Earlier this year I ran into a friend who I hadn't seen for a long time (had been living in different states and cities). She had been on a solid dose of effexor for depression, fairly severe case I believe. Anyway, she said that she had gone through the slow taper down to the last 37.5mg okay, but that last step of going to zero was when the whole shebang happened, brain zaps being particularly annoying. She has been off effexor and fine for long enough to say that she was well and truly free of effexor without a return of major depression (she had stopped using it well before we bumped into each other).
So for at least a sample of one, it is possible to get free of effexor's withdrawal claws, and to continue living on happily enough. Hopefully this gives at least some assurance to others here. I too am interested to hear if anyone has remained depression free for a significant time - at least 12 months - after the end of the withdrawal from effexor. I'm on 375mg/day, and have been for 3 years or so; a long taper period when I decide to quit!
how do you know it does not come back? I have kicked the effexor but the emotions / depression / anger has come back
Yes, I am withdrawing from Effexor for the 3rd. time. I was on a hig dose, 300 mg., and I was expecting the worse. It's been 3 wks. now and I believe I am out of the woods. This time the withdrawal has not been as brutal and I believe it is because I was put on Prozac and Lamictal. No brain zaps this time, headaches not as bad but still some nausea.Mood swings, yes. I was dx. with major depression for 20 yrs. only to be redx with bipolar a couple of years ago. Mood swings have been hitting me at a drop of a hat. I am not sure how much is due to Effexor and how much is due to Bipolar.
I can tell you the prozac has kept a big part of the Effexor withdrawal at bay. Hope you start feeling better soon.
I'm following up on very long post of mine from about 2 weeks ago -- at the time I was in the midst of horrible withdrawal from Effexor. I had tapered slowly off of it and been off completely for a week when I made my previous post. As of today I have been Effexor free for about 3 weeks. I have to say, there is light at the end of the tunnel!!! Nearly all of my side effects have subsided gradually -- the dizziness/vertigo, nausea, mood swings, etc. I do still get bouts of anger and am experiencing a loosening of the stool that I only noticed when I went off of the Effexor (strange side effect -- has anyone else experienced this??), but otherwise I feel sooo much better and much more functional. As a word of advice to those coming off of this drug, it is best to keep busy! Even if you don't feel great, get yourself focused on something -- a book or something creative, perhaps involving another person. I found that even when I felt crummy, I wouldn't notice it nearly as much when I threw myself into an activity. I had to will myself to do this at times, however. It isn't easy.
As for depression returning, I haven't noticed that at all so far. I will have to wait and see, though. I will say that I have been in therapy the entire duration of my treatment with Effexor (about 3 1/2 years) and that has helped tremendously!!! I highly recommend the combo of meds and therapy. I think they work best together.
I hope this helps someone out there. At the very least you know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel of withdrawal. Good luck to everyone struggling with this!
Thanks to everyone for their posts!
I have been on Effexor for 14 years! I had religiously taken my meds (up to 300 mg/day) for all this time. It has been a great medication for me, and has helped me to be mostly symptom free from chronic major depression. Periodically over the last few years, my doc has requested that I go off of it. I have been afraid to! I also have been living overseas in Africa for a few years, which is another reason I have wanted to just stay on it and not mess with it. I am back at home in the States now and had been in communication with my doc via e-mail prior to coming home. I started the weaning process a couple of months ago...which went well until I went fully off about 2 weeks ago.
I am so disappointed with how I am feeling! I am home for a few weeks (and won't be back again for 2 years). I had no idea I would be feeling so crappy!!! In hind-sight I don't think I would have gone off meds. My head feels "full" and my brain is so foggy! I could easily just sleep for about 20 hours a day, but we are so busy seeing family, friends, doctors, dentists, etc...that there is very little time for rest. At this moment in time, I am asking myself.."what the heck was I thinking"????
Hi all. Thank you for posting all of your comments. I have found them to be a great help.
I have been on Effexor (150 mg) now for about 3 1/2 years and have tried to go off of the drug twice now with no success.
The first time I was stupid and tried to do it myself cold turkey....well that turned out to be a big mistake. It's hard to even explain what I went through. When I think back to it, it seems so cloudy and hazy, but I recall the sick feeling in my stomach, the nightmares that would continue from where they left off when I would be lucky enough to fall back asleep, the aromas of certain foods that would make me feel like throwing up, the crying and the thoughts of wishing I were dead as it would be alot better than feeling the way I was feeling. My doctor had me go back on them two days later. I was so desperate to feel better that I didn't argue with him. This happened only after being on the drug for four months....that's pretty scarey!
After about a year I thought I would try again. This time I went to the doctor and he said we would slowly try to get me off of it this time. From the 150 mg I had started with, he cut me back to 102.5 mg for three weeks. I had no withdrawl symptoms at that dose. Then he cut me back to 75 mg for two weeks....was also fine on that dose. Then I was down to 37.5 for about a week...was still ok...until the first day that I went without anything....I was right back to where I started with those awful withdrawl symptoms. I have read in everyone's comments about how the doctors should be warning us about how hard it is to get off of this drug before they so easily put us on it. And I agree 100%. Had I known what I know now....I really don't know if I would have gone on this drug. Sure it made me feel better...but it also helped me gain nearly 40 pounds, makes me sweat some days so bad I feel like I am melting, makes me want to sleep 24/7 and sometimes I think it has made me too relaxed!
So I am here to tell you all that I am trying this again. I went to the doctor last week, told him I want to get off of this drug and I suggested that when I got down to the 37.5 mg dose that maybe he could switch me to something else, also a low dose, that wasn't as difficult to get off of. His response...."Oh they are all the same". You know, after a while you just get too tired to argue with them!!!!!
So this is what I am doing. He told me to start out with 3 x 37.5 mg pills a day for 3 weeks. Being stubborn...I have started out with 2 x 37.5 mg a day. Today is Tuesday and I started this on Saturday so its been 4 days now and I am feeling fine...was a little cranky today at work...but other than that....nothing too bad. I have also noticed that in the past few days I am not sweating like I was when I was on the 150 mg.
I am going to stay on this dose for 3 weeks and then will cut back to the 37.5 mg dose for 3-4 weeks. After that, will try taking 37.5 mg every other day.
I will keep you all posted on my journey and hope that something I have said or something I do will help someone out there...cuz I know how bad this drug is.
