talk to?
I am going to talk w/the pharmasist of where I get my natural supplements. If he has any suggestions I write back later.
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WOW!  It is so amazing to be (albeit HORRIFYING) that we all have such similar discriptions of our withdrawal symptoms... The BRAIN CHARGES- ZAPS... whatever--- Everytime I have tried to explain them to someone else they look at me like it isn't possible... but it IS!!!

Why aren't we warned before hand about the withdrawals????   I would have said NO- WAY----- I will suffer the depression/ anxiety- whatever.

How can NOT taking the DANGEROUS POISON be WORSE than TAKING THE POISON????  This is so confusing on so many levels.  

Just to let you all know that I indeed relate.... I was on Effexor (Venlafaxin) for over a year- 75mg... two months ago my Dr doubled my dose because the depression symptoms were coming back and he thought it was possible I had built up a tolerance.... So then 150 mg of the POISON !!!  Immediately I developed an itchy rash of what seems like acne all over my back, chest, shoulders, arms and stomach as well as my scalp (under my hair).  It has itched and refused to heal for a month and a half.  I knew it had to be the Effexor- so I weaned myself- down to 75 for a week and then 37.5 for two days- by then I had simply had it!  I felt hostage by this DRUG that was causing me nothing but pain and grief and I just wanted DONE WITH IT- so I stopped cold turkey 2 or 3 days ago---- a bit  fuzzy on the date as that is another side effect of withdrawal.  

Since then I have gotten progressively WORSE... I thought that the poison would continue to PROCESS out and that it would get BETTER the more time that went on.  That is NOT how this works, though, I have come to find.  Needless to say, the LAST thing that I want to do is give in and begin taking the Effexor again. Anything that can wreak this kind of havoc on your personal health and well-being has to be the same as taking a small pill every night filled with DRAIN-O or 4-0-9!  

So here are the symptoms I have been experiencing since withdrawal (or if I had missed a dose):

ACNE RASH- All over- chest, stomach, back, shoulders, under scalp--- itches--- doesn't heal...  

BRAIN ZAPS---- feels like your brain is misfiring

REPETITIVE THOUGHTS OR SONGS- my mind has been playing the same song (not the whole song, mind you, just a 5-10 second clip of the same chorus over and over again---- even in my sleep!)

CHILLS--- even when it is WARM- but of course, I feel cold--- especially my feet.

SHIVERS----  can't sleep my body is shivering so much

DREAMS- crazy and wake you up every 5 minutes

BLURRED VISION---- umhmm

SLURRED SPEECH---- comes and goes

PROCESSING PROBLEMS---- what did you say?  what do you mean?  not understanding what is being said to me or what is happening around me--- even the most SIMPLE THINGS--- this of course, comes and goes as well or else my writing this post right now would look like this

hjasdhoaewh djnalkjdaiuh asdhaj  ljakdm ed? !

FLU-LIKE SYMPTOMS- sporatic or day-long aches, pains... feel like you have 103 degree fever, but thermometer doesn't register one... can't get off of the couch.

IRRITABILITY-  I believe this one is because I am so frustrated by the other symptoms and my inability to process information.

VERTIGO- I will turn a corner and about 20 seconds later (delay) I feel like I just got off of the tea cup ride at Disney

CAN'T SLEEP- Even though I am EXHAUSTED--- hence this post at 10pm

Heart Palpatations- Feel like my heart is skipping a beat every now and then

NAUSEA- actually thought about buying a PREGGERS test until I read this can be a related withdrawal side effect.

This is my list for now... Will add more as it reveals itself.

Good Luck to all and know that it can be done!

