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.
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.
637 thoughts on “Effexor XR Withdrawal Symptoms: How Long Will They Last?”
I am so glad I found this thread and that it is recent. Thanks to all that have shared here. It just may save my life. I feel absolutely crazy, I have a fantastic life that I have worked very hard for, none of this makes any sense and I am so tired of it.
The random crying spells and constant sense of dread are going to do me in. I’m fighting like hell and hopefully will make it threw, but I am not sure anymore. I had a weak moment today and took an old pill I had and with it all the guilt I can inflict on myself about it.
I previously was on it for about 12 years (150mg), I tapered off to “0” recently. Tapering felt fantastic though, once I hit day 3 on zero it sucker punched me and I have been down for the count since. Even keeping so busy that I can’t possibly fit more in a day isn’t helping.
I am sure my wife has had enough, things seem really strained to me although I am not sure if that is just in my head? I have talked to her a bit about it and she say’s everything is good, but my head voice is telling me otherwise.
I truly believe the doctor’s don’t know exactly how some/most people will react but I understand being angry about the situation. Most generally (at least in Canada where I am from) want to help people, so I can’t place blame there. I needed them when I was prescribed them. I still need them it seems.
You ARE NOT ALONE and you can do this!!! I am 6 months in and sometimes I have a “blip” and feel totally crazy again. BUT, more good days than bad.
I just tapered off as well. I started at 150mg for about a year. Then went to 112, 75, 37.5 and now none. It’s been 3 days. I’ve been crying for no reason. Watched The Voice and a chair turned and I cried.
Feeling anxious and in a fog. I gained so much weight from anxiety meds that I had to stop them. It’s so hard. Glad I’m not the only one.
I have been taking Venlafaxine for about 5 years and have decided on cold turkey. I have been taking a daily dose of 225mg slow release for at least the last two years, probably nearer three… The last tablet I took was on Tuesday 25th September and last night, 29/30th September was hell… night TERRORS with a real horror attitude.
I had to keep getting out of bed and going into the living room until the waking up terrified part faded off, but upon returning to bed and sleep, it all began again, and again each time I repeated this… obviously not much sleep was had and I did think of staying awake, I had to face my Demons I guess.
The worse part of it though, is that it is not like dreaming, it is real. As real as being fully alert and awake – even though what I was experiencing was beyond normal explanations of any kind. Night Terrors is a massive understatement…
Reading the information above has helped though, at least it seems it will get easier over time, maybe a long time, who knows. I have not discussed this with my doctor as I think he would probably use the reductive dose method. I get that, but do not see the point of prolonging the thing.
I have my own personal reasons for stopping. Enough said I think.
Hi all.. I was prescribed and advised to go on venlafaxine 75mg when I left my abusive husband. My doctor recommended it as a way of helping me through that tough period in my life. He said that I would only have to take it for 6 months or so and was non addictive. That was 8 yrs ago.
I have tried couple times to go cold turkey without success. My doctor is refusing to wean me off as I have other stuff going in my life at the moment but I feel I can not continue to put these chemicals into my body any longer soil am now on day 3 of going cold turkey, it is 5.40am and I dragged myself out of one of the most disturbing horrific dreams I have ever had.
Where do these dreams come from? I felt how it must feel to know your going to die and can do nothing about it by being killed at the hands of someone else. There was a lot more to the Dream also. I woke up screaming for my mum.
How do I get through this? The dreams are the worst part for me… I have has them in the past when also trying to stop. Sweats brain zaps dizziness and nausea are also really bad. Any advise would be greatly appreciated. Terrified to go back to sleep.
I had the same experience. The bad news for some is even after a couple weeks of withdrawal the symptoms can start up again. Right now I am having a hard time typing this on my phone because my rage at predicted text is making me crazy! Sorry I have to stop. I’ll try again later.
After 14 weeks, I’m finally seeing the light at the end of this very long tunnel. Still have some episodes of feeling totally exhausted, but not as frequent. The depression has decreased as the anxiety has to. Not completely gong but its an improvement.
No matter what, I’m going to continue with the mega doses of omega 3’s and B vitamins. Also, the twice of day 5-HTP. I’ve also have gone 5 weeks with any refined sugar but have been eating a ton of the good carbohydrates; whole grain and wheat bread bananas and apples.
The apples seem to satisfy my sweet tooth.
Well done Michael. Keep it up. I feel so much better, since I stopped taking venlafaxine, on the 9th August 2018. I keep as busy as I can, which is great. Because all of the time I took those tablets, I felt less and less like wanting to do things.
Life had become a huge effort. Everyone has really noticed the improvement in me. So stay strong everyone.
Hi Josephine. The nightmares are horrific, for me they lasted over a year. I was fortunate in that my husband was fully aware and would wake me very quickly. But by the end I was only getting them about once a month. Small price to pay though for the benefits of being off this terrible drug. Stay strong. Catherine
I am so grateful for your comments. Since ending my taper 3 weeks ago after being on Effexor for 10 years I have experienced all of these symptoms. The mercurial anger is the most disconcerting. I was beginning to fear that this was my true self and have been horrified.
It is such a relief to learn that this is just part of the withdrawal process. While the buzzing is still continuing into week four, the dizziness and nausea are subsiding somewhat. Sleep is still an issue but also improving. Staying hydrated seems to help with the leg cramps.
Again, I cannot thank you all enough. These past weeks have been so frightening due to the anger. I was living with a horrifying fear that I might do physical harm to myself or my grandchildren. Now at least I am able to relax knowing that this too shall pass and is not a permanent change in my character.
