There really is nothing that needs being done about it.
It's no secret that SNRI drugs such as Effexor, Pristiq, and Cymbalta do have a higher risk of what is called Discontinuation Syndrome.
SSRI's can also be nasty buggers to discontinue. Paxil being one of many.
I hear a lot of people complain about antidepressant Discontinuation Syndrome, but I never hear then speak of the flip side.
I used to take Effexor XR at 300Mgs a day for about 4 years. In that time it worked very well for my severe depression. I was able to live my life again, keep my job, and keep my family too. When the time came I had to switch drugs....Well yes your correct because the discontinuation was really bad. I was very sick as a result for many weeks.
Looking back would I trade those 4 good years for the 6 weeks that I was sick as a dog?
No way! I said thank you for the 4 years free of my severe depression and I will take the withdrawl and count myself lucky that I found a drug that worked to help me.
I am never able to understand people that are shocked that they feel bad when stopping their antidepressant. The symptoms of severe depression are WAY worse than any eventual discontinuation that may be in the future. I say take the relief now and deal with the withdrwal later when that time comes.
I must say Hensley has expressed this far better than I could have. Indeed people do ignore the amount of time they had feeling better on FX and other meds. If not for FX I would be dead, suicide, a decade ago so I thank whoever made it for the drug. I've come off it twice and suffered once but it was somewhat less suffering than death would you not think?
Doctors don't need to do anything about this problem except warn you, try to protect you and care for you while you come off. Anyone who takes FX must know it can be hard coming off but so are many meds.
I say it's time to change your mindset and stop worrying about what might happen when coming off and try to maximise what does happen while you are on a med. If it's no good, get off, if it's good then appreciate it.
It is the drug companies that may be able to change the effects but as Hensley says how do you cater for someone who was feeling OK coming off a med, back to deep depression? You can't. Be practical and plan for it mate.
Let me give you an example of a physical injury. A broken leg. Do you expect that to be pain free and side effect free when it occurs, is reset and eventually removed from the cast? Doesn't happen mate. Same, same.
I think much of what we hear in terms of withdrawl complaints are from patients that perhaps should not have been on the drug to begin with.
I think the level of aftermath pain that one is willing to endure is in direct relation to just how bad the actual symptoms of their depression really are.
In my case I was walking around with one foof in a coffin. You can imagine that the thought of eventual discontinuation syndrome was the furthest thing from my mind.
When the time came and I had to change meds because Effexor was no longer effective for me it hurt like hell, but never once did I complain or bash the drug that had saved my life and given me normalcy for almost 4 years.
So I just think it all depends on the actual level of severity of that persons depression.
I would expect a person with mild to moderate depression to bash Effexor upon discontinuation. To them the pain was not worth it.
Other times I think maybe drugs like FX are too often prescribed to people that might respond to a milder antidepressant such as Zoloft or Prozac. Or sometimes I see FX prescribed just because a 30 year old mother is stressed about her job! This happens all the time and it only results in that patient feeling worse simply because they are not at their worst.
Oh boy! Effexor withdrawal. Yes, it can be terrible. I hope your going very slow with the tapering. Why are you stopping it? Was it working for you?
Hensley, it did help my depression for 5 years but it stopped working and I was getting awful side effects. I still cursed that med when I quit it and had withdrawal. That's just the way most people are when they're suffering. Take care. Remar
I hear what your saying remar, but you got 5 years of freedom from your depression.
That's like finding gold when your not even looking for it!
And you would take away all those productive years on Effexor for the time spent suffering it's withdrawls?
Well, I'm sorry I just don't get it. I would sooner shave my head with a cheese grater while chewing on tin foil rather than spend one day suffering from my severe depression and the terror it brings upon my brain and body.
Wait a sec, folks! I had severe depression for a couple decades and used drugs and therapy to beat it---successfully. I haven't needed drugs for twenty years since, and while I probably need intensive therapy, I'm not depressed (at least not "per se").
----> But the drugs I used didn't have horrible withdrawals. <---
Is the choice really only depression vs horrible a withdrawal?
I took Prozac first (which I still hate for it's permanent sexual side effects, but that's another story . . .) and then Wellbutrin. They took me from 20 years of near suicide to being a relatively normal person.in about 18 months, at which time I quit the Wellbutrin cold turkey with zero side effects.
What in the world is the rationale for giving a drug like Effexor to anyone?
For a long time I did all I could to get off meds & beat mental catastropy by willpower. It never worked. Now I'm doing fine, agree with you 100%. I have been directed to remain on present meds for life & am content to do so. Any side effect's better than death! As you're aware, relapses are not funny.There's more going well in my life than is going wrong, more pluses than minuses. Every day's a bonus. My attitude to drugs has gone about 180° ~ cure's not available, so make the best of what's on offer. Best wishes, George
I have to correct myself Hensley. Effexor did help my depression a little and it really helped my anxiety but I did have side effects the whole time I was one it. My Dr threatened to put me on blood pressure meds because it was above normal the whole time I was on this med. And when it quit working it was a nightmare.
I'm very happy for the people that can get any kind of relief from meds and or counseling.
