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Effexor XR Withdrawal Symptoms: How Long Will They Last?

As someone who has taken Effexor XR (venlafaxine HCl), I know all too well what the withdrawal symptoms of this medication are like – they can be pure hell. I was fortunate to have only taken this medication for a couple months. However, there are people out there that have been on this powerful antidepressant for years. If you come off the medication cold turkey, you may send your body and mind into a state of total shock, depression, anxiety, and disarray. In other words, you may not be able to cope with what you are experiencing because the withdrawal is that powerful.

Obviously if you were taking Effexor XR, you know that it is an “extended release” SNRI medication. In other words it contributes to the re-uptake of the neurotransmitters Serotonin and Norepinephrine in the brain. This is supposed to help people with depression and anxiety function better in society and cope with their condition. This medication is considered among the toughest to withdraw from due to its potency as well as short half life of the drug.

Factors that influence Effexor XR withdrawal include:

1. Time Span

How long have you taken Effexor? Did you take it for a couple months? Years? Have you taken it for over a decade? The amount of time you have taken this medication means your body has become reliant on this medication for everyday functioning.

2. Dosage

What dosage did you take? The dosage of Effexor that is commonly prescribed is 75 mg/day. However, some people may start at 37.5 mg, while others may fall between the range of 75 mg and 150 mg. The higher the dosage of the drug you were taking, the more difficulty you will have withdrawing.

3. Individual Physiology

Individual factors play a huge role in withdrawal. If you naturally aren’t really affected from antidepressant withdrawal symptoms, you may not be hit as hard with Effexor. On the other hand if you are very sensitive to medication, you may have a tougher time coping with the withdrawal.

4. Cold Turkey vs. Tapering

Do you plan on stopping Effexor XR cold turkey? Or have you set up a tapering protocol with your doctor? These are some questions to ask. Obviously cold turkey is much tougher on your body and brain’s readjustment compared to a gradual taper.

Effexor XR Withdrawal Symptoms

The symptoms of discontinuation from Venlafaxine XR typically are most severe upon complete cessation, but may start to emerge during a taper (i.e. dosage reduction).  Considering the fact that Effexor stays in your system for around 1.15 days and its metabolite O-desmethylvenlafaxine is excreted within 2.52 days of stopping, symptoms initially become most noticeable at around day 3 of the withdrawal process.

  • Anger – Do you feel like you are ready to rage? This is likely a result of stopping your medication. You aren’t able to feel as good as you did on the medication so your brain is trying to compensate. This may make you become increasingly hostile and a tough person to hang out with for awhile.
  • Anxiety – Since the brain will not have the surplus serotonin available that it was getting from the drug, it is highly likely that you will experience anxiety upon withdrawal from this medication.
  • Confusion – It may be tough to think and you may experience a degree of confusion when trying to stop Effexor. This is just your brain attempting to readjust to normalcy. It may take awhile, but eventually the confusion will stop.
  • Crying spells – If you have severe depression, you may cry for no reason or experience “crying spells.” This is basically uncontrollable crying because you feel so depressed. When coming off a medication that was helping treat your depression, it is natural to experience the opposite of happiness.
  • Depersonalization – Do you feel like a zombie or unlike yourself? Do you feel like your soul left your body and you have become someone else? This is natural and it’s called “depersonalization.” This is a very common symptom of withdrawal.
  • Depression – You may experience increased symptoms of depression or more severe depression while coming off of Effexor. Try to take a step back and realize that this is totally natural. Eventually you will recover from feeling so down in the dumps.
  • Dizziness – Antidepressants are extremely powerful and can really mess with your brain. Once your brain becomes accustomed to a chemical, and you take it away, it attempts to recalibrate itself. Therefore you may experience dizziness upon withdrawal.
  • Electric shocks – Some people experience what are commonly referred to as “brain zaps” or electrical shocks when they stop taking Effexor. This is most common with drugs like Effexor and Paxil that have short half lives and are extremely powerful.
  • Fatigue – Nearly everyone will experience fatigue, lethargy, and tiredness when stopping an antidepressant.
  • Headaches – Do you have a pounding headache or migraine? If you experienced this when you quit taking your Effexor, it could be a withdrawal symptom.
  • Insomnia – The inability to fall asleep at night is what people with naturally higher levels of anxiety may experience.
  • Irritability – Every little thing may get on your nerves or “set you off.” Try your best to relax and control yourself around others.
  • Loss of appetite – Some people may not feel like eating. It’s important to make sure that you are eating healthy and maintain a good diet even when stopping this medication.
  • Mood swings – You may be irritable, crabby, angry, etc. If your moods are all over the place when coming off this medication, just know that this is pretty common.
  • Nausea – Do you feel nauseated and somewhat sick? This may be an especially prevalent side effect in the first couple weeks of withdrawal from the medication.
  • Nightmares – Some individuals experience weird dreams and/or nightmares. These are no fun, but part of the process.
  • Pain – You may experience pain within your muscles and joints. Although this is less common, it is still what some individuals experience.
  • Panic attacks – Everything may send you into a major state of panic. Your work, your school project, etc. may make your anxiety skyrocket to the point where you experience panic attacks. This is because your brain doesn’t have sufficient stores of serotonin – they will eventually get replenished.
  • Vomiting – Do you keep throwing up? If you are constantly puking as a result of stopping Effexor, just know that it’s part of the withdrawal. If this is a big deal, you may want to taper more gradually.

When will Effexor XR withdrawal symptoms subside?

It may take weeks, it may take months, and it may take a year for you to completely recover to 100%. Everyone copes differently with their withdrawal period. If you are withdrawing and have a major panic attack or anxiety that won’t go away, you may think that you’ll never end up recovering. Just give it time and continue about your life the best you can.

As you probably already know, Effexor is one of the toughest medications to withdraw from if you have been on it for an extended period of time. These antidepressants are no joke and some would say that they are more extreme than hard drugs to withdraw from. Although your psychiatrist may consider withdrawal to be easy or a simple process, he or she did not take the medications so really has no idea what’s going on internally – within your mind and body.

Be sure to always communicate with friends and family during your withdrawal period. Try your best to get sunlight, stay outside, eat healthy, and exercise. Eventually you will recover. A lot of people think that they can get permanently damaged from taking antidepressants – this is pretty doubtful. However, it may be a couple years before you are completely recovered and feel completely “natural” again. Take things one day at a time. Gradually life will get easier. If you can make it through this drug withdrawal, you can do anything.

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{ 384 comments… add one }
  • Barry June 9, 2014, 3:47 am

    Taking amitriptyline to sleep. Switching from venlafaxine to bupropion to help with concentration and focus. Mind is constantly roaming. About three weeks since gradually stopping Ven. Have been light headed, nauseated and having trouble with balance for about 2 weeks.

    • Jacqui November 26, 2015, 3:46 am

      I have been on Effexor for 12 years and my doctor just kept increasing my dose until I was at 225mg about a month ago when my psychiatrist has now actually diagnosed me with Bipolar II. She then put my on two others drugs to take and we end me off Effexor.

      We reduced my dose every 5 days until I am now off it completely. It’s only been a couple days and the nausea and anxiety is so bad I had to leave work this afternoon. I don’t know how to make it through the day since the mere thought of throwing up puts me in a panic attack?

      • jeny January 1, 2016, 7:41 pm

        Not a good way to start the New Year! I’ve been taking Effexor XR, 300 mgs a day for well over 10 years. There’s a refill waiting for me at my local pharmacy, however when I run out and I don’t have the money to purchase my prescriptions, I have to endure this horrible state of being until I can get the drug back in my system. Is it worth the suffering I lived with before I took the drug? I say yes.

        I probably wouldn’t be alive if it weren’t for this drug. I definitely would have killed myself by now because even while the drug, I was suicidal until I learned how to turn off my brain and my heart in order to not think or feel, thus, making it through the day, so I can go to work to pay the bills and be alive instead of making my loved ones suffer because of what I put them through. However today, lying here in bed unable to even type this message-thank God for voice to text!

        I NEED to get this from the pharmacy as soon as possible, however I don’t even feel like I can get out of bed and get dressed, and driving seems out of the question due to the fact that I feel like I’m having mini seizures. It’s not unlike a serious case of vertigo that I had many years ago, where up is down is right is left…and then there’s the fact that I’m slipping back into the abyss that gets deeper each trip I take there…the last time of which I couldn’t fake or manage to pull myself out of and decided enough was enough and my soul had to be released from this prison, AKA life.

        Obviously, waking up in the hospital was just absolutely the worst experience ever-family visit day was even worse than that. I guess what I’m saying is: I DO need this medicine to live, but as someone who works at a homeless shelter earning a very meager living, running out does happen, and about 2x a year or so it reaches a serious state where it’s borderline life or death-for me, anyway-and all I can do is try to pull myself together enough-at least to the point where I can safely make it to the pharmacy and take get this drug back into my bloodstream.

        I’m not saying I wouldn’t physically survive the detox off of this drug, but as someone who lives alone, I DO stand to lose my employment and everything else that most people-even me-take for granted, and, most likely, seriously looking at suicide as a solution to fix this problem since it really is a question of quality of life at some point. All in all, it’s just because I don’t make enough $$$. I hope this makes sense because my brain is so foggy…what I’m really thinking is getting lost somewhere between my brain and my mouth and looking back at my post.

        I don’t even recognize the person who’s words these are. I should also mention that it has taken me over two hours to compose this posting…that’s a long time for someone whose main communication mode is typing via text and email…and who never stumbles over words and types rather quick. I’m not unlike what I imagine a zombie version of me would be like or, a shell of the human being I was less than a week ago, when I took those last two big red capsules…

        • paddy January 4, 2016, 8:18 am

          Hi jeny, just read your message and cant begin to understand your pain. I hope you get the help you need and deserve. I’ve been on effexor for over a year now for general anxiety disorder and am hoping to come off it as soon as possible this year. I feel like I’ve lost my emotional side and find it hard to feel anything anymore. Not looking forward to the withdrawals, but am hopeful I’ll get through it.

        • Ti January 5, 2016, 7:45 pm

          Man, but we are in the same sort of boat right now for sure! I too know there’s a refill sitting waiting at a pharmacy for me… but I didn’t have money to refill it until today, which meant that over Christmas I had to skip 2 days, and then once I was home from Christmas break, somehow went 3 days medication free. I don’t even know how to get to the pharmacy by now.

          Fortunately my GST rebate should be in my bank and I have a friend with a car who knows that I’m in an emotional ruin because I don’t have my anti-depressant is aware of this and will help me get there tonight. I’m not sure what’s worse, the ringing and pounding in my ears, the inability to focus on anything, the fact that I’ve almost fallen down the stairs multiple times, the occasional swing into wanting to kill myself again just over something stupid like a doodle, maybe the utter and complete lack of sleep…

          THIS SUCKS. Happy new year, I hope you got your meds refilled and that the year will bring you money and medication security. :D I’m going to apply for a government program in my province that apparently funds 100% of medications after you reach a certain point based on your income. My income is pretty small, so the deductible is what I’d pay per year for my Effexor prescription, only that it will then cover any other things I need, like antibiotics, asthma medication… yay!

          Withdrawal from Effexor SUCKS though, for real. Hope you are feeling better.

          • Leni February 24, 2016, 4:18 pm

            Hi Ti, Go to Goodrx and you can buy it for up $20 (75mg). I’m taking this for 2 years because the hot flashes. Now I want to stop it and I’m not feeling well. Leni

        • Suzette January 9, 2016, 11:28 am

          Hi Jeny, I am glad you shared this with us. I really feel for you.

        • Leah January 12, 2016, 4:37 am

          Do you have a Sam’s Club near you? If you get a “plus” membership, the XR version is $20 or so for like 3 month’s worth. Saved my life when I lost my insurance last year. Was over $150 a month without any…

        • Leah January 12, 2016, 4:44 am

          Also does anyone have any advice for dealing with the agitation. I’m almost 3 weeks off, or 2… I don’t know anymore. I can handle everything but the constant agitation. Everything annoys me to the extreme of a screaming fit. The stupidest things, like dropping something. Ativan doesn’t help either, almost wish it was panic attacks so it would help though, it’s just a constantly tight feeling, stuck on edge waiting to snap at the raindrops.

          • Valerie January 22, 2016, 9:15 pm

            I understand totally. I too suffer from depression and anxiety. I take Effexor and have for about 16 years now. In my opinion I believe that you might do well if you try relaxation CDs with breathing exercises and more. Deep breathing and ways to breathe and relax. I can only tell you that it works for me even though I didn’t really want to do it at first.

          • Amy October 7, 2016, 4:48 am

            Wow! I’ve been on effexor for just about 4 years now and man I had no choice but to come off of it. It was making me very very sick. I was feeling sedated about 75% of the time. OK so first two days I got the sickest physically I have really ever been. First night I had a splitting headache everything hurt everywhere all over my body.

            Then about a few hours later I had outrageous muscle aches everywhere and horrible bone aches. Now that lasted all night. I have no idea how I even slept at all that night. Guess cause I was just so damn sedated. I slept that whole night and day only got up like twice. Then the next morning right when I woke up and walked into the living room I threw up a lot but that was food that never even digested from over 24 hours ago.

            The second night stayed up till like 9 and then went back to sleep and and slept all day and only got up twice and slept like that whole day and night and woke up at 4am. Full of sweat then went back to sleep and woke up at about 9:30am. After that third day was fine. Had to take aspirin for my heart after every so many hours in between all that and tylenol. What a nightmare!

            Don’t mean to scare anybody but listen if you take something you do not need or if you are overmedicated/over drugged by any medication/medications then it will make you very very sick. So now it’s been about 4 weeks and I feel a lot better and have more energy and I didn’t really many mood swings or over excitement loss of interest feeling or sad thoughts or anything like that.

            I was Amy again… a laid back, content, sweet, and get up and go personality. Didn’t really have much of a personality on that medication. So I could not take it anymore. People are not themselves when they are taking something they don’t need. So just be careful about trusting doctors.

        • Tara April 6, 2016, 6:14 pm

          I also have had this issue. I am on 225 XR and have been for many years. The only thing that I have found was good for me while on it was my sex drive increased A LOT. I had no desire before starting it and it goes away every time I try to stop taking it. While on it the past 3 years I have gained 50 pounds, even when doing 2-3 hours at the gym 3 times a week. I am constantly confused and forgetful.

          And if there is pasta anywhere in a 50 mile radius you can bet I will find it. Sleep is non-existent unless I take the prescription meds I have been given. I would want to do SO many things but just couldn’t find motivation. I stopped cooking and cleaning. Sometimes I was happy but mostly just indifferent. Been off of it for 4 days now, prescription ready but unable to pay for it. (Due to relationship break up).

          I am lucky enough to not have confusion. I am actually a lot more clear headed. But the zaps are there. Anxiety is crazy. Depression is at an all time high. And Anger? WOW! I don’t even care what I say to people. Then comes the uncontrollable crying and hopelessness. I was never told I couldn’t ever go off of this medication but I am starting to think that.

          • Allie August 17, 2016, 5:09 pm

            I took myself off effexor about 5 days ago and your pasta comment was the first thing I’ve laughed at since. Thank you for that. Have you stayed off of it? How long did you experience symptoms for after?

          • Simone September 12, 2016, 11:36 am

            Hi, Does anyone have any success stories to tell? I have been feeling like crap for the past couple of days have not been sleeping well and had all these weird dreams. Headaches, nausea and all the above side effects. I only now realized that I have been defaulting on my meds. How can I prevent this from happening. Please help.

        • Sue May 5, 2016, 12:06 am

          Oh my. I have been reading everyone’s comments on Effexor XR and I take 225 mg. I have been on it for about 12 years for anxiety. Of course early on I was at a lower dose, then the Doctor increased it over the years & I won’t to stop taking it… tried cold turkey… oh hell no!!!

          I am going to call my doctor and taper off of it and get me on something else that is easier to get off of. I got on Effexor XR website because it was so expensive and they sent me a card to use at the pharmacy. I only pay $4.00 for my prescription a month… so people get a card… they email me a new one every year!!!

          I’m not encouraging anyone to stay on it, but if you need to, get the $4 prescription card! 😊

          • Robert May 27, 2016, 4:33 pm

            Read your comment Sue. I have been on Effexor for seven years. Doctor started me at 75 mg then increased to 150, then to 225 mg. Since I just retired, I decided it was time to come off and see how I feel. The last time I tried was when on 150 mg. I cut it to 75 mg then nothing. Wasn’t nice. I had brain zaps, and many of the other side effects mentioned in the previous comments.

            Including depression, anxiety, headaches and dizziness. It was the wrong time to try it as I was still working in a stressful job. Now that I’m retired; my doctor is weaning me off gradually. Very gradual is the key. My dosage was reduced every month. From 225 mg to 187.5 for thirty days. Then 150 mg for thirty days and then 112.5 mg for thirty days. (That’s where I am now).

            My next dosage in three weeks will be 75mg for thirty days then to 37.5 for thirty days, then hopefully stop. I also take Omega 3 fish oil soft gels three times a day and one Complex B with Vitamin C (once a day soft gel). So far I haven’t had the brain zaps but do feel off balance at times and have headaches often in my forehead. Forgetful and feeling down some days.

            Overall, I would say the symptoms aren’t as severe as I go along. I just tell myself “it will pass” and I stay on my routine. One of the reasons I came off is because of a low sex drive and ability to complete. Also can cause constipation. Hope my comments help someone out there. Hang in unless it gets out of control, then make sure you see your doctor.

        • Claire June 28, 2016, 10:46 pm

          I feel for you. I have been on and off meds for years. I’m currently trying to overcome nausea and dizziness from coming off 375 of effexor I was on 5 tabs a day. I felt like this if I missed a day or two. But coming on to day 6 of no tabs am feeling like crap I was angry mass outbursts, then crying. I’m supposed to be going on different drugs as these were not working I went from feeling low as to just getting by. I’m hoping I can handle this. I’m lying in bed because of nausea. I just keep hoping the next day will get a bit better.

          • Wendy August 11, 2016, 9:48 pm

            Hi, I’ve never heard of anyone being on 375mg. Do you feel that it made a difference from let’s say 225?

        • Wendy August 11, 2016, 9:45 pm

          Hi, I have a suggestion that might be able to get you through those days when you’re unable to pick up your medicine. Have you ever tried opening the capsules and removing some beads to set aside to take later? Maybe you could do that the last week of the month so it could help stretch them just a little bit more so you don’t have to go days COMPLETELY without.

          That’s hard. Idk if I could go more than 3 days Right now I’m trying to self ween so I’m taking out beads. I’ve been on effexor for about 12 years and have gained so much weight. I’m the biggest one out of both sides of my family. Even tho it saved my life back then, now it does nothing for me. I only take them when I start feeling the physical w/d symptoms. I feel the physical first then shortly after the mental crap starts.

          I can go 2 days. I’m hoping this will help me ween in the long run. I’m not sure how old this thread is, so if you read this I pray you are you’re ok and you’re safe.

      • Kalli January 17, 2016, 6:56 pm

        I started Effexor XR 37. 5 then up to 75 when I was pregnant, so just over two years ago. My baby’s father pulled a 180 after being so happy that we had conceived and started treating me like total garbage. After having our child he would scoff at me and tell me he never wanted her anyway. Well, needless to say, in the interim I was being upped to 150mg.

        I feel like the increase in medication ACTUALLY made it so I stayed with this POS person for WAY longer than I should have. Anyway, fast forward, new PCP sees me happy and content with my new life and my beautiful toddler so she starts to taper me off the meds. Why not, right? The entire reason for starting the med is gone.

        I’m a month out from the first dose decrease and on day 2 of zero meds and I feel like absolute hell!!! Through the whole tapering process I have had diarrhea and dizziness and now I’m throwing up, having severe vertigo, and brain zaps whenever I move my eyes or my head. I had an easier time quitting oxycodone after two solid months on it! With all of these nasty side effects I’m having quite the pity party and it’s making me want to cry!

        Any advice for lessening these symptoms? And at what point do they become less intense? I don’t want to have suffered this long for no reason but I don’t know how much more of this I can take! And one more thing! Why in the f*cking HELL was I not warned about this??

        Why isn’t it on the label? Why the F**CK does my doctor not think the withdrawal symptoms aren’t as bad as I’m describing? Why are the big pharma companies hiding this? I sure as hell wouldn’t have started this medication if I KNEW!

        • Foxy February 10, 2016, 10:34 pm

          Were you on Effexor whilst pregnant? If so did your baby have any birth defects?

        • Meg June 16, 2016, 11:47 am

          I have been on it for a year 35.7 twice a day not XR. I began tapering after I addressed concerns of possible effects to unborn. Symptoms of withdrawal are debilitating. I have not taken the pill for 3 days now. I used all natural kava root tea to mask the withdrawal symptoms. Today I don’t have zaps. I’m dizzy still but no longer dependent on the pill to relive withdraw symptoms. Try kalm with kava pouni ono.

        • Susan September 15, 2016, 6:50 am

          Kalli, I totally agree with your questions. I tapered off from 75mg to 37.5mg, and I am now off the medicine. I have been off for… well, I can’t even remember, honestly. Maybe a month, and although my withdrawals were not as severe as those who have taken this med for many years. I nonetheless, had them, and I am still having them. The anger and irritability over the smallest of things, and the dizziness seems worse at night for some reason.

          I want to sleep all the time. Of course, I am also taking bupropion, generic Wellbutrin, which may have alleviated some withdrawals. Then I began reading about these meds, and they are not even supposed to be taken together. I wanted off the venlafaxine because I was getting too many side effects. Everything physically wrong with me now, I attribute to these meds, and they are uncommon things listed for the drug side effects.

          Depression is a b—h, been dealing with it for over 38 years. I am now 52. It has been up and down my whole life. Sometimes on meds, sometimes off meds. Most of the meds, I would go off cold turkey, but when I tried that with venlafaxine, forget it. If withdrawals are this bad and I was weaned off, I can imagine what they are like stopping cold.

      • Phil July 31, 2016, 8:51 am

        I’ve been “on” 75mg/day for about 10 years and “accidentally” stopped a few days ago. The only symptoms seem to be a bit of dizziness so, what the heck, I reckon that I’ll push on and see what happens. Maybe I will be one of the lucky ones who can kick this drug with minimal effect.

  • Teresa June 16, 2014, 1:52 pm

    I have tapered off the Effexor XR but I am still taking bupropion. I believe it has helped with my systems. But, I still have foggy brain and boughs of forgetfulness. It has been much better then trying to go cold turkey (I have tried that it sucks). I hope my systems will fade in the NEAR FUTURE. I also have mood swings and will cry at a drop of a hat. Not liking that part at all. I would like to know if the systems will ease up sooner since I’m still on the bupropion and tapered off the Effexor XR, (I was on the Effexor for yrs, started off @ 150mg went to 75mg and down to 35mg and have tappered off the 35mg over a 3 month period) if anyone knows please share. Thanks, Teresa

    • Sylvia November 24, 2014, 1:34 am

      I’ve been tapering off this crap for YEARS! Taking ONE every third day only when the brain zaps got to be too much. I decided to go off them entirely and not I’m zapped all day and night. They allow this on the market but argue over marijuana? It’s all for the money and to hell with the person.

      • Bob December 1, 2014, 8:50 pm

        Sylvia – I totally agree with you about the way drugs are controlled in America. If Big Pharma could market MMJ in pill form, pot would be legal tomorrow. I notice you said you were taking FXR every 3 days — not a good idea! Since it has a 24 hour half-life, you are getting a full dose on day one, and then spend two days in withdrawal! Read up on how to titrate/cut down and get off of FXR. Good luck!! I’m starting today. Cutting back from 225mg/day to 187.5mg/day for one month, and so on.

        • Fi December 31, 2014, 12:30 am

          Hi Bob, how is the process going? I have gone down from 525ml two years ago to now 225ml. I seem to get the withdrawal symptoms pretty badly no matter how I do it. I can’t afford to be in withdrawal when I go back to work so have had to do it on the school holidays. It may take me another 12 months but I feel better (after the symptoms go away) the lower my dose goes. I hope it is going well for you. -Fi

          • Bob January 26, 2015, 9:20 pm

            Fi – December 1 I dropped down 37.5 from 225. That went pretty well, though I did almost have a serious car accident, and let others do the driving now. Jan 1, nearly a month ago, I dropped a further 37.5, so I am now at 150, after having been on FXR for two years at 225. January has been no fun. I’m in a fog until midafternoon, when it clears. Nausea, diarrhea, confusion, clumsiness, hard to sleep, night sweats, hands sweating, sharp GI pains….no fun. Little sign that symptoms are decreasing. I hope it starts to improve soon.

          • Fairlie February 22, 2015, 7:38 pm

            Hello Bob and Fi. May I join your conversation? How are you both doing? My doctor and pharmacy screwed up and I have had no Effexor 150 for two days and can’t get to the doc for another day so I’m just going to try to stop taking it. I’m already feeling manic, ready to snap like an over stressed rubber band and weepy. I have the feeling that when I turn my head the brain takes a second to catch-up. I’m not looking forward to the next few days – I teach at two different colleges and have to drive a lot. Hoping I can handle this – I’m going to head to my favorite health food store to see what they recommend. Right now I’m so angry at my doc of 20 years and the incompetence at the pharmacy I don’t want help from either of them! Let me know if you either of you found any secrets to getting through this – I plan to pray a lot as well! All the best!

          • Pwood February 23, 2015, 8:27 am

            Hi Fairlie, I was on 150mg for 2.5 yrs and have been slowly tapering off for last 5 months… I would highly recommend that you do not go off effexor cold turkey especially at that high of dose and your busy work schedule. I would go to the ER, a physiologist or a walk in clinic or talk to your pharmacist and get at least a week supply from him to cover you until you can see your doctor or find another one. Seriously man, do whatever you have to get your medication and then make a long term plan to go off of it. Just a friendly suggestion… Good luck!

        • Cari January 5, 2016, 7:25 pm

          Hi, Bob. How did tapering off by 1/16ths work for you, as respects withdrawals? I’m ready to get off of my 225mg and am willing take as much time as is needed to do it without the awful withdrawals.

        • Cat July 4, 2016, 10:04 am

          Rob and Sylvia, I completely agree on the marijuana issue! It’s illegal, period here in the UK. I still take it tho as it helps me to relax. I’m coming of venlafaxine (UK name for Effexor) and am now on 37.5 a day instead of 75. It’s early days and I’m getting the headaches and nightmares and brain zaps but I do have a smoke and it takes me to a place of relaxation. To hell with the law! There’s much worse stuff out there that’s actually legal but apparently ok because it makes money for the pharm industry!!

      • sheena January 11, 2015, 1:29 am

        Been tapering off for several months now but now I am COMPLETELY out of the medication. Withdrawals are horrible: irritability, super anger, crying spells. So bad that I went through a “drive thru” for food and I got home and realized they screwed up my order and I started crying!!! Seriously?! Not even a huge deal, but it was like the end of the world to me.

        • Jan March 5, 2015, 9:15 am

          I can’t figure out how to reply directly to individual comments but I wanted to say thank you to Fairlie for the statement “I have the feeling that when I turn my head the brain takes a second to catch-up.” This is the closest I can come to explaining the feeling that is the scariest for me. My insurance ended and I am not getting responses from my doctor so I have stopped taking the 75mg dose that I had been taking for a year. To find some relief I have taken 50mg of Bupropion, but hate the idea of switching one for another. Also, thank you for the site and the information. -J

          • Joe January 30, 2016, 10:07 am

            The brain delay is the worst for me. It causes lots of nausea and throws off my balance it seems. I think that is also a contributing factor to the headaches as well. In my opinion the brain delay is the cause of most of the other withdrawal symptoms. Effexor is the worst withdrawal I have ever had and used to have an opiate addiction.

            Smoking marijuana helped a lot when I decreased from 300mg to 225 then 150 and I planned on continuing to decrease, but I am now on probation so I cannot smoke. Until I can smoke again I wouldn’t even dare to taper. It really made a world of a difference with the nausea, depression, and anxiety. It didn’t quite take away the brain delays but it made them more tolerable and took away some of the nausea associated with it.

          • Cat July 6, 2016, 9:57 am

            I feel really bad for you guys in the USA. All our meds are covered by the national health service here in the UK so running out due to lack of money doesn’t happen. It even more disturbing for the good people of America that some people have to suffer because the insurance has ran out or because of low incomes. What disturbs even more on top of this is that people are allowed to have guns.

            Put a gun in front of the wrong person in the wrong (thru no fault of their own, i.e. no money for meds) circumstances and there’s a potential bloodbath. Now I’m not saying we don’t have gun crime in the UK – we do but it’s made harder by the fact that we can’t legally own them as easily and we can at least access vital meds whether we have money or not.

        • Lisa September 26, 2015, 8:51 pm

          Hi Sheena, I was wondering how you are feeling now? I have been off the Effexor for a week now and my symptoms are similar to what you described in your post. The anger and irritability feel just terrible. I’m hoping they go away soon. Did yours go away after awhile?

        • Kim H October 30, 2015, 10:32 pm

          I am tapering off Effexor too. I’ve been taking 150 mgs at night and 75 mgs in the morning. A week ago I dropped to 37.5 in the morning. I felt mild side effects, not too bad but realized I have to go very slowly. I wanted to drop 37.5 every two weeks, but now I think it’s too fast. The next step is either 75mgs at night or no Effexor in the morning. I’m sensitive to the side effects. If I miss a dose, I start getting the electric shocks in my brain, and don’t “feel right,” that’s how I know I forgot to take meds.

          I’m furious that I was put on this medication, with no warning of the difficulty getting off it. Does anyone know of any meds that help ease the side effects? I’d even consider mild pain medication, taken judiciously, just to get through the worst of it, when I am totally off the Effexor. I’m scared that I’m doomed to be on Effexor for the rest of my life. My thoughts are with all of you who are trying to wean yourselves off too.

          • Cindy M November 24, 2015, 3:21 am

            This is a bad drug! I was prescribed Effexor by a nurse practitioner for symptoms of menopause about 10 years ago and had no idea what I was getting into! Tried to go cold turkey a few times but symptoms really bad so went back in. Stepped into low dose about a month ago and eliminated it altogether 2 weeks ago.

            Withdrawal sucks – brain zaps, up/down mood swings, icicle joints, bloody noses, bizarre dreams – you name it, I’ve felt it. Finally think I am getting over the worst but if anyone is considering taking it, don’t!! I wish I could sue the idiot who originally prescribed it. A few extra pounds and night sweats from hormones out of whack are nothing compared to this sh*t!

          • Joe January 30, 2016, 10:12 am

            I don’t think any pain meds would work and you don’t want to risk another addiction. Marijuana helped me a great deal with nausea and the depression and anxiety. Just a thought, as I know weed is not for everyone. Just wanted to let you know it helped me a great deal.

          • Wendy August 11, 2016, 10:06 pm

            When I went to detox for opiates I mentioned getting off effexor too. The Dr was all for it and told me that she would taper me in 5 days while putting me on something that would be easier to come off of. I didn’t have faith BC it sounded like she wasn’t aware of the horrible side effects. By the time I left detox I was off effexor but on fluoxetine (I think).

            Everything was fine for about a week until one night I had my first physical panic attack where I couldn’t catch my breath. My previous panic attacks were mental- I never felt like I was dying, but just going crazy. I immediately went to my Rx cabinet ant took an effexor. I prob should’ve waited it out but I was in a B.S. place at the time.

            Of course, I’ll try it again but once I do more research on the w/d of the “new” antidepressant that will be the temporary replacement. But honestly, I’ve kinda feel like I’ll end up taking a bottle of effexor with me to my grave :[

      • Gbaby June 6, 2015, 9:14 pm

        I agree. Since quitting venlafaxine cold turkey about a wk ago, the only thing that helps my cope with the withdrawal symptoms is Marijuana. I still experience the zapping unfortunately. But my headaches, fatigue, anxiety and insomnia are all rescued with MJ. If you live in a legal state, you should try it to alleviate these symptoms.

        • Becca May 30, 2016, 11:10 am

          I’m not recommending this by any means, because everybody is an individual, but I went cold turkey from 225mg the other week, after 3 years of using venlafaxine. Had tapered from 300mg and decided just to go for it. Before I stopped though, I started taking Vit B complex with Vit C, Vit D with calcium, Omega 3 6 9 (and some quiet life herbal tablets for good measure!).

          I did get a few nightmares and a bit of giddiness but nothing I couldn’t cope with. But of the shakes, but my depression and anxiety levels were/are steady. Again, I’m not by any means advocating going cold turkey, but if you can’t get your meds, the above herbals seem to be working well for me.

          I realise we’re all individuals, and I’m not saying I’ll never go back on venlafaxine because it was there when I really needed it badly, but look into the herbals if your choices are limited.

      • Heather January 29, 2016, 4:55 am

        I’m so glad I finally found a site that I can relate to! Nobody wants to admit that they are angry that they weren’t warned about this terrible drug. I was told I’d have to stay on Effexor forever! (It’s been 16 years on 150’s.) I was never tested for anything or told to talk to a therapist, just told to take it because I was depressed.

        I had been through a major move, a split up, my son was in jail, daughter a drug addict & I was menopausal. No wonder I was depressed! I’ve stopped taking it a few times because I didn’t have the money to buy it but after a day or 2 I was feeling the horrible brain zaps, flu-like, unbalanced & couldn’t concentrate. It has made me really question this drug. Do doctors get paid to hand out prescriptions?

        I stopped taking it a week ago & I am not going back on it & will never take anything before fully researching it again. Once I can get up & out of the house I will try other ways to fight depression like hiking, swimming, enjoying the beautiful scenery, eating healthy & taking vitamins. I will also talk to a counsellor & maybe I will need to take a drug to help but I will know what it is & it won’t be Effexor!

        I’m actually looking forward to being drug free & being able to feel again. I wonder how long it will take? I keep telling myself that it will get better & if my son can stop taking street drugs cold turkey, I can do this too. I’m so lucky to have a supportive & understanding man at my side cuz Ive been awful to live with. Lazy, raging, crying or just being a b*tch about the stupidest things. All the best to everyone fighting this & remember there is help out there :)

        • Isa March 17, 2016, 9:29 pm

          You are a inspiration. You made it so far, you will make it further! :)

        • Anastacia March 24, 2016, 2:49 pm

          To all those whom are going through the horrendous withdrawal, there is hope and light ahead. You will fully regain your life. It is a horrible experience. Every time waking up (when you are able to sleep) to these symptoms can be excruciating. It Won’t last. You WILL get better.

          For me the worst of the side effects lasted for 6 months, and I seriously didn’t think it was possible to live through it. I talked to the doctor and he acted like it wasn’t a big deal, I felt like I was dying.

          For all those whom have suffered through this, continue to be that hope and encouragement to others. This site is a great place for finding people whom can relate, and can encourage others to keep going, one minute at a time. To know that this too shall pass, and that you are not alone in your suffering.

          • Laurie March 28, 2016, 6:24 pm

            I have been on Effexor XR 150mg’s 2x a day for years. Recently had to see an endocrinologist for an adenoma on my left adrenal gland. It is not an “active” adenoma, therefore no action is required to remove it. He did however say I was on too high a dose of Effexor and to come off of it immediately.

            I have tapered down to 37.5 mg’s 2x a day, and the side effects have just started to take hold. The “brain zaps” mentioned, the brain being behind when turning my head are 2 of the strongest side effects I’m feeling. I’m trembling, nauseous and have headaches all day. It is so very nice to know I’m not the only one. Thank you for all the comments… it makes me know I’m not alone!

          • Tonna April 1, 2016, 6:24 pm

            Thank you Ana. I need to hear that it will end!

      • Ana Castillo February 25, 2016, 12:54 am

        Was taking venlafaxine XR 37.5mg for almost 3 yrs. Been trying to get off this medication. Finally did, it’s been 3 weeks that I’ve been off it completely. Still get anxious and chest pain that send me to emergency room and got admitted. Thank God all was normal.

        I take xanax. 25 mg twice daily and seems to be working fine. Good luck to all of you. We can do this. It’s very scary but be patient. We will get over it soon. Don’t get me wrong. I already went through all the nasty symptoms you all are mentioning.

      • Meghan April 19, 2016, 8:40 pm

        Trying to respond to this with “I COULD NOT AGREE MORE” and forget my name and email. I am currently reading all of these stories and it’s making me cry… because they’re sad and relatable, yes, but also because of these relentless brain zaps. The saddest part is the Effexor didn’t even help with my anxiety or depression but it is wreaking havoc on my brain to a terrifying degree now that I’ve quit. I can’t believe my doctor put me on this. What a nightmare.

        • Mel May 18, 2016, 9:13 pm

          I was prescribed this drug in 1999… since then I have attempted suicide 3 times. Each time the dose was increased to the point where I was taking 300mg. My depression never shifted but I believed that if I stopped talking it, I would feel worse. What could “worse” be? My last attempt to kill myself was very nearly fatal and I ended up in hospital on a drip.

          That was 6 years ago. Since then I have self medicated myself with sleeping tablets and alcohol just to get some “time out” from feeling so desperate.
          I just couldn’t see a way forward. A month ago I admitted myself to a psychiatric hospital and over 3 weeks I reduced the dose down to zero. The intention being to try another anti-depressant. I have since decided that I do not want to spend my whole life taking drugs that clearly don’t work.

          I am experiencing all the symptoms described by others, in various degrees. I am just coping. And that is all I can do at the moment. I know I could take the drugs again and the horrible feelings would go but then I’d be right back where I was. So I’ll just keep going a day at a time. The morning headaches and terrible nightmares… the total inability to deal any tiny problem… the tearfulness… the whooshing in my head..the list goes on.

          However, I will persevere because I just want to get my life back and see what my world is like… Quite frankly I don’t know who I am yet, but hopefully one day soon I will and I shall never take another “ant-depressant”. I feel I’ve lost 17 years of my life… I don’t want to lose any more.

          • Julie Webster November 8, 2016, 12:28 am

            So encouraging reading what others have endured to emerge free from Effexor. Now, after six years and under medical supervision, day 4 after tapering my doses of Effexor – from 150 mg at and for 2 week intervals on 150 mg / 75 mg / 37.5 mg to nothing. Brutal cannot begin to describe the experience of discontinuation. But after leaking tears all day yesterday, nausea and sweating profusely from the armpits awoke this morning to an inner sense of calm and well being. Early days but feel quietly confident – just want to share my willingness to trust that not everyone’s experience will be that of prolonged agony. Take heart.

      • Marsha July 27, 2016, 8:46 am

        Taper in amount, not time… a lesson I learned the hard way. Don’t skip days; just take a slightly less dosage for a week or two then taper down again. Hang in there – I know, it’s tough!!

    • Debbie March 29, 2015, 7:46 pm

      Hi, I would really like to talk with you about how you feel now, since it’s 9 mo. later. Do you feel better? Please tell me how it progressed for you, thank you very much!

    • Lindsay May 31, 2015, 6:26 pm

      The bead method is the only way I have successfully gotten from 225mg as I have been on it for 20 years. When having the 75mg you take out 5 beads at a time. It is a pain in the butt but I highly recommend this way. You buy empty capsules and slowly take out beads. Doctors have no idea how horrible withdrawals are unless they experience it themselves. Most people follow Dr advice and suffer. You cannot just go from 225 to half of the dose. This method has saved me from horrible withdrawals.

      • Kearstyn March 14, 2016, 2:05 pm

        What is the “bead” method?

