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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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Avatar universal
When you got the symptoms, you could still have gone back on at some dosage recommended by your doctor until you stabilized, then started the taper. You probably still had more pain to go through by continuing the cold turkey even after a few days of the torture than if you went to a stable dosage point, under medical guidance, and properly tapered.
Some people can not avoid withdrawal effects, no matter how careful they taper, however I believe you should stop each taper until your effects stabilize at each dosage. It isn't as if you are quitting some powerful addictive drug, so there is no reason to rush into pain. Besides, if your anxiety or depression comes back at a lower dose you know that you need to get back on the med at the higher dose. Suffering the time consuming pain of depression is not an option.


I hope someone who is either in cold turkey or considering it reads this, and maintains contact with their doc or pharmacist.
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No, I could not have gone back and gotten on a lower dosage--my insurance doesn't cover it without the prior authorization--at ANY dosage.  I cannot afford it without insurance.  Very simply, it was not an option.  When I asked my dr about discontinuation symptoms, she gave me a blank stare.  When I asked if there were any samples she could give me to get me through until the prior auth came in, she said no.  My only option at that point was to pay out of pocket or go through withdrawals.  My doctor also did not explain what would happen to me without the drug.  All I am doing here is sharing a common experience, not looking to be chastised for going through a miserable experience.  
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Apr 05, 2009 08:18PM I already said the purpose of my posting was not to pass judgment on why people quit, but to outline options for those considering because there are a lot of misconceptions about withdrawals.
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Well, it's been about 7-8 days for me so far after stopping cold turkey.  I kept no contact with a doctor or anything.  He put me on this stuff, never explained anything to me about it really, so I found no point in contacting him about it.  My prior thing has that I was on 75, then went to 150.  I was wrong on that.  It was 150mg, then I went up to 300mg.  Then, cold turkey.  I can say, after about a week for me, the physical withdrawal symptoms have gotten way better.  Those first few days I was sleeping all the time because I couldn't stand it, but now, it's not so bad.  Emotionally though, I've been getting easily upset and just crying over anything really.  I think, with the physical things, the nausea, dizziness and all of that just kind of kept me focused on that and nothing else, but now that it's not bad and tolerable for me, the mental things have really come into play.  Thing is, that's about all that happens for me though.  I just start crying over little things and it takes a bit to stop, then I have to basically have a cool down time to get out of that mood.  Other than that, I can say I've been doing okay, so it does look like it can go away.  All I can say is that my diet has basically been the same, but I do take 6 different vitamins on a daily basis, so I'm not sure if that contributed to my physical ailments fading as quickly as they did, or not.  A multi vitamin, super B-complex, C, E, Aloe Vera, and Alpha Lipoic Acid.  I've been taking these for some time now, so I'm not sure if they've helped at all or not, but that's just something that might be different from others that are coming off of it that don't take any kind of vitamins or minerals.  On a final note, I have to completely disagree with you birdie.  If doctors are not letting us know about these kind of things and how powerful this drug really is, they should be held accountable for it.  It's almost like going into surgery, having a scalpel sown up inside of you because they were careless and them not saying anything even though they knew about it.  That is what I was paying him for.  That is why he went and got all that schooling so that he could tell us these kind of things.  I never got any kind of paper from him saying, here are the side affects, he never told me them, he just said that it would be my next best bet to go on those.  Didn't even mention anything about tapering, nothing.  I had to find out all of this on my own.  Even that sheet I got from the pharmacy when I got my meds, didn't help.  Nothing on there about it.  It gave the same description as any other AD med, but with a couple of extra side affects.  Extremely vague and unhelpful.  And with what I've read, it sounds like everyone has been having this problem.  Doctors not informing their patients properly.  Isn't that almost a form of malpractice.  Drugs aren't the going to be the answer.  Counseling is the better option to take, since it could find out why you're getting the way you are and some may never have to deal with taking meds to begin with since they've managed to discover the root of the problem.  What did we do back in the day when we didn't have these magic pills?  We talked about it.  I don't plan on going on any other drug for depression again.  I'd rather commit suicide because of depression than have to become dependent on something like this ever again.  May come off as being pretty dramatic here, but, that's how I'm looking at it.  
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I wouldn't go so far as suicide to avoid ADs, but I understand how you feel. I feel fortunate that with all the therapy I have under by belt, and with the diet and exercise changes I've made, that I haven't had to fill the Prozac prescription my doctor gave me to replace the Effexor.

