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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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{ 472 comments… add one }
  • Jemma June 21, 2018, 10:20 pm

    Hi all, I am really looking for some advice! I’ve been taking Venlafaxine for 4 months now, started on 150mg and now take 225mg. I haven’t felt well on them at all, I feel hot all the time and am sweating when others are cold. I’ve felt really dizzy for days at a time and my heart sometimes feels like it’s going to burst.

    In the last couple of days I’ve reached the end of the tether with it all and I just want to feel normal again! Emotionally I’m in a good place and I’d like to stop taking Ven altogether. I halved my morning dose this morning and can honestly say I feel awful!

    If this is day 1 and with a half dose and medication still in my system, how much worse will it get? I feel really sick and dizzy and as though I’m not really here. I’ve been out at stocked up on benadryl, vitamin D and omega 3 so I’m ready to take on the withdrawal.

    I’m strong and fully believe I can get through this but wondered as to those of you who have come down from 225mg and how you’re feeling now? If I half my dose to 75mg in the morning and 37.5mg in the evening is this sensible? And if I do this for two weeks before cutting down further?

    Ideally I’d like to just go cold turkey but I don’t want to end up worse off! Any advice is much appreciated. I’ve never felt anything like this before – coming off citalopram was so much easier! Thanks, Jem

  • Karin June 5, 2018, 3:50 am

    This forum has been super helpful to me. I am 63 years old and was prescribed Effexor XR by my doctor as I was having occasional panic attacks. I’m not and have never really been depressed or overly anxious but these attacks just come out of nowhere. So I started the 37.5mgs tablets.

    First 2 days were fine. Then, wham…major panic attacks, sweating, shaking, vomiting. But I was told to persevere. Had to go through this before it got better. So stuck it out for 5 days and then could do no more. Decided to stop thinking that the small dose and the short time I had taken would be fine.

    But no. Even after only 5 days I have withdrawal symptoms that are pretty horrendous. To me, that just proves what a strong powerful drug this is. So I will go back to what I was doing: CBT.

    I sympathize with all of you who have been on this drug for years and struggling so much with tapering off. You are very strong people and amazing at supporting one and other. Keep going. Love and light.

  • Laurie June 3, 2018, 9:24 pm

    I’ve been frantically googling all morning and this is the most reassuring yet terrifying article I’ve come across. At least I know I’m not alone! Effexor was my third attempt at finding a medication that would help get my general anxiety under control. I only took it for about a month when I noticed random heart palpitations and decided it also wasn’t for me.

    I had decided to just go off of antidepression/anti-anxiety meds for good. I was supposed to bump down a dose (from 50mg to 37.5mg) for 3 days, then take my last 3 pills every other day. Well, I forgot the last two. Being on a lower dose and for such a short time I am completely baffled at how severe the withdrawals are. They feel impossible to manage.

    The first symptom I noticed was numbness in my tongue and lips, which started about 2 days after my last dose. Day 3 I started to experience lightheadedness with the numbness. Day 4 it began to make me so nervous and upset I took some Xanax in the morning and drank some alcohol (in the evening, after the Xanax wore off).

    Both helped, but I need to be able to take care of my kids and go to work so they aren’t an option to continue using as a crutch. It’s now Day 5 and I feel like I’m just losing it. I can’t focus at all and I’m dizzy constantly. It comes in waves but they tend to overlap. I want to cry and sob but I don’t have the energy.

    I’ve taken multiple naps today, and the dreams are so crazy and vivid they feel more like hallucinations. They aren’t nightmares thankfully, but now I’m afraid to sleep because making the adjustment from dream to reality when I start to wake up is unbelievably strange and scary. I literally can not differentiate for the first 30 minutes or so.

    I just took one of the lower 35.7mg doses that I had accidentally skipped and I’m going to call my doctor in the morning. I hope it will take the edge off enough to get through the next day or two. My husband is going out of town and I’m absolutely petrified to be left alone with the kids while I’m feeling like this, even though I’ve been doing it for years and it shouldn’t be a big deal. This sucks a lot.

