Effexor (Venlafaxine) is a SNRI (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor) medication prescribed primarily for the treatment of major depressive disorder. It was initially introduced to the market by Wyeth in 1993 when it became the first dual-reuptake inhibitor to attain FDA approval for depression. It differed from the SSRIs in that in addition to solely inhibiting reuptake of serotonin, it also inhibited the reuptake of norepinephrine.
Since research showed that certain individuals with depression often have low norepinephrine and serotonin, it made sense to target both with a pharmacological intervention. Though Effexor is known to target serotonin to nearly 30-fold the extent of norepinephrine, increasing levels of norepinephrine was believed to offset certain serotonergic side effects such as weight gain and sexual dysfunction. Furthermore, the slight norepinephrine increase was speculated to improve motivational deficits and cognitive impairment associated with depression.
Despite many people getting relief from Effexor as a standalone treatment, as well as via part of a combination such as “California Rocket Fuel,” others haven’t had as much luck. Unfortunately many people trying Effexor find that it increases suicidality and leads to adverse effects such as nausea, sleep abnormalities, excess sweating, and dizziness. As a result, many individuals responding poorly to Effexor discontinue hoping to clear it from their systems after stopping.
How long does Effexor stay in your system after stopping?
If you’ve completely ceased taking this drug, initially you may feel as if you’ve been hit by a semi-truck of Effexor withdrawal symptoms. As a result of the bizarre and often-debilitating neurophysiological discontinuation effects, many people wonder how long it’ll take for the drug to fully leave their system. To determine how long Effexor stays in your system, it is necessary to understand the metabolite of its active ingredient – Venlafaxine.
Venlafaxine has an elimination half-life of approximately 5 hours (+/- 2 hours) which is extremely short compared to other popular antidepressants. This means that the Venlafaxine should be fully cleared from your system in about 1.15 days (just over a day). However, when accounting for the +/- 2 hour variability of its half-life, some people may excrete the drug in just 16.5 hours, while others may take nearly 2 days (1.6 days) to completely excrete it.
However, just because the chemical Venlafaxine will have been eliminated doesn’t mean that its primary metabolite “O-desmethylvenlafaxine” will have been excreted. The elimination half-life of O-desmethylvenlafaxine is 11 hours (+/- 2 hours). For full systemic clearance of Venlafaxine as well as its O-desmethylvenlafaxine metabolite, it will take an average of 2.52 days. When accounting for the +/- 2 hours, certain individuals may excrete the metabolite in 2.06 days, while others could take nearly 3 days (2.98 days).
- Source: https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/venlafaxine
Variables that influence how long Effexor stays in your system
Though the average clearance of Venlafaxine occurs in less than 2 days, and the average clearance of its primary metabolite (O-desmethylvenlafaxine) occurs in just under 3 days, certain individuals may take considerably longer-than-average to excrete them. Other individuals may excrete them in a much shorter duration. A variety of individual variables should be considered when contemplating how long Effexor (and its metabolic remnants) will remain in your system.
Two people may take Effexor at the same dose, starting at the exact same time, and quitting simultaneously – yet one person may clear the drug (and its metabolites) faster than the other individual. Differences in clearance rates are usually a result of individual factors. Examples of such factors include: a person’s age, body composition, genetics, and liver function.
Age: It is logical to assume that there are likely differences in systemic clearance times of Venlafaxine (and its primary metabolite) based on a person’s age. It is known that elimination half-life of Venlafaxine is substantially longer in neonates, ranging between 12 and 15 hours, and between 10 to 37 hours for the O-desmethylvenlafaxine metabolite. Furthermore, steady-state half-life of Venlafaxine is longer in elderly (age 65+) by an average of 24% and an average of 14% for O-desmethylvenlafaxine.
Numerous age-related factors such as restricted hepatic blood flow and decreased physiologic functionality may contribute to prolonged excretion in elderly. However, no significant differences in clearance times were observed in elderly compared to adults (age 18 to 44) after a single dose was administered. Only once steady-state concentrations are reached (after several days of treatment) does age influence clearance.
- Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8888087
Body height/weight/fat: A person’s physical composition in regards to height, weight, and body fat percentage may affect how quickly Effexor is metabolized and excreted. Generally, the greater a person’s body mass (height/weight) relative to the dose of Effexor ingested, the quicker they’ll excrete the drug from their body; vice-versa also applies. A smaller individual taking a large dose of Effexor would likely excrete it at a slower rate because they ingested a greater quantity of the drug relative to the size of their system.
Due to the fact that Effexor is water-soluble (not fat soluble like other popular antidepressants), it is eliminated quickly from a person’s system. Individuals with greater body fat may eliminate the drug faster from their system than those with lower body fat. This is due to the fact that higher body fat is associated with less muscle, and muscles retain water. Therefore lower body fat individuals may retain Venlafaxine slightly longer than those with greater body fat.
Genetics: Genetic variation is thought to predict how efficiently an individual will metabolize Effexor, as well as how quickly they’ll excrete it. Genes responsible for regulating CYP2D6 isoenzymes in the liver often predict clearance times of Effexor. Someone carrying two inactive copies of CYP2D6 alleles is considered a “poor metabolizer,” whereas someone carrying over two active copies of CYP2D6 alleles will be considered an “ultra-rapid metabolizer.”
The differences in metabolism speed based on CYP2D6 alleles often also influence clearance times. It is also important to consider that poor metabolizers of the drug often require increased dosages (by up to 150%) to feel the effects of the drug compared to normal metabolizers. As a result of the poorer metabolism and greater dosing, clearance times may be prolonged.
- Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK305561/
Food intake / Hydration: Whether you take Effexor with food or on an empty stomach may influence how quickly your final dose is excreted from your system. Effexor is instructed to be taken with food to decrease its rate of absorption. Individuals taking the drug along with a meal (or after eating) may excrete their final dose at a slower rate as a result of the extended absorption period.
In addition to food, it is necessary to consider a person’s level of hydration. Since Venlafaxine is water-soluble, and urinary flow rate can affect excretion time, staying hydrated may facilitate a quicker clearance than dehydrated individuals. Though hydration level is unlikely to have a major impact on clearance, it may have a minor one.
- Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9505987
Liver / kidney function: The functionality of your liver and kidneys play a major role in influencing the speed of Venlafaxine (and O-desmethylvenlafaxine) clearance. Individuals with poor liver function (e.g. cirrhosis) generally retain 50% more of the drug than those with healthy liver function. Furthermore, the elimination half-life of Venlafaxine (and its metabolite) are substantially prolonged due to hepatic abnormalities.
Additionally, individuals with poor kidney function (i.e. renal impairment) generally retain approximately 55% more of the dose than those with healthy kidneys. Renal impairment leads to a prolonged elimination half-life of Venlafaxine (and O-desmethylvenlafaxine). Individuals with simultaneous hepatic and renal dysfunction will likely retain the drug for a considerably longer duration than healthy individuals.
- Source: http://www.pfizer.ca/sites/g/files/g10023411/f/201505/Effexor%20XR_PM_182858_07May2015_E.pdf
- Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8033490
- Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22859791
Metabolic rate: The speed of your basal metabolic rate (BMR) is known to influence drug metabolism and excretion. If you have a fast BMR, it means your body is burning more energy in a resting state than someone with a slow BMR. Individuals with faster BMRs tend to metabolize and excrete drugs like Effexor quicker than those with slower BMRs.
Though it is unlikely that a person’s metabolic rate has a major impact on the clearance of Effexor, it likely has a marginal one. Keep in mind that BMR is significantly influenced by genetics, but can be modified (enhanced or reduced) as a result of dietary intake and exercise.
Urinary pH: Most medications are cleared substantially quicker when a person’s urinary pH is low or acidic. Maintaining a low urinary pH prevents reabsorption of Venlafaxine by the kidneys prior to reabsorption and ensures a fast excretion time. On the other hand, a person with a high urinary pH is likely to have a delayed excretion time. A high urinary pH or “alkaline” urine allows the drug to get reabsorbed prior to excretion, thus delaying complete clearance.
Dosage (75 mg to 375 mg)
Most people understand that the greater the amount of Effexor they ingest, the longer it’ll stay in their system before clearance. A person taking the lowest possible dose of Effexor at 75 mg per day will likely metabolize and excrete it substantially quicker than someone taking 375 mg per day. At 75 mg per day, there’s less of the Venlafaxine chemical circulating throughout a person’s system than at 375 mg (and less of the drug to clear).
