This thread is not being created to elicit controversy or debate. I would ask that it be respected for its intended purpose and be kept as clean as possible. It is simply being provided as an aid, and possible lifesaver, for those currently going through the throes of withdrawal hell.
Simple Unarguable Facts:
Effexor, without question, can be one HELL OF A BEAST to quit.
If NOT done right - it can positively shake up and turn your whole world upside down (and the worlds of those around you).
Physically, emotionally, psychologically, financially, socially …
The vast majority of Doctors are NOT aware or educated or care (?) enough about this phenomenon. Chances are very good that they will not be able to provide much help and, furthermore, they may provide VERY HARMFUL advice. Be very, very careful!
People DO survive this Hell!!! Many are here, as living proof, on this very board.
To try and ease the suffering of those presently going through Effexor Withdrawal Hell … and to possibly save many, many future sufferers by learning from our successes and failures.
I encourage all Withdrawal Survivors to please share your tips for success (and FAILURE).
Let's join hands and stay strong. Together we can beat this!
The Following User Says Thank You to Sandalla For This Useful Post: helcor (07-17-2012)
I cant say if I have any tips per say.. But I can tell you about my experience in hopes that something may help. I had a a devil of a time trying to get off effexor. It was a few years ago and I think it took the Dr. by surprise! But what I had to do, is go to the very lowest dose possible, and then cut it in half for a long time. Then, cut that in half ( So i was actualy taking 1/4th of a pill) and take that for a long time. Then i took it every other day etc... Finaly I stopped taking it. For about 3 weeks after I had a hard time with dizziness and the feelings of those electric type shocks.. those zzzztt! feelings! It was hard and I hated it but I endured because I know it would get better. It was kind of like being on prednisone,, it is a devil to get off of!
I have many, many, many tips to share. Some through my own experience, some from personal accounts of other sufferers, and some through reading hundreds of different articles.
Whilst not proclaiming by any means to be an expert, I do believe I will - most likely - be able to help provide more information, options and personal advice – than most of your doctors will. I know this may sound arrogant, but when one literally sees their life flash in front of them, and realizes there is no-one to hear them ... well, you get my point.
You can take this thread to YOUR DOCTORS and EDUCATE THEM! (If they are willing to listen).
I won’t be able to write everything in one sitting, but will keep coming back to this.
I want to start with one very, very, very important point. I want to focus on the emotional role of getting through this sheer Hell. If you can take this one point to heart, you will be well on your way. It took me a while to reach this stage, (many thanks go to a personal friend/counselor of mine who spent many long and frustrating hours with me on the phone, to get me to this point). And it has taken a HUGE weight off my shoulders and allowed me to start thinking clearly, make a plan I could live with, and has kept me from falling deeper into the abyss.
On the Emotional Side
Most importantly, DO NOT PANIC. People get through this, and we will too! The trick is to get through it with the LEAST harm to our bodies as possible. Remember, it is just as important that we try to LIVE as normally and as well as we can WHILE we are withdrawing. A very daunting task. Trust me, I know!
There are many of us who don’t have the luxury of recuperating at home while the bills get paid. If you are in this fortunate position, I personally believe it would be very prudent to embrace it without guilt, and to take some time out to nurture yourself back to health.
Once you can accept that there is no overnight fix, that this is going to be a long process – weeks for some people, and months and months for others like me, then you can put things into perspective, plan in hand, and try and relax. If you try and rush the process, it will be totally self-defeating, and you will be taking many steps backwards.
Be good to your body and to your mind. Our systems have been put through so much, more than we will ever know.
My side effects on this poison ran the gamut! Emotional numbness … no libido … profuse sweating … 50% increase in heart rate … bladder problems … unbearable itching … overnight swelling and weight gain … menstrual problems … dry coughing … insomnia …vivid nightmares … blurred vision … short-term memory problems … concentration, confusion and disorientation …. agitation and aggression … TMJ = crushing headaches, earache, tinnitus, gum/tooth pain, sinus pain, jaw pain, sore throat, neck and upper back pain ….!
All the above whilst ON this rat poison. Our systems have taken a huge beating from head to toe, inside and out. Now is the time to be gentle and good to ourselves.