  • Thomas June 3, 2018, 12:58 pm

    I’ve been on Effexor for 8 months now for PTSD, panic attacks, and anxiety. I’ve been a career firefighter for 20 years. So there are so many images I can’t ever erase out of my mind. I’ve never had any issues until a terrible call I responded to that triggered this symptoms.

    I started at 37.5 mg and worked up to 150 mg. I took 150mg for 5 months and tapered off in the last 30 days. Today is day 2 with no Effexor. I feel weird, almost like I’m floating. I had a very real and terrible dream last night, and woke up completely wet from sweating.

    From what I have been reading, these symptoms seems normal. I believe I’m having withdraws but not sure. I see where some of you have been taking this for years or decades. Maybe its just in my head, I’m not sure.

    Any help would be nice, I just hope that I don’t experience panic attacks ever again. I would rather take a pill daily than to feel that way again. Is it wrong for me to feel that way? Thanks for the support in advance.

  • Joanna May 27, 2018, 1:31 am

    I have been on Effexor for 14 years (37.5). Gradually tapered off and stopped last January. Was fine, great, till end of April beginning of May.

    Then, I started having insomnia, bad cases of anxiety (mostly when falling asleep), heart shakes, fatigue, morbid thoughts etc. Is it possible to have withdrawal symptoms after 4 months of stopping Effexor?

    • Catherine June 2, 2018, 7:24 am

      The withdrawals can come and go for up to a year. But well worth persevering.

  • Ashley May 26, 2018, 9:44 pm

    I’ve been on it 17 years. I’m weaning with a doctor; I never had suicidal thoughts before, brain Zaps; heart zaps.. all of it is better than this! I’m going to lose my job. I’m actually pretty smart but I can’t get out of bed; can’t move once I do.

    I have never felt this hopeless before and the part that is pissing me off the most, everyone is telling me it will pass! Including my NEW psychiatrist!!! F*** You! Shut up! And there ya go; I am pissed off all the time! Alllll the TIME!!!

    Things I worked through years ago are flooding my every thought, soaking each brain cell with negativity. I’m not living like this so if I have to go back on it, so be it! I had a terrible thing happen; PTSD related is enough to disclose. I had to go to Rehab for heroin addiction.

    Sober 5 years! Came off of heroin, spent 11 days in withdrawal. I was foggy for a good 6 months; but with help, I was able to get my life back. I’m not joking, this is like 50 times worse! Now! For all those that are going to judge me for that and not hear another word because of that 1 mistake.

    You can move along as well, for those that actually care, I’m afraid! I don’t want this; I’m scared to death! And if I can overcome something as horrible as and as painful as heroin, and I can’t kick an Effexor withdrawal.. that’s pretty terrible. I don’t blame my doctors… they helped me, they really did.

    But I have also read some of the stories and it breaks my heart. I’m so sorry for you and for me. I will not tell you anything other than you ARE NOT ALONE!!! Believe it or not, each story, each confession and knowing I wasn’t alone did help and it helped me pinpoint WTH is going on in my head and body… at least I can go back on it… like I said, I’m a fighter and I’m not giving up that easy but I’m not living like this either!

    Thank you for reading. Please post if you have more information. You may help someone needing it today. Thank you for all who posted. You have helped me today.

  • shane May 26, 2018, 12:43 pm

    I was only on Effexor XR for about 3 weeks at 37.5 dose. It has been 48 hours since I have taken my last dose. I have been experiencing mild headaches and body aches this morning. Is it safe to say that the medication is out of my system and I am going through acute withdrawal?

    • Catherine June 2, 2018, 7:29 am

      Everyone is affected differently with this medication. I would say yes it is withdrawal and it’s impossible to predict how long it will last. You were not on a high dose and it was for only a short time. So it shouldn’t be too hard for you. Cheers.

      • Jen June 15, 2018, 3:59 am

        Muscle and joint pain!! Mostly in the legs. So awful! I went from 75 to 37.5 mg of Effexor XR three weeks ago. I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck around my knees and upper legs. Like cramping. I have to go see my doctor but this all seems too weird.

        Happened after the medication decrease. I’ve been on Effexor for about 9 months. Was on Cipralex for five years prior to that. Was put on for depression due to another health issue with my bowels!! How long will this muscle pain last?