My doc prescribed zofran for the nausea but nausea is nothing compared to the many other symptoms. I’m on the brink of running my boyfriend off and worried my job is going to suffer. I have missed so much work trying to get over these symptoms.
I have a symptom that I am sure is related to stopping Effexor that no one else has mentioned: I have a burning sensation in my skull (?) behind and extending over both ears. Has anyone experienced this?
I am 8.5 months completely Effexor free, having tapered slowly (reduced 1 mg per week) over 2 years. I had been on 75 mg ER for 10 years followed by 150 mg ER for 4 years. Now, at 8.5 months with no Effexor, I am still dealing with anxiety, depression, body aches, nausea, extreme fatigue & disrupted sleep.
If it weren’t for finding this forum, I would have started taking it again already. My shrink sez that after 2-3 months, my symptoms are not from quitting Effexor. But I believe you folks, who are actually doing this, that I am still dealing with my biochemistry trying to find balance.
I want to believe if I just hang in that things will get better. But I also don’t want to waste my life being miserable. I am very close to starting on a small dose to see if it helps. Any encouragement, either for or against taking the drug again would be appreciated!
Jsek, Please don’t give up and go back on this terrible drug. I am now 21 months Effexor free, but I have to say it was over a year before I was free from the withdrawals. The difference to my life by being free of this drug is amazing.
I no longer have blood pressure issues, I sleep well, I have clarity of thought. I’m not sure if you can get Kava root capsules in your country, here we can buy at Health shops. But it is a wonderful natural product that helps with anxiety and I also think it will help with the burning you are experiencing.
Eat healthy and exercise also. These are the strategies I used and I came through it. Stay strong.
Jsek, I am four months into withdrawal after taking 56.5 mg of Effexor for 22 years and – like you – still struggling a lot with anxiety, feelings of emptiness and despair, and insomnia.
I got desperate a month ago and tried a lower dosage of Effexor for 4 days, but had a horrible reaction to it, and stopped immediately.
I am not trying that again. I hope every days these are withdrawal symptoms not my true emotional baseline and that they will start to improve soon.
Glad I found this. I was only on this medication for A MONTH to try it out… it did nothing for me so we tapered off during a few weeks. I have just taken my very last pill a couple days ago. For the last week, I have been feeling so nauseous and dizzy, with my stomach constantly flip flopping.
I thought I had some sort of tummy bug. Only now did I suddenly think that it could be the medication. Guess it probably is. Can’t believe I feel like this after only a month of being on. I really feel for everyone who has been on it for a while.
Hope this passes soon. I am really struggling to do… well, anything. Other than lay in bed.
I am 4 days off Effexor after a one month taper from 150 mg. I am experiencing sensations of pressure in my head that come in waves and have a sound associated with them and a feeling of not being oriented in space.
I am also falling asleep while performing activities for a moment or two multiple times a day, in which, I instantly have very vivid dreams and when I come back a sense of believing the dream actually happened.
I have headaches that occur right behind my left ear in the same spot but only last a second. I have a feeling of dizziness when walking and waves of vertigo like disorientation. I can be irritable at times. I have great difficulty concentrating.
So glad I stumbled across this. Because everything else on the web is years old… I’ve been on this drug for about a year. Then last week found out I was pregnant. A doctor told me to stop at once. Which I have. And of course I will suffer cold turkey for my baby’s sake.
But I can’t help feel the doctor is wrong (he wasn’t one I’d seen before) he referred to a medical book to see what it said about pregnancy and venlafaxine! Anyway I’m almost a week into cold turkey, it’s not pleasant but I can only hope it eases soon.
Does anyone else keep going freezing cold to the point they are sleeping in 2 quilts? And I’m still shivering! And has anyone else gone cold turkey due to pregnancy?
Yes I am cold most of the time, really wrapping myself up to get warm and stay warm. I haven’t taken venlafaxine since the 9th August 2018. I had previously been taking 300mg daily.
It’s not been easy, but I feel like my brain cells are returning to life more each day. I remind myself that the emotions I am experiencing, are just that, and a real part of life. After having them wrapped in bubble wrap with antidepressants for so many years.
I am tapering and am sweating, then freezing. It’s 70 and I just turned my AC on. Now I’m cold but still clammy.
Hi Jane… me def not Tarzan. I have a 3 month program to reduce dosage. In week 2 now and have all the above symptoms. I hope your pregnancy goes well. Try to remain calm and healthy.
Hi Jane! I’m going through the same thing right now for my pregnancy. I’m definitely struggling between what is a pregnancy symptom and what is a withdrawal symptom. I am 1 week off cold turkey (I was taking 75mg dropped to 37.5 for one week and then just stopped).
The one week of 37.5 basically didn’t help out all. How are your symptoms? Some days I can function and some days I can’t! Hoping it starts to get better soon!
I too am glad to see others with recent experience with this. I’m on day 4 of tapering down to 37.5 after a week at 75. I have flu like aches and heaviness, I’m unable to fall asleep and then unable to wake. Most of us commented late when we should be asleep.
But the worst is the headache and confusion. At work today it was as if I was someone else telling myself what to do but I wasn’t able to do it. It was similar to the stupor someone feels when waking soon after taking ambien.
Yes to the coldness symptom. I’m now in my 3rd week since my last dose (after taking venlafaxine for 17 years). I don’t remember much trouble with cold during the first week, though I was kind of distracted by vomiting and diarrhea that week, so maybe I didn’t notice.
The second week, there were multiple times each day when I’d start shivering all over and had trouble feeling warm even after wrapping up in quilts. But I haven’t had chills yesterday or today, so maybe there’s hope for both of us. :) Good luck!
