View Full Version : Quitting Effexor?

Sep. 3, 2013, 03:41 PM
I hope OT day is open long enough to get a few responses!!

I've been on Effexor ER for about 2 years now for general anxiety...it's always been a relatively low dose (75mg) but enough to keep me calm and happy.

About a week and half ago, I decided that I was ready to be rid of the crutch, as life has stabilized and I was ready to be done with the side effects of it (think low libido, a 7lb weight gain, dependency and the cost! $100/month because my insurance hates it, and the fact that I am moving more towards a holistic and all natural lifestyle) and I have tapered down since, with the advice of my Dr.

I'm still having brain zaps and some vertigo issues, as well as some buzzing in my ears and nausea. Apparently Effexor has the worst withdrawl issues of all SSRIs as it also has the shortest half life and is notorious for being the hardest to kick.

Has anyone else gone through this? I know I am doing the right thing (I still have my therapist as a resource for anxiety issues) but I feel pretty darn miserable right now.

PS I think chemical enhancement is a great thing for many people...I'm just ready to try life without it again:)

Sep. 3, 2013, 03:47 PM
It sounds like you are doing it the right way. It sucks that you have to go through withdrawal but it is for your betterment!

Sep. 3, 2013, 03:49 PM
Because I have never used it, but a friend of mine is coming off it, due to the development of Parkinson Like symptoms (one of it's many side effects). so speaking from my 3rd hand experience.
Be careful not to come off too fast. Halve the dose, then in 2 weeks halve the dose again. Coming off cold turkey is reported to be very unpleasant.
Take some amino-acids, Effexor is a dopamine agonist/serotonin antagonist, so the side effects tend to be similar to low dopamine/high serotonin.
Take Acetyl-l-Carnitine, and L-tyrosine as well as some L-tryptophan. Also some rhodiola rosea or ginseng can help.

Stay away from caffiene and other stimulants and also alcohol until you are clear.

AS I said, this is not my personal experience, but reported to me.
Good Luck, you are wise to come off it if you can.


Sep. 3, 2013, 04:02 PM
I've heard that it's best to titrate down very slowly, 10 mg every two weeks, for example, to minimize the withdrawal, particularly the brain zaps and nausea/vertigo.

Sep. 3, 2013, 04:08 PM
I only took this for a very short while - couldn' deal with the side effects and was too afraid of the withdrawal symptoms that I read about. I have read the same things Melyni said above may help.

Sep. 3, 2013, 04:11 PM
Effexor is a tricky one to come off of. Come off of it slowly, gently decrease doses. It sounds like you're being pretty smart about it you will feel better once it is all out and your system gets back adjusted without it. Don't hesitate to consult your doctor if you get worsening symptoms.

Sep. 3, 2013, 04:13 PM
Thanks for the input guys. I'm taking it slow but it's really hard!! I'm gonna beat it though:)

Sep. 3, 2013, 04:19 PM
I took Effexor XR for a while. I remember using the "starter pack" in reverse to taper off. Also, by my own decision, I would intermingle the lower dose and the higher dose. 75 mg for a week or so, take a 37.5, next day a 75, maybe another 37.5 and one more 75, then go to 37.5mg daily. I think I did 0 mg/37.5mg alternating for the last few capsules.

Sep. 3, 2013, 04:37 PM
I tapered off Paxil for the same reasons. It took me 3 times as long as the dr. said it would, and she just wouldn't believe me about the withdrawal symptoms. I remember having to pull over the car & wait for the brain zaps & rushes to pass. I got a small dose of a benzo to help with the anxiety, and needed sleep meds to deal with the insomnia. It took me I want to say 6 mos in all (I know!!) but worth it. I think drs. way underestimate the side effects & agony of withdrawal from these drugs & prescribe them too casually. Good luck & look forward to being drug free!

Sep. 3, 2013, 04:46 PM
Take a nice long time to taper off it. months if necessary. I had trouble tapering off Paxil. Even if I was down to a crumb of a pill, I could not stop that last crumb without serious problems.

Then I found a very smart P'doc who told me to take a Prozac after the last dose of Paxil. Prozac has a long half life. It worked like a charm.

Sep. 3, 2013, 04:48 PM
Take a general multi vitamin as well, extra calcium and magnesium in 2:1 ratio, and lots of Vitamin B1 (3-500mg/day) as that helps replace the nutrients that are leached from your body by the meds, and gives you the nutrients needed to replace the chemicals in your brain with a healthier natural version.

Sep. 3, 2013, 09:05 PM
Yes, it is difficult. I weaned off of regular Effexor (not ER) about 2 1/2 years ago. Felt like total crap and the brain zaps were awful... however, it WILL eventually get better. While going through the withdrawal I kept wanting to just go back and stay on it because that seemed like it would be easier :lol: I had gone off Zoloft twice in the past and thought that was bad at the time... it was NOTHING compared to the brain zaps.

If you're going holistic/natural, talk to your doctor about starting St John's Wort. Or if you are ok for a while and start having problems again, maybe try it then. (I would always be ok for about 18 months off of the SSRI and then the anxiety/depression would come back.) I've been using it for about a year and a half, and the SJW really does work.

Sep. 3, 2013, 09:53 PM
I was on Effexor for about 6 months when my doc and I decided to quit and move to another med for similar reasons as you. I was also on a fairly low dose and I took 6 weeks to taper off. I felt like I had a flu the entire time (nausea, headaches, body aches, dizzy...)