  • May May 25, 2018, 6:06 am

    I was on 225mg for almost 2 years until 3 days ago. I tapered down over 2 & 1/2 weeks under psych supervision after he reassessed my initial diagnosis of “major depressive disorder” and “generalized anxiety disorder” switching it to “borderline” and “bipolar not otherwise specified.”

    I was given 25mg tablets of quetiapine to take as needed during the tapering, but I’ve nearly run through them. Effexor wreaked havoc on my life, career, and personal relationships. The withdrawal symptoms I’ve experienced over the last 72 hours have broken me.

    I thought that it was only a movie cliche to wake up screaming from a nightmare, but not if you’re coming off Effexor. No one could POSSIBLY understand the hell that is coming off this drug unless they’ve been there… especially so if this medication was wrongfully prescribed after misdiagnosis.

    I came here to see how much longer these symptoms would persist and was given a little hope reading through the article and comments. I’ll try to stick it out.

  • Samantha May 21, 2018, 10:44 pm

    I have been lowering my Effexor dosage from 300 mg to 37.5 mg for about three months. I had been on 300 mg of Effexor for at least 2 years and I am still taking 200 mg Wellbutrin. I took my last pill 5 days ago and I feel like crap.

    Muscle aches, headache, hot and cold flashes, feeling exhausted and bad dreams. Also an upset stomach and nauseous off and on. How long will this last? I refuse to go back on Effexor but not sure how long I can stand feeling like this! Any help would be appreciated! TIA

    • Tracy May 22, 2018, 8:40 pm

      Update for Tracy – Today is one month with NO Effexor, after 17 years of taking it. I had one tearful meltdown just before Mother’s Day, but I was expecting a houseful of 20 guests. I was grumpy because I’ve had to host the past 6 family events. The “medicated Tracy” would have just let it go.

      The “unmedicated Tracy” let everyone know the day after the celebration that I needed other people to take a turn hosting family get-togethers so I could have a break. My new normal is not quite as laid back, but less likely to be taken advantage of. My blood pressure returned to normal after discontinuation.

      I was having trouble sleeping, but 1 mg of Melatonin for a few nights helped. The dreams are becoming less intense. I started gaining weight because I seemed to be craving junk food more. But, last week I started walking and swimming almost everyday and eating healthier.

      I am feeling really good, but I only feel about 85-90% as good as I did on the medication. I’m hoping that my serotonin levels will increase naturally. In any event, I would have to be doing much worse before I would be tempted to start taking this med again. I’m currently off all medications, including my blood pressure prescription.

      This med pulled me out of a severe 8 month depression, and I will always be grateful for that. However, once I wasn’t depressed it was SO hard to stop taking. After at least a dozen tries, I think I finally made it.

      This forum really inspired me to hang in there and also to know what to expect. A big thank you to everyone that has contributed!!

    • Catherine May 22, 2018, 9:18 pm

      You’re doing great Samantha and should soon be through the worst. Yes it’s a long road, but it’s worth it. From memory the first week was the worst. It got easier from then on. I can’t stress enough to eat well and exercise…

    • Bob May 23, 2018, 10:48 pm

      You are rushing your reduction. If you were on 300mg for that long, it should take you at least 8 to 12 months. You’ll still suffer but it won’t be as severe. Effexor is a very dirty drug.

      Notice how the maker is rushing to supply a kit for people that have decided to quit. I bet they would make a fortune. I’m surprised that a generic maker hasn’t.

  • Pat May 16, 2018, 5:19 pm

    I was on Effexor for 23 years, 300mg, the highest dose. It’s taken over a year to get to zero. I’ve been at zero for about 3 weeks now. I have been crying for any reason, but I know it’s going to get better and I hold on to that. The worst for me is my body just aches and brain zaps.

    Some days I can barely move, but I do. At work I have to double check my work because I’m so afraid I did something wrong. This may seem silly, but I joined a group of people reading “The Artist Way”. It’s helped me so much to meditate and try to write in a journal.

    You have to find what works for you. Here are some suggestions that have helped me, no matter how much I hurt, I go exercise, I go to my book club, I take to the Universe (God), I eat very healthy, I try to feel the feelings and let them pass. I know it’s difficult but it will get better.