I take it that the original poster was not made aware of possible withdrawal. For some people like me, it can take months.
I do agree with you that side effects and withdrawal are worth it for so many people if a med is really helping your depression. Take care. Remar
Please share with us how you "beat" depression and no longer need meds.
I know about 1000 people on this site with severe depression that would love to know the secret. That would include myself.
I'd be glad to, but would I be a pest if I asked that one person acknowledge my question? Given the variety of anti-depressants on the market, why is one with such ghastly withdrawal symptoms so popular?
Unfortunately, the answer to your question won't help others much:
At around age 34 (I'm 51 now), I was certain that I wouldn't make it through another Chicago winter due to my depression. I checked myself in for counseling and anti-depressants. I was given Prozac. I hated it. It flattened out my mood 24 hours a day. I stopped singing all the time (I still only do occasionally), my ultra-sharp, ADD-like mind was not so sharp anymore, and sexual activity was . . . well, depressing. BUT, I was on it for 6 months, and I never felt depressed during that time. Because I hated it so much, I was switched to Wellbutrin. Wellbutrin felt like no drug at all except that sexual activity seemed to be slightly enhanced. But I always worried about my liver and got off the Wellbutrin after another 18 months or so.
From the time I started the Prozac to now, I have never experienced anything I would call depression. Prior to that, I was hanging on for dear life for most of my adult life. My last great depression was such that I gave up, wanted to kill myself, and had decided to do it without hesitation. But I was too depressed to carry it out. When I was younger, I could sustain myself with the thought that if I hung on long enough, it would pass. In that last one, I still believed it would pass but felt that the pain was too great to be worth waiting for it to pass. After that, I knew I wouldn't make it through another winter.
The way that the counseling helped me was incredibly simple yet incredibly powerful. I would tell the therapist things that I had done and he would react to my stories. I perceived him as a personification of society, and I perceived his reactions as society's reactions. I constantly noticed that where my reaction was to beat myself up, the therapist never seemed to think that beating myself up was what was needed. It didn't even enter his mind. How unlike my family and my way of looking at things! Somehow I was able to internalize the therapists more constructive, supportive attitude. I can still spend a weekend or more in bed because some frustration or problem gets to me, but I am not struggling with great pain or a great desire to do myself in. I still also have to fight against reacting to the smallest frustration by indulging in my many addictions. But to the extent that depression is pain and agony and makes one want to die, that has completely vanished for me.
I've always felt that it was the combination of the drugs and the therapy that freed me from that horror. I resent Prozac because I believe it caused permanent sexual damage, but I often wonder if the same rewiring that freed me from depression has left me with the sexual side affects and perhaps a loss of creativity. For me, sexual side effects and creativity are a small price to pay to be alive without depression. Not that those are not precious things. But I often wonder if just the Wellbutrin alone could have done it. Wellbutrin felt like a placebo.
I wonder if I would have gone back to being depressed had Prozac or Wellbutrin been as difficult to get off of as Effexor.
It sounds like you the one in a million with severe chronic depression in which talk therapy actually worked.
Unfortunatly for the vast majority of us that have tried many months and years of professional therapy the results have been nill at best.
About why Effexor is so popular. Simple....It works for many people when many other antidepressants do not work. I would also include that there are many other drugs that also have gastly withdrawl effects such as Paxil, Pristiq, Cymbalta, and many Tri-cyclics such as Amitriptilyne and Nortriptilyne.
Not everyone responds to drugs such as Prozac, Zoloft, Lexapro, and other antidepressants with a lower occurance of withdrawl effect.
Do I think Effexor or any SNRI drug should be used as a first line antidepressant? No way. It should first be determined that the patient is not responding to other milder antidepressants.
For example I must take an antidepressant called Protriptilyne. I hate it. The sexual side effects make SSRI's look like Viagra. The side effects are horrible. The alternative for me? Probably death because I no longer respond to more accepted antidepressants.
When and if I must stop Protriptilyne I hear that the withdrawl makes Effexor look like a sugar pill in terms of severity. Is it a viable trade off for me? Well, yes it is because I do want to live my life free of constant torment. I will take the withdrawl when that time comes and pay the piper.
Many people complain about Effexor and it's withdrawl, but you never hear them talk about the 4 years of normalcy that it provided them. Everything worth anything comes with a cost.
I appreciate your reply so much! Thank you! I learned a lot.
I was incredibly lucky. I suspect that it was the Prozac more than the talk, but the talk definitely made a profound difference. After I wrote the above post, I realized how much my mood range has indeed been locked into pretty much what Prozac did for/to me.
Good luck! If I could be freed after nearly 20 years, who knows who else can be?
Prozac helped my depression, but stopped working after a while. Effexor XR 75mg helped more, and I actually lost a little weight, but after a while made me so tired. Started Cymbalta today...so far so good. Wellbutrin never did a thing for my depression, and made me feel like I had knots in my stomach. Had terrible withdrawals from Celexa after 18 months-it dumbed me down so bad I had to come off of it. Prozac and Wellbutrin had no withdrawal side effects for me. SSRI's just don't work for some of us.