And when I told my doctor about the symptoms I had when I missed a dose of Effexor, she told me that her husband was on Paxil (which is apparently similar in some ways) and when he misses a dose he feels like he's going to die. But then when I went in to talk to her about quitting the Effexor, she told me I shouldn't have much trouble. As you and everyone else on this list know, much trouble is exactly what you have when you quit taking Effexor.

AND my doctor didn't tell me about some of the potential health risks of taking the drug. I've read there is potential for heart problems and I have a family history of heart problems.

I think part of the problem is that doctors aren't educated well on new meds, and part of the problem is that if they haven't taken them so they don't know. Plus the drug companies don't exactly advertise these things. But I would think that with as many people that are out there with severe withdrawal issues, they would get a clue and not pass us off as overreacting.

I will fill my Prozac prescription before offing myself, but I will exhaust ever possible avenue before that.
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If you want to sue your doctor for incompetence, that is a different matter than I contemplated in my original post. I didn't realize that he was as bad as you say, which was an oops on my part.

You might want to have the crying checked with a different professional, if it continues. It could be because you need to be on a med and not a withdrawal issue. It is good that you can stop it, so maybe it is all a good sign. We can't diagnose on this forum so I am not trying to do that.
Some people just need the med due to body chemistry, and if so, there is nothing to be ashamed of.

Definitely there are lots of non-med therapies like meditation, cognitive behavior, etc that work, but not very much chance of success with them while you are in a clinical depression. A depression tends to pull you down a bit deeper at a time, so it is very hard to keep coming up to the top while fighting the depression nag all the time. The therapies work best when the nag has disappeared.

Take care, and it is good that you are feeling less pain than the last time.
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This is full day 1 for me without the Effexor, and dear God am I miserable. My dr. tapered me from 150mg to 75 for a month (which was tolerable) to 37.5 for 2 weeks. Like I said, this is my first full day without anything and it's been rather difficult. I've slept 10-15 for the last 2 or 3 days because I can't stand being upright from the dizzy spells. I feel like my eyes are going to pop out of my head, and I'm dreading have to go to work tomorrow. I hate being on pills unnecessarily but if this continues, I might ask to go back on them. Its like your brain it trudging through mud or something; even typing now is difficult. I will say the meds did their job but I think I would've rather been in a funk than feel like this from trying to do the right thing...Melanie
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You said you had no problem with the 75s. All that sleeping on the 37s may mean you need to stay at that dose for a few more days until you stabilize, but that is just my guess.

Perhaps you can now be alternating zeroes with 37s like this 0,37,0,0,37,0,0,0 etc. so your body slowly comes off. That is the pattern my doc told me to use when I went off a different med, so I am just guessing what you should do. Since you had problems with pure 37s I am wondering how you can go to zeroes without a lot of trouble.  

