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Avatar universal

Effexor -withdrawal not a queston - but a blog.

I thought I'd start a thread to document my withdrawal from Effexor due to the multitudionous threads elsewhere worrying about it.

First of all I am a 12 stepping recovering alcoholic (dry since Apr 5th 2011).
I am not an evangelist about these things but I know its working for me.

I live in the UK

I am not very good with the 12 step thing - but I am getting there.

Second, I have been on Effexor for several years - max 75mg - currently on 37.5 mg generic - and the manufacturer of the month is ..... TEVA (they vary).

I also take 37.mg atenolol (beta blocker) for anxiety / blood pressure.

I have been on sertraline in the past ( bad experience for me >10 years ago ) and Prozac (about 10 years ago - good for me) and more recently Effexor.

I take ADs for GAD (generalized anxiety).
I want to get off the Effexor because I want to try things the 12 step way and because of its perceived dependency.

I tried to cold turkey Effexor about 4 years ago and it was disasterous - I went into some kind of rebound depression as the say, got the brain zaps, felt flu-ey, extremely irritable, nauseous and disassociated, brain foggy.
Basically very very sh*t.
It almost cost me my relationship - along with my alcoholism - and the fact that when I was withdrawing I told my wife I dont know if I loved her any more (we were having financial and consequently relationship problems at the time) has caused lasting damage - which I am hopefully continuing to repair.

Even though it was a lot to do ith the withdrawal the damage was done.

Here are some of my symptoms which contributed to the above and still trouble me.

Lack of sex drive - I feel I "cant be bothered" or have no energy - this hurts my wife a lot - she thinks its her.
Fuzzy/Foggy brain.
Poor quality sleep ( I also have sleep apnoea which is treated with CPAP and is just fine according to my latest check up).
Muscular tension/tension headaches
Lack of focus/concentration.
Mood swings.
Wake up very early and tired (getting to sleep is quite easy now Ive quit the booze)
Also I am fat now - a fat beer bellied ******* with a 45" belly on a much more slender frame.

The truth is I dont know which ones are me and which ones are the Efffexor - if any.
The truth is the Effxor helped in the beginning, but now I am trying to unmsk my true symptoms and deal with them a different way.

Since I stopped drinking a lot of symptoms have eased, but of course dependent alcohlics get withdrawal too.
So I have been dealing  with the alcohol withdrawal symptoms for 3 months and now after 100 days (On Thursday) and I am moving on to the next thing.

So I have several 100 day plans, as I call them.
1) Effexor.
2) Lose my belly
3) Stop smoking
4) Become RULER OF THE WORLD ... erm no .. that should say "curb my meglomanical tendencies" - or is that the Effexor ;)

Of course AA says "Easy does it" - but like I said I am a bit impatient, but will listen to my body.

I could go on and on - but I think that is sufficient background for now.

Anyway, day one was Sunday 10th July - I took half a tablet (37.5mg/2 = 17.75mg).
Yeterday Monday July 11th I took the same - maybe I felt a little odd on the dose reduction - maybe it was psychosomatic .
I am going to continue on the 1/2 tablets for a week or two to see if there are any adverse or postive effects.
I shall report when I make any changes or feel different otherwise it will be at weekends.

I know this Effexor withdrawal stuff is different for a most of us, but if this helps one single person then I shall be a happier pig for it.

If anyone wants to ask me stuff then feel free.

10 Responses
1695559 tn?1311907028
my b/f stopped taking efexor sudenly and he became very irational and very violent... make a long story short, i broke a huge vase over his head and ran full speed out the back door and to the neighbors house. he got in the car and drove off with blood all over him from his head being cut from the vase and drove a few hrs away then called his parents and me and said he was going to kill himself .. he ended up in a car accedent where he broke a few ribs and fractured his back and foot! at first we had no clue why in the hell he was acting like that... i started searching for an anwer and i noticed he hadnt been taking his effexor and i looked up the side effects from it.. and low and behold... there it was all of it! irrational, suisidal, violent all of it! the low sex drive well actully no drive was an issue in our realationship too and i like your wife felt it was me .. you cant help but feel that way.. but through alot of research we figured out what was going on and got him off of it the rite way... or dr prescribed him prozac to ease the w/d zap feelings and flu like symptoms and the depression (or in his case crazy lunitic) the prozac helped him transition off of the effexor way eaiser now he take 200 mg of wellbutrin and his whole outlook and sex drive and everything is different! his not so impatient his blood pressure with he had to take meds for has been on track for a while so he dosent have to take meds for that anymore =]  youre wife is still there with you so she loves you obviously... shes just hurting and with you taking the steps to make changes for the better of yourself and your relationship has got to make her feel a little better. i hope so anyways. CONGRADULATIONS on the sober time!!!!!!!!!  alchol is a b i t c h to get off of i had that issue a few yrs ago... but life is way better without the booze! i moved to other habits/demons that i am working to get off of . but such is life ..you said you took prozac before and it was good for you,, maybe it will help you to get off of the effexor easier without having to go through all the ick feelings.
480448 tn?1426952138
Welcome to the Anxiety Community!

