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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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637 thoughts on “Effexor XR Withdrawal Symptoms: How Long Will They Last?”

  1. I have been on effexor for about a year now at a dosage of 150mg. I ran out and decided that I just wouldn’t go get my refill. I have been asking my doctor for 6 months to take me off these pills because I have gained almost 50lbs and I’m not seeing the benefits of taking this medication anymore.

    So I’m just wondering if anyone can give me even a rough estimate as to how long I’m going to go through these awful withdrawals for. I have “brain zaps” every time I turn my head or move my eyes, hot and cold flashes.

    Bursts of energy then energy drops to the point of feeling like I’m going to pass out, and my neck is unbelievably sore. I am very very teary-eyed today as well (this is day 3 without any medication). Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!!

    • The brain-zaps take a few weeks to settle down. They diminish in intensity over that time. I found the first week was hell, but it seems to settle a bit after that. I have noticed how sore I am, which is really abnormal for me.

      I’m trying to incorporate exercise – I like to walk, but I was noticing that it was feeling like I was walking underwater for me. I’m 3 weeks in and the zaps are hardly noticeable, but now I’m having episodes of paranoia, which I’m struggling with.

      But they say it will pass so I’ll just keep going! All the best to you :)

  2. I’ve been on Effexor for ~15 years at a higher dosage. My blood pressure has escalated so decision was made to go off Effexor onto Lexapro. Withdrawal from Effexor is not pleasant (nausea, headache, diarrhea, and similar symptoms mentioned by others).

    It’s been 3.5 weeks and am hoping each day gets a bit better. Very helpful to read everyone’s comments. Thanks.

  3. Thank you so much all for sharing your experiences. I had my last dose on Saturday (today is Thursday – so day 5). What is really charming is that I have had two recurrent kidney infections that have not responded to antibiotics – so feeling really peachy right now!

    Have fortunately had no brain zaps, but horrible vertigo and wow – my irritability has soared through the roof today! In fact I am irritating myself by being so darn irritated at everything! Of course symptoms can be chalked up to the infection, or to the detox. I still have zopax in the cupboard and am using that to take the edge off.

    Also still on Wellbutrin which I will stop down the line. I’ve been on 225mg for about a month, and prior to that, 150mg for about three. I went cold turkey after my psych had failed to send a new script. Had my psychiatrist been upfront about the side effects I would have told him where to get off.

    I am a copywriter, so feeling numb and brainless is hardly suitable for me. Tired of feeling absolutely flat. I’d rather feel something. Poisonous little drug this which I am determined to give the boot to. Good luck all of you! There are definitely better ways of dealing with trauma than this crap.

  4. I was in a major car accident in 2016 and broke too many bones to count. After becoming what I regard as situationally-depressed, my doc prescribed Effexor at 75mg. I had never been depressed before and had never been on an anti-depressant.

    The Effexor fixed the depression but I was constantly dizzy and my blood pressure went through the roof. I decided to detox in December 2007 using the slowest detox schedule known to man. I am now down to 18.75mg daily and I have the occasional zap as well as vertigo.

    About another 3 weeks to go and then I should be done! No more of this poisonous drug for me.

  5. I am now 1 year and two months free from Effexor. I have never felt better in my whole life and am so glad to be free of the effects and the withdrawals. I now think clearly and am back to my old self pre-depression days.

    I was told I would have to be on Effexor for the rest of my life by my doctor due to my depression. This turned out to be completely false. I keep everything in balance in my life now. I eat well, I exercise and monitor myself constantly.

    I have a very supportive husband who helped me through withdrawal so I was fortunate in having such great support. But we have both noticed that Effexor had a detrimental effect on me overall. There are other ways of coping than taking this drug.

    I personally think Effexor should be banned when I look back on how it numbed me down. Sure it stopped the depression but it also stopped my enjoyment of life and made my feelings and emotions numb.

    For those of you trying to get off this drug I say go for it. You will still get the odd side effect pop up unexpectedly for about 8-10 months but it is so worth being off this drug,

    • How awesome to hear this! I was on Effexor for 22 years! Last June my doctor and I decided I had been on it for so long it was not helping me any longer. My withdrawals were pure hell! I believe I am still having withdrawals. I have lost almost 25 pounds.

      My anxiety and depression are off the charts. My doctor put me on Zoloft and it awful! Every increase is awful! I have not felt like myself since going off the Effexor! Are you completely free from medication for depression?

      • Hi Debbie. Yes I am completely free from antidepressant medications after 18 years all up of being on them. I now have such clarity of thought, my memory has improved and all round I feel great. Yes the withdrawals are just horrible and I was not completely free of them for almost a year.

        However the worst of the withdrawals were gone by the four month mark and the extreme withdrawals after about 4-6 weeks. I can’t stress enough the importance of eating healthy and well along with exercise. You have started your journey and I wish you the best as you can do this. Comment again if you have any questions.