    If you’re depressed, anxious, tired, just sit down and feel the feeling, ask for help from the Universe. I send my good thoughts out to you all… It is so awesome that you are doing this… YOU will benefit… Hang in there.

    • Marissa May 28, 2018, 5:03 pm

      Pat, that is something to be extremely proud of. Especially finding outlets for a daily reprieve instead of letting the mind/ego tell you otherwise. Goes to show how motivated and committed you are. And this mentality can be applied to daily life.

      I am 26 and was prescribed 150mg which is nothing compared to your dose. And when he dropped me to 75 I felt all the symptoms above (my body is very sensitive) but your the prime example it can be done.

      Everyone on this thread stay strong, find outlets, and don’t give in to the nagging ego that tells you to take the easy way out. And if we fall we must fall on our backs because if you can look up you can get up. Bless everyone.

  • Laurie May 16, 2018, 3:03 am

    I’ve been taking Effexor (150 mg) for the past 16 years. Decided I needed to go off of it to see if I still actually need it. Started tapering around 2 1/2 months ago. Got down to 37.5 every day, but couldn’t seem to get to the every other day point. Went to the doctor last week and she prescribed clonidine to help with the withdrawal.

    She said to stop the effexor and just take the clonidine and after a couple days I shouldn’t even need that because the Effexor should be out of my system. The recommended dosage was 1-2 every 6-8 hours as needed. I found I could get away with 1 pill every 24 hours.

    Well last Saturday I started feeling nauseous, dizzy, headache, confused, tingly (all the same symptoms as with the Effexor withdrawal) so I Increased the clonidine to the recommended dosage of 1 every 6 hours. By Sunday night I was a disaster. Anxiety, panic, couldn’t sleep (I think I’ve slept 3 hours each of the past 2 nights).

    And I also would cry every time I opened my mouth! Had to take the day off work and went back to my doctor yesterday and she was shocked that I had that reaction to the clonidine and also that I still had any Effexor left in my system. (The last time I took an Effexor was a week ago today).

    So she said to stop the clonidine and don’t take anymore Effexor and I should feel better very soon. Last night I still had trouble sleeping, but I wasn’t anxious or panicky, thank God. But today I still have the tingliness, lack of concentration and focus, headache, brain fog. It was manageable but still not great.

    As long as the nausea, anxiety, panic and crying stay away I think I can manage this, but I’m wondering how long it will last?? Like I said it’s manageable but I don’t want to have to deal with this for much longer.

    I don’t think family doctors really know how long this truly stays in your system. I was told it should be gone after 24-48 hours which is clearly very wrong. Sorry this is so long. I just want off this drug to find out who I actually am without it.

    Don’t think I’ve had a true emotion for the past 16 years. Have been very emotionally flat while taking it. If anyone has any insight I’d greatly appreciate it. Thanks for reading!

    • Catherine May 20, 2018, 2:09 am

      The withdrawal symptoms from Effexor can last up to a year. Please don’t let this scare you as you might not see any symptoms for a month and then out of nowhere you might get very anxious. It doesn’t last long and gets easier each time.

      Eat healthy and exercise. I loved that a few months down the track I started to experience emotions again, to have fun in life again. I love how I now have clarity of thought. Everyday it gets easier. You can do this.

  • Susan May 15, 2018, 11:58 am

    I am on day 30 of no Effexor and still feel that I’m experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Is that normal? I was on it (XX version) for 14 morning months… mostly 150. I took 4 months to wean.

    I experienced most of the symptoms (except for the brain zaps), but the worst appeared a couple of weeks ago – panic attacks & high anxiety. It’s the scariest thing I’ve ever been through. I’ll be fine for a few days and then all of a sudden I’m shaky and feel like another attack is coming on.

    I also feel very depressed many days. I was never like this before medication. Has this ruined me??? Will it go away?? And if so, when?? I am so paranoid about any medication (and every thing else, come to think of it) that I truly don’t want to go back on anything if I can help it.

    I am trying CBD oil, but not sure how much it’s helping. Any insight is much appreciated! 😊

  • Mike May 8, 2018, 3:40 pm

    I’ve been on and off Effexor (150 mg) for years. I don’t even know how long it has been. Not sure if I want to know. I lost my Daughter six years ago and as on it before that. I believe I was on Paxil during the period she was sick (cancer only 44 days).