        • Anastacia March 24, 2016, 3:12 pm

          If you are still wondering about the above mentioned ‘bead method’. If you are taking the XR it will be a capsule with beads in it. Taking yourself down slowly will be empty 1/4 (or even less) the beads into another container, the rest into your mouth, the next 3 -7 days do the same (or how ever long your body needs).

          See how you are adjusting to the smaller portion. If you are able to tolerate it fairly well adjust it once again. Keep doing this process until you are able to take yourself off. At the end of the process you might be still taking like 5-10 beads out of the capsule, just this small amount will help your body to adjust.

          At times I would feel intense side effects and keep the capsule with me and take like 5 beads out. Stopping this medication all at once sends your body into brain zaps, sickness, mood terrors…

      • Marsha July 27, 2016, 8:47 am

        Yes!!! I totally agree!!

  • Andi June 29, 2014, 4:27 am

    Was on Effexor for 6 months. Now at day 7 off Effexor. Withdrawals are damned unpleasant, but better than the last 8 weeks I was taking Effexor, (horrible nightmares, profuse sweating, auditory hallucinations, screaming in my sleep – I was scared out of my mind.) I would rather deal with the withdrawal than ever, ever take another dose. I’m taking a fish oil supplement, as well as 5HTP (the 5HTP only since yesterday, you can’t take it in conjunction with any SSRI) and the supplements seem to be helping with the withdrawal – last night I had my first dreamless/sweatless night in months and I actually SLEPT. I have FM, and that flared up immediately after I quit the Effexor, and it has started to settled down. Staying really, really well hydrated is helping also. Still feeling kinda zombie-like, but I’m confident that will continue to improve over time.

    • Jam December 22, 2014, 5:26 am

      I have only been on Effexor for about 3 months but have had horrible side effects: flulike symptoms, nausea, profuse sweating and nightmares, a constant jump from chills to burning up. I stopped taking it when I noticed I would break out in a rash, much like hives, about half an hour after taking my pills. The withdrawal symptoms have been gone from unpleasant after about 24 hours off to intolerable after 72 hours. I know about the brain shivers but has anyone else had problems with the sensation of needing to pop your ears followed by an electrical buzzing noise followed by a shock? I’m glad I found this group, it’s nice to know its not just me.

      • Vicky January 21, 2015, 5:02 am

        I’ve had brain freezes. I’ve had feeling that my face was sliding. I’ve had popping ears, clicks and zaps and the one that drives me batty are the twitches around my eyes. I have been reducing Effexor XR for about 8 months now. Started at 300 and now down to 150. The side effects and the withdrawal symptoms have made me an angry, teary mess. I was also on 40mg of amitriptyline daily and ran out of it last week. I cold turkey’d that one and now I have insomnia and restless legs on top of it all. The doctors seem to hand this stuff out like candy and I was in such a bad place I would have taken anything at the time. I’m rethinking that as the cure seems to be more unstable than the illness. -Vicky

        • Lynne July 31, 2015, 6:05 pm

          Hi, I began taking Venlafaxine for depression nearly 3 months ago beginning with a dosage of 37.5 mg for the first week increasing dosage to 2 tablets for the next 2 weeks then to 3 tablets daily the third week. I have been plagued with RLS (restless legs syndrome) my entire adult life. Since taking the Venlaflaxine it became an every night occurrence lasting until 2 or 3 am.

          I decided that the side effects from this drug were worse than dealing with the depression itself and decided to withdraw from the medication. I dropped down to the 2 tablets daily for 2 weeks then down to 1 tablet for one week. This is my 4th day drug free and am experiencing the plugged ears as described, headaches, lightheadedness and fatigue.

          After reading the posts from this site it has been an eye opener. I wish everyone the best of luck in your quest for breaking free from this drug. That said, in the future I will be more pro-active in learning the different side effects that can occur before taking any medication.

      • Micki May 23, 2016, 3:09 pm

        I was put on Effexor XR for hot flashes after a hysterectomy. I went from 37.5 to 75. That did nothing for flashes so my PA upped the dosage to 150. I was having symptoms I hated while on it. Called the PA to find out about decreasing to go off it.

        She never returned my calls so I ran out and therefore went off cold turkey. Now the hot flashes have increased 1000 fold. I have fuzzy brain, extreme anger, and burning sensations in my hands. I was on it for 4 months. Any idea how long this lasts??

    • Evie December 20, 2015, 10:05 am

      I’ve been on 300mg for about 6 months after my the Prozac I’d been on for years stopped working. This stuff is terrible. Have never felt so out of control or crazy in my life. I decided enough was enough and quite cold turkey… I know it’s not recommended but if I go back to the doctor to arrange tapering off the stuff I can guarantee he will throw another terrible drug at me. I am at day four of no effexor and was wondering when the terrible migraines, nausea and chest pains start to ease up? Would love to know if anyone has had these problems when coming off it.

      • Matt December 30, 2015, 11:08 pm

        Who ever made this drug sucks. When it works you feel great, but when the side effects kick in they suck… Headache, sweating, etc. You’ve all had it if you’re on the stuff. I even had it inflame my stomach to where they had to scope and found nothing, thanks for the extra $300 A$$ holes. My advice is do your research before the doc puts you on something. Wish I would have. Hope this helps anyone, keep your head it will all pass. Just keep busy to try and keep your mind off of it.

    • Ana December 20, 2015, 10:26 pm

      Hello. I’ve been taking venlafaxine XR 37.5mg for 2yrs. It’s been a month and a half trying to taper off this medicine. I’ve been having anxiety, a pounding headache, pounding heart, and insomnia. Told my Dr and he was not too happy about it, but he prescribed me magnesium oxide 500mg (1 am & 1pm) also gave me 5 HTP 100mg also (1am & 1pm).

      It’s only been a week so hopefully I will start seeing results in a couple of weeks. I’m still taking venlafaxine XR 37.5mg every other day and 1 hour later take my supplements. So I’m still feeling mild nausea, a mild headache and the worst is my anxiety.

      • Judy December 30, 2015, 5:24 pm

        I’ve been taking Effexor for ten years. I cannot remember who even prescribed it in the first place. I had contemplated going off before, but thought it better to stay on it. Recently, however, my husband and I lost our insurance and I had three months of Effexor left. It was then I decided that it was time to start the process of weaning off. From 225 I dropped to 112.5 for about 8 weeks struggled a bit on the 3rd to 5th day of drop down.

        Emotions, fatigue, sleeplessness, sweating, and nausea were symptoms I dealt with. First week in DEC I dropped to 75 mgs. Not good. I scared myself and increased symptoms mentioned above. I stayed the course and the nausea was almost unbearable until I got the Sea Bands – huge difference and I do have to wear 24/7. Insomnia is worsening and my husband keeps reminding me its a side effect of withdrawal from effexor. I forgot to take medication on Christmas.

        Took it the day after, then decided that I would go off completely, considering I felt crappy anyway. Four days later staying the course. I’m preparing for an episode of withdrawal symptoms to increase in severity. This has been the pattern since I started the process. I typically do not share anything like this, but finding this site helps me to keep this process in perspective. And if I can share an unpleasant journey with others on the same journey to help and gain wellness, it’s better for all of us. It’s important to know you are not alone.

      • Marsha July 27, 2016, 8:54 am

        Tapering off is so much better than skipping days. I learned that the hard way. Just take slightly less – I reduce the beads in the capsule by 5 for a couple of weeks, then taper again. I don’t skip days – makes withdrawal symptoms worse.

  • Diane July 9, 2014, 5:57 pm

    I was on effexor (37.5 mg) for 4 years for menopause related issues like night sweats and insomnia. I quit cold turkey in Mar. and within 2 days had all the horrible withdrawal symptoms. My doctor gave me a 30 day supply which I warned myself off of over the course of 2 months. I took my last pill on Apr. 30 and immediately felt my appetite decrease and anxiety increase. I also had insomnia the entire month of May. I am now able to sleep again but feel depressed and have no appetite. I’m hoping my body will heal itself soon because I absolutely do not want to take anymore psychiatric drugs. Any advice out there on how to best tough this out?

    • Evalian January 5, 2016, 6:49 am

      I was only on this nasty drug for 8 weeks and quit because of the horrible side effects. I was prescribed it by a walk in doctor to take 75mg to help with menopause. It was supposed to help with my fibromyalgia as well. Within 4 weeks I broke out in huge patches of eczema, on my body and eyes. I was also sweating more, not less!

      Sleep is almost non existent. Pain seemed less for the first few weeks but came back with a vengeance. I was never told or even fully understood what I was taking. I researched cancer sites who recommended it for women who could not take hormones. (Wrote them a nasty email). Doctors do not consider it addicting. Really? How come I can’t quit taking it then. I had withdrawal symptoms the second day stopping and was back on within 5 days.

      I am down to 37.5 every other day. Not going very well, can anyone tell me how they got off completely? I don’t have any more leave to use for work. And I want my brain back, I need it! Must be some lucrative pharmaceutical kickbacks associated with this drug.

  • Heidi July 24, 2014, 10:08 pm

    I’ve been on Effexor for 10 years. Started off with 150 mg then after about 6 years of sleeping 13 hrs a day went down to 37.5. Over the last year I’ve tapered down slowly. First I broke the pill in half for about 10 months. Then I broke it in 4 pieces which I’ve been taking for a few months. I’m on my 4th day of no pills and I’m jumpy/tremors. Clumsy, had a nightmare. Joint pain & a bit irritable but not too bad. I tried years ago cold turkey from 150 mg and it was horrible. So this is much better but still not pleasant. Just wondering when the symptoms will stop completely.

    • Jay October 21, 2014, 6:09 am

      How are you feeling now? I’m 20 days off and I’m still a wreck!

      • mark October 27, 2014, 7:59 pm

        I am on day 3 of going from 150 on week 5 – 112.5, week 3 – 75, week 1 – 37.5 and just quit cold turkey, these brain zap feelings is just a reminder to myself – OK this is my body withdrawing from a really horrible medication. I don’t need RX to live my life, screw the docs, go the holistic way, KUDOS to whoever mentioned about 5HTP and taking omega 3 fish oil supps, I know one thing more than ever, everyone has to deal with pain and anxiety and depression, I have a broken neck, near quadro state and disabled for the rest of my life, just finishing college after 2.5 years. Effexor screwed me up, all BC my docs wanted me to try this instead of xanax only when needed, and I don’t even take that! Good luck everyone.

  • brenda August 3, 2014, 1:42 am

    I want to be that little shinning light out there for all of you (like me) that’s been on the Effexor journey. I was on Effexor 150mg for 3 three years. Unfortunately weight gain was one of my biggest side effects. I felt I was ready to be weaned off and basically had to beg my doctor to taper me. AFter about 5 months and more weight gain (50lbs in total!), he finally agreed. I was excited to be on my way of being mentally and physically rid of this drug! With the fear of crazy withdrawal symptoms, i began my taper with a positive attitude. I wanted to improve my overall well being. I make sure I have activities planned for each day. I work for a few hours in the morning. On some days I go to lunch with the husband or friends. In the afternoon, I keep myself busy with physical activities; biking, hiking. gardening, craft projects, cleaning and/or shopping. I notice that if I am busy, i have less withdrawal symptoms. Early evening my kids are home and we eat dinner together (they have been pretty supportive~ another important factor..having family members on board and aware of symptoms you might experience) .
    My dr. tapered me from 150mg to 75mg. then to 37.5mg each at weekly intervals. Today is my 5th day effexor free. I have had symptoms (headaches, dizziness, sweats, chills, nausea, diarrhea and body aches-joint pain) throughout the past 3 weeks and still today but nothing that I can’t handle. I believe my positive attitude and eagerness to move on and to better myself has helped tremendously! I know these symptoms is my body’s way of ridding itself of this drug.
    So if you are researching ways on how to overcome effexor, please have hope that there is solid ground at the end of this crazy dizzy journey.

    • rachel September 2, 2014, 7:35 pm

      Thank you Brenda..needed this encouragement. I, along with everyone else, am going through the withdrawals, and my body is not a happy camper! However, as a professional in the mental health field, I know that this too shall pass, eventually. Though in no way am I minimizing my struggles, as they are real and relatable to many, the encouragement from one who has made it through is appreciated. Thank you!

      • Joy September 10, 2014, 2:43 am

        Hi and thank you. Hope is a great thing. I have been struggling to find a solution to 6 months of terrible symptoms only to discover by my own research that I had been going through Benzo-withdrawal (didn’t even know what that was until last Wed) and now have decided to taper off of the Effexor XR my psych put me on because I don’t want anything this powerful in my body. I can cope with all the symptoms but the dizziness is somewhat unbearable. I have been on 150 mg for 2-3 months and they have tapered me at 75 mg (3 days ago) and then in 3 wks she will put me on 37.5 mg …

        I found a website called theroadback.org and the author of the site/book and dr of the supplements is someone my psych saw speak once. She said he is legit and his supplements look to be legitimate as well. I think I will buy some and see how they help. This dizziness trumps any other w/d symptom I have ever experienced. Good luck to all of you. It is very nice to know I am not alone in this struggle.

      • Cat 70 February 15, 2015, 11:09 pm

        This is a heavy drug to experience. I’m doing okay after withdrawal. A little dizzy during the day! Good luck in the future!

    • Patti December 2, 2014, 2:20 pm

      Thank you! I have been on effexor for more then 10yrs. I did get down to 37mg and have been taking one every other day. I am on day 5 and not taking anything!!! This is not fun! But I do notice it gets better when I am busy! And exerciseing, even just a good walk! Someone just tell me this will get better!!!

      • sharon October 19, 2015, 1:08 am

        I am on effexor XR for 20 yrs. The manufacture ran out this last week but I have found a pharm that will let me have 2 150mg until I can get to my doc to get 75 mg. I love the way it makes me feel but I am overweight and sluggish. I want to see what au natural feels like again. I tried tapering but even after 6 mos. I went into a rage.

        I tried going on paxil for a long time and then to come off both the “easy” way. I maybe could have but ended up going back up on Effexor due to life circumstances. Going on another antidepressant is the least painful way I guess. Cold turkey is the quickest but most horrible way. I think I’ll try cold turkey then going as long as I can stand it, then taking one and keep going until I dun need it to maintain.

        • sharon December 19, 2015, 5:16 am

          I started effexor xr in 1999. My doctor told me several years later I would be on it the rest of my life. This past month I became very ill and could not take any of my meds. I simply refused to go back to the effexor. The withdrawal has been incredible! I have had reactions that sent me to the hospital with extremely high blood pressure, extreme dizziness, joint pains, muscles so tender I felt like I have a bad case of the flu!

          I refuse to go back on it, although I’ve only been off it for 3 weeks!!! I want my life back! I would like to know how long the symptoms will stay with me. I’m going to try to find an Internist after the first of the year. I don’t want to go back to the doctor who didn’t care enough to help me further than “you’ll need to stay on this the rest of your life” without giving me a reason why.

          • Heather January 29, 2016, 5:03 am

            You sound exactly like me, Sharon! Finally I am feeling that I’m not crazy! How are you feeling now?

    • Mike Duggan December 11, 2014, 5:50 am

      Hi Brenda. I love your comment. I have been on 150mg xr for about 5 years. After some major life successes-including detoxing off of klonipin 2 mg a day as of septemper 1st, 2014-I decided that the other day was the day to go cold turkey off of effexor. I know that going off venlafaxine cold turkey is terrible, but I fell that after surviving klonopin withdrawal, having 100% of my left meniscus removed, and being diagnosed with HPV–absolutely anything is possible.

      So here I am day 4 of detoxing, and I am not feeling terrible :) I’d like to thank water, fish oil, b complex vitamin, coho salmon, swimming (a huuuuge factor), arts and crafts, music (a big one!), kale, shittake mushrooms, stretching, push-ups, pull-ups, electrolyes, feet warmers, heated vehicles, organic pears, organic kiwi and many many more I dont have the time to list for making this experience bearable. :) Hopefully in another week I will be feeling a lot better. For now I’m trying to be present in the moment, not get moody, and saving crying spells for when I’m alone in my bed.

      • Carol B. December 17, 2014, 4:10 pm

        Hi Mike. Your comment was finally the one I was looking for. I’ve been on Effexor XR for probably 15 years, toggling between 75 and 150 mg depending on the need. I’ve been toying with coming off the drug for a while as I am in a different phase of my life and many of the stressors that put me on the drug to begin with are no longer a big factor. A week ago I came down with the seasonal flu and a few days in I realized I had not taken the Effexor.

        It wouldn’t have stayed with me anyway. I used this as an opportunity to keep on “not taking” it and come off cold turkey. Not my best move, but my doc had been skeptical of entertaining the idea of stopping at all. It’s been 6 days and I am experiencing extreme dizziness, sleeplessness, weird dreams, lack of appetite and general loss of attention span or direction. Having the flu has allowed me to be away from work and able to cope with the withdrawal away from co-workers prying eyes.

        I haven’t experienced mood swings or irritability yet, and no overwhelming urges to take an unprovoked swing at my husband. Right now the worst is this feeling of being not quite firmly planted on the ground and dizzy, along with no clear direction on how to tackle my day. I’m worried this will be a real problem when I do return to the workplace in the next few days. Why am I doing this to myself when I could just pop an XR? I am desperately hoping for clarity and cleaner, drug-free living at the end of this tunnel.

        Did you experience any changes in your vision up front in your detox? My focus is off and my optical RX, just recently updated, no longer seems on target. Also, are you beginning to feel any natural energy and zest come back in? Your comments most closely mirrored what I am currently experiencing so I am hoping you are continuing to see improvements. That bodes well for me. Blessings and continued success.

        • JoAnnnK March 21, 2015, 1:34 pm

          Carol B. Here I sit reading your Dec. 17 post, wondering if I might have written it myself. I too came down with the flu (right after Valentine’s Day) and was sick for what seemed to be forever. Came to realize I wasn’t taking my Effexor. (Had wanted to quit forever, so made decision that now was the time.) Here I am coming to the end of March and still dealing with diarrhea and overall yucky feelings. How much longer till I feel better? How are you doing now? Have you come to the end of your tunnel?

        • Nancy March 6, 2016, 7:47 am

          I too am coming off of Effexor and have the flu. I didn’t realize how much of my “flu” is withdrawal symptoms. I was prescribed this med as a migraine prophylactic but after 18 months I realized it wasn’t helping enough to keep taking it. Reading so many people’s descriptions of the side effects and withdrawals I wonder if it wasn’t making me worse! I had weaned down to 37.5 mg but after 3 days I took one.

          I haven’t been able to sleep I am so achey. I am going to try to get in to see my Dr. About ways to deal with the withdrawals. I read somewhere that taking Prozac helps if you take it short term. I will be diligent in getting off this drug. I have to say that as bad as these side effects are, if they keep somebody alive it’s worth it. (I have recently heard of a suicide that I wonder would’ve been preventable had the person gotten help).

          I have tried everything I have ever heard of to deal with my migraines, and each new treatment has taught me something. This treatment has reiterated my determination to not take anything daily that may have a side effect if I suddenly stopped.

    • Allison January 4, 2015, 7:42 pm

      Thank you for your positive words and attitude, Brenda – you make me feel a lot more confident and determined.

    • fran January 20, 2015, 6:49 am

      Came off effexor cold turkey after six years. Last dosage was 150 mg but had been on higher dose off and on. Gained 50 pounds and had no desire to do do much except work, minimum housecleaning, exercised but fell unto couch after work, ate loads of carbs until bedtime, Every day the same and even tho I had good intentions to get up and get organized, my willpower was taken over by the drug. Since quitting effexor I have slept about four hours a note and have been extremely crazy and can’t control my anger.

      I flip at anything that would have not bothered me before. But the thing is, while taking effexor I lost my free will and allowed things to slide and it was too easy just to put up and shut up. I am taking evening “primrose oil” now and it is helping with the mood swings a bit and also with the anxiety. I have tons of energy now and have done more cleaning and organizing than I have done in years. I have been exercising and using my Fitbit to keep track of steps.

      I am up to 15,000 walking steps a day and I feel I have my life back. Lots of aches and pains, but no brain zaps or headaches. Never will I ever go down the antidepressant road again. Also, I have not seen my doctor about my decision to quit cold turkey, but I know what I did is right for me. Good luck to all of you who take the bull by the horns and wrestle it to the ground for your own sanity.

      • Darci February 25, 2015, 11:46 pm

        Your post hit the nail right on the head for me. Your situation was my situation. My husband of 4 years, who is a physician assistant, put me on Effexor ER because I was “too mean” and because I had a couple bouts of crying. I thought, well he’s the professional, maybe he knows/sees something I don’t. Plus it was a new relationship that seemed to be going great. Four years later, and 75 lbs heavier, I’ve realized that he was only looking for complacency (which he certainly received!) and at least part of my weight gain was from eating too much as a means to stuff my personality away.

        I’ve been a fat (which admittedly makes me feel “depressed” at times) Stepford wife for the last four years but am flushing that role down the toilet where it belongs. I’ve been tapering down & then just stopped completely about 4 days ago. I’m getting the brain blips/emotional flip flops but I will survive this and become better because of it. I may be an assertive person & speak my mind but there’s nothing wrong with that. Thats me – it’s who I am. I’m not going to hide from that anymore. If he didnt like me that way, he shouldn’t have married me. I’m taking my life back!

    • Deborah April 14, 2015, 3:38 pm

      Thank you for the very positive post. I am on day four of not taking this horrible med. My husband finally read through this entire article and realized that this wasn’t any easy thing to get off of. He thought after a couple of days, I should be fine. Not so. I have had the zaps, the nausea, stomach cramps, crazy dreams, aching and extreme tiredness. I hate having something controlling ME other than ME. Thank you for the encouragement for just keeping on and basically trying to keep your mind occupied with other things.

      I go grocery shopping once a month and will be doing that shopping in a couple of days. I have worried about the nausea the most. I don’t want to be in the middle of Walmart…and…well, you know… I have taken spearmint tea with honey every morning and it helps with the belly pains and nausea. I also have been taking Omega-3 and a B vitamin. I totally understand what everyone is saying here about the withdrawal symptoms. My prescription has been 150 mgs twice a day for almost a year.

      My doctor said to me when I started taking Effexor, that, if it didn’t work at this dose, which he said was LOW, we could go much higher. Thank goodness I looked all of this up online. I don’t think the medical community really knows how bad this stuff is. My daughter has been on it for years and tried once to go off of it and couldn’t take the withdrawal. So, the bottom line for me here is the fact that you gave me hope. Thank you so much!

    • Vicky July 31, 2015, 7:23 pm

      Thank you, I needed some encouragement that there is hope. I have been weaning off. I am now in day 2 of completely off. It has been difficult, but it’s encouraging to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

  • Will August 4, 2014, 4:39 pm

    Hi all,

    It’s so refreshing to read other peoples stories of the hideous effects this drug can have during the withdrawal period. I think I was only Venlafaxine/Effexor for a total of 7/8 months at a 150mg dosage. Earlier on during the course I felt better than I had in years – this may have been the effects of the drug or rather because I was working on something I loved at the time and that gave me a great impetus to ‘get-going’ each day – it’s always hard to know whether the drugs are working or not I find.

    After a few months however I started realizing that I no longer felt as chirpy as I had (again, was this the drugs no longer working or more the fact that the piece of work I had enjoyed so much was now over). I decided to weigh up the pros and cons of the drug and decided that the fatigue and diminishing orgasm were no longer really worth it for a young man of 34.

    I went and spoke to my health care team about it and my Doctor agreed that it would be foolish to continue with the Effexor and that we could try tapering of and starting on Mirtazapine as an alternative. I spent two weeks on a lower dose of 75mg of Effexor combined with a nightly dose of 15mg of Mirtazapine. I have since ended the 2 tapered weeks on EFX and am now on 30mg of Mirtazapine a night along with my usual daily 200mg of Lamictal as a mood stabilizer.

    I have now been Venlafaxine/Effexor free for just over 2 weeks and, like many on here, it has been a living HELL. I am feeling no benefit whatsoever from the Mirtazapine and Lamictal and am unsure if this is purely because the withdrawal from EFX is so extreme or whether they simply just wont work for me!? I have so many of the symptoms listed and that others have spoken about. I no longer have A CLUE as to what ‘normal’ feels like??

    Is this how I felt before? Is this how I’m meant to feel? Am I making up how I’m feeling? etc etc. I knew something wasn’t right when the ‘brain zaps’ were making me want to keel-over, and I had difficulty recalling the trip to the airport and subsequent holiday just a few days after returning. I feel like a zombie. I feel like i’m gonna be carted off any minute for being ‘mental’. I want to cry at the strangest of things.

    I am so angry it’s scaring me (snapped really badly at strangers about 4/5 times the other night). I feel hopeless. Sad. Lost. Suicidal. Dangerous. Mad. Wild. I’m not quite sure what to do? I’m not sure if anyone else has experience of Mirtazapine after Effexor and whether or not the change worked for them? I feel like I need to stop taking anything, reassess how I am ‘REALLY’ feeling without any drugs in my body, and then start over..

    Apologies for the long rant on here. I’m not even expecting an answer etc but I think it has helped to just get some of these feelings out their to like-minded people. I have wonderfully supportive friends and family around me but It feels so ‘cringey’ letting them see me like this I’d rather just hide away and hope it goes away soon.

    Good luck to all those out there who are currently going through this too. It sounds SO dramatic and for those people out there who haven’t been on this stupid drug it must sound like a bunch of depressed people moaning away about how hard life is…but I think those of us on this journey know that these feelings just aren’t right. We shouldn’t be feeling like this, and even with the best will in the world, these withdrawals are pretty impossible to ‘cover-up’ or fight against.

    xx

    • brenda August 4, 2014, 7:42 pm

      will~

      I totally understand what your you’re going through! I almost feel like a failure if I can’t overcome this. I’m trying so hard to be positive and focus on the future of getting “me” back. I not only have to be strong for myself but for my kids. They deserve to have their mom back!

      Tomorrow I will be EFX free for a week and still am having withdrawals…next week I’m going on vacation and am scared to death that I’ll still be suffering with these damn symptoms! I vowed to myself that no matter how crappy I feel I’m not going to let effexor get the best of me!

      I actually emailed part of this article for my family members to read so they can get a sense of what I’m dealing with. I think it will help. As you know we walk on eggshells and the littlest things can set us off right now.
      Wish you all the best…feel free to vent on here as often as you like. it helps to know that we aren’t alone in this craziness!

      • Shirl January 1, 2016, 12:24 am

        I went cold turkey off this poison and I felt like I was in what hell must be like! I’m sorry grateful I’m not alone. It’s been two weeks since I stopped and am starting to feel a little better. I was only on it for two months, thank god. Can’t wait to feel healthy again.

    • Mommyofthree1013 August 9, 2014, 9:53 pm

      Will,

      I too am going through withdrawal. I have been on one form or another of antidepressant over the past 14 yrs. the last 5 on this horrible drug! I pride myself on being educated, yet I allowed myself to be taken in by the experts in their field. Now, I am the one going through medication withdrawal. Today has been the fourth day of cold turkey ceasing of 225 mg. per day! I am sick to my stomach, cannot think clearly even to compose this reply!

      My head is killing me, I’m extremely sensitive to light, sounds, noises? Cannot eat, but forced myself to have a piece of toast this morning and some coffee. I don’t think the coffee is helping, but it helped with the headache and brain fog feeling. I did not intend on coming off, but had a script issue and cannot afford to purchase the meds out-of-pocket. I’m confused, irritable, yet frightened to death!

      My daughters are looking at me as though I forgot to take my meds, so go take them mom and you will feel “better”. After reading all the comments, knowing how I feel, that this IS real, and that with time I too can be rid of these horrible symptoms and back to feeling and doing my best. I’m determined to be FREE of this drug even if I throw up every day for a year!

      Our bodies where NOT made to feel, react or ingest these chemicals EVER! I have sooo many people, work related obligations, and outcomes of legal issues going on right now that I did not need to go off the medication but after seeing what our healthcare system does to poverty stricken individuals it’s given me more determination than ever to be drug FREE for the remainder of my days!

      I’m 52 yrs. young, have two wonderful daughters, a beautiful grandson, and a roof over my head. How I ever allowed a doctor to convince me to take and then increase the dosage of this medication is beyond me;-(. It saddens me further to think about all those people who never rid themselves off of prescription drugs, or street drugs. The symptoms and feelings of fear, tiredness, anger, insomnia, constant bowel movements, nausea, and electric shocks are overwhelming.

      I’m sitting in the tub as I type this response up, as this is my only relief from the chills, sweats I keep having. Plus, I feel safer hearing and feeling the warm water:-)….a light at the end of the tunnel. I put a call into my therapist describing my withdrawal symptoms but have not heard back from her;-(. I realize that I am just “one” of many patients, but I wanted her to be aware of my plight. I went off on my contractor who is performing renovations at my daughters and parents homes and I don’t know if he can forgive me, as I am definitely not mySELF.

      I feel and know what every person on this forum are going through as I am in bad shape. But I also know how strong willed I am. I will not allow a capsule to control me, as it has over the last 14 yrs.! We are all in the same boat. I realize this, but the doctors never tell or describe the overwhelmingly horrid side effects. Do they even know? Other than what the pharmaceutical companies list as serious or maybe some slight side effects, this drug should be banned from any person ever taking it.

      I actually am feeling a wee bit more calm since writing out the emotions and ranting. I am just soooo tired, but cannot sleep! I feel sometimes as though I cannot distinguish between normal & abnormal anymore. Thank you for writing in:-). At your 34 yrs of age you hit on sooo many things I was feeling that I just had to share. Keep up the good work of being drug FREE. I know I have a long journey, but I also know I am not alone.:-(

      • inge October 9, 2014, 12:37 am

        motherof3: wow, from 225 to 0? I can only imagine how crazy you must feel. I myself am into the third week of cold-turkey withdrawal from 150 mg after about 15 years of uninterrupted use. I know my doctor would have talked me out of it, so I didn’t even consult him. (I’m not recommending doing this, this is just what made sense to me in my circumstances). I pretty much loved it at first.

        I was energized, felt close to my emotions and was very hopeful for the future. Now, instead of stored up tears welling up, it is long-suppressed anger that wants out. Yes, I am more irritable and apt to snap at people. However, since I consider myself to be too much of a push over, I also enjoy that a bit. What bothers me now is insomnia. I feel absolutely drained between from 8pm on, go to sleep at about 9:30 and then am wide awake at 1.

        This morning, I didn’t go back to sleep until 4:30 and have felt tired and anxious at the same time. The other worry is inability to focus and distractibility. I don’t regret the 15 years on the medicine, as it allowed me to get done what had to get done without constantly falling apart emotionally. However, now it is time for me to deal with all of my emotions and find out who it is I want to be. Good luck to you and all others going the same route.

      • Angela May 3, 2015, 2:23 am

        I wanted to thank you for your response. I have been on effexor for the last 17 years. When I told my doctor a few years ago I wanted to wean off of it he actually laughed and called me crazy. Luckily we have a very close relationship and I wasn’t offended by that. We tapered down to 75mg and I was a hot mess. Beyond irritable, emotional, a crazy up and down roller-coaster where I didn’t realize who I was any longer.

        I have had struggles and hardships, more than my fair share, but have always found the silver lining, the ‘it could be worse’ happy go lucky persona. I don’t feel its too much to hold those same traits without the medication, but I am scared. I was unable to get into the doctor and have been Effexor free for 3 days. The brain zaps haven’t started yet, but the hot mess would be the crying uncontrollably over nothing, followed by a self loathing for letting myself do this to myself.

        How dare I? I have continued to put this stuff in my body day after day as a means to ‘cope’. Did it help in the short run? Most definitely. Has it hurt me in the long run? I have no doubt. I don’t know how long I’ll last going through this withdrawal. I get scared about feeling this way around my children. I don’t feel safe alone with them and then the self loathing becomes worse. I have an appointment with my doctor on Monday but have no idea what to do going forward. I don’t want to continue on this horrible medication, but am so scared of the withdrawal.

      • Dana October 24, 2015, 2:06 pm

        My doctor took me off highest dosage you can take in two weeks. Took two at 150mg to 75mg. I’ve had the worse headache for over a week now. Not to mention, crying, confusion, etc. It’s horrible. God bless you all.

    • Erik Hansen September 23, 2014, 5:44 pm

      Go to your library and get the book Anatomy of an Epidemic. It is a good read and it may give you some insight as to what you are (or may in the future be) going through. I have lived with the (in my opinion) gradually increasing severity of side effects from this drug for some time now and after reading the above listed book I decided (after 10-15yrs of being medicated) to try a different path.

      I have begun a process of weaning off effexor and will be arranging to see a psychologist to (hopefully) help with the transformation as, from what I have briefly read here, it is probably going to be very difficult. Depression is very difficult to explain to someone who has never suffered from it and therefore I think it is very important to find someone who at the very least can empathize with you and be there to talk too when necessary.

      • inge October 9, 2014, 12:40 am

        Thank you for recommending the book. I will get it.

    • Deb October 28, 2014, 3:06 am

      I have completely lost my mind. Never wanted off xanax. Always worked for me. But Dea wont allow long term use any longer. So tapered off didnt like it anxiety crying heart raced. But I handled it. 6 months on Effexor I never felt it helped me at all. I don’t sleep I have ambien I go to sleep have nightmares and sleep walk. I don’t stay asleep now. I took a sanity test today I am 54 % sane. Haha. So I weened of that and onto cymbalta 4 weeks ago.

      I ended up in emergency. I have spots on my frontal lobe might be MS not sure yet. I suffer from severe migraines since Jan 2014. Nerve blocks work temporarily. I have more scheduled in Nov. Cymbalta put me over the edge. I am taking oxy but pharmacy couldnt get them for a week. When I didn’t think it could get worse it did. I am having an allergic reaction to – I think the oxy. So here are my choices: complete pain with the effexor withdrawals, chest pain, and my heart blood pressure through the roof OR nausea and total body itching. So I go back and forth between my two hells. My brain is zapping me continuously for three days now.

      I have not had any cymbalta or effexor for ten days. I weaned off for a week. I have thrown up the last time. I have lost faith in my drs. 2 nights ago after two nitros I thought the good lord was finally calling me home a merciful death. But no 2 hrs later I woke with Krakatoa going off in my head once again. I am not suicidal almost wish I could be. I take my pain medicine only when I absolutely have to. I am constantly on benadryl right now my body is inflamed with an allergic rash. I am dizzy – so dizzy I can hardly get around. I don’t know what to do.

      Another trip to emergency drs will label me as an addict or some crazy person. Blurry vision is back. I had to vent. I am not through any of the withdrawal time so I will be back. I am not even close to the person I was 6 months ago. I don’t even recognize myself here. Why did the drs. put me on this? It’s torture I really didn’t need. Please dear lord help me. It’s unbelievable what I have been through this last month. Like I wasn’t suffering enough already. Whew.

      • Gary December 9, 2014, 11:16 pm

        Deb, thank you for sharing. I quit 225mg./day for 2 years. Went down to 37 for a week or two, then dropped off. I completely thought this was a no brainer. WOW! It finally all made sense as to how I have been feeling these past few weeks. Burst out in tears, intense nightmares, all of it! I had to BEG this dr. To take me off. Never again. I have a bad lower back and tried Cymbalta also. I have a ruptured disc and 2 more herniated, dragged myself to the emergency room in massive pain (sciatica) two nights ago and was balling my eyes out. They were looking at me like, OK, take it easy…lol. Now I realize why… I pray you have made it over the worst now and are doing and feeling much better. Really identified with you. It has been a few weeks but still hell. Hoping each day will get better.

      • Dana October 24, 2015, 2:12 pm

        Bless your heart. My heart just breaks for you. This drug should be banned. Anything that makes you feel like this does not need to be ingested in our bodies!

    • Runnergirl123 December 30, 2014, 12:14 am

      I cannot thank you enough. I could have written this myself. I’ve GOT to remember I’m not THIS crazy. Effexor is horrible.

  • Sandra Sartorius August 7, 2014, 10:50 pm

    Thank u Brenda!!! I’ve been on Effexor 400 mg for 4 years… and others since I was 20. I am now 39. I have medicated myself for so long not with just these pills of course. But a plethora of drugs and alcohol as well. Although I haven’t drank since last Thanksgiving, I do enjoy a lil grass here and there. It when I started dabbling in grass is when I thought I was going to lose my mind. The mix was a HUGE no bueno. I was also on Lamictil. I weaned off Lamictil first… then weaned myself off of effexor. I’ve gone 3 days but the withdrawals are AWFUL. My brain zaps are up to 6 in a row. If I move my eyes, head, laying down , standing up whatever… I’m zapped. I had to take a 37.5 today. Nightmares, vomiting, crying sweating I cant sleep and debilitating aches and pains. Im a dog groomer… aint happenin. I will again, go until I can no longer stand it. I was happy to see that there would eventually be some normalcy. :)

    • Evelyn August 14, 2014, 2:40 am

      Been on effexor for 13 years 75mg a day. It stopped working for me I think I felt numb,no emotions, flatlined. My family and friends started worrying about me. I wadnt myself anymore very depressed wanted to not be on this earth anymore. My friends came over took my pills spilt them in half to 37.5 I’m on my sixth day in lower dose. First three days were hell dizziness, nausea nightmares,brain zaps. Took Benadryl and Dramamine slight headache almost like when u get brain freeze. Today I have had no symptoms at all. Got drs appt tomm to see what meds I shoukd go on. I do have bipolar disorder ups and downs. But today I felt like I’m getting emotion back, things look clearer. Do any of you all know if this happens after going off this medication. I am feeling emotion again and hope. I’m still worried that I still have to go down from 37.5 hopefully doc can figure out what’s best meds fir me. I’m told Wellbutrin is. Anyone have any feedback for me

      • Bonnie October 29, 2014, 4:52 pm

        I was on Zoloft for about 10 years and then bridged to Effexor XR 150 mg for almost 10 years. After asking my doctor and psychologist about stopping the “FXR” XR and being told no, I finally demanded to be titrated off it based on the more than 10 side effects I was experiencing. It was turning me into a useless zombie! I have been totally off the med for about 3 days and it is downright miserable, “brain storms” if I move my head, digestive problems, now crying spells. But I’m determined to get through this, as bad as I feel right now, at least I feel alive and look forward to better days. I truly believe if I would have continued with the “EXR” XR, suicide would have been in my future. Good luck and it helps to know what other people are experiencing.

      • Diane September 1, 2016, 10:20 am

        I was on paxil for twelve years. It stopped working. My old doctor put me on them for menopause. Tapered off those, was hell. Then my new doctor put me on Effexor XR, three weeks now. Taking three capfuls of 37.5 once a day. Can’t fall asleep and causing constipation. Fed up so now I am taking out 10 beads a day to slowly tapper off. I will do this for 2 weeks, see how I feel, then take out more. Eat lots of green veg, B vit, fish oil, and eat food with lots of amino acids. Even turkey meat is good gives you melatonin to help you sleep.

  • Piper August 14, 2014, 5:11 am

    Hi there. I was just prescribed ventafaxile 37.5 once daily. I’m on day two. Do you know if I would I have withdrawl symptoms if I stop taking it after taking 2 days worth? I am also on bupropin 300mg which I have been on for many years. Doc wanted to slowly tapper me off bupropin. Pls help. Not liking ventafaxile at all. Thank you so much.