Also, if withdrawal continues to be difficult, you should definitely get a second opinion on go cold turkey for pregnancy. There is not at all a clear cut consensus on what is healthiest, not just for you, but for your unborn child, since depression is unhealthy for the body, and withdrawal symptoms can be, too.
Ask 5 doctors and you will get 5 different answers. I know, because I went through 2 pregnancies on venlafaxine and I asked a lot of doctors. Some of them leaned one way or the other on what they would recommend, but nearly all of them volunteered that there is no medical consensus.
At the very least, there is no definitive contraindication against being pregnant while on venlafaxine. One or two retrospective studies found a very slightly higher percentage of heart defects among babies carried by mothers on venlafaxine, but it’s unclear whether that was partly due to those women having more residual depression or other health problems that might have been associated with the choice to take those drugs.
I took venlafaxine and my babies were healthy. But from a scientific standpoint, the experience of just one person is not much evidence.
Thanks for that. Gives me a little reassurance. My withdrawal is easing up now. And my mental state is amazing!! Definitely worth the cold turkey now I’m on the back end of it. Xx
I am nine days off from 20 years of 225mg of effexor. I am feeling so so sick, and I have had an unusual side effect of withdrawal besides the ones already mentioned. Female priapism.
This was the most horrible, painful event I have every experienced. I nearly threw myself off my balcony. I am serious. I am now sleeping with sudafed by my bed in case it happens again. I am very afraid.
It will get better! …drink lots of fluids.
Thank you for this information. I was on Effexor XR for 18 years, most of that time at 225 mg. Reduced to 150 mg maybe a year ago. A few months ago I asked about reducing my dosage again, and my doctor outlined a plan for getting off completely: 75 mg for a month, then 37.5 mg for another month.
The next step was a 25 mg tablet (not XR) in the morning and half a tablet in the evening for two weeks. Then down to 1/2 tablet twice daily, then once, then off completely. While I still had the drug in me, withdrawal symptoms were pretty mild, mostly brain zaps, dizziness, restlessness and mild anxiety.
The fourth day at 0 mg I woke up early with more severe anxiety, so filled a prescription for Propranolol. It prevents the physical symptoms of anxiety, so it doesn’t escalate to panic. It has helped so far. I hope it will be easier to get off of than Effexor. I don’t know why my doctor didn’t tell me how tough this would be.
Hi everyone. I too am withdrawing from effexor. I tapered a little over a week but last Sunday decided to go for it and quit. Wow I feel ill. I have constant brain zaps, brain shivers, feel like 100 bees are buzzing in my head, restless legs so can’t sleep, sickness, I could go on.
I’m scared to tell my Dr as I think they will be annoyed, silly really. I’m lay in bed trying to get to sleep but can’t. I have taken fish oil, range of vitamins, ginger teas, Benadryl, lots of hot water bottles. Also when I do get to sleep I have night terrors and sweating.
This drug should be banned altogether. I’m sorry I ever took it. I’d rather deal with panic attacks and OCD than this. Hope you all get through this.
Talk to your doctor, don’t worry about being judged, it’s their job to evaluate your case objectively and make the best call for your health. They may offer you new information that helps you decide what to do going forward. Don’t hesitate to get a new doctor if your current one doesn’t hold up to this level of professionalism.
I’m not a doctor but I’m in the process of stopping my Effexor. I’ve been on it for about a year and a half at a dose of 300mg. I haven’t talked to a doctor about getting off of it only because I don’t have health insurance and can’t afford to go.
I’ve been playing it by ear and taking a small amount when I experience discontinuation symptoms, and it makes all the difference. I have 150mg XR capsules which I was taking 2/day of. I started by taking 1 at a time, at first just slightly longer than 12 hours apart, then longer and longer until I got fairly close to taking it once/day.
From there I started opening the capsules and taking a small amount (about 1/3 of one or ~50mg) whenever I started being bothered by the discontinuation symptoms. Now I’m taking about 15-30 mg 2-3 times/day as I need to. I wouldn’t recommend taking less than your body’s telling you you need, but it doesn’t mean you have to take more than you need either.
Again, I’m not a doctor and you should have one involved in your plan. Effexor combined with individual and group therapy, new coping skills, and time to reflect in an honest and open way with myself has brought me to such a better place, and I’m grateful it was available as a recovery tool when I needed it.
Whatever decisions you make regarding your recovery process, make sure it’s getting you to a better place as time goes on; it’s probably unlikely that suddenly stopping Effexor and subjecting yourself to that suffering is the healthiest path to take. Be kind and patient with yourself, treat yourself well, and take time to consider your strategy every so often. Please message me if I can help in any way.
Man I am so glad to have read this article and read the comments below to know I am not alone in this. I didn’t mean to go off the medication – Mail Order Pharmacy lost my medication and my Doctor has been out of the office.
I’m on day 3 of withdrawals and wondered why I kept crying for no reason. Make more sense to me now. I have all the listed symptoms above and it helps to know this is normal and I will get through this.
I’m currently in my weaning process. I have been on 300mg for a long time (doctors I had been seeing over the years just kept putting my dosage up and up) I had no idea how hard this was going to be. Until I was referred to a doctor a few of my very close friend swear by… I wished I’d known him years ago!
So after a serious breakdown, my doctor and I agreed to wean off and change antidepressants. We still have two in mind, one more so for the anxiety. We deceided to do weaning in halving intervals weekly. First weaning to 150mg and symptoms mainly consisted of fatigue, vivid dreaming, brain zaps, aches and high anxiety.
