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Side effects of stopping Effexor XR

I,ve been taking Effexor XR now for about 4 years.  I've asked my Doctor over the years a few times how to get off the medication with no answer.  I've been taking a all natural drink now for about a year and feel great.  Here comes the problem I took myself off the Effexor  and I'm getting dizzing, have trouble foucusing on things to the point I shouldn't drive.  I called the Doctor was told it can't be the Effexor but as soon has I take a pill with in a hour or two problems go away so I know it is the pill.  Does anyone know how to get off this stuff or should I just try to deal with the side effects for a week or two and see if it goes away.
22 Responses
404682 tn?1324579818
Effexor XR is a med that should be discontinued slowly by weaning in order to reduce the side effects of discontinuing it.

Talk to your doctor about decreasing the dose you are taking over a period of time. While you still may have some symptoms they shouldn't be as severe.

Avatar universal
I've asked her how to wean off the Effexor XR, she will not give me a straight answer.  I've even tried one pill every other day and still have the same problem and I'm ok with that if I knew when to stop totally or how long the side effects would last. I'm thinking I need a new Doctor. I'm getting anxiety just trying to get off the stuff. Thank you for your answer.

Avatar universal
How long have you been off Effexor? If it was recently you may experience dizziness as well as the infamous brain "zaps", nausea and the list goes on.

I stopped Effexor cold turkey about 2 months ago and still have spontanious periodic dizzy spells. I was told by my doctor that in order to know for sure it's the Effexor I need to start taking it again. However, I'm afraid to start again because of the side effects I had as well as the need to come off (tapered this time) it again.

BTW - If you Google Effexor Withdrawal or Effexor Taper you'll find all kinds of information about coming off this drug.

Avatar universal
Unfortunately, as with all anti-depressant meds, the side effects your experience may be irreversable. And as always, YMMV.
Avatar universal
I have been coming off of Effexor now for 6 months.  I was on 225mg.  You have got to come off very slow.  I first started to fast and got very sick.  Now I am only on 35.7mg. and next month hope to get off altogether.  One week drop down 1 day..next week drop down 2 days..next week drop down 3 days and so on.  Sounds very slow...which it is...but it has worked for me.  Then I will be on only 20mg. of Paxil which works for for me..the Effexor did not and it upped my blood pressure.  Eventually...I would like to get off of Paxil also.  It just takes time....good luck......Nana
Avatar universal
I have been off the Effexor now for about 2 weeks.  The Dizziness is still there but getting a little better, it is as my head moves and looks at things and it takes awhile for the brain and eyes to catch up I don't know how to explain it but it seems to get a little better.  I have tried this before with same results except I take a Effexor and the problems seem to go away within a couple of hours. I even tried taking a pill everyother day for a week then stop by day 3 the side effects are there.  I'am going to try to keep going cold turkey for now I hope this doesn't last for months I think I'll go crazy by then.  I wish I would have been told how additive Effexor was before starting it is like fighting something all over again.

Avatar universal
I've only been off the Effexor XR for 2 days. I started getting extremely light-headed yesturday, and today was even worse. My doctor put me on 20mg of Prozac before weaning me off the Effexor, so at first I thought maybe it was the Prozac. Then I got to thinking the only thing that has changed is that I am no longer on Effexor. This has really scared me. I also have been feeling very anxious, and in a "I don't care about anything" mood, and taking everything way too personally. I wish I had been told about how addictive Effexor is too, I would never have agreed to try it.
554442 tn?1221235225
Comming of of Effexor,,Effexor XR needs to be done slowly,,I myself just stopped and had symptoms for a little over a weak,,the dizziness,,this wierd buzzing in my head all the time,,,just really wierd things happening.  Tell your doc you owuld like some help comming off of this med,,is he the one who put you on it in the first place.
Avatar universal
Effexor XR has nasty withdrawal symptoms. I'm stopping from 75 mg.  After reading in depth about how Effexor XR works (which is different than Effexor) I found that it takes about a day and a half for the meds to actually completely clear your system.  Withdrawal signs can, and do for me, show before than.  However, when you take a pill, it can take 4 to 8 hours to feel relief from those as it is an extended release pill (XR).  If you find you are feeling better before than, perhaps you could ask your doctor to give you a placebo.  Not to say it is all in your head.  The withdrawal symptoms are very real (I'm experiencing them now) but if you can find brief relief by tricking your body for a couple of hours a day, it's worth it.
1118884 tn?1338592850
I have little to add to the excellent remarks left by others in forum.

Can tell you that if you've been on Effexor XR for 4 yrs, it is a given that you need to taper off very slowly.  As another post mentions the 'brain zaps' and other really uncomfortable symptoms are awful and may last for some time.  Take it easy on the road.

