≡ Main Menu

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.

Related Posts:

{ 523 comments… add one }
  • Susan July 18, 2018, 1:46 am

    Hi, Will try to be brief, but am hoping for some correspondence! Took Effexor XR – 150 mg – for about 14 months I believe. Gained a ton of weight and if I missed one it was awful, so decided to come off. Took 4 months to withdraw, which was longer than my doctor recommended.

    Tapering was not fun, but I handled it ok. As soon as I came off she put me on Wellbutrin. About 10 days after my last Effexor all hell broke loose. I began having terrible panic attacks that never really let up. I expected physical withdrawal symptoms, but had no clue that the mental/emotional could be WAY WAY worse.

    It truly has been the scariest thing I’ve ever been through. I am now 93 days off (I stopped Wellbutrin too, as soon as attacks started) and am still not completely better. 😢 The panic has subsided, but what still lingers and has been the absolute worst to deal with, are the fears. Has anyone else dealt with that?

    I am in CBT (and have been for a long while) and I also started seeing a naturopathic doctor. Going through this has made me skeptical of pharmaceuticals for certain. I wanted to see if anyone has had similar experiences, but I also wanted to tell about things I have tried that have helped some.

    As I’ve read over & over, Omega 3 is huge. I take it 3x a day. I’ve also upped my dosage of Vitamin D (to 6000 IU) and started taking C. Vitamin Bs are huge and I was taking an extended release complex until my new doctor stopped it because the supplements he gave me have B in them.

    Magnesium is also huge. My doctor put me on Magnesium Glycinate. He also put me on a probiotic because neurotransmitters are also formed in the gut. (I think that’s the correct explanation 🙄). I take lots of L-theanine.

    I did 6 sessions of acupuncture and I do think it helped some. I have tried some energy healing… and the jury is still out on that one. I tried CBD oil and that does appear to help some people. It never seemed to do much for me – but I also probably wasn’t taking a strong enough dose.

    A change in diet (to include vegetables & lots of nuts & berries…), plus exercise every day has also been extremely helpful. I hope some of this will be helpful to others. I truly think the best thing I did… and wish I had done it right away… was to see a naturopathic doctor.

    Please, please share your experience, especially if you have dealt with fears! It sure is a lonely place to be!

    • Peter July 20, 2018, 1:11 am

      Susan, you and I sound like we are in a similar situation. I took 56.25 mg of Effexor for about 20 years. I finally decided I did not want to keep putting it in my body and my life had improved in many ways since I first started taking it. My doctor recommended a six week taper, but I was nervous, so I did the taper over four months.

      I took the last tiny dose on May 31, 2018. All hell broke loose for me about 9 days later – terrible anxiety and fear, crying spells, hopelessness and bad insomnia. I was not yet aware of the effects of SSRI withdrawal, so I assumed I was just getting depressed again in a major way.

      These symptoms persisted for about a month when – worst of all – the insomnia got worse. I had a spell when I was sleeping 1.5 to 2 hours a night, and not even consecutively. Each time I’d wake up, I’d be overwhelmed with anxiety. Waking at night with terrible fear and anxiety and feeling totally alone (I do not want to wake my wife or son) is absolutely some of the worst feelings I have ever had.

      Here are some of the I am doing to help with all the symptoms. Acupuncture. My acupuncturist uses a protocol designed specifically for addiction withdrawal. We are very fortunate to have a saunas and taking a sauna before bed and then again in the middle of the night when I wake up super anxious has been hugely helpful.

      I also have found helpful both meditation and a form of very slow meditative yoga that focuses on breath and very slow movements. I feel like I finally started to turn the corner a few days ago, about 45 days after I stopped taking the drug. I still don’t feel great. But, sleeping 5.5 hours last night felt like an enormous relief.

      I do not know what the next month will hold, but I am hopeful my slow progress will continue. Good luck to you.

  • Liam July 9, 2018, 5:15 pm

    Day 3 into complete withdrawal after an extended period of tapering off (the tapering was relatively OK). Having been on 300 daily for a 4 or so years, and also having the odd blip where I have not taken dosage for a day or so with relatively little issues (beyond shooting pains in my hands and brain-zaps), I can safely say that:

    1.) I have absolutely no idea how you are able to start taking this drug without being fully taken through the withdrawal symptoms and
    2.) Thank god for the existence of forums, and to everyone here for sharing their experiences.

