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Avatar universal

Withdrawal Symptons from Effexor XR

My doctor has been weaning me off Effexor XR 150 mg over a 2-week period while at the same time starting me on Lexapro 10 mg a day.
The first week I took 75 mg a day of Effexor XR and 10 mg a day of Lexapro; the second week 37.5 mg a day of Effexor XR and 10 mg of Lexapro. The third week I was completely off the Effexor XR and was only taking Lexapro 10 mg a day. I began to feel horrible.
I cried non-stop and had electrical shocks going through my head. I called my doctor and he said to go completely off the Lexapro and see him in his office 4 days later (that's the only appt he had).
During those 4 days it was sheer hell. The electrical shocks got worse, I couldn't stop crying, I was on an emotional roller coaster. When I finally saw him 4 days later, he started me on Wellbutrin 100 mg a day.
I've been taking the Wellbutrin 100 mg a day for the past 2 days but the shocks are still happening, I'm still crying all the time, my emotions are going haywire. I'm being nice to my husband one minute and yelling at him the next. I think he's ready to divorce me.
Out of desperation, I took a 75 mg Effexor XR today to try and make the shocks go away. I also took a half of a Xanax. Can you give me an idea of what's going on. I just want to make sure I'm not going crazy. Do you think I'm just not completely weaned off the Effexor XR yet?
Has anyone else experienced these "electrical shocks"? My doctor said he has not heard of those before. He talked to the Lexapro representative and he said he's never heard of that before either. But I'm not sure it was the Lexapro, since I only took it 2 days. I'm thinking I'm not yet weaned off the Effexor. Any thoughts?


27 Responses
242532 tn?1269553979
MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL
I have very frequently heard patients describe these kind of electrical shocks in this forum. It is almost always a withdrawal phenomenon.   What happened when you took the effexor the other day...did the shocks diminish.   Usually the replacement by the new medications takes care of the withdrawal effects, so wellbutrin will work over time, but you may ask your doctor about small doses of effexor in the meantime.
Avatar universal
ugh, I have heard about those electric shocks people have got after stopping Efexor. I am scared when it is my time to get rid of efexor since I am taking 450 mg per day (plus lithium, depakote and remeron). And basically lithium is the only one that has helped me really.
I hope you get rid of those shocks.
Avatar universal
The electric shocks, also refereed to as the "zaps" aren't uncommon.
I stopped xanax and zoloft (w/o tapering) one day.

I had the zaps for a while.
They just went away.

Medication adjustments are difficult, they screw around with ur emotions. So I would try ur hardest to wait it out.

When u get to ur "theraputic level" u should be much better.
Good Luck,
Maz
Avatar universal
My brother and I have also experienced these shocks when stopping our meds suddenly-  him w/ Effexor, me w/ Prozac and especially bad w/ Celexa. If I forget to take my Celexa, they happen very quickly. Why haven't more MDs and therapists heard of this???
Avatar universal
Reply to the doctor from MrsO: The day I was having the shocks the worst, I took 75 mg of Effexor and 1/2 of a Xanax. Within a couple of hours, I was feeling much better. The next day, the shocks were completely gone and haven't come back since. I haven't had even the slightest bit of a shock. The whole situation was very strange and unpleasant, and I hope I never have to go through that again. At the present time, I am on 100 mg Wellbutrin SR a day, and I feel great - better than I've felt in a long time. Thank you for answering my question.
Avatar universal
I would just like to encourage anyone who is trying to come off Effexor to hang in there. As you can see from the question I posted, it's an extremely unpleasant experience, and I think more patients should be warned about what they might go through when they stop this medication - but there really is a light at the end of the tunnel and you'll be out of it soon. There are many medications out there, and new ones coming out every day, and I think eventually most of us will find something that will help. I know Wellbutrin is working great for me right now, but I had to go through several medications to get to it. And all during that time, I thought I was going crazy from all the side effects I was experiencing. But now that I'm on the right medication, my whole world looks better. Our doctors try their best to help us, but everyone is different and what works for one might not work for another. It's just that while we are going through the process of finding the right medication, we take a ride on that emotional rollercoaster. We've got to remember that these medicines are messing with our brains, but just think what it would be like if we lived 100 years ago. There would be help for us at all. Good luck to everyone. MrsO
Avatar universal
I am still having the shocks after 6 months off Prozac. I am taking klonpin to relax me. I want to try Wellbtutrin again. Does this help the shocks? I think should because I am having bad cravings and squeezing pain. How can I find out what ADR means? I am sorry for all of us. I was not weaned off Prozac either. I was crashed off it. I think I will avoid SSRI's however.Thanks. Chrismary
Avatar universal
What you describe is called "Antidepressant Discontinuation Reaction" (ADR). It's a psychiatric euphamism for antidepressant withdrawal. Look up ADR and you will find much more information. The most common therapy I have seen is a single dose of PRozac 20mg because it has the least ADR symptoms of all the SSRIs. Longest blood plasma half-life, etc. I am not a doctor, this is just from my own research.

