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Effexor Withdrawal - Symptoms & Advice

Updated on January 22, 2017
Sage in a Cage profile image

I'm a clinical psychologist who works with children and adults. In this article, I share my personal experience with depression and Effexor.

What is Effexor?

Effexor withdrawal syndrome is increasingly becoming recognised in professional mental health circles. Effexor (or Efexor) is the brand name of Venlafaxine, an antidepressant in a group of drugs known as selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SSNRI). It is widely prescribed for individuals experiencing depression(major depressive disorder), general anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder and has shown particular success in treating refractory depression (treatment resistant depression). Effexor is manufactured in an immediate release form or a more modern extended release form known as Effexor XR. Typical doses range from 75mg to 375mg.

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Effexor XR extended release capsules (75 mg and 150mg)Effexor XR 37.5mg / 75mg 2 weeks sample packEfexor Depot 150mg
Effexor XR extended release capsules (75 mg and 150mg)
Effexor XR extended release capsules (75 mg and 150mg) | Source
Effexor XR 37.5mg / 75mg 2 weeks sample pack
Effexor XR 37.5mg / 75mg 2 weeks sample pack | Source
Efexor Depot 150mg
Efexor Depot 150mg | Source

Effexor Withdrawal

Effexor withdrawal can be extremely difficult if not done under the careful supervision of a psychiatrist or other experienced health professional. In the past few years, mental health professionals are beginning to recognize that abrupt withdrawal of this medication can lead to severe Effexor withdrawal symptoms(discontinuation syndrome). It has even been proposed that Effexor itself is the antidepressant which has the worst discontinuation syndrome and there is an Effexor xr lawsuit in progress in relation to the withdrawal effects. Even when the Effexor dose is tapered down slowly significant side-effects have been reported by some individuals who have been taking the drug.

Effexor Withdrawal Symptoms

  • anxiety
  • agitation
  • sensory disturbances (including 'brain-zaps' or 'brain shivers')
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • dizziness/vertigo
  • headaches
  • sweating
  • itching
  • shaking
  • confusion
  • impaired coordination
  • fatigue
  • insomnia
  • nightmares
  • loss of appetite

Advice for Minimising Effexor Withdrawal Symptoms

  1. Only attempt to start the withdrawal process from Effexor with the support of a fully qualified and experienced mental health professional.
  2. Go slow! I cannot emphasise this enough. Effexor withdrawal should be a gradual process in which you slowly wean yourself off the drug. Respect the fact that if you have been taking Effexor for a couple of years it may take months or longer to slowly reduce the levels of Effexor in your blood.
  3. Surround yourself with people who provide you with support and positive energy.
  4. Keep going. Try not to change your daily routine as much as possible. If you keep yourself busy and distracted it provides you with less time to focus on your own physical experience of the Effexor withdrawal.
  5. Don't panic. Remind yourself that others have been through the same symptoms as you may be experiencing and have come out the other end.
  6. Consider taking an over-the-counter anti-histamine such as as Benadryl or Loratadine (e.g. Claritin) to cope with some of the physical discontinuation side-effects such as itching.
  7. Eat well.
  8. Get enough sleep.
  9. If you are having a difficult time withdrawing from Effexor talk to your doctor about the possibility of taking a small dose of Prozac (fluoxetine). The addition of a small dose of Prozac has been shown to be successful in minimizing Effexor withdrawal symptoms.

My Personal Experience of Effexor Withdrawal

Initially, I was prescribed Effexor for treatment-resistant depression after numerous failed attempts to find an anti-depressant that 'clicked' with me. I was taking lithium carbonate along with Effexor as part of an augmentative therapy for refractory depression. I started both medications at separate times and, while I noticed a significant impact of lithium on my suicidal feelings, I did not feel any great benefit from Effexor over the first few months in which I started it. My psychiatrist was reluctant to stop the Effexor and had the attitude of 'if you feel good now, it doesn't matter which medication is working, just stay on them both'. Looking back 7 years later I realise the stupidest decision I ever made was to continue taking a drug that I was unsure if I was gaining any benefit at all from.

