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.