    Much like everyone else, my symptoms have included severe sleep paralysis, horrific night terrors, night-sweats, and a feeling of being constantly on the verge of tears for no real reason. For anyone experiencing the same, here’s to tomorrow, and here’s to being well enough to have decided to come off it in the first place. :)

    • Char July 9, 2018, 6:20 pm

      Liam, I am 8 weeks out. I still have some symptoms but not as many. I totally forgot about the terrible nightmares. I am so glad to be done with that drug.

    • Amiee July 11, 2018, 6:27 am

      THANK YOU! I understand the task at hand a bit better now. I also am on day 3 of not taking any doses of a 75 tab. I weaned myself off rather quickly. Massive effects. Grateful I do not work during the summer. I waited for the summer for that reason.

      I heard it was slow but did not know all the symptoms. I talked to my husband first but I have to keep reminding him it is meds not just me. This is difficult but I will win. I stopped smoking many years ago. This is tough. Still, stopping sugar would be harder.

  • Michael July 9, 2018, 1:27 pm

    Hi everyone. I started to take Effexor to combat the withdrawal of Chantix, 11 years ago. I was at 300mg a day for about 7 years after my initial dosage of 75mg. I started my taper Sept 25 2017 and my last dosage of 37.5mg was just over 2 weeks ago. It’s been the worst since I completely got off of it, but it was quite difficult throughout most my tapering period.

    Once I got low enough, I started to use Effexor tablets so I could cut them in half and into quarters. All of my days are not horrible. I have good days and simply horrible days where I can’t even get out of bed. I know the horrible withdrawal is very common and can take a long time to completely subside, but is it normal to have horrible days, followed by good days and then horrible again?

    It’s been like this since I was down to 150 mg a day after going from 300mg to 225mg. That horrible withdrawal (achy, very moody feeling horribly weak, lethargic, as if I’m on my death bed. My Doctor has been no help. When I first started to feel withdrawals, I asked him if there was anything he could prescribe to help me through the withdrawal.

    Again, the only thing I would like feedback on (although I’d take feedback on anything I have posted) is: Is it normal to go from bad days to good days and then back to bad days? Ex.last week; I had such a horrible day on Tuesday to the point I came home from work and went to bed for 6 hours.

    I felt as if I couldn’t get out of bed, but then I was feeling good in the evening and continued to feel good for the next 3 days. Saturday I was in bed all day again. Couldn’t get out of it. Sunday was good and today is horrible again. Thanks for reading.

    • Char July 9, 2018, 6:06 pm

      Dear Michael, I think what you’re experiencing is totally normal. I was on it for two years coming off it was awful. My NEW doctor who listens actually gave me low dose Xanax and Bupropion SR which I’m on now and will stay on.

      The Xanax initially helped with the terrible anxiety and panic attacks were suffering from during withdrawal. I only take if I need it now – the Xanax. But you’re totally normal in your withdrawal symptoms. Good luck to you, hang in there.

      • Michael July 10, 2018, 12:01 am

        Thanks Char. The only thing I was questioning was the inconsistency as far as the withdrawal from day to day. I’ll go from a few bad days to a few good and then back to a few bad again and so on.

        • Susan July 18, 2018, 1:54 am

          Michael, Yes! I, too, go through little waves of good days and then horrible, and then mediocre, and so forth. I tried tracking it on a calendar to see if there was a pattern. I never really found one… just that the “good” days will start to increase. 😊

    • Catherine July 10, 2018, 11:58 pm

      Hi Michael, Perfectly normal what you are experiencing. I am now 18 months clear of this drug. However the nightmares only stopped about 2 months ago. They slowly tapered off to once a month. Once I was three months free the withdrawals would disappear for sometimes a week then out of the blue I would get some. Was dreadful and so unpredictable.

      My husband tells me the first few weeks it was like I was permanently ruled up in a ball. I wasn’t, but as he was watching from the outside that is how it felt to him. Actually I could of been lol… I don’t remember a lot. My husband made sure I ate regularly and healthy, that I had lots of fluids and had regular exercise.

      I had cut down to 75mg over time and then I got angry at this drug and went cold turkey from the 75mg. I’m glad I did as I read about the ones slowly tapering off and to me it seems they suffer more. For me all the main side effects went completely about 12 month mark. They were not constant at 12 months, but one would pop up out of the blue. Hang in there it’s worth it.