    • Smjn August 18, 2014, 12:07 am

      Stop the Effexor. I was on for a month. A pill for everything seems to be the prescription of doctors. Wellbutrin is a safe drug, as safe as they can be with minimal side effects. Would never have went on this drug if I realized side effects to get off. Week 2 of constant headaches @ times feels like back of my head being ripped off.

    • Jeannie September 29, 2014, 7:30 pm

      GO OFF IMMEDIATELY!!! I just put a call in to my doctor cuz I weaned off Effexor XR (75mg daily) after being at that dosage for about 3 years, and on a higher dose for probably the 4 years before dropping to the 75mg dosage. I weaned off with my doctor’s instructions/prescription and I can’t take it anymore! I’ve only been completely off the drug for 9 days and I’m asking to GO BACK ON IT cuz I can’t take the brain zaps, constant headache, evil mood, irritability (I threw a shoe at one of my cats this morning, I would NEVER do that normally), and nausea (even though I still have my appetite for sure). I really wouldn’t say I’ve gained weight while on it though.

      My primary care doctor has been prescribing it to me at 75mg for the past maybe 3 years cuz she said it was the best thing to be on for menopause (I’ve had NO symptoms whatsoever, and I’ll be 59 in a couple of days). I’m hoping she’ll continue prescribing it to me at that dosage. I’m waiting VERY ANXIOUSLY to hear back from her office. . . I’d WAY RATHER pay my $10/month copay to NOT FEEL LIKE THIS ANYMORE!!! Good luck on this everyone, it’s an EVIL DRUG that they don’t tell you much about when they first prescribe it!!!

    • Runnergirl123 December 30, 2014, 12:38 am

      This sounds a bit alarming but I wish someone had said it to me 2 months ago- Effexor is not worth it! I’d highly recommend trying something else. There are tons of anti-depressants on the market that don’t have these side effects and withdrawal symptoms like Wellbutrin, Zoloft, anything else!! Not too late for you.

  • AJ August 24, 2014, 7:23 pm

    I was only on Effexor for about a month or so, after being on Lexapro for several months. Both Effexor and the Lexapro made me feel like nothing was real and I didn’t really exist… sort of defeating the point of taking an antidepressant. I’m also on Wellbutrin XL and my doc tapered me off of the Effexor, from 150mg down to 0 over the course of a few weeks. It’s been a week since I took my last Effexor and I can’t wait to get a reprieve from these withdrawal symptoms. I’m so worried I’m going to end up in the hospital again, because I haven’t felt so suicidal like this since before I went on meds.

    It’s awful! Everything seems completely pointless. Not to mention the nausea, constant dizziness and confusion. I feel like I have no idea what’s going on half the time. Glad I’m not the only one going through this. (Not that anybody deserves to go through this hell.) The only thing keeping me going is knowing this is going to end at some point, and my brain will adjust back to “normal,” hopefully sooner than later.

    • Diane September 1, 2016, 10:33 am

      Take your fish oil, B complex, eat foods that have amino acids. Look online for food to eat and minerals, while coming off your medication.

  • Sally August 27, 2014, 10:58 am

    Wow! I am honestly just reading these comments in total disbelief. I was starting to feel a complete alien and that no one at all understands and I’m going completely insane! I am going to be forever forever grateful for reading all your comments and experiences. Apart from vomiting and consuming grass I can honestly relate to every single one of you, I look back n think what I went and continue to go through is just life at it’s toughest and maybe it never was necessary for me to be on anti depressives all these years.

    The ticking of your brain, the shocks down my legs the crying at the drop of a hat the anger oh the anger. But apart from all this stuff going on to ourselves it’s out poor family and surroundings that have to suffer also!! The fact that there is no real answer to help us through is upsetting but the other fact that I can now feel a sense of relief that I’m not alone, this is real stuff and I can look and feel a sense of hope from how you all a coping also.

    Thank you so much, I really hope everyone is doing good and we fight this rubbish out of our bodies , not a cocky person but I know I am a nice person, fun, loving, caring not this angry heartless numb thing I am at the moment, so thank you for helping me more determined to soldier on :)

    • Kathy September 1, 2014, 5:37 pm

      Sally –
      YES!!! I too am so GRATFUL for reading yours and everyone’s comments! I feel every one of the same symptoms and can also relate to every single one of you!! I now know that I am not going crazy! I also wonder whether or not I really ever needed to be on any antidepressant. Life is not easy. I know I need to work on myself for the first time in my life…my spiritual, physical, health, emotional… I know I can do it.
      I know I can get thru to the other side of this.
      Thank you !

  • Ilke August 27, 2014, 2:37 pm

    I have been on Efexor 150 mg for 6 months or so and I have terrible symptoms the next day if I forget my dose one evening. Like dizziness, like my brain is moving independently in my skull, and when I turn my eyes from one direction to another I hear this whoozing sound- very strange. And I have terrible nausea. This medicine sucks. If I had known this, I would have never started it

    • Julie January 9, 2015, 4:19 am

      Hello, I am just starting to wean this week. 150 for 1 year and thought that I could also do it cold turkey. NOT. Had no idea what kind of drug this was. Your comment struck me because I also have the problem of the brain turning and eye movement problem when I would forget a dose. You commented in August, I am just wondering how you are doing now? -Jules

      • AK November 15, 2015, 8:52 pm

        Was on Effexor 225mg for 10 years – weaned off reducing down every two weeks – then 37.5mg every other day for a few days then stopped. Has been difficult first 2 week withdrawals was dizzy brain zaps foggy not sleeping well cold & hot flashes week 3 feeling so nauseous, very emotional and starting to rethink if I need to start taking again – just so tired of feeling awful! I am almost to week 5 of withdrawals – just don’t know what to do anymore.

  • Tina August 28, 2014, 10:32 pm

    I have been on this f*cking drug for 2 months! I went cold turkey because my doctor said that was the only way. I was taking Pristq but because of my medical insurance I could not afford to pay 215.00 a month for it. (Thank you Obama). I want to be drug free so I can reevaluate my self and my life. Effexor withdrawal is f*cking hell. I don’t think that after only being on it for 2 months I should have every symptom. The brain zaps and crying and hostility are the absolute worst. My husband says I need to be medicated but he just doesn’t understand what the withdrawal does to you.

    The drug was worse. I could have cared less if I stopped at a stop sign or that I was driving on the wrong side of the road. We had a great sex life until Effexor took that from me. I loved that I didn’t want to eat. I was losing weight. I still am with the withdrawal. I still do not care if I eat. But I force myself sometimes. I want to lose some weight so I am taking vitamins. I had a huge horrible blow up with my family last night because of this drug withdrawal. Why do they allow this drug to be out there when nothing I seen about being on it or stopping it is beneficial to anyone. I know I am rambling and jumping around but this is how my brain is working right now.

    Please if you are reading this to do research about taking this drug DO NOT take it. I wish I would have researched it. This is not the life I want to live. I wish I could take a vacation at work until I have come out of this. It is so freaking hard not to have any symptoms at work. Thank fully I have a semi private desk area and a bathroom close by that I can run to when I need to have a meltdown. But I have only told one person that I am close with at work my situation because I do not need the label that she is not right. So far so good at work. Thank God.

    I would hate to have an “episode” at work and make them wonder who they are paying an awesome wage to. Right now I feel normal. When I started writing this I was a blithering crying idiot. At least the wonderful bright side of this withdrawal is that when I want a hug or cuddle time with my husband. I said some pretty horrible things to him last night during my blow up that I hate that I can not unsay. Which is what I have found to be the absolute worst withdrawal symptom of this drug. You say it because it pops into your head, you regret that it left your mouth and it is something that you would never ever want or say ever.

    But one thing someone says triggers the anger and hate. I wish there was something I could take while coming off of this. But then I would have to come off of that too. And after this I never want to have to withdrawal again from anything. I will go to vapor cigarettes when I decide to quit but never again even in hell will I go cold turkey from anything. I want to sue the drug companies for saying this drug is great.

    I hope a lawyer reads these posts and wants to file a class action against the drug companies for what they deem as a safe drug. Some how I think that if I would have not been so against pot and smoked it once in a while I would not be where I am right now. So hopefully I can find the light at the end of this hell and hold on and make it there.

    • Joni September 5, 2014, 3:14 pm

      I know how you feel, I really do. My doctors have put me on and switched me around so much, Started with xanax, then zoloft, then cymbalta, and then effexor. Getting all this out of my system has been a nightmare. I have depression, disc degeneration, arthritis. I am also on another addictive drug a doctor put me on, ativan 1 mg 3x a day. I stopped the effexor, after a little over a month.

      I’m taking tramadol to relieve my pain and ativan. I also wish a lawyer would see the post. I have not been me for over 15 years. Right now I throw up all the damn crap, and I feel like my brain is messed up. I have had weird dreams, can’t sleep. I’ve had memory loss. Thing is can a lawyer help? I wish these doctors that switch you around and make you an experiment would try these drugs they are so happy to give you.

      I can’t lift over 10 pounds at work. I get humiliated, treated like crap, I cry, I’m trying so hard to do this while people test me everyday. I am crying as I reply because no one out there will help or understand what is happening. I took a few days off from work and actually considered going into drug rehab and I’m not a drug addict. I’m poisoned by antidepressants doctors hand out and make you feel like an experiment.

      If any lawyers can help us, yeah it would be great. I wish I could write the manufacturers of these drugs and tell them, how nice it is to forget peoples names you work with everyday, throw up, have brain zaps, I really don’t know what to do.

      • Amy September 20, 2014, 1:41 pm

        I just want to let you know, from personal experience, that Tramadol is very habit forming. I don’t mean that YOU get addicted to it, but your brain does. I was taking it for pain relief….it always worked. Then I spoke with the right individual who told me the literature on it outright lies. The body develops a physical dependence on it, and your brain will actually create pain to get its next dose. Getting off it was hard and very painful…..But please be aware. I am not anti-pharmaceutical in any way, as I’ve weighed in healthcare for 25 years. But Tramadol is pure evil!

  • David August 29, 2014, 1:13 am

    Hi all, I just want to share my experiences with those reading these forums, searching for answers, looking for help, reaching out for support.

    Over the past four years I would have spent HUNDREDS of hours on forums/sites such as this, in a desperate bid to find the ‘key’ all the medical professionals were missing in their attempts to ameliorate the symptoms of EXTREME DEPRESSION I experienced, and to further understand the medications I was prescribed (LOADS!), and if I was ever to get better, how I would cope when I the time came to stop taking even just one of the medications I was prescribed.

    Just for some context, I’m a 36 year old Australian male. For my entire life, I would have to say that I had a tendency toward depression and anxiety, however, four years ago, I had surgery on my spine and this triggered a COMPLETE inward collapse – without telling you all what you already know about your own depression/mental illness, I experienced all of the classic symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder, Severe General Anxiety Disorder and extreme chronic pain due to my surgery and the nature of my spine injury. At my peak medication period, a little over 6 months ago, my daily medication regimen consisted of – 425mg Effexor XR, 2000mg Seroquel, 45mg Endone, 20mg Fentanyl Transdermal Patch (applied every 3 days), 18mg Clonazepam, 90mg Oxazepam, with a good mix of ‘let’s try you on this for a bit’ thrown in too.

    Remember, 6 months ago (as of 29 Aug 2014), I was taking ALL of this, EVERYDAY, along with weekly sessions with a psychiatrist.

    My psychiatrist went on annual leave for three weeks, 7 months ago. We decided together that since my mental health was stable at TERRIBLE, I wouldn’t benefit from seeing someone different while he was away.

    One week into his absence, I figured that the only course of treatment we HADN’T tried, was FEWER medications, not more.

    Without his knowledge or consent, I immediately stopped taking ALL medication, with the exception of 425mg Effexor (caveat: I cannot urge enough the importance of discussing with your medical practitioner ANY and ALL decisions to change/reduce/increase/modify your particular medication profile. It is extremely important, for a raft of reasons, that your treating physician knows EXACTLY where you’re at. Being fully cognisant of the importance of this, I went ahead with my chosen course of action. Again, DO NOT DO THIS!).

    Two days later, I noticed a DRAMATIC improvement in my mental health. The only way to describe how I felt is ‘fixed’. I was better. Better than ever. That lasted less than three days.

    Then the hell began. Again, I’m not going to go into details about what a lot of you already know regarding the what can be completely debilitating challenges of stopping any or all of these meds (but please contact me if you’d like to know ANYTHING at all about my process/progress/experience).

    What I do want to focus on with this post are my POSITIVE experiences. After spending so much of my own time on forums/blogs/websites, I KNOW this is a voice that is out there, it’s just missing from the sites we seek for information and reassurance that we can get better, and that not all of the horror stories you will read are true.

    I have two theories regarding the proliferation of terrifying news out there, and the dearth of positive. Well, one theory, and one fact.

    We all want to get better, so we read, absorb, share, learn as much as we can. The most common questions we all ask are ‘how is this going to affect me?’, ‘for how long?’, ‘how much more shit am I going to have to go through?’, ‘what are the side effects/withdrawals?’ etc. Then through our collective experiences, there’s an online knowledge base we refer to for those answers. But here’s the problem, ALMOST ALL THE ANSWERS are TERRIFYING, so our despair grows deeper, and we are more likely to avoid taking steps that in a lot of cases could lead to dramatic improvements in our mental health and wellbeing.

    Why are the answers all so terrifying? How can it be that all these drugs that help people so much, can also cripple them so much?

    Theory One Through Personal Experience: people get well. MILLIONS of them (like ME!). And in nearly all cases, those people close that excruciating chapter on their lives, they move on, and don’t return to ‘the knowledge base’. There are UNFATHOMABLY more positive outcomes out there that we simply don’t hear about because people get well and start to rebuild their lives. And good on them. The only problem for the rest of us is that the people who asked the same questions we all did don’t go on to feed back in to the ‘knowledge base’ loop with their POSITIVE recovery experiences. They get on with life. I was aware of this while seeking my own answers and reassurances that things will get better during the crushing depths of withdrawing from – remember, Cold Turkey and LOADS of – medications. I promised myself that if I ever got even remotely better, I would feed back into the loop with my positive experiences.

    So, regarding Effexor XR alone (forgetting all the others for now, but again, contact me if there’s anything you’d like to know). Four weeks ago, this time in discussion with my psych, I told him I wanted to stop taking the Effexor. He said ‘fine, we’ll start the taper, with monthly reductions at 10%’. I said ‘no, I will start the taper tomorrow at 100%. I won’t be taking it at all (remember, my daily dose was 425mg – that’s a very high dose)’. He objected, but I reminded him that I went cold turkey on an extreme cocktail of very potent prescription meds. I have already experienced the agony of both severe depression, and of cold turkey withdrawals. I’ve been through hell twice, I can give it another crack. He agreed, but I would be closely monitored.

    What’s my POSITIVE message? Four weeks ago, I was on 425mg Effexor XR. The next day I was on zero. Today, I am on zero. Despite some very minor ‘annoyances’, my withdrawal from Effexor was non-existent (however, I am still experiencing some ongoing ‘annoyances’).

    I think the take-home from what I’m trying to convey is that everyone’s experiences will be different. Sure, some people will experience the full gamut of terrible withdrawal symptoms (and for those of you that do, hang in, be strong, things WILL GET BETTER), but I’d be prepared to stake a lot that THE VAST MAJORITY of people don’t, we just don’t hear from them, because they closed that nasty ass book. The internet has its virtues, but it’s got more than its fair share of vices. PLEASE, don’t absorb just the terrible experiences you read about, there’s FAR more extraordinarily positive messages that we just don’t hear.

    This post is probably long enough for now (is anyone still with me?! Ha), so I’ll leave the FACT about the negative messages we read for another time.

    If anyone would like to contact me for any support or advice, I’d love to help if I can – david(underscore)ingram(at)mac(dot)com

    Sincere best wishes to you all.

    David

    • Anne Lamoureux September 19, 2014, 7:23 pm

      You are awesome and If I could formulate a better response right now I would. I hope this reply finds you well and adjusting to life w/out Effexor. I am only on day 2 w/ out it after 14 years of 150 mgs. The brain zaps and crying symptoms might be the death of me.

    • Deede November 20, 2014, 3:26 am

      Thank you for the comments. I stopped taking Effexor 75mg 2 weeks ago and am experiencing many of the symptoms expressed by others. I began seeking advice via the internet a few days ago and was wondering why, until now, had not read one word about anyone getting over the terrible withdrawal symptoms and being able to go on with their lives in a positive manner. What I want to know at this point is how long the nausea, headache, gastrointestinal, dizziness, etc., might go on. I know that each person has a different healing process but, sometimes you can look at all the information and estimate, based on your own body chemistry, about how long it might be.

      Bearing in mind that this is just an estimate and may be longer or shorter, it at least gives me something to look forward too. Further, I do understand the positive nature of being able to vent and share our mutual experiences. I am so glad these forums exist…I thought I was going crazy. Thank you all so much for sharing your experience. I admire all of you for the strength you have shown and wish you all the best in your struggle. Furthermore, someone mentioned legal action with respect to this medication and I am so with you. If I had known what I could expect if I ever wanted or needed to stop these meds I would not have started them.

    • Tracy December 3, 2014, 11:47 pm

      Thank you!

    • Fran December 26, 2014, 10:35 pm

      Thank you for sharing and not forgetting to provide hope for those of us that have decided to stop cold turkey; off at a 100%. Looking forward to getting better and eventually withdrawal symptoms subsiding.

    • Sue August 1, 2015, 9:28 am

      Hi David, thanks for posting this info. I was on 225mg for about 15 years, prior to that Zoloft for about the same amount of time, and before that sinequin (sp?) for about another 5 years. I want to be in charge. I was sick of not feeling anything, flat constantly – no highs no lows. I just want to feel. I am guilty of running on adrenaline and giving to everyone else, particularly at work, but nothing left for me.

      Every time I go on holiday I get sick, every single time.. Something has to give, so I decided to wean off drop a tablet a week for 3 weeks, after about 4th day of nothing, felt disassociated, a bit unsteady and sweats (going through menopause as well!) reading these accounts are making me more determined to be clean again. I have adopted clean eating and am including probiotics as recent research indicates a direct relationship between mental health and lack of healthy gut flora. So… Will persevere!

    • Fay September 25, 2015, 8:09 pm

      Thank you David – your post is not just brilliant but a really bright light at the end of the tunnel. All the best for you!

    • Leni February 24, 2016, 6:34 pm

      Hi David, Are you ok now without effexor? I have reduced 75mg to half and I take three other day until a stop definitively. I have no depression, just hot flashes that make me crazy. Lord Jesus help me!! Thanks

  • hmariewv August 31, 2014, 9:29 pm

    There are support groups out there now to help people withdraw from Effexor so you can understand what to expect and know you are not alone. David some people are able to cold turkey but if you are one of those that it backfires on it can be hell and make the w/d longer. You are at 4 wks and I hope all goes well for you. Gut health is important so maybe you are one of the lucky ones. It has nothing to do with being “strong” Effexor can kick anyones a** I find a lot of the people do come back and share after they are off Effexor and they also come back to help others going through this ordeal. Surviving antidepressants is a good group and Facebook has groups too.

  • Cathy's September 1, 2014, 4:36 pm

    I have been off effexor Xr for six weeks. I am still not sleeping well, and have severe fatigue. I some days don’t move off the couch.

  • Gingersnap September 2, 2014, 11:19 am

    I don’t know if my experience with Effexor XR will be helpful, but i hope so. I have been taking 150 mg for 3.5 years. I lost my job 6 weeks ago-and am no longer insured. Since I can’t afford to pay for the Effexor, I decided to wean myself off….and so far ( fingers crossed)….. It hasn’t been too terribly bad. I have missed doses in the past, so am quite familiar with the horrible withdrawal symptoms. What I have been doing is waiting until I start to feel withdrawal symptoms.

    When I do… I immediately take a pill. I feel sick for maybe an hour or so…but it is tolerable. The length of time between doses that it takes to feel symptomatic has steadily increased over the past 4 weeks. This morning I realized that it has been 4 days since my last pill and I feel OK, that is no symptoms of withdrawal. Over the years I have been off/on other antidepressants ( including Effexor), and have always tapered off the meds.

    This way seems to be working just as we’ll for me and is taking less time. I have to say that there has been a couple of times during this process that I took a pill prior to being symptomatic. That was when I was going to bed and was afraid that I would wake up symptomatic. As I said earlier, it has been 4 days and I am cautiously hopeful that I’ve successfully weaned myself off. I hope that my experience can be helpful. I would like to wish everyone Good Luck and please take care.

    • Cathy Steele September 4, 2016, 3:35 pm

      I am going to try that. I went 3 days and then could not stand it anymore. If what you are saying is right, it might work for me. I can only hope.

  • Steve Pepper September 3, 2014, 4:49 am

    Cut back to half a tablet of 75mg for a week then stopped dead. Main effect is light headed and a feeling of lookin at things from the back of my head. Hard to explain. Otherwise not so bad. Was a bit tired first few days.

  • Cornhusker September 7, 2014, 2:22 am

    I have been on Effexor 150 for 6 or 7 years. My doctor said I could take it the rest of my life. He said it would do no harm. There would not be side effects. He said there is no withdrawal if you stop. I thought my doctor knew everything. Now I know he was parroting what the drug reps told him. He did not find out. I stopped 8 months ago when I forgot to take it for 10 days. I called and he didn’t even talk to me.

    He just told his nurse to relay a message. After several desperate sobbing calls he told his nurse to tell me I needed to see a psychiatrist. She said I wouldn’t be able to get in for 6 months or more. He said to keep the next appointment I had with him in a week. By then I had realized I hadn’t been taking Effexor and I started again. So I told him what happened. Then he told me what some people claim they had for withdrawal symptoms. He never told me that before.

    He admitted he didn’t know what to do for my frantic symptoms a week before so he just said I should see a psychiatrist. My doctor is in internal medicine. He was one of the top in his medical class 20 years ago. I thought he was empathetic. I thought he cared about his patients. That week I learned when he didn’t know, he just didn’t handle the situation. He did not even talk to me. His nurse said “we are here for you”. That was when she said I wouldn’t be able to see a psychiatrist for 6 months.

    That is how my doctor was “there for me”. Now I am seeing a therapist. He knows there are horrible withdrawal symptoms. He knows I want to get off the meds. I am just a person who always does things right away, I never do things gradually. so that’s why I quit. I want him to think I reached my goal. My friend says “are you still on that drug?” I want her to think I have gotten off of it. I want to please. This morning I had brain zaps ..continuous. And the headache is horrible. I’ve taken pain pills with no help. I have NO support.

    I want to call my therapist but it is the weekend. He said I could call but he needs his time off. I think I am going to die. I am so afraid. I have no one to talk to. So then I cry and the stress makes it worse. If I can relax it is better. I felt sick all day. I ate chicken broth only. Can anyone help me . can anyone say I matter. can anyone tell me whether I should start taking the pill at least every other day or should I just wait until I see my therapist in 3 days? Please let me know what you would do.

    • Emily W October 13, 2014, 2:44 am

      Don’t know if I am getting into this discussion or not as I am not very computer savvy. I am having almost all the withdrawal symptoms mentioned by all of you after taking effexor ONLY 17 DAYS. I quit when I realized it was causing severe constipation. It is a horrible drug and I am angry with my doctor for prescribing it without mentioning a word about side effects or withdrawal symptoms. I am elderly and also have fibromyalgia, which makes the withdrawal even worse. I am so upset to learn that these symptoms can last up to a year or more. Thanks for letting me vent.

    • Gary December 10, 2014, 12:23 am

      Cornhusker, I know this is a few months later and I am praying that you are OK! Listen to me! You are more than OK and you more then matter. I have been prescribed more meds then anyone could count and I KNOW what everyone is expressing here. My first reaction, Anger! I have seen,watched, and read good and decent people have their lives turned upside down because of a jack ass of a college educated Dr. thinks he knows best. I had one doctor many years ago who hardly ever perscibed nor referred patients to psychiatrists and others getting them trapped in an endless Insurance and medical nightmare.

      He told you the Truth! “don’t get mixed up in those meds” he would say. Yes, some diagnosis require meds, but they have gotten wrapped up in the business of pharmaceutical companies and kickbacks. Do the research! If they would just read some of these comments, making a million shouldn’t be first and people’s well being second. Why would any well educated decent Human Being put an innocent person thru this, turning their lives, their jobs, and their families on the line. At least educate the patient and tell them Everything!

      Make an informed decision with the patient best interest in mind. Where are these doctors when it all falls apart. I was put on Oxycotin for a bad back within months of being diagnosed. I LOST EVERYTHING! Where was the doctor? Praying I didn’t sue him for malpractice. My heart goes out to each and every person here and those that read. When someone posts wondering if they matter anymore? That pisses me off. I am all for suing every drug company that manufactures this stuff.

      I will be the first to say that some medications have changed peoples lives for the better. Great! Success stories are wonderful to hear! But when it doesn’t go well, most cases, at some point, it is the responsibility of the prescribing doctor to step up, own up, help, and not disappear! I pray you all have made it! I am off everything! Every pain med, suboxone, Klonopin, effexor er, prozac, Zoloft, you name it. It has been a month off effexor and just starting to feel “normal” again! They, of course, never explained how it rolled.

      I BEGGED my doctor to take me off twice. When I demanded because, funny thing, It’s my life, he looked at me and asked, why didn’t you ask me? I used more self control that moment then any other time in my life! It took everything I had not to knock him into last month. I could tell by the look on his face he knew I meant it. God Bless each one of you and anyone reading this. My faith has gotten me through and leveled me, hope you all can find yours.. Life is meant to be happy and Joyful.. Not hurtful!

  • Karen September 7, 2014, 2:57 am

    My dosage was 300mg/day. I was on Effexor for 8 years. May 29th was the last day I took any antidepressant. I was also on anti anxiety medications Lorazepam 2mg as needed and Clonazepam 2mg twice per day and sleeping pills. In 3 weeks I was medically watched and tapered off all medication. I have suffered through dizziness, irritability, insomnia, anxiety and depression.

    It is now September and I still suffer from little anxiety and reduced depression. I am managing my disorders with a mental health worker seen every two weeks and learning coping skills. I can now think without my thoughts being clouded. I can not sleep through the night but I get enough rest. Most of all I am in full control of my thoughts and actions. I am no longer addicted to pills.

    • geno September 9, 2014, 3:46 pm

      Congrats. its nice saying “no longer addicted to pills”. I kicked Lorazapam cold. Was on about 8-10mg/day, sometimes more. That’s kind of like kicking heroin. After three days you stop shaking, and start returning to normal from there (at least for me). But kicking Effexor was a whole different story. Kudos to you.

  • Cornhusker September 7, 2014, 2:53 pm

    Karen, do you think you could have gotten through it without the lorazepam and the clonazepam. I know those are controlled drugs and Effexor also should be a controlled drug. At the very lease not used for more than 6 months. I did take 150 mg last night and the brain zaps lessened but still a loud buzzing in my head. Woke up at 4 and started jerking. Lasted about 10 minutes. Seemed uncontrollable, then it stopped. I tried deep breathing to make it stop sooner. Also photophobia since I stopped Effexor – need to wear dark glasses just like after an eye refraction test. Tell me what would you do. I am taking Wellbutrin 300 mg and have stopped it at the same time except 1 or 2 a week (that’s probably just a crutch that isn’t doing anything anyway). Would you keep trying to get through it. Would you start the pills again? Would it be easier to just take them the rest of my life like my internist suggested? I think he should take it for a year, then tell me what he has told me up until now. It’s like others have said. They don’t know. They haven’t taken the drug but I am amazed that my therapist knows. He has spent more time dealing with these after effects because the internist just tells his nurse to get rid of that caller.

  • Karen September 7, 2014, 5:30 pm

    The Lorazepam and Clonazepam are the first I cut along with 150mg of Wilburtrin. On the last week I cut Effexor. ..It was hard. Restless nights of no sleep, nightmares, sweats and self doubt. I rarely get nightmares now but the most important thing I gained from this is the ability to make conscious decisions. I was living in a mist before and now I can see clearly. It was my decision to change the way I thought about things. I have to retrain my brain…my friends, family, children and my partner have noticed a big difference in my behavior. The pills were there when I wanted to escape. I wanted to stop running.

  • Cornhusker September 7, 2014, 10:19 pm

    Today no headache…yet. But I took the Effexor last night. Now I’m going to try to be off for a week unless my therapist says otherwise. And off the Wellbutrin only every other day for a couple more weeks. I will do what my therapist says. He is so knowledgeable and he is so professional. If you find a good therapist you can get along with a lousy doctor who is only good for yearly physicals, I guess. I’ll have zaps again tomorrow or Tuesday and then I won’t have a positive thought. The best help is to be outside as much as possible. Is there hope for the long range. I do not have a family or friends to notice the difference because I will not share this with anyone. They are not open to mental health issues. They are not even open to physical health issues. To them, a person either stays well or dies and there’s no in between. There’s no such thing as needing to take care of yourself. So I have to go it alone or spend the rest of my life having them all say I am “crazy”.

  • Karen September 8, 2014, 2:16 am

    Doesn’t sound like a good situation to be in at home. I am sorry about that. Do what is comfortable to you. In the end all that matters is how you think and feel. My struggle is far from over and I pray for yours as well. Take care and believe in yourself, only you can be the change. Hugs (u)

  • Freestone September 8, 2014, 12:59 pm

    I have suffered from depression (and related anxiety) for most of my life. When I was young I went into therapy for 3 years which helped greatly and I also acquired some good skills to help deal with it. As I got older I was able to rally at times and kind of kick myself out of a depressive state. In my forties when I was still raising my family and taking care of my elderly parents, I finally asked my doctor for some help. She put me on Zoloft which helped for awhile. She then sent me to a psychiatrist.

    He had me try a couple other drugs which would work for awhile but eventually stop giving me relief. He finally put me on Effexor XR. It was a very good drug for me and I was on it for many years. It was exhausting dealing with depression and related anxiety for so many years and being able to take medication for it was an incredible relief. After years on Effexor XR, it finally stopped working. My psychiatrist weaned me off of it. I thought I was doing ok with the withdrawal but then I started unraveling.

    My doctor was trying to find another antidepressant to help me but nothing seemed to be working. My depression just kept getting worse. I stopped doing everything. All I wanted to do is stay in bed and sleep if I could and I desperately wanted to get away from the emotional pain. It was excruciating beyond words. I had no interest in anything or anyone. I am fortunate as I have a wonderful husband and family and they were taking care of me. I was having suicidal thoughts and I also felt I was going into a vegetated state.

    I was very scared. I told my doctor he might need to hospitalized me. The point of this is my doctor finally found the right drug combination to bring me back from my living hell. I know why people take their lives now and have great sympathy for them and their love ones. These drugs so many of us are prescribed these days are not to be taken lightly. Be careful and do your own research. They need to be prescribed by a good, qualified doctor preferably a psychiatrist and one with which you have a comfort level.

    I am now 68 years old and I know I need to be medicated and will have to be the rest of my life. Thank God the medications are there for people like me. Remember Effexor XR worked for me for many years. My experience with Effexor XR withdrawal was a bad one but we all experience these drugs differently whether side effects from being on them or withdrawal symptoms from going off of them. It doesn’t mean their bad for everyone. Online forums are good and provide a wealth of information. Sometimes though, only the negatives get posted. I hope someone can gleam something from my experience. Keep trying to find a solution and don’t give up hope!

  • Leah September 9, 2014, 1:08 pm

    Reading all of your blogs has been an eye opening experience. Like many off you I thought I was the only one suffering nasty withdrawal effects from Effexor ER. I was on 300mg a day for almost 4 years. I spoke to my therapist 3 months ago about stopping the drug and he told me to tapper slowly off it. I decided to cut my dosage in half (I didn’t tell my doctor about this, I just did it). My doctor had wanted me to reduce my dosage by only 25mg per month. It was actually empowering to make a decision about my mental health. I had withdrawals for 4 or 5 days and then things settled down. Over that 4 or 5 days the symptoms markedly reduced each day becoming more tolerable each day.

    5 days ago (5th Sepetember 2014) when my prescription ran out I stopped cold turkey. I was had been taking 150mg and now I take 0mg. Again, I felt empowered I had made this decision. I have been wanting to get off this medication for a while and my therapist kept convincing me to stay on it. He does not know I have stopped it and to be honest I don’t think he will really care. I’m just a paycheck to him.

    I nievely thought that my withdrawals this time would again only last 4 or 5 days. Well I was very wrong!!!!!!! They are awful and much worse then when I cut my dose from 300mg to 150mg, 3 months ago. I feel nautious all day and night, the brain zaps are driving me crazy, I’m so angry all the time, I’m sweating perfously and having horrible nightmares when I eventually fall asleep. I feel absolutely drained and exhausted, more exhausted then I’ve felt in a very long time. I am a primary school teacher and it’s really hard to go to work at the moment. I’m really scared I’ll over react to the students behaviour and that is just not fair on them. I will not give up and go back on the drug. I know the withdrawals will eventually pass and my brain fog will clear and I’ll be able to sleep again I just hope it happens sooner rather then later.

    Good luck

  • geno September 9, 2014, 3:36 pm

    I have withdrew from other drugs and it was hell. However, the withdrawal from Effexor was even worse. Other drugs I have gone cold turkey (non antidepressants). I have plenty of will power. But with the Effexor, I feared for my life. Nearly all of the withdrawal effects were physical, not emotional (did not get depressed or anxious or anything).

    Irregular heart beat, extreme blood pressure fluctuations, sweats, respiratory distress, and overall body pain. But it was the blood pressure and heart palpitations that worried me the most. So I decided to wean slowly. It was a long, long process. About a year. Even when I was down to 5mg, I couldn’t just stop. I had to go to 2mg, then go every other day on 2mg. I was cutting up my pills into the tiniest pieces (they weren’t XR anyway).

    And it wasn’t placebo, bkz sometimes I would not remember that I didn’t take it and all of the sudden I would get hit with the side effect, and I would be like “what the heck is going on”, then I would remember that I forgot to take it. Anyhow, all good now, but man, it was a long arduous process. Good luck

  • Lori September 12, 2014, 11:41 pm

    I have been on 150 mg Effexor twice a day for 15 years. I now have a gastric problem and have to take a medication called Reglan. The Reglan can not be taken with the Effexor so they want me to stop the Effexor forever. I am very worried.

    • Amy September 20, 2014, 1:48 pm

      Reglan has horrible neurological side effects! My GI doctor suggested a medication available through online Canadian pharmacies that does precisely the same thing but with NO side effects. It is called Motilium. It helps your stomach empty, which is what Reglan does, and it works perfectly. Fairly inexpensive too! I HIGHLY recommend your switching.

  • Cornhusker September 13, 2014, 7:17 pm

    Here’s what I have to say to “Bragging Brenda” in her comments of August 3rd. Don’t be so egotistic and full of yourself. Your symptoms which you say are gone could return at any time and no positive attitude in the world is going to get rid of the severe headaches, the brain zapping, and the lightheadness. We each have our roads to travel. It’s great that you think you are better than the rest of us because you have a “positive attitude” but personally I would just rather hear a little less bragging.

    • Jay October 21, 2014, 6:38 am

      Wow, no need to make personal attacks, first. And second, I see nothing wrong with Brenda’s comments. We are all obviously struggling, have some compassion for others!

  • Brandi September 16, 2014, 7:01 pm

    I have been on 300mgs of xr for years and am currently 12 weeks pregnant. I feel so alone terrified ect… i hear horror stories about babies being born with issues even dying. I can’t even pour a few capsule beads out with out going into horrible withdrawal. Absolutely miserable being told me and baby could die if i stop, but if i stay on my baby could still pass. Drs seem so oblivious about the withdrawal. I see 4 drs just for my pregnancy. I’m completely torn.

  • Beck September 17, 2014, 11:38 am

    Thank you everyone for the comments they are all very helpful. I too would like to let everyone know that even though the side effects are horrible and at times you may feel like giving up, it’s absolutely worth it!!! I have been on varied doses for about 6 years and have just now decided that I needed to get off them. I am now two weeks “sober” and am already feeling much better. I personally used the taper effect. You truly do have to take one day at a time. I still have my bad days. Good luck to everyone I hope all of you can successfully ween off the medication and reek the benefits!!!

  • Eliza September 18, 2014, 2:42 pm

    I started talking Venlafaxine 75 mg for anxiety in January. About two weeks ago I decided to quit cold turkey. I know that is not recommended by anyone or any doctor but I didn’t like the person I was while on the medication anymore. It was like nothing phased me. The first 4 days were absolutely horrific BUT i took some fish oil so that helped a lot with the brain zaps.

    I had Tylenol for the headaches and I drank only water…no coffee soda or juice. I also drank Yogi drtox tea three times a day. This should help push this stuff out of your system. I also found natural remedies for anxiety and stress and purchased a bottle of Anxiety and Stress from Natural Wellbeing. I take that everyday and I am starting to feel like myself again. I have been free of this pill for 12 days…I have no more nausea….no more brain zaps…crying spells…its been rough but with the help of God and the great support system I have (family and friends)…I now know I will be okay!

    So if you are on Effexor and trying to get off you can do this! I wouldn’t suggest cold turkey but hopefully some of the things i listed helps! If you are NOT on this drug DO NOT TAKE IT! Find natural ways to help yourself…this is not a road you want to go down.

  • Bre September 18, 2014, 9:15 pm

    I was on Effexor for 5 years, ending in 2008. The tapering was HELL, and this was (surprisingly) before any documentation of just how hard it is to ween off and the effects of doing so. The withdrawal-inducing brain zaps had me go get an MRI on my head since this effect was undocumented only to find out later it was the medication. While weening for months, I was down to taking the granules out of the pill it was so terrible. The unbelievably short half life of the medication meant brain zaps and mental fog would come easy whether the medication was half a day late or a full day.

    The unfortunate part of these medications is that they don’t actually ‘fix’ you. Whether it’s because you don’t produce enough of a neurotransmitter(s) or your receptors are insensitive or there isn’t enough of them, these medications just block the re-uptake of neurotransmitters (depending on your med), overwhelming the receptors in hopes of flooding them to achieve a ‘normal’ mood. This can have detrimental effects on it’s own.

  • Judy September 20, 2014, 12:09 am

    My psychiatrist reduced my daily dosage of Effexor XR from 450 mg down to 375 mg about 17 days ago. I was only on the 450 mg for about two months. Here at Day 18, I am still having physical withdrawal symptoms, including dizziness, earaches, and headaches. Anyone know how much longer I can expect to have these physical withdrawals? Ibuprofen (600 mg) does almost nothing for the pain.

  • Amy September 20, 2014, 1:52 pm

    I’ve only been on Effexor for six months at 20mg, which is a minute amount compared to the prescriptions listed here. I weaned myself off it successfully by moving to 10 and then 5 a couple months ago. I subsequently went through some major life stressors and put myself back on it. I just went off of it cold turkey four days ago…..omg! Insomnia, dizziness, anorexia….it’s a killer. My heart goes out to all of you. It’s now on my “never again” list!

  • Brian September 23, 2014, 8:54 pm

    Hi all. I was on Effexor 75mg for 6 months and it just numbed me. I took my last Effexor 76 hours ago and the symptoms you are all describing started after 24 hours, especially those horrible ‘brain zaps’. I want you to read up about vitamin b3 (Niacin) and how blasting your system with high doses of this totally natural vitamin can act as a replacement to anti-depressants and also counteracts these horrible side-effects.