I had a similar reaction to withdrawal from Lexapro. As soon as I took a 5mg dose (I was on 10mg and was stopped abruptly due to seizures from some unidentifiable source), the next day I felt better and the day after the symptom disappeared.

You are not supposed to be switched or stopped abruptly from any antidepressant. Doctors should help you manage a 1-3 month taper, and supplement by starting a low dose of the new antidepressant and doing a slow dose increase.
Avatar universal
I have the same question!!! The shocks are bad. They are giving me klonopin for it and to me that is stupid. They just make me tired and relaxed a bit but they don't cure anything. I was considering acupuncture. Anyone have this problem with a resolve?
I am told it could take several years.
Thanks
Chrismary
Avatar universal
I have taken 75mg of Effexor XR for three months.  It hasn't seem to do much for me so I am tapering off.  I am doing so very slowly.  I have read on-line where one woman counted the amount of little spheres in the capsule and started by taking 6 out.  Then a few days later, she would take a few more out until there were very few left in the capsule.  Hope this helps.  You can buy empty capsules at your local pharmacy.

hey
Avatar universal
I have been a very happily retired man for
over 4 years, with nothing in my life about
which to be depressed. However, from time to
time over the last 8 years I've had oppresive
bouts of tinnitus (ringing in the ears)that
last 2-6 months and wear me down. My doc has
said that I'm not depressed but I sure am
stressed by the noise when the time runs on
with a "noisy bout"
     He put me on effexor xr 75mg over a year
ago and I felt much better as the tinnitus bout
ran its course over 3 months. Doc said to stay
on effexor 'till 6 months passed and I certainly
returned absolutely to the happy retired golfer
I always wanted to be---but he kept me on 'till
I insisted I didn't want a long term "cure" for
a problem of infrequent occurence.
     I suggested that weaning of a medication
of a year's duration seemed like a strategy I'd
imagine one would follow. He said that I could
go "cold turkey" or wean myself at my own discretion.
I did a little weaning over 3 weeks--every other
day, every 3rd day, and felt a littlw "woozy"
but I thought it was from a bad throat infection
and cold. WELL, the cold left, I cut down to zero
effexor about 10 days ago and WOW!!!
     I immediately felt extremely irritable,
had very negative reactions to any situation
(waiting in line 3 minutes!), and felt always
on the verge of vomiting from a kind of nausea
that I got as a kid on a merry-go-round that
went too fast for too long. I have said daily to
my wonderfully patient wife that I "have the
dizzies" again and every little thing I need to do
is a pain in the butt and I feel like exploding
at the simlest request!!
     Fortunately I found this site and have read
of similar reactions with different weaning stategies.
My personal desire is to tough it out and get past
these apparent reactions and to avoid using another
drug to escape withdrawal effects from a previous one.
     MY QUESTION: Has there been any "max" amount
of withdrawal time noted with previous patients and
am I being stupidly "macho" about toughing it out?
  ***I know I could go to my own doc with these
questions, but he was so blase about carrying on
well beyond recovery from tinnitus and so casual
about going "cold turkey" that I'm not sure I
want to trust his recommendations completely
when this site seems to have so much direct
experience from which to draw

Avatar universal
I have been on effexor for around 12 months and have just stopped becuase of weight gain. 2 questions:

1. I originally started taking it because of irregular heart beats, racing heart etc. I had all the symptoms of tachycardia but for some reason the Effexor stopped the symptoms almost entirely. Anyone have any alternatives to suggest that take away what seem to be nervous system linked irregular heart beats/fast beats without weight gain or sexual side effects?

2. Since around the time of stopping Effexor my stomach muscles and arm muscles feel like they have been through an Olympic work out althougth I have only done moderate normal exercise. Anyone know if this is a withdrawal syptom and if so, how to overcome this?