Higher doses of Venlafaxine are associated with greater levels of the drug accumulating throughout the body. Though Venlafaxine doesn’t accumulate throughout tissues, high doses place greater burden on the liver (for metabolism) and kidneys (for excretion). The body can only metabolize a set amount of Venlafaxine at a time, and the kidneys can only excrete a set amount at a time.
Elevated levels of the drug (as a result of high doses) may cause the liver to work less efficiently, as well as the kidneys. Furthermore, higher doses yield greater levels of O-desmethylvenlafaxine – which has a longer half-life than Venlafaxine. For this reason, the greater the dose you’re on, the longer the drug will usually remain in your system following discontinuation.
Co-ingestion of drugs (CYP2D6)
Since Effexor is metabolized primarily by CYP2D6 enzymes in the liver, drugs (or other substances) affecting CYP2D6’s functionality can influence metabolism of Effexor. There are two classifications of drugs known to significantly affect CYP2D6 including: “inhibitors” and “inducers.” Inhibitors tend to interfere with CYP2D6, thus prolonging metabolism and excretion of Effexor.
Examples of some CYP2D6 inhibitors include: Bupropion, Cinacalcet, Quinidine, Ritonavir, SSRIs, and Terbinafine. Should you be taking any of these agents along with Effexor, you can expect that its clearance may be prolonged. On the other hand, you may be taking a drug known as a CYP2D6 “inducer.” CYP2D6 inducers enhance activation of CYP2D6 enzymes, allowing for quicker metabolism and excretion of Effexor.
Examples of some CYP2D6 inducers include: Dexamethasone, Glutethimide, and Rifampicin. Should you be taking an inducer, you may clear Effexor from your system at a much quicker rate than average. That said, realize that the degree of enzymatic inhibition or induction is usually based on the specific drug, as well as its dosage.
Frequency of administration
How often you use Effexor will likely determine how long it stays in your system. The drug is medically recommended to be taken once daily in an extended-release (“XR”) format and twice daily in an instant-release format. Should an individual either exceed the daily recommended frequency of administration or scale back on administration, it could affect clearance.
Though not usually done under medical guidance, some people tinker with the frequency of Effexor administration on their own. This may result in one person ramping up the frequency of administration from twice to three times per day, or decreasing frequency of ingestion to “alternate-day” dosing. Individuals that increase the frequency of dosing are likely to experience longer clearance periods than those who decrease frequency of dosing.
With increased frequency of administration, a person will have accumulated a greater amount of Effexor throughout their system (as a result of an increased daily dosage). Those that infrequently administer Effexor (on an intermittent basis) are less likely to attain peak concentrations of the drug (and metabolites) throughout their system. As a result, frequent users generally take longer to fully detoxify than infrequent users.
How Effexor is Absorbed, Metabolized, and Excreted (Details)
Following ingestion, up to 92% of a Venlafaxine dose is efficiently absorbed by the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Differences in absorption are often due to whether an individual took the drug on an empty stomach or with food. Eating food is known to prolong the rate of absorption, but does not affect the extent to which the drug is absorbed.
Furthermore, the specific format of Effexor taken (XR vs. IR) can influence absorption. Effexor XR is associated with a slower absorption rate than the immediate-release format. After the drug is absorbed by the GI tract, it undergoes first-pass metabolism in the liver, facilitated primarily by CYP2D6 isoenzymes. CYP2D6 is responsible for catalyzing Venlafaxine to form the metabolite O-desmethylvenlafaxine.
Other enzymes that aid in the metabolism of Venlafaxine to form O-desmethylvenlafaxine include CYP2C9 and CYP2C19. These enzymes contribute to a significantly lesser extent than CYP2D6. Another less prominent metabolite of Venlafaxine known as “N-desmethylvenlafaxine” is formed upon metabolism by CYP2C19, CYP2C9, and CYP3A4. Other minor metabolites such as N,O-didesmethylvenlafaxine are also formed during the enzymatic breakdown of Venlafaxine.
The drug is then processed via the kidneys, thereby getting excreted through the urine. An estimated 87% of an ingested Venlafaxine dosage is excreted within urine after 48 hours of ingestion. Urinary excretion consists of: 55% O-desmethylvenlafaxine (29% unconjugated and 26% conjugated), 5% unchanged Venlafaxine, and 27% minor inactive metabolites.
Though a substantial portion of an ingested dosage is eliminated via urine within 2 days post-ingestion, complete elimination of the drug will take slightly longer. Since the half-life of Venlafaxine is 5 hours, it’ll take 1.15 days to excrete 100% of the active ingredient. It will take around 2.52 days to completely excrete the O-desmethylvenlafaxine metabolite. As a result, most people will have fully cleared the drug from their body in under 3 days.
- Source: https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/venlafaxine
Tricks to clear Effexor from your system
There are several tricks that may expedite clearance of Effexor from a person’s system. Should you consider any of these tricks, always discuss them with a medical professional prior to implementation. Also keep in mind that certain suggestions may be effective for some people, and entirely useless for others.
- Complete discontinuation: Those hoping to clear Effexor from their system will need to completely cease using the drug if they want to fully detoxify. Stepping down to 0 mg from a clinically therapeutic dose should be conducted only under professional medical guidance. Only after you’ve ingested your final dose will your body be able to fully eliminate it.
- Hydration for urinary flow: Since some of Effexor is excreted through your urine, it is important to maintain a high urinary flow rate to expedite excretion. One way to maintain a high urinary flow rate is to drink plenty of water, thereby staying hydrated. Though overhydration can be dangerous (e.g. dilutional hyponatremia), sufficient hydration will ensure optimal urinary flow for excretion.
- CYP2D6 inducers: Substances that induce activity of CYP2D6 enzymes in the liver can expedite metabolism and may significantly reduce half-life of Effexor. If you are already taking a CYP2D6 inducer, you may be quicker-than-average to excrete the drug. CYP2D6 inducers should only be taken with medical approval to avoid adverse effects and contraindications.
- Urinary pH: Your urinary pH can affect how quickly a drug gets cleared from your system. Someone with acidic urine will usually excrete drugs like Effexor much more quickly than someone with alkaline urine. Alkalinity of urine results in prolonged excretion and reabsorption of the drug. Manipulating your urinary pH to become more acidic through your diet could enhance the excretion of Effexor.
- Daily exercise: After you’ve discontinued Effexor, you may want to consider getting some daily exercise. Daily exercise can ramp up your metabolism, decrease your body fat, and improve blood flow (throughout your body) – each of which could potentially expedite excretion. When coupled with a proper night’s sleep and certain dietary supplements, clearance speed could be sped up. Another possible benefit of exercise is that it could potentially ameliorate some withdrawal symptoms.
How long do you think Effexor stayed in your system?
If you’ve taken Effexor and discontinued, share a comment speculating how long you think it stayed in your system. Do you think that you were able to excrete Effexor (Venlafaxine) and its metabolite O-desmethylvenlafaxine quicker than average? Or do you think that the drug stayed in your body for a much longer duration?
To help others get a better understanding of your situation, mention any variables that you believe had a significant impact (either in expediting or prolonging) Effexor clearance. Examples of such variables could include: your age, other drugs you’re taking, and/or hepatic impairment. Keep in mind that though elimination is subject to slight individual variation, most people will have cleared both Venlafaxine and O-desmethylvenlafaxine in under 1 week.
I took 150mg Effexor for 10 years. Feeling jittery but not depressed, I decided I wanted off. It was actually making me feel worse, IMO. So on 5/8/18, my doctor cut my dosage to 75mg. I did well for a couple weeks, so I started spreading out my dosages.
First, I went 30 hours between, then 48, then 60. I’ve been at 60 hours (2.5 days) between doses for 2 weeks and feeling fine. I was tempted to stop altogether. But after reading this article, which says that the drug may stay in my system up to 3 days, I think I’ll start dosing every 3 days for a while and see how that does.
When I first started this, I had a couple days of brain fog. But the jitteriness stopped right away. I feel fine. My spouse says my personality hasn’t been changed. So I guess all is OK. I’ll just be glad to break this dependence.
I’m a 65-year-old white female who has been on Effexor for 20 years! I’ve been tapering off of 300 mg of Effexor for the past six weeks. I have three more days of 75 mg. I’ve been going through spells of crying, raging, brain tweets and eye flashing.
