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Avatar universal

Effexor XR: Life without it...

Today, I decided to do a search on the side effects when coming off Effexor XR...so here I am.
I started taking Effexor XR in the fall of 2001.  The doctor that put me on it was a joke - he tried other stuff, finally putting me on Effexor and when it showed signs of working, he just kept increasing my dosage.  Not knowing enough to advocate for myself (and half admitting that I was feeling better), I ended up on 300ml/daily.  That was almost 3 1/2 years ago.
Yes, it was alot of meds and whenever I tried (with dr supervision) to come off it, I would have wicked side effects: anger, crying, violence (never acted on it but sure wanted too!), anxiety.  Worse part of everything was when I was on the meds, I couldn't sleep and had to treat that with more med.  Finally I said enough was enough and took things into my own hands.
Lucky for me I moved away from the "diagnoising doctor" and found some great help where I currently live.  It has been a huge stuggle coming off the meds, but I am happy to say that it has been about 4 weeks since I have stopped.  I didn't stop cold turkey - came off the meds gradually...but when I did finally get down to 75ml, after a month I just quit.
So here is why I am writing.  After reading though most of the postings about this drug, I see now that my syptoms of withdrawal are common.  It is good to know that I am not losing my mind.  I have suffered from halluciantions (thinking someone was in my apartment at night and freaking out), feeling "stoned" at work where I can't remember what I have to do or what is going on at that moment, and extreme sensitivity in emotional situations (my way of saying I cry watching a deodorant commercial).  Lucky for me I don't drive often because I fear that I would not be safe on the road. But there is one thing that I have been going through since discontinueing - even since I started coming off the drug - that is what has me extremely worried.
In the past week I have gained 10 pounds...and over the past three months I have gained a total of 35 pounds.  I don't eat terribly keeping my caloric intake to no more than 1700/day, not bad enough to put 10 pounds on in a week.  And I am starting to freak out!  Has anyone else had this problem when coming off the drug?  It has been suggested that it might have come on so fast because I was on such a high dosage for as long as I was...but it has put me in a situation where I can't wear any of the clothing I own!  And when will it stop or am I just going to be huge for the rest of my life!?
I have every intention of getting in touch with my doctor on Monday to see if I can get test done to rule out other things, but I want to know if other have suffered from this type of thing after being on Effexor.  
Someone help...if anything can throw a person back into depression, it is not feeling comfortable in my own body!
42 Responses
242532 tn?1269553979
MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL
You have to make sure that your weight gain is fat gain or water retention, if in fact, your caloric intake is as low as you think.  Its impossible to gain real fat without an excess of calories so be sure that you are counting everything. The other explanation is that the emotions of withdrawal sometimes lead you to change of your regular habits, i.e. caloric expenditure.  Have you been exercising less or been sedentary more.  The other explanation is a consequence of large doses for a long time since the appetite hormones are regulated in part by the dopamine, and serotonin, which are the targets of Effexor.

This will not be a lifetime pattern and you will get over it.  If it is an emotional eating issue...eating as a form of self medication, then go to www.masteringfood.com
Avatar universal
I never been on effexor but been on alprazolam(xanax) for 14+ years mostly on 0.25 3x a day and up to 0.5 3x a day for 3 months. I have been weaning off since the middle of April down to 0.25 1 x a day and I gained about 14 pounds so far hope I don't gain more. I don't seem to be eating anymore then before.
Avatar universal
I forgot to bring my meds on a trip.  After the first 24 hours anxiety rose, depression and aggression set in, I was starting to be incoherent in thought and action.  The second day I was looking for a job and went off on one of the prospective bosses who had sent me on a wild goose chase.  At another interview I talked like I was nuts.  I knew what I wanted to say but it wasn't coming out.  The prospective boss must have figured there was a problem and I didn't get even a return call or email that had been promised for that afternoon.  That night the world caved in--but I held it back.  By the next morning I knew I was within an hour of doing something fatal.  I drove to a hospital and completely fell apart at the gate in my car.  I was crying and yelling uncontrollably.  I was basically nuts and beyond any self-control. The security people called for a crash crew and they took me to the ward then to a larger hospital.  I had the greatest mental crisis of my life.  Don't try coming off the meds on your own and don't forget to take them with you, briefcase, center console, wherever they can be one step ahead in case you forget.
Avatar universal
I am 7 days off of Effexor now and am experiencing some frightening things.  I am hot, I am cold, my eyes burn, my back aches,my head aches, I am constantly hungry, I am nauseaus 24-7, I am constipated, I am dizzy, I have vertigo and what feels like electrical shocks running through my head, neck and limbs. Does anyone know how long these withdrawal symptoms will last.  I have several events planned for late July & early August and wonder if I should cancel or reschedule.  This is one scary drug.
Avatar universal
Hi,