First, congrats on your recovery from alcohol.  I know you're only beginning, but your accomplishments thus far are commendable, keep working it!

You state the following about your reasoning for wanting to come off the Effexor...."I want to get off the Effexor because I want to try things the 12 step way and because of its perceived dependency".

Do you feel it has been helping you with the anxiety and other issues?  My biggest concern for you would be that you may be biting off more than you can chew trying to conquer both alcohol abuse and d/c'ing the Effexor at the same time.  The other issue is, it seems pretty apparent that you're still going to need to address the anxiety, which could be a big precipitating factor in the alcoholism to begin with.  Anxiety sufferers commonly turn to self medicating of some sort, whether it be with alcohol, illicit drugs, Rx drugs, etc.  You really need to look into that and determine whether or not perhaps this is the right decision for you.  Have you discussed all of this with your doctor?  Have you explored alternative medications with your doctor if you don't feel the Effexor is cutting it for you?  Have you come up with a new approach for addressing the anxiety?  One of the most common symptoms people experience after coming off these kinds of meds is rebound anxiety, which again, could compromise your recovery.  

If you truly feel that this is the best move for you, please be sure to taper with the help of your doctor, don't go it alone.  Also, be sure that the timing is right.  My honest opinion would be to give yourself some time to work on the alcohol recovery before adding more to your plate, which could compromise your sobriety.

You don't have to be a hero, which is what it sounds like you're trying to do.  You are perceiving the need for effexor as some kind of weakness, which is not the case at all.   For one, if you need a medication for your anxiety, then you need it.  You wouldn't stop your BP meds because you thought you could be "tough" and go without them, right?  For many people, meds for anxiety are the same.  There is nothing wrong with needing a med to help control your anxiety, even if it means you become a "lifer" with that med.  Also, one step at a time.  If you DO want to come off the Effexor, truly and honestly evaluate whether this is the right time for you.  You don't want to overburden yourself with too much at once.

If you want to start working on "you", why not focus on some other aspects of improving your life before trying to conquer the Effexor?  For example, working on your health, adopting a healthier diet, working on your weight, etc.  Start a low impact exercise program.  Doing all of that will help you feel better as a whole anyway, and will help you with your recovery, it will possibly help your sleep apnea, your hypertension, etc.

Just please think about this long and hard.  You always have the option of discontinuing the Effexor, but is NOW really the time to do it?  My guess would be no.  Also, if you haven't already, please start some therapy.  Therapy can help in so many ways with all of the issues you are dealing with.  Also, a therapist can help you make this kind of decision and have a back up plan in place to deal with the anxiety after you've stopped the Effexor.

Very best of luck to you!
Avatar universal
I just wanted to say - for those of you who want to come off the Effexor and have been scared by all the posts of terrible symptoms - it IS possible.  

First off - always do the weaning off under a doctor's care.  I can't stress that enough.  
Second - it takes TIME to come off this drug. Do NOT stop taking it suddenly - you'll need months at a minimum!  

That being said, it is possible, and it is possible to do so with symptoms that while bad, are not completely life-disrupting.  

First of all, my depression was a temporary thing (not even sure it was really depression per se - I think it was just side effects from a severe Vitamin D deficiency, but the willingness of doctors to just throw you on anti-depressants at the drop of a hat is another post entirely!).  So when I wanted to get pregnant and got my doctor's okay to wean off the Effexor, we took it down over time.  