An inspiring and informative discussion. I have been diagnosed with Dysthemia ( a chronic low-grade and long term depression) and Anxiety. The Doc's have had me on a variety of AD meds over the past 3 years and had me on Effexor XR 150mgs/day plus Ritalin 5-10mgs/day for the past six months. I've experienced little benefit from the meds I've been on and Effexor is no different. On the Effexor I experienced bloating; not weight gain but more a retention of fluids, excessive perspiration and nausea. The nausea was the worst for me. The Effexor/Ritalin combo also increased my blood pressure which was already borderline. One week ago I had tapered down to 37.5mgs/day and have spent 5 days off the meds; both Effexor and Ritalin. I too have the "brain zaps" but it's not too bad, I can deal with it. The Ritalin added to the manic sensation that I had with this combo. I decided to quit the meds mainly because I hated being dependent on them and the side effects were really bothersome. I felt that they gave me a false sense of self. My healthcare provider is the Kaiser Permanente group. They come across to me as being very pill happy and procedure intensive. Got a probelm, take a pill......have a symptom, let's do a test. It really aggravates me since I feel that they treat the symptom rather than the root problem. I go to a few support groups and one guy in one group close to my age stated that he'd rather deal with the depression rather than the pill induced sense of well being. I can relate to that. Thx for letting me vent. TJ.
I was on Effexor for nearly a year a few years back and was weened off of them slowly.
The best thing to do is lower your dose slowly and when you get to the lowest dose then start taking them every other day and then eventually not at all.
Also, it helps to have some Xanax or Ativan on hand just in case the withdrawal symptoms get nasty.
The tics and jolts lasted a little while, but they eventually fade away. I do tend to start getting tics again, though, when I get stressed a lot. Sometimes they're nearly a seizure, but I haven't had one of those in a long time.
I cold turkey off Effexor but within a year the depression came back. I must be one of the few people who seem to tolerate Effexor well.
I only came off it because of the weight gain. But I don't care so much about it now. I have no side effects with Effexor, and my 150mg dose suits me. Prozac was really, REALLY bad for me. Never again.
So you see, different drugs for different people.
Effexor for me is great. I will not stop it again. All I can say is, we have to try different anti-depressants to find the one that suits us best. I have had bad reactions with others, but I don't with Effexor. Obviously each person reacts differently to different drugs.
I tried Prozac about 12 years ago and ended up w/violent dreams and violent daytime hallucinations. I did some investigation and told my MD I'd like to try Wellbutrin. Worked wonders for me and took it for many years.
Last year I felt that it wasn't working for me any longer and asked the doc if I could try Effexor. My (generic) dose was 37.5 mg twice a day . I didn't wean off of W and felt "funny"(hard to describe) for a couple of weeks, then really felt fine. This was in August of 2009.
In April of this year I had an eye examination w/dilation for contact lenses (I hadn't worn them for years). Everything was fine until July when suddenly the vision in my right eye was blurry. Needless to say, I returned to the eye doc to find out what was going on. He examined my eyes (again w/dilation) and he told me I had developed a cataract! Not bad enough yet for surgery, but I could suddenly see it in my not-too-distant future. He was mystified, and, of course I was quite concerned. I asked if it might be a stroke & he said that that wouldn't be the cause.
After I got home I tried to figure out what could possibly be the cause of this. The only new medication I had taken was E so I did some online investigation. Lo and behold, one of the side effects of E is a 33% increase for the risk of cataracts! I immediately called my MD and said I wanted to stop E and go back on W and why. She didn’t mention withdrawal symptoms and said I could start W. I was off E for two days and then started W.
The brain zaps (they seem like the sound “zhunn” going back and forth, in my brain, between my ears!) started the first day being off of E. A lot of the other withdrawal symptoms that have been described here started soon afterward. I work from home and I’m divorced, so I haven’t had to deal w/co-workers, a boss, husband, kids, etc. I did, however, have to cancel out a BD party tonight that I had been looking forward to. I’ve just stayed in my house since – about 7 days now.
Today, it felt like I had a bad case of the flu. Yesterday, I felt pretty good for the first half of the day, but then back to the side-effects. I’m trying to be as calm as I can about all of this; especially since there is absolutely no way I would go back on E again. I haven’t had much of an appetite (today, I’ve had mashed potatoes the ice cream) and I’ve been watching funny shows on tv and reading funny books. Don’t laugh – it helps! I’ve also upped my dose of Omega3 and have been drinking lots of iced drinks.
The reason I’ve gone on so long-windedly is that I haven’t read anyone mentioning cataracts. I encourage you to get your eyes checked if you’ve had blurred vision. Good luck everyone!
Hi I have been reading all your posts on EffexorXR I have been on 150mg for coming up four years along with Mirtazapine 45mg and Zopiclone 15mg. I have put on over 60 pounds in weight, I have started to have focal seizures, I have pain in my right temple and headaches all the time and migraine every few days. It wasn't until i read your posts that I began to look at what this drug could be doing to me, I have depression and PTSD but i can't really say that Effexor XR has helped, I still have really low moods,self harm and inability to concentrate. My Docs are good and listen to me and I would like to come off Effexor now I know what it can do but I am a little worried about what sounds like horrendous withdrawals. Any advice would be welcomed
I have noticed that on here people don't seem to give progress reports after they have given up effexor so I am doing that.
I had my last pill of effexor about 6 weeks ago. The day after I stopped effexor I took prozac 20mg a day for 3 days and then stopped. I did get some dizziness after a few days so I took more prozac, 20mg for a week and then 10mg for a week and then off. Now I am feeling good. No depression or irrational anxiety. However, I am occasionally experiencing mild light headedness. I recommend switching to prozac for two weeks after stopping effexor....I have been able to go to work and be fine. From what I have read about others going off it without switching, they couldn't go to work and could barely function.
I am pretty good! Work is fine, I have't had any mood swings. I know this because I am a teacher and the kids tell me if I am being a grouch! lol They are like "Miss? Why are you so crabby today?" No one has asked me that....I think the last time they asked me that was a few months ago when I had PMS and a headache :)
Good Luck to you all!
Hi all. Well it's been nearly 2 weeks now since I have cut my dose down from 150 mg to 75mg. Probably the only thing I have noticed is that I have been a bit cranky and while watching a movie a bit weepy. I use to cry so easily it wasn't funny....even watching commercials on tv. After being on Effexor for a few years....never cried...not even at sad movies!