Today is day 3 of 75mg and I feel every single one of the symptoms listed above accept anger and vomiting (I use anti-nausea only when needed) but I have become more sensitive to certain smells. I have taken time off work now, realizing my body needs rest and I could not function in the state I am in.
I am very fortunate to have love and support around me, we will get through this. I know it is going to be rough and very unpleasant for a while yet but I remain focused on my long term mental health.
You are one of few people who have been on high dose like me 300mg for 15 years. I am now on the other side of total hell It took about 6 weeks to reduce to zero. I thought I was doing great during that time but as soon as I got to 0 I hit the wall.
Every symptom possible for about ten days. It got so bad I almost went back on the black death aka Effexor. My Dr gave me a short course of Gerax 125 max 3 per day… I have been on these for 3 days and can function… drive, eat, talk… I feel more optimistic, energetic, and happier now than I have in at least 5 years.
I can’t say the withdrawal was easy… It was total hell but I am one of the fortunate ones to have only 9 horrendous days of it. I hope I won’t be back in a month asking for another antidepressant. I don’t know why some can get off Effexor and others can’t.
My Dr told me no matter what dose or how long you are on once you hit the 0 half life that is when the real withdrawal begins. Obviously worse for us who were on higher dose for longer time. Either way 0 is when worst starts but Under NO NO NO circumstances take another Effexor even few beads because you still need to be at 0 to really start the beginning of the end.
You only prolong the pain by sneaking a 37.5 or few beads… Sorry this is so long. I wish I could help every single person suffering from this horrible horrible pain. Please ask me anything and if I can help I will. Xxx xxx my fellow survivors.
P.S. I went from 300mg daily, Week 2. 300mg then 150mg every other day, Week 3 150mg then 75 every other day, Week 4 75 mg every other day, Week 5 ZERO. All the best.
I’m so glad to read all of these so I know I’m not alone. It’s been hell. It’s only been 2 & 1/2 weeks since my last pill 37.5 so I know I have along road ahead yet. I just wish it was over… I’m so tired of feeling like this.
Hey! Someone please help! I have been taking two 37.5 Effexor for about a year and I recently stopped taking the medication. I tried quitting by tapering then I couldn’t take putting the medication in my body any longer or the side effects, so I quit cold turkey.
I am on my second or third week now and the withdrawal symptoms are a lot more tolerable but still the insomnia and itching and hair loss are the worst! I am just wondering how long this lasts? I know everyone is different and it can take up to a year or so, but has anyone gone off this medication who knows when it really does just end?
Crazy I have detoxed off many medications including opiates and Xanax and felt better than I do right now. It just seems like it will never end, can anyone help? Thank you and good luck to y’all coming off it! The sooner the better it seems!
I started Effexor XR 37.5mg a year ago for anxiety, and depression. My MD thought it would be a good choice b/c I was also experiencing hot flashes. Day 1 I was great. Day 2 I was exhausted. Day 3 I was stabilized. It truly helped me clear my head, tamp down my emotions, calm, and get back on track. It did not really help with hot flashes.
7 months later, I felt I was ready to taper off. The program my MD recommended did not work for me (horrible withdrawal) so I went back on and consulted with a specialist. Bottom line, I’m just very sensitive to this medication and tapering would be difficult.
I decided to wait for a time when I didn’t have a lot going on, and could manage the tapering well. Good luck with that, right? About 5 months later I knew I was ready to taper. I started by accident because I missed a dose and felt ok all day, but felt the zaps late in the day the next day.
I started with 37.5 every other day for 2 weeks. I then went to 1/2 a dose every other day for 2 weeks. I’m on day 2 of nothing at all. We’ll see! I am having small “power surges” (less intense and not debilitating like the zaps) but I try to look at it as a weird, trippy feeling I can ride out.
Exercising helps so much…so much! (heavy cardio, not a “sniff walk” with the dog), I’m on 2000 IU of Vitamin D as well. I have no idea if that helps or not. I was deficient to begin with. Staying busy and social helps me. I find that I notice these weird withdrawal sensations more when I’m still and quiet.
If I feel edgy before bed, I will take a children’s Benadryl. A little goes a long way for me. I’m interested to hear that Omega 3 helps many of you, and I intend to add that. Thank you all for sharing your stories. We are all different, but clearly no one has had an easy withdrawal from Effexor. There has to be a better med out there.
It brings me so much hope and comfort to read that I’m not the only one experiencing this. I’m also so incredibly ANGRY at my doctor for prescribing me this for my anxiety and depression without giving me any information on how difficult it would be to withdraw.
I’ve been on 37.5mg for a little over a year now and just started the tapering off process two weeks ago. I take a pill every other day and then I’m going to taper to every three days. The nausea and dizziness were almost unbearable for the first week and a half.
Today I had a random crying spell and was really sleepy even tho it’s my day off and I’ve been having an otherwise great and relaxing day. I’m scared I’m going to be like this for the next year. I don’t want to suffer. I’m scared I’ll have other side effects.
I am so glad I stumbled upon this forum as it definitely has made me feel like I’m not alone. I have been on 150mg of Venlafaxine for about 3 years now and after doing some research, I decided that I immediately needed off of this medication.
I cannot believe the side effects and withdrawal symptoms from this medication. How doctors are still prescribing Venlafaxine, I don’t know. I am on day 3 of going cold turkey from this medication and it is hell!
I chose to go cold turkey mainly because I couldn’t get my prescription refilled and wouldn’t be able to for another week and a half. So the choice to go cold turkey basically was the only option I had at this point (couldn’t afford the refill).
Wow, the withdrawals are no joke! I feel like I’m in a fog of uncontrollable emotions. One minute I’m feeling okay and the next, I want to punch anything and everything in site. It’s like this surge of pure anger and my body tenses and I feel like my body is going to explode.