    I went back on Effexor sometime after she passed. I used it for anxiety. I knew it wouldn’t solve my depression. I know how to taper off and started less than a week ago. I’m on 75 mg right now. I’m trying CBD oil to control anxiety. It’s only been 5 days so I don’t know how this will go.

    I have read that CBD oil will hinder the ability to metabolize many medications including Effexor, so that concerns me. Is anyone here tapering and using CBD oil? Would love to know your experience.

    I have mild headaches, some vivid dreams and stomach feels funky but have an appetite. Otherwise nothing so bad that I want to stop. Wishing everyone the best to be free of this drug!

    • Shastadaisy May 11, 2018, 9:57 pm

      I have been using CBD oil for mitigating Effexor XR withdrawal symptoms. It has helped a lot with insomnia, anxiety, and brain zaps. I take up to 80 mg at night to sleep (it’s a lot) but I imagine you could take less and still get benefit.

      CBD repairs the brain, so I plan to continue to take it even when the Effexor withdrawal is done. I recommend Clarity brand, as it is hemp based and available throughout the U.S. online. I also use Braintellect, which helps with everything, and Shambhala Healing Tools.

      I have done the withdrawal in 4 tapers at increments of 37.5mg each, didn’t have trouble until the last taper, and wham! It has been a zinger. I had to take a week off of work the first week, I was really discombobulated. A month out, it’s a lot better, I’m easily fatigued and hard to keep track of stuff, but it’s coming along.

      I have taken klonopin for 10 years, so this is probably messing with everything. I will be taking on that withdrawal in the next few weeks. I say this because I think Effexor XR withdrawal could be a lot easier if you don’t have another med it’s interacting with, especially a nasty benzo like klonopin.

    • Dianna Lopez May 13, 2018, 11:18 pm

      While I did not taper, I went cold turkey 2 1/2 weeks ago, I can tell you that the cannabis oil saved me! It pretty much took away the brains zaps and while I have vivid dreams I am sleeping much better!

      I was on 75mg for 4 years. I’m feeling pretty good now and only use the cannabis as needed. I had tried fish oil because I read the omega-3 really helps with withdrawal symptoms so I thought I would give it a try.

      I don’t ever eat fish because I don’t like it and therefore had no idea that I was allergic to fish! Needless to say that caused a bad reaction and I decided to just stick with the cannabis. I’d like to finish by saying I’m so sorry for your loss.

  • Tom May 6, 2018, 5:05 pm

    I was on effexor for almost 20 years. Just weaned off April 30th was my last dose. I am 60 years old. Last night I was watching a movie Taken 3 with Liam Neeson I started to cry when his ex got killed. I actually thought this was funny because I never cry. The vivid dreams are a trip.

    I wish I could write them down I could be the next Stephen King. But all kidding aside, the brain zaps, nausea, ringing in my ears and headaches are bad. I started smoking pot 2 puffs last 6 hours and it helps keep my mood upbeat. So I don’t get that deep depressed feeling and anxiety effect and it works.

    I sleep better and eat. I take Bayer for the headaches and zantac for the nausea. If I had known what this drug was going to put me through trying to get off of it, (I tried numerous times) I would have just went to smoking pot years ago.

    I used to smoke before marriage and kids before it was acceptable. Now that the laws have eased up, I will give it a try to see if it helps with my withdrawal symptoms. So far it’s working accept for the brain zaps – they’re the worst part for me all day long.

    • Victoria May 29, 2018, 8:30 am

      Oh my word, I laughed out loud at the Stephen King reference! I have also been having the scariest dreams for the past 3 days. I have been on Venlor 150 mg daily for 7 months, have weaned myself to 75mg daily 5 days ago. I think I will need another three weeks before going down to 37.5mg.

      Will probably take prozac to help me get off it completely. I agree with the other comments, it’s been the most effective anti-depressant I have been on, but the confusion, blurred vision and brain zaps are something else.

  • Tracy May 3, 2018, 2:54 am

    Update on withdrawal symptoms. I have made it 10 days now! I was having trouble falling to sleep/staying asleep/bizarre dreams. Two nights ago, I took 2 mg of melatonin at bedtime and slept like a baby. Last night, I did the same. I still have very real dreams that I can’t quite remember.