I’ve put myself on an Hemp CBD anxiety reliever and Hemp CBD w/ melatonin for sleep. I took Mirtazapine for sleep and anxiety but tapered off them now. I take no other pharmaceuticals. I’m pretty scared after reading about going to 0 mg. I’m glad to know about the little balls inside the capsules.
I’m not going from 75 to zero now. I will divide the amount inside the capsules and only take half. Then 1/4. I’m not going to rush this. Eat healthy with low fat foods, keep hydrated, go for long walks, meditate and pray for a peaceful mind. Good luck all!! Thank you so much for sharing. ❤️
Went cold turkey off 375 mg (no missing dot) after 10 years without any symptoms whatsoever. Original high dose was needed to bring depression under control together with other meds successfully and told to keep taking a few years.
I have have had no relapses in a decade and was not keen to mess with the combo. Then I ran clean out of funds to refill and no depression, the symptoms, nada. Big relief. Still taking other meds as lower cost and had longer supply.
How are you now?
I have read a lot about withdrawing from V. But found it very difficult to find many people who were only on 37.5mg to start with. However I have been on this stuff nearly 16 years and subconsciously left the tablets at home when went to a country I later found out it was banned.
I went cold turkey. I have found myself very tearful, crying at things I wouldn’t normally but in some ways it’s also good to just let these feelings come up, sob and move on. I do have sweats which concerned me.
Upon returning to UK the Dr then told me that what I was experiencing was in fact probably pre menopausal symptoms on top of withdrawal symptoms from V (as it masks hot flushes and ironically is also prescribed to women going through the menopause).
I don’t feel myself having the vertigo and weird feeling, but am determined to get on with my life off this med. I have gained 2 stone since I have been on it.
Who’s to say I wouldn’t have anyway? But I exercise like spinning, I walk 4 dogs, eat fairly well and can’t shift it – which makes me miserable. Another reason to stay home off. I hope I can. I am only day 8 V free but do think I can do this.
Hi Bambi I’ve been on the same dosage as you for about the same amount of time. I went on it during menopause- I’d find myself bursting into tears at my desk at work. My new doctor asked me why I’m still on it – I have no idea, I’m way past menopause, I guess I was just worried about coming off it.
He said that such a low dose would not longer be effective and he has me having one tablet every second day and soon it will be one tablet every third day. I’m feeling so lethargic and anxious, plus headachey with sweats and an upset tummy a few days in, but to be honest, I’m not sure how I should feel anymore – I’m so up and down all the time. I’m hoping after I get through this I’ll just feel better and more “even”.
I read the comments as they come through and see how far I’ve come. I have been off this drug now 9 months and look back and think how dam hard it’s been. The brain zapping took a week. I have memory loss of many recovery days. More so because I tried to sleep as much as possible.
I am trying daily to improve my happy place in my head. I understand and feel for anyone and everyone who has gone on this drug or coming off it. Hypnosis was a huge factor of my recovery. I can’t believe how low this drug made me.
My heart and thoughts go out to you all that take the time to write and read the comments. I see some of my own patients are on this drug and I can’t warn them. Just sit back and watch.
I work in dentistry. With the loss of saliva people experience their decay rate goes up. We all need to get each other through this. You are not alone.
I could go on and on about the awful side effects, or the fact that doctors (GPs, neurologists, mental health practitioners, immunologists, ENTs, orthopedic surgeries etc.) don’t seem to be able to do the same google search we’ve all done to find the incredible amount of first hand accounts that show the same symptoms, or read the medical journals that are available free online from the National Institute of Health online library, so they sometime make us sicker by mistaking our symptoms and upping our doses.
But I have a few simple pieces of advice:
1. Start taking B1 (B1 is the most important: think Wernicke’s Syndrome) B12 and Magnesium (you really can’t overdose on them but google dose amounts just to be safe) supplements to repair the effects of Effexor damage that you’ll feel once you start to withdraw (think peripheral neuropathy) and try and eat a low fat/salt/refined carb diet.
(You may not want to throw other vitamins supplements into the mix until weeks after you get to 0 mg of Effexor because they might up serotonin syndrome symptoms.) Stop thinking and rest! And drink lots of water, too.
2. One you dose down, don’t go back up even for a day. Withdraw slowly if you can’t handle the severity of the symptoms, but only if you are willing to/financially able to be absent from work and life for a prolonged period of time. There’s no way around it! Either way, know that they will be severe: think BRITNEY SPEARS HEAD SHAVING, AND 5150 or CHRIS CORNELL SUICIDE.
Your body will be urging you to do everything that will destroy you, just like people’s bodies do when they are detoxing from heroine. Resist stress and anything that makes you think/fixate/feel happy/sad/angry/scared (even TV shows. I watched a lot of kids’ shows and listened to audiobooks). Feeling flatlined emotion is best until you get to 0 mg, and even weeks or months after. Laughter in small amounts is good though: it raises serotonin but not body inflammation.
3. If you suffer from allergies like I do, you may have greater side effects from Effexor, and even just scratching your skin could ramp up and prolong your Effexor side effects/withdrawal symptoms. Pay attention to when your allergy symptoms spike and look for patterns.
4. If you think you may have peripheral neuropathy: do simple spine and joint stretches to allow inflammation to escape and squished nerves to be decompressed.
5. Get people you trust to step in as a parental figures: act as your memory (because you may end up like the guy in Memento) and prompt you do things (like even eat and pee) when you should, speak and listen for you at doctor appointments, and take over basic life responsibilities (even driving could be necessary) for a while. If you have kids you will need someone to care for them during this time.
Don’t feel guiltily to be super self indulgent, and don’t be afraid to ask for help! The greater the support you have and the more you can free yourself from responsibilities during this time, the quicker you can get back to normal life and everyone’s happier in the end. Your kids may not understand why you can’t be around, but there will be plenty of time to explain (and they’ll have a better understanding of what went on, the older they get) and be better parent when this is all over.
6. You will have good moments and bad moments from one minute to the next. If you are consistent with doing everything I said above, you will start to stabilize and feel more normal over the never several weeks or months. Even eating the wrong food or fixating on a thought, or letting yourself get wrapped up in happy feelings can throw you your body systems (and therefore emotions, then body systems – it’s a looped cycle) way off balance, but that’s okay: just try and remember to continue to do all of the above and try not to be too hard on yourself.
Some doctors may want to prescribe you other medications to help you get through this. I suggest that you thoroughly consider and research (personal stories and medical journals) the mediations before taking them because you never know if you may just be getting into another Effexor-like situation.
In my case I was prescribed Effexor for social anxiety, but only now 11 years later and tonnes of unnecessary pain/surgery/MRI radiation, that I’ve done my research and realized that I should have never been on an SNRI in the first place (because if you have anxiety you probably already have high serotonin levels, so taking a medication that ups your serotonin levels will only make you sick and numb all emotions).
I suggest you don’t even take my word for it, research all my suggestions too!
I concur with your suggestions as well as your advice to not feel guilty about being self indulgent for a while. I’ve been completely off the Venlafaxine for 3 weeks now and still experience extremes with my emotions (especially flashes of rage – think road rage on steroids).
The magnesium helps quite a bit and I’m now able to sleep for about 4 hours before waking up for 30 minutes and going back to sleep for a couple of hours. So grateful to be on the other side of taking and then withdrawing from this med.
Thank you! I’ve been on Effexor XR 150 mg for over 10 years. Tried to do gradual reduction in the fall and it was awful – I had to go back on. This information is very helpful.
Hi Everyone. I wanted to share my experience of this drug and how I am managing to get off it. Eight months ago I started suffering from 7wks of insomnia (only 3hrs sleep max per night). I wasn’t depressed but my doc recommended mirtazapine to help me sleep. Almost immediately I got a “high” and being concerned, I told my doctor.
She told me to continue and after 5wks I couldn’t sit still and my speech was very fast. The doctor told me to stop (with no taper). Then followed 4wks of awful anxiety and derealization. Then I was encouraged to take citalopram to put things right and got the same results. I was so bad I was given an anti-psychotic to calm me down and was switched straight from cit to venlafaxine.
To begin with I was calmer but then I got terrible confusion, anxiety, nausea and a fast heartbeat. I informed a different doc about this and was told I needed a higher dose. I went from 75mg up to 300mg within 6 weeks. By this time I couldn’t function. I had no emotions at all (no sadness, happiness, guilt, anger).