Other than that....nothing too bad. I think I will continue for another couple of weeks on this dose and then will cut it back to 37.5 mg.
Hope everyone else trying to get off of this doing good!
P.S. Thank you Alanas for the Prozac tip...may just try that when I am ready to take my last 37.5 of Effexor.
After 15 years on Effexor XR 75mg I have just come off it without withdrawal symptoms. No big secret - I did it VERY SLOWLY over 8 months using the bead counting method. I think I could have gone a little faster however. There is supposed to be 180 beads in a capsule (I've never counted) but I made up a spreadsheet on that basis and stuck it on the fridge.
I recommend removing 5 beads from each capsule for the first week, 10 for the second, 15 for the third etc until you are down to 30 beads a day dose. Then over that last month, take one less bead per day until you are down to zero eg 30, 29, 28 etc.
In the last week and for a week after stopping, I felt vaguely light headed when I was tired. No nausea, no brain zaps, no nothing!
I previously tried coming off it using 37.5 mg tablets and breaking them up but this was not successful for me. I suffered withdrawal symptoms if I was a few hours late in taking part of a tablet. While tedious, the bead counting method works.
Tip: find a shallowl dark colored container (I used a washed black polystyrene tray some steak came in) and remove beads with a pointed skewer or toothpick by lifting the top off the capsule, licking the end and dipping it inside. If you remove too many put them back. You can count the beads on a dark surface easily. I stored the beads I removed in a small jar with a screw top and in the last few months I took my daily dose out of the stored beads. Easier to count out 40 beads than remove 140! I put them straight in my mouth to no ill effect. Plus no further need to fill prescription and fork out $$.
My husband kindly counted beads for me from time to time which was a big help. Yes it's tedious, and yes it takes a long time but it is worth it. There is no need to suffer - it just takes patience and perseverance. It now remains to be seen if the depression returns but I have transformed myself slowly over the last 10 years from a person with low self esteem and no sense of entitlement to a confident, assertive woman with few insecurities. Effexor transformed my life and helped me do it. I gained no weight beyond normal weight gain with age eg about 1 pound a year and maintain Effexor is a wonderful, wonderful drug. Just hard to get off but the method described, while not a quick fix, is painless.
I tapered off my Effexor (after being on 300 mg for fifteen years) and have been completely off it for two weeks. I started feeling the withdrawal symptoms once I went from 75 mg to nothing. I am still very uncomfortable, but I stopped feeling like I was going to die and like I was drunk and hung over at the same time once I started taking Benedryl, vitamin B complex, omega-3 fish oil supplements, and Tums and drinking A LOT of ginger tea everyday. (I know vitamin E has been recommended too, but you must be careful not to take too much; it can make you very sick. I've also heard that it is a good idea to eat a lot of meat and leafy green vegetables. I've been eating a lot of the latter, but I'm not sure how much it's contributed to my feeling better.) Once I got sick of the ginger tea, I started eating pickled ginger, the kind you get with sushi (you can buy it in a jar at the grocery store). I cannot begin to describe how much it's helped--I'm still waiting to feel completely better, but I can honestly don't think I could have gotten this far without all the vitamins and pills and ginger tea--the way I was feeling, I really could not function. This is such a hellish process, but I was so grateful when I found these tips posted online, and I hope that this information helps someone else.
On July 23 2010 there was a post on this forum regarding cataracts and Effexor connection. While I don't doubt that there is a connection if the research supports it, it is important to remember that age-related cataracts - the most common type of cataract - affect about 50 percent of all Americans by the age of 65, and the number grows to approximately three-quarters of all 75-year-olds. Around that age, about half of the men and women suffering from cataracts will have significant enough changes in their vision to warrant treatment to restore their vision. So 3/4 of us, if we live long enough, will eventually develop a cataract whether we are on Effexor or not. I'm in my late 50s and have a tiny cataract which my opthalmologist told me was extremely common for my age. I wouldn't stress too much about the Effexor connection - and cataract operations are non-invasive and quick (eg 10 minutes) these days.
Oh boy, I just started taking Effexor a month ago. I was on lexapro and I am premrin due to a complete hysterectomy and doc felt I needed a bit of an anti depressing to help with mood swings. Put me on effexor with the hopes of getting me off the premrin seeing effexor has estrogen in it. But ready this makes me nervous.
Hi again everyone, another update:
I stayed on the 75 mg dose for 3 weeks and 1 day and seemed fine. I am now on the 37.5 mg pill. First day I took it.....felt great. Second day not so good.....crampy, upset stomach, foggy head and just didn't feel like myself. Third day...upset stomach and head still a little foggy. Fourth day....feeling better and gettng back to feeling more like my old self. It almost seems like if you can handle about 3 days of feeling crappy your system will adjust to the new dose.
Talk to you all soon.
Okay after reading all the posts - I am going to get off this stuff. I have been taking Effexor since June and have put on 9 pounds. Like many others I have not changed my eating habits - yet every morning a new pound seems to appear. Heaviness runs in my family - like 450 pound people. I cannot take this new weight and feel like an elephant. I also experience instability when standing. Falling down hard too. So I start tomorrow - no more Effexor. Wish me luck and weight loss. I hope to deal with the emotional side of this with help from family and friends.
UPDATE- I've been off of Effexor for 6 weeks. Overall I feel "O.K." and only have the occassional brain zap but they're not painfull... just annoying when they do happen. I feel like I've come full circle from 3 years ago when I was put on meds. I don't feel any better nor do I feel any worse. I feel like cr@p most days with the constant pain, stiffness and blah feelings that I had before. I've requested copies of all my GP and Mental Health report summaries so that I can read and understand what the doc's were trying to diagnos. Time will tell.
Been on 150mg for 7 years. Recently trying to change from Effexor XR to Wellbutrin. Dropped down to 112.5 for two and a half weeks then 75 for two weeks then 37.5 for three weeks. Three days ago I stopped. Yesterday I had leave work early because I starting feeling really nauseated and threw up. When I got home I started throwing up more, and started sweating, I felt hot(stuffy) and cold (shivers) at the same time, started having sever anxiety issues, hyperventilating, and my extremities were going dumb. I also started passing out then would wake up to throwing up and panicking. Emotionally I was flat. The nausea was extreme. My mother came over and my husband came home early to take me to the emergency room. He called my doctor and he told me to go ahead and take the 37.5. I'm going back to see him soon. Is there any dose lower than 37.5mg and are there any drugs to help with the withdrawal symptoms? This stuff is EVIL!!