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After being weened off very gradually, if I were you since you stopped taking the med. at 37.5 and still feeling miserable, I would cut that pill in half  and take that for awhile and then take even a lower dose for awhile.
Like I said in another post, I was weened down to 25mg a day and then cut the pill in half for a week or so before stopping completely.
I've been off for a couple of weeks now. The symptoms I have is irritability and "bugged" about a lot of things people say or do. My friend told me it took her a couple of months of being completely off of it before she felt like herself. She told me not to go back on and to give it a few more months.
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in january, the doctor prescribed clonazepam,,,to take just in case symptoms became more than tolerable. clonazepam is highly addictive, not to be used  long term and only in extreme need.  so far, he has not used one (which is very commendable!). he does not want to take any further medications. no more pharmaceuticals. he's been taking a 'greens' supplement, fish oil, plus more i can't remember what right now. he's started taking serrapethase. he's taken it before for other reasons,,,he says it seems to be helping with his all-around general health and well-being.
unfortunately, the doctor seen in january doesn't "get it",,,quoted shelf life of the drug,,doesn't seem to think it's "withdrawal". he has not seen another doctor,,partly because he's sick of the medical practice and mostly because of lack of insurance.
you posted that your husband "bugs" you and you bite your tongue to not say anything,,,,well, my husband says everything and anything, (he does not hold back!). it is usually negative and at times very, very hurtful. i want to defend myself but i don't want to fight so i'm the one biting my tongue so i don't say anything to 'add to the fire'. and when i don't say anything, he thinks i don't care. he can't see or won't admit that right now i'm hurting as much as he, just in a different way.
so, i'm just there.
i know in my heart he will get through this, i just wonder when.
  
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I stopped taking Effexor because it was making me stupid. No joke, I was unable to perform my job. I couldn't afford stupid mistakes. I was also becoming very VERY forgetful. So forgetful, in fact, that I would forget to take my meds, and didn't realize it until my head started zapping days later.  It took about 3 days before the symptoms would start. Like many of you have said, it wasn't doing anything for the depression anyway.  When I stopped, I was also taking Wellbutrin.  I had bad headaches, the zapping in my head, dizzy spells. But I didn't have the nausea, and the really bad stuff only lasted for about a week. When I stopped the Wellbutrin, I had no withdrawal symptoms at all. I was on Effexor for about 3 or 4 years, I think. Much if it was a blur. But anyone wanting to wean off should ask the doctor, if only to get something else to make it easier. If symptoms are lasting a LONG time after stopping, definitely see the doctor. I worried about permanent damage from taking it for so long, and why suffer thru side effects when there is probably something else out there to help.
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Along w/your husband, I haven't been pleasant to live w/either. My husband picks up on it because I may not yell at him, but I am grumpy on and off most of the day.
What's frustrating is that before I went on Effexor these weren't my symptoms. I wasn't mad, angry or crying a lot. Mine was anxiety feelings inside, a lot due to we have a 14 year old who is developementally delayed and has had  a lot of health issues/behavior issues. I was so nervous that she was going to get sick and back in the hospital that my nerves were frazzled. I just keep telling myself that since these symptoms I'm having now wasn't what I was experiencing before Effexor, that if I give it time (probably a lot of time) I'll be back to my old self. Like I said before, a RN I know who went off of it was horrible. Crying/angry while at work and w/her husband. She said she was constantly telling her husband that it wasn't him as to why she was angry toward him. If I feel like going back on it, I'm going to talk w/her to remind me that it will get better.
I am going to talk to my dr and a pharmacist, that I highly respect, and if I find out any info on what could help I will write you back.
Michelle
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Hey, just figuring out that the horrible sickness I thought I had due to stress may be related to coming off Effexor. I have been taking 150 mg for about a year for anxiety. I am the single mom of two teenage daughters and have a very demanding job. I was not depressed, just always grumpy and could not handle anyone disagreeing with me. I would get so upset that I would cry at work. Yuk! I went to my GYN because I thought I was menopausal. But, he said no and put me on Effexor. At first it was great. But then, I had some weird side effects like panic attacks, restless leg syndrome, upset stomach, insane dreams, no motivation, tiring easily, being more "blonde" thank usual, craving alcohol and not being able to handle it well. Because I am forgetful anyway, I would forget for a day or two to take it. So, I was always yinging and yanging. I knew I should taper, but I forgot to take it for about 3 days and said why not just go "cold turkey".