A few minutes later I’m fine. Give it take an hour or two and I’m in a complete crying fit and I don’t know why. It’s uncontrollable crying and I have to just allow myself to let it all out and it’s all for no particular reason.
Honestly, the emotional surges I am able to handle as I have learned coping skills as I went through therapy. What I’ve noticed that I can’t handle is the sporadic surges of intense leg spasms where my muscles feel tight, and quite frankly, I want to break my legs.
I have to constantly be moving my legs whenever I have this sporadic surge of intense leg spasms. It’s keeping me awake at night and really effecting me on and off during the day. It’s bad; it’s intense. Has anyone else experienced this?
The shortness of breath and feeling like I can’t breath at all is really messing with me. My chest feels heavy and, at times, I’m almost gasping for air or so it seems. Again, this really affects my sleep as I feel like I can’t get enough oxygen.
Between this and the leg symptoms I’ve been experiencing, sleep is basically non existent for me. I know in the long run that making the decision to not take this awful medication anymore will be worth it but until then, the present sucks!
I really hope I’m able to find some relief soon although I am realistic about the fact that the withdrawal could take up to years to fully subside. I can handle the dizziness, the intense headaches, the crying/emotional spells, the brain fog but the leg thing I have going on, that is really messing with me. I can’t handle it.
Here’s to pushing forward. Each day is a day closer to this evil medication being out of my body forever. Hope and a prayer…that’s what I’m relying on as I don’t have very many options otherwise.
Thank you to everyone who’s left comments here. I have been in tears reading them. I have been tapering off Effexor for the past 3 months, after being on 150mg for 15 years. 10 days ago I took my last capsule, and yes, it’s been hell. I thought I was losing my mind till I found this site and read all your comments.
I have been angry, sad, anxious and absolutely exhausted. Brain zaps everyday, headaches and on Monday I had an aura migraine for the first time in my life! My BP is through the roof too. My doctor said my BP and the migraine are not related to the Effexor withdrawal but I think she may be wrong…
I’m really upset that the medical professionals I have seen during my withdrawal seem to have no idea how horrendous it is. There has been no warning, sympathy or suggestions on how to pull through.
I thought being 10 days free of Effexor, I would be over the withdrawal symptoms by now. Ha! How wrong was I. Thanks for educating me and letting me know I’m not alone and there is still a long way for me to go. Fingers crossed we make it.
I was on 300mg venlafaxine for just over a year, previous to starting it I had been on numerous different antidepressants for the last 20+ years. I went cold turkey on venlafaxine the 9th August, so nearly a month ago. I have suffered all the withdrawal symptoms above.
Snapping at everyone over silly things is something I’m really working at reining in. Feeling cold is something I haven’t felt in years, I have poured with sweat on the coldest of days. Now I actually can and do feel cold. I haven’t replaced venlafaxine with any other drug.
Each day I am experiencing a new feeling, the only way I can explain it, as if bubble wrap is uncovering each brain cell bit by bit, and the cells are waking up from a long sleep. Have multiple mood swings throughout the day. I remain positive. Good luck everyone in our return to full recovery.
I have been on Effexor 150 for about a year or two. I am a Licensed Professional Counselor, and after attending a Psychopharmacology Continuing Education Course, decided to talk to my PCP about weaning me off the med. It hasn’t seemed to be helping and the side effects were not favorable.
I did it the right way….cut the dosage by 25% each month. Each time I lowered the dose, I noticed my vision would become a little worse, but would get better the longer I stayed at that dose. I had other minor issues – dizziness, nausea, etc.
These lasted a couple of days and were really not a big deal. I had started using N Acetyl Cysteine, Magnesium, Vitamin D, B12 and CBD oil at the same time I was discontinuing the full dose. All that being said, I have been completely Effexor free for five days and have felt like I was going to completely lose it.
I have had stomach issues, horrible headaches, anxiety, shakiness, crazy swimmy head/dizziness, achiness, bad dreams and now sleep upset. I have used all the behavioral tools I know and teach my clients. I have a good support system, and am praying a lot.
I have been fortunate to not have brain zaps (I guess). I think I would know if I had them. They sound awful. Does anyone have a good time frame I can expect to continue dealing with these symptoms? I see my PCP tomorrow, and am afraid he is going to want to put me back on an anti-depressant.
After being on them off and on for 19 years (Lexapro, Celexa, Zoloft, and now the worst of all, Effexor), I’m not willing to do that unless I have to. I have heard good things about trying Prozac in the interim and them being able to go cold turkey off it without side effects. Just wanted some thoughts…
Found out at the doctor’s office that I had actually been on Effexor for FIVE years. Wow! I didn’t realize it had been that long. Maybe that’s why the symptoms have been so bad.
After the first two weeks, things became quite a bit better, but… then after a week of thinking the symptoms were subsiding, they hit again almost as severely as in the beginning. The aches, shakiness, headache, stomach upset, nightmare, mood dysregulation all came back.
I switched my N-Acetyl Cysteine for 5-HTP, another natural mood stabilizer… and then went back to NAC to see if that would help. I have had one good day this week, and the rest pretty difficult days.
I thought I was going nuts until I found this place. During the course of 1.5 years, I have slowly tapered down to one-fourth of 37.5 mg and I am still experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms. The worst is the rage and anger at the drop of a hat.
I basically want to tell everyone to go F-off ALL. OF. THE. TIME. My level of I-Don’t-Care-About-Anything is high. I’m glad to hear I’m not alone in my symptoms, and that they will one day subside.