    Tonight, I will try just 1 mg of melatonin. The few brain zaps I’ve had are much milder and almost unnoticeable. The biggest surprise is that my blood pressure has been completely normal without any blood pressure medication. I had a routine dermatology scan this morning, and it was 105/69.

    My blood pressure wasn’t that low when I was taking Lisinopril! I’m not sorry that I took Effexor. During my postpartum depression, it was a life saver. However, I wish I had gotten off sooner. I knew I wasn’t depressed anymore, but couldn’t get off because of the horrible brain zaps.

    Also, I took blood pressure medicine for the past 8 years and it was never suggested that the Effexor might be causing my hypertension (not even by the cardiologist). The literature suggests less than 2% suffer from hypertension, but there seem to be plenty of others that have experienced hypertension as a side effect.

    I have not had any crying spells… although my eyes watered up during The Star Spangled Banner last week. Unless I have a major setback, I think I have finally weaned myself off of Effexor after 17 years and at least a dozen attempts.

    Word of caution: I had trouble tapering off of 37.5 mg. I do not recommend quitting cold turkey, especially if you’re on a higher dose.

    • Jen May 7, 2018, 1:40 am

      That’s great Tracy! I hope it gets even better for you! I am down to 15 beads from my effexor now, and like you said the brain zaps are milder now. I’m MUCH more irritable though. Hopefully that doesn’t last.

      But like you mentioned, my blood pressure started spiking high about a year ago -usually around 159/105. I was about to be put on blood pressure pills but I asked to hold off until I was off Effexor.

      But it’s only been a few weeks of tapering off, and I just checked my blood pressure a few times this week and got around 125/82! I haven’t done anything health-wise except lower my Effexor dose! So crazy!

      My doctor never suggested it could be Effexor, it was ME who suggested the possibility. Good luck!

  • Dianna Lopez May 2, 2018, 7:35 pm

    I am on day six of cold turkey. After gaining 50+ pounds, developing a high pulse rate and higher than normal blood pressure, and becoming pre-diabetic I started on a journey six weeks ago to turn my whole life around. I was on 75 mg a day for hot flashes. I have been on it for four years.

    This drug is what I would call a devil drug! I had no idea four years ago when my doctor took away my hormone replacement therapy because it was deemed “dangerous” and told that this medication would work just as well without the side effects and dangers.

    I am mad at the doctor and the drug manufacturer. I am disappointed in myself for starting something without researching it fully! I will never go back on this drug or any one like it! I will warn anyone and everyone about this drug!

    The brain zaps were the worst the first four days and have lowered in intensity over the past two days. Yesterday and today I feel some nausea and dizziness along with a dull headache. I have tried cannabis oil and it helps the most. I will not succumb to these withdrawals!

    I do not know how long this withdrawal stage will last but I am praying that I have seen the worst of it and can continue on this journey. My husband is very supportive as well as a few family members. Unfortunately I have a couple family members who judge me because it’s an anti-depressant.

    It doesn’t matter that I wasn’t depressed when I started… There is a stigma associated with antidepressants. I pray for each and everyone of us who are beginning this battle, in the middle of this battle, or finally on the other side of it! We can do it!

    • Dianna Lopez May 7, 2018, 2:12 am

      Update on cold turkey. It’s now 10 days and I can see light at the end of this tunnel. I haven’t needed cannabis oil since yesterday morning! The brain zaps are so minimal that I don’t hardly notice them. Nausea and headaches pretty much gone.

      I am sleeping… Actually being able to fall asleep is amazing! I do have very vivid dreams but not nightmares. I have felt for the past four years that my cryer was broken, I could not cry. That’s not my problem anymore.

      I’m actually enjoying having some emotion again. My pulse rate and blood pressure are getting lower…I will take what I can get. I will say that other than the cannabis oil, other supplements didn’t do much for me.

      The omega fish oil was a disaster because I never knew I had an allergy to fish. That was just an extra problem to have with allergic reactions on top of brain zaps.

      I’ve had a rough week in a half. I’m so glad to be on this side of it and will be so glad when I’m finally completely free of this drug.