My successful withdrawal from Effexor took two and a half years as I went from 300mg a day to nothing. I call it a successful withdrawal now purely because I managed to survive it and come out the other end Effexor-free. The first year and a half was relatively hassle free as I slowly weaned down from 300mg to 150mg. I then cut my dose to 75mg and started to feel the full force of Effexor withdrawal. I had a week of solid dizziness, headaches, stomach upset and anxiety. The experience itself was enough to stop me dropping my dose any lower for another 6 months. The real 'fun' started when I tried to stop taking my 75mg a day dose. It was absolutely horrendous..an overwhelming physical experience. I had severe diarrhea, body shakes, headaches, anxiety, sensory disturbances and nightmares for a week as I tried to fight through it cold turkey. I couldn't do it. I relented and started taking my 75mg dose again. I felt better within a few hours of taking the dose again. I repeated this failed cold turkey process another time before my psychiatrist kindly told me that I might gain benefit from stepping down to 37.5mg dose rather than stopping the Effexor entirely. Why oh why he did not suggest this before then is beyond me! I fought through severe withdrawal effects at 37.5mg until it stabilised and I stayed on that dose for 3 months.

When I decided to stop my 37.5mg dose I thought I would try it every second day. This resulted in severe side effects for 24 hrs followed by a slight relief when I took my next dose. I was getting nowhere fast. My final dose of effexor was the beginning of an extreme 2 week period in which I experienced significant suicidal ideation, anxiety, full body shakes, nausea, dizziness and headaches. My head would twitch sometimes in public and I truly felt like I must have looked like a crazy woman. My psychiatrist recommended anti-histamines and immediately I felt the benefit. My dizziness and itching lessened hugely. It was an extremely emotional period. I am not someone prone to irrationality but the littlest thing had in me in either floods of tears or agitated and confused. I was a mess. On more than one occasion I sat with the effexor capsules in front of me and was seconds away from taking a dose to make the symptoms disappear. I eventually threw them in a bin on the street! I didn't wake up one day and just feel 'better' again it was a slow process that probably went on for a few months before I felt that I could say I felt like 'me' again both physically and mentally.

Looking back now my horrific effexor withdrawal experience seems like a bit of a blur. I'm just so glad I wrote in my journal throughout the final withdrawal phase because, reading it back now, there is absolutely no way I will put myself through that again when I already have to manage my depression on a daily basis. I would never advise anyone to take or not to take a drug based on my own personal experience. I just believe everyone should be aware of effexor's withdrawal effects before they start treatment in order to make an informed decision.

Share Your Personal Effexor Withdrawal Experience

What was Your Effexor (Venlafaxine) Withdrawal Experience Like?

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    • profile image

      B Hayes 44 hours ago

      I was on 150 mf Effexor for about 2 years. I had gained about 25 lbs. and didn't feel the med was helping any more. 2 mos. ago I tried to get off too quickly. Nightmare! The brain zaps were the worst! Have had nausea, anxiety, headaches and just generally feeling crappy. I take the capsules and read online to break them open and count the white beads n slowly taper down. I just went thru 4 days of horrible nausea. I think it may have been some final weaning. I am literally down to taking 10 white beads n will hopefully be off completely within the week. I started the process 2 mos. ago. Bottom line, withdrawal is a nightmare. Take all the time u need. Be good to your self in the process and don't give up.

    • profile image

      Karen Johnson 11 days ago

      I was on 75Mg. xr. for over 15 years. The last 4 yrs. I had tried to reduce. Horrific results. The last 2 years I weaned myself down to 37.5 mg. But still had bad side effects going below that. I Googled this problem Someone said that went on prozac 20 mg. per day. And they had no side effects going off Effexor. I went to my Doctor and he put me on 20 g Prozac and 1 Mg. Rexulti. MIRACLE !!! Please Try this !!!! Let me know !!!!

    • profile image

      DF 3 weeks ago

      I was on 300mg of Effexor back when it was a fairly new anti-depressant. It did help me so I stayed on it. Was on it for about 3 years when I unexpectedly got pregnant. Had just moved to another state so did not have a job yet or insurance, not to mention a physician. I was so freaked out when I discovered I was pregnant (birth defects) that I stopped Effexor cold turkey. (clearly not wise) So I had messed up hormones, HORRIBLE medication withdrawal symptoms, and OH! Then 9/11 happened. I would not wish that kind of emotional, mental agony on anyone. I somehow made it through and have a healthy 15yr old but it was a wicked journey.