I’m glad I’m not alone in this nightmare. I was on anti-depressants for 8 years. I started when I was 18. As I got older and my life started getting together for the better – job, steady girlfriend, better relationship with family, earned my degree, etc. – I decided it was time I stopped taking Effexor, the antidepressant I’ve been on for a few years up until a few months ago.
For me it had become a pill I take and notice nothing but I’d get physically sick if I forgot to take it. It had become empty symptoms. My doctor tapered me off from 75 mg to lower dosages for a couple of months and then I stopped. It. Has. Been. A. NIGHTMARE.
I got the common physical symptoms: brain zaps, nausea, bad dreams that lasted a few days – which I expected. What I didn’t expect was the extreme rage spells I feel and an alarming amount of anxiety (almost worse than before I started taking anti-depressants) along with a new affinity for arguing with everyone I know.
I can pinpoint that the reason for this is because I stopped my medication. I didn’t feel like this months or even weeks before I stopped. It is such a relief to know that this is common and it will go away, if not in a few months, then someday. Currently, I’ve taken up exercise and it is helping. I will continue to rely on it and the support of those around me to get over this.
Hi all! I’ve been on Effexor XR 150mg for 10 years. I had issues with anxiety and my GP prescribed this medication to me without ever telling me how bad withdrawals would be. I’ve tried weaning and then finally just went Cold Turkey.
The first 5 days were absolute hell. Dizzy, nauseous, crying uncontrollably, brain fog etc. Today is the first day that I feel halfway normal. I can honestly say that I will never use this drug again.
I found that large amounts of magnesium are helping. I went from 150 to 75 to 25 to cold turkey. Been without 100% for almost a week. I have bouts of nausea and headache and feel like my throat is closing up. Also unsteady and kinda foggy at times. I was on it and other “anti-anxiety” meds for almost 19 years.
I am determined to be free of it and healthy again. I also kicked synthroid, stains and HBP meds. Good eating and lots of supplements to repair my body. Abused it for 66 years. Other than the withdrawal I am going through right now I feel great!
I was on 75mg of Effexor for about a year for situational depression. I decided I wanted off. I started to wean down in mid-December 2017, cutting down so gradually, and had my last dose (literally 4 grains) in early May 2018. It is now almost the end of August 2018.
While the nightmares and nausea are gone, I am still bothered by brain zaps, confusion, depersonalization, and dizziness – although in lesser and lesser amounts. It is the dizziness that is just killing me. The nightmares and nausea are gone.
I did not replace the Effexor with another antidepressant. Please, anyone with experience as to how long the dizziness will last? My doc is worthless.
Jan, Omega 3 fish oil (Orthomega), ENCAPSULATED B Complex, vitamin D3 and calcium CITRATE help a lot with those symptoms.
I am also trying to wean off of Effexor. Am now at the “4 grains” level every other night. I have found that non-drowsy Dramamine is helping with the dizziness. Worth a try.
Hi. I have taken Effexor XR 75 mg for 17 years. I have decided that I don’t want to be on it anymore and I started tapering last May and alternated 75 mg and 37.5 mg for 5 weeks. I have been taking Omega 3 Fish oil, Calcium and B complex and I believe they helped a lot… no brain zaps.
The only withdrawal I am experiencing is unbalance… I feel I walk like I am drunk, but I work out every day and that feeling goes away while exercising. I have some great days and then back to the unbalance. How long is this going to last?
I wish I could tell you how long the dizziness will last, but it seems to be different for everyone. All I can tell you is one day you will just notice it is gone. I did find exercising helped, get your heart rate up even if just for a short time each day. I had the nightmares for over a year, I thought they would never go. About a month ago I noticed I hadn’t had one for about 3 months (LOL). Cheers.
Hi! I thought I’d give everyone a little bit of hope… I’ve been on anti-depressants/anxiety for 13 years and 225mg Venlafaxine XL a day for 7. 6 weeks ago I took the decision (with my doctor) to reduce to 175mg. I’m sooooo happy to say it’s worked with no side effects!!!
Doing it slowly and gradually is working for me. In two weeks time I’m going to try reducing a little bit more. It can be done if circumstances allow. Wishing everyone lots of luck. I feel very lucky so far! Mandy
Best of luck Mandy. Keep us updated.
The real symptoms start when you get to 0. You have done the easy part. I am on day 5 of 0. Previously on 300mg Effexor for 15 years. The dose was up and down over the years but final month was 300mg.
My suggestion is not to be alone overnight and get prepared for vomiting, sweats, anxiety. I haven’t been prepared enough because the tapering down was fairly easy. I’m not trying to discourage you but just be prepared!
Hi Mandy, Just wondering how you are going with tapering off Effexor now? I was on 300mg for about 2 years, slowly tapered off over a couple of months and now it’s been 2 weeks where I haven’t had any. The first week felt like hell with the withdrawal symptoms, but the second week I’ve been feeling mostly ok. I just hope that it continues to feel this way, but worry that the withdrawals will come on strong again. Thanks, Fiona
Hi Mandy, Just wanted to see how you are going with tapering off Effexor? I recently tapered off from 300mg over the course of a few months and am now in my third week of not taking any. The withdrawal symptoms were a bit full on during the last week of taking 37.5mg and then the first week of taking nothing.
Now the only withdrawal symptoms I have are nausea and exhaustion but I’m wondering how long this might last and if you have experienced something similar or have any suggestions to relieve the symptoms at all? Thanks, Fiona
Hi Fiona; after 12 weeks I’m still getting the exhaustion, anxiety and some depression. My dreams seem to be weird too. I feel shook up when I wake up.