        • Catherine, you are a goddess! Thanks for your story! You have just given me so much hope! I’m 3 weeks in and am where Debbie is right now with the anxiety and paranoia, but I don’t want to move onto any more drugs. Thanks so much for your insight, and Debbie, I wish you all the very best with your journey. :)

  6. I made the horrible mistake of running out of my prescription and then just not going to pick it up until five days later. My worst symptoms of withdrawal from Venlafaxine were dizziness and exhaustion, night sweats and nightmares.

    However, those symptoms are also the same as those associated with perimenopause, which I have been suffering from for nearly 8 years. New symptoms that I picked up at the time of withdrawal were feeling out of my mind or out of my body, confusion, anxiety, raised heart rate, hot flashes, shivers, crying and noticeable return of sex drive.

    I picked up my prescription and began taking it immediately and on a regular basis, and I will never run out again.

    • I’m at that peri-menopausal point too, but I don’t want to start this medication again. I too, have noticed the return of my sex drive, but I wish my husband felt the same way! I think I’m the only woman in the world who’s husband DOESN’T want it!!! :(

  7. Wow. The article and all of your comments have been so interesting to read. I have been on Venlafaxine (what we call it in New Zealand) for nearly two years. I have put on about 25 kgs since then and no matter what I do, it keeps creeping up. So I talked to my GP and the decision was made to taper me off it, and go onto Escitalopram (was on Citalopram before Venlafaxine).

    I have been on 75mg for a few months, down from 150mg (I went up to 187.50mg total). I went down to 37.5mg last Tuesday (I take it at night before bed) for two nights, and then last night was my last night of 5mg of Escitalopram, with the plan to go to 10mg tonight. So far, whilst the withdrawal hasn’t been at all nice.

    I am managing to keep putting one foot in front of the other whilst I adjust. Nausea, headaches, nose bleed and dizziness – and then yesterday I was teary all day. Feel thirsty all the time, but don’t want to drink anything! The night sweats are back and I’m tired. I’m just hoping it will all come right within a couple of weeks. I hope everyone is doing better, some really rough rides going on! xx

  8. I am now 2 months and 25 days free of Effexor. If I had been informed of the side effects and the withdrawals I would never have started it. I was on 225mg for 12 years. I won’t repeat the horrible withdrawals as others have already covered them. I used Kava root to cope with the withdrawal symptoms and it was a big help.

    I also had my most lovely man help me. He made sure I ate properly three times a day and kept me hydrated as well. He also started me out walking on the beach and as I got stronger and healthier he encouraged me to do more exercise. All these things helped greatly. I feel like I am me again and can only encourage all who are trying to quit to keep trying. It does get easier and you will feel so much better for it.

    I used the cut down approach like others as withdrawal was to severe otherwise. Be warned though I thought I was finished with all the symptoms, yet a couple of times completely out of the blue I have had them come back.

    I just used kava root and it worked. The main problem was I didn’t recognize what was happening, it was my man who said hey… it’s withdrawals. Hang in there all of you as it can take up to a year to be completely withdrawal free.

  9. Has anyone else felt like they were starting to get a cold after starting withdrawal? Because I had to be off effexor for about a week before I was able to pick up my prescription recently and now I feel like I’m starting to get sick, I’m a bit dizzy/nauseous, tired, etc. I just was curious as to whether anyone else has felt this way before or if it’s just a coincidence that I get an actual cold after not taking effexor for a few days.

  10. Glad to have found this site! The “bead method” sounds like a good idea to me. Every other day on 37.5 mg was fine but every 3rd day is scary! It’s a great help hearing all of your stories.

  11. I am so happy I found this website! Everything you guys have been saying is so helpful. I have stopped taking Effexor for anxiety for about 2 months now after tapering down from 75mg a day. I get so angry and “edgy” it feels like at the drop of a hat and I constantly wonder if I should start taking it again.

    That’s been the hardest part probably. My friends and coworkers wonder why I have been so different lately and I just keep waiting for it to stop. Has anyone felt like it has stopped for them? I just want to make sure this effort I put in with stopping this drug is going to make me normal again!

  12. I am just now going through withdraw from this medication after being on it for 20 years. It just wasn’t working like it should, and I was up to 300 mg. I knew there would be some bad symptoms, because I had missed doses before over the years. I feel so horrible, dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sleeplessness… Then when I do sleep, the nightmares!

    I think the worst though is the overwhelming depression, irritability, anger, crying, and feeling of helplessness. I was prescribed Escitalopram, 10 mg, and Lorazepam if needed. I am wondering when I should be concerned that this is too much to deal with. This is day 6, and while I am not feeling any worse, I am certainly not feeling better either.

  13. Glad to read what others have been going through. My doctor stepped me down off this medication. I had been on it for 10 years for, of all things, menopause–hot flashes, mood swings, etc. Thursday, Jan. 26 was my last day. Even though I was doing an every other day, Friday was the beginning of a horrible time and from what I have been reading, a long ride to go.

    I was miserable on Friday. I stayed in bed most of the day on Saturday. Sunday went to church in the morning and a church meeting in the afternoon. I was really mouthy to some after the meeting. It was like I couldn’t control myself. I skipped worked yesterday so that I wouldn’t have a bad day at work. I stayed in bed again most of the day.