I looked at my daughter and close family members and felt they were strangers. I was afraid to leave my house as everywhere I went felt unfamiliar and strange. I started to suffer from nightmares and then more insomnia. I couldn’t read, watch TV or think of close friends/ family without feeling afraid. I was prescribed sleeping tablets and diazepam which didn’t help.
Eventually I lost the feeling of my own identity and was terrified I was starting with dementia. I finally decided to start quitting each med separately. This was against my doctors recommendation. First I stopped the sleeping tablets, then the diazepam and finally begun tapering the venlafaxine. By this time I had been taking venlafaxine for 10weeks.
I dropped down from 300mg to 225mg. Stayed on this dose for 1wk and dropped to 150mg. I waited a week and dropped to 112.5mg. As I was using the 37.5mg XR capsules I decided to open them and remove 1 of the 3 beads and re-close the capsule. The next night I removed 2 beads and on the 3rd night I didn’t take the capsule at all.
I waited a couple of days at this before starting again. I am so relieved I decided to get off this horrendous medication. My emotions have slowly come back, I feel my own personality returning. I am not afraid to leave my house and my sleep pattern is returning. I have had the usual tummy ache, dizziness and occasional “brain zaps” but they are not too troublesome.
My anxiety is reducing and I have even started to laugh at things again. I still have trouble concentrating on reading and writing things (this comment has taken ages) but each day I feel stronger, happier and more motivated to do my favourite things. I am currently down to 50mg and by the end of this week I will be at 37.5mg.
I intend to drop a bead from the last remaining capsule every 4 to 5 days to see how things go. I want to let everyone know who is struggling to come off this medication that there is hope and you will get there. You are not alone and somewhere in the not too distant future you will be back enjoying a happier, fulfilling life.
Never give up the fight to get back to you. Most doctors don’t seem to realise how horrendous and frightening the side effects of these medications are and don’t warn patients of the dramatic impact on quality of life. They also don’t seem to know neither the difficulties posed when trying to withdraw from the medications nor provide proper support to those who are struggling to do so.
I do realise that for some this may be a successful treatment but for most it can be a disastrous medication. My very best wishes and encouragement to you all – it will get better.
Hi, I suffer from DDD and Fibromyalgia for last 27 years. I was on 375mg of this and in October 17 last year was diagnosed with daily chronic headaches. I’ve not had a day without headaches for 5 months. I stopped taking it on Friday.
I’ve had the worst headache since Saturday that I’ve had since being diagnosed in October 17. Had an ambulance out last night but they couldn’t give me anything for the headache. I’ve got a doctor’s appointment later but I’m too scared to go out of the house as I suffer from agoraphobia. Please help. I don’t know what to do and I live alone.
The withdrawal after going cold turkey from Effexor was too much. So after weeks of going from 225 to 150 to 75, I started pulling out the pellets – 5-8 each five days. I finally got off it completely after a month. I feel so much better off the medication that I really regret ever having gone on it to begin with.
I’m so thankful there were people on here who walked me through how to go from 75 mgs to zero. Taking out a few pellets each couple of days stopped the brain zaps. The nausea and stomach pain lingered, but I’m now off it completely for 5 days and my tummy is settling down. I suggest no one ever start this medication if they have alternatives.
I was prescribed and took just 37.5mg slow release per day for 14 days. No other drug has affected me so badly. I simply could not function. No sleep. Night and early morning cold sweats. Headache. Tinnitus. And worst of all, the strangest internal vibrations in my abdomen (like I’d swelled my phone on vibrate!).
I’m on the 3 day of stopping completely, and I seem ok, apart from an upset tummy. The tinnitus remains. As my depression has been caused by two long term problems. Social anxiety and chronic insomnia, I’ve settled on a program of Propranolol (beta blocker) and very occasional use of a sleeping tablet. The Propanol is effective and I have no side effects.
For me, Venlafaxine is poison.
I stopped taking effexor 5 days ago. My body is “blitzing.” My eyes flick and then chills go across my chest throughout the day. Will it ever stop?!
I took one 75mg pill and within 45 minutes experienced some of the worst side effects ever. Dizziness, dry mouth, I would get a tingly feeling in my feet that traveled all the way up my body to my head, vomiting, diarrhea, mood swings to where I felt like I could just explode on someone, my teeth even felt funny. I was in the ER for three hours after taking just one dose. I immediately threw the rest of the pills away in a med-safe. This medication is horrible.
I took one 75mg pill and within 20 minutes my vision changed, and I was hit with indescribably panic, nausea and dizziness. Within 25 minutes was in the company bathroom with vomiting and severe diarrhea. I managed to pull myself together enough to drive myself home (in hindsight I shouldn’t have done so) and went straight to my bed.
My pupils were dilated beyond being able to see my irises, and I stayed that way for well over 24 hours. I managed to function the next day to get through work, but the effects of extreme anxiety, racing heart, chest pains and very sensitive eyes lasted well over 3 entire days.
I’m on day 4 after having this terrible experience and I’m still not “normal”. This must have been complete toxin and poison to my body, and suffice to say I feel terrible for anyone else who has this experience. I’m also glad though, to see I am not alone in how I was affected.
I took a single 37.5 mg pill the day before yesterday, and then I spent yesterday afternoon in the ER. The side effects hit me like a ton of bricks. I will never take this drug again. I am still feeling it today, though not as badly as yesterday.
My lips, face and hands were tingling like crazy. I had a metallic taste in my mouth. I felt so energized I was trembling involuntarily, and then I wound up freaked out and almost unable to breathe.
My heart was racing, my blood pressure shot up, it was very scary. My heart is still amped up today too. I hope it leaves my system soon, this is an awful feeling. I’m going to go chug some water.
I’ve been on Effexor for 20+ years. About 6 months ago, after a very frightening argument with my daughter, my Psych doc raised my dosage from 75 to 150. I wanted to reduce the dose — due to feeling dull, emotionless, sexless. So about 10 days ago, I asked my doc for half the dose — 75 mg. And those 20 days have been fine until today— I’m freezing cold, sick to my stomach, feel like I have a fever — and this is after 10 days of the reduced dosage.
It’s simply horrible. Because I have tickets for my granddaughter and me to go to a concert tomorrow, I decided to take more Effexor plus Xanax tonight, just to be able to go to the concert tomorrow. Hasn’t worked so far. This is like getting off Heroin (I imagine).
Now I figure from what I’ve read here in these comments, I’ll have to go back to 150 mg and remove bead by bead over 6 months. Had NO idea this would be this bad.
When I started Effexor, I went thru a couple of weeks of severe depression, but I was expecting that. This effect of halving my dosage was a horrible surprise. Good luck to all of you trying to get off the drug. It’s a MONSTER.
I’ve been taking V for about 4 years. Began weaning off by lower doses for about 6 mos. 4 days ago, I stopped altogether and I’m still having all of the withdrawal symptoms! Not pleasant! I am 77 yrs. old. Do not hydrate as much as I should (will remedy that easily). Can’t wait til this is over!
Good luck Pat, I’ve only been on Ven for 6+ months however with doc’s help coming off, was on 150mg for x4 months. Been on 75mg for x3 + weeks, feel very agitated at times and sleep is crap.
I’ve been on venlafaxine for almost 5 years now. It helped me tremendously get through a traumatic time in my life but I want to get off this drug. I tried 2 yrs ago but had a setback and decided to continue use. I have been alternating days of my 37.5 mg dosage for 1 week now and I have brain zaps which I HATE.
I also have been getting abdominal pain and back ache and heads aches on my off days. I know this is going to be a long haul and very trying. Just want to say Thank you to all of you on here sharing your experience. It will definitely help me get through this, knowing that these withdrawal symptoms are real.
Hi all, Just sharing my experience and hope it adds something positive to someone here.
I’ve been on Effexor for over 12 years and quit cold turkey two days ago. Last night I thought I was dying from intense stomach pain and diarrhea. Also, brain “zaps” and dizziness galore. Today I’m nauseous and my brain’s still off. But on the plus side, I actually have real feelings of deep love for my husband again which had been rather dull for quite some time :)
I started Effexor after years of depression and a final unsuccessful suicide attempt in my mid-twenties that scared me into considering medication again after a failed experience with Paxil in my late teens. I’d been on Paxil for 9 months back then when it was a fairly new drug and since it had made me more suicidal at 17 years of age, I stopped taking it.
Years later with two young boys, I decided to consider medication again and seriously prayed about it because I didn’t wish to become a guinea pig and have several things tried out on me that might end up unsuccessful again. I prayed that if medication were to be the answer (where diet and counseling weren’t helping enough), that the first thing the doctor suggested would work.