    • profile image

      MH 6 weeks ago

      I have complex PTSD and after a year of trying different antidepressants, I was prescribed Effexor. I quickly went from 75-150-300 mg within 3 mos. I started to feel better and thought I may finally survive this trauma. Now 6 mos into Effexor I am having more panic attacks, dizziness, crying spells, and the worse are the nightmare/strange dreams. I mean these dreams are vivid and so strange that I can't function the next day. Someone told me to be careful with the antidepressants and dreams, so I Googled and here I am. I thought I was doing a good job by staying away from addictive drugs and my Rx paper doesn't have Effexor as addictive, but the withdrawal symptoms listed and the length of time sound like it is addictive. Based on the comments here I know that I need to come off this, but I am really scared of the withdrawal symptoms and having PTSD. I feel like I should go to a detox center and I am not saying that lightly.

    • profile image

      Rachel 6 weeks ago

      I was on Effexor for almost ten years. 300mg for the past five. Tried many times to stop and failed miserably. Today I am delighted to say I am on day two of zero Effexor and feel pretty good surprisingly.

      Five times I've tried and failed. This times is 100% different so far.

      I made sure to have my life in order as much as possible to start. I dropped to 150mg for a month pretty easily. Then 75mg for a month. I notice a lot of changes emotionally and physically. From tears at simple things to wanting to eat way more then I'd wanted to in years. I was very gentle with myself, kind and patient. Dropped to 35mg for three weeks and the last week I cut them in half. Taking 15mg for five days.

      Day to Effexor free. I some itching on my scalp and a slight clicking in my ears on occasion from blinking. Which has always been the worst side effect I've physically noticed and that was scary, confusing, and slightly debilitating throughout my ten years of Effexor. I had very very very stiff muscles from the drug. I am making a conscious effort to take care of myself physically with diet and exercise adding salt bath soaks to detox my body, deep massage to penetrate deep into the muscles to rid the drug from my tissue and water lots of water. I've also cleansed, started meditation, stretching, yoga, be mindful of the way I speak to myself in my head and finding five gratitudes every day.

      I hope this helps someone. You don't have to be a slave to the meds. It is possible to be Effexor free. I never thought I'd would be.

    • profile image

      jenny 7 weeks ago

      thank you for sharing your experience. before i started my taper-off, i read this, realized the severity of the withdrawl, and saw a naturopath who supported me in taking the taper very slow and using supplements like l-theanine and 5HTP to support my seratonin levels. I've been on 150mg for 12 years, tried to go off once about 9 years ago with the wrong advice from a doctor (had me go fast) and it was the worst period of my life. I went right back on after i fell into another depression. This time my taper has felt much better, with the exception of today, when I left my pills in my parents car and did not have it in my system for over 24 hours. I had diahhrea first, which was followed by a panic attack, puking and nausea. Horrible. I will NOT forget them again. I just hope that once I make the leap from 37.5 to 0 that this doesnt happen again....

    • profile image

      Bobbi 7 weeks ago

      Thank you so much for sharing your experience - it was the reminder I needed today that the symptoms I'm going through aren't permanent, though they aren't going away quickly.

      I've been struggling through this process for a couple of months now, even though I have only started taking Effexor a 4 or 5 months ago. My maximum dose was 150 mg and I've been weaning off for the last two month, reducing by 37.5 mg at a time. I've experienced a range of symptoms, starting with severe brain fog (enough that I didn't feel safe driving a car) and then usually several days of EXTREME irritability before feeling like I could function somewhat normally again. I took 2 weeks with each step down.

      I went to zero almost two weeks ago now and this has been the roughest yet, despite taking lots of supplements recommended by my naturopath, including fish oil. I'm still getting overwhelmed by severe bouts of irritibility. I'm fortunate that I was able to take time away from working to deal with all of this - there is no way I would be able to be working through this. I know everyone's different, but I can't understand how this is such a common drug if it affects so many people like this when they stop taking it.

      I started drinking a cup of St. John's wort tea a day when I got down to 37.5 mg per day, and it helped me a lot. I know you need to be careful combining two SSRIs, but decided it was worth a try at the lowest dose. Now that I'm at zero Effexor I think the SJW is definitely helping, but I'm still in pretty rough shape - this process is brutal. :(

      To anyone else going through this, hugs and compassion.