    This morning, I had a melt-down and cried. My doctor told me I would have 3 bad days after ending the medication. I think, perhaps, she was wrong. Like many of you, I have brain zaps – thanks for that word because all I could think of to say was there were electrical currents running through my system–I have lost my appetite.

    I needed to lose about 20 pounds, however, I have lost 5 since last Thursday and if things continue, I will lose the weight I need, however, I didn’t want to lose it like this. Some of you mentioned nightmares. I have had some disturbing dreams, while not necessarily scary nightmares, they sure have been strange. Perhaps, I should try running again, if my knees will let me, to release the energy that my system says I have and ignore my brain for awhile.

    My plan in the coming year is to not volunteer for anything other than what is already on my plate, whether it be at work or in the community. My hubby and one friend understand what I am going through everyone else around me don’t have a clue. I am looking forward to feeling much better, however, after this is over I don’t want to be moody, etc.

    I just want to feel good. A question – has anyone, other than me, had hot flashes going off this med. I get hot, then cold, hot then cold over and over again. Another thing is I seem to have to urinate all the time, which is very annoying.

    • Hi Cindy, Well, for one thing, your doctor doesn’t know anything about the withdrawal from this drug. There is a very high likelihood that if she were to take this drug, she would never prescribe it again. I’ve been off it completely for three weeks.

      Still having some brain zaps and tinnitus. Super mouthy and irritable. Finally able to sleep through the night, though. Anxiety is very high. I also had a bit of temperature fluctuations, but that has stopped. And, yes to the extra urination.

      I’ve found that if I need to explain my behavior to someone, I say something along the lines of “Don’t mind me, I’ve had an adverse reaction to some medication.” Good luck!

    • Cindy, I have been having hot-flash like symptoms also, and I have been over with menopause for several years. They are kind of a prickly feeling that makes it hard to get comfortable in the evening especially.

  14. Was originally on Cymbalta until my insurance would no longer cover so my family doctor switch me to Effexor/Venlafaxine. A few years I had a little melt down my kids had me go see a psychiatrist who took over prescribing the Venlafaxine. He would only prescribe 30 days at a time so I would have to go in to see him. This last time he prescribed 90 days.

    Three weeks ago I started calling his office to schedule my appointment. I left several messages even sent emails snd no response. Thursday, January 19, 2016 I took my last pill. By Friday I had stared to get the Vertigo feeling, by Saturday evening I started feeling nausea night I and brain zaps. Sunday was so bad I was considering going to the hospital, I had no idea what was going on with me.

    I sort of thought it might be withdrawals from the medication so I emailed the doctor and called office and left another message. Not being able to sleep, feeling sick, crying, nauseated, dizzy and much more decided to look up Venlafaxine withdrawals. Going on day 5 cold turkey and I don’t know how much longer I can do this.

    I will say that after reading all the information about this medication and all the stories, I have decided I don’t want to continue taking this but I am not sure how much longer I can handle these withdrawal effects. I just wish I knew how much longer they are gonna last. Question: Is severe bloating and constipation part of the symptoms?

    • Hello Olga. I’m sorry I didn’t see your post earlier. Yes bloating and constipation can be symptoms. I hope you were able to get the help you needed and hope even more you got off this terrible drug. Many of us have done it and are some much better for it. Cheers.

  15. Went to zero three days ago. Irritable, angry, brain zaps (are worse now), achy muscles/joints, a general piss-poor outlook on everything. Mornings are worse; evenings get better. Starting or increasing Ashwagandha (works for stress at high enough dosage) and St. John’s Wort. 5-HTP also, but at a low dose. May not continue that. Ugh.

  16. Now down to 18.75mg (bead method). The nightmares are horrible, I awoke from them two or three times last night. Anger, irritability, crying jags—most of the list above. I’m ready to have this poison out of my system.

    Been taking some Ashwagandha to temper the anxiety and it helps. Also exercising vigorously, drinking a lot of water, avoiding sugar, eating cleanly, and trying (Ha!) to get a solid night’s rest.

    • Hi Jon. Was nice to hear a male perspective – especially in regard to teary episodes. Thanks :) How are you going now? It’s a long time since you left this post. Hoping this finds you amazing!

  17. It’s been about 5 days after my last dose of 37.5 mg Effexor XR. I have NOT experienced the bad withdrawals! I was so worried about it happening and I guess time is still short it could.

    I added 20mg of Prozac and tapered from 150 mg to 75 mg one week, down to 37.5mg the next and the third week I was supposed to do every other day with the Effexor and go up to 40mg of Prozac. I stopped the Effexor completely and upped the Prozac.

    No brain zaps. A little irritated and irritable. Had a headache and felt a little nausea. But took Benadryl and it went away. I also have .5mg of Klonopin when needed which I only took twice. I call this a WIN! It’s not hopeless.

    • 3 weeks later and I’m feeling horrible. I don’t know if it has anything to do with this or not. I am constantly taking klonopin and I have chest pains and tightness, but I may have just hurt my cartilage between the ribs. But I wouldn’t put it past being the Effexor. So right now I am hating its existence.