I have found that stressing and worrying excessively over this, only adds to the anguish and slows my progress. I take my dog and push myself to go for a long walk/jog every day. Meeting and greeting other dogs and their owners, talking small talk to strangers who know nothing about me. These mini breaks are HUGELY beneficial and has become the highlight of my day. Dog owners, rejoice! You have in your hands the best therapy in the world. Embrace it. Use it! If you don’t have a dog, you can always offer to do some dogwalking.
If this is not your idea of fun, find some active, physical outlet you enjoy and DO IT. Whether it be yoga or meditation or tennis or singing in your church choir. Whatever! Find something you can ACTIVELY participate in that will relax you. Don't push yourself and stress your body, be gentle on yourself.
But DO IT!!! -- DO IT! -- DO IT! -- DO IT!
Walking in the fresh air, an hour or so before I’m due for my next dose of this rat poison HELPS ME TREMENDOUSLY. Particularly with the drowsiness, those awful brain vibrations and with the nausea. (I have dragged my feet and walked with my eyes half closed on occasion).
Take mini-breaks (holidays) from people who don’t understand or who bring you down. Surround yourself only with people who bring you up. Do whatever you can to be good to yourself. Don’t struggle to make yourself heard. Don’t use up all your energy by getting angry, hurt and frustrated because you think you’re not getting the emotional support you need. Remember, it’s human nature. What others cannot see or feel, is sometimes hard to understand and empathize with.
For me, it was a double whammy! My prescribing doctor was my therapist as well!
Emotional support is CRITICAL. Surround yourself with those who are genuinely understanding. Get a good NON-DRUG-PUSHING therapist if you can. Use this board as your venting tool. We’re here because we’ve lived it.
I will return soon. Hang in!
The following user gives a hug of support to Sandalla: valhon (09-05-2011)
The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Sandalla For This Useful Post: bamamom13 (03-16-2011), dahlia220 (06-07-2012)
Hi, I was on Effexor full straight and I had terrible withdrawals.
Head zaps, I think were the worst out of everything, I also had a lot of what others are saying,
What I found that worked for me was this.
(yes I came off them quickly, you have to do what is best for you)
The first day, I emptied a few of the pellets inside the caplet and I counted them.
For one week I would use that amount, then each week I would cut down the amount of pellets by half until I was down to only a few inside. I had a few of the caplets from the lower dose so I would go down to those after the higher dose was down to less then half. It took about a month in a half or so. Most people take much longer to go off. I DO NOT recommend this fast to anyone!!! But it did work for me.
BUT I do recommend taking BENADRYL all day long while you are coming off the med's. This helped calm down the side effects and I was able to function almost normal. Yes, I still had some of the zaps and dizziness ext ... but I was able to handle them better. Something in the BENADRYL helps.......
So I recommend Benadryl.....
Good luck and many blessings
God Bless our Troops
Proud Retired Army Wife And Mother Of a Amry Man.
Not very encouraging for me who is on effexor and has been for a good while and it was helping and when it stopped I've now got wellbutrin added to the mix. Guess I'll never agree to go off of the stuff now. *sigh*
Chele, thank you for sharing. Where are you at now? How long has it been since your last drop of this rat poison? Please let me know what, if any, symptoms are still lingering now.
I have read a lot of stories about these mysterious benefits of Benadryl. Very interesting. I wish I could find some theories as to why it possibly helps. I did go to the drug store ready to buy it when I was feeling at my worst. Then I read the side effects included “restlessness, excitation, nervousness, tremor, irritability”!!! --- Just what I needed! LOL!!! I decided I simply couldn’t chance it. I had these exact, horrifying symptoms very severely during my withdrawal, and it scared me to death. I now know the proper name for it is akathisia, and the torment it causes is terrifying beyond words.
Any other readers want to share their stories/theories on Benadryl?
Following my first post regarding getting prepared emotionally - From all I've read, I believe it is also essential to take some time to prepare oneself physically for the next phase of withdrawal.
VERY IMPORTANT - Try and get your body as physically healthy as you can.
EAT WELL! Read up for yourself on the role of Omega 3 in the body. Try and get it mainly from your diet. Fish such as sardines, tuna, salmon, herring. Nuts such as brazil, walnuts, almonds. Seeds such as pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. Also, soy beans, tofu. Etc, etc.