By all means contact your doc, or pharmacist for advice about what to do right now. Maybe your hospital has a hotline for information, as the ones in my city provide that service.
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585414 tn?1288944902
Many of those posts go back a while but obviously I'd say specifically if people are following doctor's instructions that's between them and their provider but its best to discuss what the alternative medication will be. Not going without medication at all can be a rough landing. We have some good websites linked up such as "Depression Central" for some information you can use to talk over with your psychiatrist about available options. As for anyone having trouble obtaining coverage and that being the reason for not obtaining medications there are a variety of options such as Medicaid (if you are not working) and the Medicaid Buy in for Working People with Disabilities (if your state has it) and others. A good place to find out about coverage options is independent living centers. There's one in every county of every state and some worldwide:
http://www.ilru.org/html/publications/directory/index.html
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I definately know I'm not feeling like myself; just reading your response is bringing me to tears. I already arranged with my job to work only 5 hours a day during the weaning process, but today I don't know if I'm going to make it. I'm nauseous, dizzy, and crying and the drop of a hat, which is totally unlike me. I hate to be whining when I only took my last dose 4 days ago, but this is just awful. I took a long shower last night which helped with the dizzy spells but them swelled up like a balloon so had to take a diuretic. I don't know; just having people here to talk to helps, but I hope this is all over soon. Trying to explain how you feel to someone who's never been there is miserable and hopeless. My husband just thinks I'm crabby.
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Don't depend on support from your spouse. If you get it, that is a benefit, but mine never supported me either.
I still think you should get advice from your pharmacist, if you can't reach your doc. It is just a phone call away. They know all about the meds, and see many people in withdrawal. I don't know if that is what you mean when you say "Trying to explain how you feel to someone who's never been there is miserable and hopeless." or if you are referring to your husband.

It sounds like a difficult withdrawal ahead going to zero when you were not stable at 37, so in my guess, you should have stayed there for a while. That is why you should get professional advice now.
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Justr wanted to let anyone who is out there suffering know that it DOES get better. This has been the week from hell for me, but each day gets a little bit easier. It's officially a week of being Effexor free for me, and while I still have the brain zaps and dizzy spells, the nausea has subsided. Talked to my dr about the side effects; I was pretty much told take some Dramamine and deal with it or we'll put you back on the meds. Hated that answer, but I'm sticking to it and hopefully this time next week I'll be able to say I feel great. Hang in there....
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I started taking effexor when it was first introduce (1993)  and decided to go off it last Feb.  I went through a tapering process that my Dr. prescribed, decreasing by 37.5 mgs. every 2 weeks.  (the pharmacy bill for enough drug to taper from 150 mg to 0 cost  $300.00.  that is the preferred provider cost.  without insurance i have no idea what it would have been.)  I took my last dose of effexor on April 1st.  I experienced the symptoms that are well documented here during the tapering but managed them fairly well.  My husband has been extremely supportive and in addition to my psych/MD, I have been seeing a naturopathic Dr.  who has been very helpful.  Before starting the tapering she recommended that i start taking a tbsp of fish oil everyday, exercise, get plenty of fresh air, etc.  

I can't imagine what it would be like to go off this drug abruptly and w/o help.  

Being totally off the med. is as I expected harder that going off.  As far as w/d symptom relief is concerned a little effexor is better than none.  It seems that as one thing maybe starts to feel better then something else takes over the job of making me miserable.  The brain zaps (what I thought of as lasers shooting through my brain)  have become less.  For the 1st two weeks I lived on ginger (tea, ale, candied, etc) to settle my stomach and it is almost normal now.  Temperature changes so extreme!  Drenching sweats to shivers still.

Right now the worst is pain.  I'm 60 and with that comes some aches and pains.  I was enjoying going to yoga, and started a walking program and felt good doing those things while tapering.  The stretching in yoga seemed to help the aging.  Now I'm waking up painful and staying that way all day.  Soaking in a hot bath in the morning gets me started and  again at night allows me to fall asleep but I hurt all day-all over.  Yoga hurts too.  NSAIDs help only a little.  No position is comfortable.  I have just started taking 5HTP and thought it helped but now the past 2 days I can't get myself to do anything because what ever it is will hurt.  

I started reading today to see if I could find a clue as to how long to expect this phase to last or what else to do to try to relieve it.  It is probably like every other aspect of the process--very individual.  

Some of you posters are very positive and helpful and I thank you for that.  