    • profile image

      Stacy 8 weeks ago

      I'm going through the wildrawls from my Effexor use right now. I was on 300 mg a day. I feel horrible. Constantly itching, and now my insomnia is worse. I bet so lightheaded and confused out of nowhere and I'm constantly sweating. The "brain zap" makes sense because I've been experiencing this and it's a scary feeling. My husband was on Effexor a couple of years back for his ptsd and was constantly sick from it. Why I let my doctor talk me into taking this medication is beyond me. I would NEVER recommend it to anyone.

    • profile image

      Shirley 2 months ago

      CBD oil is helping me get off the Effexor. It works and it is natural!!! I don't have major brain zaps or go into suicidal thoughts now when trying to quit.

    • profile image

      Carey 2 months ago

      Does anyone have any natural remedies for helping get through the withdrawals?

    • profile image

      Maria 2 months ago

      I am withdrawing by crushing 37.5 mg tablet and mixing with 1 cup orange juice. Then I reduce by dropping 1/16 a month - no more. This way I am virtually symptom free. Am now down to 1 37.5mg tablet and going down slowly. If I'm sick - flu etc, I don't reduce the dose that month. I also try to avoid emotional upsets and I take supplements, the most helpful being krill oil. It takes patience to drop the dose so slowly but in my experience its the only way. Doctors should warn patients about this, and the drug company should make a liquid form to help withdraw. Hope this helps.

    • profile image

      Kayla 7 months ago

      I was only on 150mg for a couple months and am on my third day off of it and currently am experiencing many of these withdrawal effects. I also wish I had known this would occur if I wanted to stop the medication, but it had absolutely no affect on me. It never negatively affected me (until now), but like others have said here that it didn't benefit me at all.

      Just wanted to thank everyone who's taken the time to share their experiences because before I read this I was debating on going to a hospital or something (not that they could really do anything for me I know), but yeah thank you.

    • Debbie Deac profile image

      Debbie Deac 8 months ago

      My Neurological Nightmare Withdrawing from Effexor XR

      I am telling you my story about the nightmare I have gone through trying to withdrawal from the antidepressant drug called Effexor XR.

      Fifteen years ago I had severe pms and my physician prescribed 75 mg of Effexor XR. Unfortunately, I would need to take this pill daily and never go off it cold-turkey.

      What is venlafaxine?

      “Venlafaxine is an antidepressant in a group of drugs called selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SSNRIs). Venlafaxine affects chemicals in the brain that may be unbalanced in people with depression.

      Venlafaxine is used to treat major depressive disorder, anxiety, and panic disorder.”

      First Effexor XR Reduction

      In September, 2016, I went to my physician for a check-up and my blood pressure was a bit high. I discussed Effexor XR and wondered if that could be a factor in the reason for my increase in blood pressure. I decided that I did not want to take any chances and therefore I needed to be taken off this drug. I had been on it long enough. My physician agreed with me and prescribed 37.5 mg Effexor XR a day to begin the reduction. I took 37.5 mg for about 3 weeks. I was very happy that it seemed to be going so well and maybe it was time to reduce the pill to 18.75 mg.

      Emergency Room Scare

      After 3 days of taking 18.75 mg per day, I began getting severe, intense, piercing headaches in the temple of my head that would begin around 4:00 – 4:30 and last all night. I had hydrocodone from a previous injury and took that hoping it could reduce the pain but it didn’t affect it at all. I’d get up the next morning and take my Effexor XR pills, feel better, go to work, come home and start the entire painful evening all over again. By the 3rd day, I was exhausted, frustrated, and felt terrible. My blood pressure was 209 by the time I got home from work. I knew that something was very wrong and I couldn’t go another night in pain. Therefore, my husband took me to the emergency room. By the time I reached the hospital my blood pressure was at 204. They admitted me and took a million tests. Found nothing that could explain why my blood pressure was so high. The doctor decided to give me a blood pressure pill to see if that would help lower my rate. Within an hour, it was down to 189. I told the emergency room doctor that I was going off Effexor XR and had just reduced my dose a few days’ ago; Could this have anything to do with my symptoms? He came back to my room 45 minutes later and told me that he did not believe that the reduction of my medication caused the symptoms and that I should see my regular doctor for further investigation. We went home frustrated because we still didn’t have any answers to what caused my symptoms and how to stop it from occurring.

      Once I got home from the hospital with no more answers than when I came in, I decided it was time to do a little research of my own by my trusted friend, Google. I hit the jackpot. What is even more frustrating is that if that emergency room doctor had just done 1 search on Google, he would have answered my questions.