This drug should have not been approved by the FDA and any doctor that prescribes it should be sued. So here I am stuck on it again and I'm wondering whether I'll ever get off it. HAS ANYONE TAKEN ANY LEGAL ACTION? If so let me know. I'll thinking about it.
Right now, I hardly feel like posting, but I will selfishly take this opportunity!. I don't know which I am more afraid of, the E or the depression. But right now, I have to say the E! A year ago, I tried to ween myself off, by extending the time between doses of the 150 mg. Not the right way to go. after the last dose, I really freaked out, crying uncontrollably, and a swimmy head. I went to the doctor in the throughs of the crying episode, and sort of freaked her out, I think. She sent me immediately to the hospital. After waiting there crying for about 2 hours, I was finally examined. And the end result for that visit was to get back on the E at 300 mg. Really didn't make much sense, since the effects I came with were withdrawals. But I did because they said so. Ok, as this was very expensive, after 2 months, I went back down to 150mg, and stayed there for the last year. Since then, I have eliminatesd some stress, and gone on a fixed income, and decided to try again, to quit, this time with Dr. guidance. Went on a step down program, ending in the 37.5mg. I had my last dose a few days ago, and I'm feeling really crappy! Buzzing and light headed, loose stools, nightmares and generally awful, coupled with a lot of fear. At least, so far, I haven't had the crying. Is this going to end? and how will I feel, if I ever get past this withdrawing process?. I too, feel this is a mind blowing med, and have serious questions about it.
I can't comment on the Effexor withdrawl(by the way I take it) but I can comment on the lipitor. I developed serious side effects from the drug inc. severe muscle and joint pain and brown urine. I took myself off the drug and things returned to normal. Statins are dangerous and I will never take a statin again.I researched and talked to my Dr. re: my symptoms and Dr. agreed that my symptoms were indeed a dangerous sign.
Please research lipitor on the internet.
I took EfexorXR 75mg for the past 3 years or so. At the beginning of this summer, I began to have symptoms of being over medicated, almost to the point of narcolepsy. I couldn't function during the day at work because I was
so tired. I started to wean myself off after my doctor advised it wasn't in my best interest to stop taking the drug. It wasn't in my best interest to crash my car driving home from work when I was asleep either. My experience of withdrawl has been going on for about 2 months. I am hoping that I am nearing the end of it. The worst part of my withdrawl has been the headaches. More like migraine headaches and with that, blurred vision, nausea and lack of energy. I contemplated several times going back on the meds but after reading the information on this site, I'm going to tough it out. It's been very helpful to me to know that there are others who are going through the same thing. I would also be interesting in hearing from anyone who has successfully withdrawn from using the drug as to what their
experiences were like, how long it took, etc.
I am genuinely puzzled why people attempt quick withdrawal from Effexor when everybody knows that it is nigh on impossible to cope with the side effects. It can be done successfully with a slow withdrawal over several months. I took 9 months by steadily reducing the dosage every day but I had been taking it for 15 years and I did not want to stop suddenly. I experienced zero side effects and have been off it for 2 months. The sad thing is that I am often very depressed again which I was spared for 15 years. Some days I can barely get out of bed. I am monitoring the situation and resisting starting the Effexor again but some days I have to ask 'why?' I did so very well on 75mg of Effexor with no weight gain beyond normal and for this reason I will not condemn the drug. I recently tried Cymbalta at the doctor's suggestion but for me it was like being on speed! I felt totally wired and was unable to sleep. Weird how different drugs affect different people. Anyway Effexor is much maligned but for many people like me it truly is the answer to a prayer. I'm hanging in there med free for now but that could change unless I can successfully get past this depressive episode. Best wishes to all.
Hi, everyone. I too am experiencing severe Effexor withdrawal. I've been having all symptoms under the sun for the past week, as I've been titrating down at the direction of my (soon-to-be-ex) doc, though the symptoms didn't occur until I got to the smallest two dosages. I was fine going from 150mg to 75mg, but 75 to 37.5 and 37.5 to 18.25? It's ben a nightmare. And I was only on it for about 6 weeks--including the time I was titrating UP and DOWN. It's miserable. I feel like I constantly want to DIE. I missed two days of work this week because of it and it's been impossible to function properly. Last night it was so bad I almost took myself to the ER.
Through all this though--with reading everyone's experiences and talking to some people I know personally--I've decided to do something about it. My objective is to write an in-depth piece on the subject and try to get it out through some media source, with the hope of causing at least some form of change, whether if be lowering the incidence of prescription of a particular drug, getting patients to think more fully about a drug before agreeing to take it, or even getting the FDA and/or pharmacies to list withdrawal information in their literature when distributing a drug. Some of these are very high hopes, I know, and maybe nothing will come of it at all, but I have to try. (I guess there was a reason I got all that investigative journalism training way back when after all!)
If anyone on the site here would be willing to go on the record with their experiences (whether with name included or anonymously by location), I've created a questionnaire to pool some first-hand accounts. Please private message me if you'd like to contribute. I, for one, would greatly appreciate it. Thanks! My best to you all...
I just want to say THANK YOU! I had no idea what was going on with my body. I followed what little direction my doctor gave on weening myself off the drug. I have to say I will never just ignorantly listen to the docs suggestion before taking any medication. She ever mentioned any of the withdrawal systems. Unfortunately, My first battle with the 'flu' came shortly after my last dosage of E. Friday was the last dosage for weening purposes and then Sunday night I suddenly became ill. I was out for the next four days with aches, soar throat, light headedness, headaches, fever, nausea and diarrhea. Once all that went away I thought I was on my way back to a normal healthy life.
Until suddenly I felt cloudy, weak, light headed and warm but worst of all were the buzzing sounds. What is going on??? What do I do? Is it just fatigue? Do I waste money and head to urgent care for them to perform tests and still have no clue?
While debating I was talking to a relative and he said it, "sounds like drug withdrawal symptoms." So here I am googling for an answer of how to make the zapping stop. I really appreciate the internet tonight. Thank you all for your posts. I am still not certained how I can get it to stop but at least I know why and that it will. I even got laughter out of reading some posts especially those that felt as I did that had I known that this medication would give me brain zaps while quitting I would have NEVER agreed to take it.