  • Monica July 8, 2018, 9:21 pm

    Hi I have been on Venlor XR 75 mg twice a day for 10 years due to anxiety issues. Was absolutely fine and then had a anxiety relapse in 2017 April. Finally after not being able to cope – I contacted my psychiatrist and he increased it another 37.5. When even that didn’t help fully – he increased it by another 37.5.

    Finally that worked and after using it for 3-4 months, I asked the doctor to reduce one 37.5. He said to leave it without decreasing gradually. I started experiencing anxiety again and low feelings after two days so started it again. Then again after one month, I have started decreasing by having it one day and leaving it the next.

    Having low feelings again, can’t concentrate, and also feeling cold. But I am continuing as I want to get off the two extra 37.5 I have been given. The messages I have read on this group are also helping me to understand that these will go in time. But I don’t know whether I will be able to give up Venlor XR 75 twice a day completely – as I get into anxiety due to health issues relating to my stomach.

  • Shirley July 8, 2018, 1:55 pm

    I had been on effexor for over 10 years (2 caps per day). I only submit this info here because, even after very carefully weaning myself over a period of 6 weeks I am experiencing emphatic symptoms – light sensitivity, chills, sweats, nausea, brain sounds (electrical sounds) crying spells, suicidal thoughts, severe depression, agitation.

    I am still on bupropion which I have no plan to change at this point. I had no idea what a nasty drug this was. Is there any remedy? Besides going back on it?

    • Char July 9, 2018, 5:55 pm

      Dear Shirley, Hang in there. I am on Bupropion SR and no more Effexor for almost 8 weeks now. To combat the extreme anxiety (mostly at bedtime) my doctor put me on low 2.5 mg of Xanax AS NEEDED up to 3 times a day. I found the Effexor just totally made me flat no emotions.

      It’s not been easy, but I’m glad I’m done with it. Some people do well on it and that’s great, I just felt very “numb” on it. I take only Bupropion 100 SR once a day and feel much better.

      It was hard coming off it and I still get some withdrawal symptoms, but not as many. The first two weeks were so awful. Hang in there and good luck. This site has been so helpful for me. ♥️

  • Nick G July 2, 2018, 9:19 pm

    Hi everyone. I am currently around 10 weeks into withdrawal from Effexor. I had been taking it for the last 15 years and am tapering off from 187.5mg and am currently at 37.5mg.

    Like many of us who have suffered this ‘medication’ I’ve had withdrawal effects including unpleasant dreams, difficulty in sleeping, anxiety and physical exhaustion amongst them.

    The effects appear to be becoming cumulatively worse as I continue the withdrawal process – exhaustion and the inability to concentrate on anything for any length of time being the most noticeable.

    Thanks to everyone who has commented on this forum, as like others have said, medical professionals seem either unwilling or unable to comment upon either the side effects experienced when on it, or the effects of withdrawal.

    Good luck to all of us…

    • Karen July 6, 2018, 3:08 pm

      I have been on it 12 years. I started my dose taper 7 weeks ago. 1 dose at a time. I was doing fantastic until I reached the 37.5mg dose. I am dizzy, brain zaps, irritable, weepy, angry and out of sorts.

      They started me on Wellbutrin 150 XR. Am I jumping out of the frying pan into the fire? Recommendations please! Thank you.

      • Char July 9, 2018, 6:18 pm

        Karen, That is what my doctor did – 100mg of Bupropion Extended Release. I feel it helped me a lot. I am 8 weeks out from no more Effexor and I am doing much better. The first 2 weeks were awful – ugh.

        But third week I felt better – not perfect, still far from perfect, but I’m hopeful and glad to be off that drug. I also can take a small dose of Xanax if needed, and I was, 3 times a day… now down to 1 if I need it. Sending you good thoughts and hope you feel some relief soon.

      • Nick July 10, 2018, 5:24 am

        Hi Karen. I’m sorry that I didn’t see this and respond more quickly. I can only agree that getting down to 37.5mg is a bloody nightmare. Taper slowly. I have taken 12/13 weeks to get this far – from 187.5mg down now to 37.5mg every other day.

        You don’t specify what dose you started on but the consensus amongst people appears to be that withdrawal seems to get worse before it gets better. I realize that this response is probably pretty useless other to say YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

        • Karen July 14, 2018, 6:13 pm

          I am in tears, of course, as I read all these responses. I started at 225mg and I am on day 3 off effexor XR completely. I feel like hell. I can’t sleep, when I do I feel like I am having a heart attack. My chest is so heavy. I have nightmares. I feel flu like all the time, my muscles ache.

