Viibryd (Vilazodone) is a relatively popular new antidepressant that has been found effective for treating symptoms of major depression. Many people have had success with this antidepressant and tend to not experience as many of the other side effects associated with most SSRI’s such as: weight gain and sexual dysfunction. Although this drug may be slightly different than other medications on the market, some people end up trying it, but find out that it really didn’t work well for them. Others try it and it works, but they don’t want to stay on medication forever.
The majority of people that try Viibryd will end up withdrawing from it at some point. When withdrawing from any psychiatric medication, it is important to know what to expect. By preparing for the withdrawal effects, you will realize that what you are experiencing isn’t “just all in your head” – it’s simply a reality of medication withdrawal. Many people have come off of Viibryd successfully and in general, this medication is regarded as being one of the easier antidepressants to stop taking compared to other SSRI’s.
Factors that influence Viibryd withdrawal
There are a few different factors that play a role in withdrawal from any antidepressant. These include: the length of time for which you took the drug, the amount of medication you took, your individual physiology, as well as how you quit (cold turkey or tapering).
1. Time Span
How long did you take Viibryd? Was it for just a few months to get yourself out of a rut? Or did you take it for a few years to help manage your major depression? In general, the longer you have been on a medication, the more difficult it is going to be for your brain to readapt to life without the drug.
2. Dosage (10 mg, 20 mg, 40 mg)
With the drug Viibryd, most people end up “titrating” their way up to the 40 mg dose. They start at 10 mg, then after a couple weeks bump up to 20 mg, then finally make the final jump to 40 mg. Since 40 mg is the standard therapeutic level for this drug to have an antidepressant effect, most people will be withdrawing from the 40 mg dose.
Your individual physiology and nervous system will play a role in determining how easy and/or difficult it is for you to stop taking this medication. Certain individuals have bad reactions during the withdrawal process, while others report very minimal symptoms. Everyone has a unique experience with medications – including going on and coming off.
4. Cold turkey vs. tapering
Do you plan on quitting this medication cold turkey or do you have a structured method of tapering? Just like you titrated on the drug, you should also slowly reduce the amount of the drug that gets ingested by your body over the course of weeks. It is not recommended to just quit after taking the 40 mg dose for an extended period of time. Slowly work your way down from 40 mg to 20 mg then 10 mg, and then stop.
Viibryd Withdrawal Symptoms
Below are some of the most commonly reported withdrawal symptoms for the drug Viibryd. In general, the most common symptoms seem to be itching of the skin and vivid dreams (or sleep changes). Do not let anxiety get the best of you during withdrawal. Understand that these are merely withdrawal symptoms and that you are not getting crazier – you will return to normal functioning.
- Agitation: This is an unpleasant state of arousal that is linked to withdrawal. It’s almost like a tense form of excitement that can go hand-in-hand with irritability. You may feel “edgy” and like you cannot hold back your energy.
- Anxiety: It is very common to experience anxious thoughts during the withdrawal process. Viibryd works on the serotonin system and discontinuing the medication is thought to result in lower levels of serotonin. This can cause even worse cases of anxiety.
- Brain zaps: These are like “electric shocks” to the brain – it literally feels like the inside of your head is being zapped by electricity. Understand that these are from the medication and that they will eventually go away. Fortunately these are not quite as common during Viibryd withdrawal, but have been reported.
- Depression: Think about it, you are taking a medication to help with depression. When you come off of it, you cannot expect your neurochemistry maintain the antidepressant effect of the drug. Therefore many people feel depressed again when withdrawing. Some people may feel even more depressed than usual – this is common.
- Dizziness: Feeling dizzy is a completely normal response to withdrawal from Viibryd. You may feel incredibly dizzy and/or sensations of vertigo. Do your best do cope with this and understand that it will eventually subside.
- Fatigue: You may have no energy to do anything throughout the day. Even simple tasks around the house may seem difficult. This is because you are dealing with an incredibly high level of fatigue. Your energy levels should return to normal after a few weeks.
- Headache: This is yet another common withdrawal symptom. If you experience headaches when you stop Viibryd, you may want to pick up some over-the-counter headache relief.
- Insomnia: The inability to fall asleep at night or at a normal time is commonly reported. You may be unable to sleep because you are feeling so emotionally wound up and/or crazy. Insomnia is something that can make withdrawal difficult. Do your best to relax and get sleep when you can.
- Irritability: Every little thing may upset you and/or trigger an anger response. It is common to feel excessively irritable when stopping any antidepressant.
- Itchiness: Many people notice extreme itching feelings and/or burning sensations when quitting Viibryd. This withdrawal symptom often isn’t spoken of by doctors, but many people withdrawing from the medication experience it. This tends to last at least a few weeks, but will eventually subside. Some people claim that this medication actually gave them a rash.
- Mood swings: Many have reported mood swings when stopping this particular medication. Some people experience anger one minute, then feel pretty good the next. These temporary swings in mood will eventually come to a halt.
- Muscle spasms: This is a less common side effect, but some people have reported muscle spasms during the first few weeks of withdrawal. It has been reported that these tend to go away on their own after a week or two.
- Nausea: It is very common to feel especially nauseated during the first couple weeks of withdrawal.
- Panic attacks: This is linked to feelings of anxiety when stopping the medication. For some people, the withdrawal triggers a panic response.
- Sleep changes: You may be unable to sleep at night and/or experience disturbances in your sleep. Your sleep cycle may change and you may find yourself excessively tired throughout the day, yet you aren’t able to sleep at night.
- Suicidal thoughts: It is pretty common to experience suicidal thinking when coming off of any psychiatric medication. Although these thoughts are less reported by people going through Viibryd withdrawal, some people do experience them.
- Vomiting: According to the NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), some people experience vomiting when they come off of Viibryd. Vomiting doesn’t seem to be very common though.
- Vivid dreams: You may experience very vivid dreams and/or “crazy” unusual dreams when stopping this medication or upon reduction of the dose. Others report experiencing “nightmares” and/or consistently bad dreams.
- Weight changes: If you lost or gained weight on this medication, you can expect your body to reset itself when you come off of it. In other words, if you packed on a bunch of weight, you should lose that weight when stopping. If you lost a bunch of weight, you may gain it all back when you stop the drug.
How long do Viibryd withdrawal symptoms last?
It totally depends on the person. Some people experience very minimal withdrawal symptoms, while others are plagued with symptoms for weeks. In general, most people should be fully recovered from withdrawal symptoms within a couple of months. The majority of major symptoms should subside after about 4 to 6 weeks. After a couple of months, most people notice that their withdrawal symptoms are completely gone.
If you are experiencing withdrawal symptoms after being off of Viibryd for more than a couple months, just realize that it likely isn’t all in your head. Most of these drugs are reported by professionals as being relatively easy to come off of, yet they do not realize what the experience is like from a first person perspective. When I quit Paxil cold turkey, I had withdrawal symptoms that lasted over eight months.
It is thought that if you engage in healthy activities such as: eating good foods, consistent exercise, and socializing with others – that withdrawal should be easier. Do healthy things for yourself like walking outside in the sunlight or going to the gym. Make sure you are eating all of your meals and focus on doing what you can do even if you are feeling the pain of withdrawal. Eventually you will recover and return to how you were pre-Viibryd and the withdrawal symptoms will subside.