  18. So, it’s been over 3 months since my last post. I’m still on 3 beads Effexor with no issues. Mood is good, sleep is good, no anxiety and no nausea etc. Only noticeable difference is a degree of confusion or getting flustered but this could be because I’m older now from when I first started.

    I dropped to the 3 beads in September and will then drop to 2 beads in February. I will continue with that for several months and then drop to 1 bead and maintain that for a long period as well. If all’s well then, I’ll drop the Effexor altogether. There’s hope!

    • What does everyone mean by the “bead method”? Doesn’t the number of beads depend on the mg of the capsules? And why are people taking the beads out as opposed to just taking a lower dose?

  19. Well folks it has been just over a month (Nov. 25) that I went cold turkey on the Effexor (37.5) and it has not been a fun ride. I’m still dizzy and very fatigued… I slept 16 hours yesterday. I’m extremely irritable and restless but determined not to go back. At least the brain fog has subsided but sleep patterns are very inconsistent.

  20. Hi everyone. Simone had asked about success stories. I was on Effexor Rx about 10 years ago, 75mg, for anxiety. With intensive cognitive behavioral therapy and the drug I was able to develop coping mechanisms to get through. After a year I was able to successfully step down from the Effexor, and had few side effects, although I recall intense headaches and nausea. It was similar to cold turkey caffeine withdrawal.

    Due to life, I’m back on the Effexor Rx, 225mg, and forgot to take my pills yesterday. Couldn’t sleep last night and major headache today. I’m confident that if and when I’m feeling like my life is back to “normal”, I’ll be able to step down again… time will tell. Here’s hoping everyone else is able to cope, with or without Effexor and get the relief from our head spaces we all deserve.

  21. My daughter had a lot of vomiting, diarrhea, and coughing. Turns out getting off Effexor triggered thrush overgrowth. Took a very long time and quite a few visits to different doctors to get a diagnosis. Dr insisted only children get thrush, obviously not true since my daughter is 40.

  22. I took 37.5 mg. I lasted almost 5 months on it. It took a while to tolerate the full dose however it was still too strong and it made me depressed and suicidal. It changed my personality. The first symptom was uncontrollable aggression with withdrawing. I was unwilling detained by hospital where I came off the meds but they would not tapper so I refused outright.

    There are no words for the hell I went through. After two weeks, the physical pain started. For a month I felt like a walking bruise. Then came the depersonalization. I am still feeling it after 4 months but now I am getting a few emotions, like wafts. At four months, I am better but there is still a lot of lethargy and occasionally I get a mini head moment.

    I’m not taking anything and have not since stopping the Effexor. It may be great for some people, however, I wish I was never put on it.

  23. Finishing up day 4… so far completely Effexor free. Hasn’t been easy… dry heaves, cough, can’t sleep, dizzy and brain fog, but I need to stick with it.

  24. Interesting thread… I’ve been on this stuff for about 16 yrs and have decided it’s time to stop it. My current dosage is 37.5. I’m going to do a week of 1 tab every 2 days and see how that goes. I’ve quit alcohol and tobacco cold turkey in the past and have stayed away from both for yrs.

    I tried the same with this stuff and it was not good… irritable, brain fog, weak and tired. I’m just finishing day 1 without it and so far so good. It will be nice to leave this behind. This just might be the site I need to finally succeed.

  25. I have been on Venlafaxine for over 21 years at various doses 225 mgs was my latest dose. My consultant took me off of it in two weeks!? I am now searching for anther antidepressant to help. I am trying my second one now without any sign of it helping. I wish I was back on Venlafaxine, at least I had some quality of life even if was far from being able to hold down a job.

  26. For almost 2 years I’ve been on 225mg. 1 week ago I went cold turkey. I’m feeling an extreme tremor, insomnia, awful mood, itch and a terrible anxiety. I’m going to a psychiatrist next week hoping to take a new antidepressant to cope with this withdrawal. All the best luck for all of us. It’s tough but a courageous decision, need to open new paths in our lives.

  27. I’ve been taking Effexor for 3 years now, I’m on a max dosage of 350mg, just quitted cold turkey 4 days ago. It’s been hell accepting this reality again, like a smack in a face with a brick. Physical and emotional pain doesn’t go away. The best part is my dreams, they’re so real and I can be a part of them and manipulate them any way I want to. I want my real reality back, this medication didn’t help me any and my doctor can’t make my dose any higher so I’m quitting it on my own. Distorted noises and sounds, zap, zap, zapp ??????????

    • I believe we can stop taking Effexor but we must do it slowly. I was on 350 mg for 18 years. At the end of November I reduced my dosage by 150 mg. OMG, it was harsh and like you all, I was really sick for a whole month with every possible side effects.

      I am now (March 16, 2018) at 187,5 mg and I was advised by my doctor to take it slowly. I will keep taking 187,5 until the end of March then to 150 mg for 3 months and so on.

      I don’t feel miserable at all now. I feel a bit like my old self and I am so happy. I know I can do it even if it takes me 1 more year. I do have hot flashes during sleep (to the point my sheets are all wet) and I wonder how long these will last? Anyone?