I have Bipolar and have been recently taking Lithium Carbonate, Effexor XR, Geodon, and Klonopin. My psychatrist has been lowering my Effexor dose over the last few months. And I have been having issues with some dizziness with each decrease in dose. A little over two weeks ago, I took my last Effexor dose. Since then I've been having problems with severe vertigo, nausea, and "brain zaps." My psychiatrist says it can't be the Effexor, although the timing fits, since she says Effexor withdrawal doesn't generally result in dizziness.
I have had to go to the ER twice because of the inability to keep anything down. I've had a CAT scan, MRI, and blood work (esp. to check my lithium level), and all have come back normal. The ER docs suggested a neurologist appointment, but I can't get in to see one for over 2 more weeks. I am miserable, and not sure a neurologist can even help. If it is Effexor withdrawal, what could a neurologist do about it? And if the psychatrist is right, what else could it be?
thank you so much to everyone for sharing their experiences. To read them initially was really scary for me, but as I have gone through the withdrawal process I have drawn a lot of strength from knowing that it is related to going off my drugs, even though my doctor has been dubious as to whether or not it relates.
thanks to the person who suggested ginger tea for the nausea - i am going to get some today.
I would like to suggest that anyone tapering off this drug organise some time off work... will tell you my experience.
I was on 150 mg for one year and after undertaking counselling and some of the situations i was in changing I felt ready to come off with my doctor's help.
My first step was to 75 mg - for me, the side effects were minimal, in fact i felt a lot (!) better than i had begun to feel on 150 mg... i started getting my energy back. I had become really tired, and read somewhere online about someone who went to a sleep doctor, and discovered that the efexor was stopping them from going into the deepest level of sleep which is why they were so tired, so i was happy not to be so tired... had the occasional brain zap (where it felt like my tongue would be electric zapped) but they were not a problem. Also I was occasionally a bit dyslexic (has never been a problem for me before) where i would say for instance 'i'm trying to find a karp' instead of 'i'm trying to find a park'. This went away
Two to three weeks later I tapered down to 37.5 mg. The first day was fine. The second day I felt a bit woozy. The fourth day I had a headahce all day. The 5th, 6th, and 7th day I had to have away from work because I had what I could only liken to a migraine - had a massive headache - which was made worse by being in the light. I spent three days in bed, with a wet cloth on my head, sleeping as much as i could and listening to the tv because i was bored and the tv was to obright to watch (and i couldn't do anything else). Any movement made the symptoms worse.. laying about made them less bad. I felt quite sick in my belly and had loose stools and nausea I began taking fish oil tablets (4-5 twice a day) as per advice from someone on the internet - not sure if they helped or not but i'm sure they didn't hurt!
On Day 8 I was fine in the morning, but in the afternoon became woozy again. ON Day 9, felt a lot better and could move about again without it creating brain zaps and sick feelngs etc.
Then two weeks after going onto 37.5 mg (so less than a week after i finished the withdrawal symptoms) I moved to 0. I did not want to continue taking a drug that has such terrible withdrawals. I timed this for holidays so I wouldn't need to take sick days off work...
It has been worse than the step from 75 to 37.5, but bearable with support and i see a light at the end of the tunnel. The symptoms began on Day 3 of no tablets. I developed wooziness, swimmy head, nausea, headaches, dizziness, etc - think massive hangover x 20 but continuous (doesn't end after a day). I have found movement makes it worse, so try not to move around so much. I certainly don't exercise because of this. It has not been safe for me to drive. I have stayed out of the light as much as possible because my eyes feel sensitive and strained and achy/tight. My mind has not been good - as in I have trouble thinking of words and my memory isn't good. It is now day 6 and I think the worst day was day 4 this time round... I now have some moments without sore head, sore eyes, but usually once i'm doing stuff i get sick, tired, headahcey etc (eg doing stuff like cooking etc). Someone on this list recommended doing something to help you through, i agree, but you need to do it within your energy and pain levels.. I have been concentrating on having good healthy eating and so this has given me something to focus on but it also makes me tired and headachey/woozy...
Something I didn't expect that i noticed yesterday was increased sensitivity to smells that made me feel nauseous (i could smell the bin from the next room). That only lasted a couple of hours... AND
This morning I could hear my eyelashes inside my head as i blinked!! wow.. if that doesn't sound like coming off some full on, illegal drug i don't know what does...
So, I'm sitting here feeling crappy, but less crappy than before... but am so happy i have come off this drug. I am scared that there may be some permanent change to my brain that isn't so good because it is obvious, from the withdrawal symptoms, that it is a strong drug!
I read somewhere not to count the beads because the beads all have different things in them, some are one part, others are another part - and that yo udon't know which parts you are counting out - it's random - so i didn't do that...
If you are scared about coming off, please don't be. Please do it under the guidance of your doctor. Please don't go cold turkey when I imagine these symptoms are unbearably worse. Please make your change to level on a saturay and plan ahead of time with your employer to have the following week off so that you are taking care of yourself and you are not feeling bad about all the physical effects I recommend this fro the move from 70 to 37.5 and for the move from 37.5 to 0.
Then when you take the next step down, etc, again take another week (or even two if you can when you go 37.5 to 0). I know it's not idea but it is taking care of yourself and ensuring that your employer is not left in the lurch - so keeps a good relationship.
I would suggest not going off the drugs until you have been to counselling and tried to deal with some of the issues that led you to go on it in the first place - and then continue to see your counsellor/psychologist so you are supported if the issues come up again.
Whilst it is a terrible comedown at this stage i don't reget going on efexor as it got me through a terrible time where i couldn't work or function daily properly due to some extreme difficulties in my life at the time. However, in saying that, one of the advantages of the withdrawals of efexor is that it has made me decide to use healthy eating, exercise and counselling to ensure i never need drugs again... that's how full on the come down has been...
good luck to everyone else, i will try to come back and let you know if the symptoms have gone away - because i know when i was looking for information - that's what i wanted to know! how long will this last for!!