I don’t believe in pumping the body with extra “supplements”, vitamins etc, etc. From all I’ve read, it makes most sense to now just try and leave our systems alone and let it try and heal itself as naturally as possible. G-d knows, it’s been through enough already! I am sticking to an Omega 3 Fish Oil supplement and a high potency Vitamin B-Complex (get the GOOD stuff from a health food store, not the drug store/pharmaceutical company - G-d help us - variety).
I also started taking something called "Immunocal" or “HMS 90”. It is glutathione. I have read a lot of very interesting reports on the role and benefits of glutathione in the body, and on this product in particular. It makes a lot of sense to me. Do a search and read up on it for yourself.
Here’s some info in a nutshell.
Glutathione also know as GSH is the body's essential health AID - Antioxident, Immune booster and Detoxifier. This small protein, produced naturally in the body, maintains these three crucial protective functions.
Glutathione is always in great demand and is rapidly consumed when we experience any sort of pressure - illness, stress, fatigue and even when we exercise.
Our main organ of detoxification is the liver - the body's most concentrated source of glutathione. Studies show that low glutathione levels lead to poor liver function, causing more and more toxins to circulate through the body and resulting in damage to individual cells and organs.
Doctors routinely use glutathione promoting drugs to detoxify victims of certain types of drug overdose.
Apparently these 3 supplements have provided a lot of people with some relief. Also drink WATER to flush your system.
REST! REST! REST! I have had no choice with this, as the drowsiness and sleepiness was overwhelming. I went from being a total insomniac whilst ON the poison to barely being able to keep my eyes open for days and days on end. I still suffer very badly from drowsiness and some days will sleep solidly through the night, get up, sleep again on the sofa for 2 hours straight, awake for another 2 hours, asleep for 2 and on and on. I have learned not to fight it. Just go with it! Listen to your body. BE GOOD TO IT!!! After a couple of days of this, I feel enormous relief and restored energy. I am now trying to train myself not to overdo it when I get these good periods. It’s hard not to get excited and want to run around socializing, doing, and feeling alive again. I’ve found if I continue to pace myself during these good windows, I can make them last longer.
Nausea: I found that at the peak of my nausea – which was 24/7 for about 3 weeks non-stop – that eating very small amounts and very frequently gave me the most relief.
BOILED EGGS for nausea. Try it! I’ll never forget the first time I swallowed one. It was so comforting and such a HUGE relief for the nausea. Strange but true.
Plain potatoes work well too. As do raw almonds, oatmeal porridge with honey, dried GINGER and herbal ginger tea with honey.
Initially, I was using Gravol which, of course, only added to the drowsiness. I was barely awake for days on end! And I have now become so anti-drugs of any kind, that I personally will only use this as an absolute last resort. But it does work.
I started wearing seabands – you can get them at your local drugstore – they are acupressure wrist bands. I have worn them before for motion sickness and although not perfect, it definitely does help.
Anyone else have any tips for the nausea?
I’ve read that taking steam saunas also provides people with much relief. I haven’t tried this yet.
Give your body as much time, however many days or weeks or months(!) it may need to be VERY stable, BEFORE reducing.
Read this: http://www.antidepressantsfacts.com/reaction.htm. It gives WONDERFUL and INVALUABLE information!
By the way, I have sent off for Dr Tracy’s CD “Help, I can’t get off my antidepressant” and am hoping to receive this shortly. Hopefully, this will provide some invaluable information too. I’ll keep you posted on that.
I’ll return with the various actual withdrawal methods I’ve looked into.
I have been off Effexor for about 5 months or so. I have nothing left as far as symptoms of the withdrawal. After my last caplet of Effexor, I guess the last of it lasted anywhere from a couple weeks to a month. And now I am back to normal (if that is a good thing LOL) I still get depressed and cry and all that stuff but nothing like I did before.
I know this, I could not have done the withdrawal without BENADRYL. I learned about it from someone on this sight. I am so glad that I took it, the withdrawal systems went away with the first pill by about 75 - 50%. and got better with each day. Yes, you might be scared of the side effects from the Benadryl, but for me I had no side effects from it, and I was able to get through the worse part of the withdrawal. I would take those few side effects over the Head zaps anyday. Now I know kinda what electric shock to the head would feel like.