Thankfully, Venlafaxine was suggested and it’s worked really well for me. Everyone’s body and brain chemistry is different, which is why there is no blanket cure for everyone. Twelve years later I’m alive and haven’t wanted to die at all except once when I’d forgotten my meds while on vacation. I’ve had few negative issues outside of tiredness, decreased libido, weight gain and general emotional dullness.
Those sound bad but compared to the desperation of previous years, it was more than livable. Anyway, after much consideration over my weight steadily increasing and blood pressure climbing, I’ve decided to get off of Effexor. I believe that it’s time. I’ve just not been disciplined during these past years about things I’d once been very good at such as: cleaning house, cooking, exercise, eating healthfully, corresponding with people, being sweet to my husband, etc… I’d love to be passionate about something like I used to be.
So, I’m glad to be going cold turkey. I’d tried weaning down before and had gotten down from two pills to one during the past year but have been unsuccessful at getting much further by pulling the capsules apart.So, since I stopped taking Effexor altogether, the only side effects are the stomach upset and shuddering head/dizziness. I believe they’ll pass. I believe that I’ll learn to deal with any future low moods or anxiety by the grace of God. I’m pulling for all of you who are on this journey too! God bless you all.
Hi Vanessa, I can relate to your reasons for starting Effexor. This drug helped me a lot when I was feeling just awful. That was 11 years ago. Like you, I’ve had it with the side effects. I am in the middle of tapering off Effexor as I write this. My question to you is why did you go cold turkey? Are you OK today? I hope so! I look forward to being free of this drug. Thank you for posting.
Hi Polly, Thanks for your kind words and inquiry. I was on a dose of two pills a day and had gotten down to one but was just having a hard time weaning off the last one. It was so hard to get it right (those tiny bouncy balls inside the capsule!). I got tired of dealing with them and the one pill every other day wasn’t going well.
Sometimes I’d be ok but sometimes I’d have the crazy mood swings on the off days. I’m sure it could go well for other people but I grew tired of the weaning process. That said, I’m doing really great today. It took a good 2 weeks to feel leveled out and it was tough at times but I’m so glad that I stuck it out!
I still can’t believe that I’m off of it. I feel more free. There are times I have to remind myself to stay calm when I’m on the road or there’s an emotional trigger of some kind but overall I’m doing great. It’s nice to “feel” more. And the old side-effects are gone.
I’ve been cleaning my house more frequently, I don’t have constant fatigue, I’m a lot more loving to my husband and have more interest/sensation in our time together. I know, TMI. But the absence of those things had been such a difficult thing for me during Effexor.
I hope that whenever you choose to wean you do really well. Just remember that you may feel overwhelmed for a while. And of course, see what your doctor thinks of how you should wean beforehand-I’d hate you to suffer needlessly.
Thanks so much, Vanessa. Today, I am at half the dosage I’ve been on for 11 years. The latest drop down has definitely left me feeling my emotional impulses far more than before. I forgot what it is like to feel so intensely. Congratulations on being done! Good for you.
I’m coming around the bend myself. Definitely seeing my doctor and reducing dosages every two weeks. I will get there too. I’m willing to go through the discomfort to be off Effexor. Do you mind me asking if you are on any other anti-depressants? Thank you!
Hi Polly, No, I’m not taking anything else. I do however keep an eye on my Vitamin D levels which had been chronically low and also just ordered the Serotonin supplement 5HTP off of Amazon at the advice of my Chiropractor. He told me that it’s an excellent support for weaning off of antidepressant meds. Hope this helps and I really hope you’re doing better.
Hi, can you describe brain zaps so I have a clear understanding of them and can see if what I hear and feel are the same thing? Have been on 150 mg Effexor XR and then venlafaxine since 2001. Am cold turkey since 4 days ago.
Was not planned but found myself in the middle of a fuster-cluck between new doctor and med insurance after calling in refills prior to being out of town for 10 days. Returned home thinking refills would have arrived, not the case. Time 4 me to clean out my body of bad drugs on my own again.
My brain zaps on day 2 of cold turkey from 75 mg of Effexor are debilitating. How do you go through your day with them popping you unexpectedly every time you turn your head. I also have tinnitus and severe stomach cramps. I went from 225 to 150 to 75 with no problems. But 75 to zero is awful. I’m on day 2 and “they” said it should be out of my system by now. I don’t know if I can take this any more.
Hello Elizabeth R. I’m 75 years old and recovering from a broken heart (suicidal thoughts so many times) My GP prescribed Venlafaxine, 2 x 75mg tablets daily. This was six weeks ago, and never felt any benefit whatsoever, in fact I felt wretched throughout.
As a bit of a risk-taker, I decided to wean myself over a one week period, and I’ve found my old self again (no depression !! ). A BIG … BUT!! The withdrawal effects are horrible… those brain-zaps and nausea are lingering; so much that I’m frightened to leave my home to go for a bike ride.
Never will I take anti-depressant medication again and let nature take its course… hopefully! I’d love to hear your thoughts Elizabeth, Pete
I am so appreciative that I found this information!! I really do not know why I looked up Effexor tonight because my psych put me on it… a year ago. I was previously on Prozac and it was not helping with the hoarding and/or anxiety. I have OCD and suffered with hoarding most of my life. I decided to give it a try.
I just wanted this lifelong disorder to be over! I had lost so much because of IT. However everything I just read made so much sense. I stopped taking IT abruptly which was irresponsible – or so I thought. Abruptly was not good but stopping was!!! Ran out I guess and suddenly I was taking none. When DID I stop I will have to figure out now.
I had been on Prozac and Luvox and other meds all my adult life and never gave a thought to withdrawals?!?! I recently experienced horrible rage episodes and sobbing spells. I was so out of it when my cherished granddaughters visited (ages 6 and 8) that I said very unkind things aloud!!! Thankfully not directly to them but alluding to their behavior.
I felt so guilty but did not understand why I would lash out like that over relatively nothing, i.e. no one appreciates what I do for them and I am not doing it anymore, bickering between siblings, excessive running and other childhood norms, etc. I attributed my behavior to living with a mentally disabled person that is often verbally and mentally abusive to me.
I thought I was just at my wits end with his behavior in front of them! Yes, I know he needs to relocate as I cannot deal with mine and his struggles. That is another facet to this reality show. Wow! How enlightening this chance look on the internet has been. I am not that mean or a bitter person, I blamed it on letting myself continue to be exposed to another person’s unacceptable behavior – especially in front of my cherished grandchildren.
They had never seen me like that and thankfully they were only here a few days. Now it all makes sense. The outbursts, the night sweats, the sleepless nights, the too much sleeping, the crying jags, the sound of cars speeding by in my head, etc. All of this during the past few weeks or was it months? IDK. When did I run out and not refill?
I am going to figure it out for sure. I had quit a hardcore drug cold turkey! Never did illegal drugs in my life! A legal hardcore drug from Big Pharma. Which by the way, did not seem to make a big positive difference in my habits or mental state. I really need to analyze my state of mind while on it and now. Either way it was not worth it.
Did someone say lawsuit?….I’m in! Ironically, I procrastinate so much due to my anxiety disorders that I JUST refilled this legal poison. 150mg twice a day. It is sitting in my car since yesterday when I picked it up.
It will now be disposed of properly and never again be put in my body thanks to this website and all those that shared their stories. Hope this helps someone else. A special thanks to Michele Chudlynski… I will not take Effexor. M. Lisinski
I stopped taking Venlafaxine about 3 weeks ago. I took 75 mg. for about 15 years for many incidences in my life…Now I am 65 years old, and my stressors are gone, and, I came down (with dr. help) to 37.5 mg to 0 . I have had the “usual” withdrawal symptoms, but, I’m standing my ground and will not let them get the best of me. I do feel better each day, which keeps me motivated…just knowing it won’t last much longer is a big relief.
I am reading these and crying, so glad that I thought to look up how long the withdrawal process takes! Am on day 3 of a 6 month long taper off, thrilled to be off but the “brain zaps” really had me freaked out! They just started, it feels like my head is full of springs bouncing around in there.
And the tears, oh my. My daughter is ill, going thru a separation (her husband left her with a 3 year old and a newborn) and there is not much I can do besides listen and visit for a week at a time. I felt capable and in touch while on meds but needed to get off.