When the doc took me off effexor he weaned me down on half doses (75mg) per day and built me up on zoloft (50mg) per day.  I experienced sadness, frustration, and sort of uncontrolled anger expressed quite loudly at work during the week ahead but as I started zoloft full dose a week later the withdrawal went away.  This doesn't mean it works for everyone but that's how it went for me.  Coming off effexor is definitely a withdrawal in every sense.  You might want to check with the doc or a different doc so they can reduce the effects you are experiencing. Feel better. boxcar.
Avatar universal
My doctor weaned me also (over a period of about 4 weeks) in addition to starting a substantial dose of welbutrin & still I'm going crazy.  I see her tomorrow so maybe will have something to contribute.  A crying jag started today and I am not a crier. It seems that the tiredness comes in waves and a spurt of energy (an hour or two) enables me to accomplish a few things before complete exhaustion sets in again.  It's impossible to explain to friends and family although my husband is the one who figured out that it was the withdrawal that was wrong with me. I'll report back after seeing my doctor tomorrow if I have any thing of value or help to offer.
Avatar universal
Here's a good one.  I saw my doctor today because of the severe withdrawal symtons I was having from Effexor.  Her solution, go back on effexor.  What part of this scenario am I or is She not getting?  When I refused to put that drug into my system again, she then suggesteed Cymbalta. And guess what, after reading all about Cymbalta, it seems that it is not much different from Effexor. ???  I'm not going there!
I am taking matters into my own hands and staying off the antidepressants for the time being.  I will ride out the withdrawal with the help of vitamins, xanax, water and time.  The xanax seems to help relax,  to sleep and just deal with the nuttiness a little more effectively.  Will keep you posted on the progress.
Avatar universal
Hi Marciand,

Good for you!  The xanax may help you a lot during this transition as might staying away from caffeine and chocolate.  The key downs for me were crying, sadness, suicidal thoughts, increased anger and hostility to anyone, and outright expressed rage.  Keep posting as folks may be able to provide some morale support.  You're being brave by going through the withdrawal.  Stay well.  boxcar.
Avatar universal
It's day 10 of my effexor withdrawal and I'm not really feeling any mental or emotional upheaval (oddly enough).  I'm just plain physically sick with the nausea and dizziness mostly.  Anyway, I've done some research on an essential amino acid called L-trytophen that supposed to have some regulating properties for the seratonin level in the brain. I suppopse that if we are not getting enough of it in our diets, then supplements are available. Not sure of all the details yet but I'm considering it as an alternative to Pramaceuticals.  Lots of water seems to help and snacking every two hours or so rather than regular meals. And just plain lying down and resting whenever it gets beyond my threshold to cope.
Avatar universal
Long before Pfizer and Merck people successfully used certain herbs as medicines.  Maybe this drug you've researched will help.
As your system flushes out the anti-depressant perhaps the nausea will decrease.  These meds have all sorts of side effects and perhaps someone reading this column will have experienced your same exact situation and will be able to help.  Have you posted a question on the new med you found for the on-line MDs for Medhelp.org?  They may have some knowledge of its use and can help you with it.
Avatar universal
OH I know the nausea.. it is a curse.. constant nausea.. horrid.
Avatar universal
I have been coming off effexor for about 2 weeks i was on 375mg a day so its been a long process. i took my last tablet monday, its now thurs and i've had the worst 3 days of my life. at first i just thought i was coming dowm with the flu, i was experiencing severe dizziness and nausea. after 2 visits to the doctor in 2 days, they finally told me i was having withdrawal from effexor. i've had constant dizziness, nausea, vommiting, tiredness(but i can't sleep) i've been down, and i just havent known what to do with myself. almost feels like i'm going crazy. My doctor didn't tell me i would feel this, she just told me i might be a bit down the first 3 days i wasn't on anything. I haven't been able to work or do anything really.
Avatar universal
I'm trying to remove this evil drug from my life forever. i never needed it in the first place. Just didn't have the nuts to stand up to my family when they asked my docter to medicate me. This was years ago when I was a teenager.
Now I am an adult and realize how my precription drug addicted grandmother manipulated me into taking anti depressants.

As far as withdrawl,
The only thing that seems to work for me is to sleep through it. The problem is that I will sleep for like 20 hours a day, (not an exageration) and this is not an exceptalbe option with me needing to provide for my family.

Has anyone found anything that helps with coping with the withdrawl symptoms?

