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Avatar universal

EFFEXOR XR and pregnancy

I've been taking Effexor XR for at least five years, and before that I was on another brand of anti-depressant.
      I have tried to wean myself off this medication before, as I hope to become pregnant, and it's effects on the unborn child were/are still unknown.
      I decreased from 150 mg to 75 mg, then spent about two weeks on 37 mg then stopped, but terrible withdrawl symptoms forced me to take it again 150 mg. I also kept taking the contraceptive pill.

       Recently, I tried to wean off it again, more gradually this time and spent over a month on 37 mg.
       The first and second days off it I suffered short 'eye-shakes' in one eye only. It was like everything was vibrating.
      The third day off I was extremely tired all day, kept going back to bed, felt depressed, fought with my parents, cried and had what other people describe as 'brain-zaps', (like sudden static electricity shocks).
      The fourth day off I went shopping and came home because I was feeling dizzy, as well as the other symptoms previously described.

       Should I go back on the 37 mg dose and have one every 2nd day, and then every 3rd or 4th day, and wean off it more gradually?  I no longer see that psychiatrist, who increased her fee dramatically and did nothing to improve my moods except prescribe me this shocking medicine, with no warning!

       Is anything known about the effects of this drug on unborn babies?  I am 39.
25 Responses
242532 tn?1269553979
Yes you should wean yourself slowly on the scheudle you described.  You are also right about the risks being unknown, which means you should not be taking a chance.
Avatar universal
It has now been 7 days since I took my final Effexor tablet and it has taken this long to feel normal again.   That aint long compared to other stories I've read.  I now no longer get 'brain-jolts' (or whatever you want to call them), dizzy spells, eye shakes, crying fits. etc.

Time will tell if I suffer depression like I did before, but right now I feel great that I've beaten this poison!

I would like to suggest to other people who seem to be going through hell this way, that they wean off Effexor very, very slowly, (spend 2 months on each lower dose if that's what it takes), and if you suffer withdrawl symptoms once you're finally free give your body time to get used to the shock before you go back on the drug.

Avatar universal
Oh dear! I'm in this situation myself.  I AM pregnant and still on effexor.  My doctor says it's not worth the risk and I should seriously consider weaning off it for a while.  I'm with him 100%!!! My husband agrees. My advice to pregnant women on meds. is discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor carefully and thouroughly and take the advice given by the expert.  A little concerned with withdrawl but am closely supervised by my GP so confident I'll get there.  Happy pregnancy!!!
Avatar universal
I have read reports from people that have had perfectly healthy children while on Effexor, so don't panic!
Everyone's different.   You didn't say what strength Effexor you are on, but at least try to wean down in strength. Follow your doctors advice.
Best wishes to you and bubs!
Avatar universal
Thank you, Lerry! Some reassurance and best wishes never goes astray - and I appreciate a kind word.

I was actually wondering how you are going with stopping effexor? Keep us posted, we would all love to hear that your transition to a med free future was a smooth one.

Have you looked at the other posts about effexor in this very forum? I think you would be blown away by the thread about effexor started by 'seektolearn'.  We are all guinae pigs! It reassures me to know some people do not get birth defects while taking effexor - could you show me where to find out more about this drug and pregnancy? Thanks again Lerry, and hope to hear from you again soon.
Avatar universal
i am on 75 mg and my doctor told me it was up to me if i wanted to come off this med, i'm also pregnant, and all my tests have turned out normal.  but i would very much like to come off of this, please help if you can thanks.
Avatar universal
Yes, I'm 5 weeks pregnant and on 75mg.  I think I will wean off it as I would love to breast feed this bub and do not want it to be born with withdrawl symptoms if nothing else.

cd26 how far along are you?  The doctor told me that physical birth defects would occur (if they were going to) during the first 8-10 weeks of pregnancy.  If I were to start withdrawing now I wonder if the damage would have already been done??