      Effexor XR Withdrawal Research

      Physicians have been prescribing this powerful antidepressant to thousands of people for many years. If you decide you want to no longer take this medication, you cannot just go off it cold-turkey. If you try, your body and mind could begin to feel the debilitating symptoms of withdrawal including but not limited to:

       Anxiety

       Confusion

       Anger

       Crying spells

       Depression

       Dizziness

       Electric shocks “brain zaps”

       Fatigue

       Headaches

       Insomnia

       Irritability

       Loss of appetite

       Mood swings

       Nausea –

       Nightmares

       Pain

       Panic attacks

       Vomiting

      Effexor XR is known to be one of the most difficult drugs to withdraw from, especially if you have taken it for a long period. It is difficult to withdraw from because of its strength and short half-life of the drug. It only lasts in your system for approximately 1.15 days and within 2.52 days without the drug, your withdrawal process begins.

      Second Effexor Attack

      I sent an email to my physician explaining the circumstances and what research I had found. She prescribed me with 25 mg Effexor non XR and told me to take 1 pill 3 times a day and then begin to taper off when I felt better. I felt like I was back to square one. How am I going to get off this drug? From October to January, I maintained a steady 25 mg daily and was doing pretty well with very minimal side effects. One symptom I noticed was that my head itched at night but didn’t seem too bothersome. Doing so well, I reduced my dose to 12.5 mg the second week in January.

      This was a huge mistake. I started getting a severe headache at the base of my skull. The pain was so intense that I could not function. It felt like massive spasms that radiated from the middle and went up the back of my head and down my neck and shoulders. It didn’t dawn on me that this was from withdrawal of Effexor because it was in a completely different spot than before. I have also had several neck issues due to car accidents and thought that maybe my neck and back were out. With the rest of my hydrocodone, I could get through the week and finally felt some relief for few days.

      Third Effexor Attack

      Within a few days, the symptoms were back in full force. I was now out of hydrocodone and been up all night. I went to a walk-in clinic because I couldn’t wait for my doctor’s office to get me an appointment. The doctor barely asked me any questions. He barely touched my neck and prescribed 6 hydrocodone pills and 6 muscle relaxers. Knowing how much pain I was in, I knew that I needed more pills than had been prescribed, therefore I went to my normal physician for an examination the next day. As I approached the counter to my doctor’s office, I did not look good at all. I felt like I was going to pass out and the nurses all saw that I was in distress and ran for a wheelchair. My blood pressure was out of control. My doctor did an exam and we discussed my symptoms. She felt my neck and could feel the spasms and gave me a few shots of pain medication to reduce the pain, prescribed more hydrocodone and sent me on my way. We never discussed Effexor as a possible contributing factor to my symptoms.

      So here I am at home and given the same remedy that I have already used and it hasn’t helped me with this excruciating pain. I tried cold packs, hot packs, icy hot, hot showers, hot bath, muscle relaxers and hydrocodone.

      It was time to make an appointment to my chiropractor. He took x-rays and told me that my neck was in poor shape. I knew that since I had been in 7 car accidents. He thought that maybe my vertebras were rubbing together and causing the pain. He said that he felt confident that he could help me. He prescribed over the next few weeks 8 adjustments and gave me a device to use daily to raise up my vertebras and hopefully eliminate the pain. After two adjustments, I still had absolutely no relieve. Therefore, I made an appointment for a deep tissue massage hoping that it could help relieve some of the pain. Unfortunately, that made no difference in reducing the pain. Then two more chiropractic adjustments with still no relief.

      I started to look back over the past month to try and see a pattern of when this started, what was I doing and how long was it lasting. It hit me when I realized the pain was happening at a certain time every day. It had to be Effexor. I immediately took 25 mg of Effexor and within one hour my blood pressure had decreased from 189 to 154. My headache subsided and for the first time in 3 weeks I could sleep through the night. What an absolute nightmare! So here I am back to 25 mg of Effexor. I absolutely cannot go through that type of withdrawal again. This is the worse antidepressant drug on the market. These types of withdrawal side effects can have a major impact on your quality of life. Trying to get off this has taken its toll on me. Since I have been on this drug for so long, I could ultimately be stuck on this antidepressant for months or even a year.