I am into it about five days cold turkey 150 mg XR. Yes I realize how extreme this attempt is but I am out of medication and cannot afford to replace it for the sake of weening.
If I don't make a decision soon I may loose my job. And another semester of college is starting in two weeks and I will need to have mental clarity.
Please exuse any spelling or grammatical errors in the compsoosition of this writing, I am typically very good with words and am an engilesh major. But I am not feeling as well as when I started composing this posting and
I can't type any more I am to dizzy. I will update you later if anything wonderful happens.
I hate this stupid drug.
jon
Avatar universal
You will all be pleased to know that I have decided to take things a little slower.

After nearly wrecking on my motercycle on the way home from work I have changed my mind about doing this cold turkey.

My plan is to refill my prescription, and slowly ween myself off the drug. I intend to open up each capsule and remove a total of five of the little balls of medication daily (increasing the amount removed by five daily). Someone else who posted on this forum had luck with this method.

The stakes are simply too high to play around with cold turkey on this type of drug. True, this will prove to be expensive for the medication, but I think that it is the only way to escape at this point, I'm just too deep into the game.

Oh, a side note, wellbuterin seems to counter act the sexual side effects of effexor. Of course avoiding effexor all together is a much better solution to the problem.

My heart goes out to anyone trying to cope with the problems that they experience from being misdiagnosed and mismedicated.

May God be with you,
Jon
Avatar universal
YIKES!! I've been on effexor xr for approx 2 yrs. I had no clue there was such a withdrawal effect. Reading all of your comments is eye opening!!! While vacationing this summer I had enough effexor xr for all but 1 day. I attributed the crying to lack of sleep from vacationing, perhaps too much partying etc. But, it sounds like I was having the same symptons you all were describing about withdrawal. YIKES!!!!! Plus......the weight gain while on the med is NOT GOOD!! I've been wanting to go off this med.
Avatar universal
Hi: I have been having itching of my legs, particularly the lower front and backs. Perhaps this is a side effect of effexor xr. I do know this is driving me crazy. No rash (unless I scratch too vigorously) to speak of. Hopefully, someone can give insight to this itching. Bumble : )
Avatar universal
I stopped taking Effexor 11 days ago. The first day after taking the last & lowest dose, I started feeling nauseous and dizzy. Each day seemed to get worse. Then a couple of days after that, I started having mild panic attacks. I get sweaty, my heart beats faster, my breathing is short, and I want to cry. Now I am so depressed. I feel just like I felt before I took antidepressants. No one can tell me how long it will last. I'm so afraid these symptoms will never go away. I got off the medicine because I felt stronger and happy. I am about to start a new school year & was about to move in with my boyfriend. Now I'm so afraid I won't make it through another school year & I am waiting to move. My suggestion to anyone is stay away from effexor. If you are already taking it and want to get off of it, don't stop cold turkey, pick a time when you have a couple of weeks not to worry about major decisions in your life, go to counseling, and let your family and friends know so they can help & support you. I have to constantly be reminded that I am having withdrawal symptoms and one day they will end.
Avatar universal
I just stopped taking Effexor about 2 weeks ago after 6 months of use. I decreased my dose slowly over 2 weeks before completely stopping. At first my body reacted to the corresponding decrease in seritonin by giving me adrenaline rushes during the day, I would like conk out when I'd come home from work and sleep until the next morning, then things started to stablize.

Lately I feel kind of anxious, but mostly because I am going back to school after taking a semester off and am moving into a new place. Also, I do cry at weird times- I'm usually pretty involved when it comes to feeling compassionate to suffering I see on TV or read in magazines, but crying over an ad about America's glory is not my idea of normal patriotism. But, I expect that to go away.

I also had a similar problem with being "prescribed." My mother is a drug rep for Wyeth, the company that makes effexor XR. I went through a really traumatic breakup, returned from my first trip abroad, and went back to my grueling college all within a one week span. Is this something that should merit drugs? No, I think not. Real human emotions happen and they are to be experience. I know that know and I wish I knew that then and simply accepted the hurt so I could work through it. Now it's 10 months later I'm just getting over it after stopping the meds. I feel almost as if they kept me in an emotional vaccuum disallowing me to experience things as they really were and thus inhibiting my ability to work through life. So, I stopped taking them and I don't believe in them.

Because I have all the material for Effexor at my disposal right in my own house and my mom knows the drugs inside out, I know that one of the side-affects of TAKING the drug is that you will lose weight, something having to do with metabolism. When you come off it you will most likely experience some weight gain as your body readjusts. But I'm totally confident that you will readjust. Your body adjusting to the drug, and it will adjust away from it.