      Do not give up please, it is really worth it to stop ? these dam antidepressants and become like your old self!!! Courage! Lisa

    • Distorted sounds! I like that. I tried to explain it to some people and the best I could come up with was like “someone whacking a sheaf of wheat on a concrete table!!!” How’s that for an explanation?!

  28. I have been on and off Effexor for 20 years or so. In addition I was taking meds for Migraine plus Amitriptyline for cluster headaches. Recently stopped the latter two as Migraines etc. have much reduced. I have now begun cutting my Effexor XR down from 225mg to 150mg. Ten days into it I have some raging headaches, some of the weirdest dreams I have ever had and muscle pains.

    It’s a price worth paying though if I can get off the meds altogether. I’m probably going to stick at the 150mg over the winter as I have noticed a drop in my mood with winter generally so I can’t see the point of risking further reductions at this time. As regards dreams I very rarely remember having had dreams when I have been taking Effexor though I know I did dream.

    That being the case it is nice to have my dream memories back but I’ll be glad when they are a little less weird and chaotic than my recent ones. Good luck to all who are trying to get off medication. It may be tough but in the end I am sure it will be worth it!

  29. I realise that everyone is different, but I offer my experience in the hope that it may help someone else. Like many above, I have been experiencing some pretty nasty withdrawal symptoms after tapering down to 37.5mg per day and now to nothing. On my doctor’s advice I tried taking ginger tablets (1000mg of dry root every 4 hours during waking hours).

    The nausea eased within about 30 – 60 minutes (I use the word “eased” deliberately) – it took me by surprise. I have now been taking ginger as above for three days and the nausea has reduced further. Other symptoms have started to ease too – the brain zaps, the brain lag, dizziness and fogginess. I am not saying that I have no symptoms, but I’m at the stage where I can now at least function while I’m in withdrawal. Let’s hope it lasts… fingers crossed.

  30. I was on Effexor 37.5 mg for 18 days. I took it for hot flashes. It seemed to help at first but then I became so constipated and had the most horrible night sweats and insomnia. How long am I going to be dry heaving and have this horrible headache? I have crazy dreams and talk in my sleep a lot now. I cannot rest. Lisa

  31. I am on my 5th day off 300mg if Effexor. I decided to stop cold turkey because I found out I am pregnant and I read some of the side effects of taking this pill whilst pregnant. I still haven’t even decided if I can go ahead with the pregnancy as I am too concerned for the babies well being as not only have I been on this antidepressants for the past 8 years I am also on a ADHD medication which also has some pretty serious side effects. Anyway I am laying here writing this with tears pouring down my face.

    I have been having emotional outbursts where I just break down and wish that I was dead then be here in this world. Day 2 and 3 I was having really bad dizzy spells or kind of like seizure things going on in my head. I didn’t know if it is because I am withdrawing from all my pills or because I am pregnant. I have been having so much trouble sleeping at night like can’t seem to fall asleep till 3.30am then I have to get up at 6am.

    Anyway this morning and tonight has been the hardest day of all. I just screamed at my daughter so much this morning because she wasn’t listening and then I grabbed her phone and smashed it to pieces. I hate myself so much now. I have 4 kids and a partner, a pregnancy I am unsure about, and I am just going insane…

    • Connie… I have no idea what to say, but I had to respond. I too am going though withdrawals, but not from cold turkey off 300mg. No wonder you feel terrible. I really admire your commitment in terms of your pregnancy, but I really recommend that you talk to someone about your situation – someone either in the medical profession or from drug and alcohol services.

      They ofter have areas that look after withdrawing clients, and believe me, Effexor is as bad if not worse than illegal drugs in terms of withdrawal. My comments below on ginger may help, but I’m not sure that they will given the vast difference in withdrawing from 37.5mg (me) to 300mg (you). Please take care…

  32. I’m so glad I found this feed! It is refreshing to know that I am not alone. I started taking Effexor over 15 years ago after Zoloft and Prozac failed to help my depression and anxiety/panic attacks. I started at 37.5mg and up to 225mg. The doctor just kept increasing the dosage when I felt it wasn’t working. Now working with a nurse practitioner that actually listens and gives me different options for managing my health.

    I have since been diagnosed (by her) with bipolar. I now am taking Lamictal as a mood stabilizer, Vyvanse for ADHD and Wellbutrin for anxiety/panic and sex drive. With her blessing, I am down dosing so that I can be off this drug. I had experienced bad symptom if I forgot to take my meds, so I knew it would be awful.

    I had no idea that it could be THIS awful. I’m on day 6 and want to die! Today I have been nauseous and thrown up 3 times. Headaches, brain fog, insomnia, lethargic, short tempered (more than normal), want to cry, dry mouth, gas, diarrhea, sweats and hot flashes. Reading this and other articles make me just want to throw my hands up and take it again!

    I won’t, but I don’t know how I will do this over the next few months. In WA, marijuana is legal. I’ve never used it before, but after reading this, I am seriously giving it a thought. WHY IS THIS DRUG STILL ON THE MARKET?