Michael, I am on week 13 or 14 since my last small dose of Effexor and still experiencing anxiety, depersonalization, insomnia and tingling in my extremities, which I believe is “paresthesia.”
Some days are ok – not great but ok – other days are pretty bad. I took this damn drug for 22 years. I never knew till I finished my taper and started experiencing withdrawal how hard it would be to get off. I am just trying to stay strong.
Peter, your story sounds like mine since I’m in my 13th week. You took it twice as long as I did though but our symptoms are very similar. I sometimes think it’s never going to get better but I continue to read that it takes time since it’s such a powerful mind-altering drug.
Day #4 NO EFFEXOR!
I’ve been on Effexor XR for about 6 years now. Prior to this I was on Lexapro for a year. Originally I was placed for Generalized Anxiety and as adjunct therapy for Migraine Prophylaxis They definitely helped to get me in a good place, but I’ve been stable now for quite some time.
For as long as I can remember I was on Effexor XR 225 a day and like many of you if I’d miss a dose… it was the worse feelings ever… so about 6 months ago I started to taper down.
From 225mg I went down to 150 mg daily x 3 months. The 1st 30 days were the worst. Anxiety, depersonalization, panic attacks, etc. Then everything kinda stabilizes. If I ever had a horrible day I would take an extra dose up to 225 for 1 day then go back down etc.
Then after about 3 months start the entire cycle again by going from 150mg to 75 mg. Then from 75 mg to 37.5 mg… Today makes 4 days “clean”… but it has been rough!!! I hope it gets better. If history is a guide for the future, the 1st month will be the hardest… then I’ll stabilize out.
I know I’ll have bad days in between and that’s OK. But I done want to be dependent on this drug anymore. Thanks for letting me vent! Mike
Hey I strongly recommend you to get a lot of omega-3. I went cold turkey from 37 mg and I literally thought I was never ever going to make it. I started like with everyday 100 grams of salmon and it helped sooooo much with the symptoms.
Hi valentine I’ve been on venlafaxine 37mg for a year and prior to this citalopram for anxiety unbeknownst to me two of the worst meds to come off.. I have been taking one venlafaxine every other day to try and ween myself off my doctor is useless been too and throw as I said I wanted to come off he said to stay on for a few more months..
Ridiculous I’ve now had to do it my way.. I’m experiencing severe withdrawal headaches sickness insomnia sweats and just not with it at all. And still having to maintain going to work.. I’ve even contemplated paying for rehab as that’s how bad I feel.
I keep telling myself I’m doing this for me but it’s sooo hard the tears are endless at the moment I’m in turmoil.. These doctors today prescribe meds but never tell you about the side effects down the line – to me that’s disgusting. I’ve read these comments to help get me through to know I’m not alone and reading about vitamins and exercise gave me hope so I’m going to try as that’s my next step.
My thoughts are with every single person on here suffering. I’ve decided to look in the mirror everyday and say I’M DOING THIS FOR ME. Hayley
I cannot express how ANGRY I am with my gynecologist for putting me on Effexor for hot flashes. She never once explained how addictive this medication is or how hellish it is to try to stop taking it. I’ve been taking 37.5 mg capsules for nearly a year now.
I decided I didn’t want to take them anymore and have been removing a single grain from the capsule, adding another grain to the count every day for a few weeks now. Everything was fine until today… I got to work this morning and I was so dizzy I could hardly function.
At one point I wasn’t sure if I was going to throw up or pass out (I ended up doing neither, thank goodness). My brain is foggy… I’m tired… I have a weird taste in my mouth (tinny is the best word I can think of to describe it). I really thought I had this handled and I wasn’t going to have any problems, but I guess I was wrong about that, eh? LOL.
Honestly, I don’t understand how a doctor could suggest a medication like this for something as simple as hot flashes. I mean, sure, they’re a pain to deal with, but the inconvenience of hot flashes is a walk in the park compared to this medication! My thoughts are with you all, my Effexor sisters and brothers in misery.
I’ve been going through hell this weekend after coming off of Venlafaxine, was put on a lowered dose of 35mg for one week (after several years of having 75mg twice a day), and it’s ruined one friendship already because of my behavior the last few days (violent mood swings, extreme fatigue and dizziness, extreme paranoia).
Your GP should be fired, seriously. One of the common side effects is severe hot flushes. Seriously put a complaint in (the hot flushes is one of the main reasons why I wanted to switch). I’m going to put in a major complaint to my own surgery on Monday, and will be switching Doctors.
There should be some kind of reduction/coping strategies in place for this kind of withdrawal, and GPs should be advising patients of this. Regarding Venlafaxine/Effexor in particular, my thoughts go out to all of you who have had to deal with this. :(
I was on Effexor for 14 years at a 150 mg. I had no idea what was in store for me. It has taken me from April til now to get off of it. I call it “my summer of hell”. I am lucky to still be here. If it wasn’t for my husband I wouldn’t be here. He researched and read forums to understand what I was truly going through.
I feel for anyone that doesn’t have support or has a full time job. There is no way I could have done it. I am a week Effexor free. I feel like I have just come out of a fourteen year sleep. I have missed 14 years of my life. My kids, my husband everything. If someone would have warned me ahead of time what this drug would do to me, I would have never started taking it.
Where are the warnings?! Effexor brothers and sisters I’m praying for you all out there! I understand what you are going through. You will be so happy when you get to where I am. It is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. And I’m 51. Build your body up with omega 3 before you start. I use TDCS. This has been a gift. It takes a while to work so give it time.