My suggestion is that when you feel anxious, sad, etc. you can first turn inwards and really ask why you feel that, and see if it is because of the chemicals (which you can then dismiss as being a false feeling, it still *****, but if you know it's false then you can do you best to control it and are less likely to act on it) or something you that really feel- in which case you can work it out through self-analysis, meditation, writing, talking to a close friend, etc. I know a lot of my anxiety was brought on because of my over active mind and my lack of self-control.

Secondly, excercise is excellent for eradicating effexor. I have started studying Buddhism, Karate, and Yoga and they have inhanced my concentration and determination to beat this stuff without meds and to come through withdrawal with flying colors. Everyone's problem is unique but I firmly believe that mental, spiritual, and physical excercised combined definitely helps. Just try to stay busy, excercise, drink lots of water, and around people you love, and let them know what you are experiencing so they can help you. Good luck to you.
Avatar universal
Hi: I enjoyed reading your good info. Thanks! Are the effects of withdrawl itching of legs, seems like you have lots of info. Thanks. Also....motion sickness pills seem to help in the mean time for the dizzy feelings.
Avatar universal
I have been on Effexor XR since about April. I was on Lexapro before that and the withdrawal syndrome was unlike anything i've ever experienced. I can not afford the Effexor and because i had to evacuate to Houston, when the hurricane came through New Orleans i was not able to refill my prescription. I have been off for about 5 days now and i am experiencing the same side effects; nervousness, twitching, when i move my eyes it feels like an electrical shock in my head and i can hear my eyes move. How long is this supposed to last for? I don't want to go back on anything. I do have some welbutrin in the house, can i use that to counter these effects? What is a good way to counter these effects until the withdrawal syndrome is over. I start an internship on Wednesday and it will require me looking at a computer screen for very long periods of time. Any help would be much appreciated and as soon as possible.
thanks,
Jay
Avatar universal
greetings to all! so very glad I found this forum.
        today is Day ONE for me
- trying to self-wean off of this horrid drug.
I have been on 150mg a day of XR for almost one year.
Yes, it did help me extremely thru some really, really rough times but now I believe the negative side effects outweigh the positive. (Also, no more insurance...)
I have not been able to sleep, the weight gain is disgusting,
but one of the worst side effects (and this is very hard to admit) is that this crazy drug makes me actually "crave" alcohol.
That was even hard to type :(
Am I the only one?
I want to get away from the E XR Monster.
So; I have chosen to try 75mg a day for 2 weeks and then 37.5mg a day for two weeks - Any advice on this logic? Any success stories out there?
Also interested in which vitamins might help.
Thanks to all & God bless
Avatar universal
I successfully weaned off of 150/75 Effexor with the help of a psychiatrist.  (My PCP was no help, he said I should just stop taking it and I'd be fine).  The psychiatrist had me take Prozac for about a week and a half after I stopped the Effexor.  Prozac takes several weeks to "wash out" of the body, so it really helps with the withdrawal effects.  I had some diarrhea for a few days, but none of the dizziness or fuzzy-headedness that I'd have when I'd miss a Effexor dose.

Good Luck. It can be done!!!
Avatar universal
Effexor XR really sucks!  I can't find anyone that has good news about a reasonable time to have stopped the w/d symptoms.  A friend of mine just stopped this week and is about to lose her mind and she was only on it for 3 mos and took 1 1/2 of those to taper off to try to avoid the w/d. I am too scared to try to go off it especially since it really works for my anxiety!  I don't want to be on it forever though!  Does anyone have a good report?
Avatar universal
Sorry, no good news story here but I don't think you will find one.  I was on Effexor 150 for a year and started tapering in April.  I cut my 150 into a morning & evening dose of 75mg.  Then I started halfing each of them, 37.5 & 75, 37.5 & 37.5, 19 & 37.5 and just recently (last week) 19 & 19 - splitting a single capsule into 2.  Each reduction has led to several days of dizziness, sickness, brain zaps, memory loss.....you name it, I had it.  However I have found that ginger capsules have helped alot with the nausea and dizziness.  I have tried to keep at least a month in between each reduction and just hope and pray that by the time I am done that I won't need anything else, but if I do then I plan on trying the naturapathic way before I go back on any more pharmacuetical options.  Over the total of 4 years that I have been on meds (started by post partum depression after the birth of my second child) I have put on over 20 lbs, most of which appeared with the effexor.

Anyways, I just thought I would share my story, I am constantly looking for support and ideas on getting over the withdrawal and just hope that one day they take it off the market.
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