I started at my original dose of 150 mg nightly.  I went to 75 mg nightly on a Friday night.  I always timed my dose changes for Friday nights so I had the entire weekend to recover from the side-effects.  Honestly, I did not have any trouble coming down from 150 to 75.  I did that for two weeks and tried to go down to 37.5 mg nightly from that.  That was too quick - I had terrible reactions - it was like being on permanent PMS and I would fly off the handle for no reason and couldn't control what came out of my mouth.  The doctor slowed the weaning off down and took me to 150 mg one night and 75 mg the next night for two weeks.  That was much better.  After two weeks, then I stepped down to 37.5 every night and it was fine - no major side effects - I had headaches that some people might consider severe, but after 20 years of major migraines, I ignored them.  I did that for two weeks.  Then I alternated 37.5 one night and nothing the next night for two weeks.  I did have some side effects during that (headaches, mood swings, impulse control difficulties) and considered trying to slow the weaning down more given the trouble I was having, but I wanted off the things so badly, I decided to push through and keep trying.  After two weeks of alternating 37.5 and nothing, I finally took my last pill.  

The next 5-6 days were awful.  Headaches, dizziness, weak beyond belief.  It was like having the flu but without a fever.  I couldn't even cook for myself for a few days, much less drive.  I took my last pill on a Wednesday and would have taken my next on a Friday, so I didn't have any symptoms until Saturday.  Saturday, Sunday and Monday were h*ll - I couldn't even stand for more than a few minutes unaided.  Tuesday and Wednesday were better, but I still was getting horrible dizzy spells.  I called my doctor in tears on Thursday wanting to know when it would stop, and she told me to give it to Friday (a full week) and come see her if it didn't get better.  It did, except for the dizzy spells.  We finally figured out that the Effexor had been causing my high blood pressure and that once it was out of my system, my BP dropped so low that with me on BP meds, it was pushing it artificially low until I was having dizzy spells and fainting.  Once I stopped the BP meds, that cleared up.  

All I did while weaning off was take pre-natal vitamins with Omega 3 supplements throughout the weaning process (I wanted off so I could get pregnant, hence the pre-natals).  I have had some mood swings, and have had to get used to having emotions again after 2 years of not having any strong emotions, and I get occassional migraines, which I had prior to the Effexor, but never had while I was on it.  

I have since learned that I probably came off the drugs too fast and should have taken a few more months to wean down, but no harm done so far.  I feel fine, feel more like myself than in a while, and am not having a lot of trouble.  The mood swings have calmed down a lot and seem more in line with normal "me" now and no more dizzy spells.  Occassionally I'll have the sensation when turning my head quickly that my brain is a couple of seconds behind, but it's not frequent and not severe.  

I know when I started thinking about coming off of them, I got really distressed and worried about all the negative posts I found talking about how it was impossible to come off these drugs, so for all the people like me, I did want to say, it is possible, not easy by any means, but possible.  Just please please please, make sure you do it under a doctor's care and that you don't try to quit cold turkey on these things.  

Good luck!  
I agree slower titration is the key.  Took me two months then a third month OFF ALL EFFEXOR before I was free of bad bad BAD Sid e effects from withdrawal.  On better MEDS now after l o sing with t years to he lobotomy like numbness of Effexor.  
Avatar universal
Thanks for your comments and advice and good intentions.
They are truly appreciated.

I aint no cold turkey and I aint no hero.
Believe me I have thought long and hard about this and read all the tales of hellish withdrawal
As I said before I did do this about 4 years ago and got all the usual brain zaps nauseous, general weirdness and it caused a lot of sh*t.
And I am not about to embark on that again.

I am a capsule carrying member of the effexor community - I always have at least one with me - just in case I forget or am too many hours taking them.

I also appreciate comments about doing it with the help of your doc.
Problem is docs dont really understand - they dont have time to keep up to date on all this crap and changing docs doesnt really help.
They have lots of other patients to deal with who have a myriad of chronic illnesses etc.
So I am a realist not an apologist.
Getting annoyed at doctors (and other people in general) causes me more stress than it drives them to action.
I can do with it.

Also they dont suffer the symptoms - not that I would want them to.

My doctor for example suggested I miss a day once a week to reinforce the efficacy of the ADs.
This in itself illustrates a lack of understanding of Effexor and the effect a missed dose can have.

Anyway - my approach is to reduce the dose by half and see what the effect is and if the effects are too disturbing then I will titrate up and stablise and then try a smaller drop and continue until this stabilises for a signficant amount of time before titrating again.

So, I have noticed some effects - mild increased sweating, myoclonic jerk when falling asleep, which could be psychological.
But the kicker is a mild dissociative effect which is gradually worsening.
So its back up to the full dose for me tonight and then will reduce again when I stabilise.
If this same pattern continues then I will only drop to 3/4 dose.
These patterns are based on what other people have done.

So I am being careful.
Remember my full dose is 37.5 mg - the smallest you can get.
I also monitor my own BP.
On the subject of BP - I also take Atenolol (minium dose again) - so I am carfully monitoring this also.