But I am not a doctor, I just learn things on my own and from great people who have been through this too.
Any other questions just let me know
Blessings and good luck
God Bless our Troops
Proud Retired Army Wife And Mother Of a Amry Man.
Just to let you know, I haven't forgotten about updating this post. I now have a collection of all the info I'm ever likely to have on this subject, and will get it together in a neat package.
I hope I am able to help many people avoid what so many of us have already gone through.
By the way, I was chatting to a neighbour today. It turns out she has been through exactly the same god awful experience with Effexor - both on the rat poison, and during withdrawal. She landed up being taken to hospital last night by ambulance with terrible stomach cramps. She's been completely off for a month, and it took her a year to get off! And she's still a very ill person!
I cannot tell you the relief and comfort we both felt to be able to actually meet a real, live person who was going through the same experience. One of the hardest challenges is to know that so many people simply do not understand or "get" that it is real. It is a very, very distressing thing to go through without emotional support.
I felt like I was talking to a mirror. We were echoing each other's words a lot of the time, including, "I have never been so physically and psychologically sick in my whole life"!!!
I will continue my posts over the next couple of days, I promise. I'm not ignoring you, Quincy, hang in there!
I have read many posts about the 'bad' things about Effexor.....and.....there seems to be more bad ones than good ones!! I came off it cold-turkey and was taking 75 MG and was fine..i guess pills work differently for everyone, eh??
Hi, I have recently been put on effexor xr and slowely been raised to 225 mg every morning. I have been on many other like zoloft and lexapro and a few others and so far this one has done the best job. I have noticed that in a few posts it has been lables "poison" and am curious as to why. Im concerned about my health and due to having seizures and all, well I cannot take some of the other antidepressents out there. Please let me know why you call it "poison" for I dont want to have anymore problems (most of which i wont post on here) and I dont want to have to have new ones pop up. I do feel less depressed and even my husband has noticed a good change in my attitude since starting this. The only downfall ( as with many ad's is the low sex drive) i have four kids so who knows if its even from the meds lol. How did it make you feel while on it and why did you decide to come off it because when i came off the lexapro (as well as being ON it) well I hated that particular AD. Please share why you name it "poison". Im rather curious. I wish the best for you all and good luck on whatever you do decide to do to help you feel better.
Tigre, I use the word "poison" a lot for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I firmly believe that it literally is toxic in my body - It has just affected so many things physiologically and psychologically - from vision problems to bladder problems, to libido to weird weight gain (like a tire around my middle) to TMJ to emotional deadness, and on and on and on, and has made me very ill.
If you also read my other thread "Effexor Nightmare", I (and others) have listed many of the awful side effects we've lived through.
The second reason I refer to it as "poison" is that my personal opinion (as well as the opinion of other experts, the likes of Dr Ann Blake Tracey) ... is that these drugs are of the same family as LSD etc, and that they are a foul and sinister creation by immoral, money hungry individuals masquerading as innovative and "scientific"! The SSRI scandal will - hopefully very soon - erupt like a volcano.
However, now, having said all that ... on the flip side ... you can see there are people like eminenworshipper who have had no bad experiences (VERY lucky for them).
All I can say, is be very careful. Pay attention to all the side effects and don't minimize them or think they may be due to "something else" such as the "depression coming back" or "your anxiety" etc, etc. That's when they up the dosage, supplement it with other wonderful chemicals, and soon you have no idea what's what anymore.
Listen to your body, listen to your head. Don't doubt yourself or think the doctor's word is God.
Trust yourself and your instincts first. It's your body and your mind. You are responsible for your own life. Do what YOU feel is best for you.
And that is the best advice I can give you. Good Luck.
