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Date of last update: 8/24/2017.

Forum Name: Antidepressants

Question: Comming off Effexor XR

 Schitzo - Wed Jun 02, 2004 12:18 pm

G'day. About 6 months ago i was put on effexor xr because of depression / anxiety. I started @ 37.5mg then to 75mg now i'm up to 150mg. I've never found that any of this has helped. I've asked my doctor if i can stop taking them because i'm affraid of the withdrawl symptoms getting too bad later on. I've decided to try and lean myself off it myself, without the approval of my doctor / psychiatrist.. I've started by skipping every second day. By the end of the second day i generally feel awfull. My question is, am i wasting my time by doing this or should i be getting lower doces and leaning off them that way. My doctor(s) don't seem to want to lean me off, rather they keep wanting to up my dosage :(. The only thing i've ever found that has actually helped me is smoking marijuana. This is the only thing that ever calms me down to a point where i can control these panic attacks. It also helps me to sleep at night, otherwise (happening more often) i have a very hard time to sleep at night.

Thanks for your time.

p.s i was also on paxil for a while but was taken off because it was causing my face to go numb!
 Dr. Yasser Mokhtar - Wed Jun 02, 2004 1:57 pm

User avatar Dear Schitzo,

It is absolutely necessary that you never stop taking a medication that your doctor prescribed for you without going back to him first. If you don't want to be continued on a certain medication you should talk to your doctor and come to an agreement with him.

There are certain medications that should never be stopped by the patients unless under strict medical supervision.

The maximum dose of effexor xr is usually 225 mg/day and in certain studies with severely depressed patients up to 350 mg/day. The usual dose for anxiety disorders is 225 mg/day as well. i am not sure though whether the dose that you are getting could be increased to 350 mg/day or not as every patient differs from the other.

The way to wean effexor is to take off 75 mg per week. Meaning, you are currently taking 150 mg/day. Your drop your dose by 75 mg (so that you be taking 75 mg/day) for 1 week and then continue to take 75 mg/day for 1 week and then you could stop it.

The information that i gave you is not meant to replace your doctor/pschiatrist instructions. You have to consult with them now as they might think that you should be tappered over a longer period of time as they are more aware of your medical condition.

One more thing, you are not supposed to take any other product that could interact with the medication that you are taking and may be causing some side effects. If you intend to take other products whatever their nature, you have to tell your doctor.

i would strongly urge you to get back to your doctor regarding your wishes to discontinue effexor.

Thank you very much for using our website and i hope that this information helped.

Yasser Mokhtar, M.D.
 mrcastor - Mon Sep 20, 2004 11:36 am

Has anyone encountered sexual side effects, as in no sex drive, due to coming OFF of Effexor?
 emconner - Sat Jun 11, 2005 8:57 pm

I am answering "mrcastor's" question about the side effects of coming off of Effexor. You still may have limited sex drive while coming off of it. I am encountering a lot of headaches and head pressure and still having the same sex drive (a little). I am not so much worried about my sex drive as I am my temper and anxiety issues.
 p8nzm8t - Mon Jul 11, 2005 1:57 pm

I have tried weaning myself off Effexor on several different occasions. Missing only one doze (150 mg one time daily) creates awful symptoms. Within four hours of taking the missed doze I regain the ability to get out of bed, etc and return to my normal routines. During attempts to wean off 'the stuff' I become so physically ill that I become totally bedfast. Without Effexor I become lethargic, sleeping heavily. The nausea, stomach pain and fever (flu-like symptoms) make it impossible to even get out of bed! The body tremors and dizziness are horrible! I become so weak, so sick, that I can't function. My thought pattern becomes so fuzzy that I am unable to reason or even speak. So, after each attempt to free myself of this drug I have no choice but to give-in and take the med so that I can function...go to I can afford "my habit". My doctors tell me they have never heard of such withdrawal...and appear to take on the attitude/opinion that I am a Hypochondriac or loony!! :roll: I have tried switching to Wellbutrin XL, only to find myself back to Effexor Withdrawal! I choose not to use my vacation time from work to experiment with what might happen after the 4th day of pure hell! I have often wondered if I would eventually begin to recover...but after reading the posts on this site, I am even more skeptical. Years ago, I had the same problems with Paxil, being told I must first "wean" off the Paxil before taking the Effexor. After moving to Ohio and finding a family doctor I learned that I could take the Paxil 'today' and start the Effexor 'tomorrow' (of course, discontinuing the Paxil from that moment on). I just want off Effexor! I am willing to switch to a different medication what medication?
 DeLWolcott - Wed Jul 20, 2005 8:51 am

It is so good to see that weaning off of these medications is being shown to be important. The side effects should be monitored by a physician, but there are so few out there that acknowledge that these medications can have such intense withdrawals for some.