Prior to that, I was on a long vacation and miscounted the # of pills. I noticed when I had a week left of vacation and only 3 pills. I don't have to tell you that that week was absolute hell. I didn't know about the withdrawal symptoms, so I just thought I was sick.

Sep. 3, 2013, 10:14 PM
I was on it for a year. The vertigo stuck around about 6 months. You're trudging through it the right way.

stolen virtue
Sep. 3, 2013, 11:53 PM
I remember that when I quit it I had daily migraines. It was in 1995 when the SSRIs first came out and I had severe depression after losing a baby. I know after reading the responses here that I quit it too quickly. The migraines lasted 3 weeks and I was prescribed painkillers for them until I could see a neuro. I was only on it for 8 weeks and it was not working (nothing worked for me).

Sep. 5, 2013, 10:41 AM
I want to post one more time because it truly (sat least for me) eliminated all those awful withdrawal symptoms. And yes, I experienced them all as described above more than once.

*ONE Prozac.*

Taken after the last dose of whatever med you are weaning off.

Try it.

Sep. 5, 2013, 11:24 AM
I was put on very low dose Effexor (I think it was 25 mg) several years ago. I was shocked that I had withdrawal symptoms even with such a low dose.

I was not very smart about it - I just stopped without going to the DR as I didn't even realize there could be withdrawal with it. So then I started taking them again for few weeks, then took one every day for a while, then one every couple of days and then off.

A doctor could probably give a better regime but this worked for me and kept the side effects to a minimum.

Sep. 5, 2013, 12:26 PM
I take effexor XR (300 mg a day) and went off it for a while a few years ago. The only way for me to get completely off it once I got down to 75mg/day was to start taking lexapro, finish titrating off the effaxor, and then wean off the lexapro. It wasn't a good time, but that helped a lot.

Good luck to you and I am glad that your life is changing! Stay healthy :)

Sep. 5, 2013, 01:51 PM
I didn't do it well, went off cold turkey, brain zaps, dizziness, woooomy sound when I'd turn my head. I don't have anything useful to add except...yikes, that was awful. But I will say that I've been there and I'm thinking of you.

You will make it through it and it won't last forever.

Sep. 9, 2013, 07:24 AM
Just checking in two weeks in to quitting-
I'm starting to feel much better! Still have some zaps, dizziness and the whooshing noise, but they're much less frequent. Also, as of about 4 days ago, canoeing is much more appealing to me:)
I'm still tapering, but down to practically nothing, and not every day- hopefully next week I will be done!!
Woo hoo!! I encourage anyone who is thinking about doing this to give it a try! (Safely, under doctors supervision, of course!

Feb. 21, 2015, 10:09 AM
Bumping this up because it is Saturday morning and I am in Mexico. I have been on 75mgs for about a year I guess for hot flashes. It had done the trick more or less with no real side effects to mention except possibly weight gain although with two hip surgeries in 2014 that could be related to that more than anything.

I forgot to bring the effexor with me! I don't remember if I took it the day we left so I am cold turkey since Thursday or Friday. I am in brain hell right now. We are supposed to get home tomorrow night and I am not sure if I want to start taking it again or keep going through hell so I am done with it and don't have to go through this at a later date. Thoughts?

Feb. 21, 2015, 11:28 AM
Never mind, I can't take it anymore, apparently the shit was just starting to hit the fan and I was nowhere near through the worst of it. Just spent $108 to have some couriered to my hotel. I will take it up with my doctor when I get home.

Feb. 21, 2015, 11:55 AM
Doctors really need to discuss side-effects of medications with their patients so everyone can make an educated decision. I have a friend who was put on Paxil for anxiety attacks that were a *temporary* result of a concussion. That was two years ago. She was only supposed to be on the medication for a few months, but now she can not stop taking the drug due to withdrawls. She said if she had known the anxiety attacks would go away on their own, and that some people can never stop taking Paxil because of withdrawls, she never would have taken the medication.

Feb. 21, 2015, 12:11 PM
For me it is like being really, really drunk after the fun part has passed. Bed spins, nausea, diarrhea, dizziness, exhaustion etc. I am going to make an appointment with my doctor to come up with a plan to get me off this crap just so I don't have to worry about this ever happening again.

Feb. 21, 2015, 06:28 PM
Laurie, I have been Effexor free for a long time now. The withdrawals were hell but only lasted a short bit, and now I am so glad I quit.
I have no problem with people needing medications, but there's something seriously wrong with the fact that no one warns you how bad quitting it will be.. before they give you the prescription

Feb. 21, 2015, 11:25 PM
Thanks for the update, glad you are ok. I was having hot flashes every 20 minutes so I had to try something but I don't want to continue this forever. It took about 3 hours to start feeling better and I am pretty much back to normal now that it has kicked in but am definitely calling my doctor when we get home.

Hampton Bay
Feb. 21, 2015, 11:27 PM
Laurie, I tried for YEARS to get off Effexor. YEARS. It was hell with the brain zots and other side effects, as I'm sure you know. Effexor caused me to be completely unable to sleep, but I was so miserable trying to go off of it that I couldn't do it. Finally, a doctor agreed to switch me to Wellbutrin, which I had taken previously with success. I can't remember why I actually switched. It may have been insurance related. I took Wellbutrin for a month, never had brain zots when I switched. Once I had been on that for a month, I could wean off of it with no side effects. That's all that worked for me. Trying to wean down was hell, nevermind cold turkey.

Feb. 21, 2015, 11:46 PM
I will keep that in mind, thanks. I glad to hear you finally found something that helped. What a nightmare!