I know it will get better, just reading how everyone else has coped helps so much. My new med is Yoga, love it, life changing for me. Just gotta get thru the tears and zaps… thank you everyone for sharing!
Hi Everyone, Been on ADs for over 20 yrs… Doctor switched me to Effexor XL about 5mo ago (75, 150, then 235). Initially I was ok, but found I was increasingly sluggish, unmotivated, and always tired (the complete opposite of what I was trying to accomplish…). Would want to sleep all day if I could… So I decided to get this drug out of my system (in desperation I dropped to 75, 37.5, then zero over 6 wks…).
Anyway, I’m at day 5 ground zero, and miserable! First few days were manageable. Then, it got worse! Nauseous, dizzy, runs, tired, metallic taste, dry mouth, hot, occasional sweats, restless, nervous/tight stomach, prick pain in my hand, and then on day 4, I had crazy bout of anger. Lucky I wasn’t provoked, as I probably would be in jail. I wanted to fight! Day 5, I had all the symptoms described w/o the anger part.
I just need this drug out of my system… Incredibly frustrating. Then I found this site. I learned more about the expected withdrawals, and read all of your stories. THANK YOU FOR SHARING EVERYONE. This has been VERY helpful to better understand what all I’m experiencing. I hope these symptoms begin to go away soon… Need this gone!
I think I’ll go drink some water and run around the block. The fact that it’s 10:30pm is a bit upsetting, but I’m desperate… Thanks again, and wish you all a rapid and safe recovery through this journey. Be strong! .t
I just went through a weekend without Effexor XR because I didn’t have any and I have been taking it for years. I have attempted suicide twice and now I’m finding out it could partially be the Effexor. And I don’t mean withdrawal. THAT is really bad! But taking the medicine has been a nightmare. I have way overspent. Racked up credit cards not understanding why or how.
I cry uncontrollably at times, my concentration is shot and I was an avid reader and writer. I feel so lost and my Psychiatrist won’t understand why I want OFF this medicine!! There are articles all over the place. Even by reputable sources like U.S. News and World Report about this drug. I’m scared. And doctors are being sued.
Why didn’t mine explain how it affects serotonin ALL over your body!?! My stomach has been a mess for SO long and this is why. And migraine galore!! What a detestable drug!! I am getting off of it and saying yes to life… finally!!! God help me. And anyone out there who’ll support my efforts.
I totally support you but I am in the same boat. I just don’t even know if I am depressed or just messed up from Effexor for good.?
I have taken Effexor for years, first prescribed for hot flashes. I just went on a cruise and forgot my Effexor… damn, nightmares, sweating, dizziness, today is day 9, I’m not going to restart. Anything with this withdrawal process is nasty and I’m not starting it again.
I still have fuzzies and wonder what brain chemistry alterations are affecting me and when ALL symptoms will cease. Haven’t seen anything about brain chemistry adjustments resulting from this drug withdrawals. Other experiencing this please share.
My last dose was Friday, Feb 27, 2017. I tapered off. I was on 150 XR for 10 years plus. I could not get off it.
My last dose was 37.5mg. And I think that’s to high to just stop at. I’m still having side effects after over a week with no Effexor. They need to give lower doses.
Every time I dropped dose I went into a angry fit for about a week and I leveled out. Plus the usual zaps and waves of I don’t know what to call it. It’s not dizziness. It didn’t help raise endorphin levels in my brain as they say it does. Don’t take Effexor.
I’ve been taking Effexor since May 2015, the side effects getting on were tolerable. I went from 75 mlg, to 150 then eventually with in a month or so up to 300. Last year in July or August, I noticed that if I missed a dose my head would hurt and it would feel as if I was getting the flu or a bad sinus infection. So I tested which medication was causing this effect. (I was put on xanax 1, 2 mlg a day and clonazepam 1 to 2 mlg a day as well the effexor).
So I took one out starting with the clonazepam. Nothing major happened just my day anxiety was a little less controlled. Then I waited a couple days before I took out the xanax. The xanax I immediately felt, because my restless leg syndrome was flared up, I couldn’t sleep very well and I was a little irritable. Then I went back to all three, waited a few days before I took out Effexor. Oh my goodness! (I took all my meds at night by the way) so by roughly 12 pm I was feeling tightness in my neck, headache coming from the back of my head, eye pressure, sinus pressure and finally by 2 PM I was in so much pain I wanted to crawl out of my skin.
So I spoke with my physician and asked to be weaned off of the Effexor. My physician told me and I quote, “If you don’t want to take it anymore, then quit cold turkey.” I almost lost my head in his office. Did he not listen to anything I told him? Did he want me to commit suicide? Is he a sadist and enjoys other people’s pain? What the crap…? So as a rational person would do I sought out a second opinion. I spoke with my regular physician and told her of my findings, expressed my concerns and also told her what the other physician had said.
She agreed to drop the meds down to 150 mlg and suggested that I speak with the other physician again and that she would as well. So the transition from 300 to 150 was tolerable. The withdrawal symptoms lasted about a week and I was able to sleep again, also the pain went away but my muscles throughout my body were still sore from spasms. I went 6 months, then spoke with my physician again about lowering the dose to 75 mlg. He refused and told me to just stop taking it. Finally after a couple of visits between the two physicians, I was cleared to drop down again.
I started the 75 mlg on February 13th 2017. (Remind you I take my medication at night otherwise I forget) the 14th was horrible! I woke up in pain! I tried taking ibuprofen and it helped a little. I went to the sauna and that helped a little. But my legs were super spastic, my body was locking up, and my face was receiving numbness and tingling. (Which I had felt before when accidentally skipping a dose) so I decided by the night of the 14th to take the medicine in the morning. (Just the effexor, still keeping the xanax and clonazepam at night).
The withdrawal symptoms were better but the medicine only lasted roughly 4 hours until my body stared withdrawal symptoms again. By the 17th I was a mess, mentally and physically. I figured since it was a 4 day weekend coming up to just go cold turkey and pray that the withdrawal symptoms would be gone by my son’s birthday the 21st of Feb. I tried saunas, massage therapy, and fasting only drinking water to help flush my system. My body was under attack from the 17th until still current March 4th 2017.
The withdrawal symptoms were so bad that I can’t remember a few days of my life and I did things that were compulsive behavior such as spending without limits on who knows what? I became sexually heightened and very unsafe. By Thursday the 24th I went to the E.R. to see about getting admitted. I was dismissed and told that the withdrawal symptoms would subside soon and that I was doing great with the saunas, salt baths, massage therapy and flushing. Then on Saturday the 26th I invited people I did not know to my house.
I paid for their travel and the whole time trying to avoid this behavior but had no control. Sunday morning I called a friend and was taken to the hospital. I can only remember pain, sadness, anger and confusion. I was admitted that afternoon to the psych ward in which I stayed for 4 days, refusing to take anything ever AGAIN! I told the physicians there I’d rather die, then live through this pain. I’m a single mom of two and I put them in danger because of these withdrawal symptoms. I was in danger of losing my life.
Today I am still having issues: my mind isn’t clear, I have a hard time staying focused, my legs and body still twitch and ache. I’m eating more than what I’m used to. I get irritated very easily and become almost Tourette’s-like. I have heightened anxiety and its hard to sleep. I also quit smoking during all of this and the nicotine fits are super intense. I use cinnamon and root beer to help with the nicotine fits and its soothing. I also have aromatherapy diffusers throughout my house.
I’ve disassociated with friends and some family (to help curb anxiety). I’ve gotten off social media as well, so not to become unsafe again, also so I’m not blasting my irrational thoughts out into public. I have signed up to do exercises throughout the week with my children and I have therapy set up once a week. Yet I’m still terrified every day I wake up, if these symptoms will ever seize in my head and body. The chronic pain is what is getting me the most because its causing the Turrets and the irritation.
I really feel that this medication is evil. And I’m going to proceed in filing a suitcase against ALL involved parties. The withdrawal symptoms they address is just a pinch of what its really like. And for ANY physician to tell anyone to go COLD TURKEY – ha ha – might as well have handed me a gun.
I am now one month off Venlafaxine and am feeling amazing. I had head zaps too. I have been taking omega oils which I read would help. I also had days when I was short tempered, crying and had terrible toothache for awhile. Don’t know if this was a withdrawal symptom. I took pain relief for the toothache which the pharmacist said would also help with head zaps.
It feels great being off the meds. I just kept reminding myself that I was going through withdrawal and it would be worth it. And it really is. Stay strong you can do this. Keeping occupied this also helps also let the people around you know that your coming off these meds and you might get tearful, short tempered etc and not to take it personally. You can do this!