Good luck to you (and me) with effexor and pregnancy - it's a very hard decision to make and I am also reluctant to stop taking something that is helping me so much.  Let me know what you decide to do or email me at ts.***@****

Love from hangin'in there!
Avatar universal
I am interested in any and all information I can read on this topic.  My husband and I would like to start a family within the next couple years, but naturally I have my concerns.  I take 75mg of Effexor XR for anxiety and panic and have had excellent results.  The thought of going off the meds is very unappealing.  However, I want the best for my baby and would think going off would be a healthy chioce, esp. because then I could breast feed.  I ask myself everyday: Which would potentially do more damage: Stay on the meds and risk possible defects to the baby or go off the meds and make myself miserable and stessed, thus subjecting the baby to obvious stress?  I know I have time to think this over, but it's someting that crosses my mind nearly daily.
Avatar universal
I was pregnant with Effexor and thank god my baby is healthy. Try not to worry about it. I reduced my dose a bit but I still take it. Don't breastfeed your baby if you are still taking the medication.
Good luck!!!
Avatar universal
I am weaning slowly from Effexor after 5 years.  Currently I am at 150mg to now 75 and hopefully soon NONE at all- have also been on daily dose of ADDERAll 30mg in AM, 30mg at NOON, 30mg at 4pm.  Cant believe i have finally broke this wretched addiction to what I once thought i couldnt function without.  I am 15 days and counting.  ROUGH, very Rough.
My Q:  Am switching to 37.5mg of Effexor in a week.  After that, is there any way to then SPLIT the 37.5 dosage as I continue a very slow weaning?  I am highly susuptible to Effexor's nasty withdrawal symptoms (hence the 5yr long addiction).  I have before been known to split the capsules and divy up the tiny little balls of medicine; however, each day is not a consistent dosage.  
Any one found any tricks/tips/hints on making the jump from 37.5mg to NADA without the bite?
Avatar universal
I have been on Effexor for 2 years and recently reduced from 150mg to 75mg.  I am turning 40 in March and also hope to try and fall pregnant before it is too late.  I am really struggling with fatigue, shock-like sensations, headache and anxiety.  I am so relieved to find that I am not the only one in this situation - I started searching the net yesterday, when I thought I was going mad trying to cope with the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.  I have also gained 40 unwelcome pounds, which I hope to lose before I fall pregnant.

Another problem that I would appreciate some feedback on is this: My thoughts are very foggy and unfocussed.  I struggle to plan and get going with tasks that I have done 1000 times before.  I am easily confused and cannot cope with too much going on around me, especially if it is noisy.  At work I am sluggish and slow - it takes me ages to get my paper work done and to ensure that it has been done properly.  Do any of you have info about the effect of Effexor on thought processes and concentration?

I would appreciate hearing from anyone out there!

Avatar universal
Hi All,
  I am 5 weeks pregnant and on 150mg Effexor XR. I suffer from depression/anxiety/bulimia. Where can I find more information on this drug during pregnancy and why am I reading that I shouldnt breastfeed? What substitute might be comparable and still let me breastfeed? Thanks, Barb
Avatar universal
I am 20 yrs. old, and I have been on Effexor XR for the past 2+ yrs. I have recently missed my period (over a week late), and I am elated to think that I might be pregnant! But with my joy comes apprehention and fear of the possible effects this drug may have on a developing fetus? My partner and I are excited with the possibility of pregnancy, but I don't think he knows what damage this AD can do to a baby!? Considering the fact that not even the makers of this drug know the effects! I believe that the best thing to do now is to lower my dosage (150 mg.) to 75 mg., to 37.5 mg. and so on. I hope for the sake of my (possible) child I am doing the right thing, and that the withdrawls aren't just as negative as the actual drug? I would love to know what you all think, any advice or knowledge would be so very much appreciated. I don't want to endanger my child just because I have a problem... I need some help!
Avatar universal
I too am on Effexor (150 mg/day).  However, my situation is slightly different.  I am bipolar, so I have a number of medications to worry about while trying to get pregnant.  I think that what you really need to decide, is which is more harmful to your unborn child, the stress of your depression (and/or manic in my case) or the effexor.  

For me, I know I have to get off of depakote because it is known to cause many severe birth defects and the chances are not worth it.  But as for the effexor, the risk are very little as far as I have researched.  I've also talked to both my psychiatrist and my obgyn and they agree that the effexor should pose no real threat to an unborn child.  I have had friends who were on prozac and zoloft during their entire pregnancies and had not only healthy beautiful children, but also enjoyed both their pregnancies and post-partum period.  I, on the other hand, did not do this with my first pregnancy and was a complete wreck, especially post-partum.  