  33. I’ve posted here before but think the moderator deletes content. My method of tapering is valuable. It’s worked for me and could very well work for you. I’ve been on Effexor XR 75 mgs. slow release capsules for over 10 years and for the past 3 years, I’ve been doing a very gradual taper. I’m now down to 3 beads as of yesterday.

    Bead reduction is quite different than cutting tablets or having a liquid solution made. I’ve chosen to do beads because I’ve not involved my doctor in this tapering process so therefore can’t ask for a change in medication type. I can honestly say that reducing beads and even when I got to 4 beads has had little to no effect on my withdrawing. This is most likely due to the fact that it’s been sooo gradual and over a long period of time.

    I think taking the time is key. How I reduce the beads without feeling the full impact of a drop which could very well be more than 10% of the last drop, is I pick the largest 4 beads from the capsule and take those for a period, maybe a month or longer. Then, over the next 2 or 3 months I gradually pick beads which are smaller until finally by about a month before I’m feeling good (very good) to do the next drop, I take the smallest 4 beads.

    When I’m ready to do the next drop to 3 beads, I then pick the 3 largest beads again and continue with this pattern. I think it’ll take me a year to 2 years to finally get off all 3 beads (yes, such a small amount) but I don’t want to and can’t afford to have the w/d symptoms. I don’t have any side effects from the Effexor so it’s of no consequence for me to take my time getting off this medication.

    I’d be quite happy to remain at this extremely low non-therapeutic dose for as long as it takes so that when I make the final jump, I’m, hopefully, not hit with w/d symptoms in the months following. This is my goal anyway! So far, I’ve had no anxiety and am still able to sleep, no brain zaps etc.

    This method may not be for everyone but it certainly has worked for me. I’ve even decided that if I have difficulty stabilizing with this last drop to 3 beads, I will most likely follow a pattern of 3 beads/day for several days, then 4/beads/day for a day or 2 and so on until I can gradually wean myself down to a comfortable state.

    Hope this information is of help to some! It’s difficult but I feel confident that it can be done. All the best!

  34. I was on the lowest dose of Effexor XR (30 something mg I believe) back in 2004 (ish), and only for a month. Suffered the most horrible withdrawal symptoms. The only relief I found was by taking Prozac… which I then had to continue taking for over 10 YEARS because every time I tried to go off of it I’d start getting brain zaps again, even weaning myself off.

    I eventually tapered to 20 MG every week (yes it took just that little) and two years ago I stopped taking it. I still get brain zaps (mild but still noticeable), difficulty sleeping (I’ll be falling asleep then my brain just shocks itself awake), and cry at everything for no good reason (although crying at certain things is normal, I mean it when I say I cry at everything!).

    I wish there was a lawsuit because I fear either being this emotional for the rest of my life (yes it does affect both my work and personal life unfortunately), else having to take Prozac forever. So do be aware that the withdrawal symptoms can last a loooooooooooooooong time.

  35. I have only been on effexor for about oh…maybe 5 months. I just ran out. I need another apt before they will refill it. I do have a bit more energy on it. But at the and time by noon I’m yawning till bed. I want to change medication but it will be a a bit before I get to the doctor.

    Day three bring off it. I was taking 150 mg. I started feeling dizzy and had a headache but felt off all day. I feel zapped. I hope I can get through this week without major side effects. I have a tedious job that I love and a 5 year old. I need energy. I have been taking B12 lately to keep up my energy level.

  36. So… I have only been on Effexor about 6 months. At 75 mg and after 2 days of not having my prescription I am dizzy and confused. I don’t feel like myself. Couldn’t go to work. And…psychiatrist put me on this after a nasty Xanax withdrawal. After reading all of the comments and how I feel at the present moment seems I’m fighting fire with fire. Trading one ugly withdrawal for another. When all I really want to do is feel OK. I hate these drugs and hope to find a way to feel alright without depending on a damn pill.

  37. It’s been 18 days since my last pill. I’ve been on the highest dose for 15 years. Started taking them because of PMDD. I started menopause 2 years ago and feel it’s time. I don’t have the mood swings anymore. Went down to 75 mg then 37 then every 2 days to every 3 days. I have about 3/4 of all the side effects.

    Worst is the anxiety that I want to rip my skin off to the uncontrollable feel of worthlessness and life its self… If I keep busy most of the time ok. I don’t feel so alone now hearing other people’s same issues. But without it I probs would not be here. My PMDD for me was like the withdrawals of this medicine everyday.

    I have children and a husband… and not be on the meds would have caused me to not exist today. I am scared though.

  38. I went on Effexor XR about 9 years ago because I thought it would help with menopause. I was having sweats and extreme anger to the point it was effecting my marriage. I felt better but believe that it decreased my sex drive. I decided to go cold turkey because I did not believe I needed it any more as I am through menopause.

    It is 9 days of cold turkey and I keep reading these comments for a magic number of when I will feel better. Today the worst of it is exhaustion. The night mares have been somewhat replaced with waking up multiple times at night soaked in sweat and severe anxiety that someone has broken into my house. The brain zaps and sweats had started to decrease, however for some reason today they are severe.