    • Debbie Deac profile image

      Debbie Deac 8 months ago

      My Neurological Nightmare Withdrawing from Effexor XR

      I am telling you my story about the nightmare I have gone through trying to withdrawal from the antidepressant drug called Effexor XR.

      Fifteen years ago I had severe pms and my physician prescribed 75 mg of Effexor XR. Unfortunately, I would need to take this pill daily and never go off it cold-turkey.

      What is venlafaxine?

      “Venlafaxine is an antidepressant in a group of drugs called selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SSNRIs). Venlafaxine affects chemicals in the brain that may be unbalanced in people with depression.

      Venlafaxine is used to treat major depressive disorder, anxiety, and panic disorder.”

      First Effexor XR Reduction

      In September, 2016, I went to my physician for a check-up and my blood pressure was a bit high. I discussed Effexor XR and wondered if that could be a factor in the reason for my increase in blood pressure. I decided that I did not want to take any chances and therefore I needed to be taken off this drug. I had been on it long enough. My physician agreed with me and prescribed 37.5 mg Effexor XR a day to begin the reduction. I took 37.5 mg for about 3 weeks. I was very happy that it seemed to be going so well and maybe it was time to reduce the pill to 18.75 mg.

      Emergency Room Scare

      After 3 days of taking 18.75 mg per day, I began getting severe, intense, piercing headaches in the temple of my head that would begin around 4:00 – 4:30 and last all night. I had hydrocodone from a previous injury and took that hoping it could reduce the pain but it didn’t affect it at all. I’d get up the next morning and take my Effexor XR pills, feel better, go to work, come home and start the entire painful evening all over again. By the 3rd day, I was exhausted, frustrated, and felt terrible. My blood pressure was 209 by the time I got home from work. I knew that something was very wrong and I couldn’t go another night in pain. Therefore, my husband took me to the emergency room. By the time I reached the hospital my blood pressure was at 204. They admitted me and took a million tests. Found nothing that could explain why my blood pressure was so high. The doctor decided to give me a blood pressure pill to see if that would help lower my rate. Within an hour, it was down to 189. I told the emergency room doctor that I was going off Effexor XR and had just reduced my dose a few days’ ago; Could this have anything to do with my symptoms? He came back to my room 45 minutes later and told me that he did not believe that the reduction of my medication caused the symptoms and that I should see my regular doctor for further investigation. We went home frustrated because we still didn’t have any answers to what caused my symptoms and how to stop it from occurring.

      Once I got home from the hospital with no more answers than when I came in, I decided it was time to do a little research of my own by my trusted friend, Google. I hit the jackpot. What is even more frustrating is that if that emergency room doctor had just done 1 search on Google, he would have answered my questions.

      Effexor XR Withdrawal Research

      Physicians have been prescribing this powerful antidepressant to thousands of people for many years. If you decide you want to no longer take this medication, you cannot just go off it cold-turkey. If you try, your body and mind could begin to feel the debilitating symptoms of withdrawal including but not limited to:

       Anxiety

       Confusion

       Anger

       Crying spells

       Depression

       Dizziness

       Electric shocks “brain zaps”

       Fatigue

       Headaches

       Insomnia

       Irritability

       Loss of appetite

       Mood swings

       Nausea –

       Nightmares

       Pain

       Panic attacks

       Vomiting

      Effexor XR is known to be one of the most difficult drugs to withdraw from, especially if you have taken it for a long period. It is difficult to withdraw from because of its strength and short half-life of the drug. It only lasts in your system for approximately 1.15 days and within 2.52 days without the drug, your withdrawal process begins.

      Second Effexor Attack

      I sent an email to my physician explaining the circumstances and what research I had found. She prescribed me with 25 mg Effexor non XR and told me to take 1 pill 3 times a day and then begin to taper off when I felt better. I felt like I was back to square one. How am I going to get off this drug? From October to January, I maintained a steady 25 mg daily and was doing pretty well with very minimal side effects. One symptom I noticed was that my head itched at night but didn’t seem too bothersome. Doing so well, I reduced my dose to 12.5 mg the second week in January.

      This was a huge mistake. I started getting a severe headache at the base of my skull. The pain was so intense that I could not function. It felt like massive spasms that radiated from the middle and went up the back of my head and down my neck and shoulders. It didn’t dawn on me that this was from withdrawal of Effexor because it was in a completely different spot than before. I have also had several neck issues due to car accidents and thought that maybe my neck and back were out. With the rest of my hydrocodone, I could get through the week and finally felt some relief for few days.