Yikes, it got worse. But I am sticking with the withdrawal. I have digestive problems, threw up every meal yesterday, am tired for no reason and have problems sleeping. I have cried and cried. Last night I wondered if I was dying. I knew I was not sick, but did not know what it could be. I do not have the brain misfire, or shivers, thank God. And I can drive. But, today I started researching because I was dizzy (never happens to me) and felt seasick. I thought it was from all the vomiting. But it did not get better after I actually kept down a meal. So it finally occurred to me (being fuzzy and all that), Effexor!

I really have appreciated reading all your comments because I feel like I am not alone. Now that I know what it is, I think I can handle it. I'll try to post back and let you know how long this takes and if the withdrawal actually cures the other problems, just in case I am using the Effexor as an excuse. Good luck to all.
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i hope things are doing fine enough for you to not want to take effexor again. please fight that craving! i don't know how long you've been off of it, but why go back and then have to relive what you're trying to put behind you? every day is another day forward.
anxiety was major factor too when my husband was put on effexor. he was not then what he's like now,,,but it will get better.
i hope things are well with your daughter. we don't have children but as an aunt, i know how tough being a parent can be.
had a pretty nice weekend,,,a big improvement since last week. there's another step in the right direction.
hang in there, michelle. i really appreciate these communications. i've been feeling pretty alone, living my husband's nightmare with him. i'm glad i found this forum.
and today the sun is shining.
joyce

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Hey, it has been about a week and the withdrawal symptoms are getting better. I am not a dizzy as I was before. A wierd non-side effect now is that I can see! I had been on Effexor for about a year. About 5 months ago, I started wearing reading glasses because I thought I had eye strain. I'm 46 and work on computers all day, so this was expected. I thought. But, all of a sudden I can see again without the reading glasses. This is a good side effect of the withdrawal. I had the blurry vision on Effexor. Who knew? I am feeling more like my old self now. So, there is hope. -s
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I've been on multiple different ADs, but the thing is, Effexor XR, seemed like it worked the best for me.  Started with 75mg, then upped it to 150mg and when I upped it, I also added Bupropion HCI (generic of Wellbutrin) 150mg and was on the Effexor XR on a whole about 6 monthes.  On the 31st, lost my job, so no more insurance.  I knew I couldn't afford to stay on this stuff, it's expensive.  There were a couple of times where I missed doses and felt like ****, so I knew what I was in for.  So, on the 31st, sometime in the AM, was my last dosage of both and now it's April 4th, PM, and I feel like ****.  The nausea, brain muddling, I get tingling in my feet if I stand for too long, my depression has gotten pretty bad in just a few days, diarrhea, sometimes crazy dreams is everything I'm experiencing.  The only comfort I can get, is sleeping, which I do a lot now so I can make it to the next day and eating hot foods.  Even though I feel the nausea all the time, if I'm eating, say a pizza that I just took out of the oven, I feel somewhat okay.  The only positive so far that I've noticed, my sexual drive is back and it's not hard for me to urinate like it used to be.  Read once that these can affect things like that, but the percentage was like 3% or something.  This is actually the first time I've gone online to see what the withdrawal symptoms are and how long it lasts.  I just wish my "doctor" wasn't so gun-ho on giving everyone meds.  He even once said that he doesn't like sending people to psychiatrists.  Wonder why?  I'm not going back to him anymore, that's for sure.  I even put on about 15-20 extra pounds during when I was on these.  I had no idea that the meds were doing this, I just thought it was me.  I will NEVER, EVER go back onto these things and if I have to be prescribed for meds, I'll be doing my own research before hand.  I mean, I thought that's why we pay doctors, so they can inform on these kind of things and not just let us find out.  I can't believe that it's gotten to the point nowadays that we need to fully research all of this because we can't trust our own doctors.  Doesn't anybody else see something wrong with this?  I just hope this withdrawal period ends soon.  I can't take it.  I've got a good amount of doses left for my Effexor, but I don't want to have to go back to them because I couldn't take it anymore.  All I can say right now is thanks everyone for your own information and experience with this devil in a capsule and for anyone else like me that's coming off of it, mabye there are better things out there for our depression then popping a pill.  Some of us need them, I know, but, perhaps, one day, we won't need to be taking this kind of **** anymore.
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Timeline: March 16-April 5, 2009