          I am irritable. I am so stressed because all day and all night I feel like crap. I was not offered Xanax so I will be calling doctor Monday morning.
          I feel like this will not end. Readung that it can take up to a year is heartbreaking. I can see why people can become suicidal. Thank God I am not.

          Tapering was easy, stopping sucks! My sick time for work is up in 2 weeks. Will I be able to function enough to go back to work part or even full time? How much longer will I feel flu like? Acetaminophen, ASA, Naproxen and excedrin are not doing anything for the sore body and headaches.

          I assume this is because it is not a muscle but brain issue instead. Any suggestions? Thank you for your responses, I feel better knowing I am not alone. Karen

  • Jake July 2, 2018, 9:29 am

    Hey guys! So I need a little advice on something. I’ve taken 75mg of Venlafaxine for nearly three years for anxiety. I’m in a better place now so made the decision to come off them. I’ve tapered down so I’m now on 9.37mg (quarter tablet of 37.5mg tablet), but I can’t seem to come off them completely?

    I cut the drug off completely after two weeks of taking the 9.37mg, but after a few days, I was so anxious and feeling sick / irritable that my doctor told me to go back on the quarter tablet for a couple of months before trying again. I feel so close to coming off them but keep getting anxious spells and worrying about the most insignificant problems.

    Will this eventually subside once I come off the tablets completely, or is this my mindset from now on? I’m scared to take the final leap and stop taking the drug because of the withdrawal symptoms that come with it. How long will it take before I feel a little more ‘normal’ again? Thank you!

    • Ashley July 10, 2018, 2:17 pm

      Jake, I had been of Effexor for 12 years. During this period I had tried to dose off multiple times with failure. This is a harsh drug for sure. The withdrawal symptoms are awful.

      I am now 7 weeks with no medication and definitely feeling it but I refuse to go back on that. The brain zaps and insomnia and crying and irritability – all suck. But you can do it.

  • Shelly July 2, 2018, 6:40 am

    Wow! I wish I had read this before starting to take this drug. I only started taking venlafaxine approx 8 weeks ago. I had been taking sertraline for a couple of years for anxiety and depression and they worked well for me, until I started splitting the tablets to get the right dose. NOT a good idea!

    I had a very stressful few months anyway and this totally unbalanced me. I crashed and found myself in the doctors in a heap. Then I was given Venlafaxine 75mg. I had to stop taking the sertraline immediately and start on these. I got mild withdrawals from the sertraline, a little dizziness and felt crap but nothing like this!

    After 4 weeks they upped my Venlafaxine to just over 100mg. After 8 weeks it still wasn’t doing much so I asked to go back on sertraline. I thought it would be ok to switch like I did before, day 3 now and I’m experiencing most of these symptoms. I am so glad I found this site as I wondered what the hell was wrong with me!

    (The doctor did advise me to taper off these tablets but I thought I knew best) but it sounds like I may of had withdrawals anyway. Good luck to you all and thanks for writing about your awful experiences to help others. I just hope the sertraline kicks in soon and I can feel myself again. Much love.

  • Jennifer P July 2, 2018, 2:11 am

    What surprises me the most about this drug, is how clueless most of the doctors, psychiatrists and even pharmacists are about the withdrawal symptoms! They all looked at me like I was crazy when I explained what I was dealing with. Pretty much denying that it was from the drug.

    Especially when I talked about the brain zaps and vertigo and horrible headaches. They shrugged it off or said they have never heard of that happening Really? I asked the pharmacist once if Gravol would work for my brain zaps/dizziness and she looked at me like I had two-heads.

    So frustrating. There really should be a warning included in the side effects pamphlet about what happens when you decide to come OFF the drug!

    • Debi July 9, 2018, 4:38 pm

      The withdrawal symptoms of Effexor are disgusting! Worst headaches I’ve ever had in my life. I feel like I have an ax in my head, and the dizziness and vertigo are debilitating. I am so sorry that I ever went on this awful drug and the thought of feeling this awful for weeks, months, or possibly years is just too much.

      To anybody that’s reading this: Do not ever take this drug and make sure you research and be your own health advocate on antidepressants! Good luck to all of us who are suffering from the horrible withdrawal symptoms of Effexor!

      • Ashley July 10, 2018, 3:20 pm

        I fully agree! It has taken me 12 years to eventually get off this drug. I am now 7 weeks but with the absolute worst side effects ever. The brain zaps, nausea, irritability, vertigo… just to name a few. I will never again take this again.