      Third Effexor Attack

      Within a few days, the symptoms were back in full force. I was now out of hydrocodone and been up all night. I went to a walk-in clinic because I couldn’t wait for my doctor’s office to get me an appointment. The doctor barely asked me any questions. He barely touched my neck and prescribed 6 hydrocodone pills and 6 muscle relaxers. Knowing how much pain I was in, I knew that I needed more pills than had been prescribed, therefore I went to my normal physician for an examination the next day. As I approached the counter to my doctor’s office, I did not look good at all. I felt like I was going to pass out and the nurses all saw that I was in distress and ran for a wheelchair. My blood pressure was out of control. My doctor did an exam and we discussed my symptoms. She felt my neck and could feel the spasms and gave me a few shots of pain medication to reduce the pain, prescribed more hydrocodone and sent me on my way. We never discussed Effexor as a possible contributing factor to my symptoms.

      So here I am at home and given the same remedy that I have already used and it hasn’t helped me with this excruciating pain. I tried cold packs, hot packs, icy hot, hot showers, hot bath, muscle relaxers and hydrocodone.

      It was time to make an appointment to my chiropractor. He took x-rays and told me that my neck was in poor shape. I knew that since I had been in 7 car accidents. He thought that maybe my vertebras were rubbing together and causing the pain. He said that he felt confident that he could help me. He prescribed over the next few weeks 8 adjustments and gave me a device to use daily to raise up my vertebras and hopefully eliminate the pain. After two adjustments, I still had absolutely no relieve. Therefore, I made an appointment for a deep tissue massage hoping that it could help relieve some of the pain. Unfortunately, that made no difference in reducing the pain. Then two more chiropractic adjustments with still no relief.

      I started to look back over the past month to try and see a pattern of when this started, what was I doing and how long was it lasting. It hit me when I realized the pain was happening at a certain time every day. It had to be Effexor. I immediately took 25 mg of Effexor and within one hour my blood pressure had decreased from 189 to 154. My headache subsided and for the first time in 3 weeks I could sleep through the night. What an absolute nightmare! So here I am back to 25 mg of Effexor. I absolutely cannot go through that type of withdrawal again. This is the worse antidepressant drug on the market. These types of withdrawal side effects can have a major impact on your quality of life. Trying to get off this has taken its toll on me. Since I have been on this drug for so long, I could ultimately be stuck on this antidepressant for months or even a year.

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      SLM13 8 months ago

      Thank you for sharing your story. I am currently past the titrating down phase and it is a nightmare (no pun intended there). I have the constant nightmares, the shakes, the foggy weird head and body feeling, terrible headaches and I cannot focus all of the time and the nausea, and dizziness along with the emotional roller coaster is overwhelming. I can relate to so much of your story as I am reading it I am getting teary eyed??? If I had known how bad this med was to come off of I would never, ever of taken it. This is the second week of my "detox" and although I don't have to stay in bed all day as I did for the first week. I did fold a few times also and took a small dose because I couldn't deal with all the withdrawal/side effects. This is not a medication to be prescribed lightly and to be honest I would tell anyone that would ask do not take this medication! I am starting to get the shakes even as I type along with the nausea again and what I can only describe as what sounds like waves in my head. Thank you for posting your story. I hope this will end soon for me as well.

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      Sage in a Cage 3 years ago

      Great advice Chelsey. Congratulations on being Effexor free at last!

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      Chelsey 3 years ago

      After being on 75 mg of Effexor for 4 years, I became pregnant. Something I never considered because of the effexor. I didn't know how to come off of it. Didn't know where to begin. Didn't know what to do. After getting pregnant I spent HOURS every night researching my best possible plan to get off this medication WITHOUT all of the terrible withdrawal symptoms. Or to at lease minimize them. For 6 weeks I did 'bead counting', removing a couple of beads out of my extended release capsul every night. When I got to a low enough dose, which I believe to be about 37.5 mg, I did the prozac bridge. Added a prozac with my effexor for a couple of nights, then took only the prozac. As of now, 3 days effexor free, I have had no withdraw symptoms, and it has been fairly easy to discontinue. My advice is DO YOUR RESEARCH! It can be done! Good luck to everyone!