      • Matthew May 8, 2018, 3:08 pm

        I think it’s great that you’re doing so well with getting that horrible drug out of your life. I’m also going through the process of quitting Effexor but I decided to taper because I just couldn’t handle all the ridiculously debilitating side effects that go along with cold turkey.

        I can completely relate to what you said about the doctors not explaining /warning you about the true monster this drug is. I would probably still be taking my 225 mg dose every day if my pharmacy hadn’t messed up mailing my refill to me leaving me without for almost a week.

        I can honestly say that I thought I was going to die because I was never told about how bad it gets when you stop taking Effexor abruptly. After that horrific experience, I immediately informed my doctor that I wanted to be taken off that hell drug as soon as possible.

        It’s been nearly six months since I started tapering and I’m now at about thirteen milligrams a day. My next step will be stopping all together so I’m hoping I’ve gone slow enough to not feel any of the side effects, fingers crossed. I can empathize with you regarding some of the negativity from family members.

        I’ve gone through it as well and, at first, I let it get to me but when I thought about it I realized that their negative attitude is a problem for them to deal with, not me. The problem that I need to focus all of my attention on is getting off the Effexor successfully and I don’t need any distractions keeping me from my goal.

        Anyway, I’m always very happy to hear about people successfully eliminating such a difficult drug to come off of from their lives. I wish all the best for you and your family and may you receive blessings of good fortune always. Namaste.

  • Char Wen May 2, 2018, 2:02 pm

    Hello! I was on Effexor for a year. My new PCP, told me to stop the Effexor XR 37.5 and take 100 mg Wellbutrin ER. Well I did last Thursday stopped Effexor started Wellbutrin (Was on Wellbutrin before Effexor and had zero issues should NOT HAVE EVER SWITCHED).

    I have bouts of dizziness crazy real dreams shakiness and crying jags. Has gotten a tad better, still feel heavy-headed and pukey BUT not as bad. The Effexor was the worst I gained 30 lbs and felt so zombie like. Reading some of your comments are so helpful.

    I watch infant grandchild daily, so try my best to push through this “yucky” phase. Here’s to all of us achieving balance regardless of what we feel is normal and EFFEXOR NO MORE!!!

  • Tracy April 26, 2018, 2:34 pm

    I had severe postpartum depression after the birth of my 3rd child at age 36, and was on 150 mg of Effexor per day. Prior to that, I never had depression issues. By the end of the first year, I was able to taper down to 37.5 mg.

    For the past 15 years, I have tried at least a dozen times to taper off completely from 37.5 mg but was not successful. Today is my 4th day with NO medication. The brain zaps are milder, and I feel slightly irritable but my fiancee says it’s not noticeable.

    I’m cautiously hopeful because I’ve never made it 4 days without a dose. If I don’t succeed this time, I probably won’t put myself through this again. I usually have to take Lisinopril 10mg for high blood pressure, but my blood pressure has been totally normal since stopping the Effexor. Wish me luck!

    • Kristin April 28, 2018, 1:17 am

      I had to stop Effexor because I made my blood pressure (which is usually normal) skyrocket! My blood pressure is perfect again!

  • Pat April 25, 2018, 4:44 pm

    Well, good job all. I have been on Effexor for 25 years 300mg a day. It’s taken me 2 years to slowly reduce the dosage. Just two weeks ago I have stopped taking the medication. WOW… My body aches all over. I’m hoping that will go away with time. I just keep pushing through.

    I was told I’d be on this medication for life… well look at me now. I’ve learned to deal with my depression and anxiety in positive ways. Exercise, rest, eat well and cry if I need to.

    It’s ok… I’m looking so forward to learning who I really am. If I can do it after 25 years, so can you.

    • Jen May 2, 2018, 7:08 pm

      Thank you Pat. Your comment made me tear up. Such positive inspiration. I’m withdrawing right now, and I needed to hear that. Take care.

  • Suz April 23, 2018, 12:19 am

    I am so grateful to have found this site. It’s given me the faith to know that this is transient and I just need to be patient. I tapered and then stopped taking Effexor about 3 weeks ago- possible a little faster than I should have. I was excited to try Duromine to kick some of this weight I’ve gained in the last 12 months and you can’t be on both!