I guess my advice (and my doctors) is weigh the options of which is harder on your unborn child (and your newborn).  In my case my sanity is a necessity and I would not even consider going off of my effexor.  However, if you do go off of it (and I have) go VERY slowly.  Effexor is a very good medication for those of us that have tried all others, but you must be very careful when going off of it.  I found waiting two weeks between lowering a dose was the best.  Good luck!
Avatar universal
I am 28 years old,I am on Effexor XR 75 mg daily.But lately I have learned thaat I am pregnant about 4-5 weeks.I have tryed to stop effexor abruptly,but the withdraw syndrom was so hard,so I resumed taking that medecine.I am very concerned how this medecine can effect my baby.My GN told me to stop it,but I can't.Should I consider abortion,which I can't do according to my beliefs.Please help me with any information.please email here:***@****
Avatar universal
I think you should ask a physician or nurse thru an "ask a nurse" type service immediately!  You could be setting yourself up for a lifetime of caring for a deformed or brain-damaged child.  Please pay attention to what the docs say.  They wouldn't mislead you.  If you need to quit, they will tell you how to do it safely.  
Good luck! Let us know how it goes...
Avatar universal
Hi there. Don't make that kind of a decision. There are greater chances that you will have a full and healthy pregnancy on the Effexor. My GN on the other hand said its no big deal and that people take plenty of meds while pregnant. I on the other hand have my own personal prefrence not to do so. I am been married now two years and would love to start a family however I am so worried that if I wein down or get off of this drug my panic attacks are going to come back. I get them so bad and there is nothing I can do to stop them. I have tried it all. Its terrible. But before make a major decision like abortion. Please get a 2nd opinion.
Avatar universal
Abortion would be a wrenching tradgedy.  After discussing it with my doctor, we decided that the effects of the anxiety and depression would make caring for my current child and pregnancy almost unbearable, opposed to the effects of the Effexor XR 75.  At present, early tests indicate about a 94% chance of delivering a healthy child, with less than 1% of having a child with defects.  Children exposed to Effexor in vitro can be weaned off the medicine after birth, if necessary.  Don't always think of being on medication as an evil addiction.  Some of us are broken, like me, and the medication helps supplement something we're missing.
Avatar universal
I am 32 yrs. old and have been married almost 6 yrs. My husband and I want a child as well. I have been on Effexor XR 75mg. for about 2 months now and it has helped me also. I was diagnose with Anxiety depression. Also I have found Bible Study to help me too. I am glad to read everyone's advise and stories. It sure does help to know that I am not the only one. I would love to get off this medication and I do pray that it will happen. My question is, is it better to not have a child when you are on this medication? Please keep in mind this is very difficult for me to ask. I want a child so bad and to say something like that is very hurtful. Thank you for your help.
Avatar universal
Wow, I can't believe so many others are going through this.  I am 35 and just now starting to try and get pregnant.  My husband has been wonderful and really stuck with me with all the horrible panic attack days in the past and Effexor has been SUCH a blessing to me--I still have a hard time believing that it actually took my dibilitating panic attacks away.  This is now on the forefront of my mind as of late and anyone out there who has some advice on the subject would be great.

Main thing is that if it is only a slight risk involved...I don't think it would be worth it for me to try getting off my daily dose of 75mg.  I can't imagine living like that again...not sure I could make it through with that kind of quality of life.  Also, I DO want to breastfeed when we do have a baby...and I have read some disagreable issues about this.  

I look forward to your comments and send healthy and happy wishes to you all!
Avatar universal
You mean it's not just me?!  I really felt like no one quite understands what I'm going through, though apparently I'm wrong! ;-)  I'm 32 years old, married, and looking to start a family right away.  I've been on Effexor for about a year, 150mg for major anxiety and depression, and it's worked wonders!  I tried Paxil and Zoloft before that, and they had too many side effects.  

My question is this:  Do you think it's wise to taper down on the Effexor as much as possible during the first 6 months of pregnancy, then go off completely for the last trimester?  

I've slowly weaned down on the Effexor over the past 6 weeks, and am now down to 75 mg, since I thought I could try to go off completely before getting pregnant.  However, I'm already noticing a change, back to the depression (not quite the anxiety) and major mood swings.  Not fun at all (I feel like such an angry person), but certainly not as bad as it could be.

I THINK I've come to a decision, but I'm still not sure if I'm completely comfortable with it (or if my husband is).  From all the research that I've read, and in talking to my psychiatrist and therapist, it sounds like it might be safe to stay on 75 mg for the first half of pregnancy, then go completely off before the last trimester (where there are the most issues with jittery babies, etc.).  I guess I would rather deal with some depression the last few months and know that it's short term until the baby is born.  I do want to breast feed, but I think I'll handle that one when it comes up -- if I'm feeling too down in the dumps then maybe I stop breastfeeding and go back on Effexor.  Ugh.  SUCH a hard decision.