  
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You mentioned the body aches, and a light went on in my head. I've had a lot of lower joint pain (just finished week 2 of no drugs) and my legs/ankles have been swollen pretty much everyday. It never occurred to me the 2 might be connected until reading your post. Otherwise I feel SO much better than I did the first week; almost no nausea and the brain zaps are becoming less and less. I have noticed I'm finally getting cold (used to sweat horribly at night) and that my emotions have returned. I can finally cry again!!! I'm glad that I stuck it out and didn't go back on the pills, but I really think it's something the dr should warn you about before prescribing. Again, good luck to all!!
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Its day 6 of cutting my effexor in half and i can definatley feel the difference, I am constantly tired, feel like i need to vomit 24/7, pins and needles in my bottom lip and very short tempered. Could cry over spilt milk. I am getting back into my depression mode where i feel horrible about myself. The terrible sleeping pattern and horrid dreams are getting to me.  I just want to know how long this takes to adjust... I am so tempted to get back on the full dose just to feel better again.

If cutting my dose in half feels like this i dont even want to begin to think about what stopping all together is going to be like.
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The fact that you are going back into depression mode and short tempered may mean that you need to stay on meds. There is nothing to be ashamed of, if that is the case, just that your body may lack what the med provides. You should talk this over with your pharmacist if you can't see your doc right now.

How long were you on Effexor and why are you quitting?
Write back.
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You didn't mention what dose you were on before you decreased the dose.  Any decrease in the dose will give you horrible physical symptoms, and cutting the dose in half may be too much of a drop all at once.  The key is to slowly taper the dose.  You are right to be concerned about the return of your depression symptoms.  It is very difficult to sort out what may be an increase in depression and what may be a mental/emotional reaction to feeling physically miserable.  Go slow with the tapering and keep someone who knows you well in the loop to help you determine if you are becoming clinically depressed again or if you are experiencing normal situational depression.  
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I have finally decided to check some of my symptoms with others posted. I was on Effexor at 300mg for nearly ten years. In November I ended up on a trip and without my meds went off of both Effexor and Welbutrin COLD TURKEY. I have to say I have experienced EVERY side effect I have seen on this thread. The "brain Zaps" do go away, your energy does begin to return, thankfully so does the sexual side of things. What has me in it"s grip now is the body aches. That is why I chose to look here. To see If it was an individual thing. Guess not. I am 49 and work as a Dish Network technician climbing ladders and lifting in the the freezing temps all winter and some days I cant even hold my drill. The body aches are flu like and as was mentioned earlier hot baths will get me through the night, although some nights I dont sleep at all. Headaches are lightening up, but feeling like you have the flu everyday really really *****. Heres the good news: the anger and dizziness DOES subside, I am feeling more mentally fit EVERYDAY, I am losing weight again and I CAN see the light at the end of the tunnel...though some days dimmer than others. I DO BELIEVE THAT THESE PEOPLE NEED TO BE SUED! I spoke with USC medical center about Effexor. They told me that it was the "most notorious" mind altering drug out there. The earlier comment about it "not being dangerous" couldn't be further from the truth. These are not just "anti-depressants" according to USC, they are called that because the true name "Psychotics" has such a stigma that no one would use them. USC's quote-not mine. The facts are these: Millions of us have been placed on serious mind altering drugs without a full disclosure of the possible side effects by our doctors-if THEY even knew about them. We dont know how long these side effects will go because from what I am reading we are the first generation of people fully walking through this without some other form of drug to mask the real symptoms.

Is it tempting to take something else? Hell yes. But to what OTHER side effect? The GOOD NEWS is that I am feeling better, and YOU WILL TOO! How long will I put up with some of this? Who knows. But I know this...my family tells me weekly how much "more like my old self I am becoming" (in a good sense) and how much healthier I am looking.