Information can help you plan so that even though you may get symptoms you are supporting yourself the best through it with fish oil tablets, good diet, rest, time off work and people around you who can drive to get thnigs for you - because for me i cannot drive yet - head too swimmy, doesn't seem safe.
will keep you posted
Need to update you all. I took my last effexor in july and then took prozac for a few days then came off. I started feeling some light headedness and so I took some more prozac in early august, then I tapered off again and in late September I came off it. I was okay for about 2 weeks and then began getting high anxiety (flight or fight response causing adrenaline and hormone rushes) which made me dizzy and foggy headed. I felt sick in the stomach too. I went back to the doctors and he said to go back on effexor but I refused and said I would rather try prozac. I have been taking 20mg a day now for about a week and the anxiety is better and the foggy head has gone but I still get these massive dizzy spells that can last hours, I think this is withdraawal. I am going to stick to this though. I will not go back on effexor. While I do believe that my slow taper (over a year) and switch to prozac saved me from these "brain zaps" I am not with out withdrawal symptoms. I believe the high anxiety and the dizziness are withdrawal, because while I did have some anxiety before going on the effexor 8 years ago IT WAS NOTHING LIKE THIS! Something simple like "I still haven't tidied up that corner in the backyard" would bring on that fight or flight response with the squeezing in my chest and pounding heart. It is really frustrating because I know it is irrational but it is still happening. This is why I think it is withdrawal...thanks to the prozac though, the axnxiety is much better. It has been 3.5 months since my last effexor, and while this hasn't been easy I am still functioning and going to work etc.
Nope, I stopped taking Effexor XR and some of the symptoms lasted at least three months for me.
The brain zaps, crying, etc.
Now that those symptoms are gone they have been replaced with worse ones, or at least for me anyways.
I cannot sleep, I have much worse anxiety and very deep feelings of despair and idea's of death.
I hate this and I wish I never started taking it in the first place.
When I was on Lexapro I had no side effects compared to this stuff.
I have to take Effexor XR again now so I can go back to how I was hopefully and then replace it with something else.
Then when I come off whatever is next, I will be sure to do it the right way because last time I did it on my own.
I feel ten times worse than before I started taking it.
The good thing is I know I am not alone in this and will eventually pull through and reclaim my life.
I just typed out a super long post and it disappeared before I could send it...so I want to make sure this is going to work before I try it again.
Ok...let's try this again! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!
Crap the post I had typed up had everything I wanted to tell you....hope I am able to remember it all.
The last time I posted anything on here was in August. I had weaned myself down to 37.5 mg and one foolish day decided that I would be able to just stop taking this drug....I figured that because it was such a low dose...it shouldn't be too hard! I went about 4 days not feeling really too good and went back on the 37.5 dose.
I have read in someone elses post on here that it is a good idea to try to get off this drug when you know you will be on holidays and not have to work. I couldn't agree more. I began taking my 37.5 mg dose every other day starting December 8, 2010. Had no withdrawls at all. I knew that I would be taking Christmas holidays from December 24 to January 3/11. I have not taken a pill now since December 23. The only real difference I have noticed is that I am not sleeping as good as I usually do but because I don't have to worry about getting up and going to work in the morning...it makes me feel less stressed about not getting enough sleep. I had a wonderful little cat nap this afternoon so it all worked out wonderful....I honestly believe that if you can get alot of sleep while you are trying to get this drug out of your system, you will be successful at getting off of it.
One thing that I reccommend is that when you are cutting back or trying to get off the drug completely it is better not to share this information with loved ones or friends. I found that someone close to you will make some sort of little comment like..."you've been kind of cranky today....maybe you better go back on those pills". Now....when I am trying to do something as difficult as getting off something compared to getting off of heroin....saying something like that to me is not a helpful thing!!!!! Also...if my only withdrawl symptom is a little crankiness...well so be it!
I went and joined a gym yesterday as I believe that it is important to keep your mind busy and not give it time to collect negative thoughts. Also, as I have been on Effexor for four years...I need to lose the 40 pounds it made me gain.
I hope I have helped anyone trying to get off of this drug and hope you can all feel as good as I do after being drug free for 5 days. Good luck to you all :)
I am on Effexor 300 mg a day, Cymbalta 120 mg a day along with oxycotin 120mg a day , ambien nightly, and and need to take laxatives because of the onxycotin. plus a few other medicarions, well, now my new problem, today is my 10day off effexor, cold turkey due to worker's comp not approving it when I have been on it awhile now, I am afraid of the systoms . Thanks for listening..... Hate the cold turkey withdrawals..
Hi all. 7 days now without Effexor....each day gets better and better.
There was one important thing that I forgot to share with everyone the other day. The first time I went off of Effexor, it was my last pill and I had none left. That drug does weird things to your mind....all I kept thinking was....crap...I have no more pills left. Just knowing that stressed me out big time and sure enough, within a few days I was right back on it. This time although I have no intentions of going back on this drug I still carry a bottle of 37.5's with me in my purse...for some strange reason just knowing I have some in my purse creates less stress in my mind.
I was on 300mg a day and because of the weight and sexual side effects decided to switch to Wellbutron. My doctor gave me instructions on how to cut down and said I would have to be completely off of them for 2 weeks before starting the Wellbutron. I am currently on day 3 of the two weeks without and the side effects are horrible; loss of balance, nausea, dizziness, sleeplessness, drained of energy, blah, blah, blah. I have a full-time job and am in my last semester of my Master's degree and this is terrible. Makes me wonder if I really want to go on another med at all. I have fibromyalgia and take Lyrica (causes weight gain, too) and have noticiably increased symptoms while cutting down on Effexor. Thanks for all of your posts, so I know that I'm not imagining all of this and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
I've been on Effexor XR 150mg for about 7 years now and I'm absolutely terrified of coming off them. Both because of the withdrawals and also because I'm afraid I'll collapse mentally without them. So far the longest I've gone without them was 6 days as some kind of self-destructive masochism and it was one of the worst experiences of my life. Constant sweating, fever, those weird brain *zaps*, dizziness, loss of coordination and balance, itchy skin, huge mood swings. I found I became a lot more emotionally aware and found myself on the verge of tears any time anything even remotely sad happened. I was ALWAYS hungry, even 10 minutes after eating a whole pizza I'd be scowering the kitchen for more food, however I didn't gain any weight despite all the food which leads me to believe my metabolism also went ballistic.
I'm afraid I've become to totally dependent on what I'm coming to see as an awful drug, and while I wont deny it helped when I started taking XR I'm not sure it does anything any more other than make me emotionally numb and I'm still not sure whether or not that's a bad thing or whether or not the things I feel when I stop taking them are because of the withdrawals or what I'd actually feel without the drug. I tried dropping down to 75mg for a week and it was almost as bad. I find myself thinking about terrible things, like I'll be walking home from work and just suddenly have an almost uncontrollable urge to scream at a complete stranger or throw myself in front of a bus.