Any thoughts?  

Thanks in advance!
Avatar universal
I tried those same things and with the same resluts--the side effects were too much.  The Effexor has worked amazingly for me.  I wasn't depressed, although I was getting to the point where I wasn't sure whether I might me depressed from all the constant panick attacking...which is draining and quite frankly, GETS you depressed!!!

Excellent on your weaning down to 75mg...that will make it so much easier for when you do get pregnant.  Try to hang in there with that if you can and know that it's not forever!  Perhaps try taking extra vitamins, getting extra sleep and drinking lots more water.  I have also heard that for the most part, Effexor seems to be fine through the first 2/3 of the pregnancy...and I would STRONGLY reccommend during those times to SLOWLY ween yourself down to 37.5 mg, so that you can come off completely for the third trimester.  And take NO chances on that--there have been reports of deformities, etc with Effexor in third trimester, etc.  

But then, as soon as you've given birth and breastfeed your little lumkin for a minimal amount of time (which you DO want to do even if it's just a amall time, for it's building healthy immunities!!), after that--Get your booty started back on the Effexor again!!  And dont' forget to start off slowly---Don't forget all those crazy nutzoid side effects that had for the first 10 days!!  Then you can build back up to your normal dose again.  

Sounds like a lot of effort to go through all this, and I COMPLETELY understand your hesitations!!  I am personally quite nervous and think about this every day--the fact that there will be a time when I will have to be off of the Effexor completley....as much as it has saved me and my sanity....etc.

Well, just be sure to talk to your doctors about everything and I know it will ALL be worth it in the end!  Keep me posted!!!

Avatar universal
I'm 35 years old - I'll be 36 this month -  and I am finally ready to start a family.  Which is exciting and intimidating, because I've taken Effexor and Effexor XR for more than a decade.

Over the summer, I cut my dosage in half, to 75mg.  And now I'm struggling.  I feel more anxiety, and I generally feel more vulnerable, reactive and tired.  I also find I become angry more easily.  All of which has had a negative impact on my quality of life and makes it more difficult to work.

I appreciate people sharing their experiences in this forum.  It's helpful to know I'm not alone.  

My hope is to stay at 75 mg as I try and get pregnant.  I've added SAMe (http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/epcsums/samesum.htm which improve some people's depression) as well as Omega 3 EPA and DHA to see if they help.

If I am blessed with a pregnancy, I will attempt to decrease my dosage of Effexor half way through the pregnancy.  And if I continue Effexor throughout my pregnancy and thereafter, I will not breastfeed.

Avatar universal
I am 4.5-5 weeks pregnant and have been on 75mg of Effexor since Aug '06.  
My doctor and I met a couple of weeks ago and discussed weaning me off the medication... slowly... as I feel I am ready.  She prescribed me 37.5mg and suggested starting with 75mg 6x and 1x 37.5mg per week for a few weeks, then switch to 37.5mg twice a week and so on.
Of course, this is before we knew I was pregnant.  I have an appt with her in a week and a half where we can discuss what I am going to do.
I am worried... comes with the parenting territory of course.  For now I am still taking the 75mg, but 5x per week... and 37.5 2x per week.  I am speeding up the weaning process but also going along with my body signals.  So far so good.
I have bookmarked this link and will be checking in every so often to share what I am going through etc. and to also check in on what the rest of you are doing, have learnt etc.
Best wishes to all of us and our babies :)
Avatar universal
I am anxious to hear how this works for you!  This sounds like a good method for weaning off the 75mg and I want to do this in the very near future as well.  Were your symptoms for beginning the Effexor more for depression or for anxiety?  Mine was for panic attacks and I still can't believe it actually worked.  But it did--and WONDERFULLY.  

I am glad to know of someone else doing this and look forward to hearing how this goes for you and what your symptoms might be.  It will help to have some idea of what I can expect too.  Keep in touch, Jessimica02.  I know you will do great!  Feel free to touch base with any little details and/or if your in need of any words of encouragement.  

God bless and CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!

PS:  Emajay, Good luck to you as well and please keep us posted.  BTW, Happy Birthday!!!!  We are the same age, and late moms need to stick together to share advice and tips!

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