    What a mess! I’ve since put the Duromine on hold till I ‘dry out.’ I’ve passed through the brain-zap stage, but now I’m having horrible anxiety and paranoia. I’ve never experienced these symptoms before and it’s a tricky fight to know which is real and which is just my mind playing tricks on me.

    I’m going with ‘it’s all in my head!’ The nightmares are so real and shocking, they’re waking me and my vague and forgetful moments are really starting to cause me problems. It’s humiliating, not to mention scary. And normally I have a fairly healthy opinion of myself, but now I just look in the mirror and am revolted by what I see.

    It’s an awful time and really holding me back from achieving my full potential and soar like I normally do. This is NOT my normal me. When I read this page, it made me feel a lot more positive about the eventual outcome, but I just need to get through this period. There are some pretty significant things going on for me right now and I’m just doing my best to drag myself through them.

    I’m letting the people around me know that I am contending with ‘discontinuation syndrome,’ but other than those close, my impression is that some (particularly my work colleagues) are just not interested and are obvious in their contempt. Tragically, as nurses, you’d think they’d be more understanding!

    But I will get through as I always do! Thanks for listening people, and I wish you every success on your ‘discontinuation journey!’

    • Jen May 2, 2018, 7:10 pm

      Good luck Suz. I’m withdrawing myself, and you’re right, others just do not understand how horrible it is. Or they think I’m being dramatic about it. Thank you for your comment. I hope you feel better soon. Xoxo. Jen

    • Susan May 15, 2018, 12:06 pm

      Hi there! I just made my first post, but it’s not up yet. I too am going through the anxiety/paranoia phase (I hope it’s just a phase!). It’s the scariest thing ever! I wanted to check and see how you are doing now. Are you still dealing with this??

      • Catherine May 19, 2018, 9:44 pm

        Susan it is just a phase. It’s very unpleasant but it passes. I’m almost 18 months free of it now. I have never felt better, because of the negative effects being on Effexor and withdrawing from them had on me I learnt ways of looking after myself.

        Eat well and exercise, even when you don’t feel like it. I was told I would be on antidepressants for the rest of my life… well I’m not and refuse to go on them again. I can think clearly now, my memory has improved, my blood pressure dropped… so many more good results from clearing my system of Effexor.

        I love coming back to this site to see the improvements in people. Stay strong as these withdrawals will pass and the benefits to you will be many.

        • Dianna Lopez May 21, 2018, 5:33 am

          Catherine, I couldn’t agree more. Eating healthy, fresh air, sunshine, exercise… I feel so much better without effexor. Yes, the withdrawals were horrible but I’m now over 3 weeks since I quit cold turkey and I’m not looking back!

        • Shane Pinjuv June 3, 2018, 4:55 am

          Catherine, Can I ask how long you were on venlafaxine and did you quit cold turkey? What was your dosage? Thank you.

  • Lizzy April 18, 2018, 12:55 pm

    I was on Paxil for 15 years before I was hit with the Paxil “poop out” and my Dr switched me to effexor. The effexor has worked ok for the past couple of years but it now has quit working as well and so I’m making the switch back to Paxil as it worked fantastically when I was on it. My Dr told me to quit the effexor 150 mg (no tapering off) and start the Paxil 20mg.

    I’m now on day 2 of no effexor and I’m having withdrawal symptoms of night sweats, weird dreams, nausea, diarrhea, dry mouth, dizziness and some brain zaps. I am taking small doses of klonopin to help with my symptoms and drinking lots of water, exercising and eating a healthy diet. I’m praying that these withdrawal symptoms fade away sooner rather than later as I have a full time job and I am a mother.

    I agree with every other person that has posted that these withdrawal symptoms are the worst feeling in the world and I wish I could forward to a few weeks from now. Any feedback from others who have gone from effexor to paxil without tapering would be greatly appreciated. I enjoy reading everyone’s posts as it comforts me in knowing that I’m not alone. I wish everyone the best!!

    • Suz April 23, 2018, 12:23 am

      Thinking of you Lizzy! It’s a horrible feeling to be where we are right now, but I’m sure we’ll be our best ‘us’ again! Keep going :)

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