    I keep putting one foot in front of the other and hope to feel better soon. I find that if I try to focus on my every day activities I can get some relief but as soon as I sit down the brain zaps start. They are what bothers me the most.

  39. I took Effexor for about 9 months to help with some pretty heavy anxiety. My doctor ended up ramping me up to 225Mg. At 1st I couldn’t really tell if it was helping since I was pretty far out there and also using it to come off Xanax that I had been taking for about 2 months prior. That was hell! Once things stabilized I think it did help me get a hold of myself and get more value out of my personal work with a therapist.

    The biggest thing for me was recognizing the negative, anxiety producing thoughts for what they are… Just thoughts, of which I am ultimately in control of. They don’t need to have any meaning or truth. As soon as I decided not to allow the thoughts to fool me (as clever as they are) things really started slowly turning around. Both of Michael Singer’s books really helped.

    I eventually tapered off the Effexor and have been off it for 2 months. The 1st 3 weeks were pretty tough (the brain zaps, anxiety, etc). Today I still have some brain zaps and a few anxiety spells here and there but much better equipped to handle it. I’m not sure how long it takes to fully withdraw from this stuff but many of these comments here help me out.

  40. These accounts have been very helpful in knowing I am not alone. A year ago I was recovering from a surgery to remove a kidney and large cancerous tumor. The surgery was very intense, and took a huge toll on my life with physical as well as mental distress. My performance at work was dismal, and I was freaking out.

    I beat cancer (for now) but normal life stress was too much for me. After months of therapy, I decided a low dose anti-depressant was needed. I worked with my doctor to decide the “least harmful” of our drug choices. We went with 75 mg venla for 6 months to a year. While gradual, the drug worked well and reduced my anxiety and I slowly climbed back to a better state. After a year I noticed the side effects, yawning, fogginess, low libido were more frequent and pronounced.

    So we decided on a ramp down, form 75 to 35 for 6 days. I wish I did it more gradually. I am on day three of no drug, and the freezes, pops and zaps are quite irritating, as well as the chills and bowel distress. I do not think I have it nearly as bad as many who post on here, but it is still disconcerting. I hope I am well enough to go to work tomorrow.

  41. I was put on Effexor XR when I was 12 by a Pediatric GI Doctor for IBS and I am only just now finding out the withdrawal symptoms. I am looking for an adult GI Doctor because I can’t stand the other one but unfortunately most of them don’t want anyone under 18 (I’m 17). In the meantime I ran out of it last night.

    I took 37.5 mg for a while but I’ve been on 75 mg for years now. My regular doctor gave me a prescription for a refill but it’s gonna be a few days until I can get it. I’m rather pissed now that nobody warned me about the withdrawal and that a doctor prescribed this medicine to a TWELVE year old!!

  42. I am coming off of Effexor XR (300 mg) with a little help from Naturopath doctor using some amino acids that help compensate for serotonin-norepinephrine work that isn’t happening from Effexor as I taper off, helps lower some of the crazy side effects while the body works on re-creating the ability to do some of that work itself.

    Down to 150 now, which is where I will probably start to feel more effect, so we will see how it goes. This is the second time I have been on Effexor – the first time was for 3-4 years, about a decade ago. I worked with the naturopath then, but we used St. John’s Wort then rather than the amino acids, and it helped a lot. I’m hoping these amino acids are as helpful! (5HTP and L-Tyrosine). Good luck to all!

  43. Hi, I would like to thank everyone for their comments and advice. Here’s a quick recap of my withdrawal journey.

    1. Was on 150 mg Effexor for Major Depressive Disorder for 6 years.

    2. Reason I went against my doctors orders to get off it was because of the weight gain. This made my depression worse.

    3. Started to wean down as follows.

    a. 150 Effexor XR Capsules to 100 mg Venlafaxine tablets for 1 month. Split tablet 50 mg a.m. / 50 mg p.m. Experienced all the usual side effects for about one week.
    b. 100 mg Venlafaxine tabs (split as above) to 75 mg (half of 100 mg tab + half of a half = 75 mg). Experienced usual side effects for about one week.
    c. 75 mg Venlafaxine tabs to 50 mg (stopped the half of a half) for one week. Experienced usual side effects for about one week.
    d. 25 mg Venlafaxine tabs (split the 50 mg in half) for 2 days. After the 2nd day all heck broke loose. You know the symptoms, juts multiple by 10.
    e. After the second day above I was “cold turkey” off this medicine. Could barely walk, brain zaps horrific, migraines horrific.
    f. Day 3 started to take Neurontin (Gabapentin) 400 mg + 25 mg Benadryl + 2000 mg Omega 3 + 100 mg Hydrochlorothiazide (sorry if the spelling is incorrect on that last one. It’s a water pill.) EVERY MORNING.

    4. After 3 days of point “f” above all migraines were gone. Brain Zaps minimal, walking some difficulty.

    5. Today is day 4 and symptoms are mild. I chew gum all day long, drink tons of water, and pace around my house doing small chores.

    I am praying day 5 (tomorrow) will be better or if not same. Do not follow these instructions as everyone is different. I just wanted to share my experience. I will give an update after some more time passes. God Bless!