I guess I'm just terrified of anything and everything to do with what has become the bane of my existence.
After reading all these, I am really scared about this. I've been on 150 mg for about 2 and 1/2 years now since I was diagnosed with SAD. It helped tremendously, but I am hoping to get pregnant by year-end and everything I had read suggests that this drug is very dangerous to take while pregnant.
I certainly had my fair share of symptoms when starting up - I remember I was foggy, had brain zaps, bad memory, and dizzy for about 3 days each when switching up. So I do know the symptoms you all talk about and they are scary. It's definitely not possible to live anything approaching a normal life while going through them.
I like the drug - at least, I did before reading all this - it certainly helped my depression and I haven't had a single migraine since going on it, but I really want to get pregnant. I've got about 7 months until I want to start trying - I've read here that a little bit of prozac helps, and I've read that vitamin D, and Omega 3 will help with symptoms. I'm willing to try all those things.
Is there anyone out there who can give some positive news about weaning off this drug? Is it really possible to get off this thing if you wean yourself off slowly and stay off of it with no physical symptoms afterward? I think my SAD symptoms can be managed going forward with Vitamin D and light therapy, so I'm not worried about that, but I am terrified about how badly weaning myself off this could mess up my life. I really wish my doctor had told me about this before putting me on it - but I appreciate that I was in a really bad state by the time I went to her and was willing to do ANYTHING to improve the depression.
I just need to hear some good news from someone and not more of these terrifying stories!
oh my does effexsor really do all that... is it really a bad drug to be on? my doctor just put me on that yesterday and its 75mg a day. if it is not a good drug i dont want it... i have only took one and i dont like the feeling, i feel high and confused... i am constantly thristy and i think i am hungry but not sure its like i am totally confused.. i feel like i am going to throw up and just feel so funny... is this normal???
imput very appreciated crazygirl (jennifer)
hi i am just like everyone else on the site. i have just gone off 150mg cold turkey and am on my 4th day things are not good. i am going to my docs on wed to see if i can get a prescription for Prozac as i have been reading it helps with the withdrawals. any way just letting you know that i have been doing a lot of research on this and have been reading that the drug you have just started to take has almost as bad symptoms as effexor not that i have been on this drug myself just thought i would give you the heads up. good luck.
I find it interesting that most of the people on here who have tried to go off of Effexor, ended up going on it...whether it was shortly after or a year later. I have yet to read anyone say that they successfully weaned themselves off and STAYED off.
MY EXPERIENCE WITH EFFEXOR:
I have been on it for about 7 YEARS, I take 150mg/day. I've tried to go off of it 3 times now, by slowly weaning my prescription over several weeks, but failed to ever successfully be off of it because I had terrible mood swings, uncontrollable crying, depression and anxiety attacks. I tried to wait it out and see how long I could go to see if things would get better. I think I went a month without Effexor, but the withdrawal symptoms did not let up so I always ended up going back on.
The good thing about me trying to wean myself off...was that my tolerance had decreased, so it became more effective once I started taking it again. The bad news is, I'm still on it and don't know when or if I will ever be able to successfully stop taking it. :( And I'm only 25, what if I want to have kids someday :(
Effexor helps me with my depression, but it certainly does not CURE it. It decreases my energy level substantially, but I guess that is a side effect I have been willing to endure to help my depression
I stopped taking effexor xr 150mg 7 days ago. I stopped cold turkey. The withdrawal is horrendous. I have had severe withdrawals from nausea, vomiting, brain and eye zaps, brain tremors, insomnia even though I am so tired, massive mood swings from rage, anger, irritability, constant hysterical crying, I am seriously suicidal several times a day, sometimes all day, struggling to keep myself from actually killing myself daily. Violent thoughts towards my most loved ones. My doctor had given me some valium to help with my severe side effects and is hoping they should subside in a few days. I am a full time uni student with essays and exams due. I am a single parent with 3 young children, my eldest child is 8 yrs old as suffers with autism. All I can say is god please help me through this and please stop this emotional, moody, angry, suicidal rollercoaster ride. Or I will have to stop it myself.
I have been on Effexor XR 150 mg for almost 9 years now and about 5 years ago I did try to wean myself off...took the 75 mg capsule and the 37.5 mg tablet for a few weeks and though this helped to not have the crazy shakes/veritgo I did really start to have bad mood swings and crazy anxiety. At that point I did not want to have another depressive episode so I not only went back on the 150 mg of Effexor but then added 10 mg of Lexapro.
While I'm definitely stable mood wise and feel good (mentally) I am always tired, have gained weight, have the night sweats, etc. I would be fine staying like this though I don't like being dependent on drugs but have recently been thinking about becoming pregnant in the next 2 years. I'm getting older, in a great relationship and feeling pretty good.
Both Lexapro and Effexor are not ok to be on while pregnant or trying to become pregnant. So I'm going to make an appt with my psychiatrist to discuss. Very interested in seeing what he says about this. Will definitely share if I learn anything new.
Im so glad im not the only one suffering this nightmare from hell trying to get off effexor. I think I know more than the GP so that doesnt help. He suggests strategies and they fail, like a lot of you I feel stuck on them, since Ive been on anti-depressants i feel as though I only half alive, kind of going through lifes motions but not really living it. Anyone else feel like this.
Hi everyone. I just wanted to let you all know that I have now been Effexor free for almost 6 months and am feeling like my old self again. For all of you who are trying to get off of this drug, please read my previous messages. I think what helped me the most was I did not rush to get off of the pills this last time. Once I got down to 37.5 mg, I took that amount daily for two weeks. Then I started taking 37.5 mg every other day for two weeks. When the two weeks were up, I stopped but I made sure I still had some pills left over and carried those damn things with me for about a month. It just gave me comfort knowing I had some just in case. I would suggest to some of you that you may want to take a 37.5 mg dose every two days after that.....if you feel like you need to. Like I had previously said, if at all possible, plan to take your final pill the day before you go on holidays....as it is much easier knowing that you don't have to go to work the next day and that you can sleep in if you've had a bad night.