So it actually took a month for all the withdrawal symptoms to stop?
Hi. By what I have been reading everyone’s different. But please stay strong and get lots of support from doctors, friends and family.
I was on Effexor XR for 18 years. It stopped working probably 7 years ago. I could find no Dr to help wean me off this. Finally I have a psychiatrist that was willing to help. Previously I had tried weaning off it. The brain zaps and other side effects were unbearable. I am now 12 days out from my last dose. I got it down to 1/4 of a 25 mg tablet.
Side effects are still bad. But I am determined this time. It’s the lowest I have EVER been able to get down to without medical intervention. By intervention I mean having to start again, or add other medications. The brain zaps are still bad. So is the nausea. However, I am starting to think a little more clearly. Do not take this medication until you have researched it. Your Dr will not tell you the truth.
How are you doing now? I tapered down over several months and have been off for about 6 weeks. I’m not sure if I am experiencing depression, or side effects of stopping its use. I was on it for an extended period of time as well.
Hi. Was on venlafaxine for a year at 250mg a day. Before that doctor tried different antidepressants. Found 350mg of venlafaxine too much after about six weeks hence down to 250mg. Been decreasing from 250mg over a year steadily with doctors help. When got to 37.5 mg twice daily found I got head zaps for a couple of days until got use to decrease. Each decrease was after about six weeks.
On day five of taking no tablets. Been getting brain zaps, loose stools, stomach pains, agitation, tearful, and not sure if side effect but got terrible toothache. Pain seems to move from top to bottom jaw. Decided to take paracetamol for this. However I’m staying positive. Energy increased, looking forward to a venlafaxine free life. No way am I going back now. Good luck everyone. Let’s give this drug the boot!
I am bipolar, and I was on 75 mg ER daily for about a year. After a traumatic event, my doctor bumped me to 150 mg ER daily in November of 2015. I believe the higher dose of Effexor is what kicked off the worst and longest lasting manic episode of my life, starting in February. I became homeless in March because I had become paranoid of my friends and family.
In May, still homeless, I discovered the link between Effexor and manic episodes. I started tapering off immediately, much faster than recommended. I went from 150 mg daily to 2 weeks at 112.5 mg, then 2 weeks at 75 mg, then 2 weeks at 37.5 mg, and then I was DONE! I took my last dose of Effexor on June 24th, shortly after I found housing.
The brain zaps, nausea, and suicidal thoughts persisted for about 2 weeks. I needed a couple of trips to the ER and an emergency rx of ativan to keep me safe. I lived on mostly gatorade and chicken broth. It’s now been just over 2 months since my final dose of Effexor and I feel better than ever. I still notice some memory problems and my spatial awareness is a bit off.
I’m clumsier than before, mostly. But I have my brain back. I am staunchly pro-medication and always have been, so it was an extra blow to admit that I was put on a bad med. But the information on Effexor is freely available and I feel betrayed by my doc that he thought it was appropriate for my condition and situation.
Best of luck to anyone else trying to get off this medication. Recruit a couple of good friends, try to sleep a lot, and take it easy.
I was on Effexor for 2 & 1/2 years. It was my decision to try to wean off, due to hearing from others how awful the side effects would be. I took ONE Bead out of the capsule every two weeks over the course of six months. This may sound unrealistic,but having this goal made me feel good about myself, knowing that I could do it gently. Set this goal and be patient to see yourself how amazed you will feel in accomplishment taking that last bead!
I took venlafaxine for one day and had intense side effects. Immediately stopped taking it. Anxiety was worse and body felt like it was on “fire,” sweating stomach, and nausea. Honestly I don’t recommend this at all.
Hi I’m stopped taking 75ml after tapering from 225ml since April. I decided to stop as I was prescribed this venlafaxine for pain relief due to a diagnosed central nervous system dysfunction and was misdiagnosed. The venlafaxine never relieved any pain (it was discovered I had an enlarged ovary and this was removed pain has significantly reduced although still residual pain and perhaps from venlafaxine) which is why I decided to go cold turkey!
I am slight build and slim weight and quite fit although since beginning medication I have had very sluggish bowel and metabolism! Sorry to go into detail but on this site it says to mention factors that may influence withdrawal effects. Hideous effects!! Day one nothing. Day two some vision and vertigo and diarrhea.
Day three diarrhea cramps increase vertigo no way could drive. Day four zappy sounds in head vertigo I fell over can’t make decisions or focus pain in legs. I’m on Day five now… very grateful for online support… Taking omega 3 to help and drinking herbal teas walking and I slept all night!! Will update so looking forward to being free though calling doctor as beginning to worry when these side effects will end!
Hey Anne, thanks for the post. I dropped venlafaxine earlier this week and I’m still getting the brain zaps. I had been on 150mg for about a year but it wasn’t doing anything for me. What it did do was give me a decreased libido, a wet noodle erection, and marital problems. Pissed me off when I found out these were side effects of this horrible drug. Keep up the fight and don’t give in. You can do it!
I got up to 300mg of Effexor about 4 yrs ago plus at one time 150mg Effexor and 150mg Wellbutrin. I started not sleeping well, plus twitching at night. When I decided I’d had enough I talked to psychiatrist about weaning off. (I had experienced the side effect of missing one pill!)
It took about 6 months to wean down. I really didn’t notice a difference…while we were in a weeks holiday I finished the last 37.5mg pill. My husband had been sick on holidays and the day before we left to come home I got sick. I don’t know if it’s related in the sense that I am still sick a week later – that not only involves the cold symptoms but vertigo-like symptoms like you mentioned.
It’s Christmas Day right now and I feel like crap. Advil did nothing and I’m lying in bed. Like I said not sure if it’s related or if it’s a coincidence.
Today is day 6 totally stopped taking 75mg (after using it for 4 years). On 22 June, started every alternate day, the dizziness/drunkiness got to me, but now six days going strong…so to all on this road, heads up, stay positive, and strong…
Corne: I was prescribed 75mg per day but reduced myself down to half over a after 9 months of use. I tried to go “cold turkey” but I felt nauseous, dizzy, the tinnitus drove me insane. I had to start back up. It took only 1/2 a day before I felt back to “normal”. I hate being chemically dependent on this medication. The weight gain has been about 25 lbs in one year. So, I am now on alternate days, however, I really feel the effects on the second day. I think I may be unfortunately stuck on these.
Been taking venlafaxine alongside Sertraline for two years. Took a long time to get into my system, had very bad side effects. Tapered my dosage for 6 weeks, after having some sort of adverse reaction. I feel horrendous. There’s no way it only takes a couple of days to be out of your system.
So it been 20-22 days off venlafaxine. I was also on bupropion 150 XL which I stopped taking 2 days ago. Second day completely off venlafaxine and all hell broke loose. Bp checked at a physical was 160/100. Monitored for about a week and it started to look like it was going back to normal. Got sick with symptoms if the flu last week and got bp checked in clinic 122/80.
Started a supplement called SAM-e first day took 40am was fine then next day took only 200 MG (thought 400 2 as to much). Later that day felt weird jittery, arms weak and bp back up. Stopped bupropion 2 days ago and bp is still wacky I get ranges from 120-160s top number to 80s-111 bottom. Stressing me out being that people say venlafaxine and even the bupropion should be out of my system by now.
I’m 35 and no history of BP. :/ Some of my symptoms: Dizzy almost drunk feeling, nausea, high BP, agitated/angry, red flushing face, itchy skin, muscle pain/aches in arms feeling like feeling you get after walking on treadmill a long time, jittery, racing pounding heart beat. The high BP worries me most.
I tried numerous times to quit venlafaxine 75 mg but it was psyching me to going crazy. I was taking two pills a day. Then I went to 1 pill every 3 days. After a month I said it’s now or never. So I stopped it altogether. 2 days later here comes the horrible feelings of suffocation and extreme uneasiness.
Day 4 was terrible without the venlamonster. I sucked up my willpower and said I can do this. Now it’s been 7 days and the brain zaps or what I call the 1/2 second blackouts are going strong. My body wants to take a pill to stop it, but my willpower is at the point it is saying don’t give in or we will go thru this again.
If you are given this medication by a doctor, think twice. I never got relief for depression with venlafaxine. Taking it for a few weeks will result in you going thru withdrawal symptoms. Your results will surely be different. Choose wisely.