Sandalla - thanks for all your postings re: meds. I am coming off Effexor XR - down from 225 mg to 37.5. (went to 37.5, 4 days ago). My biggest problem is dizziness and lightheadedness - feelings of detachment. This is common it seems. I will stay at this level for 3 more days then go down more - can't decided wi\hether to go down to zero or an intermediate level though. How long does the worst of the w/d last. I have noticed a pattern where 3 to 4 days after a reduction are the worst and then it gets gradually better. But, I am a little afraid of the transition to zero mg. I have taken Effexor for PD for over 5 years but at only a 37.5 maintenance dose. It was a maintenance dose cuz I had trouble going down to zero and thought it was my PD - never associated with w/d. Now I know, that's what it was! well, with a recurrence of the PD this past April, my doc raised my doseage back to 225 mg and it did not help so now have come back to 37.5 as described above. I have augmented with Prozac to help with the w/d and it may be helping some. I will then come off the Prozac which is easy.
I hate this crap of muddling through life on drugs, I cannot wait to get my old self back. Wish me luck. Any words of wisdom or advice would be appreciated!
Hi Mike, I've been very slow in adding to this thread, I know, but do intend to get to it soon.
Just by the way, what is PD? Sorry, but I'm not that up to date on all these wonderful acronyms.
Firstly, I'm SOOO happy for you that you've decided to get yourself off this stuff. Just goes to show ... 5 yrs you've been taking it and all to no avail ... other than putting $$$$ into the pockets of these drug companies. Sigh!
Anyway, to answer your question. It sounds as if you've had a fairly easy tapering from 225 to 37.5mg. I didn't augment with Prozac or anything else (wasn't even told by my Doc that I might encounter any problems, if you can believe that!!!) - and my side effects were also quite tolerable until I got down to 37.5mg. It was well after one week on 37.5mg that all Hell broke loose. (Not to scare you or anything!)
My situation was different in that I was blissfully unaware of what was going on - something like your first experience when withdrawing. My Doc had no advice for me whatsoever, I didn't even realize I could save myself some agony by upping to my previous dose for longer. And unfortunately, it was only at this time that I went about doing my own research ... which was very late in the game ... after I'd been through the worst of it all.
I'd be interested to hear how you're doing in a few day's time, particularly as your situation with being on the Prozac is so different from mine.
The best words of wisdom I can give you is GO SLOW, GO SLOW, GO SLOW!!! Why take any chances? It's simply just not worth it. We never know how our bodies/minds are going to react ahead of time, so why even risk it? Keep tapering down slowly from 37.5mg, along with the Prozac. Hopefully, you'll do just fine.
I too had light-headedness but it was the very least of my problems!
If you notice yourself becoming uncontrollably restless, hostile or agitated, PAY ATTENTION AND GO UP AGAIN IMMEDIATELY!!! This is known to be THE MOST DANGEROUS side effect of them all, and what precipitates the suicidal tendencies and violent acts. I know it, I've lived it and I will never, never forget how frightening and distressing it is.
I'm using a compounded liquid version of Effexor and am going down 2mg per week. Am presently at 33.5mg. What a joke! It's taking me longer to get off this crap than I was even on it. So far, so good and I too sometimes get very tempted to start withdrawing more quickly and get it over with. I keep reminding myself what I went through though, and hold myself back. It's simply NOT WORTH IT.
I do wish you luck. Please stay in touch, we're in the same boat.
Augmented with Prozac. BTW, PD = Panic Disorder. Well, I am at Day 6 of my taper to 37.5 mg of Effexor late on Day 3 was uncomfortable and late on Day 4 was the worst! Dizzyness, lightheaded, unreality, you name it. Day 5 was back to just uncomfortable. I think I will stay at this level through the July 4th weekend (I don't want excessive symptoms over the Holiday). Then I am gonna try to go off the Effexor altogether. I am one stubborn dude with extreme will power, so it will take a lot to make me take a dose once I make the plunge. I am prepared to take a few days off from work if necessary to get through. Will probably stay at my parents' house as well as I live alone. If I prepare for the worst, hopefully, I will be surprised that it isn't so overwhelming.
Now, saying all this, it's a crying shame that we would even have to prepare as such. The docs/pharm cos should warn us. It's hard to separate returning sypmtoms from withdrawal as well as withdrawal causing a INCREASE in magnitude of the returning symptoms. It sucks. What I do, and I don't care how bad I am feeling is to try and stay active with any diversionary tactic possible. I like exercise and running so a 5 or 6 mile run is not out of the question for me. Drawing/sketching helps - yoga - anything. The withdrawal is terrible in feeling but will not harm you. Just know that and know it will end and we can get through it. Keep the faith.