People around me are aware of what I am doing.
Other than having a full time attendant what else am I to do?

Avatar universal
Update time.

My dissociation and anxierty sorted itself out so ive contniued to take just 18.75 mg of the Effexor.

Ive had sharp head pains, but not headaches, a little irritable , but nothing else I cant put down to the usual symptoms.

BP's fine - 120/75 (104/70 at the docs a few days ago)

Anyway, I'm going to continue with this dose for a while - a few weeks - say a month - and let it bed in before I consider a drop to a 10mg dose (1/4 tablet).
Avatar universal
So far so good.
My drop from 37.5 mg to 17.875mg is doing fine.
Had root cancal infection this week - pain far worse than any side effects from Effexor withdrawal.
Going to continue like this for some time. Target date is 14th August
Avatar universal
I keep screwing up on the dose amount I write above.
The amount was 37.5 mg
Now been on 37.5mg/2 = 18.75mg for 2 weeks (lets call it 19).
Next shift will be to 18.75mg/2 = 9.375mg in the mniddle of August
No more posts until then unless things change.
1829537 tn?1317839926
I have tried for years to get off effexor and have never made it.  I am also on 37.5 mg now and have been for over 10 years.  Two years ago I tried to get off of the drug by cutting them in half and I couldn't even stand myself.  My head couldn't even think and I couldn't function at work.  I almost lost my job so I gave up and after a month I continued the 37.5 mg and felt great again in a week or less.  At this time I've desided to not try again and will continue with this drug the rest of my life.  Sandy
Avatar universal
I was on Effexor for 6 years and had the occassional brain zap if I missed a dose. However it wasn't anything unbearable. During this time I felt that I was fine taking the medication until I began realizing that I wasn't feeling so good and I was also starting to have mood swings again.  At that time I was only on 75mg a day and didn't want to increase my dosage. Due to other minor ailments I began seeing a Naturalpathic Doctor.  This was the best decision I ever made and worth the cost (since it wasn't covered by insurance).  I found out through time with her that most of my mood swings were being caused by food allergies, which led me to the question "can I get off of my prescription medications?"  The answer was at that time was to fix one thing at a time and THEN begin weaning off the Effexor.  Six months into the new diet I was feeling really good and after extensive research realized that my new diagnosis of Hotchimoto's disease probably came from years of taking Effexor and other anti-depressants.  I wanted off! So I began weaning myself.  Bad idea.  I got to the point where I had reduced to a small dosage, was feeling bad but refused to go back to higher dosage.  I lost it.  I wanted to die.  My brain zapped all day, my body ached, I had constant anxiety and depression.  I followed all of the ideas I found online about omega 3's and vitamins and that helped me feel not SO helpless.  My naturalpath then helped out tremendously by introducing me to a supplement called Tranquility.  It had everything in it to calm the brain.  I highly recommend it to anyone with anxiety, but also to everyone getting off of Effexor.  It is a available through a company called Mountain Peak.  It didn't get rid of the brain zaps completely, but it did reduce them and the anxiety that came with them.  Good luck to anyone who is able to take the next step.  I hope more people become educated on what the pharmaceuticals are doing to us.
Avatar universal
Amen.  With t years on Effexor.  Depression, panic attacks, severe ANXIETY.  I was so numb to real emotions I could no longer FEEL ANYTHING. It took two months to wean off this Effexor poison.  Sid e effects were torture. Headaches, electric zaps, feeling g s of rage, violent nightmares, nausea, chills, increased agitation, insomnia, out of body experiences. My own husband begged me to JUST TAKE THE DAMN EFFEXOR.

This is the thing..

People in your life get used to you not reacting.  You are numb and they are freed from your panic attacks...Depression...

It can be very inconvenient for them to support you when you are emerging from a mind gov that kept you complacent.  Especially when your side effects make you SEEM WORSE.

Do NOT give your life to this EFEXOR mind control.  I took
Half my d o as for two weeks, then a quarter dose for two weeks, then an eigjth dose for two weeks...finally a sixteenth dose for two weeks. It was another thirty days before I was free of all side effects.  I am an RN..my doc suggested I wean off by taking a half my dose for seven days and stopping.


I FEEL my whole range of emotions now and I lament the years lost to the church e local lobotomy that is EFFEXOR.

There are much safer MEDS.

Bless all of you who are beginning the journey of reiterating off EFFEXOR.  

Do not give up.
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