Drew – I have the same issue and it is a real worry for me. I have been off venlafaxine for 15 days now and my heart rate is still sitting too high. My resting rate is 58-60 (often lower when I am in peak condition for the sport I play). I’m documenting the withdrawal effects and it’s been very helpful for me to visibly see that these are decreasing over time.
The GP thinks this is unhelpful but for someone like me this is actually normal and therapeutic (I have spreadsheets detailing my car repairs, mileage and fuel consumption; my weightlifting, my conditioning … I could go on!). My HR has been up around 120 on a bad day but this is thankfully becoming more rare. Now it’s more around 75 but can be up towards 90.
My GP doesn’t think this is an issue and is dismissive of my statement that this is high. I know my resting heart rate because of my training and conditioning. When it was 120 I was freaking out. I have also picked up high blood pressure (140/100) for the first time in my life (38 years). I was put on beta blockers for two weeks (horrendous side effects, had to come off them) which also leave a legacy of an increased heart rate and possibly blood pressure.
Since coming off the beta blockers (whilst still on venlafaxine) I have had only two days of waking up to a normal heart rate. Since coming off venlafaxine only one day so far. Also, my emotions are all over the place and I feel agitated and warm all the time.
I hope everyone posting here is doing better as each day goes on. I’ve taken great solace from posts from other people who have come out of it and have said we will get through this. If it’s helpful I did some light touch ‘research’ and found the following for estimated length of these effects:
Published research (medical journals etc):
9 sources, 1-3 weeks.
Guidance (relies on research and testimony):
5 sources, 2-3 weeks.
Patient experience (all from forum posts):
43 sources, 1-8 weeks mostly with some rare but large outliers beyond that.
I’ve been on Effexor XR 150 mg daily for maybe 3 years this time. I was admitted to the hospital a week ago for a heart attack. They stopped the effexor cold turkey, saying it was contraindicated with a recent heart attack. I was discharged after 2 heart catheterizations, one stent, and a lung CT with contrast.
The withdrawals are horrendous! You should never quit cold turkey but I know even going off slowly will still result in withdrawal symptoms. People who use illegal street drugs are often given help getting clean, but getting clean from effexor? Nothing! The absolute worst antidepressant I have ever been on!
Only took Effexor 75g for 5 weeks. Felt incredibly nauseous, dizzy and slept most of the day for the first 5 days. After 5 weeks and so many side effects, the worst not being able to sleep at night at all, so I started to come off it 5 days ago. I was going to take the tablet every other day, but after 2 days and much research, decided I really wanted it out of my system as soon as possible.
Felt really good until today, the fifth day. Have had dizziness, vomiting and diarrhea all day (maybe that is clearing my system faster??) I have had 2 ft of bowel removed many years ago because of Crohn’s disease and am 68. Would never recommend this medication to anyone. All the best to everyone who is trying to come off this medication.
I do hope you can all cope and that you feel so much better with it out of your system. Thank you to the Mental Health Daily article on Effexor – very thorough.
I started taking Effexor 6 months ago and it was OK – made me sleepier than normal (I have some bear in me) and I had 3 fainting episodes which frightened me as I live alone and could have easily killed myself in the fall. I stopped taking Effexor cold turkey 7 days ago after being severely frightened at my blood pressure going to very high levels (normally 120 over 80).
I had a dry wracking cough through the day and night which kept me from sleeping properly and was awake almost every hour, and had sounds like 2 garbage can lids being banged together in my head, as well as tiredness and dizziness. This morning was the first day where I have felt almost my old self – and I won’t be taking it again.
I have been reducing my dosage of venaflaxine for 5 months now. Very slowly. I open the capsule 150 mg, inside are 12 little granules. For the first week I withdrew 1 granule each day. The following week I removed 2 per day for 2 weeks then 3 per day for 3 weeks and so on. When I got down to 75 mg I took that dose for one month. I am now on 5 granules and next week reduce to 4.
I know this is very slow. But when I tried before about 18 months ago I reduced one capsule per week, this didn’t work for me and had a bad relapse.
But so far so good. I am over 60 and have been on and off meds since I was 21. Have not noticed any withdrawals.
I took it for a month, had just about every side effect possible. I experienced increasing heart rate and breathlessness and stopped. It’s now two weeks since I stopped and my heart is still at 100 BPM resting. It’s a worry as information on half life states that the drug should be clear of the system after 3 days. I didn’t start the next medication until things have calmed down. Does anyone have any experience of this?
I have been taking it for about 6 months and began having tachycardia and dizziness. I didn’t correlate the two until I started reading people’s experiences and now I’m tampering off and it’s gotten much worse. I can barely clean my house without having my heart rate go through the roof and becoming so dizzy I have to lay down.
Shelbi I’m so glad I read your post thank you for sharing. I’ve been on Venlaflaxine XR for 20+ years 300mg for most of that time and 150mg for past 3 years. Been too scared to stop but after reading your story I know I have to. I have Heart tachycardia, very high blood pressure (even tho on BP meds), dizziness (falls), breathlessness, severe weakness and tiredness as well as severe overheating all of which I have been plagued with for years. Why hasn’t anyone put two and two together for me!! I am 63 now and am going off this drug immediately.
Withdrawal side-effects weren’t an issue for me; every time I’ve dropped a dose I’ve generally felt lethargic and ‘zappy’ when I move my eyes. I can deal with that… but the low-mood that hits you in the days following completely knocks me off my feet and lasts for at least two weeks with every 37.5mg dose drop. Don’t want to scare anyone but be ready to sob in the shower, turn on the TV and stare at the colours whilst worrying about 10 different things and generally go through the motions.
Aside from daytime fatigue, it’s a great antidepressant for the most part… provided it doesn’t poop out. For me it, it pooped out. Be aware that you can combo it with mirtazapine if you get mixed results. A lot of doctors don’t like combining ADs though I hear it can often kick depression when even both those drugs have failed separately.
Alternatively there’s also things like selegiline, buprenorphine as a patch, moclobemide – from what I’ve read they’re all a lot more tolerable than Ven but can be difficult to get prescribed.
I can confirm, there will be sobbing in shower lol. Chris the way you wrote this made me laugh and smile. Going through this right now.
I am going through venlafaxine withdrawal right now. The symptom most bothersome is the restless leg. I cannot find rest at all it’s a wait and see thing. I’m already 4 weeks in… couple more to go.
This us heavy stuff. It dramatically “effex” (get it?) your body in ways that you may not want it to. Try other SSRIs first. Good luck!
I agree with you Jake. Please people don’t start this med unless you do research on it. I only took Venlafaxine 75mg. for 7 weeks and it was the worst experience of my life.
I agree with you, Cindy. I had a bad immediate experience with it years ago (my PCP prescribed it and told me to start at 300mg, by the evening after I started it I was in the hospital thinking I was dying!) and this go round I told my psych dr that I wasn’t comfortable trying it again. She pushed the issue and started me at a low dose, slowly rising it as recommended.
I eventually got to a point I couldn’t stand it anymore (back up to 300mg over 3-4 months) and demanded we stop it. I came down as prescribed, but only over 2 weeks, and I’m not at the end of week 1 with none and I feel terrible. Worse than when I was on it. It’s a miserable med in my opinion and I always try to steer others away from it if possible. I just want to feel semi normal again!
I was on Effexor XR 375 for a looong time before it went bad with me and cause high blood pressure (in one month my pressure went from 80/120 to 113/170). Needless to say even though Effexor was a WONDERFUL medication for me, I decided to stop it after a month of high blood pressure. Note: I was on Effexor when it first came out for about a year and stopped for other reasons and I knew that my discontinuation would be mild.
So I stopped on Wednesday (stopped taking 375mg of Effexor xl) and had some mild background zapping that bothers people (I find it similar to background static and am able to ignore it). Other than that mild effect I’m fine. It will take a while for my blood pressure to go down and I really regret having to find a different drug to use than this SNRI antidepressant, but there you go.
You use what you can for however long it works. Good drug or me with minor discontinuation issues. I hope to give another drug a go in the future.
Clearing the drug is only the first chapter of the story. Your body now expects this chemical to do its basic neurotransmitter functions – how long does THAT take to re-route and restore? According to patient reports it is extremely difficult to stop taking venlafaxine even when tapered for months. My only thought is that making sure the nutritional support for making your own serotonin etc is a big part of helping your body come back.
Totally agree Jan, and great question… I believe it takes much longer than professionals lead most patients to believe.