Any help would be appreciated.
Avatar universal
I have been on Effexor and am comming off them I also was on  a pill called Tegerol (an anticunvulsant) I have symptoms from doubling over stomaches to uncontrollable crying, sweats, anger dissiness and many more symptoms.  I would not wish this on my worst enemy.  For all who are getting off your pills it does get better a day at a time.  Remember these symptoms won't last but untill they are gone hang in there and do something extra special for yourself because you are probably going through an aweful lot!!
Avatar universal
First I would like to thank all of you for your willingness to share with others your experiences with your medications. It helps me realize that I am not alone. It also helps me reason with myself on the fact that I am not going "crazy".
I have been taking Effexor XR for about a year now. I was up to 225mg a day. I have been married for eight years now and Have one child.  I want to have another  child so have I have to go on Prozac because It has proven to be safe while you are pregnant. So my doctor slowly weened me off till the last dosages, 37.5mg. I was told to go ahead and start taking prozac, and I assumed that meant go ahead and drop the Effexor; So I did just that, and right away I felt very sick to my stomach, nauseated, and funny feeling to my head, which now I know the feelings is better described as, Shocks, or "zaps". I have been trying to explain the feelings to my husband but didn't quit name the feelings till now. The "shocks" seem to be getting worse everyday. I didn't know if I was getting the flu or what in the world was wrong with me. The doctor never told me the symptoms of withdrawls. As soon as I got connected to this web sight, I finally realize what my problem is, and so I went and took a effexor to see if it will help me with my symptoms. If is does, I believe I will go a little bit slower on going fully off the Effexor. I appreciate all the encouraging words from a few of you, and to the rest who are at our wits end, all I can say is, Hang in there, you are not alone!
Avatar universal
I was very relieved to find this web site.  I thought I was going crazy.  Before I read the other comments on withdrawals from effexor xr, I thought I really had a major medical problem.
I was taking 225mg of effexor daily (for 1.5yrs) and I wanted to get off the prescription.  I reduced to 150mg for 1 week and then to 75mg for 2 weeks.  I then quit.  What a mistake.  The electrical shocks came and I got upset over nothing.  I was miserable 1 day after stopping effexor.  3 days later, I am still miserable, the shocks worse than ever, nausea all the time and ready to fight anyone who gets in my way.
I am going to try to stick it out but I am real tempted to start taking 75mg again.
Avatar universal
These " shocks " you all are talking about or " electircal feelings" in your head are very real. I have had them with ALL the ssri's and effexor even when I am late with my meds. Most doctors do not have a clue about them. I am very paranoid of them. I have not been off anti-depressants in 6 years and cannot imagine ever being off of them. I call those " shock " things "Rubberbands" darting around in my head.
Avatar universal
i have had electrical brain zaps when im laying down to go to bed, but i also get a seizure like tremmor while hearing a loud buzzing noise. it only happens a few times a week. i  asked my doctor what it was and she said she has never heard of this before. i told her that i thought it was a side effect from going off of prozac 2 years ago, or from starting effexor rx. i am now on effexor rx 75 mgs. but doing my own research i came to my own conclusion that it happens with all meds. i think that doctors do know what it is, and they don't want to alam us, because it's a serious side effect. my doctor told me that she wanted me to take wellbutron along with the effexor rx. i told her no, because wellbutrion has bad side effects, and i didnt want to deal with them. i wouldnt wish these zaps and seizures on my worst enemy. i am just glad to find out that it isnt just me and that it also happens to millions of others. so we are not alone.
Avatar universal
This is actually about my withdrawal from Lexapro, which I think might help people on this board since withdrawal from most SSRIs produce the same effects. I started tapering off Lexapro a week ago. For about three months I was already on a really low dose: 5 mg. Then two weeks ago I tapered down to .25 mg (I think. Quarter of a ten mg pill so it was pretty small). I stayed on this ridiculously small dose for a week, feeling slightly nauseated but otherwise o.k.
I stopped taking Lexapro all together about four days ago. The first two days were really bad. Body aches, severe fatigue, sweating,  feeling "on edge". headaches, etc.
I am no longer feeling nauseated and the body aches are gone, but I feel that electric shock sensation when I move my eyes. I feel generally disconnected and still really tired. I am going to see my Dr. tomorrow to make sure nothing else could be going on. I am doubtful that I am sick with something else since the symptoms didn't appear until I was beginning to taper down. Luckily I don't work (stay-at-home mom with one child) so I can rest. I hope that I can make it through this. My biggest fear is having a seizure or something while driving my child somewhere. I'm a little paranoid. The good news is, the withdrawal isn't as bad as it was when I stopped taking Paxil.
Avatar universal
I have been off Effexor since 2000.  I believe I am still dealing with the side effects of it.  Is there anyone out there who has been off Effexor for a while and not on any other medication?  I feel as if something is still missing; as if a part of my brain is still asleep.  I function well and nobody seems to notice, but I just do not "feel right".