Effexor worked for about a year for me: then I woke up with a face broken out with an acne like condition.  I also put on 50 lbs, this happened about a year after I was started on medication. The weight gain was fast; no clothes fit, and with my face covered with sores (dermatologist said med exacerbated rosacea), and wearing baggy lounge clothes I didn't want to leave apt. Was a mess.

This happened after my recovery from anal cancer.  It was really awful.  I will never try it or several others my doc asked me to try: one tablet and I was in for hours of diarrhea. The cancer destroyed my ability to tolerate meds that affect gastric system.

You didn't mention why you decided to stop medicine.  Side effects? or just wanted to see how you could do without? It is your choice to make.

My 30 yr experience with psychiatrists is that they don't like to talk about side effects.  

Some doctors will start you on another med fairly quickly, others may use an anti-anxiety for a short while before trying another med. So what it boils down to is: you need to tell doctor your reasons for quitting so she can re-evaluate your case. Still: you are in charge here, so don't be discouraged.

1517853 tn?1290789957
Thank you all for you words of support. This is the first time I have ever been on a public forum but after being completely off of Effexor XR for two days now - I was weaned for 1.5 month. I thought I was going insane. Now reading what you've been through, I don't fee alone. God Bless you all!
Avatar universal
first of all, i'd like to say best of luck to you and i want to tell you that there is hope. there is light at the end of the tunnel.

10 days ago i stopped taking effexor after talking to my relative psych doctor. i have no support from him as he completely denies knowing about any withdrawals from effexor. he keeps saying (very nicely) that its actually all in my head and in his 15 yrs of practice, he has never had another patient complain about it. he also says that other people who report it are also not reliable sources of info because they are all disturbed to begin with. so with no emotional support from my doc, my family, even my husband, i started on the venture. thank god i read online about bridging with prozac. i had tried twice to get off effexor cold turkey and could never do it past 2 days. this time, i got prescription for 10 mg prozac. i was already on the lowest dose of effexor 37.5 mg every other day for the past 1 year. so one day i just switched to prozac and instead of effexor i took 5 mg (half a pill) of generic prozac. took prozac 5 mg for 3 days and then stopped all meds. i got withdrawal symptoms but atleast 80% less severe. i have slight nausea for the last 10 days, occasional brain zaps which were more the first few days now down to once or twice a day, worst of all i got insomnia. for  the first time in my life, i can't sleep more than 4 or 5 hrs every night. i wake up in the middle of the night, get nightmares and lay awake for half an hour then go back to sleep. its actually a pleasant surprise for my hubby that i wake up early in the morning as i was a notoriously heavy sleeper while on effexor for 12 yrs. i could sleep at least 10 hrs a night.