        Especially considering I was taking a drug that no longer worked, but couldn’t successfully wean myself off until now. I finally just got mad and decided it can’t be worse than it not working. I’m finally on the upside now, but man this sucks!

    • Anna July 13, 2018, 1:56 am

      I agree. My doctor told me that this is the first time she heard about someone feeling so awful (dizzy, panicky and as if you are dying). In the ER they said that it is not withdrawal because it’s been 2 weeks already. That it’s out of my system. Excuse my language but it’s total bulls***.

  • hopeless June 30, 2018, 9:30 am

    I have been on Effexor 225mg for almost 4 years now, going cold turkey. Today is the third day and feel like I am so spaced out, aggressive, brain zaps constantly, hate life, hate feeling the way I do and nobody understands. I want to come off but boy am I scared, do I just push through.

    My hubby doesn’t understand and says I must go back on but I want to feel normal again. Wish I had someone who could tell me I will be ok. Feel like I am dying here, want to just cry and punch something at the same time and the nightmares are so so real…

    • Dianna Lopez July 2, 2018, 3:48 am

      Hopeless, I quit cold turkey 3 months ago. I was on Effexor for 4 years. I can tell you that the brain zaps felt unbearable for the first two weeks. In that time my emotions and the nightmares were pretty awful too. Week three was when I slowly started to feel better.

      In that time, the thing that helped me the most was cannabis oil. Fish oil would have helped too but I’m allergic. The omega 3s are the magic here. I wish you all the luck and know you aren’t alone.

    • Shelly July 2, 2018, 6:45 am

      I hope you don’t mind me saying but after so long on such a high dose I think that it may be too much for you to cope with. Would it not be easier for you to taper much slower? As I think this maybe dangerous for you. Please get some help with this, sending much love and I hope this awful time passes quickly for you. ❤

  • Tracey June 28, 2018, 1:31 pm

    Hi. I have been taking Effexor XR for approx 10 months at 150mg once a day. I decided to stop cold turkey. I missed 8 days of it. After experiencing hellish withdrawal symptoms, I returned to taking it. How badly have I messed myself up?

    • Jake July 2, 2018, 9:35 am

      Hey Tracey! I don’t think you’ve messed yourself up at all, it might just be clear that going cold turkey isn’t the best option. It does work for some people, but in your case I’d recommend slowly tapering down.

      Speak to your doctor, mine told me that I should slowly cut the intake down over a period of a couple months until I’m on the lowest dose possible (I use a pill cutter to divide mine up).

      It’s definitely helped, and I’ve noticed much less withdrawal symptoms than when I tried going cold turkey myself. Because this is such a powerful drug, you need to take the time to slowly wean yourself off from them. It might seem like a long road ahead, but it’ll be worth it!

  • Holly June 26, 2018, 7:35 pm

    Dear all, I feel compelled to comment on this post, which is very unlike me. I have tears in my eyes as I write because I’m suffering from venlafaxine withdrawal. Aren’t we all? I hear you say, but somehow I feel like I shouldn’t be.

    I’m ashamed to say when I looked at forums a few weeks ago and was met with vague withdrawal symptoms and terms such as ‘heart zaps’ and ‘brain zaps’, I rolled my eyes. Really? These don’t sound like real symptoms to me.

    I should mention that I am an MD and have been taking venlafaxine for migraine prevention (weak evidence but a last resort) and low mood. I took 75mg MR for 6 months with good effect on my mood but side effects of drenching night sweats.

    I decided a month ago to swap to something else so halved the dose for 2 weeks. Maybe a bit more emotional but no issues really. My pharmacist friend then told me after this I could just stop. So I’ve been off for 48 hours.

    I’ve been completely emotionally labile for two days, complete madness. Today I have developed debilitating vertigo and am stuck in bed. I’ve also been having millions of heart zaps and brain zaps. I’ve just had to take 37.5mg and propose to take this every other day for 2 weeks.

    I empathize with you all, this is just horrendous. Luckily I have some time off work at the moment but I am already wondering how I’ll ever get off this drug.

    • Anna July 7, 2018, 3:45 pm

      I switched from a few antidepressants over 2 years and ended up on venlafaxine 7 months ago. Did not like how I felt on the meds and wanted off off them. I am going through a horrible withdrawal. I went from 75mg to 37.5mg and developed severe dizziness, total coordination problems, was still able to drive a car in the first 2 weeks.