The TDCS helped with the depression side effects so that I could deal with the physical side effects better. And also I take ZEN. You can find it on amazon to help with the anxiety. When the brain zaps got really bad (all day long), I used Benadryl and Tylenol. It really helped.
The brain zaps made me really nauseous and gave me headaches. I hope that this will help someone out there. Don’t give up. I’m praying for you. Most important start getting your brain healthy before you start the process.
Omega-3 with vitamin C. Vitamin D. Vitamin B12. Lots of water. And this last one was hard for me. No sugar! Sugar sent me into a tailspin. This is the one of the hardest things you’ll do. But you will be so happy you did it!
I’m entering my 9th week now. I started with the omega 3’s too a couple of weeks ago. Still having withdrawal. Good days and bad.
I’ve read it can take over a year to get through. Stay strong. Every day you get through is a day Effexor free. Before you know it, it will all be a thing of the past. And you can be very proud of yourself.
Thanks, Kate. I read about it taking up to a year too to get past all of the withdrawal. I just have to keep on reminding myself that this is only temporary.
As far as Benadryl, I’m tired enough from the withdrawal. Don’t need something else to make me more tired.
Yes it’s true it does take over a year (I’m just over 20 months from last dosage) but it is nowhere near like it is in the first 4-10 weeks. It’s just you can look back and say goodness, I thought I was free of withdrawal at 10 months mark… but looking back I can see I wasn’t. So please don’t be put off by the time the withdrawals last. Cheers.
I weaned off Effexor over a 6+ month period. I too counted grains. I went from 75mg to 37.5mg, then to 18.75mg and then down from 20 grains, 19 grains, 18 grains, you get the picture.
Buy one of those pill counters that pharmacists use – I would empty a capsule and then count grains. The nightmares and the nausea have ceased but the brain zaps and the dizziness are still here – although somewhat better. Keep at It!!
Oh my god, this is me. My doctor put me in for the flashes also, been a little over 2 years, I ran out last winter and could not get off. Started feeling like crap. Friend who is a doctor and he gave me the down-low. My now retired doctor never told me of the side effects.
I have been slowly weaning off, now down to where I started 37.5 mg, I had gone up, but not too much. I am literally sitting here having brain zaps as I write this. I am itching, the zaps, I swear I have argued with my husband so many times in the last two days more than I have in our 5 years of marriage.
I am miserable, I hope and pray we all can get some relief! Now on HRT for menopause symptoms.
Wow, This is my story! Prescribed By Gynecologist for hot flashes. Only on it for 3 months and it wasn’t helping much so I decided to stop taking… cold turkey! Wish I’d known, I would have never taken this horrible med. Dizzy, vivid dreams, muscle pain, anxiety, and increased hot flashes since I started.
Hi Yvonne! I, as well, was given this for hot flashes. Due to my family history of breast cancer, I cannot take any HRT. I took my last pill on June 23rd, 2018. Although the first 2 weeks of being off of it was nothing but pure hell.
I have good days and then bad days. I never had any anxiety issues until weaning off of this medicine. I was on 37.5 mg for 2 years. I want my life back. This drug has taken so much away from me. I only wish you the best.
Hi. I was also put on Effexor (generic) because of hot flashes as I am also a breast cancer survivor. I was on 37.7 my but my NP doubled it and I would be covered in sweat and bruises, plus so so tired, crazy dreams. She told me to exercise. Ughhh. I asked her to lower it and get me off!
I took my last pill two weeks ago. Was supposed to take the 37.7 every other day, but keep forgetting. Two weeks later and I am still a bear! I was supposed to start Zoloft but really do not want too. I wonder how long this will last!! No one told me what this drug would do!!
I’m with you Yvonne! I’ve been taking 37.5 mg for about a year for hot flashes. I was told I had to be OFF this med for an upcoming surgery and was planning to taper off, but the surgery has been moved up 2 weeks and I went cold turkey, not realizing how miserable I would be.
The nausea, diarrhea, and nightmares (thus little sleep) have made me almost non-functional at work. Luckily, my surgery is tomorrow and I will NEVER go back on Effexor. I’ll seek out a more natural treatment once these symptoms go away.
My original doctor who prescribed this has left the area, but had I known how awful this med is to kick (granted cold turkey was not the way to go) I would never have started!
I thought I’d share what I’ve been going through and how I’ve been tapering. I’ve been on 75mg for 3 years I was getting extremely constipated to the point I was getting sick (TMI sorry) and I’m bipolar so I’m already on a mood stabilizers and an antipsychotic so I figured I would get off of Effexor because I didn’t feel like I needed an antidepressant.
My doctor actually told me to just stop taking it so I tried that for a couple days and realized that wasn’t going to work I felt like I was having a 9.5 magnitude earthquake in my head. So I halved my dose for a week and that went okay still dizzy but not as bad.
Then I went down to 12.5 mg by removing half the beads (there’s 100 in each capsule) I thought for sure I would be able to stop taking it completely after a week of 12.5mgs. I ended up not being able to go two days without it without getting non stop zaps and having a mental breakdown.
So I had to go even slower and half the 12.5 so now I’m on about 6mg for about 3 weeks! every time I hit the two day mark of not taking it I get sick and have a mental break down. Finally I just decided I have to stop taking it. I’m not lowering my dose anymore and I’ve been off of it completely for 3 days.
I feel 10 times better than day two. I’m still sick of course but I don’t feel like I’m going completely mad, just sort of mad. I just keep telling myself you are going to be really sick for a few days and then it’ll be over.
I feel like getting myself to this point has just been a mess of trial and error. I wish my doctor had given me a more direct safer path. Also don’t try doing the every other day thing – there’s no point, you just need to constantly taper and then quit.