Hang in there all of you...we can do this.
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WOW, am I glad I found this site!  I thought I was losing my mind.  I have been on 75 mg of Effexor XR for about 3 years now.  About a month ago, I decided to "wean" myself off of it mainly because I was a few weeks from needing ANOTHER refill and was tired of spending $50 a month for this drug.  I know, stupid reason, but I originally only wanted to be on this drug for a year to get me "thru" a tough time in my life.  I've tried twice before (with my doctor's help) to stop taking Effexor, but had horrible brain shivers, tightening of the throat (trouble swallowing), and headaches.  This 3rd attempt was no exception.  I began with taking one pill every other day.  I did this for a week or so.  Then moved to taking one pill every two days.  I did this for a couple weeks and then quite entirely.  I've experience about every symptom in this post over the past few weeks since my last pill.  The worst thing is I sustained a severe dislocated fracture in my left foot back in December 08.  I've been struggling with aches and pains from the two screws that are left permanently in my foot.  But now, my whole body aches and my joints are sore (especially in the morning and evening).  Will this achiness go away?  I do feel less of the uneasy feeling in my head/eyes.  The brain shivers are almost gone but become more noticeable in the mid-morning after a cup of coffee.  I've been having terrible headaches in the morning when I get up.  They take several hours to subside; even with the help of 4 Advil!  My achiness is the biggest complaint now.  I am still undergoing PT for my foot and feel like I've lost 3 months of mobility in my foot.  How long will this general soreness last?  On a positive note, my thoughts are more positive without the drug!  Ironic, but I am remembering things from my childhood that I totally forgot about.  Fun and happy memories!  I look forward to doing things with the family now.  My wife is very happy to see the new (real) me.  She said I was in a daze for 3 years while on this drug.  Funny thing is I think she's right!  I’ll get through this, it’s just going to take some time.
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I've got the brain zaps as I post this...

Started taking Effexor XR in January 2008, at first 37.5mg but eventually up to 150mg.  The very big positive:  I may never have cried so little before in my adult life.  The only event I can recall summoning forth the waterworks was when I had to put my dog to sleep.  Even when I was diagnosed with a spinal meningioma, I was surprisingly blase about it!  I wasn't too thrilled about having to have major surgery, but I didn't feel anything but optimistic about the outcome.  In my experience, Effexor is fantastic at what it's meant to do--alleviate depression!

The negatives: It's been a little strange to feel so little emotion about relationship upheavals and the like, but the physical side effects of being on the medication--loss of libido, constipation, big leap in bad cholesterol levels, weight gain--are much more disturbing.  And, as so many have here noted, missing a dose out of forgetfulness brings on wooziness, brain zaps, headaches, and, for me at least, pulsating "dizzy" sensations in my arms and fingers (not sure how else to describe it--like feeling the zaps in other body parts).

I haven't taken a pill for the past 4 days--because I forgot to bring them with me when traveling this weekend, and I'm just about out of pills and feel like I don't really need to be medicated any longer for depression anyway.  I haven't discussed this with my doctor, tho may do so soon, if the WDs become too unbearable.  I was surprised to not feel the zaps until today (was hoping to escape without them); I wonder whether my brain had sort of come to expect the occasional overlooked dose, and only just now realized it was undergoing a more significant omission.  I do feel very achy, but it's difficult to say whether that's due primarily to surgical recovery/physical therapy, WD, or...swine flu?  Thankfully I don't feel emotionally distressed as some other posters have reported (and hope I'm not due to soon).

Steps I will take to try to survive my (ill-advised) cold turkey quitting:
1) Daily hot baths or showers to soothe my aching muscles.
2) Tyrosine supplements--I had been thinking of trying them to mellow out my moods, before going on Effexor.  Maybe they will help dull the WDs.
3) Try to get more than 8 hours of sleep a night (bring on the crazy dreams, I say!).
4) Resort to recreational means of nausea alleviation, should it occur.

If I can't stand the suffering, I'll be back in touch with my psychiatrist to update him on my recent activities and solicit his help.  He was upfront from the start that this was a drug with a short half-life, and will be sure to remind me that the cold turkey plan wouldn't have been his recommendation--so the suffering will have to exceed any shame I might feel for knowingly proceeding stupidly...

Best wishes to all trying to free themselves from Effexor!
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