After the terrible time I had coming off of Effexor, I do not want to go on anything else.  It took me about 3 weeks to come off the effexor.  At the time, my doctor thought that I was crazy for saying that I had a difficult time getting off effexor.  They kept telling me it was not habit forming, but I knew different.  I even tried to check myself into a drug rehab center, but they laughed at me.

Anyway, any thoughts or comments would be great!
Avatar universal
I have come off of Effexor as well.  Tapered off slowly, or so I thought.  I did experience dizziness and some crying spells but they seem more in control these days.  Now what I am experiencing is very painful and inconvenient.  Keep in mind when I was put on Effexor, I already had IBS.  As I understand it, when you come off effexor, not only do the seratonin levels in your brain readjust but the seratonin levels in your intestinal tract do too.  As my doctor said (not the one who originally prescribed it), it really messes up your metabolism which is why I rarely if ever prescribe it.  Now he has me on Librax to try to cope with the (pardon my graphics) gas and bloating until everything readjusts.  It helps somewhat but not totally and my stomach ends up distended and most of my clothes are uncomfortable.  I have no idea what I will be wearing to work until this is over.  Has anyone else had these symptoms and/or do you have any recommendations?  Oh, I am also limited to foods on the BRAT diet for now.  Guess I will lose the weight I gained on effexor afterall.  A side note: I originally went on Effexor in the fall of 2001 when I was told my 10-year-old son had a terminal brain tumor.  Talk about panic attacks!  Believe me, no matter what you currently think, you cannot protect your children from everything.  Erik, my son, lost his battle in Oct 2002 I am sorry to say,  but the Effexor did it's job by helping me to continue to give him the love, care, guidance, prayer and support he needed during his illness.  I guess NOW I am paying the price in more than one way.  I hate this.
Avatar universal
I am so glad to see Im not losing my mind, let's just say my Dr. Is a moron, but in my little town there isn't much to chose from.  He took me off Effexor last week, cold turkey and put me on Wellbutrin.  I am pretty sure the Wellbutrin hasn't had time to take any effect, but I have researched Effexor to no end.  Heck, since I can't sleep at night because of the paranoid dillusions, the zaps I can hear in my hears, that make my head spin, I have alot of time.  This stuff is awful to come off, I don't know how long it lasts I hope not very. They should tell people about it, I almost fell over in Wal-Mart, just walking and my eyes felt like they just floated away, looking through a prism of sorts. Best part is I had to drive home, not to mention I had to send my family away today, because I am so agitated, I get furious at everything. I fell for anyone who has to go through this, you are out of control.  Please let people know, I am in the medical feild and had no idea about this stuff, I've even read stories of murders and suicides related to coming off it. Through my research though I have heard ginger root can help, I'm going to try it today, we'll see.
Avatar universal
I am actually quite angre right now.  

I going through major withdrawal now.  No one told me about the withdrawl symptons and I believe that the information provided to doctor specifies that there is no symptom if the medication are slowly reduced during a couple of month.  

I experienced the shocks in the past, when I forgot two dose in a row.. I can deal with that.  I have been weening off effexor for 2 months now.  I don't need to go on any other meds, however the withdrawal would indicate that I did since my MD is under the impression that there is no withdrawal symptons.  I am on my 4th day and the emotional symtoms started last night.  I've been crying basically eversince with no real reason to be crying.

Ever since the socks stopped I've be emotionally out of control crying.  I wasn't this bad when I started taking effexor ... I was taking exxefor for anxiety.  It really helped me out, however now I am not sure that the intesity of these withdrawl sysmtoms are worth it.  Based on what I have read here it looks like I will need to go on some other medication.  What's the point. Am I going to have to be on meds for the rest of my life, because I was put on effexor?  It makes no sense to me that you have to put someone on another drug to get them off of one.  I guess we will just keep going in circles ....  