Tried to refill my Effexor XR on March 16, and with my new health insurance I was told at the pharmacy that I now needed something called a Prior Authorization.  I was told this could take up to a week, and paying for them out of pocket was not an option.  So, the withdrawal symptoms started gradually on Tuesday March 17 with a headache and a generally tired feeling, and I barely made it through the workday, which was the last workday for me for a week and a half.  Wednesday morning I woke up with terrible nausea.  I was so dizzy that I stumbled on my way to the bathroom to vomit and hit my head on the wall. Eating was not an option for the next two days.  By Thursday, I was so cold, yet so hot at the same time.  Nightmares.  Waking up day after day with my heart racing painfully after falling asleep for only an hour or two.  Hallucinations started on Friday and stayed with me for four awful days.  I couldn't think straight.  The head zaps were so bad that I tried not to move so much as my eyes at all.  The overall misery was such that I briefly contemplated suicide by the end of the first seven days.  

Driving was not an option.  I felt scared all of the time.  I was firmly convinced that my life was ending.  I spent days crying and feeling much anger at nothing in particular but yet everything in general.  Light hurt my eyes.  I retained almost every drop of water I drank.  I jumped at shadows, yelled at my husband.  Spent two weeks sleeping with the light on so that the pictures and things hanging on my bedroom walls wouldn't move and freak me out.  Sleep is still elusive, even after three weeks.  The nightmares have started to taper off now.  The headaches are milder now.  

Three weeks later, the brain zaps are still here, but much diminished.  I still cannot sleep through the night.  I only cry occasionally during the day.  I will never ever go back on Effexor XR.  
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I am now scared to death to go off of this drug.  I am 47 and have been on it for several years.  I am taking 150mg of Effexor XR.  Like someone stated, I have become stupid - can't remember anything!  It affects not only my job by my entire life!  A few months ago I started on a difference hormone replacement drug because the all natural one I had taken was removed from the market.  Over the last two years I have gained 25 pounds.  Tomorrow I will call my md and have her recommend what I can do.  Has anyone been hospitalized when going off of this?  
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I didn't read all of the posts, but most have a common problem. - Unrecommended cold turkey stopping the use of the drug. It is supposed to be tapered if you go off it, just as you posted.

No wonder you have experienced such a difficult withdrawal. The med rewires your brain to fight the depression, so the body is not designed to deal with an abrupt stop of the med. It is supposed to slowly rewire itself while getting used to having less and less of the drug. I am not passing judgment on why you went cold turkey, but you have to EXPECT huge problems when you did that. So blaming the doctor and the drug are unwarranted, since the info was already in your hands.

For anyone considering going cold turkey, beware! The relatively small expense to get a script big enough to handle usage through the taper period is money well spent.
Also, living with depression is not an alternative if you can afford the meds and they are keeping the depression at bay.
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I understand what you are saying, but the incredible side effects of the drug withdrawal were not explained to me. In fact, my docuter did not warn me about stopping abruptly. So, I was unprepared for what happened to me.  I do hope that word of mouth gets out about stopping this particular drug abruptly. I DO hold my doctor accountable for not telling me how to taper off the drug or to even come back and see him if I did. I DO hold insurance companies accountable for requiring prior auth without advance notice. Do I blame them? No. But, they do have some responsiblity.
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