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      SD 4 years ago

      I am just getting thru my 1st week of withdrawal. Poison is the right word. I am so angry at the pharmaceuticals and doctors. Just imagine how many more people are not posting how they feel on the Internet. Effexor is being prescribed for everyone and everything. Let's all survive LIFE the way the greatest generation did by grinning and bearing it. Say no to antidepressants. Feel the pain and move through it. Everyone hang in there. We will come off this drug and be better for it.

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      Joanne 4 years ago

      I was on Effexor for About 8 years. Went off slowly and stopped 5 weeks ago. Have felt like HELL!!!! Couldn't even function very well. This drug should not be on the market. HUGE NIGHTMARE getting off of it!!!! Had to get psych to put me on Prozac today. I hope it helps. I had ALL of the withdrawal side effects that R listed. Its been a living hell!!!!

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      Sage in a Cage 5 years ago

      Thanks so much for sharing your experience with Effexor. I'm sorry that you experienced the withdrawal effects but, most importantly, I'm glad that you have found a combination of meds which work for you. I really appreciate you highlighting the fact that Effexor does work 'miracles' for some people. As someone who has also experienced mental health problems, I totally agree that many of us owe our lives to medication. Thank you for sharing.

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      Pamela Hutson 5 years ago from Moonlight Maine

      It's the only drug that has worked for me. I was on it for 3 years when my insurance company decided they preferred a new drug (I think it was Celexa but I can't remember for sure). So my GP took me off 150 mg of Effexor daily and put me on the new drug. Within 24 hours I could not stand up. I thought I was having a stroke. The GP said it was just the depression returning and I said no it isn't, something is wrong.

      I had to go back to the psychiatrist who prescribed it, and he was very angry with the GP and told me I can NEVER go off it, not for any reason and to call him directly next time and he would argue with the insurance company for me.

      I went off it a second time in 2007 and got severely depressed very quickly. I had been downsized and was trying to save money as my spouse was quite ill. Again I trot back to a new GP, explain the situation, and she puts me on Prozac, but takes the dose up too fast and I have a rare reaction and end up in the hospital for 11 days.

      So now I take my 300 mg of generic Effexor and 100 mg of Seroquel, and I'm glad because I have my life back. People constantly tell me these meds are evil and bad for us, but I would not be here without this med.

      But yes--getting off Effexor--OMG. It is VERY difficult. Glad you were able to taper off and I hope you are feeling better today and are managing better. Thanks for a great hub, very useful. :)

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      Sage in a Cage 5 years ago

      Thanks for sharing your experience Helen. I wasn't even aware that Effexor was prescribed for Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder.

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      Helen 5 years ago

      I was on it for about 6 months. It was part of my treatment for Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. It didn't seem to help my symptoms at all, took away any semblence of libido and numbed me out a bit. Since it wasn't helping I decided to quit without talking to my Dr since she had previously told me she wanted me to stay on it. I have no prior experience with anti depressants and so I just stopped abruptly. Talk about hell!!! For over a week I was a complete mess, wanting to die, exhausted, unable to cope with anything (my 2 kids included )....not fun. My head felt full of pressure, I could barely focus on what I needed to do day to day. Anyway, I am over the worst of it now and am not wanting to go on any other medication. i know my Dr wants me to be on something. Still need help with my PMDD condition. It's crazy to think I have gone 40 yrs without EVER being on any type of medication and since my daughter was born 18 months ago my health hasd never been the same. Wild mood swings every month, rage, tired, no love for my kids and then after 4 days or so it passes and I am back to normal (as normal as can be after all that). Anyway, go off it slowly is my advice for anyone out there wanting to quit. All the best!

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      Sage in a Cage 5 years ago

      Isn't it just horrific? I hope you succeeded in eventually getting free of it. I just wish someone had at least briefed me on the possible withdrawal syndrome before I started taking the effexor. At least I would have been able to make an informed decision. What worries me is that most people take effexor for their mood but the withdrawal itself made me so depressed.

      Ha ha, I can't believe you had an effexor sales ad when you read the hub. It just shows you how money driven, rather than efficacy driven, these companies are!

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      Michele 5 years ago

      If only I had known the w/d effects when I was put on this and told I could just be on it for a year or so then get off. Ha! Why is there an ad for ordering effexor attached to this post?!