  44. I took venlafaxine HCL, 75mg./day for about 5 years. I weaned off in February of this year. Used a lang, slow taper and didn’t suffer serious withdrawal problems, brain zaps were gone within 2 weeks after last taking it. However, the classical withdrawal symptoms returned in mid-May and coincided exactly with my starting BIPAP therapy.

    Two questions: (1) Has anyone else experienced “late onset” withdrawal symptoms?, and (2) does anyone have a theory on whether there may be any connection between BIPAP therapy and the return of symptoms? I wonder if as the result of the treatment for severe sleep apnea, my serotonin levels have increased and somehow triggered the withdrawal symptoms….

  45. Hang in there! I was on effexor XR for nine months. About 7 months into taking it, I felt worse than ever. I failed out of college, fighting with my family, self-harming, panic attacks, etc. So, my doctor suggested we add to my 75mg by 37mg. BIG MISTAKE! I felt worse than ever. A month ago I started weaning off of my medication by halves until now I’m completely effexor free! YAY! Even though I sometimes have crying spells and anxiety now, I feel like myself again. Truly like myself. For the first time in a year.

  46. I am finally off of effexor. It has taken four months but it was worth it. I weaned myself off slowly. That’s the key, you have to take you’re time. I feel like myself again and I am no longer tired through out the day. Was taking naps every 2 hours… This has been going on for 3 years. I thought I had a major illness. Hang in there.

  47. Thank you so much for this article. I have been reading many posts about this topic, and this one laid it out great for me. I was on 150mg for almost 2 years, and quit cold turkey 6 months ago. First 3 days were terrible, then the month following I felt euphoric almost! I felt really good and stable, the best I’ve felt in years.

    But then it started. Mood swings, crying spells, severe depression, days where I cannot function at all and often have to call in sick to work. This I’ve been dealing with for 5 months, bad days usually last about 3 days then might have a good day or two. This has been very rough for my friends and loved ones and people that depend on me, but they know what I’m going through.

    I’m prepared to spend a year recovering from this terrible substance. Hope everyone is keeping it somewhat together. Just be ready for the emotional and mental withdrawal symptoms to last for a while. Let people around you know what is going on so they don’t think you are losing your mind out of the blue. Best of luck and hang in there!

  48. Thanks to everyone for your post. I have been on Effexor 75mg for a few years and have tried to stop several times… Friday June 3rd was my last dose.
    It was not planned, trouble will pharmacy, so I decided, why not. Today is Monday June 6, three days Effexor free. YAYY. Brain zaps are frequent. A little nauseous…

    I made it to work… working very slowly so that I do not make any mistakes. Why wouldn’t doctors tell us the size effects? It is my fault, I should have known not to continue this drug due to side effect going on it. Anyone out there stopped cold turkey and can share their experience with me? PLUS did you know Effexor is manufactured in India?

    • Hi Judi, I am on day 3 of stopping effexor cold turkey. The brain zaps are seriously annoying!! I know it’s going to end and I just started taking wellbutrin so fingers crossed this will help. How are you doing??

  49. I have been on 150 mg of Effexor XR for about 10 to 12 years. It was very helpful. Recently I discovered that there was a potential interaction between Effexor and Xeralto. I was experiencing significant bleeding from my nose and passing large blood clots. We decided to take me off the Effexor as I am in a different place in my life now.

    I have been tapering off the Effexor by 37.5 mg every 2 to 3 weeks. I have been off it now completely for 5 days. I am a little tired and having some minor headaches. The “brain zaps” are still evident but appear to be lessening in intensity and frequency. I am not depressed but get teary if I see nothing even remotely sad and this is from a guy who is generally pretty stoic.

    A different pharmacist at the same pharmacy suggested that I go back on the lowest dose of the Effexor but I don’t want to extend this any further so will bear with it.

  50. I’ve been on effexor for over 5 years to treat depression, anxiety and insomnia. I was on 300mg up until a couple of years ago when I decided to slowly decrease my dosage. It took me 2 years to get down to 37.5mg. I had minor withdrawal lasting only a week each decrease. Almost 8 weeks ago I decided to get off it completely.

    The first week was the worst. I had every withdrawal symptom, except for insomnia. I was getting a small brain zap every minute and a large one every 12. Now the zaps are gone almost completely. Most of my symptoms disappeared around the 3 week mark, except for the rollercoaster of emotions.

    Everything was going really well but the emotions were frustrating, but manageable. At the 7 week mark, I was suddenly his with insomnia. I slept well while taking the drug and even up until 7 weeks of being off of it. Now for the past 4 nights, I have slept a total of 6 hours of broken light sleep.

    I’m exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally and yet the little switch that would normally put me in a deep sleep doesn’t seem to work. I’m wondering if the insomnia is a withdrawal symptom or if it is my body reverting back to how it was before I ever took effexor. Has anyone else been suddenly hit by insomnia?

    If so, any tips on how to get through it? How long did it take for your insomnia/other symptoms take to go away? I’m just looking for some light at the end of this tunnel. It’s been a real comfort reading all of these posts and knowing I’m not alone in all of this. Good luck everyone!


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