    Rather than me writing it all out here, please, for your own positive mental well-being, do your research on Niacin and give it a try. It’s very likely that your body isn’t able to absorb enough of this vitamin from the food your eating and there is a direct link between a lack of b3 and depression, some of us just lack the gene involved. Omega oils are also essential. I’ve been on Niacin for about two months now with a view to getting off Effexor and within just a few days, my life had dramatically changed for the better.

    I wish I had known about it before I went on Effexor. My dose is 1200 mg per day (normal b3 rda is just 100 mg). Early days yet, I know, on the giving up Effexor front, but I’m going to stick with it and believe Niacin is the key.

  • Alexandra September 24, 2014, 11:12 pm

    I’m glad I read these posts. I AM 2 MONTHS OFF EFFEXOR- Still experiencing symptoms…

    I was taking 75 mg for 9 years and tapered over the course of 3 months. About two weeks after hell broke lose. I have experienced tingling feeling in my head, numbness in my head, migraines, I am CONSTANTLY TIRED (so annoying), anxiety has returned and taken the form of extreme health anxiety.

    *Side note- having brain zaps? Take Fish oil… a strong one.. I took 6 per day and brain zaps vanished…. Now I take 3 a day just to maintain my sanity lol…

    What I mean by this is that even after reading that all of you have had similar symptoms within the past two months I have gotten a brain MRI (thought the tingling and migraines could be something worse), Echocardiogram (the chest pain and shortness of breath worried me about my heart), Breast ultrasound, Pelvic ultrasound. You name it I’ve done it because I keep telling myself HOW COULD ALL OF THESE FEELINGS BE FROM A PILL I STOPPED TWO MONTHS AGO? But guess what… Every dang test came back perfectly fine. I am trying to reduce this health anxiety but if its not me worrying about one things its another. I have even questioned whether or not my heart could have suddenly changed since my echo 1 month ago… or if my brain could have mysteriously formed a problem (I don’t even like saying the t or c word)… but this is all extremely irrational. It’s the medicine. Remind yourself that.

    Some days I cry because “I just want to feel better… I just want to feel happy again”

    Good news? I can feel again.. I was a little numb on the effexor.. AND I’ve lost 25 lbs in 2 months… It was like someone opened the valve of the balloon effexor created and the weight is just seeping away. The important thing to remember is WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT. No one will go through an identical withdrawal experience so its important to stay positive and lead a healthy lifestyle until these horrific symptoms dissipate.

    Best of Luck and keep in touch.

    P.S. Anyone have any of these symptoms I’ve described? I cant seem to kick the weird head sensations and extreme fatigue.

    • Jay October 21, 2014, 6:46 am

      How are you feeling now?

    • nikita November 20, 2015, 3:14 pm

      Hi there :) I am 2 months off after 2 years on and I’m still struggling. How much longer did it last for you? I too am struggling with anxiety health mainly :(. Any response would be great.

  • Lamy September 28, 2014, 4:20 am

    I been on Effexor 225mg Since 2012, was put off work due to cts so cannot afford the meds. Stopped cold turkey, got all the messed up withdrawal symptoms but want to give my liver a break and dont want to go back to pills. Instead got a medical marijuana card and it works so much better than anti depressants and tranquilizers. Feel great, happy, productive and chilled out. Not trying to be any ones enabler but just sharing my experience. Good luck

  • Jenni September 28, 2014, 10:10 pm

    I’m on my fourth day of going cold turkey, feeling goodish, had a incidents from a third party, but was impressed how well I conducted myself. No headaches, but some dizziness, but it’s the ringing in my ears, that’s Doing my head in !! Been tied, and dopey !! So dopey not being able to make sense of what people are saying to me, but on saying that, these people I think lack in communication skills, and a few dopey experiences that have made me laugh.

    Have had a few crying spells, but as I have nothing really to cry about and they only lasted 2-3 minutes, wasn’t too bothered. Had some great retail therapy , I can recommend that. Going to start multi vitamins today. I wish us all the best of luck coming off medication – to a bright and positive future xx

  • Tamra September 29, 2014, 12:33 am

    I am so happy to have found this comment thread. I feel much better knowing everything I am experiencing is normal. The worst for me is the brain zaps. I have been on various anti dep for 10 years now. Effexor XL for the last 5. Just last week my doc switched me to bupropion to help me quit smoking. So I stopped the Effexor and started the bupropion. It finally hit me today that everything I am experiencing was from withdrawal of Effexor and not the side affects of bupropion. It’s HELL!!!! But I have spent all day reading and reading information on these drugs and I am so angry at myself.

    I’m going to continue on this journey and get off these drugs. I want them out of my system. I am not sure how it feels to be “normal”. The withdrawals just prove how strong these drugs are on our system. I can’t live like that. I’m going to take vitamins, plenty of water, omega 3’s are supposed to help tremendously. I also read ginger root in smoothies is another great detoxin to help rid the cells of this drug among other things. Good luck to each of you. Looks like we are all in it together. I don’t feel so alone anymore. Thank you each for your story!!!!

  • Diane September 30, 2014, 4:16 pm

    After only 30 days on Effexor I am experiencing withdrawal. This is my fourth day off Effexor (there are no pills left). I hope it does not last long.

    Today I took a Sertraline, my original medication. Now I am a little worried. Does anyone know a reason why I should not take the Sertraline (Zoloft) at this time?

    The switch to Effexor was an attempt to get relief from hot flashes. I was disappointed that it did not help, but now I am glad. I am so sorry for how all have you have suffered.

  • Priscilla October 2, 2014, 1:32 am

    I’ve been taking Effexor XR for 16 years. I know I no longer need it but am too afraid to tell my doctor because I’m terrified of the withdrawal symptoms. I went off of it cold turkey once and went through withdrawals for almost 5 months. I take 300mg and if I take any less, I feel it. Will I ever be able to get off of it??

  • Cat October 5, 2014, 1:29 pm

    I was put on the generic version of Effexor 75mg ER in 2010 for severe hot flashes that weren’t controlled by hormonal replacement after surgical menopause. It was a miracle drug at first, allowing me to sleep for the first time in months. It worked as it should for it’s intended purpose for about three years when it slowly began to become less effective.

    I had forgotten a pill or two over the past four and a half years but had never tracked the terrible and dysfunctional feeling subsequent to forgetting the pill until I ran out of my prescription in the middle of a move cross country. OMG! I immediately got a refill and began researching withdrawal problems with Effexor. What I read was frightening. I have never been on anti-depresseants for mood disorders so I was pretty unhappy with my doc for not telling me what I was getting into. Never again will I trust a drug until I throughly read up on it and weigh the pros and cons of taking it.

    In spite of the several warnings to not go cold turkey, I decided to get off the drug without tapering because it no longer worked and I do not like being dependent on any chemical especially one that had no benefit. My symptoms have mostly been physical: Severe nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, elevated blood pressure and pulse, ringing in my ears, cotton mouth, poor sleep, dizziness and overall physical weakness. I’ve also experienced aphasia, technicolor and disturbing dreams and the feeling of looking out at the world through a long tunnel.

    The first two or three days were the worst. I could barely get out of bed or off of the couch and I didn’t care if I did which is unlike me. Very much like having a really bad case of the flu. All of my symptoms have been subsiding over the past week and I’m left with a milder morning headache and sleep and dream disturbances (though I haven’t had my BP checked in about 4 days) again very much like recovering from the flu. Compared to most of you, I got off very easy. Unless the other shoe drops, I’ve gone through most of the withdrawal in 6-7 days and I’m grateful. Best of luck to those of you dealing with this drug, it’s the devil.

  • abby October 5, 2014, 10:42 pm

    Ok so I have been on effexor xr 75mg for 2 months, I was basically dead… I gained 40 lbs and slept at least 18hrs every day, when I went in to see my dr I told him I wanted off, so he reduced my dosage to 37.5, he told me to take it for a week then I should be able to stop. I didn’t experience any side effects with the drop in dose, but I took my last pill 2 days ago and yesterday I started the day with a headache and nausea that hung around most of the day.

    Today I called in sick to work and have been unable/uninterested in getting out of bed, I have a horrible headache and am exhausted and somewhat nauseous again… can anyone give me some insight on how long this will last or what I can do? I am also taking Lamictal 200mg and Concerta 36mg. Email me if you have any suggestions please outsidethebox(at)live.com

  • Lorrie October 13, 2014, 6:13 pm

    I have been on Effexor XR 75mg for approx. 17 years. A month ago I decided that I no longer want to be on this drug. So I have been tapering off by reducing the number of granules every day. So yesterday was the first day Effexor free. Today I feel like hell. Sick, constant brain shivers, electrical zaps in my legs, nausea, muscle and joint pain. And now I read that the withdrawal symptoms may take months or a year to subside.

  • Melody October 16, 2014, 6:25 pm

    Here is a suggestion to help you withdraw from effexor 150mg. Take a dose when you get up in the morning lets say 6:30am. The next day take your dose at 7:30am. The third day take it at 8:30am. Keep going up an hour each day! I’m on my 10th day doing this. This might not help everyone, but it has helped me with little or no side effects!

  • Mary October 17, 2014, 3:17 am

    Please help. I have been on Efexor XR for about 18 years and several months ago I began having terrible memory issues. I did some research and it appears that Effexor after long term use can cause short term memory problems. With my Dr’s support I have weaned gradually from 150mg, to 112.5mg and now to 75mg. I have been on 75mg for about two weeks now and have migraine headaches and extreme aches and pains in my hips and knees… it is so challenging. I have to take Nurofen several times a day to allow me to function, but the pain is still breaking through and it wakes me up at night, so I have to take more Nurofen. I am also taking supplements (B Complex vitamins, Flaxseed Oil tablets).

    How long will this pain in my head, hips and knees last? It is unbearable.

    Thanks
    Mary

    • Carolyn October 22, 2014, 11:48 am

      Hi Mary, I have been taking Effexor XR 150 mg for same time I can’t help with your concerns as I am still taking, however I want to stop can you please let me know how long it took to reduce from 150 mg to 75 mg? Are you doing well now? All the best.

  • RG October 22, 2014, 12:20 am

    I have started weaning one month ago 150 to 75 to 37.5. Did not experience any withdrawals issues until I came off of Effexor all together after one-month weaning. Was nervous, anxious and ready to set-off in a minute – plus cried a lot – for little things and weeped for big things. This is tough and I am hoping I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. In the interim, my doctor put me on Wellbutin (sp?).

  • Carolyn October 22, 2014, 11:39 am

    Thank you all for your comments and suggestions. I gave been taking Effexor XR 150 mg for 15 years, I want to stop taking this drug and I’m afraid I would like to use the forum to help me through the process of weaning. I guess my first step is to see my doctor. How long will it take to stop taking this drug at all?

    • C October 22, 2014, 7:09 pm

      Hi Carolyn, good idea! And yes, you should definitely talk to your doctor. S/he might have a specific protocol for coming off Effexor XR safely, but you could also check out a book called “The Antidepressant Solution” by Dr. Joseph Glenmullen. He’s a Harvard professor and psychiatrist, and in the book, he suggests a 2-4 month taper. I read the book only after I came off my SSRI (not the same one as you), and I really wished I’d read the book BEFORE going through the process. Your best bet is to inform yourself and talk to your doctor, and then do the taper when you’re ready. The idea is to decrease the drug at a pace that’s comfortable for you, and with withdrawal symptoms at a level that you feel you can tolerate. It makes sense! Some can go a bit faster and some a bit slower. Take care, and good luck! C

      • Terry November 2, 2014, 2:09 pm

        I’ve been on Effexor XR 75 for over 15 years and prior to that on prozac and two others. I no longer want to be addicted to this drug! I feel flat and not able to experience joy or true sorrow. I question now after 20 yrs why I was ever prescribed an antidepressant to begin with. My new doctor prescribed a lower dose of 37.5 and wants me to stay on that for a few months. Since that is the lowest dose for Effexor XR, does one just stop this altogether? I read the book you mentioned but it doesn’t specifically talk about Effexor; it’s mostly about Paxil. Reading this blog has me frightened. I’m 69 yrs old and I don’t have a real good support system. Any suggestions anyone?

  • Deb October 24, 2014, 12:46 pm

    I stopped taking Effexor XR 75Mg 8 days ago, after decreasing the dose from 425mg over the past two years. As with everyone else, withdrawals were terrible and I started looking for help. I started taking fish oil, vit C and niacin, after reading several posts and articles. While I still have withdrawals, I have found them less severe and much more manageable, especially the brain zaps. I actually feel as though I can function again. So, I just wanted to share and spread hope. This is working for me, and I hope it might work for others too. Good luck and hang in there – get off this horribly debilitating drug as soon as you can. Deb :-)

  • Newbie October 25, 2014, 2:47 am

    41yr old white female. On no other meds.

    I was on Effexor for less than two months at 75mg 2wks and 37.5mg ~3wks. Quit cold turkey on PsyD’s advice because my dose was “subtherapeutic” anyway. Here I am after six months of the emotional rollercoaster, visual/language disturbances, brain tingles, memory loss, confusion, migraines…yada yada yada.

    I had NO idea until last night that it could have anything to do with a med I took for less than two months. I am SO thankful for your posts. Keep your chin up and tough it out. You will kick this…and so will I.

    I read some UK blog posts last night regarding the use of Benadryl to mitigate withdrawal symptoms. Anybody try that recently? I had NO idea this drug had such severe withdrawal symptoms. Never would have taken it if I did. NEVER. I’m going to try Benadryl. I’ll let you know if it helps.

    God bless you all. Peace and rest.

    • Deb October 28, 2014, 3:12 am

      Benadryl is helping its the only thing to be honest that and beta blockers 100 mg of metoprolol and 60 mg of propranolol. It’s not complete help but it is help.

  • karen October 28, 2014, 8:57 pm

    I have felt so much better after reading all these comments and knowing I’m not alone. I have been on Effexor for nearly 2 years and have suffered from profuse sweating day and night and have been to docs numerous times but they never once indicated it as a side effect of the meds. I have been off them for 3 days now and the dizziness is flooring me, although have already noticed a difference in the sweating. Just knowing other people have been through this and came out the other side has given me hope. So I will continue with my withdrawal and look forward to feeling normal (ish) again soon.

  • May November 1, 2014, 3:35 am

    I was on Effexor XR for 3 years. Anytime I missed a dose I suffered terrible brain zaps and severe headaches. I was terrified of ever having to come off them. I have also gained 28 pounds in weight which was really getting me down. I read up on loads of sites about quitting Effexor XR and could not believe the awful stories I read and how so so many people have suffered withdrawal symptoms and continue to do so. Anyhow, I just want to put up a positive comment that it can be done and without any other drugs.

    I did it in 3 weeks. I dropped to 75mg for 10 days with no side effects, then 37.5mg and then I just stopped. I did get the mentioned side effects but the brain zaps were a lot less severe than I anticipated. They were frequent but reduced every day. It wasn’t easy, I slept loads, felt like I had an awful flu, my joints ached, headaches and sweats but with couple of paracetamol when I felt terrible, I got through it. It wasn’t easy but after 2 weeks I felt lots better and now 6 weeks off the tablets I feel amazing.

    I had forgotten what the real me felt like, I had almost become numb to everything. It is brilliant to be me again. Stick at it, it can be done. I am a single mum of 3 kids so I had to literally drag myself through some days but that didn’t last long. Have faith in yourselves. It can be done :)

  • Renee November 4, 2014, 1:16 am

    Thank you all for your support – without your comments I think I would have checked myself into a hospital, only to have more drugs administered. Seven years on 150 Efferxor. 45 days ago I tapered to 75 and then 37.5. No pills at all & on day three. Brain zaps are more scary then they are painful. plenty of crying and yelling at loved ones. They are coping with me – God Bless all of us. Hang in there… I am using FISH OIL and VIT C (1000) a few times a day and they really work. Also, getting ready to include OMEGA 3 & vit B.

  • Meg November 5, 2014, 1:10 am

    Hang in there, folks. Have been on generic Effexor 20 years, most recently at 150 mg — 10 years plus? Honestly it’s been so long I can’t remember. Had a reaction to the generic they gave me this time — I swear they bid out the generics to whatever company will give ’em a bit of the real drug with the most filler in the capsules for the lowest price. Wound up in ER scared to death — and I was a health care professional for 30 years. Saw my family MD who tried me on Pristiq — that lasted 4 doses — then the same symptoms as the generic — another reaction.

    Right now, I’m in Day 3 of cold turkeying it. Scary as heck. First 7 days had a feeling of bees under my skin, and what felt like the never-ending-hot flash — men, you have to women of a certain age to know what that feels like (!), extremely weak, uncoordinated, and goofy. Definitely not safe to be driving, problems at times thinking straight. Slowed reaction times. Just today I felt that slowly my cognition is coming back to normal. So far, I haven’t been sad or depressed, but have basically a week of my life that I recall very little of.

    Of course I couldn’t get a straight answer out of anyone as to what was happening — reaction to generic effexor? To the Pristiq (same results after dose 4 of that?) My prescribing GP just doesn’t have the experience in this specialty, and the pharmacist couldn’t/wouldn’t tell me, (for liability reasons, I’m certain) Finally today talked to a psychiatrist acquaintance who said no, this is just the normal withdrawal side effects. I can’t tell you what a comfort it was to hear that. Will give the fish oil and VIT C a try — can’t hurt, might help.

    The cat will at least love me more if I smell fishy. And yeah, I’m experiencing the buzz in the head, weakness, GI system changes, appetite changes. What’s giving me the courage to hang in is that finally, day 8 into playing “What is wrong with me? Am I gonna die?” I now know that every weird symptom I feel is evidence of more of the toxin leaving my body; telling myself that gives me courage to hang in. Sending up prayers for all of us — here in the club we would never have wanted to join had we been forewarned about the nastiness of this medication in the first place.

  • Michael November 5, 2014, 4:40 pm

    I just happened upon this website so I figured I would share my experience, I was on effexor for about 12 years and I took 150 milligrams 2 times a day. I felt that it did nothing for me anymore and If I missed even a dose I was violently sick for days which I got fed up with so I decided to wean myself off it(without help from a doc). I went from 150 to 125 to 100 to 75 etc until I was down to 0 which happened at the beginning of this year (February I think).

    I felt like complete and utter sh*t for 2 or 3 months I had brain zaps, I was tired, brian fog, emotional outbursts and loss of interest in EVERYTHING I felt like a zombie 24/7. Then it gradually went away but then in July I started getting fatigued again I thought it was stress related my dad died, I got divorced, I had no place to live, I had medical problems (ear infections, GERDS (endoscopy), hydrocele (had hydrocelectomy), bladder infection and I was never really sick before this), money was tight, my son was having issues etc., so I waited till things died down a bit.

    Four months later I am worse than I was before. I have major anxiety, mood swings, I’m still tired as hell, I’m always thirsty and hungry, I don’t sleep very well, the brain fog is something fierce, and I just feel like giving up on everything as I find no enjoyment in life anymore. My bloodwork came back normal so it’s not my thyroid or anything like that. I have a neurologist appointment next week so I hope they don’t find anything major, but I keep coming back to effexor because that’s when all this started happening.

  • Newbie November 6, 2014, 12:54 am

    Hello all. I tried the Benadryl, which seemed to help some though it made me too drowsy for work. I’ve been diagnosed with ocular migraines since this all started and did a little migraine research. Long story short, I switched my approach to a low dose of Adderall, which is sometimes used off-label for migraine treatment. It really helps cut through the cognitive fog I’ve been experiencing.

    Adderall can make anxiety worsen, so it may not be for everyone. My troubles are migraines with aura (mostly aura), crying spells, confusion and memory problems. This is a bit scary. I haven’t felt like myself for too long. It feels good to be more effective at work, so Adderall has really helped in that department. I had a full cardio and neuro work up done in July. All are excellent. Blood work was also excellent. I’m waiting to get blood work back on my hormone levels to see if early menopause could be causing my symptoms. I’ll keep you posted. Take good care and God bless you all!

  • S November 12, 2014, 5:51 am

    I’ve been taking Effexor XR for stress – 150 mg a day for a year and 75 mg a day for 6 months prior to that. I also took Celexa and Wellbutrin for a few months before the Effexor. The Effexor doesn’t seem to help with my stress levels anymore, and many times I don’t take it on the weekend and don’t notice any difference. It seems that the side effects (weight gain, no sex drive, sleeping away my weekends) now outweigh the benefit for me.

    Because of this, I decided I would stop taking it, and took my last dose on the morning of 11/7. And no, I didn’t check with my doctor first. So far, so good though. I only seem to be having very minor withdrawal symptoms – a little bit of brain fog, some numbness & tingling in my fingers, and today I had a couple unexplained crying spells (after I awoke from sleeping the day away). Hopefully, this will be as bad as it gets for me.

  • Glenda November 13, 2014, 12:59 pm

    Have found all your comments very interesting and reassuring. I was on Effexor XR for 10 yrs. my Doctor prescribed it as I was suffering from severe anxiety attacks. Have since found out that the attacks, palpitations were due to a congenital heart defect and have since undergone open heart surgery to replace my Aortic Valve. I always felt that I did not need Effexor as I was not depressed. But after starting the drug I felt dull, mentally not as sharp and the sex drive was non existent! Have others found this?

    After having my surgery I was determined to go off Effexor. My doctor suggested I wait 6 months after my op which I did. 2 months ago I began my withdrawal by gradually reducing the number of pearls within the capsule. After a month I was down to 10 mg in the capsule so thought this would be a good time to quit. My withdrawal was still a nightmare! The brain zaps and dizziness were the worst, they lasted at least a month! The last couple of weeks I have been feeling extremely tired and lethargic. Also have been experiencing episodes where I feel agitated.

    Have been self talking myself threw these and has worked well. My concern is the last couple of days the brain zaps have returned as has the agitation. Just wondering if anyone else has experienced this. I am in for the long haul. No way will I ever, ever go back onto such an insidious drug! Chees and hope you are all progressing well I your journey to be Effexor X-RAY free. -Glenda

    • Terry November 15, 2014, 7:51 pm

      Glenda: Yes, like you I have been living in a “fog” for years on this drug and my libido went totally down the drain. Yet, doctors say these anti-depressants are not “habit forming”. LOL. I’ve been on 37.5 for 3 weeks now and I think I’m feeling better. I still am a little anxious about coming off totally, but I’m going to give it my best shot!

      • Glenda November 16, 2014, 6:22 am

        Good luck with your journey Terry. I was on 37.5 for 12 months but my doctor put me back on 75mg last year. She said that the smaller dose was so minimal that it would not be doing much. Think it was more she could not be bothered ring to get approval! I am feeling good today so hope it continues.

  • Melinda November 16, 2014, 6:21 am

    I was taking 150 mg Effexor for 2 years. I had been on Prosac for more than 10 years and was doing fine with that. But I was having a lot of hot flashes from menopause and my doctor talked me into starting Effexor to help with the hot flashes. It did help with that but had I known the facts about Effexor I never would have changed. I stopped the Effexor mainly because I ran out. My doctor decided to double my dose to 300 mg ( something I disagreed with), and my insurance company wouldn’t fill the new script without a pre authorization due to the high dose.

    So when I went to pick up the med I was told by the pharmacist I had to wait until they heard back from my doctor. I asked if they could just fill the lower dose but they said I would have to contact my doctor. I called the office and told them I only wanted the lower dose. I then proceeded to wait for 2 days to find out that the doctor got authorization from the ins company for the higher dose. In the meantime I began to have these wonderful withdrawal symptoms. They started the first day I stopped the Effexor but I didn’t realize that was what I was experiencing.

    At the end of day 2, I began to wonder if the Effexor was causing these symptoms and it wasn’t the flu. I started researching online and was shocked to read about the severe withdrawal symptoms this drug causes. I sent a message to my doctor and requested to be put back on prozac. Well I didn’t get a response until I got a call saying that my new script for 300 mg was ready to be picked up from the pharmacy. That was 2 days ago. I haven’t picked it up yet, nor do I plan to. I somehow managed to get through work this past week.

    And I figure I have come this far, I’m not going to start back on this drug and have to go through this again. Stopping cold turkey is not the best idea but I have come too far to stop now. I’m on day 6 with no Effexor. I have all the classic symptoms: dizziness, ringing in my ears brain sparks, irritability, confusion, fogginess, fatigue, feeling like my brain has to catch up with my head when I move, weird dreams, loose stools, some nausea, and an overall feeling of disconnected with the world around me.

    Thankfully I have a wonderful, and very patient husband who is trying to help me through this. I am trying some natural things like b-vitamins, magnesium, calcium, multivitamins, fish oil, and St Johns Wort. I don’t know how much the natural things are helping, but I figure they certainly won’t hurt. Mostly I figure I will just have to plow through this and hopefully,at some point, be able to look back and see that I got through it.

    My advice to others is to always research new meds before you start them and don’t let your doctor talk you into starting new meds until you know what you are getting into. I NEVER would have taken Effexor if I had any idea how terrible it would be to stop! And, by the way, I am changing doctors… this one apparently has not been listening to me!

  • Kristy November 23, 2014, 5:31 pm

    Hi, I can’t seem to find anyone who has been OFF effexor for more than a 6 month or a year, who can give me some answers. Maybe I can get some on here. I weened myself off the drug over a 2 month period. ( I had been on 75 mgs, then 37.5 mgs. for 3 years). I wanted off of it because I gained 40 lbs from it that wont come off, no matter what I tried.

    Here’s my experience so far:
    1. I cut back each week, via opening the capsule and taking less and less each week for 2 months.
    2. When I finally stopped taking effexor totally, I experienced brain zaps for a month, but not too bad that I couldn’t live with them…..a bit of nausea, I could cry at the drop of a hat, bad diarrhea, very tired.
    3. Its been 6 weeks since I’m effexor free. I am still very tired, ( I could sleep 20 out of 24 hours a day), diarrhea is still bad, and I haven’t dropped a pound.

    MY QUESTION FOR ANYONE WHO HAS BEEN OFF THIS DRUG FOR A WHILE:
    1. When did you finally start to lose weight…or am I stuck with it forever.
    2. When does the diarrhea stop.

    I would love to hear from anyone who has been off this drug for a while and your experiences post Effexor. I can’t seem to get any answers about it. Thank you.

    • Glenda November 26, 2014, 9:50 am

      Hi Kirsty, I am now about 3 months off Effexor and now have been suffering from joint pains and tiredness. I’m finding the agitated moments are happening less. I am also wondering how long these symptoms will last. The lack of physical strength and joint aches make life difficult.

  • S November 24, 2014, 4:36 pm

    It’s been 17 days since I stopped Effexor XR cold turkey. Granted, I was taking it for stress as opposed to anxiety or depression, but I was taking 150 mg a day for over a year. I’ve had very minimal withdrawal symptoms, and I feel SO much better. Further, I haven’t slept away a weekend since I stopped it. Hang in there everyone!

  • A November 25, 2014, 2:11 pm

    I spent the last hour reading through this trail of posts. Thanks, I will be back. On my fourth day off Effexor XR cold turkey. Still peaking in terms of symptoms. Panic attacks: 2. Diarrhea: bouts of it several times a day. Crying spells: wow, this symptom has been the most active since yesterday. Anger is starting to build. Woozy and light headed all the time. One minute at a time. I do feel ALIVE no matter how unpleasantly so, that is awesome! Namaste’

  • D November 29, 2014, 1:28 am

    Was on Effexor 112.5mg for 12 years. Had fatigue, massive sweating, no libido, high blood pressure, screaming and flailing in my sleep, BUT missing a dose for just 5 hours resulted in massive headache and sobbing… And terror I was “getting sick”. Missed one dose over a 26 hr period. Woke up to total madness. Pounding headache, fear, dread, anxiety, crying, brain zaps, weirdness, suicidal thoughts… reinstating no help.

    Resulted in massive number of new drug trials, all disasters. Still sick. Had no vomiting, dizziness, physical symptoms… Would prefer that… Feel totally unhinged. Do not start this drug, ever… Most doctors are totally ignorant of withdrawal. Call it “relapse” and aggressively drug a person, further injuring a ravaged nervous system.

  • Cami November 29, 2014, 2:38 am

    After starting a new product that has improved things for me drastically, I made the decision to cut out Effexor. I did not make it lightly, as I have been on medication for Bipolar disorder for many years, and have started/stopped/tapered many times. The days are already tough, but I do still feel that I’m making the correct decision for myself and ultimately for my body. I have gained so much weight on all the medications I have ingested over the years and although I’ve finally found something that helps with that, taking Effexor out of the picture should certainly help as well.

    My biggest demons are the vertigo/dizziness and nausea. I have experienced some irritability, but nothing I haven’t been able to control if I stop and take a minute. Yes, I feel like crap and this is really not a fun thing to be doing right now, but I’m choosing to look at it from the other side, thinking of how great I will feel (hopefully soon) once it’s all over with. There is life after Effexor!

  • Mattie November 29, 2014, 3:14 pm

    It’s nice to know that I’m not the only person going through this. I have been on Effexor XR for a little over three years. I decided to get off of it because I lost my health insurance and because I did not feel that it was helping me. I have tapered down quite a bit on my own and will be completely off of it soon. I have experienced the “brain zaps” in the past when I was late on a dose and I am really not looking forward to that.

    Since I am lowering my dosage, I have been extremely moody. I cry for no reason and get angry for no reason. My husband is not very supportive because he doesn’t understand. If I am this depressed just from lowering the dosage, I can only imagine how bad it will be when I completely stop taking it. If anyone has any advice, feel free to share! :-)

  • Cami November 30, 2014, 7:16 am

    Update: I am in complete shock and I’m literally holding back tears of gratitude right now. It’s only been 2 days and already I am almost withdrawal-symptom free! I was on 100mg of Effexor for a couple of years, so you I’m sure many of you can understand that this is not typical. I tried Dramamine and Bonine to help with the vertigo and nausea, which were my two biggest problems, as far as quality of life is concerned. Neither helped tremendously, but the Bonine did assist more with controlling my nausea, which was nice. Otherwise, I’m not sure I would recommend spending the money on either of them to help control symptoms.

    The irritability and crying spells come and go, but I still feel like I can regain control. On the whole, I’m feeling so much better! Much happier! By this afternoon, the dizziness began to subside enough that I could walk without feeling like I was going to vomit. I’m pretty sure I owe it all to the Grace of God and to the new stuff I’ve been taking. But my point is this: it really will end. Thank you so much for all of your comments. They were so helpful, especially when it came to setting expectations for how the withdrawal process would go. I truly hope you all find peace and happiness–no group deserves it more.

  • Michael W December 2, 2014, 3:06 am

    For the second time in six months, due to problems of communication between pharmacy, behavioral health at local hospital, and insurance company, have been 5 days without Effexor. I’ve noticed that I do not do well going cold-turkey from 350 mg a day to 0. Side effects of this have been sore muscles, teeth-grinding, anxiety, dizziness, mild sparks in brain and irritability to the point of rage.

  • Cath December 9, 2014, 3:38 am

    I’m struggling badly. Ive been on 300mg of Effexor since 2003. I suffer with Fibromyalgia & they helped me to cope in chronic pain. The past 3 months I’ve been tapering down from 300mg to 150mg for 3 weeks, then 150mg to 75mg for another 2 weeks, then just 3 days ago I stopped completely. My GP wants me to begin Cymbalta. Right now I feel so sick. Every minute I go through an awful wave of anxiety, the brain zaps, heart palpitates fast, I want to vomit & have had the runs.

    Before I stopped completely as I was weaning down I felt I was going ok & coping well. However since not having any of it in my blood stream now, my body is reacting big time. Ive gotten angry with bouts of & outbursts of tears, anger, depression, pain, nausea, & so so dizzy. I feel like I’m losing it & am scared to death. I cant stop crying & my whole body shakes uncontrollably at times.

    I’ve taken 2mg Valium as Doc said to do, but that seems to make it worse, I want to be sick, sit on the loo in pain & dizziness & feel like crap all over. I’m so upset about it. Do you think I should take up 75mg again? Or ride it our for as long as it takes. I’m so pissed off & angry at the makers of this drug. Please help an Aussie girl out. I’m 46 & ready to meet my maker the way I’m going I probably will. Thanks for reading. From a very worried woman. -Cath

    • Carolyn December 19, 2014, 1:42 pm

      Hi Cath, I have been taking effexor 150mg for 20 years. Weaning to 75 mg then 37.5 that was ok until I stopped altogether. How are you going now? I am a strong person who was feeling confident about going off this drug but have found it to be very scary. I can understand why you are worried, do you have support around you? I am in my first week of no medication and not feeling good at all.

  • Tina December 26, 2014, 3:36 pm

    Hi everyone. My story is not as severe, but I do want to caution the cold turkey or break open the pill method you might read about online. I almost died two years ago by breaking open the pill and take out granular at a time. I was on the extended release. I messed with the chemical make up of the drug. I had convulsions, severe dizziness, passing out, blood pressure through the roof, feeling like I was having a heart attack.

    This lasted about two weeks and I swear, I almost died. I landed on one 37.5 pill a day and have been too scared to come off of that amount. I felt at least I had back down from the 125 mg I was taking and the doctor was suggesting I increase it, really!?! I’ve now begun the taper off approach. It is much better. I’m not worried that I will stab my husband anymore. I still get some anger, but I can work my way through it without hurting anyone. I went every other day for a week, then every third day for a week and I have now not taken a pill for a week.

    It is very weird, I can be feeling good one day and totally confused and dizzy the next. I don’t sleep well and I have a little bit of zaps here and there and some eye twitching. Not being able to think through a problem at work is probably my biggest concern right now. I am lucky enough to have a boss that I confided in and asked for her help in watch my calculations. I am literally responsible for wiring out millions of dollars a day to customers and I will get fired if I send out the wrong amount.

    So yeah, I worry. So, on for the helpful part. I find Valium helps me with the confusion and dizziness a great deal. Now, of course, Valium is addictive, but I have experience with Valium and have no problem coming off of it when needed. Initially, I was taking Valium, small dose 0.5, on the every other day when the symptoms started, usually two a day. When I got to every other third day, I back off to one valium on that third day and now that I am not taking any effexor, I am taking half a valium only as needed.

    I plan to do that for only a week and then I will stop the valium as well. I too have a really hard time understanding why Valium helps me so much, I don’t feel addicted to it and I don’t really get side effects when I stop taking it, yet the doctors won’t prescribe it. They push effexor, which has almost killed me. Maybe we are doing this all wrong. Maybe we should get the manufacturers to get incentives going for the doctors to prescribe more valuim.

  • Roo January 3, 2015, 7:02 pm

    Hello… I am 23 years old, I only weigh about 100 lbs and I’ve been taking Effexor XR for a year. Despite my size, I take 375 mg. Today is Saturday, and I won’t have a refill until Tuesday. I feel extremely sick, anxious, dizzy and tired. I don’t know what to do to get through this… honestly, I want to sleep as much as possible.

    No doctor ever told me that this drug is addictive. Effexor has helped me more than anything else, but I don’t want to be on it for the rest of my life. Even if I take my pills too early, by night time I have horrible nightmares and wake up drenched in sweat. I feel so lame and helpless right now…

    • Ally January 21, 2015, 2:58 pm

      Don’t you just LOVE how doctors will put you on a drug that you absolutely cannot miss a dose of but then refuse to just call in a prescription when you are out? My doc would make me come in (driving two hours) every three months in order to get that precious refill. If I ran out before it was renewed I’d have to wait until they had an opening. If they’re going to put you on something this volatile, they should be responsible enough to follow the medical recommendations that go alone with the drug. Just so you know, a lot of primary care physicians will renew your prescription for you in these cases. Mine did. I got it renewed for a full year with no game playing.

  • Julie January 9, 2015, 5:18 am

    Wow! I cannot believe what I have learned from everyone here. Thank You! First of all, I am not good at taking a pill everyday at a certain time. I try to take with food, but you know how it is. Sometimes I have breakfast sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I work through lunch. I have been on 250 effexor for a year. I had no idea that the problems I am having is due to taking this drug!

    If I missed a dose I would get the brain swirls and knew that if I took the pills it would go away. Finally 3 days ago I decided to wean off. I thought that I could just go to 75 mg then quit and I would be ok. NOT. So I Googled weaning off of this drug and I feel so much better that it is not me. I realize now that the severe sweating, horrible gut aches, headaches, sleeplessness and the emotionless feelings are from this drug.

    My husband has told me sometimes I act really weird and confused, but I have no recollection of any of this. I feel like S—! I am going to stick with 75mg for another week and then I am only going to take one when the withdrawals start and hope the gaps in between keep getting longer. I don’t know what else to do. If anyone has any help to offer, I would greatly appreciate it. Or, I would love to hear from someone that has gotten through it. I just want this to be over…

    • Ally January 21, 2015, 2:53 pm

      I’d caution you NOT to take a pill just when you have symptoms with this particular drug. It basically puts you right back on the full dose when you do that. Effexor has a short half life so you are playing ping pong with your brain. On the drug, off the drug, etc… I tried it that way and it simply did not work. It just made me MORE unstable. Try slowly stepping down until you are at the 37.5 dose. Then you might be able to step off completely. That’s what I’m trying to do now.

  • Teri Roch January 11, 2015, 6:45 pm

    I have everyone of these symptoms of withdrawal, it’s awful I am completely debilitated with the quitting of this medication… 150 mg was my dosage. MY advice is don’t trust anyone with your body and brain! These drug companies are shameful and need to be stopped. Please research what is out there with natural and herbal medicine! Tell these dirty drug companies to kick rocks!!!!

  • Emme January 12, 2015, 8:00 pm

    So happy to have found this site. I took Effexor XR 150 for close to 10 years. I have been totally off this drug for 5 weeks. It was torture. I tried many times to stop and failed. The brain zaps, body twitching , brain fog, confusion, etc. made me continue taking it. I found a compassionate MD that helped me wean off of this evil drug. I was afraid, so I did it very slow. The drug was in my system for so long. For 2 months I went to 112.5, then for 1 month I was on 75, then 1 month I went to 37.5…then nothing.

    I had brain zaps, weepiness, etc. I now feel much better, but still not 100%. Still emotional, brain fog, etc. and I haven’t lost the weight. How long until this drug is out of my system? I think this drug should be illegal. I was never told about the side effects or how difficult it would be to get off this drug by the MD that first prescribed it.

  • Ian January 13, 2015, 5:34 pm

    I used to take 225mg/day. I did that for more than half a year. It ended up doing much more harm then good. My depression skyrocketed and so did my anxiety. My psychiatrist recommend increasing my dose to 300mg/day. I should have listened to my gut and said no. I’be been on it for almost another half year and things even got worse. I decided to go cold turkey a few days ago.

    It’s beyond belief. The electric shocks and depersonalization are my most severe. I can’t move. I just shake and feel freezing but I cant stop burning up and sweating at the the same time. I just want these symptoms gone and this drug out of me honestly. Maybe this wasn’t a great idea, but honestly I just need effexor gone. I am going to be useless for the next week I’m guessing haha

    • Ally January 21, 2015, 2:47 pm

      Please let me know how it goes. That seems like a big dose to just stop taking. I went cold turkey off the 37.5 mg five days ago and the physical symptoms seem to be fading already. The irritation is setting in now. I’m really pissy and no fun to be around, though I’m trying not to lash out at others. I’m hoping that the short half life will benefit us in getting it out of our systems faster.