Avatar universal
I had been on Effexor RX for about 3 months - at the 150mg dosage. I decided to just stop taking the **** the other day when my insurance provider changed and didn't want to meet a new deductable. Of course, at the time, I had no idea about any of the withdrawl effects, this website, or any of this. Last night I started to feel a little light headed - like the early stages of the flu. This morning I woke up and felt that complete ****. The 'head zaps', as I've heard them refered to here, are terrible things. I feel like the godamn Frankenstein monster hooked up to some electro-shock, resurrection machine. Anyhow, I found this website and read up on everything. I decided to go back on to the Effexor and wean myself off. I popped a full 150mg around noon and feel much better now (3:30pm) - except the zaps are still firing in my brain. If I had any idea this was in the cards, I never would have signed on with this stuff. Effexor is a great satan. It must be stopped.


Anyone have any tips on how to wean off of it effectively? Please help. Thanks.
Avatar universal
i hate to say it but, when quitting cold turkey, things get much worse before they get better. when i "detoxed" off of effexor, it was as if i was coming off of heroin. (i once before tried to quit and couldn't. i was sick, nauseous, dizzy, achy. the only thing that make me feel human again was effexor.)
someone i know works for the company who makes effexor and said one can't just quit effexor. be prepared to do it over the course of a week. first GRADUALLY reduce the amount taken. you will have to open up the capsules and taken smaller and smaller doses of the tiny, tiny "beads". when it comes time to stop, he told me to be prepared to do so over a weekend when you can kinda veg. u will still feel kinda lousy when u do stop but it is tolerable.
for the past week i have been "detoxing" (taking 300 mg then stepping down by 75 mgs every 2 days) and tried not taking any this weekend.  what a mistake!!! although not as severe as the first time i tried, i felt co crappy and even puked once (last night).  i gave in and took 75 mgs.  within 3 hours i felt ok.  this drug is horrible.  people should be warned to stay away.
Avatar universal
Thank you for making me feel like I'm not crazy....I have on Effexor-XR for a few years now.  My first dose was 75mg and I've been taking 37.5mg for about 1 year.  I am trying to get off this med and I am also experiencing the "electrical shocks" -  this is a horrible experience.  I was on paxil a long time ago and it was nothing like this to get off the paxil.

I feel a lot of nausea, weakness and the "electrical shocks" are really scaring me.  Does anyone knows how long do they last?? do they ever go away?? help please - I definitely don't want to get on (or substitute) this anti-depressant - I just want to be off of it...any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks. Maria
Avatar universal
I am a naturopathic physician, and due to several recent head injuries was placed on Effexor XR to try and relieve the injury induced depression. One thing you must be aware of is Effoxor and ALL SSRI's and SRNI's deplete the body of serotonin, norephinephrine and dopamine (neurotransmitters). This is why they sometimes seem to work for a while and then quit working as the serotonin, NE and dopamine become depleted. When you quite cold turkey you have no other reserves and thus you get all the side effects that is spoken of on this website.
One of the keys is to keep these neurotransmiters (serotonin, dopamin, Norepi and epi) up while coming off these drugs. These can be accomplished by "qualified" physicians and cetain amino acids and co-factors. Amino acids cross the blood brain barrier and are converted into neurotransmitters. For serotonin (Serotonin system)5-HTP is essential along with vitamin C and vitamin B-6, for the catecholamine system (dopamine, norepi and epi) the amino acid L-Tyrosine in very high dosage along with B-6, folic acid and other "co-factors" are key. These will raise the depeletion of the neurotransmitters and with proper physician guidance help limit side effects and eventually get all of us off the drugs. I hope this helps some.
Avatar universal
I am a naturopathic physician, and due to several recent head injuries was placed on Effexor XR to try and relieve the injury induced depression. One thing you must be aware of is Effoxor and ALL SSRI's and SRNI's deplete the body of serotonin, norephinephrine and dopamine (neurotransmitters). This is why they sometimes seem to work for a while and then quit working as the serotonin, NE and dopamine become depleted. When you quite cold turkey you have no other reserves and thus you get all the side effects that is spoken of on this website.
One of the keys is to keep these neurotransmiters (serotonin, dopamin, Norepi and epi) up while coming off these drugs. These can be accomplished by "qualified" physicians and cetain amino acids and co-factors. Amino acids cross the blood brain barrier and are converted into neurotransmitters. For serotonin (Serotonin system)5-HTP is essential along with vitamin C and vitamin B-6, for the catecholamine system (dopamine, norepi and epi) the amino acid L-Tyrosine in very high dosage along with B-6, folic acid and other "co-factors" are key. These will raise the depeletion of the neurotransmitters and with proper physician guidance help limit side effects and eventually get all of us off the drugs. I hope this helps some.
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