As most of you know, Effexor makes you gain weight. I have now lost 1/2 of the weight I had gained and hopefully can lose the other 1/2 soon. I am going to the gym about 3 times a week and that in itself makes you feel much better.
Hi Alana, I am experiencing the horrible side affects of w/d from effexor and tempted to try the prozac. Just wondering how you are holding up and how long it has been since you stopped? Did you switch to any other anti-depressant? My doc has put me on 300mg of wellbutrin and I am now on 37.5mg of effexor every 3rd day for over a month!!
I'm so grateful I found this forum.
I ran out of Venlafaxine (Effexor in US) last Thursday and can't get a new script till today, Monday. Since then I have sweated enought to saturate the bed every night, then froze and shivered till the next attack of sweating. I'm reeling around as if I'm drunk. My eyes don't focus. My stomach feels like I've eaten a whole whale without chewing. I have these fizzy feelings inside my brain and even in my legs, like someone has filled me up with sherbet which is slowly dissolving. And the nausea, don't get me started! Even feeding the cats makes me puke. Anything to do with meat - even the smell of cooking from next door's barbie - will make me nauseous.
I've been eating sunflower seeds, at least I can get them down, but a small packet of them leaves me feeling bloated and sick.
Then there's the sudden shortness of breath and the coughing. (One good side effect - I'm a 20 a day smoker, now down to 5!)
One other complicating factor: I'm a diabetic so the lack of food is compounding the dizziness as I'm going into hypos quite regularly. I'm counter-acting this with glucose tablets and the occasional lolly (popsicle) which keeps me from falling over altogether.
BUT, I'm nearly there. I know from this forum that the worst is over and I'm not going back on those horrible tablets again. I was on 225mg at one point, got that down to 150mg, and that's what I'm withdrawing from after five years. I won't be picking up my script today - I haven't gone through all this just to start taking them again and maybe face the withdrawal all over again sometime in the future.
Cold turkey is definitely not the way to stop taking the tablets - the physical effects are like nothing I've ever experienced. But as I said, this withdrawal was accidental. For those of you who are going to try and get off them in a staged withdrawal, can I recommend the following:
1. Get some herbal tablets to help you sleep. Don't take pharmaceutical drugs, you're only pouring more heavy duty compounds into your system. Over here in the UK we have a chain called Holland & Barratt which sells a tablet called Peaceful Night with hops, valerian and passion flower in it. Something like that will help you get through the worst of the sweating at night.
2. Get some lavender or geranium essential oil. Put it on your pillows and bedding, and smooth some on your chest before you go to bed. It will help you relax at night.
3. You won't be able to eat much so get in fruit to have ready when you start your withdrawal. Your system won't react so badly to that. (I've just had a banana and it feels like I've eaten a sofa, but that's not half as bad as the constant nausea from 'real' food like bread, cheese, meat, milk etc)
4. Drink loads - not booze, that's just going to make you dizzier. Tea, good English tea without milk - or herbal tea. And real fruit juice, diluted so you don't spend your entire day in the toilet! Cranberry juice is a good one - it'll help flush out your system. Or lemon barley water. The aim is to wee those toxins out asap!
5. Have some treats. Mine is lollies (popsicles). Yours might be ice-cream or sweeties. Have some sucky-sweets like barley sugar which will help with the nausea. Be good to yourself.
6. If you're working, phone in sick. You are sick, very sick. Don't force yourself into work where you'll be no use to man or beast. You'll be clumsy and your eyes will not focus properly. If you work with machinery or drive, you're a menace. If you work with people in a shop or office, they'll be the ones who'll have to carry you. So take a few days off till you're over the worse - three or four days should do it.
7. If you're at home, read, watch comedy (someone else suggested this and it's a great idea), go on the shopping channels online and fill your basket with stuff - then delete it all and start again! The very act of looking at things and making choices will take your mind off your withdrawal symptoms. (Don't do this if you have a compulsive personality though - you'll end up bankrupt!). Watch sport. Have a small bet on the horsies - same reservations apply as for the shopping channels! And if you follow a really bad football team like I do, shouting and swearing at the screen is a great distraction!
8. And if you have a God, pray to Him/Her/Them. Don't start wailing and crying about how bad it is - just ask for the strength to get by.
If you don't have a God, remember someone who you loved and who has passed. Draw strength from the memory of them. (I'm crying now, but that's fine). Take strength from whatever source you can.
8. Don't sleep during the day. Night time is worst. You need to be asleep as much as possible during the night. If you can get out and do a bit of walking or maybe go to the pool, do so. Tire yourself as much as you can during the day.
I hope this helps some of you out there. I haven't had particularly bad emotional side effects - just the odd fit of crying several times a day. And, for the first time in five years, I had a sexual feeling the other day. (Prior to this I had no libido whatsoever).
Please see there's light at the end of the tunnel. You can get off this drug - withdrawing is horrible, but in its own way, it's no worse than root canal treatment. Keep things in perspective - the symptoms will pass, and the great benefit of this drug, its short half life, means you will be physically free of it in a week. Expect emotional relapses - cry all you want without shame. Just let it out. Warn others to expect this and to just ignore you. You don't need sympathy. Because YOU'RE WINNING! You're beating it! How many of you haven't been able to cry for years because of this flippin' drug! You're feeling something. HURRAH! Celebrate it and cry and laugh and know you're getting better.
Big love to all fellow Venlafaxine survivors. God bless. Es xxx
Guys you can do it easy with Prozac, no withdrawals, just switch to Prozac then slowly come off the Prozac! It works , I tried cold turkey with Effexor, was sobbing a whole day and wanted to die, the a psych friend told me to use Prozac.
day three no effexor and lucky me i also started my period perfect... i have all symptoms and i feel so sorry for my fiance the hell he as well is going through...i cant stand this i really cant...i wish i was never on the drug
when u are in the middle of the withdrawls and u just want to die just tell yourself ok one more day get thru one more day. As I sit here and type this I am in the middle of withdrawls from Effexor. It was my decision to get off that crap. I am now on wellbuterin I went cold turkey off the Effexor.....BAD idea but I am a stuborn man and this is not gonna kick my *** I am gonna kick it's ***. Everything others have mentioned here that they are going thru or went thru I am experiencing right now. I think this drug should be banned outlawed I mean look what it has done to us. So to all of you going thru it just hang tough and see what happens if u think for a second that you might need to go to the hospital I suggest you do so don't let this beat you.