  • Ally January 21, 2015, 2:43 pm

    I took the 37.5 mg dose of Effexor XR for a year and stopped taking it 5 days ago. My doctor didn’t want me to open the capsule and count out the beads because she said they aren’t consistent in the amounts because they are different sizes. Hmm. You’d think they could fix that if they wanted to pretty dang easily. I’m not sure I agree with her but I’ll try it her way first. If it gets too hard I’ll wean off by counting beads. For now, I’m substituting exercise, working out every other day.

    Within 36 hours I had the foggy head, headache, nausea, body aches and brain zaps. Within 48 hours I had the nightmares and difficulty sleeping. I had to take a sleep aid or I wouldn’t have slept at all. After 4 days the physical symptoms were definitely passing (just a mild headache, occasional brain zaps and fog) but I felt the irritability creeping up. Five days and I’m feeling pretty pissed off at everything. Frankly, the physical symptoms are far easier to deal with. I really hope this passes soon!

    • Ian January 28, 2015, 8:06 pm

      Ally, I wish you the best luck. I know what you’re going through. My syptoms have gotten better, but all of them are still there (this is the third week off it). The worst is terrible anxiety and electric shocks, but the shocks are less frequent and less intense. Also, the nightmares are still there – or very vivid dreams. Sleeping, though, has thankfully gotten easier.

      I have also had the same experience with being pissy all the time. It’s been really easy to get on my nerves. There’s been a few points where I just wanted to fight or hurt someone for no reason whatsoever. It’s horrible. Not like me at all. I hope this passes sooner rather than later for both of us. It’s extremely stressful! And just no fun.

  • Michele February 2, 2015, 5:39 pm

    Today is day 11 without Effexor. I was put on it 5 months ago for severe depression and anxiety. It was only partially helpful, but most of the time it just increased my symptoms. So, I tapered off pretty fast. I was put in Remeron, but that has not done much to help. So here’s my experience: 1. increased depression, 2. brain zaps or clicking sounds when I turn my head, 3. headache, 4. increased anxiety…

    I am so upset that my doc kept me on this med even when it was clear it was not helping much. My doc keeps saying that my withdrawal should be over by now, but it isn’t. I went to the emergency walk-in mental health clinic yesterday and the P-doc there said he did not think the increased depression was from coming off Effexor!! What?? I have an appointment in two days with my regular P-doc to figure out if I need a different med other than Remeron to help me with my depression.

    It is weird because I’ll have a day where I’m not crying and feeling so deeply depressed, followed by a day of depression and crying a lot. Is this withdrawal? Or does anyone think it means my current medication is not helping me enough? I want to feel like me again. I’m in therapy. I’m doing all I can. I’m thinking of just getting off all antidepressants and trying natural methods to help with depression and anxiety. I’m taking fish oil, amino acids and a multi-vitamin. God give me the strength.

  • Toni February 12, 2015, 2:13 am

    I’ve taken Effexor for about 7 years now. Started out it was suppose to help reduce my hot flashes, it worked. I realized that it also had a great calming side effect, which helped greatly with my special needs child. He had some stressful behavioral problems. But the last few years, I noticed that I was perfectly happy letting life just pass by. I only did what was absolutely necessary.

    I’ve had trouble completing my online classes. I didn’t care if my work was done on time or not, or if the bills got paid on time, or any other paperwork. Everything was late… I didn’t care. Anyway, I decided it was time to get me head clear again. For two months I’ve tapered down. I’ve been off for the last 6 days now, sleep is hit and miss. I do feel dizzy 2/3rds of the day, I never know when it’s going to happen.

    I haven’t had many mood swings, and my son hasn’t driven me crazy yet. After reading some of the other posts I think I’m doing pretty, good. I just need some real rest, and I hope this dizziness stops soon, it’s weird. I hope everyone come out feeling better than they started. Hang in there, all my fellow withdrawers.

  • Joan Munro February 18, 2015, 9:25 pm

    I was on Effexor for 9 years. I went off of it cold turkey almost 7 months ago because of side effects. The first 10 days were pure hell, but I managed to get through it. At 3 month off of the Effexor, I experienced a severe depressive state which continued for over 2 months, so I went to my Dr. and was put onto Bupropion, which caused an even more severe depressive and semi-suicidal state, so I stopped taking it.

    As time goes by, I admit that I have wondered at times whether the prolonged use of effexor might have caused permanent damage, so I wanted to thank you for your statement. “A lot of people think that they can get permanently damaged from taking antidepressants – this is pretty doubtful. However, it may be a couple years before you are completely recovered and feel completely “natural” again. Take things one day at a time. Gradually life will get easier. If you can make it through this drug withdrawal, you can do anything.”

    It has been so reassuring to lean that despite the Doctors’ claim that stopping antidepressants causes no or minimal withdrawal symptoms, there are people out there who have also experienced extended withdrawal symptoms/syndrome from stopping antidepressants, it makes me feel much less alone and isolated. Again, I can’t thank you enough for your articles. They have been very up-lifting on some of the lowest days of my life, not certain how I would have gotten through some days without the comfort of reading them. -Joan

  • jody February 19, 2015, 1:20 am

    I was on Effexor 37.5mg for 7 months. I decided to come off of it – gained at least 15 pounds!! I exercise daily and eat right, too! Started taking 1 capsule every other day for 2 weeks(per doc’s order) then stopped it. That first week was brutal! Nausea (tums helped), and sudden bursts of dizziness occurred. I’m getting better every day! Hang in there people! YOU CAN DO IT!!

  • Marissa February 25, 2015, 9:54 pm

    Today is my first day without effexor… I was on it for 6 months taking 150 mgs daily. I tapered off for 3 weeks, and today is my first day pharma free. I am finding it unbearable to do anything. I couldn’t go to work, I can’t make myself do anything productive. The brain zaps are almost debilitating. I can’t remember what I was doing a half hour ago, I’m irritable, can’t stop crying and I am so disoriented.

    If anyone knows of anything I can do to help, please let me know. I feel like I’m being a big baby about this, but I’ve never experienced this feeling before. I feel like this is hopeless and I should just start taking it again, and I really don’t want to. I worked so hard to get this far, and going back on it will erase everything I have done.

  • Emily February 28, 2015, 9:06 pm

    I am so happy to have found this site.. I thought I was going insane until I found this site and the withdrawal symptoms it has listed. I have been taking Effexor XR 150mg since last summer. I found out I was pregnant 3 weeks ago and made the decision to taper off the medication. My obgyn advised me to take a pill every other day for a week, then every two days for a week, then half of a pill twice during the last week.

    Today was my last half of a pill. I have had the worst brain zaps or whatever you want to call them since the first day I missed the pill. I have also been unbelievably exhausted, nauseated, and all over the place emotionally which could just as well be from being pregnant, but I am not convinced it is considering I am so early in my pregnancy. It has been hard for me because no one understands why I have not been myself or what I am talking about.

    This withdrawal process has definitely been the hardest thing I have put my body through. I will not start the medication again once I have my baby. I wish that this would have been discussed in more detail before I was instructed that this was my only option for my anxiety, depression, and panic episodes. Good luck to everyone trying to taper off this drug :)

  • Erinn March 5, 2015, 3:13 pm

    I have been taking up to 150 mg Effexor daily for over ten years. I just completed weaning off of it for over two months and I have been Effexor free for five days! I have vomiting, nausea, brain zaps, dizziness, headache, fatigue and crying spells. However, each day these symptoms are becoming less intense.

    From what I understand, it takes the brain about one year to heal and re-calibrate to it’s normal. I searched online for hours looking for an answer as to when this will be out of my system and found nothing promising. I am choosing to believe that many people have gotten of off Effexor and live a good life and don’t post about it because they forgot about how horrible the come down is!

    I am going to post again in a few months and so on in regards to my withdrawal symptoms in hopes to help others. I feel that getting off of Effexor is like getting off of alcohol or street drugs. Research says it takes a year for the brain to heal. Although I am not an alcoholic or drug addict, I am taking a recovery approach to get off of Effexor. I am going to focus on living a balanced lifestyle over the next year while my brain heals! I already feel better – lighter, more real.

    My battle with depression was related to situations that occurred. I think that I have resolved emotional issues related to this and I’m ready to be med free! I think that it’s important for anyone on this blog to treat themselves nicely while they withdraw – and all of the time!

  • Ashley March 8, 2015, 6:48 pm

    I have always been depressed and turned to street drugs when I was younger to cope. I went to treatment center to get help and the doctor said these would be temporary to help me deal with my recovery and what had happened in my life. Little did I know, these would be even harder come off of. I have wanted to get off of these for years but tried once and couldn’t function with the withdrawals.

    Today is day one of tapering down for me. I usually take 150mg XR daily, but am going down 37.5mg monthly. Fingers crossed that it is manageable this time, although the I doubt it will be. My job is very fast-paced and requires a high amount of focus and attention to detail. I can’t screw it up. I wish that I had educated myself more on the effects of these before going on them, since doctors never seem to.

  • Jean-guy Cool March 15, 2015, 5:08 pm

    Hi want to thank everyone for the comments. I think I would have freaked out if had not read the comments. I have quit about 13 days ago and I’m going skiing when I’m done with this comment. It was indeed very tough but knowing the facts I have stayed calm at home for the first 6 days. Took some occasional Tylenol pills, melatonin everyday and slept a lot. Got much of the described symptoms, but no headache. Brain zapping is a weird think to experience, but whatever, it happens, just stay calm.

    I was on effexor 112.5mg for a year. Dropped 37.5 mg every month over 3 months. Kept 3 pills in case I couldn’t stand it but didn’t use them. It’s alright, you can survive this. I have had worse hangovers than that from alcohol. But those don’t last 2 weeks of course. All in all I wasn’t able to do much from day 2 to day 6, but then it started to get better and now I am off to go skiing.

  • christy March 19, 2015, 11:06 am

    I’ve been off it for about a week. pounding migraine for three days straight combined with vomiting. I had horrible nightmares and was sleeping through the days. just taking excedrine to cope and drinking lots of water and trying to eat three meals a day. I didn’t mean to stop but I kept forgetting and then I decided I wanted to stop taking so many medications and thought I should try it naturally. I didn’t discuss it with my psychiatrist because she left for a new a job and I haven’t found another.

    I had no clue about the withdrawals. I wish my psychiatrist would have warned me about stopping effexor. I figured it out by looking it up online then one night I couldn’t handle the headache and went to the ER. they gave me a silly prescription for nausea. The day after the ER I got some excedrine. I’m trying to cope. I hope it ends soon. I’ve only been on it for it about three months so hopefully it will end soon but it’s scary. I hope you all get through this. Just keep truckin. We’ll get though it.

  • Vicki March 22, 2015, 1:39 pm

    I have RA and have had depression since the onset, years ago. I have tried a few antidepressants over the years and none really made a difference. As a last ditch effort, I recently went on Effexor and was suffering brain zaps before the end of the day so I changed my dosing to night and had brain zaps half the morning and sometimes in the middle of the half life. I switched to XR and still experience brain zaps while on a steady dose. Withdrawal symptoms while taking a steady dose. Has anybody else experienced this? I switched over to cymbalta the other day hoping to not have so much trouble since its kind of a lateral switch. Agreed, these drugs are handed out to people that were depressed before they took it and now they are depressed and sick.

  • Katura March 23, 2015, 5:35 am

    New to this website. I have been off 150 mg of Effexor XR for a month cold turkey. I have take it for 9 years at 75mg and went up to 150 mg a year ago. Took it because I was going through menopause and the hot flashes, crying at any and everything and the black hole depression was more than I could take. It was great at first. Within 3 days I was myself and celebrating. I stopped crying but started forgetting words.

    I would know the meaning of the word I wanted to say but could not for the life of me remember the word. I wasn’t so worried about it because friends of the same age were having the same problem. Never got better. The Doctor said it was a lack of Serotonin and I just needed more mgs.. I was very resistant but after nine years had started to cry at anything and everything again. Therefore 150 mg was prescribed.

    The brain zaps were awful if I forgot to take it and I would get nauseous. I decided this was not a good thing for my brain and when I ran out I decided this is it. I prayed about it and God has helped me tremendously. The brain zaps are very, very light now. I sleep better than I have for ten years and feel rested when I open my eyes in the morning. I believe all of this is due to my conversations with God.

    I try to repeat every scripture and promise from the Bible as I have been going thru this and He has helped me every step of the way. This is a vile drug and is from the pits of hell in my opinion but it will not overcome me!! Be encouraged because this too will pass. Hope this helps someone.

  • Steve March 23, 2015, 7:15 pm

    After 10 years on 150mg a day of Effexor XR, I decided two months ago to get off of the drug because I miss myself. Started out taking a dose every other day. Had some withdrawal – nausea, dizziness, brain zaps. After three weeks, I went to every third day. Withdrawal symptoms intensified and dogged me for two weeks before they subsided. I’m now taking just one dose a week. Mild withdrawal symptoms continue, but I am kind of excited about actually experiencing my real feelings again.

    I guess this got me through a difficult time in my life – legal problems that resulted from someone thinking I needed Zoloft. But it has been a decade. I lived a really great life until 10 years ago when someone thought I needed to mask my feelings with antidepressants. I’m ready to make life great again, free of emotion-numbing drugs.

  • Anne March 30, 2015, 5:43 pm

    I was on this awful medication for 9 years!! 37.5 mg to 350 mg!! I got off it cold turkey!!!! Never want that inmy body again!! Apparently I have ADHD! Was diagnosed wrongly!! All good now 2 years later!!

  • Diane April 7, 2015, 5:03 pm

    Hey there, just in need of a bit of support or reassurance. I have been taking venlafaxine for the past 3 years. Reduced last summer to 75g. Since End of January 15 I gradually reduced the dosage. I was still taking a quarter of 35.5 every 3 days last week but decided not to take any more. I am so exhausted since I started to reduce in January. Now I wake up feeling like my eyes are already wet. I get up from bed and burst into tears. It is like a tap that I can’t turn off. I feel like every little thing is a huge effort. It feels like my depression at worse time.

    I am so overwhelmed by these feelings. I am so anxious, have vertigo, but the worst is the exhaustion I think. I had to stop this medication as I would like to get pregnant. If I did not have this objective or the support of my husband I would go back on it immediately. I have done so much work to fight my depression, seeing a therapist and have changed a lot. But at the moment I feel back in time and it is so awful. Could someone who has past the first month or 2 months completely off, tell me it is going to be OK and that it does get better?

  • sue April 9, 2015, 5:18 pm

    It’s been about 15 years on Effexor for me. It was helping me with menopause and depression. Under my Dr’s care, started to wean off from 150 mg mid Jan./15. Last pill 37.5 mg March 25/15. Its been rough..crying and wailing, horrible anger, screaming at the walls, feeling like I’m going to just explode. Dizziness and poor balance. Restless legs at night…even a brain zap or two and terrible taste in my mouth that won’t go away. I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel finally, but it still seems a few miles away. I wonder who I’ll be when I finally get back. Good luck to you all.

  • Blair April 22, 2015, 7:53 pm

    I stopped taking Effexor XR 225 mg 5 days ago and immediately switched to 40 mg Fetzima and will work my way up to the right dosage. I was on Effexor for about 5 years and have not been sleeping and have been trouble thinking clearly for a long time now so finally decided to try something else. After going home from the doc and five days of crying, headaches, and all day stomach pain (new drug, coming off the Effexor?).

    I am not sure why my doc had me quit cold turkey at such a high dosage. Has anyone else stopped Effexor without weaning off first to start a new anti-depressant and had a good result? It seems irrational to me to go back on Effexor to wean myself off when I am 5 days into the new anti-depressant, but I have no idea how long to expect this to last and my doctor sadly just seems to give me the latest drug the rep drops off, tell me everything will be peachy, and come back in 3 weeks so she can get another co-pay.

  • Suzanne April 24, 2015, 3:44 pm

    I have been taking 75mg Effexor XR for about a year for PTSD, bipolar disorder and depression. The shrink I was seeing wanted to put me up to 150mg and I am so glad that I didn’t listen. This is my second day off it completely. A new doctor thinks that I have borderline personality disorder and perhaps just traits of the other stuff. She has been really supportive of getting off of this nightmare drug and has put me on 100mg Wellbutrin and I have some ativan just in case.

    Coming from 75 to 37.5 was tough with all the brain zaps, shaky eyes, irritability, borderline mania (which is nice for a change!), nausea, dizzy, horrible dreams, fatigue, inability to concentrate, all that and a bag of chips! I did that for a little over a week and around day 5 the severity of symptoms decreased. Now I’m 2 days off it and the withdrawals are much more severe but at times it feels like I’m on psychedelic drugs. No way that I can drive, probably shouldn’t be at work, but gotta pay the bills.

    I’m going to try some of the natural methods (Vitamin B complex, fish oil, Vit C) my doc also recommends vitamin D. Also might take some gravol to help with the nausea. One thing I haven’t seen here that has gotten me this far is marijuana. I know it’s illegal and all and has its own problems, but I have found it the most beneficial for the nausea and irritability and crying spells. I don’t know if I would have been able to get this far without it. And it’s not a forever thing, just until this storm passes.

    Lots of funny TV and movies and sex (with someone else or just yourself!) has also helped. Help your brain all you can by doing pleasurable things that will help your serotonin levels! What you are experiencing is a TEMPORARY withdrawal syndrome caused by your body’s inability to produce certain chemicals and it will eventually even out, so will you. Stay strong and believe that you can get off this terrible drug.

    If anyone has any other suggestions for ways to combat the terrible withdrawal symptoms, please share! No matter how bad it is, at least I’m starting to feel creative again and I’m starting to look forward to life rather than dreading every day or feeling completely numb. Thanks everyone for sharing your experiences, they’ve really helped me.

  • Tamisha May 1, 2015, 7:27 pm

    I have just stopped 275 mg of Effexor XR cold turkey. I had been on it for about a 2-3 years maybe. I was disgusted by the weight gain that my doc said could have been related to taking it. I just notified my doctor of this decision today, it has now been 4 days off of it. (The nurse and the doc praised my decision to want to stop taking it…so I could stop having my emotions controlled by man made meds, and just wanting to feel like myself naturally.

    I started taking it secondary to bout of depression from getting hurt on the job, etc.). For the first couple days off of it, I had terrible headaches in the a.m. that would gradually subside. About the second to third day I was easily angered and irritated by the smallest, stupidest things. Now on the fourth day I have been crying at just about anything.

    I am glad to see that is a common withdrawal symptom because that had me a bit worried. I also feel a little “cloudy and lightheaded” at times but it’s not really that much of an issue. I don’t know what other emotions are to come, if any, but I am feeling a little better right now; feeling normal and not a “medicated happy or normal.”

  • Terry May 2, 2015, 6:41 pm

    I have gotten off abruptly, due to the fact that I had no more prescriptions and doctor wouldn’t refill unless I went to see him. I don’t have money to pay off medical bill right now, so I AM sort of up a creek. Been taking this medication for at least 10 years, since the birth of my son. Had bad post partum depression. Anyway, what I can say that has been helping me cope, with all the side effects is essential oils. I have a friend who believes in them had me seen and OMG what a difference they have made. My nightmares have subsided. Not feeling the anxiety and feeling of nausea has subsided also. I can keep food down. I am continuing on this journey of oils and all natural health care. I will keep you guys posted.

  • Joan May 6, 2015, 4:52 am

    Oh I have a symptom I haven seen among the messages. The first few mornings I was off Effexor I would wake up in a semi comatose state. My mind was awake but my body wasn’t and I couldn’t talk. That lasted nearly a hour. The second day my dogs were trying to get me up to let them out. Hubby was in the room but didn’t notice. I fought to speak but only could grunt sort of garbled cry finally came out after 10 minutes. An interesting experience. I thought this is what it’s like to be in a coma.

  • Marek Czuma May 15, 2015, 4:16 pm

    I have just completed a course of withdrawal from Effexor without experiencing any serious side effects. I had been taking a dose of 150 daily for about 25 years. I reduced the dosage by exactly 5 beads a day. Each capsule contained about 500 beads. Each day I carefully counted and noted the reduction in the dosage. The courses took me 100 days, but at no time did I feel any side effects that I’d call even unpleasant… in the last two weeks or so some very mild brain zaps, but nothing else. And the zaps faded quickly. I recommend it: very slow, very steady.

  • Mel May 16, 2015, 2:33 am

    I’ve been on Effexor XR 37.5 mg for about 10 years now, alternating bw 75 and 37.5 mg over these years. I would say past few years have been 37.5 mg. I decided to stop taking it all together and have read quite a bit on the withdrawal symptoms. I stopped taking it on Wed and I’m on day 2 today. My symptoms for past 2 days include brain zaps, fogginess, extreme tiredness.

    I also have a really bad sore throat, I’m not sure if this is related or just a fluke. Its quite scary to think that this med could cause such withdrawals. I’m hoping that because I have been on such a low dose that my withdrawals don’t last too long but I guess only time will tell. I told me doctor about stopping it and was told it won’t be bad because I’m on such a low dose, but I haven’t seen that yet. Thanks for all the posts above, it is helpful to know I’m not the only one going through these awful withdrawals.

  • Nectaria May 17, 2015, 2:57 pm

    Hi I have been on Efexor for 8 years. I was on 150mg for 4 year and then went down to 75mg for 4 year. I want to stop taking them do over the last month I started on 37.5mg for 2 weeks then took 1 tablet every second day till I finished. It’s been nearly 2 weeks and I feel as if I’m losing the plot. Anger is a big one. I can’t sleep and crying over nothing. I’m at the point that I want go back on them again.

  • Robin May 17, 2015, 8:23 pm

    Just started withdrawing from 9 yrs. of 37.5 Effexor XR for menopause symptoms. Read a lot about it and I’m going through all of the hell that you folks have. This is the worst drug ever. I cannot imagine any compassionate doctor putting someone on this drug. My GP prescribed it and knows nothing, obviously, about SRNI meds. I have taken the advice I’ve read so much about; B+complex with B2, B6 and B12, 6000 mgs of Natural fish oil including Omega 3 DHA, EPA, stick with this dosage for 6-7 days and taper to 3000 the second week.

    Dramamine really helps with the nausea. Also, take calcium with extra vitamin D. I caved and took my last Effexor xr last night because symptoms were unbearable, but my loving husband, who’s a biochemist, took pity and got me on the supplements and they really do work. I will update this post to let you know I made it through. I’m 57, so I’m more worried about having a stroke/seizure from this.

  • Melinda May 20, 2015, 6:58 pm

    I’ve been on Effexor for depression and anxiety for two years and have been up to 150mg for 9 months. I’ve finally woken up from the fog to realize that Effexor hasn’t been helping me much. It took away the anxiety, but it took all motivation with it. I’ve gained 25 pounds, I no longer feel like cooking for my family, I don’t care to wake up or to go to sleep, I don’t care to eat breakfast or lunch and I don’t care that I eat junk food all night.

    If I can summon enough energy to care about something, then I get anxious about it, so I go back to not caring after that. I’m not sure how I let things get this bad, but I know I’m doing something about it now. Thank you to all who have written about their withdrawal effects. There is a scary education in these comments, but I’d rather honesty than my psychiatrist insisting that I might be “a bit uncomfortable” or if the effects of withdrawal are severe that “[my] body needs the medicine for now and we’ll work around it.”

    I don’t want to put this off any longer and I don’t want to add any other medication to the mix without knowing how I feel without any medication. I do know that if I accidentally miss two doses of the medication (my memory is terrible on this medication!) then I feel tragically heartbroken. I feel like my husband and I are about to get a divorce even though we are doing just fine in reality.

    I get deep heavy sadness in the middle of my chest that I can’t explain to anyone else. I anticipate that I’ll have some more of that ahead of me. I’m starting the taper at 112.5mg and I’ll stay on that for at least a week or two and assess how I feel. I’m already starting Omega 3’s, walking more, getting outside to the garden, and increasing my visits with my therapist. I plan to report back here regularly.

    I’ve noticed a lot of comments on this post where I’d like to know what happened next in the story. In the meantime, I’m sending out a supportive fist-bump to anyone else on this Effexor withdrawal path.

    • Melinda June 13, 2015, 6:13 am

      I’m following up on my own post to report how my taper/withdrawal from Effexor XR has been going. I was on 150mg originally. I went down to 112.5mg for 9 days, then 75 mg for 8 days and now I’m on day 5 of 37.5mg. I’ve been having fatigue, irritability and headaches as well as some increase in anxiety. I had my first brain zap the night that I went down to 37.5mg.

      I’ve been taking extra naps, using ibuprofen for the headaches, continuing my melatonin before bed and added two Benadryl before bed so I can sleep well. (My ability to deal with life is much better if I’ve had enough sleep.) My doctor wrote a prescription for 20mg of Prozac to assist with the withdrawal symptoms. She said that the long half-life of Prozac means that I can stop it at any time without any withdrawal issues.

      That sounds nice, but I’m not sure that I should take her word on it. I haven’t decided yet if I’ll take the Prozac. I’m trying to wean off of all antidepressant medication so it is hard to start a new one. However, I’m not sure that I’d have the patience to count out granules and do an extremely slow weaning from 37.5 to 0mg like some posters have described.

    • Melinda August 13, 2015, 2:48 pm

      This is my final update to report on my taper/withdrawal from Effexor.

      I decided not to use the Prozac prescription to wean from the Effexor. I spent 18 days on 37.5 mg. Then I decreased the dose to 19mg by counting out the granules in the 37.5mg tablets and buying some empty gelatin capsules from the natural foods store. I felt really good on 19mg of Effexor. I felt capable, motivated, happy–honestly, I felt good enough to stay on that dose. My psychiatrist told me that she didn’t think it was an effective dose and that I might be feeling hypomania. She suggested that I continue weaning.

      I went down to 9mg. After a few days on 9mg I started having some mood swings, irritability and occasional fits of rage. After I was on 9mg for 2 weeks I realized that the timing was terrible. I was going down to 0mg at the same time that I was on a 2 week road trip with my son and husband and we were going to stay at my parents’ house for a week. I called my doctor and she suggested that I stay the course because I was just starting to have the mood irritability. She said that it might be a side effect of the withdrawal.

      Going from 9mg to 0mg brought on nausea and vomiting. The mood irritability has continued on the 0mg. I can’t say that I’m coping great on no medication, but I’m generally much more functional and happier than I was when I was on Effexor. The hard part is that when things go bad, they go so bad, so fast and I feel out of control. It’s been a week since that happened, though, so I’m crossing my fingers that it is temporary.

  • Asha May 25, 2015, 6:14 am

    I noticed that a lot of these comments were from in the very first stage of quitting — a week at most, usually? — so I wanted to add something hopefully valuable for later stages. 6 weeks ago (it feels more like 6 months!) I was finally able to get in to a consistent therapy program. I’d been on Effexor from emergency room doctors for just about a year and a half, and it was having some very strange effects; I later learned that I was likely misdiagnosed as having major depression + PTSD + OCD, when it’s more likely based on my symptoms that I am bipolar.

    As people probably know, mixing BPD with a drug like Effexor can = mania. Not fun. So, I ended up cold-turkeying from 225mg said six weeks ago. When people ask me how I’m doing my reaction is usually just, “I have a pulse, so I’m fine.” The head zaps persist 6 weeks later, and throughout the first 2 – 3 weeks I was having extremely terrifying hallucinations. I found that taking a cocktail of fish oil and st. john’s wort helped a bit – but be cautious with the latter, as it can definitely interact with/interfere with anxiety and depression medication in a nasty way.

    Throughout the start I was also vomiting half the time, only sleeping 1.5 – 3 hours a night, and had a couple seizures. Fun times. Thankfully things are getting slowly better — I feel less “crazy” than I did at the start, where everything was hallucinations, paranoia, and extreme crying/screaming /fighting/etc. fits and spurts that would veer wildly throughout the daytime. Now it’s mostly just some mild dizziness and the occasional zaps, usually towards the evening.

    I’m finally starting to be able to keep food down consistently, and I’m getting more than 3 hours every three or four days. Based on the time frame this has taken, I think it’ll be another 2-3 months before I feel okay again (I’m refusing new medication until I figure out where my mind and body is once my brain chemistry has recovered a bit more sans the drug cocktails it’d been subjected to in the past.) Hopefully that makes anyone starting out feel a bit better — it is hell on earth itself, but you *can* get through it, and it *does* get better.

    • Cynthia August 29, 2015, 9:35 pm

      And now? Is there even more hope further down the line? I’ve made two months, feel better than last month but how long do I wait until I know that this is as good as it’s going to get? This is what ‘okay’ feels like?

  • Talia Miller May 31, 2015, 8:23 pm

    I was taking this medication for two months, I started at 37.5, then I went to 75 mg once a day for five days, then 150mg for the remainder of the month. I didn’t have the money to see my doc this month and now I’m having withdrawals. I’m feeling like I’m bipolar now, I can’t handle my emotions. I’m also having the WORST feelings of electric shock. I feel like someone is zapping me all day at random times, and I hate this feeling. I also cannot stop shaking my right leg. It’s like I’m super anxious all the time. I hope this ends soon, or I can have enough money left over after bills to be able to afford my doctor visit to get more.

  • Anne June 4, 2015, 2:07 am

    I got prescribed this awful drug about 3 years ago for hot flashes after an estrogen positive breast cancer diagnosis & subsequent surgery/radiation. I had taken HRT for 26 years because of a hysterectomy at age 28. Of course, with the breast cancer diagnosis, I had to quit taking the HRT. I refused at first because I knew it was an AD and in spite of the cancer, I wasn’t depressed.

    I had never been on any psych med except a very short script of Xanax for post partum anxiety 30 years ago. Doc says you’re going to need it. Started on 37.5–didn’t touch the hot flashes until I got up to 150 mg. I found a naturopath who gave me some things that help the hot flashes; so I decide to wean off. Had been on not quite 2 years. I went too fast the first three months & was in hell. I tapered down to 37.5 in three months. I did some research and found that you need to go really slowly.

    So I took 9 months to get from 37.5 to 0. I started out cutting up some leftover 75 mg tablets. When I couldn’t cut them up any more, I started counting beads out of some 37.5 capsules I had.. I weaned all the way down to 1 bead. I was still a little wobbly the first week coming off the 37.5. But I turned a corner after that & there were many days I forgot I was weaning. I got off 7 months ago with no side effects & still don’t have any. It can be done–you just have to be patient. Within 48 hours after my last dose, the “cog fog” was gone, I was clear headed & felt great!!

    The other things I did during weaning was take 5000 IU of Vitamin D, 1000 mg Vitamin B12, 1400 mg fish oil twice a day–and I made sure to get some exercise every day. Some days I could only manage a walk around the block. But many days, I went for a run or took a spin class or did yoga or Pilates. I also tried to eat well–no junk. These are the things that worked for me. Everyone is different & reacts to meds differently.

    It also helped to have a very supportive husband who helped me count out the beads & make up my new capsules every couple of weeks. I wish you all good luck in getting this crap out of your bodies.

  • Joseph June 4, 2015, 2:38 am

    PCP prescribed low-dose Zoloft for about 3 years. Then preferred the medication be handled by a mental health care doctor (they are all putting these new controls in place). One year ago the psychiatrist changed the Zoloft medication to Effexor XR 37.5 mg. No warning, just one day it happened. Cold turkey from Zoloft was difficult for 2 – 4 weeks but the Effexor XR eventually kicked in.

    After one year of visiting the new doctor every 4 to 6 weeks it became gradually clear that his job was about owning my soul through the use of particular drugs and dosages. He became increasingly rigid, always wanted to increase the dose and not very negotiable. He was subtly manipulative by utilizing staff members to create conflict and disagreements in order to artificially asses anger and flash points. Essentially he secretly measured how much he wanted to go up in dose.

    That manipulative behavior also extended to the pharmacy by his slowing down refills by days and days risking another cold turkey. He was hoping I would call in with anxiety/dependency and give him possible cause to increase dose. I never gave him the satisfaction. Suddenly it was clear that these medical offices – once a patient is dependent on an addictive drug like Effexor XR, their goal is to own you, manage you and control your state of mind through the use of powerful medications and mind games.

    It is all about power, control and money. One week ago I took my life back and said “no” to their power and control. Since finding this blog and others like it I’ve been tapering slowly from 37.5 for a few days now – 15 to 25 granules a day. My plan is to taper down to 8 to 4 granules a day within 14 days. Then after that, a few days more, no more Effexor XR. So far the withdrawal symptoms are mild to moderate – brain freeze, nightmares, tiredness, flu-like feeling, etc.

    But in the end it will be worth it not to be in the control of these people. We all need to be very cautious of the medical system. A dear friend was told for 3 years she had the flu and was given different pills and antibiotics by the same PCP every few months. Finally, we rushed her to ER one day and discovered she had cancer. She died 30 days later. I was in the 2nd best hospital in the country for 3 days assessment and they said the heart pounding and arrhythmia’s at the time were in my head.

    Three months later they called apologetic and said a medical intern student found a golf-ball sized tumor in the x-rays. The entire system can not be trusted and each person needs to take full control, management and ownership of their medical care. The professionals, for the most part are driven by power, control and money. Helping people is not the fundamental motivator of the medical profession as it once was years ago.

  • Chris June 12, 2015, 1:37 am

    Hi All, I tried to taper off from 150mg Effexor XR after taking it for nearly 12 years. It was hard but I got down to about 75mg by counting the pellets. I came to the realisation that no matter how far down I got in dose I would always end up with the nasty symptoms when I stopped so I took a brave decision and stopped 26 days ago. I went through hell for the first two weeks and could not even work or function at any real level.

    Day 15 I went back to work and was okay for a few days but still felt terrible in the evenings with head spins, nausea, crying bouts etc etc. The last week has been the worst with a sense of dread, anxiety, crying and an overwhelming feeling of being alone and not in control. It does not help that I have recently separated after a 42 year relationship / 37 year marriage which I am sure the Effexor contributed too in a negative way.

    I am just hoping and even praying which is rare for me that things start to settle back down to an acceptable level. I can put up with the physical stuff but the emotional stuff is so debilitating. I hope all those who read this understand that the medical profession downplay this so much that you will get very little support. Tough it out, never give up and DO NOT EVER EVEN THINK OF PUTTING ANOTHER AD CHEMICAL into your body. Cheers everyone.

  • Denise June 13, 2015, 7:14 pm

    I’ve been on venaflaxine for over 2 years then the past 4 weeks I was weaned off of it by my doctor since it wasn’t working anymore. First week I was told to take 150mg plus a 75MG a day. The second week only take 150mg a day then third week a 75mg a day and last week to 37.5 a day then to nothing. I’m on my 4 day of pure hell. When I say hell it’s that bad.

    Everything listed above is what I’m going through, not to mention being very tired and sleeping the day away. If I knew what I know now about Venaflaxine I wouldn’t have taken it at all. For people out there wanting to stop please do it safely by your doctor. Withdrawals are horrible and it really messes with the brain. I wish everyone the best of luck with this journey.

  • alex June 16, 2015, 7:38 pm

    I’ve only taken 37.5 for about 5 months. I went down to every other day two weeks ago as per gp ( I wanted off the effexor) . Last one was Sat.. Today is Tues.. I still can’t move my eyes and my head at the same time. When I walk, I have to keep my eyes still to avoid the second “snapshot”, and dizziness. How long does this take to go away? My psych says it’s not withdrawal ’cause of the lower dose. Ok then, what is it?

  • Claire Crittick June 22, 2015, 7:45 am

    I came off 225mgs Venlafaxine over a period of three months gradually cutting down the dose myself. The one thing that made it work so well for me was taking massive amounts of vitamins every day – this is a hidden health secret I am so glad I found out about. I read Andrew M Saul’s book on how to Doctor Yourself and haven’t looked back. Vitamins and green vegetables really healed me for more than antidepressants could ever do.

  • Chloe June 25, 2015, 5:27 am

    I am on day 8 of withdrawal from this god awful medicine. I am only 18 years old, my doctor put me on this medicine when Prozac wasn’t working for me. I wish she hadn’t. I was only on Effexor for about 9 months. I have never felt so awful in my life! I feel like I am moving super slow, I’m dizzy, nauseous, shaking, chest pains. My brain doesn’t seem to be going as fast as my body. I just feel horrid. Effexor made me gain So much weight. I was only 115lbs now I weigh 145.

    I was recently taken off of Effexor and put on bupropion. But my doctor just said I could switch and take the bupropion the next morning and she said I shouldn’t have any problems at all with this. Well I had no idea how bad Effexor was. I regret doing this. I should’ve tapered off of it. Now I am on day 8 of withdrawal symptoms. I need some kind of relief from the awful dizziness and nausea. Anyone have any ideas on how to make this awful process go a little faster?

  • Mike B June 30, 2015, 10:19 am

    Story time: About 3 or 4 years ago, when I was 24, I went through a period of depression lasting several months. I eventually saw a psychiatrist and was put on Paxil. The medication helped me to work out the issues that were bothering me. As I returned to normality, the medication’s impact on my thought processes became more apparent, and I tapered off it without issue and moved on with my life.

    Fast-foward to November of 2014. I was experiencing a bout of anxiety since the prior month that simply would not end. My primary care doctor wants to put me on something. I decide on Effexor XR. Again, it helps me to work through my issues, while also causing some milder issues of its own. I have faith in my doctor, and he and I were both aware that it could be quite unpleasant coming off Effexor, but you can’t really be prepared until you try it.

    I started tapering off it in late May. The experience was unpleasant but tolerable. Then after taking 75mg for about a week, I drop it completely. A day later, the dizziness and the zaps start, and I end up going back on 75mg. Started taking half the beads out a few weeks back, and as of 5 days ago I discontinued completely. The zaps come and go, never quite a severe as last time but still thoroughly unpleasant, with occasional anxiety, headaches, fatigue, confusion, and some other mental sensations that defy description.

    That said, the side effects seem to lessen during the day, particularly after taking my recently-prescribed dose of Strattera for ADHD, something I’ve known about since childhood but only very recently started treated. As Effexor and Strattera both affect norepinephrine, there may be something to that. Here’s hoping I start feeling better in the next week or so.

  • kls July 1, 2015, 7:28 pm

    I was on Effexor XR 75 for 12 years. I never had any problems starting it & it always helped with my anxiety. I decided I wanted to go off of it & discussed it with my doctor who agreed. (My ONLY complaint with Effexor XR was the excessive sweating & yawning. I couldn’t do anything without my head sweating, it was very embarrassing & seemed to me to be getting worse.)

    On Thursday, June 4th 2015, I took my last regular dose then went to every other day. On Saturday the 6th I felt like a zombie when I got up. I had the brain zaps & felt like my brain had to catch up with my body when I moved. I continued with that for a week. Each time it was a little easier. Then I went to every 3 days. It was the same as before with the brain zaps & my brain catching up to my body but it wasn’t as bad as the first week. On the 14th of June, I decided I wanted to see how long I could go without taking any pills.

    Today is July 1st & I haven’t had one since the 14th. Yes, there were days that weren’t the best but I only missed one day of work because of it. (That day all I could do was sleep & that I did for 15 hours. I NEVER sleep like that, I always have problems sleeping.) I still have some brain zaps but nothing like they were at first. I never felt like I wanted to go back on them, I only wanted to move forward.

    It can be done, don’t give up!!! I am a 54 year old female in good health. I wanted to see who I was without the Effexor XR. Twelve years is a long time to be on it. I haven’t had any problems with depression, crying spells or some of the other things that have been mentioned. I wanted to do this & was determined I would/could do it. I may be able to tolerate things better than others but don’t give up! You can do it!! My very best wishes to everyone on this journey! :)

    • kls August 5, 2015, 10:57 pm

      Just wanted to give an update. I feel great! No more brain zaps & no crying uncontrollably or anything like that. Don’t give up & don’t give in. Yes, it’s tough but it can be done.