      I was put on zoloft to cope. The next two weeks got worse still vertigo, crying spells, feel like I am dying with no hope. My psych said to increase the zoloft to 50mg and eliminate the effexor after 1 week. With this dosage change I feel like I went nuts.

      Went to my primary care, he said to take 75mg of zoloft. So here I am no effexor for 11 days. I feel like there is something wrong with me medically. Dizziness is crazy. My head is swaying back and forth. I just want to stay in bed. No appetite. Anxiety is up to the roof.

      I feel disconnected with the stuff happening around me. It feels like a haze. I wake up every day just waiting for it to pass. But I also am wondering if I should go to the mental hospital to see if these side effects are all normal? Or should I give this another 2 weeks hoping it gets better?

  • 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

    • Catherine June 24, 2018, 8:05 am

      Hi Jem. You are making the right decision. I actually started cutting down from 300mg…over time I got down to 150mg. I have no idea why, but I decided no more. So I went cold turkey. I’m glad I did as it got this drug out of my system a lot quicker than if I had continued to drop it down.

      So no it wasn’t easy, my partner tells me I was curled into a ball for 3 days. I really don’t remember. He would make sure I ate and had plenty of fluid. The thing is since I got past this drug my life has turned around. I can think now…I have feelings and can express them.

      I have clarity of thought. I was on this drug for close to 15 years. I say to anyone who will listen to get off now as soon as you can and in a way that works for you. Much love. Catherine

    • Zerk June 28, 2018, 1:46 pm

      I’m just quitting now after 12+ years on 150mg/day. I tapered to 75mg/day, then started skipping days – first 1, then 2 consecutively. This process has gone on for a couple of months. I’m now at 6 days with none. I don’t feel all that great, but am improving.

      Be prepared – I’ve had nausea, headaches, dizziness, vivid and unpleasant dreams, headaches, sleep disturbance, paresthesia (prickles) and did I mention headaches? But the symptoms pass. It’s a little worse than a very bad ‘flu, but not a lot – it maybe lasts a little longer.

      Be patient, be strong. Don’t get lulled into taking this poison for years, as I did. It only makes it harder to quit. Deal with your issues head-on and get over them instead of having pills pushed on you. I certainly wish I’d had the guts to do that.

      One caution: If you have XR capsules, do *not* try to split them. I understand that’s a big mistake.

    • Shelly July 2, 2018, 6:54 am

      Hi Jemma, I haven’t had long on these tablets thank god! But I am too experiencing withdrawals. I have taken antidepressants on and off for years. My advice would be to do it very slowly. The very best of luck to you and be kind to yourself. :)

  • Isabelle June 17, 2018, 3:33 pm

    First of all, THANK YOU for this forum and to all who are contributing! I wish I’d found it before going on Venlafaxine! Three weeks ago I inadvertently went cold turkey on my medications – including my daily dose of 75 mg venlafaxine – after a second surgery under general anesthesia within the space of 3 months.

    When I came out of that fog I decided to stay off the SNRI and the high blood pressure meds (I am monitoring my blood pressure and have physician’s approval). Admittedly a lot has happened in the last months but I feel it is the SNRI that is the cause of my withdrawal symptoms – severe headaches daily, occasional nausea, sore joints and lethargy.

    At the beginning there were strange dreams. Other than that my mood is surprisingly steady even though I have some big life decisions/changes to make. And thankfully no brain zaps…yet. I was on the venlafaxine at 37.5 mg for a couple of years for hot flashes then upped to 75 mg within the last 2.5 months for anxiety and depression; that didn’t work and the doc prescribed a higher dose.

    That’s when I decided I wanted off the drugs permanently. How long would it be before the dose increased again and then again? My previous experience with antidepressants has always been that eventually the dosage had to be increased to be effective. No thanks.

    In my case, I feel it is possible to practice mind over matter through meditation, CBT, exercise, and making some life changes. My question is how long will these symptoms persist given the low dosage and relatively short time I was on this drug?

  • Nat June 12, 2018, 11:40 pm

    I was out on Effexor/Venlafaxine about 2 years who when they could not figure out why my BP was still high 2years after my last child was born. I had had preeclampsia and even though my BP calmed down after birth it went back up. Docs thought it was anxiety related and they tried giving me Cipralex, but it turned me to the point of being way too chill (read unresponsive).