slowly but surely, things are getting better. less brain zaps, less nausea (nausea can also be my pregnancy symptom) ii'm in my first trimester. one thing that helped me the most is prayer. i pray day and night, and whenever i feel weak. and it really really helps. i hope i'll be able to stay off these medicines forever. i hope my baby won't be effected by these meds or their withdrawal symptoms as my gynecologist says its a dangerous med for babies. i have to do it for my baby and me. i feel good not taking any medicine every morning. thats the biggest reward. thats my sunshine at the end of the tunnel. i wish you'll be able to get through this too. all the best and sorry for the long reply. keep us updated about your progress and ask your doc about using the "prozac bridging" technique. you can find out more on internet about this.
Avatar universal
I have been on effexor going on 5 years. My doctor refuses to change my dose, or even draw blood to see if this medication is really doing me any good!  If I miss a dose, I become very dizzy and out of sorts!  My doctor says that is is not the med., but when I take my dose, shortly after I feel better. When I tell my Doc. I would like to stop taking effexor, he refuses! This is crazy! Looking for answers, any suggestions?
Avatar universal
I just thought I'd let everyone know, I was on Effexor XR for 7 years the side effects were horrible and the withdrawls were almost unbearable.
But I went to a psychologist to help me get off of them, it took a year of tapering from 150mg to 75mg I was on 75 mg for 3 months and then tapered to 37.5 for a month .... then a month of every other day tapering on 37.5 ... the side effects come from you brain chemistry being completely thrown off.. DONT GIVE UP take these minerals and vitamins EVERYDAY even several times a day and it will help with the withdrawls... chelated daily vitamin, chelated magnesium, OMEGA-3, Vitamin D, and get plenty of sleep use melatonin if you need too to help you fall alseep. All of the vit and minerals together help your brain create the apropriate amount of neurotramnsmitters and hormones that you need to function comfortabley...
LIKE I SAID DONT GIVE UP, take it slow. I'm proof it can be done. :0)
Avatar universal
try opening the capsules - if it is effexor 150 slow release then there are 12 tiny miny pills inside (about the size of a sweetener) You can throw out one of these per week and wean yourself off with few side effects this way until you cut them out altogether. Going from 1 mini to zero still gives a few light heads and funny buzzing but much more bearable that cutting down by 37.5 mgs!!
Avatar universal
I was on Effexor for about 8 years and gained a lot of weight (but it could be some of the other drugs too). Since I got serious about losing weight my psychiatrist suggested we change to Welbutrin. I was on 150mg Efexor and then we changed to 75mg for two weeks, then 37.5 with 150mg of Welbutrin for two weeks and now only Welbutrin 300mg. It's only 3-4 days that I am completely off Effexor and since then I am dizzy as hell. I found this forum because I was searching for the side effects of stopping Effexor. Glad I'm not alone with the dizziness. How long does it take to go away though?
Avatar universal
I Just started on Effexor XR 75mg for Social anxiety and I've already got insomnia and mild headaches since starting 5 days ago on them. I might switch to Zoloft.
Avatar universal
I talked extensively with my doc about a plan to go off of Effexor. I got lucky and found a doctor that actually knew what I was talking about when I tried explain my withdrawl symptoms. So our plan was a 9 week plan. I was on 150mg and for 3 weeks went down to 75mg. I had wicked panic attacks so I got Ativan for the panic attacks and after the first week or so the panic attacks went away and I didn't need the Ativan anymore.
I am now on 4 weeks of the next lowest dose which is 37.5 . I have the brain zaps and am emotional but the biggest problem I have is not sleeping and hives. Yes some people get hives when they go off of it.
I take a sleeping pill on the nights it is really bad and other nights I use Melatolin. Since I have started this program I have lost 20lbs of the weight I gained since being on Effexor. The last part of the program is a very low dose of the Effexor and a very low does of the one they are putting me on in place of the Effexor. Sadly I need to be on an anti depressant but I'm ok with it as long as it isn't Effexor. I had such horrible side effects of being On it and also of going off it.  
Avatar universal
I've been titrating this down slowly per my providers recommendation although it's still tough. She gave my Baclofen and Phenergan to help with the withdrawal symptoms (horrible nausea, headaches and head zaps) they have saved me! So far I haven't taken any in 5 days but I'm still experiencing the head zaps, it's very annoying. This med worked well for my headaches and neck tension but the side effects of just missing 1 pill during its course where horrific!! I'd recommend anyone considering this med to evaluate alternatives or something holistic.
Avatar universal
DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT stop taking Effexor cold turkey. I did not do this on purpose. I am in between psychiatrists. My previous psychiatrist is no longer at the place I went to. So long story short, I ran out 5 days ago & I don't see my new dr until next Wednesday. I started developing withdrawals on Thurs. I was taking 300 mg daily. I started having flu like symptoms, heavy eyes, irritable, crying for no reason, and couldn't seem to catch my breath. Today my symptoms are 10 times worse........vomiting & now dry heaving since I have no food left in my system, lightheaded, nausea, headache, feeling a zapping electric shock in my head, crying non stop, hot flashes, extreme fatigue, irritable, suicidal thoughts and still can't seem to catch my breath. I ended up having to call my family dr & they were shocked that neither psychiatrist offices would help me. So he called me a months worth of Effexor. So hopefully my withdrawal symptoms will subside soon. If not, I have to go to the ER this weekend to get something to help with these horrible withdrawals. I was told by my counselor that the Effexor would stay in my system for a couple of weeks after running out so that I wouldn't have any problems----------WRONG!
Avatar universal
I got my husband off Effexor by decreasing his dose slowly over a period of about 2 or 3 months. He was taking 3 75mg pills every night. I started by taking one of those pills away one day and did that for 1 week. Let me make this more understandable, he took 3 pills each night, so like on Sunday he only took 2 pills. Then each week I added another day to that regime like probably on Thursday. So on Thursday and Sunday he took only 2 pills on those nights.Then I just kept doing that until he didn't have anymore pills to take. He seemed to do fine with that.
Avatar universal
Yes it is true you can become dizzy and have brain fog after coming off effexor.  The problem (which doctors do not like to hear) is that effexor is an addictive drug.  The first time I tried to get off effexor I failed.  I became very sick and vomited.  So I just went back on it.  In order to get off the drug for good which I finally succeeded in doing is to taper off gradually.  You must be your own doctor and just wean yourself off it.  I would empty the capsule and keep taking less and less.  No doctor will ever tell you to get off of this stuff.  It's up to you to decide that you don't want to spend a life addicted to this stuff.  Be patient and you will prevail
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