  • Gigi July 3, 2015, 12:17 am

    My insurance is transitioning due to job, so I was without Venlafaxine (generic Effexor) for 4 days. I went to a clinic and they mistakingly switched it to the one that is not extended release. I don’t know whether to take it or not. I’ve taken Venlafaxine 37.5 mg 2x/day for 5 years. I am considering going off of it, but don’t know if I should accept the tablets instead of the capsules. It’s a little harder to taper off with tablets, isn’t it? I thought about take 1/4 of the tablet 2x per day, and then 1/4 once per day after about 30 days. Has anyone else tried tapering off with tablets? I’m foggy-brained, dizzy, night sweats, weepy & over-reacting to things.

  • Belle July 14, 2015, 5:30 am

    I’ve been on Venlax for a year now. I’m twenty years old and I started off with 150 mg/day. My psychiatrist increased the dose to 225 mg/day in late January. At present, I feel much better and I’m attempting to quit. I’ve decreased my dose back to 175mg/day. The problem is, for the past few days, I’ve been slightly nauseated, somewhat depressed and rather teary-eyed. I’m thinking of keeping the dose constant for another week or so and then going down to 75mg/day. I don’t really feel like telling my psychiatrist about it…

  • MrSensible July 14, 2015, 9:45 am

    I am one of those people who is of the view that I will not recover from a venlafaxine addiction that I developed. A year of 225mg, followed by cold turkey after several aborted tapers and a prescribing doctor who refused point-blank to admit that the drug had turned me into a useless zombie with no interest in doing anything. I do not have any mental health issues and sought the help of the medical profession, a group of people that I now view as a complete danger to public health due to their irresponsible prescribing of seriously dangerous drugs, why should doctors care, it was the medical profession who carved up a system for the prescribing of drugs just over 100 years ago.

    That means they can give pretty much whatever they see fit at any point in time without having to worry too much about negative consequences for themselves. In effect the system for doctors prescribing is akin to a system for bus or rail travel where the driver and the train/bus company have no responsibility for making sure the passenger gets to their destination safely. Avoid doctors if at all possible, THIS PROFESSION IS DANGEROUS AND RUINS HELATHY LIVES, IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN VERY EFFECTIVE AT RUINING HEALTHY LIVES. Work stress is not an issue that a drug as dangerous and notoriously problematic as venlafaxine should ever be getting used for.

    Venlafaxine is in fact blacklisted with the National Health Service in Scotland. Due its cost and it’s fondness for destroying lives, it is only supposed to be used in the most extreme situations where no alternative course of action is available ie no other drug. The GP prescribing when I found this out shortly before cold turkey told me than he can ignore such recommendations if he thinks that they are inappropriate. I tried to sue for it as I was completely unemployable for 3 years after cessation, however got advised that even though my case against GP was ‘Prima Facia’ i.e. no legal defense i.e. he shouldn’t have been doing what he was doing.

    I was only looking at £5000 for having my life wrecked by what was a clear case of deliberate mismanagement. There has been no improvement in my symptoms for 3 years now. I was that healthy that I hadn’t even been to see a doctor for 4 yrs when I when to get signed off with stress as I needed a good break myself due to the social care service that I was working for at the time being itself short staffed. Could I also point out as I did 8 years ago to the insult the doctor who done this to me that a worker being burnt out due being overworked as a social care service is understaffed is not a problem that has been caused by low serotonin.

    Perhaps the chief medical officer in the UK could explain why the scenario that I have just described is caused by low levels of 5HT, it’s not. Is it not about time GP’s were somehow or other stopped giving these serotonin boosters out as some kind of cure all for everyday life ups and downs that are clearly nothing to do with 5HT, 6HT, 3BT, 7AC, B5321HT,etc. – a workplace being short staffed is not a problem that is caused by low levels of any neurotransmitter. By the way the GP concerned ran off to Australia after my case got investigated by a government body.

    I got no compensation and by the time that he had ran away to Australia he had been for several years in the town I’m from been nicknamed ‘Harold Shipman part 2’ and was also being to referred to as ‘That nasty evil little sh*t’. Why cant that health center get rid of that guy, they must know that he’s doing it deliberately cause he’s getting his kicks out of screwing up other peoples lives, there’s no other explanation for what happens to people with that guy. Medical profession can you do a bit more to protect the public from the psychopathic element of your profession please.

    You get them in all walks of life and the medical profession is no more immune to the psychopath, the incompetent and the charlatan than any other trade or business.

  • Kayla July 23, 2015, 2:39 pm

    It is so helpful to read the posts of people who are all going through the same thing. I also had an extremely difficult time weaning off Effexor. I have been on and off Effexor for the past few years and finally got to the point where I wanted nothing to do with the medicine anymore. I was taking 150 mg a day and it took me 6 months to stop taking the medicine.

    Those 6 months were pure hell…I went from 150 mg to 75 to 37.5 and then I began counting the beads. I tried to Prozac bridge to help with the withdrawal symptoms and it seemed to help a little. However, on my last dose of Prozac I began to feel extremely anxious..I couldn’t sleep for a week and I suffered from intense panic attacks. It got the point where I needed the panic to stop and I needed to sleep so I had a weak moment and took a my regular dose of Effexor for three days until I could meet with my psychologist.

    I am now on buspirone and clonezepan and they seem to work OK. I have horrible headaches, nausea and brain zaps and I wonder if it’s the Effexor withdrawal kicking in again. Crazy to think that could happen after just three doses of Effexor. I am so sick of feeling this way!!

  • Elizabeth July 24, 2015, 5:27 pm

    After 3 days I am ready to start taking the pills again. Almost! But, I am going to try to tough it out. I just got out of bed… Literally crawled to my tablet to look up withdrawal symptoms. I was at 100 mg morning and evening. It ‘s been three days now. I do not think I can stand the headache, the vomiting, the sweating, the crying and the pain much longer. The dizziness and fugue state is horrid.

    The nightmares and illusions are driving me nuts. The pain fro my MS is almost debilitating. I have to tough it out! But, I was feeling so very depressed, hopeless and outright angry on Effexor that I needed to do something. It wasn’t helping. I don’t know how to be angry. I don’t want to be angry. It was prescribed to me to help me go through a hard financial time (losing home) and for the chronic pain of MS among other things.

    I am not going to start taking it again. Please, those who do not use it, do your homework on it before beginning. If you are on it, please taper off slowly as it may help. Hang in there and be patient with yourself!!

  • Tenna July 26, 2015, 5:37 pm

    I have been on Effexor for about 4 years now. I am on 150 mg. I have run out of the meds far to many times and the side effects were horrible. I would end up having major attacks that would just pull the life out of me for 3 -4 days at a time. I just recently went through a major total ear mastoidectomy where I wasn’t able to swallow any thing for some time which meant no meds either. Oh my gosh, between my surgery and not being able to take the meds I have been in bad shape. I have also discovered my immune system is not good.

    I decided to take the medication and get a hold of my Dr to help with the weaning process. If I would have known this medicine was going to have such a major effect I would NOT have started it in the first place. I am so not a lye around person, I exercise, eat right. Its time this gal look into all natural from here on out. My days spend with my family are more important than lying in bed barely functioning because of one pill.

  • Donna July 30, 2015, 6:05 pm

    I’ve been on Effexor XR 150 twice daily for years. I’ve finally had enough. I’ve gotten off it cold turkey before but this time it is harder. I went off it Thursday, but took one on Sunday (2 days later) then again today (4 days later instead of 2 days later. The brain zaps are my main side effect other than some dizziness and not being willing to put myself behind the wheel of a car. I know I can get OFF this crap (I’m also taking Toprimate 100 BID so that may be helping with the side effects to some degree) I’ll NEVER take it again.

  • Jacinda August 3, 2015, 2:43 am

    I had been on Zoloft 200 mg a night for years with no relapse of depression. When I decided to detox from extended release pain meds and percs after being on them for 4 years after a few surgeries I experienced major panic attacks and increased depression. A new psychiatrist decided to switch me to Effexor and Remeron. I was OK for a few months but began experiencing gastrointestinal issues and increased depression.

    Later I found out the Effexor was causing gastroparesis (the muscles in my stomach and small intestines meant to crush and move along food were not working, it was horrible). My doctor decided then to DOUBLE the amount of Effexor, a month later I went back and said I felt numb and hopeless so he added another dose a day so 3 a day. I ended up in a mental hospital where they took me off Effexor cold turkey and increased Remeron.

    No one told me I would go through withdrawal. It seems like it may have been the responsible thing for them to do. It has been maybe 4-5 days off of Effexor and I feel like I am going insane….rage, depersonalization…everything on the list. I thank God for being able to educate myself and not relying on a doctor’s word (they also told me it was impossible that it was causing gastroparesis yet miraculously after I stopped taking it my stomach got better).

  • Dorinda August 11, 2015, 1:10 am

    I went on venlafaxine (Effexor) when I was having anxiety due to my husband passing away, couldn’t sleep- would wake up not being able to breathe. My dr put me on 75’s and I have been on them for about 10 years now. Recently been wanting to know if I can get off them so I cut my pills in half for about the last 4 months or so. Went good; went to dr and told her what I am doing and she said take one half every other day for a week then cut that dose in half for a week.

    Around lunch time everyday I felt like I had the flu, had fever, chills, head ache, body aches so bad. I didn’t even know they were withdrawel symtoms till I looked online! I went back this past weekend to taking the half dose and I feel more like myself. I am going to try to cut that down by a forth in about 10 days or so for another week and try it that way til I can get rid of this mess! I never knew it was so addictive to my brain or I would have never started! Good luck to all!

  • Erika August 11, 2015, 12:09 pm

    I was on Effexor for several months. For most of that time I was taking 150 mg/day. Because of me screwing up by not going to my usual pharmacy, and not paying attention to my number of refills left, I was forced to stop cold turkey 6 days ago. I have abruptly stopped taking SSRIs in the past, and I was fine. This is different, though.. I knew I was in for a bad time but this is way worse than I expected.

    The mood swings I noticed first, then the brain zaps. My symptoms are gradually getting worse and worse: some sweating during the day, horrible sweating while sleeping, vivid dreams that have me wake up screaming, confusion, anxiety, dysphoria… the list goes on. My brain zaps are annoying but aren’t too painful. What I hate the most is the aggression. I’m naturally not an angry person at all but I’ve been getting almost violent towards my boyfriend lately.

    I definitely want to get back on Effexor as soon as I can, because I can’t stand the withdrawal and I have no idea how long it will last. Eventually, though, I do want to slowly taper off. Sooner rather than later. As great as Effexor is for my depression and social anxiety, just the chance of me accidentally missing a dose and starting to lose my mind in front of God-knows-who is way too scary.

  • Cynthia August 29, 2015, 9:03 pm

    Taking 300 mg of Effexor for last twenty years; very happy and content. One year ago, started weaning ten beads at a time since I began having less than stellar liver panels; I also take multiple meds for seizures that I cannot stop taking. Thought I’d give the real world a try. Made it through the withdrawal but the real world sucks. I’ve been off the Effexor for two months now, cry at everything, find happiness in nothing, want to kill everyone including myself (but I won’t). I want my meds back. Will this resolve with a little more time or do I need my meds? Help?

  • Steve September 1, 2015, 2:40 am

    I’m so happy to be reading this. I actually started laughing at some. I’ve been on Effexor for around 10 years. Last week I asked my Dr if there was something else I could try so I can get off the Effexor. He said he would like me to try Wellbutrin. He called the pharmacy to check on dosages. Anyways, I was told to stop taking the Effexor and start the Wellbutrin the next day, “last week”. I’m not handling quitting the Effexor cold turkey very well.

    I can think very clearly now and I actually care about things and people again. My problem is my anger and my rage. The smallest of things make me snap into a very mean and nasty person. I feel like Jekyll and Hyde. I think my wife may actually care how I feel this time. But her questions make me furious. I really hope I can get though this hell soon or I’m going to have to start Effexor back.

  • Gary September 9, 2015, 1:31 am

    Wow, what an interesting thread! I’ve been on Effexor for 20 years, but since I’m genuinely biploar, not purely major depressive, I’ve had to stop the Effexor in the last week in the hope that an unusually prolonged period of hypomania will stop. (Yes, I’m biploar, but was only visited by mania once every 1-2 years, and I’ve always coped OK for the 2 weeks it occurred. This time it’s going on a month of hypomania and my doctor suggested halting the Effexor. Then again, he also wants me on lithium, which I will not try, thank you very much.)

    I guess I’m lucky because I haven’t had the plethora of negative side effects since going to zero Effexor five days ago. Brain zaps? Check. Headaches? Check. Joint pain? Check. Some minor disorientation and feeling out of sorts, but nothing like what some of you have gone through. So, five days in, days 3 and 4 were pretty bad. Day 5 is not quite so bad. We’ll see what the next few days brings, but after reading many of the comments here, I’m now very tempted to not go back to Effexor.

    I haven’t had major depressive symptoms for 20 years, so I’ve considered Effexor highly effective, in my case. But I think I’m going to give non-medication shot and see if the depression returns. Will let you all know! Thanks, fellow biochemically-challenged people for sharing your experiences here!

    • Jon M October 2, 2015, 10:14 am

      Hi Gary. I have read a bit about Bipolar II in Ronald R Fieve’s book and it’s agreed with what you said about symptoms sometimes mellowing in a person’s late 50’s. I’ve sometimes wondered if I am bipolar, but get shut down by health care professionals when ever I mention it. It’s been a little while since you have indicated how you’re doing. I wanted to indicate that someone is ‘listening’ and curious as to your progress. As I’ve indicated in my posts, I’ve been on Effexor so much that I’m not sure of who I am without it. I’m making an assumption that it could be similar for you too. -Jon

  • Nikki September 11, 2015, 3:24 am

    I am so glad I’m not alone in this battle. I was taking Effexor for a year and have been off of it for a month and am now on Bupropion. I am living in hell and feel like I should be in a mental hospital. I can’t believe the withdrawal symptoms and I am going through all of them! I didn’t realize nausea headache and dizziness were part of it. I thought I had a migraine last weekend and I have never had one before.

    Didn’t know it was one of the withdrawal symptoms. I too constantly cry at the drop of a hat (and the award for best supporting actress in a drama goes to ME). I’m so tired of crying. I feel out of control. I planned to go off of it with the help of my doctor too- to taper off since I was on a high dose. After reading all the comments , we kind of failed in that area so I am on the sucky end of it.

    Like the article said, if I can survive the withdrawals of this, I can survive anything, but man this is awful and no telling how long it will last. Some days I want to hit someone, some days I want to crash my car into a tree because I’m so depressed… I hope to see the light soon.

  • Gary September 11, 2015, 11:50 pm

    Quick follow up on the withdrawal. I should note that I was on 150mg per day for most of the last 20 years. I cut down over 2 weeks, reducing by 37.5mg every 4 days. It’s been a week now and all the symptoms have gone steadily down. Brain zaps are not as prominent. But I don’t know that I got them as badly as some anyway. For me, I only feel the zaps when I move my eyeballs back and forth. Yes, strange, but true.

    It’s definitely tied to the visual system, though. Fortunately, they’ve gotten a little less prominent day by day this past week. Today is the first day I have not taken Ibuprofin to combat a headache. Still have a minor headache off and on, but not nearly as pervasive as the first few days. Shoulders are still a little achy, but much better. All in all, the withdrawal seems about on par with the couple of times I’ve gone off Effexor over the years.

    Noticeably bad the first few days but tapering off. This time, though, I do believe am NOT going to resume the Effexor. Not that I want to try something else, like a mood stabilizer, but to see, at 50 yrs old, if the old black morass from 20 years ago returns. And whether I can handle it better as a more mature individual. Guess we’ll see! Best of luck to all you others dealing with Effexor, irregular brain chemistry, and the travails of “mental health issues” as a partner in life. :-)

  • Susan Quella September 23, 2015, 11:54 pm

    I’ve been on Effexor XR for years and my psychiatrist had me up to 300 milligrams of it when I went to my medical doctor for other problems and he took my blood pressure and it was too high. I told him how much Effexor I was taking and he said it was way too much and causing my blood pressure to go up. Effexor is not good for people with high blood pressure and he said he wanted me off of it. So I’ve gone down from 300 milligrams to 225 and my psychiatrist said I could taper down by 37.5 milligrams every 3 days, yeah right.

    If I had been on a lower dose. I checked with a pharmacist and it’s more like you down once a week not every 3 days. Anyway after not being on the 225 for very long I tried to go down and got very sick with diarrhea and extremely tired and a headache. I’m staying on the 225 until next week and trying again How could my psychiatrist not know how to go down on this awful drug? It just astounds me that they truly don’t have any idea. This drug is just awful and I hope when I go down next week I don’t get sick.

  • Jon M September 29, 2015, 3:55 pm

    I decided to quit Effexor recently after discovering that it can cause lack of motivation. I think it may have been Friday Sept 25, 15 when I decided to go off it. I’ve been out of work since December 1, 2015 and finding it very hard to get motivated. It was a real surprise to discover that Effexor could be the source of that. I first started Effexor in 1997 for anxiety and it helped well for that. It’s so hard to tell what else you pick up with something especially because it takes weeks to months to have drugs like this come into full effectiveness.

    For most of the years I’ve been on 75 mg from 1997 to 2009-ish when I went to 150 mg. I was on 150 mg until the end of 2011 when I went off Effexor cold turkey. I went off Effexor cold turkey at the time due to a divorce and moving countries. I don’t want to write a book, so won’t expound on that. I was already wrecked from the divorce, so I don’t recall how horrible it was to quit from 150 mg as well as I should. The biggest symptoms couldn’t have lasted more than a month during which I was unemployed.

    I went back on Effexor perhaps in 2013. If I check my records I could find out pretty close to when I restarted it. I restarted on 75 mg daily which I maintained until a few days ago. So, I know that I can turn away from Effexor and be okay. My motivation to go off it again is primarily due to lack of motivation. I’ve been out of work for months in an economic area which has spiralled down in the last few months.

    It has been so hard to get going some days since I don’t have a job to go to. I’ll often look for work and then go right back to sleep on the couch. There are so many things I could have been doing and I haven’t been doing them. I know most of us are this way and aren’t 100% self-actualized. So I’ve vaguely described how much I was on, why I was using it, and why I’ve decided to quit. Moving on to symptoms of quitting so that others can know what to expect.

    Dizziness, minor nausea, and some disorientation have been the biggest effects for me so far. I think I took one 75 mg pill since I decided to go off it. Having done it before cold turkey I imagine I can do it again. Last night as the night drew on I found that I was becoming very weepy at emotional things on TV and books. I’ve been a more emotional person for all my life when it comes to sentimental things, so this appears to be just that trait amplified.

    I have felt angrier than usual at some things as well. I have the news on TV a fair bit while doing things on my computer. I’ve probably always been someone concerned with social justice and fairness, so again this appears to just be an amplified feeling. I did manage to hop the bus yesterday and go to a fast food place for a bite to eat, and also get some groceries. When I say that my lack of motivation has been the decision to stop Effexor I really mean it. I’ve had such a hard time just leaving the apartment for any reason.

    I have been allowing my food to run down to just about nothing before going out for anything. It’s been horrible how easy it’s been to procrastinate and say I’ll go get something tomorrow. I think some of the months since I lost my job I may have left the apartment maybe a couple times a month. I have had all these goals and if someone asks me why I haven’t moved on any of them I can just shrug and say I don’t know. I’m thinking of walking everyday which should increase levels of serotonin by a bit at least.

    I’m a bit nervous about this though because feeling as out of sorts as I do it seems that I must look as out of sorts as I feel. I’m really fortunate that I’ve got a nice bike path that goes right by my building and runs along the river. It’s crazy how many opportunities I actually have. Like I said though, I’m a bit nervous that people will see that something is off with me due to how off I feel. It’s a small concern, but we sometimes allow those to derail us.

    I’ll guess that today is day 7 of my withdrawal. I live alone and actually spend almost zero time with anyone, so its difficult to get an impartial view of how I’m behaving as I would like. However, I don’t have anyone here to tell off when I’m feeling a bit more on the angry side either so that’s an upside. We’re all different in our experiences and also in biochemistry, so your results may vary. Just because I can go off Effexor without weaning doesn’t mean you can or should.

    I am unemployed at the moment and don’t have to worry about weeping openly at work. I don’t own a car or drive, so the dizziness and disorientation are not a safety risk in that regard either. Today my motivation is to get off the couch and go for a bit of a walk. I hope that I can help someone out by talking about what I’m going through.

    • Jon M October 2, 2015, 8:24 am

      It’s unpleasant to go through withdrawal from Effexor. I recommend taking time away from work if you’re planning on going cold turkey. I’ve napped when I desire and had a lot of weird dreams. I don’t have nightmares, or what I would call nightmares so having 2 in the last several days is out of the ordinary for me. Additionally I’ve had many crazy dreams, which I generally find amusing.

      Today has been quite a bit better. I’m feeling a lot more motivated than I have in quite a while. The dizziness and nausea have subsided a lot, but I don’t want to get too comfortable with that for fear that it’s going to come back again. Should I need to go on something again for anxiety I’ll choose something else.

      Many drugs are fat soluble. They stay in your system until until that fat is used. I’ve no idea how much can be released at one from from fat reserves, but it’s something to consider or research. I hope that what I’ve shared has been of use to someone. I’ll share more as the days pass.

      • Jon M October 6, 2015, 5:09 pm

        I think I’m almost totally done with symptoms of withdrawal. At least the big ones that make me feel horrible. One big thing to remember (and I try to keep in mind myself) is that the reason you went on Effexor in the first place is likely still with you. It’s so difficult for a person to objectively determine how something is affecting themselves. I recall reading a couple different things about Ted Turner and his taking lithium to combat mood swings.

        In his Autobiography has him saying that it affected him very little. A different source indicated that those people around him found him easier to deal with. I have found that small things make me angry now whereas they would not have when I was on Effexor. I’m working with those feelings though and hopefully can become a better person for it. Crying spells – check. Electric shocks – no, but I have had weird audible events which are shock like. Sound changing momentarily.

        There are things about my behavior and feelings that Effexor stopped or reduced. I tend to be a person of extremes and I’m trying to find balance where its needed. I did a major apartment cleaning since going off Effexor. I am sure I’m not OCD, but Effexor made me not care as much about how messy my place was. Effexor helped me a great deal for many years. I do wonder if there could have been a better more targeted drug for me, or perhaps some form of CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) which would have helped me better.

  • lisa October 6, 2015, 1:16 am

    Wow. Reading these stories makes me want to cry! I was on it for sixteen months. 37.5 to 75 mg per day. Then down to 37.5 with the agreement that after two months I could go off. Auth only about a week to go I had forgotten to take it one day coincidentally as a result of getting a cold and feeling crappy anyway so I just threw the rest out. It’s 7 days later and I’m so dizzy and nauseous still that I googled how long is this going to last?

    And found this site. It’s devastating to hear what so many are experiencing from this and I really am kicking myself for not researching this prior to taking it! I’m hoping that my symptoms will subside in the next several days and never never never again will I take stuff without questioning or researching! Wishing everyone else all the best in getting through this! We can do it – just knowing there’s others to support me and each other helps!

  • Ash October 6, 2015, 1:33 am

    I have been on antidepressants for 8 years on and off, I’m bipolar with tons of anxiety. This is the worst drug I have ever taken, I took it for about eight months and my brain was so foggy I couldn’t even function. It was awful, so I weaned myself off and found out it’s also the worst to come off of. It’s been almost three weeks, some days I feel fine other days I feel like I have the flu.

    Not to mention the constant anger and mood swings. So I did some research, I now take st johns wort for the depression and fatigue, multivitamins so I know I’m not missing anything important, and passion flowers extract drops for anxiety. I’m still not feeling %100 everyday but it has helped tremendously. Keep in mind if you want to try this stuff do a lot of research for drug interactions. Good luck everyone, hope this helps.

  • Kt4u October 13, 2015, 6:07 pm

    I quit cold turkey after being on 37.5mg xr for 4 years. I did not take supplements to do it other than antacids. It was rough and at times didn’t think I would make it. Took about 3 weeks to feel markedly better physically but much longer for the fogginess to decrease appreciably. Had I known how long this would take I probably wouldn’t have quit but once I started I just crossed the days off and looked at each day without it as a victory. I made it!!

  • Jeanne October 28, 2015, 11:13 pm

    Tapered myself off from 225mg down to none. I have been on the medication for 8 years. I have been tearing up at the silliest things, thought maybe I needed to restart. Very irritated, angry over small stuff, worst thing is the dizziness, brain fog I hope it will not last for weeks. If so I might restart it doing a piece of the pill to help. Thanks for all stories, we can get through this (with tears in my eyes).

  • Steve October 30, 2015, 5:27 pm

    I am only on day 5 of coming off cold turkey from 75mg I have come off many drugs the same way over the years including diazepam 70mg and have to say that this is up there with the worst of them. I feel sick and dizzy all the time. If I move my eyes I feel like I’m going to fall over or pass out. I have ringing in my ears that changes to a whoosh whoosh sound when there is background noise outside. I’m an emotional wreck and feel like crying constantly.

    I keep telling myself to keep going but if I’m honest I’m not sure I can. I’m scared that I will do something stupid I get so suicidal and low. I have a great wife and family to support me so I’m very lucky but it’s so damn hard. I am on a train typing this into my phone with a tear in my eye it’s embarrassing and distressing. I feel for all those who are doing this and all those that have this to come.

    It helps to read others hopes and struggles with this hellish drug and know you’re not alone and going mad. It helps but it doesn’t take away the pain of doing it. I took solace in that when I was withdrawing from diazepam that it was my own stupid fault that I had become addicted and abused it so it was a kind of punishment if anything but this stuff is handed out to put you right with no consideration to what it will do to you.

    I have no answers and can only add my experience so far to this blog and cling onto the hope that one day I will wake up and not feel as bad as I did the day before. The day that happens will be a good day and in some ways my first day. Good luck to everyone on here. Stay strong and give hope to others that have this to come….

  • Leanne November 1, 2015, 5:29 am

    I have been on Effexor for over a decade, never more than 150 mg. I told my dr. I wanted and he argued with me and told me he wouldn’t let me. I had to go a psychiatrist and “talk about getting off”. I finally started crying and told him I’m getting off it. I never went back to him. I’ve been on 75 mg and started missing every other day. Now I skip up to 3 days until the symptoms are unbearable. I’m going to 37.5 mg this week. I want to be completely off by Christmas.

    My withdrawals are horrible! I can’t sleep. I’m very moody! I cry reading Facebook and watching commercials. I want to be alone and purposefully isolate myself from everyone because I feel so “weird”!I literally think I’m going to die. I constantly think death is imminent. I dream about myself dying and then wake up sweating and have panic attacks! I hate this medicine. I thought I needed it for all those years and now I’m begging for my life without it!

  • Col November 1, 2015, 3:38 pm

    Just found this today as it’s driving me mad trying to figure out why this is so full on. I’ve been on venlafaxine for around 4 years. Gradually went up to 225mg when I was doing badly, then back down to 150mg for a long time when I got on top of things helping or I felt then causing my depression. I stupidly tried going cold turkey from 150mg and the nightmares/voices (the latter being something I have never suffered in my life so you can imagine how freaked out that made me) and oncoming of hallucinations were so ridiculously strong on night 2 that I had to quit that plan.

    After finally seeing my doctor and saying how much the medication was now actually causing me to be depressed (my positive emotions feel numbed and I feel zombie like a lot so I want off them to be myself again now that I am on top of previous issues) he agreed to help me taper off them better. I dropped to 75mg but am now finding it tough to get to see my doctor due to his hours and difficulty in getting appointments through that surgery. Because of this I have been cutting my tablets in half for weeks and am now so low on those that I’ve tried taking half a tablet every other day. So in theory I’m getting 37.5mg every other day rather than daily but the symptoms are still ridiculously severe.

    The headaches and brain zaps are the most difficult thing to deal with. I’m eating painkillers like sweets and still suffering. Work is a nightmare due to me feeling so rough and tired as my sleep is also all over the place. I’m also confused easily and my memory is shocking at times. Of course I’m fatigued but that would be expected with the lack of sleep anyway. Between the headaches, brain zaps and lack of sleep though my patience and tolerance is next to nothing which means I am becoming infuriated dealing with certain people and it’s very apparent to people that I’m not doing well with stress.

    I can’t understand why taking 37.5mg every other day is still causing such severe withdrawal symptoms. Well I couldn’t until I read this today. Also the nightmares are shocking. When I can actually sleep I’ve been having dreams which are like the worst horror films you could imagine. Where this stuff comes from I have no idea but it is pretty heavy going. Today I’ve decided to not bother doing every other day and just go a second day without taking anything.

    I have a few days worth left of half tablets and seeing as the withdrawal symptoms are so bad now I figure I might as well just stop altogether and try to ride it out from here now. Just the timescale this site says it could take to get this shite out of my system is scary to say the least. I never realized any of this when I was put on this drug and how bad it is to get rid of. If I had I’d never have gone on the stuff.

  • Allan November 3, 2015, 7:41 pm

    I am here writing this, because I am in around day 5 of Effexor-VenlafaxINSANE-withdrawl, and I am really pissed that this type of withdrawl- yes withdrawl- like opiate withdrawl-is what I have to go through! It has been that freaking painful that I did a search to see what other people might be going through, and there are many, many testimonies on this thread, about how ridiculously difficult this drug is to get off!

    I was on 300 mg for about a year and a half year to two years, and began decreasing my dosage over the course of quite a few months, and I have been on the 37.5 four maybe five months or so, and please forgive me for my not being quite sure of the time periods, because right now I can’t even think clearly, and the depression that I have now, is far greater than the depression that this medication was supposed to treat! This crap should be illegal!

    The pharmaceutical companies are getting away with murder in this country! I mean, going through 3-5 days of discomfort getting off a medication I can deal with, but from what I’m reading here, this could go on for months, and even up to, or beyond a year! Already, I know I have to call my psychiatrist and get something else to combat the symptoms, because I can’t go through this for the next freaking year! It’s like a heavy gray blanket has been laid down over my field of vision, and I mean, my perception, my experience of what is going on around me, and finding something positive in that is impossible!

    Whatever my depression was before, it was nothing like this and quality, intensity, and just plain is much much worse than what I began taking us for! On this thread people spoke of the anger, yes big-time, irritability, and the dreaming, which is actually amazing, because I’m having dreams that are otherworldly, and it’s like I’m really there! Some of them are actually interesting, but there are those that have a sad, depressing aspect to them, that when I wake up I carry that feeling of sadness throughout the whole day, and even several days I’m finding!

    This medication is insane to take, and if you are thinking to take it- DON’T take it!!! Get something that will not involve a protracted- prolonged withdrawal! The reason I’m even writing this is because I had to go on the internet, as soon as I woke up, to find out how long it’s going last, and almost everyone, that is getting off this medication, is talking about months of pain and discomfort!!! I don’t have it to spend months feeling like this! I’ve gotten off of powerful opiates like morphine, and oxycodone, because of back problems, and the depression I feel from the withdrawal of this Effexor, is just as bad in some ways, and that is wrong, that this drug is allowed to be prescribed without proper warning, concerning discontinuation of this drug!

    I just woke up a little while ago, and my stomach felt like somebody had sandpapered the inside of it while I was asleep, and it raw! I am only into maybe day five, and the thought of going through this another week seems like it is an impossibility-let alone another few months, or year or more! I had heard it was going to be difficult, but I thought it was going to be 3 or 4 days maybe, and it appears that people are suffering for months because of this crap! Even if they have a medication that can minimize the side effects, like an SSRI, it involves three weeks of this comfort in the adjustment period before they kick in- for something like Zoloft, or Paxil, it’s all crap!

    All I know is I don’t have the time, to have my life turned upside down like this for a prolonged period time! That is a no-brainer! I’m going on a long time here because I am really pissed, and I’m sure some of that anger is coming from this withdrawal also! I’ve had moments over the last couple of days, where I wanted to rip the heart of something, because of the frustration I was experiencing when I was trying to tie my shoelaces and one of them broke! I have no choice apparently, than to go to my psychiatrist, and I hope he has something in his bag of tricks, that can reduce this discomfort/pain, because I just don’t have time for this!

    I heard they have a class-action suit somewhere, against the company that makes Effexor, and now, I know why! If I can find the place to add my signature in a lawsuit against the company, that’s what I’m going to do!! If I find anything that helps with this, I will come back on this thread, and I will post it. I hope whomever is going through this, which it appears there are many, judging by the length of this thread, I hope it passes quickly for you! Namaste

    • sunshine November 3, 2015, 11:02 pm

      Thanks. Needed to know I’m not alone in this detox nightmare.

  • Beth November 7, 2015, 3:32 am

    I have been dealing with effexor withdrawal for years. I’d always go back because it would get so bad that I couldn’t function. I couldn’t think straight, my head felt so heavy, and I just felt like I was always “high” in some manner. Until…I got a cold and took Sudafed. I realized the Sudafed was getting rid of the withdrawal symptoms.

    I looked it up, and Sudafed seems to cause more norepinephrine in the body, which is what you’re withdrawing from when discontinuing effexor. I know that it’s not a good idea to add another drug, and that taking Sudafed long term is a bad idea…but I was so depressed and so unable to function because of the withdrawal symptoms that I would do anything to make them go away.

    It’s not a permanent solution, but it helps temporarily. I’m putting this out there just in case there’s even one person that it might help. I wish I’d known this years ago…I would’ve saved myself so much agony.

  • Anonymous November 7, 2015, 4:59 am

    Ive been coming off Effexor for 2 weeks. I was on 37.5mg for a few months then went onto 75mg. I became extremely anxious and panicky after about 4 days. My OCD symptoms increased. I decreased to 37.5mg for a few days and then went onto Sertraline 50mg. That was about 2 weeks ago. I now feel qutie positive but all I want to do is sleep. I also feel mentally foggy.

    I wish I had never started taking Effexor. Its like a horrid kind of amphetamine. It shouldn’t be classified as a prescription medication. In 20 years time (hopefully much sooner) the current psychiatric medications will be talked of with the same disdain as full frontal lobotomy is today. I don’t know how the pharmaceutical companies and psychiatric profession can justify the way that they fail to advise people of how horrible these drugs can be and how difficult they are to withdraw from.

    I wish that I’d never started taking these drugs when I was 20 and somebody with some common sense had just told me that I needed to exercise more to manage my mood. I’m now resigned to the fact that I will be hooked on SSRIs for life.

  • Sooty November 9, 2015, 4:32 pm

    Effexor… hmm. This is my story – just hope it offers inspiration/insights… nothing more promised! I was on 75 mg/day for some years, prescribed to offset ‘the sweats’ caused by hormone treatments. For this, they worked. When taken off the hormone treatment, I didn’t need them anymore, but I stayed on them simply as I was relatively pleased with the emotional stability that they gave me, knowing that this was an area of my life that could always benefit from improvement.

    The only notable side-effects for me were the vivid dreams. Not at all unpleasant as such, but after some years of them, waking to face the day as if I’d just spent the night wide awake as Indiana Jones or something similar, just wore very thin. So. 1st. attempt, cold turkey. Brain zaps by the end of the first day. Weird, but I put up with them. Some days later, the crushing depression, the explosive, hair-trigger emotional eruptions. Seriously not good. So, back on them.

    A few months later, 2nd. attempt… tapering. I can’t say my way has any sound reasoning behind it, it was just the way I happened to choose out of personal convenience. Month 1. For 1 month, every day, I’d open up the capsule (a generic version that contained just 2 tablets of material) and take just 1. So, each day, a 1/2 dose.

    Month 2. For 1 month, I’d cut each of the tablets in 2. So, each day, a 1/4 dose.

    Month 3. For 1 month, I’d cut each of the tablets in 4. So, each day, an 1/8 dose.

    After 1 more month, I stopped altogether. Each time I had cut back, the brain zaps had increased again, and after a few days, anxiety and depressive episodes increased before subsiding again. Notably perhaps, none of the steps (not even the first, biggest drop) was notably different from the others… except perhaps, the final one. The final one was initially, as before – brain zaps, gradually diminishing, but not disappearing, followed by increasing anxiety and depressive episodes.

    This time however, they have -not- significantly diminished, (and possibly -continued- to increase,) even after 5 months without any of the stuff. There may well be days when I might feel that “hey, it’s over now,” only to have a recurrence a few days later. And although the depressive episodes come and go ‘quietly’, (often arriving when I wake up for no reason around 3-4 am, still having minor brain zaps,) the anxiety can return explosively in just a split second.

    So… here I am, still not out of the woods. So far, I have chosen not to go back to my doc. In the last 2 weeks, I started on ‘something alternative’, in the form of over-the-counter Valerian tablets. A miracle cure? Don’t think so. But on the other hand, I think I can say that they -may- be helping, even if only as a placebo. I usually feel calmer when I meet a ‘rage-trigger’, and most nights, the time I lie awake in a state of anxious depression, seems to have reduced noticeably. Hope this helps. :)

  • Kat November 12, 2015, 10:12 pm

    Where do I begin, I went on Effexor XR after my brother died followed by a long four years of painful life challenges. Not having insurance being one reason and experiencing no sleep as a result of the side effects of Effexor and refusing to go on sleeping pills, I decided to wean off. Well I can totally understand why heroin and other addicts have a difficult time quitting. Massive nightmares, nausea, extreme headache, brain zaps, nausea, lethargy, nausea nausea nausea. I have found that B and B12 vitamins and L-tyrosine help with the withdrawal, also lots of water

  • Jackie November 15, 2015, 8:33 am

    I’m having terrible withdrawal symptoms. Brain zaps that include zaps of tingly/numbness in my fingers and face, zaps where it feels like my hearing fades…I also feel like I an cry at the drop of a hat. Not that I’m depressed but more that I’m feeling things, happiness and grief. I can’t sleep and I feel disconnected from my body at times (weird?). I wish this would end. It’s been a week and I feel like there’s no end in sight.

  • Edward November 20, 2015, 6:55 am

    I am currently on day four of quitting Effexor cold turkey. My prescription was for 150mg. I am doing well. Right now, my biggest concern lies in the effect that withdrawal is having on my body. If anybody could answer me this question, it would really ease my mind (or make me realize that I need to taper off rather than quit cold turkey). Anyway, my question. Is there a potential for heart attack from withdrawal of this medication? Again, my dose is 150mg. I’ve been on Effexor for almost a year. Thanks in advance!

  • Maxine November 26, 2015, 10:32 am

    I started coming off 275 mg of Effexor 8 weeks ago tapering down from 275 to 150 then to 100 then 75 finally down to 30 mg for two weeks now o for 4 days. I feel nauseated with awful reflux, foggy headed and anxious and very teary. I had be on it for 3 years. I was not told how bad the withdrawals would be.

    I will never take antidepressants again. I started to feel like I had serious stomach problems… I feel so sickly and dread eating anything as I feel so awful afterwards and I’m a Diabetic. I could kick the stupid GP who put me onto Effexor… it should be banned.