    I was back at work at this time, and have controlled work throughout this. Now the Effexor seemed to do what I needed and took my ‘edge’ off, made my challenges easier to bear. I was put on 75 mg. My BP has stayed high, and the times I forgot take the meds, I got serious brain zaps as well as a dizzy off-kilter sensation until I took the dose again.

    So, after a few of these zap moments, still high BP and weight gain (I have weighed same for 25 years give or take) I figured to wean off. I waited until late afternoon to take lighter dose of 37.5 and realized that it wasn’t so bad. No brain zaps, and half life was already diminishing.

    Instead of doing pharmacist recommended 75-75-37.5-75-75 pattern or 75-37.5 alternating pattern, I have kept to 37.5 for 4 days now. How is it? Well apart from a few moments here and there some spa ones, I continue to work. I am tired, but that could be due to other things.

    I did notice I slept better! And did not wake at the usual 2 or 3 am:) Until this website, I hadn’t seen a possibility of a link to higher BP so will monitor that. It would be amazing if my BP returned to normal too!

  • Caitlin June 12, 2018, 12:19 pm

    I wish I had have read this sooner and I feel so sorry for those who have been on this medication for years. I had several incidents occur back to back that left me with severe PTSD, depression and anxiety so I wanted to be on antidepressants for short-term while I spoke with a professional to cope and eventually once I was in a better place I wanted to stop the medication.

    Anyways I was prescribed this drug after two others that didn’t work only about 6 months ago and after noticing that even missing my dose by a few hours I wouldn’t feel right (never had withdrawal symptoms before either and I went cold turkey on the other two). So I found this article and ever since I’ve tried tapering and it feels impossible.

    Just by going a day without I constantly have the brain zaps and dizziness to the point it is affecting my job because I also struggle to concentrate. It’s been shot a day and a half and today I started getting aggressive hallucinations and I couldn’t move my body because I had no energy and my body ended up draining.

    I fell asleep to have vivid dreams that would constantly change, some aggressive and some not. I also cry for no reason, get extremely agitated and get angry very easily now that my body has gone a period of time with the tapering method. It feels impossible and I had no idea that they could ever be this bad.

    Even trying to taper I’m already struggling with work and have even had to go home early because of it. The fact that I’ve been tapering and I still get all of the above symptoms of withdrawal including HBP and palpitations shows how strong this drug really is and I really have so much respect for those who get through this after being on it for a long time as well. I hope everyone stays safe and good luck to everyone going through this.

  • Tui June 10, 2018, 10:55 am

    Hi. I have been on Effexor for 5 years previously Paxil for 10 years. I have had one failed attempt to taper off Effexor I got through 7 weeks of hell and got anxiety bad again so thought I was relapsing back into depression. The above article has given me hope.

    I have lived through it all before and withdrawing off Paxil was just as bad that time I was bed ridden with anxiety that’s why I was given Effexor and it worked. I am currently 17 days Effexor free after a year long taper.

    I feel I have got over most of the physical withdrawals and now I am very very emotional with anxiety coming and going. I read the above article most days as it give me strength to take one day at a time. I am really hoping to push through the anxiety and ride it out I would love to feel (normal) again.

  • 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.

    • Helen June 25, 2018, 2:25 pm

      Hi. I’ve been taking Effexor for over 20 years for panic attacks – 37.5 mg. It worked like magic. Now I’ve been told by a doctor that it causes high blood pressure, which I’ve recently been told I have. So I started to taper off.

      Last week was my first week without any. I notice I’ve been crying a lot, sad, and angry. Could this be from the Effexor cessation?

  • 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.

    • Tim June 11, 2018, 4:56 pm

      My first day with no Effexor was April 19th. I was on 225 mg, so the taper was a month or so long. I also used CBD oil during the worst of the withdrawal, and the first several weeks of med free living. In the end, I chose to stop the CBD oil when I found myself using it “as needed” instead of forcing myself to be present and allow whatever I was feeling to rise and pass.

      I don’t want to turn to anything external to alleviate my anxiety. Instead, I want to use the tools I learned while on Effexor to turn towards discomfort, see it for what it is, make a choice regarding my response to the discomfort, and then let it go. So far, I feel like I’m succeeding.

      It’s June 11th and I still have a few very mild dizzy spells a day. I also have a few very mild episodes of feeling like my tongue is slow and numb, and I get a mild headache a few times a week. I generally feel more anxious, but that’s what I took Effexor for in the first place, so I’m not surprised.