  • Morwenna Alldis November 27, 2015, 10:50 am

    Thanks to everyone who has posted here – for giving me reassurance that I’m not totally on my own. I feel like I’m in the pit of hell at the moment. I’ve been on Venelafaxine for 1.5 years, 37.5mg three times a day. I did wean off gently, and I’ve been on nothing for about 1.5 weeks, but I feel like the depression is kicking into full swing again.

    It’s like the tablets just but a lid on the depression for a time, and despite all of the treatment I’ve had (counselling and Mindfulness), as soon as the lid has been lifted the old me is still there, screaming. Head zaps have been awful; uncontrollable sobbing for no reason; bad stomach upsets/nausea; ‘bad’ thoughts coming in again; and I’m so irritable, short tempered and angry – I hate it, I feel like a horrible, horrible person – please, please tell me this isn’t it forever :(.

  • Nikki November 29, 2015, 4:32 pm

    I have been on this drug for just over a year. Reduced about a month ago from my DR to 225mg. It has almost been 1 whole week since I have quit any and all dosages completely. Although the withdrawal has been possibly the worst nightmare I have ever been through, the ability to FEEL is the most addictive part. I do not recommend anyone quitting like I have without having an alternative plan to deal with withdrawals. I am starting a body flush to help ease me out of this mess. Never again. Kudos to all who make their way through life after having been on this crap.

  • Gina Terrado December 13, 2015, 5:53 pm

    I agree. Withdrawal is pure hell. For me this drug is a Godsend. I will take no other.

  • LT December 13, 2015, 6:25 pm

    Took Effexor XR 75mg daily for 16 years. Cut down to 37.5mg daily with relatively few side effects. Tapered off 37.5 mg by counting beads over a long 6 month period. Had side effects but was still able to work, function, get by. I have now been Effexor-free for 6 months. My memory has become exponentially worse since discontinuing Effexor.

    I have lost 22 lbs (that is okay!) have considerable agitation and anxiety, especially in the AM hours; worse than before I ever started taking the drug. I am especially concerned about the memory loss and wondering when I will begin to feel better. I do not take any other medications. I do not eat a lot of sugary or processed foods. I am not depressed, but I am feeling discouraged that as time goes on I feel worse rather than better.

  • ANT December 14, 2015, 7:02 am

    For the love of your body, life, loved ones and your heart…Please stop taking this medication. I am not against all medications, there is a time and place. And never should something like this be taken for prolong periods of time… Hell I don’t think THIS medication should be taken at all, since the severity of it for your WHOLE body!

    Waking up to day 4 at 1 AM in the morning, crying, head pounding, cursing the man in the moon, nauseous, all the symptoms of everyone else. This is the first thing I have read since my last dosage. Going cold turkey wasn’t a choice since my meds never showed up in the mail, as they normally do. So I am up and down, experiencing all this awfulness. But determined to fight! FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT! I have no family near by, I’m 29 female, barely 100 lbs, and have been on Effexor for almost a year.

    It is the last of the smorgasbord of medications the doctors have put me on in the past year, that I am determined to kick! I’ve lost a marriage and the last 2 years of joy to being on all kinds of meds. But after this one, 2016…is my year. I am sick, I have read on up on the vitamins and such. Will start increasing those. I am disgusted and WILL have words with my doctor ASAP. I am sensitive to medications and a tiny woman, NO WAY should she of continued to increase my meds to over 300 mg a day.

    I was having nightmares/terrors and not sleeping the night through, and spells of “Wired & Tired” with no relief, so she continued to increase it. Always saying “you have a lot on your plate, let’s just up it a bit, I have no worries of you OD’ing on it.” So I am livid, hurt, and now just down out rightfully so determined to TAKE MY BODY BACK!!! Those of you who have advocated and encouraged people. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. This blog helped me realize that I was not alone.Bless you all going through this. -AT

  • Zuhair December 28, 2015, 6:59 am

    For eight years I was on a regiment of happy pills that included Venlafaxine (Effexor) 75mg, mood stabilizers (Lamictagin) and benzodiazepam, plus I was a heavy duty pot-head. I dropped the full load (150mg) about a year back and continued taking the 75mg with the other pills. It has been a week since I went cold turkey on Effexor and the mood stabilizer, I am taking 12mg of benzodiazepam (Lexotanil) to help me sleep. I have also completely quit Mary Jane since it seems to increase the panic pangs.

    My ears are ringing, I have spidey-sense (in an awful way). I stopped throwing up, just last night but the stomach is on full revolt, my legs are rubbery, the recalibration of the brain is making me spin like a top every time I move my head. There’s plenty morbid thoughts, my face seems to be shedding skin and my lips are inflated (in my head, of course), heat flashes followed by lying naked in an igloo, Hulkian rage, ugly dreaming and a right arm that feels detached from the rest of the body.

    I don’t even know and I’m bawling like a hungry infant, plus my senses are super sore; the insomnia is the worst when the withdrawal makes you feel like the only person left behind on an abandoned space colony filled with Xenomorphs. I lost too much in the past five years, including a high profile job with an oil company, my marriage, custody, sanity, reason, friends, small odd jobs, the will to live to have continued taking Effexor.

    It’s day six now and I’m writing this from my workplace, where I make calls and send emails for half a day. I don’t blame the doctors (my ex-wife prescribed my first antidepressant, Sertaline during my recovery from GBS in 2008), I don’t blame anyone but myself and now I must move forward or I’ll simply fade away, this time for good. Gotta hold on to the thought of seeing my daughter again and also to see my parents retire happily, they’re both senior citizens.

    Here’s to everyone on this forum and the fight being put up against the super-villain that is Effexor. Ok, fatigue is settling in now and I must go smoke a Marlboro before my thoughts take me down and out. All the best.

  • Helen Fitzpatrick December 28, 2015, 8:43 am

    Ugh I am on week 3 of a cold turkey withdrawal from Effexor XR 150mg I am having what I would describe as a constant headache every afternoon. I suppose it feels like a million little people inside my head pushing against my brain and it won’t go away. Everything else has stopped, but how long does this hang around for? :-(

  • rachel December 28, 2015, 6:44 pm

    I regret not keeping a daily diary of my withdrawal from effexor because it would help others like me, trying to get off this horrid drug. It would now be week 13 and wracking brain as to how to get well physically and mentally because I can see I am only at the beginning of the long road. After being on effexor for about 8 years, without enough medical assistance, I then reduced followed by getting off effexor entirely.

    This slow taper was done over a year – no medical supervision unfortunately. I broke capsules down to about ten mg and took a week off work for the first week free of drug. I should have taken a month as noise , welling anger and resentments made me close to violence at times – if anyone had really known. I think what makes me so disappointed about being abandoned on effexor for years is that, if the withdrawal is an indication of the power of the drug, why would a doctor leave someone on it long term?

    Someone without a major medical illness long term and throw away the key? Having an episode of anxiety and depression does not justify leaving someone on this horrid drug long term because after reducing and finally getting off effexor, a definite side effect is anxiety and depression after the anger and crazy mixed up emotions. The brain zaps are nothing compared to the turmoil of this drug messing with bits of the brain.

    Surely ongoing CTB therapy or other ways of addressing the problems is the answer!!! Perhaps a short period on the drug with therapy then of with therapy. The people who write on these forums are always laypeople. It is good to hear how others handle withdrawal, but why aren’t doctors writing medically sound advice? I am desperate to hear from them. Surely doctors, as members of the general public, suffer same mental illnesses as do the general public?

    I would feel more confident with information in forums if scientific objectivity was included. I am bamboozled by we average Joe’s struggling with our own experiments giving up this horrendous medication. How about medical guidelines beyond week two. I am week 13 and still experiencing times of general anxiety, depression, self-pity and times when I am free from all that – but this can all occur within two days.

    Therefore, until I notice emotional stability, I blame effexor withdrawal and whatever it has done to serotonin and receptors. What is at stake – relationships with my 15 year old son for whom I am sole carer, family, friends, work. All the support groups that we need for an active balanced, mentally healthy life, become subjected to oversensitive unbalanced behavior that they don’t need to put up with.

    At this stage of recovery, I am fragile and I can see the strain I have caused to all around me so I lose the support networks around me. How could those people ever understand the psychological impact giving up effexor has on outward communications? People I valued as friends have been put off by my insecurities. Why wouldn’t they connect you giving up your antidepressant with behavior 3 months past?

    I will persevere for at least a year. I may have to make new friends, but I am sure I don’t want to be on effexor for the rest of my life. I beg science based information to be included in these forums. Thanks for your ears.

    • BAS May 7, 2016, 3:10 pm

      Rachel, You are one of the few I see that understand the effectiveness on a very long w/draw period. I tried cold turkey and do not recommend. I was on 300/day off-label use for ADD and am down to 75/day after 5 months of tapering. From here I will go to every other day, then every two days, etc. Cannot believe the fatigue at this point. I could sleep for a week! I hope life is better for you and for your son.

  • Chris January 1, 2016, 12:08 am

    Hi everyone, I’ve been on this drug for just a year. Started at 37.5 mg then up to 75mg a month in. It helped for sure, but I have been really looking forward to getting off them. I have gained about 30lbs, especially in the last few months, so about 8 months or so into the prescription. My doctor reduced my dose back to 37.5.

    I did one 37.5 then a 75mg for a week followed by 37.5 every day for 3-4 days then 1 37.5 every other day. It was in the every other day stage I felt the brain zaps, nausea, and dizziness. Luckily it happened when I caught a bad cold and just wanted to sit on the couch any way. The brain zaps do lesson and I am now about 5 days free of the pill. I can’t wait to be totally free of the symptoms!

    I have found keeping. Good attitude really helps and looking forward as a goal to be free of these pills as a huge motivator and help in dealing with withdrawal symptoms. So stick with it folks and look on the bright side!

  • Susie January 1, 2016, 8:09 pm

    My dr put me on Venlaxafine 300 mg at the end of May 2015. Today is Jan 1, 2016. I missed 2 doses and now I am so dizzy and tired it’s just awful. I took my regular dose just now. How long will I feel like this? I would like to taper off this medication, but I’m reading about how awful this drug is. Any advice? Also, I’m really afraid of my recurrent major depression returning again. This last bout was the worst one I’ve experienced and almost took my life. By the way, my doctor is not much help.

  • o.w. January 2, 2016, 5:13 pm

    Effexor is some pretty nasty stuff, as far as I’m concerned. My physician – who, parenthetically, is a ridiculous chucklehead whose advice never really helps me in the end; I’m on a waiting list to see someone else – prescribed it for depression-like symptoms of fatigue and joylessness, which I’ve experienced off and on (mostly on) for about five years. I’ve been taking it for six months, 150 mg.

    The worst side effect of taking it is I’m pretty much unable to function sexually or have an orgasm. The doctor confidently said that problem would go away a few weeks after I started taking it. Wrong. As long as I’m on Effexor, the sexual disfunction never goes away. I’ve tried several times to stop taking Effexor, starting with tapering, but always gone back, because the withdrawal is so dramatic and unpleasant.

    Basically it consists of exhausting, obsessive, feverish dreams that seem to go on all night; dizziness and a feeling of mental disconnection, as if I’m a remote control gadget on the blink, and this weird “tightening” sound in my head, something like Roink! Roink! Roink! I’m experiencing all these symptoms at the moment, except for the crazed dreams – since I’m awake, supposedly – and have been for about five days, but I am going to see it through this time.

    It would be different if Effexor made me feel great when I’m taking it, but it doesn’t. For me, it’s like a drug with no upside, only the downside of withdrawal suffering. I think the correct term for a drug like that is… poison. Any physician who prescribes this stuff ought to first take it himself/herself for about four months, just to experience what insanity they are pushing.

  • Chris January 5, 2016, 1:14 am

    I’ve read a lot here about people who ran out because of the prescription being cut off, lost in the mail, etc. I always got my dose in 90 day installments, then would go in a week or two early to get the next 90 pills. I went off them with still over a month of pills left, just in case the withdrawal symptoms were too much. I do this with my thyroid med as well.

    I have been on that one now for ten years and have a comfortable cushion in case I am unable to get to doctor, coverage runs out, or just out of the country for a while. It has definitely been beneficial to do this as I was without insurance for about six months this year. I still ended up going about three months with out but that was better than six months without. Hope this helps, keep with it those who are getting off Effexor. I am now almost two weeks without and feel great.

  • o.w. January 5, 2016, 4:43 pm

    Looking for a little encouragement here… anyone out there in Hate Effexor Land (and believe me, I’m part of the tribe; read my post of a few days ago) who is kicking or has kicked Effexor and is experiencing at least a temporary shot of victory and good mental health? I’ve been completely off the stuff for a few days now and I’m going through a rough patch…

  • FloridaPhil January 6, 2016, 8:44 am

    I have been on effexor 150mg for over 6 months now. All was good until my insurance canceled. I am withdrawing something fierce from the room spinning to nausea brain zaps fatigue and a long list of other symptoms. I just got a script today for Valium 2mg. It is helping with nausea and has stopped the room from spinning. However I find that I am very irritable. Also I am having bouts of uncontrollable crying. This has got to be the worst drug besides heroin to detox from. This is like shock therapy to my brain and stomach. The only advice I can give is hold on and ride it out. Thanks, Florida Phil

  • Mark January 7, 2016, 7:19 am

    I was on 75mg’s for two years. Because these meds are stuffing up my medical aid and I don’t feel myself, I feel like I am drugged, I decided to stop. End of Nov 2015, I tapered down from 75 to 37. Got a bit irritated with an extremely short short fuse. But it was a holiday. Had lots of rest and a few drinks with friends and family.

    Worked a lot in the garden – lots of exercise behind the lawnmower and the spade. Within 14 days, I was over it. Monday I decided to stop completely. Monday morning, I did not take the drug. I got myself some sleeping pills from the pharmacy and some natural meds to keep me calm. Yesterday evening me and the kids took the dog for a long walk, got some good exercise. Last night I had a wonderful night rest, slept like a baby.

    This morning I started with a good breakfast, lots of B Vitamins. The natural meds to help me through traffic along with lots of water. At work I had more more water and three cups of coffe. I feel really good. I just hope that it goes on like this.

  • Sandi January 7, 2016, 2:18 pm

    I’m 4 weeks in to quitting this drug. I was on 450mg for 5-6 years. So, quite a significant dose. I dropped from 450mg (150, 150, 150) to 300. (150, 150) I did have some side affects but didn’t realize that’s what they were. I had really hot skin and you could feel waves of heat coming off my body. Despite this, my temp was normal. My bowels were looser than normal. Honestly, I thought I had a mild bout of gastro.

    I had crying spells that would flip into such intense rage that I was beating on my head with my fists. That certainly wasn’t me at all. The next drop was from 300 to 150mg. Again, a repeat of the gastro-like symptoms and added in for fun was a few nights of vivid, non-stop nightmares that ran all night. After this I woke up exhausted and had a headache. I slept most of the day. Nausea made an appearance too.

    Still, I didn’t put it all together as it only lasted a couple of days and then faded. The rage wasn’t so bad with this drop, but I was very depressed. With a new antidepressant in my system (not a SSRI) this eased. The next drop was from 150 to 75mg. This one was relatively easy. I still hadn’t realized all of the other things were side affects. I’d only heard of brain zaps, so figured I was getting off this drug relatively easy.

    I did have more loose bowels, but put it down to eating out and splurging on potato wedges after being mostly low carb. Then 3 days ago my doctor and I dropped from 75mg to 0mg. Last night I had nightmares all night and yesterday I started getting dizzy. Whenever I turned my head to one side or the other, I got a sensation of vertigo inside my head. Like a spinning or shaking sensation. Also, my hearing was muffled during the sensation, like when you have blocked ears or when you’re swimming underwater.

    This got steadily worse until I got the weird shivers in my brain if I just moved my eyes side to side or up and down. The only relief I could get from this was to keep my eyeballs still by placing my palms over them and pressing gently. The crying spells got worse. I’m not sure whether the crying was because of the unrelenting symptoms or because nobody seemed to be listening, or because my emotions were all topsy-turvy.

    When I wasn’t crying, I was raging so badly I was hitting my head with my fists, pulling out my hair and digging my nails into my face and eyes. It seemed all my thoughts were red and all I could think about was pounding the heck out of my brain to try and get some relief. I knew I was out of control and honestly it scared and horrified me. It was at that point the nursing staff rang the Doctor. He authorized a dose of 75mg.

    It took about an hour to start feeling better and be able to move my eyes without my brain shivering from the inside out. Most of this evening has been putting all the symptoms together and realizing they were all withdrawal side affects. I’m not sure what my Dr will prescribe tomorrow. I still want off this medication. I’ll update later.

  • o.w. January 9, 2016, 3:42 pm

    For what it’s worth, I’ve found that taking over the counter motion sickness pills (dramamine or whatever) helps some with the dizziness part of Effexor withdrawal.

  • Don January 10, 2016, 8:57 am

    The pharmacist would not give refill for venlafaxine went cold turkey. I am in a VA facility with a lot of other people. I thought the dreams were bad until the homicidal thoughts started. These thoughts were Freddy Krueger/Jason type thoughts. Not rage or anger but cold calculated ways to kill people for no reason.

    I talked to other people who got of this stuff one person said he had thoughts of killing his wife by ripping off her arms and beating her to death with them. He said his children were next and he said he would not tell me how he planned to kill them. He left for two weeks to get off the med so he would not follow through. Mine didn’t start until withdrawals. If that would of happened twenty years ago I would probably be in prison for ever.

    I have all the other symptoms as the rest, electrical shocks, headaches, real bad problem swallowing. Can’t sit still or get proper sleep. All most every mass shooting in this country were from people on antidepressants. Most who came back from war were on antidepressants that committed suicide, killed their families and got domestic charges. This is bad stuff.

  • Adam January 22, 2016, 5:00 pm

    Everyone – I’m withdrawing from Effexor XR myself. It’s really hard and I can well appreciate everyone’s stories. One little tip I have found that works for me – when things have become really hard, having a mug of caffeinated coffee seems to help take the edge off. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but it did work and I’d suggest it’s worth a try. Good luck and best wishes to all of you going through this.

  • Sam January 28, 2016, 5:05 pm

    Hey guys :) I’ve read some pretty bad posts on here and man do I feel for you. DAY 3 of saying screw it. And not taking my 150mg. My doctor advised me to taper off but I’m so fed up with not feeling natural that I just am doing it my way. Yeah… Pretty wild. I’m only 19 and have been on this for about a year.

    First day didn’t really feel much and I was like oh this is a cake-walk I’m a medical marvel… HAHAHHAHA boy was I wrong. I’m not a doctor so I can’t give any real medical advice, but from what I read, nothing can really happen to you in terms of physical health so I’m just sticking it out. I really have my panic disorder under control so I’m not worrying about that. THE “BRAIN ZAPS” ARE GETTING PRETTY WILD THOUGH. Lol. Every time I move my eyes I get like a shock throughout my body. Other than that it’s not that bad.

    Maybe I’m just lucky. I’m going on a trip next Thursday so hopefully I’ll be 100% by then. LOL. But really I’m so happy to know I’m gonna be all me again that I’m going through the withdrawal. My liver was inflamed… most likely because of the drug and I was always tired. So I said THAT’S IT. My Dr said my panic disorder would come back stronger than ever but I disagree.

    I’m a champion. Ain’t nothing gonna happen to be but positive vibes. SO LET’S KEEP ON KEEPIN ON PEOPLE. WE CAN DO THIS. CAN I GET A WHOOP WHOOP.

    • Heather February 2, 2016, 9:40 am

      How are you making out Sam? Did you go back on for your trip? Keep strong!

  • Jerri January 29, 2016, 7:29 pm

    I went off of this medication 3 days ago after being on it for 6 months. I was prescribed this for menopause symptoms of hot flashes and crying at the drop of a hat and outburst of anger. If I had known then what I know know I would have never put this poison in my body. Immediately after I started the drug I felt better the hot flashes went away the crying stopped and I was no longer angry.

    I was my old self again but this didn’t last long and my dr would up my dosage time and time again. I was up to 187.5 mg a day for 3 months before I decided it’s time to get off of this. Let me add that after I started taking the medication I went from a normal blood pressure to stage 4 high blood pressure, I started throwing up without any warning whatsoever. I would go 7-10 days without having a bowel movement.

    I would be in so much pain from bowel obstruction that I was forced to give myself enemas to just get the waste out of my body. It was building up in my intestines and poisoning my body. I have gained 35 lbs from this. Now as I am going throw the withdrawals I have the brain zaps my ears are ringing like crazy I can barely hear over the ringing and zapping in my head. I am of balance. I cannot walk, cannot drive, cannot function.

    I go from from hot-sweats to freezing cold. Can’t eat or drink. Have to eat and when I do I immediately throw up. Can’t even make it to the bathroom to throw up. I don’t feel like I am going to survive this because this pain in my head is just so unbearable I want to just get my gun and put myself out of this misery!

    • Heather February 2, 2016, 9:54 am

      Jerri, I too have stopped taking Effexor 150/day for 15 years or so. It is really awful but you can do this! Just remember that it will get better day by day. I had to tell myself that over & over last week & I am feeling better this week. I haven’t had the bad headaches, muscle aches & the brain zaps have lessened. That crap we put into our brain is wicked! Imagine being able to really feel again when this is all over :) Hang in there!

  • Barney January 31, 2016, 5:51 am

    This thread is amazing and scary! After dealing with some issues and problematic heavy drinking, I started taking Fluoxetine. Neither it, nor Citalopram improved my mood. On the contrary, they made it worse and I was tired and disconnected all the time. A family member told me that Effexor was the only anti-depressant they’d ever felt actually worked, so I asked for it and received a script.

    I quickly realized that, yes, Effexor does indeed work! I felt noticeable improvement, with no real side effects other than severe xerostomia, occasional somnolence, and a frequent inability to orgasm. I’ve been taking Effexor ER, intermittently and at doses from 75 to 300 mg. since around 2004. I’d spend a year on it (300 mg./day) and I’d forget to take my dose every now and again. No problems.

    Likewise, prescriptions would run out and I’d simply forget to fill them for weeks or months. I noticed no withdrawal symptoms, whatsoever! Maybe my brain chemistry is different, or perhaps I was so damned depressed that it couldn’t get any worse? I never really felt that way, but who knows? To that end, I sometimes felt like after a few months that the high dose of Effexor wasn’t doing anything at all.

    Anyway, I had no idea this was a problem, and from the misery some of you describe (which I fully believe) it sounds like I really ducked a bullet! I’ve read that around 45% of people have serious, dreadful withdrawals from this drug. Fast-forward to the present, and I started taking Effexor again for a month. This time, I was not so lucky! A few days after stopping it, I’ve been experiencing insomnia and, when I finally get to sleep, terrifyingly vivid nightmares – the worst I’ve ever had!

    So real and morbid, it’s incomprehensible. My appetite is also somewhat diminished, and I have xerostomia and a strange taste of salt in my mouth. No ‘brain-zaps’ or other cognitive deficit, or anything else to speak of (ate some turkey that may have been expired and tore my GI tract up, but I’m pretty certain it’s not the Effexor.) Otherwise, judging from these posts, it could be a hell of a lot worse! For all you suffering out there, good luck in slowly tapering this drug! Things will turn around positively for you, and soon, I’m sure!

  • Mark February 6, 2016, 7:44 pm

    Best wishes to my brothers and sisters who have been made addicts to EXR by the medical establishment and Big Pharma. Whether or not it was worth taking is something each of us has to decide for ourselves. I am still deciding for myself. I was on 150 mg ER daily for over 10 years. Finally the daytime fatigue got so bad I decided to taper and went down to 75 mg ER without any issues.

    But below that is when the fun started. Now, after about a week taking 25 mg on an “as-needed” basis, I guess I’m going through the toughest part – coping with the irritability and fatigue (which is what I was trying to eliminate). It helps a lot, however, to hear I’m not alone and these things can be endured and will eventually pass. To everyone: keep the faith!

  • Barney February 7, 2016, 8:56 am

    In another thread, some people have sworn that Benadryl has helped them minimize or totally eliminate the withdrawal symptoms from Effexor withdrawal – especially the “brain zaps.” In the UK, they named Acrivastine as the primary drug in their OTC formulation of Benadryl. Here in the US, OTC Benadryl contains diphenhydramine, and Acrivastine is only available by prescription. They’re different drugs (though both antihistamines) but both are reported to work.

    I’d personally hesitate to take more pharmaceuticals, but after getting a taste of moderate Effexor withdrawals, I just wanted to share a possible solution (in addition to fish oil and vitamins that others recommend.) If you’ve stopped the Effexor permanently and are finding the withdrawals unbearable, it sounds like an option worth investigating.

  • Steven February 12, 2016, 5:34 am

    Today is 2-12-16. I have been on Venlafaxine XR 150 mg for about a year. The reason I started was to get out of a slumped feeling, my pcp suggested it. Well the first 7 days was pure HELL I couldn’t move. Then it all went away like nothing ever happened. Well now I have lost my insurance and decided I could just take my life back. I’m on day 2 with no meds and I feel the storm coming. I’m out of my head, nauseous, and can’t sleep. I’m going to just do it and try not to strangle anyone.

  • FriedinFlorida February 12, 2016, 5:49 am

    Had been self tapering doses until this week. Tomorrow will be day 3 of stopping cold turkey thanks to cancelled insurance, no $$$ to spare to see a doctor and/or get an Rx. Feeling terrified what tomorrow and the following days, weeks, months will be like even with my remaining Bupropion to hopefully offset some of the symptoms and/or intensity. A very big thanks to each and everyone of you for making me aware that I’m 1) not alone in this hell and 2) not crazy after all 3) and that there is an end to this nightmare eventually.

    Withdrawal has been the reason I’ve unsuccessfully tried so many times to get off this poison. It finally clicked for me tonight thanks to your posts. It’s not me but the drugs’ hold over me. Kudos to contributor o.w. for eloquently suggesting how to stop the Drs from prescribing this “worst than hell” drug. Doctors should be required to both take high doses and then experience withdrawal symptoms from stopping using Effexor XR . That would stop the vast majority from ever prescribing it ever again to patients.

    And leave it to Big Pharma to develop a drug that builds in its’ own captive patients/users for life. Kaching $$$ Kaching $$$ Kaching. And it’s all legitimate business for them. Talk about duping the masses. Makes me wonder how many other diseases and ailments are being manipulated for gain of Big Pharma.

    My withdrawal ride has just started 😰. I will be trying all the suggestions I read about tonight: Omega 3 oil, Benadryl, Coffee etc. to assist with these wicked withdrawal effects. I pray God help every one of us struggling. Thank you all for enlightenment and encouragement.

    • Pam February 24, 2016, 4:39 pm

      First I reduced the larger amounts, then switched to the bead method… bead method is working for me. I have been on venlafaxine for years, ended up at 225mg then I realized I was turning into a zombie. No motivation. Horrible dreams. I forgot my medication a couple of times and the effects of that were horrible. I realized I had to get off this stuff.

      Thank goodness for the blogs on this medication. My doctor was never any help, always attributed my side effects to something else and then upped my dosage. I divided my dose first, 150 morning, 75 evening. Then dropped the evening dose of 75mg. Did 150mg for a month, then split the 150 dose, 75 morning, 75 evening for a couple weeks then began stretching the time between the 75mg doses, from 12 hrs apart, then 16hrs, finally 24 hrs.

      Stayed at 75mg a day for a month. Then began the bead method. Starting on a Sunday, took 5 beads out of each capsule. The next Sunday, 12 beads out of each capsule. The following week, 24 beads and so on. I’m now at 36 beads out each day. I find it easier to function if I take the capsule in the morning so the side effects aren’t as bad at work.

      On the bright side, I’m more motivated, have more energy each day, and I am dealing with my anxiety by focusing on goals, getting outside, etc. This stuff is terrible, I at least wish my doc would have given me some clue how powerful it is, all he said was, “don’t worry, it’s non-narcotic, non-addictive”. Yea, right!

  • Samantha February 18, 2016, 8:07 am

    2-17-16. I was taking Effexor for 13 years up until a year ago then was weaned off with Prozac till September 2015. I experienced everything that everyone has talked about. October and November seemed to be going well and then December developed SEVERE stomach pain and burning with GERD/GI issues.

    I went to the doctor and have since been on Prilosec 2x a day which isn’t doing shit for me. I am completely terrified. They ran the basic tests of ultrasounds and blood work and came back normal. I am terrified of having the scope although that is what’s next when I go for a follow up in a few weeks. I know that’s what’s needed to get a better look but I’ve never been put under and it sounds terrifying.

    Not sure if these are delayed withdrawals??? I was tapered with Prozac till 5 months ago and now this horrible stomach pain and acid. Has anyone experienced this? I noticed everyone posts but nobody really comments on people’s posts. :/

    • Earl February 23, 2016, 1:40 pm

      I tapered off of Effexor XR 150mg daily on 2 November 2015. Was on the drug for 8 years. No withdrawal symptoms until about two weeks ago. Now daily nausea and anxiety. Plan to stick it out unless it gets a whole lot worse. Good luck to you.

    • Pam February 24, 2016, 4:43 pm

      Could the stomach pain/acid be a side effect of anxiety? I know I have stomach issues now, nausea, sometimes vomiting. I’m trying to recognize if some of my old anxiety symptoms are returning…

  • Rob February 28, 2016, 11:33 am

    Hi, I never actually participate in these sorts of discussions, rather I google my concerns and symptoms and hope for the best. I can relate to everyone here I believe. I experience almost every symptom all of which are extreme. If you need anything please contact me. This is hell ladies and gents. 30 years old. Been on this junk for about 7 years now.

    Started at 75mg and was on 300 for about 2 years. Subtle differences with each bump up. My stressors keep compounding, life happens and it wont stop. The crap doesnt do much anyhow except give me extreme withdrawal symptoms. This crap as i like to call it now is not worth it. I’m gladly going through these withdrawal symptoms…

    Days 1-5: Constant shakes, especially in cold weather. I’m talking like something you would see from those suffering from alcohol withdrawals. Wretched brain zaps. Look left with your eyes and ZAP, look right, ZA ZA ZAP. These will eventually lead to headaches and Nausea. Better keep looking straight… I dip and or smoke sometimes. I tried drinking alcohol to relieve symptoms. Everything makes me gag and or throw up. I thought for sure this would help. Don’t cry if it doesn’t… which leads me to…

    Crying Spells? Absolutely. I’m a strong male, a former veteran, I work so called manly jobs, but I watched SouthPaw the other day and probably cried 20 times at a 2 star movie like a little bitch. Ive never cried during a movie. I’m not exactly an emotional man. This symptom surprised me the most. It happens multiple times a day.

    Anger / Agitation. I’m feeling this inside myself but am not showing outward signs yet but I know it’s probably only a matter of time. When it does, ill take it as a sign I’m actually starting to feel better but for now I’m focused on my sickness related to this crap drug first. These are the most prominent symptoms now but there are more. My solution? Movement. Preferably gym related exercise. That and time.

    In moments of desperation, illicit drug use is an option to me personally and I know it would work, but have the potential to make life even more hellish. Take it with a grain of salt. I’ll never, ever… Ever take another antidepressant again. The drug didn’t do much for me even at therapeutic doses, it has extreme withdrawal symptoms, and I read it may take 2 years to totally be withdrawal free.

    I’d rather be an alcoholic or drug addict than have to deal with this shit. So what now? Its a big question mark, and I hope I make it through on top. I hope my decision to go natural again is the best one ive ever made. Its a risk, but its a risk worth taking. Please email or text me if you or anyone else may relate, need someone to just talk to or just ask questions or sound out concerns.

    Voicing our experiences is a major first step and I hope maybe someone reading this will never even consider taking this drug. Hang in there.

    • diana March 8, 2016, 3:25 am

      Rob, Thanks for making me laugh. Thinking about a manly man crying over Southpaw was just too good. Hope you were home, and not in a theatre. When you start crying over Folgers commercials, it might be time to look into group therapy. Best of luck to you. I believe this will work out for us all. And I agree: I will never, ever, EVER take another antidepressant again!!

  • Chris March 1, 2016, 10:36 pm

    So many posts I am not sure anyone will get to mine but here goes. I really feel for all those who have bad experiences lowering Effexor. I too have had troubles getting off this med. I tried a couple of years ago to wean off and then hit zero meds which was too awful to put up with. So I went back on it so I could function.

    So now have been on 112mg for a while and am lowering 12.5mg every month until I hit 75mg. I get terrible stomach issues but found a quick fix for this. I use a heartburn over the counter thing called Mylanta and it settles my tummy almost immediately. So try this if you get tummy issues. Once I reach 75mg I am going to get a compound chemist to lower dose by 5mg every month until I reach 12.5mg.

    I am then going to stay on 12.5mg for a year. Then I will lower 1mg every month for another year. The whole process should take up to three years, but I think this is the best way to go. Slow, slow, slow. Reducing too much or too quick is just too much hell. Anyway, hope mylanta helps those with stomach issues.

  • T March 4, 2016, 9:38 pm

    I’ve been on Effexor for a couple of years. Just last week my doctor switched me to another medication and tapered me off of the Effexor. It’s been 2 days and I feel like death. The effects don’t kick in until the second or third day. Then you’re trying to figure out why you’re feeling like every bone in your body is going to break, or why you’re being zapped with electricity. It’s a horrible feeling and the question is, do you continue to take it or deal with the awful side effects of coming off of it? Who can live like this, work and take care of a family?

  • mary March 6, 2016, 9:31 pm

    I was taking Effexor XR 150mg daily for 2 years and it stopped working have switched to Viibryd. Tapering off Effexor XR has taken me 6 months. I have been off it about a month now and have constant buzzing in left ear. Anyone else experience this side effect and how long might it last?

  • diana March 8, 2016, 3:15 am

    Yowza y’all are scaring the crap out of me! I’ve been on Effexor for 12 years. Up to as much as 300mg day. My doc started tapering me off in November 2014. I took my last dose (1/2 of 37.5 pill) on Sunday. I expect to deal with the headaches, dizziness and nausea, but after reading all these posts, I’m afraid it’s going to be worse than expected!

    I’m not as worried about the psychological factors associated with withdrawal as I am about the physical ones. I haven’t seen anyone comment about how long it actually took for those nasty symptoms to go away. They will go away, right? Any ideas other than smoking pot? Can’t do that in my profession, although the idea is quite appealing.

    I do wish everyone the best of luck. My journey through depression has been long and hard. I am in a much, MUCH better place in life now, and don’t have any plans to sink back into that dark, deep hole of hell. Godspeed to you all!

  • Ron March 9, 2016, 9:54 am

    Only was taking Ven for a few months but not having it for a few days sent me to hospital with extreme withdrawal…BP severely high, dizziness making me hit the floor, severe headaches and painful eyes. I decided to one off it then and it after two months of slowly tapering I came off it…now I’m on BP meds, struggling with dizziness every day and ‘brain zaps’, my eyes feel like they’re burning and swollen (optician has given me the all clear) and I have body pain and crying a lot.

    However I do feel more alive than when I was on the Ven (150) and I have seen my symptoms diminish a LITTLE. It’s been about 6 weeks I think, since I stopped them entirely. I’ve been to A&E once with the dizziness and BP and low mood. There’s no help available and I’m angry that such a medication exists. I don’t know how long it will take but I’m pissed off that I’ve been harmed in this way.

    I don’t know what to do except wait and hope…it’s a very scary thing…been off work now for months trying to just cope with this drug and its side effects. Any tips on how to make this easier I would welcome with open arms!!

  • Jess March 15, 2016, 1:27 am

    I have been on effexor XR since November 2015. Started out at 75mg then doctor upped to 150mg after started having depression and anxiety symptoms again. I was extremely tired but otherwise I felt functional. So to try to help the fatigue the doctor reduced from 150 back to 75 and I was sent into a severe depression and state of anxiety in only 2 days. Now I’m trying to recover taking 3x 37.5mg and added depakote 500mg at night. I’m also pretty upset that I wasn’t warned about the severity of withdrawal of the reduction of the medication. I’m supposed to have a wedding in May and it’s March. It’s so hard to picture that I’ll even be able to get through that one day.

  • Julie March 16, 2016, 4:16 pm

    I was on Effexor for about 8 months. My doc told me the sooner we get you off this the better. I had been on pristiq for years but due to insurance issues I had to switch. We took the tapering approach since he had seen many issues with patients coming off Effexor. Let me tell you, getting off this drug has been awful. From extreme vertigo to hot flashes and mood swings. I told my doc I was willing to go though this just one time and be done with it. I would not wish this on anyone. The newest symptom is brain electric shocks. OMG I can now understand how drug addicts feel when trying to quit.

  • Caldonia March 17, 2016, 6:11 am

    Effexor: Brain Zaps when Med was not taken within a short time after waking up. ZAP… starting from the left side of my head by my ear shooting in a 45 degree angle through my brain + out above the ear on the right side. That is crazy. It feels like a seizure, probably is. I have been on two 150mg Caps for years.

    I travel with time zone changes and visit + stay at several other places then my home. I was starting to have a stash of pills at all of my regular places I spend time. Plus, I made sure I had 3 doses of my medication on me, just in case. That was my signal. Time to let Effexor go. I reduced to one 150 mg a day for ca 1 month. I had plans to go down bit by bit in mg with my Doc’s help.

    I slept in one day + you guessed it. ZAP, ZAP… a morning greeting from my brain. It has been 3 weeks now without Effexor. I still have Zaps, (manageable if that is possible ;) ). I can CRY again (seemed to be blocked under E) and I also get weepy for stupid reasons. Irritable yes, stomach, nausea, pooping, my body is all messed up. However, I feel good. I do. I smile. I am rediscovering me. My Aches + Pains will reduce + go away. My Guestimation 8 years of Effexor takes 8 month of damage repair. Caldonia

  • Cindy March 21, 2016, 6:36 pm

    Good morning, it is Monday and I took last 75 mg of Effexor on Friday night. I forgot to pick up meds at pharmacy on Friday. I seen dr last week and asked for half dose prescription, she looked at me like I was crazy and said to come back in 6 months if I still want to go off of them. I put on 50 pounds since I started pills… flipping inane amount of weight to put on!

    I brought this up to doctor and she said it would be very minimal weight gain from pills. Reading this site has confirmed my suspicions. Someone mentioned it’s a good drug when it works… I suffer with anxiety and this Effexor seemed to really help, however I think 50 pounds is a huge price to pay. Wondering if I should taper off and go on another antidepressant without such deadly side effects or go natural.

    Does anyone know of a mild anti depressant without brutal side effects but helps take the edge off. I am an extremely sensitive person, however on these meds I can barely cry! Makes me want to chuckle reading this… I have gone off Effexor before and felt wonderful, loved life. Then once I ventured off to a new job as a support worker I was a nervous wreck.

    At that time I was taking a natural antidepressant from health food store… along with calming remedies. I still couldn’t handle stress, so I am really unsure of what to do? Any positive suggestions would b grateful. I say positive… because I am experiencing heavy withdrawals right now. Thank you for any input… desperately seeking. Cindy

  • Betsy March 25, 2016, 7:09 am

    3/25/16. I’ve been on a lot of different anti-depressants over 25 yrs now. I have never experienced a serotonin withdrawal like this before.. and I have only been on a low dose of Effexor for 6 months. Lots of weight gain when on it. Crying, depressed, and ANGER coming off. I can’t wait until this is over.

    To Cindy: Wellbutrin seems to be a safe one with no side effects. I’m on it now and in the past. This came as a big surprise because I’ve had side effects from anti-depressants and came off because I didn’t like the side effects — but this Effexor is different. Why don’t these doctors know about this?? Need to get the word out.

  • ME March 26, 2016, 7:05 pm

    I have been on this 225 mg daily of this drug for 15 plus years for anxiety and fibromyalgia. I had to stop taking it because I was unable to fill my prescription for a week. I’ve had a few headaches and what is described as brain zaps, and my fibromyalgia is rampant with pain, but nothing major. I’ve been off the meds for almost a week. Is this normal or is the worst yet to come?

  • Nubbins March 28, 2016, 5:34 am

    When does the buzzing stop? My brain has been buzzing for 2 days now. Am on day 4 of withdrawal. I can handle all the other side effects. Can’t take the buzzing.

  • Shelley April 3, 2016, 12:32 am

    Keep reading down to see the secret to weaning off Effexor. If you miss a dose and start having withdrawal symptoms, eat something easy to digest, open a capsule, put some of the “pellets” in a banana (squish the banana so the pellets are spread out), eat the banana and then take your next dose. I think I usually only take 12-25 pellets. WARNING: taking the pellets by themselves can really cause stomach issues.

    I tell people that this has been very effective for me, but only use this if you really need to. I had agoraphobia and I suffer from bipolar disorder. This has been a great medication for me. I can now go into big box stores (my agoraphobia). BUT – doctors really should warn patients about tardive-dyskinesia. I was just looking at a site on tardive dykinesia. A NUMBER of drugs can lead to this problem so look it up.

    Any noticeable tremors should be reported to your doctor at once. That said, some people are death on a medication because of the pain it ended up causing them. Every single person is different. Anything out of the ordinary could be the way your body reacts to a medication. Yes, it is one of the most difficult antidepressants to come off of. It is also one that has a very short half life.

    This means it doesn’t last long in the body. Here is how to continue to gradually withdraw after you get to the lowest recommended dose (I have always used ER):
    – There are 150 tiny whitish “beads” in the 150 mg capsules
    – You can purchase empty time release capsules I believe. If not, just waste some of the beads (dispose of properly – there are already enough antidepressants in our water system). Open up a capsule and count out the amount you are going to try – I would go down very slowly. Put the number of beads in the capsule and take that amount for a few weeks, then go down again. Seriously – plan on months and go slowly. I read about this on a forum years ago and feel so lucky to know. Pass it on to your doctors.
    – You should ONLY start going off an antidepressant or any drug for that matter under a doctor’s supervision. I was reading about one person going cold turkey and he was all angry because of the horrible experience.
    – Often, a doctor will be slowly weaning you off one antidepressant while gradually adding another. If this med. was prescribed because of a temporary depression (outside causes), then getting off might be okay – or not.
    – If you have a serious mental health disorder, then really find out what your options are.

  • Phil April 3, 2016, 7:41 pm

    Is there anywhere I can go for help? 30+ months since I went off it and still terrible withdrawal. The doctors here at the VA are not helping me, I will go anywhere.

  • Susan April 8, 2016, 3:36 pm

    I started taking Effexor eight years ago, because I kept dreaming of work and was totally exhausted when I woke up. I started out taking 75 mg twice a day. I asked if could get a time release capsule. I was switched to 150 once a day. I have been wanting to get off for some time now. They say it’s not addictive, but that isn’t true.

    I have cut back to 37.5 and not I am wanting to go cold turkey. I have been without the med for four days now and I feel like sh*t one minute and normal the next. I want so bad to get off, but will this increase my blood pressure to where I could stroke. I will be sixty in December and I want to live forever LOL.

    I hope these side effects go away soon. Please pray for me. I am crying one minute and happy as a lark the next. I know this sounds like others’ conditions, but I was always happy in life till I started to get off. I hope this withdraw ends soon, because I may have to start taking this crap again :(

  • bill April 8, 2016, 7:44 pm

    I am on day 7 of cold turkey from 300 mg a day. Been taking that for a couple years. Withdrawals suck. I broke down and bought some smoke. A couple 3 hits a day helps more than anything. My concern is in the past week I gained 15 lbs. No, it isn’t from the munchies.

  • Ben April 10, 2016, 7:27 am

    My brain zaps are straight up body zaps now. Like the zap is strongest in the head but my whole body jolts. It’s annoying but nothing I can’t deal with.

  • Toni April 14, 2016, 7:08 pm

    Long story, I will try to summarize it. Took Effexor XR for about 4 years, after trying several others. Insurance decided I had to take a generic. Took that for about 3 years. Insurance decided I couldn’t have it anymore. Doctor prescribed duloxetine. Couldn’t even get through 1 month, got bad anxiety back.

    Fought for venlafaxine again, got that but it was a different manufacturer. Caused serious anxiety. Since I didn’t take it the whole month, they wouldn’t give me brand name Effexor. So Doctor put me on Celexa. But since I had already started weaning off of generic, I continued to wean off Celexa. Only weaned for about 6 weeks. Took last dosage on March 6th.

    I’m going through awful withdrawal symptoms, nausea, anxiety, sweats, cold, some light brain zaps, also lightheadedness. Today is April 14, about 6 weeks. I’ve only had about 4 or 5 half decent days. Have felt really bad yesterday and today. Does anyone know if this is still withdrawal or should I be going to the hospital? I have no energy and I’m taking .25 lorazepam to offset the symptoms about 3 times a day.

    • Bonnie April 16, 2016, 6:58 am

      I was taken off for surgery because of bleeding for 6 weeks and it was pure hell. I was not given a substitute and I was back on it the minute I was allowed. Took a while to take effect again. Worst depression in my life, suicidal, stomach ache, could not eat or sleep. Cried every day. I’m stuck with this the rest of my life I guess. I am on 300 mg per day. I don’t know how you can get off unless you would be under medical care.

  • legolas April 16, 2016, 12:17 am

    Hey all, I’m on 75 for about 5 years in addition to lot of similar meds which did not work for me for another 3 years earlier. I decided to stop and been 3 days but started to notice slight rapid anger and something not comfortable when moving eyes rapidly to look from side to another. I really got fed up of meds want to get rid of it, what worse can happen? BTW, I did not consult my doctor or anyone. I insist to hold up and get over it myself, thanks for any advice.

  • Libby April 19, 2016, 9:30 pm

    Hello, I just wanted to tell everyone/this site how grateful I am to have found this information and a network of support. I’ve been on Effexor for over 10 years and decided to quit since I’m pregnant with my first child. Here’s my experience:

    I was on 75mg ER and reduced to 37.5. Then, after a month my PC recommended taking the 37.5 every other day. My body in no form or fashion could literally stomach or combat the withdrawals for a full 24 hours (yes, the “hell” you all refer to is exactly how I would describe it; including a bunch of other obscenities). So I asked the PC to give me the pill form (25mg) and I would then cut up each pull in fourths to begin stepping down.

    This has seemed to be working. I still have symptoms but not as severe as skipping every other day. This is what I would recommend to anyone trying quit on the ER capsules (if your body is able to). You can better control your dosage with the tablets. But I don’t know the difference between the two forms. All I know if that both capsule and pull worked the exact same way as far as combating withdrawal symptoms go.

    I am now on 12.5mg/day and am (big deep breath) planning on going down to 6.25/day and then hopefully nothing. Never again will I return to this drug. I keep wondering though, is it just Effexor withdrawals or any type of similar drug?

    Good luck and know I am thinking about you all going through this. Yes, it sucks…but you will get through it. I promise! Surround yourself with lots of support and caring people!

    • kim May 16, 2016, 2:31 pm

      Thank you!! I was prescribed 75 mg for side effects of menopause. I want to withdraw, and I am down to 37.5 mg, but couldn’t tolerate the every other day routine. Head zaps are horrible and I don’t feel safe driving. I will try your weaning method. Hope it works!!!!

  • Carla April 24, 2016, 2:17 am

    I have been taking Prozac 20mg and Effexor Xr 37.5 mg for my panic disorder for 8 years. Then my neurologist took me off the Prozac and increased my effexor to 150mg about 6 months ago. I have a nerve disorder that causes severe pain in my ear and face. And causes problems coping with noises. I had very bad side effects to this medication or from withdrawal from Prozac.

    So we started decreasing by half every 2 weeks. And put me in Celexa 20mg at the same time. I’m currently down to 37.5 mg. I think I am going crazy. I told my husband today that I needed to be committed. I never had a problem with depression. And suddenly I’m having it really bad. I have every symptom on here. I thought I was dying.

    I have pain everywhere. Every day is a different world. I work in a pharmacy so I knew I was going to have withdrawals but didn’t know it was going to be so bad. One minute something sets me off and I want to scream and throw things the next I’m crying because I took the time to really dress up for a day with my husband, and looked in the mirror and really expecting to see something different.

    Crazy???? Why would I look different. Cried for an hour. No one really understands how I feel. Now tonight I feel like my brain is swollen. ***I know it’s not*** but I move my head or body and I feel drunk. And I’ve had stomach cramps and diarrhea after the first three days. Don’t really know what to do. Just trying to survive and not lose my job.

  • Randy H May 1, 2016, 12:25 am

    I recently discovered that the Effexor XR 150 mg could interact with Xarelto. I have been experiencing regular and significant nosebleeds. My life has changed considerably so my doctor and I decided to withdraw the Effexor. I am tapering down 37.5 mg every two weeks. So far I have not noticed any negative symptoms other than some increased sleepiness (assuming that could be a withdrawal symptom).

  • William May 5, 2016, 5:33 am

    Prior to taking Effexor I had small panic attacks and bouts of depression. Around November (I think) I went from 75mg to 37.5mg. Not too long ago I without educating myself decided to quit Effexor cold turkey. On days one and two I had some basic tension but not too overwhelming. On day three I suffered a panic attack like that of which I never would have imagined possible.

    It was really intense and emergency room worthy FEAR. I have never been that scared ever in my entire life. I eventually broke down and took the Effexor late that evening. It took me three days before I was back to normal on the drug. There was a difference though. I for the first time in my life began bouts with mini panic attacks that frightened me terribly.

    I attempted to taper but did it over a 7-day period and I started to have severe panic attacks starting on day three until the seventh. I went back on the drug and scheduled an appointment with my PCP. My PCP asked me to take 150mg of Wellbutrin and to taper my use of Effexor. I am 33-days of use with the Wellbutrin and I have yet to attempt to start the tapering process.

    I am scared sh#tless of that horrible panic attack. In addition to panic attacks I now have regularly I have an intense and frighteningly loud AF ringing in my left ear that is driving me bat-sh#t crazy. I finally made it to an appointment with a psychiatrist. I told him everything I just wrote to you and he prescribed me PAXIL.

    Holy Crap, this guy had no intention of listening to me and then prescribed me something horrible if not more awful than Effexor. Before Effexor I was on Lexapro. Before Lexapro I was taking Klonopin as needed and I had control over when and how much I would take. Sometimes I would only need a fourth of the pill. My PCP did not want to prescribe me Klonopin anymore so the Lexapro started.

    The Psychiatrist that I saw told me that due to my past drug abuse he would not feel comfortable prescribing me a controlled substance like Klonopin or Xanax. I tried marijuana like 19 years ago and foolishly tried Cocaine about 10 years ago. I will never make the mistake of telling any doctor that ever again! I don’t abuse drugs and I rarely if ever drink alcohol.

    Since I have been trying to quit Effexor I have not had any alcohol and do not plan to drink at all until this is conquered! For those of you whom have spoken to thoughts of suicide I can attest that if I had to deal with those panic attacks I suffered the times I tried to quit Effexor on my own I would have very little issue with taking myself out!

    Currently I have no intention of hanging with Robin Williams or going to the gun range with Kurt Cobain. My serious issue right now is finding a doctor that is not a complete moron and knows what horrors come from drugs like Paxil and Effexor! I am frightened and afraid that I am never going to get off this drug and that my life will always be crap!

  • Fibrochick May 18, 2016, 9:59 pm

    This drug is harder to get off of than opioids. The government is totally controlling our lives and well being with this drug. How many people in our society would be willing to do anything for this drug? This is worse than being addicted to opioids. I have tried to get off before and was unsuccessful. Hope this time it is easier. On a very low dose of 5mg ativan now for three months. Was able to do this with the Fisher Wallace device. Expensive but totally worth it. So far things are not too bad for me. Good luck everyone. May God be with us through our endeavor.

  • Kenway May 23, 2016, 10:31 am

    I’m currently on day 5 of cold turkey from taking 300 mg for 5 months. Your article and the wrap up at the end has given warmth to my heart. Thank you for writing this! It truly is the worst experience I’ve ever dealt with and it is extremely confusing. I have experienced all of the above mentioned withdrawal symptoms and at this point.

    I’ll never accept medications again. It is a learning experience and I feel that it shows me how much more of a hell life can really be. I appreciate everything I’ve taken for granted when I was “normal”. I thought the depression and anxiety were terrible before, but never again… Never again will I ever feel that way after experiencing this.

  • Wllswife May 25, 2016, 1:15 pm

    If you are researching right now to see if effexor is for you… DO NOT EVEN CONSIDER THIS DRUG, PLEASE!!! I have been on it for over a year, and three times I’ve had to go without the med for different reasons, it is just as everyone else has been saying and then some. Right now I’ve been without it for three days now.

    I’ve been doing not much more than sleeping and I feel helpless, I do not want to be sleeping or feeling so horrible. I have a husband and three kids. I go today for an appointment because I’ve been thinking of tapering off but truthfully at this point I’m thinking of being put on my last med then tapering off that because this effexor stuff is evil. I cannot believe this stuff has been ok to be out on the market as others have said.

    I am a firm believer of my Savior Jesus Christ, and I am going to continue to pray these symptoms gone, and not let it have me. I should have prayed and trusted Him to heal me from the beginning instead of getting on any sort of meds to begin with. I pray for each one of you finds relief and gets to be yourselves again. You guys stay strong and just try super hard not to let the symptoms control you… take care.

  • Terra Phillips May 30, 2016, 12:13 pm

    I’ve been on effexor for about 8 years now. I tried to getting off of it 3 years ago but after weaning off of it then being completely off of it for a month or so I became extremely angry. The littlest things would make my skin boil. I started to have feeling of not wanting to be around anymore. I made the decision to go back on it because my daughter has extreme OCD and I needed patience to parent her.

    I knew this wasn’t the right answer but at the time it was best for her. I went on these meds because I was crying all the time and was feeling like I was a failure of a mom. I was NEVER an angry person or had suicidal thoughts. This year I decided to try to get off them again. The reason being ever since I have been on this medicine I have been complaining to my doctor that I’m losing my mind.

    I know as you get older you become forgetful but I would find myself often forgetting where I was when driving, the same routine, forgetting how to open up or get to my computer programs at work, and the list goes on. I never associated the lose of my mind and my medicine until recently, but thought I wanted to get off the medicine just to see if this was causing my memory issues. After 13 years my daughters OCD is 80% better.

    It’s been an extremely long journey with her and I am so proud of her. A couple months we weaned her off of her Prozac (with the doctors help) because we honestly never seen any change with her being on it and I felt like I was just pumping meds in her for no reason. She was doing great for two and a half months. Then all of a sudden she became so angry got in two arguments at school…

    Her personality change reminded me of what I was going through on my withdrawal. All I can say is thank god I experienced that feeling first hand prior to her. Long story short we put her back on her Prozac. But will try again to wean her off at a later time. This year 2015 I decided I’m going to give it another try and get off my meds. I fully believe I don’t need them anymore.

    After weaning off them and being completely off them for a month and a half. I became extremely angry again. To the point that I almost left my husband of 14 years. My husband that I truly love. My husband and kids notice the extreme personality change with my anger issues. I’ve never felt so angry and so short tempered in my life.

    I truly believe this is a side effect of the medicine and can’t wait until this anger feeling goes away. In the morning I typically wake up with a headache in my front left temple that I also believe has something to do with this medicine. I get migraines but this headache is a very different feeling. I’ve increased my exercise to 5 days a week and am looking for natural solutions to help me get through this.

    I find myself doing little breathing techniques to help decrease my anger. Just wanted to share my story because after reading some articles, apparently I am not the only one experiencing these same extreme anger issues that I never had before.

  • Ali May 31, 2016, 4:57 pm

    I’ve been on effexor for over 5 years to treat depression, anxiety and insomnia. I was on 300mg up until a couple of years ago when I decided to slowly decrease my dosage. It took me 2 years to get down to 37.5mg. I had minor withdrawal lasting only a week each decrease. Almost 8 weeks ago I decided to get off it completely.

    The first week was the worst. I had every withdrawal symptom, except for insomnia. I was getting a small brain zap every minute and a large one every 12. Now the zaps are gone almost completely. Most of my symptoms disappeared around the 3 week mark, except for the rollercoaster of emotions.

    Everything was going really well but the emotions were frustrating, but manageable. At the 7 week mark, I was suddenly his with insomnia. I slept well while taking the drug and even up until 7 weeks of being off of it. Now for the past 4 nights, I have slept a total of 6 hours of broken light sleep.

    I’m exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally and yet the little switch that would normally put me in a deep sleep doesn’t seem to work. I’m wondering if the insomnia is a withdrawal symptom or if it is my body reverting back to how it was before I ever took effexor. Has anyone else been suddenly hit by insomnia?

    If so, any tips on how to get through it? How long did it take for your insomnia/other symptoms take to go away? I’m just looking for some light at the end of this tunnel. It’s been a real comfort reading all of these posts and knowing I’m not alone in all of this. Good luck everyone!

  • Randy June 6, 2016, 12:53 am

    I have been on 150 mg of Effexor XR for about 10 to 12 years. It was very helpful. Recently I discovered that there was a potential interaction between Effexor and Xeralto. I was experiencing significant bleeding from my nose and passing large blood clots. We decided to take me off the Effexor as I am in a different place in my life now.

    I have been tapering off the Effexor by 37.5 mg every 2 to 3 weeks. I have been off it now completely for 5 days. I am a little tired and having some minor headaches. The “brain zaps” are still evident but appear to be lessening in intensity and frequency. I am not depressed but get teary if I see nothing even remotely sad and this is from a guy who is generally pretty stoic.

    A different pharmacist at the same pharmacy suggested that I go back on the lowest dose of the Effexor but I don’t want to extend this any further so will bear with it.

  • JUDI June 6, 2016, 7:16 pm

    Thanks to everyone for your post. I have been on Effexor 75mg for a few years and have tried to stop several times… Friday June 3rd was my last dose.
    It was not planned, trouble will pharmacy, so I decided, why not. Today is Monday June 6, three days Effexor free. YAYY. Brain zaps are frequent. A little nauseous…

    I made it to work… working very slowly so that I do not make any mistakes. Why wouldn’t doctors tell us the size effects? It is my fault, I should have known not to continue this drug due to side effect going on it. Anyone out there stopped cold turkey and can share their experience with me? PLUS did you know Effexor is manufactured in India?

    • Marie June 16, 2016, 12:00 am

      Hi Judi, I am on day 3 of stopping effexor cold turkey. The brain zaps are seriously annoying!! I know it’s going to end and I just started taking wellbutrin so fingers crossed this will help. How are you doing??

  • Jo June 14, 2016, 3:15 pm

    Thank you so much for this article. I have been reading many posts about this topic, and this one laid it out great for me. I was on 150mg for almost 2 years, and quit cold turkey 6 months ago. First 3 days were terrible, then the month following I felt euphoric almost! I felt really good and stable, the best I’ve felt in years.

    But then it started. Mood swings, crying spells, severe depression, days where I cannot function at all and often have to call in sick to work. This I’ve been dealing with for 5 months, bad days usually last about 3 days then might have a good day or two. This has been very rough for my friends and loved ones and people that depend on me, but they know what I’m going through.

    I’m prepared to spend a year recovering from this terrible substance. Hope everyone is keeping it somewhat together. Just be ready for the emotional and mental withdrawal symptoms to last for a while. Let people around you know what is going on so they don’t think you are losing your mind out of the blue. Best of luck and hang in there!

  • sabrina June 22, 2016, 1:50 am

    I am finally off of effexor. It has taken four months but it was worth it. I weaned myself off slowly. That’s the key, you have to take you’re time. I feel like myself again and I am no longer tired through out the day. Was taking naps every 2 hours… This has been going on for 3 years. I thought I had a major illness. Hang in there.

  • emilee June 28, 2016, 2:47 pm

    Hang in there! I was on effexor XR for nine months. About 7 months into taking it, I felt worse than ever. I failed out of college, fighting with my family, self-harming, panic attacks, etc. So, my doctor suggested we add to my 75mg by 37mg. BIG MISTAKE! I felt worse than ever. A month ago I started weaning off of my medication by halves until now I’m completely effexor free! YAY! Even though I sometimes have crying spells and anxiety now, I feel like myself again. Truly like myself. For the first time in a year.

  • John B July 2, 2016, 5:24 pm

    I took venlafaxine HCL, 75mg./day for about 5 years. I weaned off in February of this year. Used a lang, slow taper and didn’t suffer serious withdrawal problems, brain zaps were gone within 2 weeks after last taking it. However, the classical withdrawal symptoms returned in mid-May and coincided exactly with my starting BIPAP therapy.

    Two questions: (1) Has anyone else experienced “late onset” withdrawal symptoms?, and (2) does anyone have a theory on whether there may be any connection between BIPAP therapy and the return of symptoms? I wonder if as the result of the treatment for severe sleep apnea, my serotonin levels have increased and somehow triggered the withdrawal symptoms….

  • Jerry July 5, 2016, 7:51 pm

    Hi, I would like to thank everyone for their comments and advice. Here’s a quick recap of my withdrawal journey.

    1. Was on 150 mg Effexor for Major Depressive Disorder for 6 years.

    2. Reason I went against my doctors orders to get off it was because of the weight gain. This made my depression worse.

    3. Started to wean down as follows.

    a. 150 Effexor XR Capsules to 100 mg Venlafaxine tablets for 1 month. Split tablet 50 mg a.m. / 50 mg p.m. Experienced all the usual side effects for about one week.
    b. 100 mg Venlafaxine tabs (split as above) to 75 mg (half of 100 mg tab + half of a half = 75 mg). Experienced usual side effects for about one week.
    c. 75 mg Venlafaxine tabs to 50 mg (stopped the half of a half) for one week. Experienced usual side effects for about one week.
    d. 25 mg Venlafaxine tabs (split the 50 mg in half) for 2 days. After the 2nd day all heck broke loose. You know the symptoms, juts multiple by 10.
    e. After the second day above I was “cold turkey” off this medicine. Could barely walk, brain zaps horrific, migraines horrific.
    f. Day 3 started to take Neurontin (Gabapentin) 400 mg + 25 mg Benadryl + 2000 mg Omega 3 + 100 mg Hydrochlorothiazide (sorry if the spelling is incorrect on that last one. It’s a water pill.) EVERY MORNING.

    4. After 3 days of point “f” above all migraines were gone. Brain Zaps minimal, walking some difficulty.

    5. Today is day 4 and symptoms are mild. I chew gum all day long, drink tons of water, and pace around my house doing small chores.

    I am praying day 5 (tomorrow) will be better or if not same. Do not follow these instructions as everyone is different. I just wanted to share my experience. I will give an update after some more time passes. God Bless!

  • L Dixon July 6, 2016, 8:01 am

    I am coming off of Effexor XR (300 mg) with a little help from Naturopath doctor using some amino acids that help compensate for serotonin-norepinephrine work that isn’t happening from Effexor as I taper off, helps lower some of the crazy side effects while the body works on re-creating the ability to do some of that work itself.

    Down to 150 now, which is where I will probably start to feel more effect, so we will see how it goes. This is the second time I have been on Effexor – the first time was for 3-4 years, about a decade ago. I worked with the naturopath then, but we used St. John’s Wort then rather than the amino acids, and it helped a lot. I’m hoping these amino acids are as helpful! (5HTP and L-Tyrosine). Good luck to all!

  • Jessica July 7, 2016, 3:54 am

    I was put on Effexor XR when I was 12 by a Pediatric GI Doctor for IBS and I am only just now finding out the withdrawal symptoms. I am looking for an adult GI Doctor because I can’t stand the other one but unfortunately most of them don’t want anyone under 18 (I’m 17). In the meantime I ran out of it last night.

    I took 37.5 mg for a while but I’ve been on 75 mg for years now. My regular doctor gave me a prescription for a refill but it’s gonna be a few days until I can get it. I’m rather pissed now that nobody warned me about the withdrawal and that a doctor prescribed this medicine to a TWELVE year old!!

  • Dean Schlichting July 10, 2016, 6:28 pm

    These accounts have been very helpful in knowing I am not alone. A year ago I was recovering from a surgery to remove a kidney and large cancerous tumor. The surgery was very intense, and took a huge toll on my life with physical as well as mental distress. My performance at work was dismal, and I was freaking out.

    I beat cancer (for now) but normal life stress was too much for me. After months of therapy, I decided a low dose anti-depressant was needed. I worked with my doctor to decide the “least harmful” of our drug choices. We went with 75 mg venla for 6 months to a year. While gradual, the drug worked well and reduced my anxiety and I slowly climbed back to a better state. After a year I noticed the side effects, yawning, fogginess, low libido were more frequent and pronounced.

    So we decided on a ramp down, form 75 to 35 for 6 days. I wish I did it more gradually. I am on day three of no drug, and the freezes, pops and zaps are quite irritating, as well as the chills and bowel distress. I do not think I have it nearly as bad as many who post on here, but it is still disconcerting. I hope I am well enough to go to work tomorrow.

  • John July 25, 2016, 11:05 pm

    I took Effexor for about 9 months to help with some pretty heavy anxiety. My doctor ended up ramping me up to 225Mg. At 1st I couldn’t really tell if it was helping since I was pretty far out there and also using it to come off Xanax that I had been taking for about 2 months prior. That was hell! Once things stabilized I think it did help me get a hold of myself and get more value out of my personal work with a therapist.

    The biggest thing for me was recognizing the negative, anxiety producing thoughts for what they are… Just thoughts, of which I am ultimately in control of. They don’t need to have any meaning or truth. As soon as I decided not to allow the thoughts to fool me (as clever as they are) things really started slowly turning around. Both of Michael Singer’s books really helped.

    I eventually tapered off the Effexor and have been off it for 2 months. The 1st 3 weeks were pretty tough (the brain zaps, anxiety, etc). Today I still have some brain zaps and a few anxiety spells here and there but much better equipped to handle it. I’m not sure how long it takes to fully withdraw from this stuff but many of these comments here help me out.

  • Susan Gallen July 28, 2016, 7:31 pm

    I went on Effexor XR about 9 years ago because I thought it would help with menopause. I was having sweats and extreme anger to the point it was effecting my marriage. I felt better but believe that it decreased my sex drive. I decided to go cold turkey because I did not believe I needed it any more as I am through menopause.

    It is 9 days of cold turkey and I keep reading these comments for a magic number of when I will feel better. Today the worst of it is exhaustion. The night mares have been somewhat replaced with waking up multiple times at night soaked in sweat and severe anxiety that someone has broken into my house. The brain zaps and sweats had started to decrease, however for some reason today they are severe.

    I keep putting one foot in front of the other and hope to feel better soon. I find that if I try to focus on my every day activities I can get some relief but as soon as I sit down the brain zaps start. They are what bothers me the most.

  • Sheryl August 13, 2016, 6:06 am

    It’s been 18 days since my last pill. I’ve been on the highest dose for 15 years. Started taking them because of PMDD. I started menopause 2 years ago and feel it’s time. I don’t have the mood swings anymore. Went down to 75 mg then 37 then every 2 days to every 3 days. I have about 3/4 of all the side effects.

    Worst is the anxiety that I want to rip my skin off to the uncontrollable feel of worthlessness and life its self… If I keep busy most of the time ok. I don’t feel so alone now hearing other people’s same issues. But without it I probs would not be here. My PMDD for me was like the withdrawals of this medicine everyday.

    I have children and a husband… and not be on the meds would have caused me to not exist today. I am scared though.

  • Rae August 19, 2016, 8:01 pm

    So… I have only been on Effexor about 6 months. At 75 mg and after 2 days of not having my prescription I am dizzy and confused. I don’t feel like myself. Couldn’t go to work. And…psychiatrist put me on this after a nasty Xanax withdrawal. After reading all of the comments and how I feel at the present moment seems I’m fighting fire with fire. Trading one ugly withdrawal for another. When all I really want to do is feel OK. I hate these drugs and hope to find a way to feel alright without depending on a damn pill.

  • shelby August 23, 2016, 2:26 am

    I have only been on effexor for about oh…maybe 5 months. I just ran out. I need another apt before they will refill it. I do have a bit more energy on it. But at the and time by noon I’m yawning till bed. I want to change medication but it will be a a bit before I get to the doctor.

    Day three bring off it. I was taking 150 mg. I started feeling dizzy and had a headache but felt off all day. I feel zapped. I hope I can get through this week without major side effects. I have a tedious job that I love and a 5 year old. I need energy. I have been taking B12 lately to keep up my energy level.

  • Alaina August 25, 2016, 7:39 pm

    I was on the lowest dose of Effexor XR (30 something mg I believe) back in 2004 (ish), and only for a month. Suffered the most horrible withdrawal symptoms. The only relief I found was by taking Prozac… which I then had to continue taking for over 10 YEARS because every time I tried to go off of it I’d start getting brain zaps again, even weaning myself off.

    I eventually tapered to 20 MG every week (yes it took just that little) and two years ago I stopped taking it. I still get brain zaps (mild but still noticeable), difficulty sleeping (I’ll be falling asleep then my brain just shocks itself awake), and cry at everything for no good reason (although crying at certain things is normal, I mean it when I say I cry at everything!).

    I wish there was a lawsuit because I fear either being this emotional for the rest of my life (yes it does affect both my work and personal life unfortunately), else having to take Prozac forever. So do be aware that the withdrawal symptoms can last a loooooooooooooooong time.

  • Carrie September 3, 2016, 4:07 am

    I’ve posted here before but think the moderator deletes content. My method of tapering is valuable. It’s worked for me and could very well work for you. I’ve been on Effexor XR 75 mgs. slow release capsules for over 10 years and for the past 3 years, I’ve been doing a very gradual taper. I’m now down to 3 beads as of yesterday.

    Bead reduction is quite different than cutting tablets or having a liquid solution made. I’ve chosen to do beads because I’ve not involved my doctor in this tapering process so therefore can’t ask for a change in medication type. I can honestly say that reducing beads and even when I got to 4 beads has had little to no effect on my withdrawing. This is most likely due to the fact that it’s been sooo gradual and over a long period of time.

    I think taking the time is key. How I reduce the beads without feeling the full impact of a drop which could very well be more than 10% of the last drop, is I pick the largest 4 beads from the capsule and take those for a period, maybe a month or longer. Then, over the next 2 or 3 months I gradually pick beads which are smaller until finally by about a month before I’m feeling good (very good) to do the next drop, I take the smallest 4 beads.

    When I’m ready to do the next drop to 3 beads, I then pick the 3 largest beads again and continue with this pattern. I think it’ll take me a year to 2 years to finally get off all 3 beads (yes, such a small amount) but I don’t want to and can’t afford to have the w/d symptoms. I don’t have any side effects from the Effexor so it’s of no consequence for me to take my time getting off this medication.

    I’d be quite happy to remain at this extremely low non-therapeutic dose for as long as it takes so that when I make the final jump, I’m, hopefully, not hit with w/d symptoms in the months following. This is my goal anyway! So far, I’ve had no anxiety and am still able to sleep, no brain zaps etc.

    This method may not be for everyone but it certainly has worked for me. I’ve even decided that if I have difficulty stabilizing with this last drop to 3 beads, I will most likely follow a pattern of 3 beads/day for several days, then 4/beads/day for a day or 2 and so on until I can gradually wean myself down to a comfortable state.

    Hope this information is of help to some! It’s difficult but I feel confident that it can be done. All the best!

  • Stephanie September 10, 2016, 9:18 pm

    I’m so glad I found this feed! It is refreshing to know that I am not alone. I started taking Effexor over 15 years ago after Zoloft and Prozac failed to help my depression and anxiety/panic attacks. I started at 37.5mg and up to 225mg. The doctor just kept increasing the dosage when I felt it wasn’t working. Now working with a nurse practitioner that actually listens and gives me different options for managing my health.

    I have since been diagnosed (by her) with bipolar. I now am taking Lamictal as a mood stabilizer, Vyvanse for ADHD and Wellbutrin for anxiety/panic and sex drive. With her blessing, I am down dosing so that I can be off this drug. I had experienced bad symptom if I forgot to take my meds, so I knew it would be awful.

    I had no idea that it could be THIS awful. I’m on day 6 and want to die! Today I have been nauseous and thrown up 3 times. Headaches, brain fog, insomnia, lethargic, short tempered (more than normal), want to cry, dry mouth, gas, diarrhea, sweats and hot flashes. Reading this and other articles make me just want to throw my hands up and take it again!

    I won’t, but I don’t know how I will do this over the next few months. In WA, marijuana is legal. I’ve never used it before, but after reading this, I am seriously giving it a thought. WHY IS THIS DRUG STILL ON THE MARKET?

  • Connie September 12, 2016, 8:05 am

    I am on my 5th day off 300mg if Effexor. I decided to stop cold turkey because I found out I am pregnant and I read some of the side effects of taking this pill whilst pregnant. I still haven’t even decided if I can go ahead with the pregnancy as I am too concerned for the babies well being as not only have I been on this antidepressants for the past 8 years I am also on a ADHD medication which also has some pretty serious side effects. Anyway I am laying here writing this with tears pouring down my face.

    I have been having emotional outbursts where I just break down and wish that I was dead then be here in this world. Day 2 and 3 I was having really bad dizzy spells or kind of like seizure things going on in my head. I didn’t know if it is because I am withdrawing from all my pills or because I am pregnant. I have been having so much trouble sleeping at night like can’t seem to fall asleep till 3.30am then I have to get up at 6am.

    Anyway this morning and tonight has been the hardest day of all. I just screamed at my daughter so much this morning because she wasn’t listening and then I grabbed her phone and smashed it to pieces. I hate myself so much now. I have 4 kids and a partner, a pregnancy I am unsure about, and I am just going insane…

    • Tina September 14, 2016, 10:27 am

      Connie… I have no idea what to say, but I had to respond. I too am going though withdrawals, but not from cold turkey off 300mg. No wonder you feel terrible. I really admire your commitment in terms of your pregnancy, but I really recommend that you talk to someone about your situation – someone either in the medical profession or from drug and alcohol services.

      They ofter have areas that look after withdrawing clients, and believe me, Effexor is as bad if not worse than illegal drugs in terms of withdrawal. My comments below on ginger may help, but I’m not sure that they will given the vast difference in withdrawing from 37.5mg (me) to 300mg (you). Please take care…

  • Lisa Foard September 12, 2016, 7:18 pm

    I was on Effexor 37.5 mg for 18 days. I took it for hot flashes. It seemed to help at first but then I became so constipated and had the most horrible night sweats and insomnia. How long am I going to be dry heaving and have this horrible headache? I have crazy dreams and talk in my sleep a lot now. I cannot rest. Lisa

  • Tina September 14, 2016, 10:19 am

    I realise that everyone is different, but I offer my experience in the hope that it may help someone else. Like many above, I have been experiencing some pretty nasty withdrawal symptoms after tapering down to 37.5mg per day and now to nothing. On my doctor’s advice I tried taking ginger tablets (1000mg of dry root every 4 hours during waking hours).

    The nausea eased within about 30 – 60 minutes (I use the word “eased” deliberately) – it took me by surprise. I have now been taking ginger as above for three days and the nausea has reduced further. Other symptoms have started to ease too – the brain zaps, the brain lag, dizziness and fogginess. I am not saying that I have no symptoms, but I’m at the stage where I can now at least function while I’m in withdrawal. Let’s hope it lasts… fingers crossed.

  • ian September 18, 2016, 7:54 pm

    I have been on and off Effexor for 20 years or so. In addition I was taking meds for Migraine plus Amitriptyline for cluster headaches. Recently stopped the latter two as Migraines etc. have much reduced. I have now begun cutting my Effexor XR down from 225mg to 150mg. Ten days into it I have some raging headaches, some of the weirdest dreams I have ever had and muscle pains.

    It’s a price worth paying though if I can get off the meds altogether. I’m probably going to stick at the 150mg over the winter as I have noticed a drop in my mood with winter generally so I can’t see the point of risking further reductions at this time. As regards dreams I very rarely remember having had dreams when I have been taking Effexor though I know I did dream.

    That being the case it is nice to have my dream memories back but I’ll be glad when they are a little less weird and chaotic than my recent ones. Good luck to all who are trying to get off medication. It may be tough but in the end I am sure it will be worth it!

  • Thatonecrazyone September 27, 2016, 2:32 pm

    I’ve been taking Effexor for 3 years now, I’m on a max dosage of 350mg, just quitted cold turkey 4 days ago. It’s been hell accepting this reality again, like a smack in a face with a brick. Physical and emotional pain doesn’t go away. The best part is my dreams, they’re so real and I can be a part of them and manipulate them any way I want to. I want my real reality back, this medication didn’t help me any and my doctor can’t make my dose any higher so I’m quitting it on my own. Distorted noises and sounds, zap, zap, zapp 😂😡😢😆😩😭🤒😴😿😹

  • Ian October 7, 2016, 3:42 am

    For almost 2 years I’ve been on 225mg. 1 week ago I went cold turkey. I’m feeling an extreme tremor, insomnia, awful mood, itch and a terrible anxiety. I’m going to a psychiatrist next week hoping to take a new antidepressant to cope with this withdrawal. All the best luck for all of us. It’s tough but a courageous decision, need to open new paths in our lives.

  • Robert Tanner November 17, 2016, 6:59 pm

    I have been on Venlafaxine for over 21 years at various doses 225 mgs was my latest dose. My consultant took me off of it in two weeks!? I am now searching for anther antidepressant to help. I am trying my second one now without any sign of it helping. I wish I was back on Venlafaxine, at least I had some quality of life even if was far from being able to hold down a job.

  • Mike November 18, 2016, 10:48 pm

    Interesting thread… I’ve been on this stuff for about 16 yrs and have decided it’s time to stop it. My current dosage is 37.5. I’m going to do a week of 1 tab every 2 days and see how that goes. I’ve quit alcohol and tobacco cold turkey in the past and have stayed away from both for yrs.

    I tried the same with this stuff and it was not good… irritable, brain fog, weak and tired. I’m just finishing day 1 without it and so far so good. It will be nice to leave this behind. This just might be the site I need to finally succeed.

  • Mike November 22, 2016, 4:01 am

    Finishing up day 4… so far completely Effexor free. Hasn’t been easy… dry heaves, cough, can’t sleep, dizzy and brain fog, but I need to stick with it.

  • Kris G November 28, 2016, 4:10 am

    I took 37.5 mg. I lasted almost 5 months on it. It took a while to tolerate the full dose however it was still too strong and it made me depressed and suicidal. It changed my personality. The first symptom was uncontrollable aggression with withdrawing. I was unwilling detained by hospital where I came off the meds but they would not tapper so I refused outright.

    There are no words for the hell I went through. After two weeks, the physical pain started. For a month I felt like a walking bruise. Then came the depersonalization. I am still feeling it after 4 months but now I am getting a few emotions, like wafts. At four months, I am better but there is still a lot of lethargy and occasionally I get a mini head moment.

    I’m not taking anything and have not since stopping the Effexor. It may be great for some people, however, I wish I was never put on it.

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