      Overall, the withdrawal sucked, but it’s mostly over. At first the dizziness, fat tongue, feeling of living in a bubble, and anxiety were very bad. However, I could see the withdrawal symptoms fading, so I stuck it out. I’m surprised by the persistence of the mild dizziness, fat tongue, and anxiety that remains, but I feel confident those will disappear completely, given time. I’m just hoping the time it takes is only a few more months. – Tim

  • 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.

    • Catherine June 11, 2018, 7:21 pm

      Be assured none of this is in your head. The withdrawals are most unpleasant. But like many others, you will get through this and feel better for getting this drug out of your system. Cheers, Catherine

  • 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.

    • Jodi June 23, 2018, 8:18 am

      Wow! I’m currently tapering my dose taking 37.5 away once a week. I have been on it for a long time 😖. I feel just brutal all the time. Congrats on your sobriety. ☺️

    • peter June 25, 2018, 4:41 am

      I had been on Effexor for many years. My p-doc put me on Lamictal (found I was bipolar) and said I could drop the Effexor. I was taking 300mg per day.

      I did so with no withdrawal symptoms. Perhaps I’m lucky. I also discontinued 145 mg / day of opioid using Gabapentin with NO withdrawal.

      I had been taking opioids for 12 years. The Gabapentin is a life saver. It’s truly unbelievable. FDA is considering recommending it to eliminate habitual-drug withdrawal.

  • 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!!

      • Tui June 7, 2018, 10:29 am

        You’re doing great. 👍 Keep the updates coming. I’m following your progress.

    • 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.

      • Geraldine July 7, 2018, 6:26 pm

        I was on Effexor for 14 years. Was not depressed for some years but kept taking them due to the difficulty getting off. I started tapering off 75 mg nearly a year ago by taking 37.5 one day and 75 the next. Then 75 one day and 37.5 for 2 days.

        Just to get this far without withdrawal symptoms took months. The doctor and pharmacist both recommended not decreasing any further until spring. Now I’m taking 37.5 daily. Getting some sleepiness but not many other symptoms. I think the really slow tapering is the way to go.

  • 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.

    • Polly June 19, 2018, 3:50 am

      Hi Pat. I’m close to finishing my taper off 225 mg of Effexor. I was on it for eleven years. Do you remember what the last dose was before you went to zero? I’m so close yet worried about the final step. Anyone who has had this experience – I would love to hear from you! Thank you so much.

  • 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.

      • deb June 16, 2018, 8:52 am

        I sure hope it gets better soon. I have been on this drug for the last 10 years. I was on 225 eventually went down to 75. This was done very slowly. Finally I tapered off to 37 for several weeks now I am off and have been for at least a month. I still feel very moody emotional and oh yes – cranky.

        I sure hope this stops soon. My husband asked what is wrong with me. I am trying so hard and I am not going back there. Ten years ago it was the cancer that had gotten me started – and a recent cancer again kept me on this powerful drug. Well now I am cancer free again and effexor free.

        I sure hope these withdraws get better soon. I kinda want to get on with life. Although I will say this drug helped me though a really tough time of not knowing how long I was going to be here. To be tested twice was hell – so it did really help me emotionally.

        Thanks for the input. And yes I fought cancer – so I can do this too. Yup now I am getting emotional. Stay strong.

        • Jennifer P July 2, 2018, 2:05 am

          Deb, stay strong! you are going to be okay! I just finished tapering off (took a couple of months of horrible withdrawals, so I completely understand! I’ve been free of the drug for two months now and feel so much better!

          The first thing I noticed was how clear I was thinking – no foggy brain. My symptoms are mostly gone now but occasionally feel a minor brain zap once and a while. Oh, and a nice perk is my libido is starting to come back! Yay! So you WILL get there, and you WILL beat this! xoxo

        • Fran July 15, 2018, 6:55 pm

          Hi Deb my name is Fran and I was on Effexor for 1 year. I missed 3 days and decided to just get off altogether. That was 2 months ago and I still have numbness in the brain and irritability. I had to leave Church this morning because I was so nervous.

          I have also had cancer. I thought at first something else could be the cause of my feelings but as I read this post I think it is still the Effexor. Would like some feedback please.

  • 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.

          • Catherine June 11, 2018, 7:17 pm

            Hi Shane. I was on Effexor for almost 15 years. Most of that time I was on the full dose of 4x 75mg. Best thing I ever did was come off them. Withdrawal was no fun but totally worth it. Catherine

  • 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 :)

Leave a Comment