Thank you again, Dr. Mokhtar, and may those weaning or tapering (or making the decision) know that the road could be bumpy along the way, but the destination is attainable. Keep in close contact with your physician. Let your family and friends know what your are going through and what the possibilities of emotions are so they will understand should they encounter you in an emotional outburst. Withdrawal for some is non-symptomatic, while others have an emotional rollercoaster ride. Unfortunately, I was on the rollercoaster going cold turkey from an SSRI. Even more unfortunate is that the doc's that had put me on these medications knew nothing about withdrawal.

For the third time, thank you, Dr. Mokhtar. Best of luck and wisdom to those in need!

De Lyn Wolcott, CPhT
 Humbly Helper - Tue Aug 02, 2005 5:42 pm

I have been taking Effexor (37.5 mg) for many, many years, at least 10 (or even when they first got approval from the FDA). I have tried to get off the drug by weaning but found it impossible - the side effects from the withdrawal were unbearable. After reading these postings I'm glad there is finally a description for the feeling I had always described by saying my head and my body feels like "sheet metal that someone is banging on constantly, with every small move I make." I couldn't last more than a day off the drug, and because I work full time, resumed taking it to avoid the side effects. It would work within hours to get rid of those awful side effects...and I felt like a failure.

What really gets my goat is doctors prescribe these medications so freely without explaining how horribly hooked you can get on them. I am 48 years old and I have two nephews in their 20s taking Paxil and Effexor, respectively, and it really angers me.

My question is this: can someone recommend the best and most successful course of action to get off this medication? I have absolutely no sex life, I don't cry, I feel nothing. I want my old life back. If it's counting beads, offsetting with something else, can anyone out there offer their own success story?
 John Smith - Thu Aug 18, 2005 9:55 pm

Hello All:

I have been taking Effexor XR 37.5 mg for about 6 weeks for anxiety. The medicine has caused a large increase in my blood pressure, so I need to step off it. Does anyone have any suggestions on the best way to do this?

I have read all the adverse reactions people have gone through, so I am very concerned. My hope is that the dose is low enough and the duration short enough to minimize any side effects.

I was thinking of trying to take it ever other day. Thank you in advance for your comments.
 John Smith - Thu Aug 18, 2005 9:56 pm

Hello All:

I have been taking Effexor XR 37.5 mg for about 6 weeks for anxiety. The medicine has caused a large increase in my blood pressure, so I need to step off it. Does anyone have any suggestions on the best way to do this?

I have read all the adverse reactions people have gone through, so I am very concerned. My hope is that the dose is low enough and the duration short enough to minimize any side effects.

I was thinking of trying to take it ever other day. Thank you in advance for your comments.
 DeLWolcott - Fri Aug 19, 2005 9:05 am

A tapering dose down is the best way to go if you want to withdraw. Discuss this with your physician before attempting this as they will be able to give you prescriptions for the appropriate dosage for each step down. During withdrawal you need to keep in regular close contact with your physician so they can monitor your withdrawal symptoms. You may be one of the lucky ones who do not experience these, but they need to see this also.

To the person who was trying the every other day route: The half-life of these medications vary, but 48-hours can throw your brain into cold-turkey withdrawal. Another option to discuss with your doctor is alternating your current dose one day, half dose the next day, continuing this routine for about a week before dropping to the half dose daily for a time period before you attempt the next drop. This works for some, but not all, so again TALK TO YOU PHYSICIAN. During this time of withdrawal you have to listen to your mind and body. You have to convey to your physician exactly what you are feeling with each dosage change and work together to find the most comfortable and safe way for your personal withdrawal.

Good luck, patient and best wishes to all of you!
 mama_cat - Sun Oct 02, 2005 10:05 pm

I have been on Effexor 75mg for about 6mths. I had to d/c it for a month because I simply couldn't afford it. That was one of the worst months of my life. My gp dr. precribed it to me for mood swings in assoc. with menapause. If I miss one dose of this stuff I get emotional chaos. As for the sexual side effects, (what is sex???) I have never taken a drug for depression that caused this kind of dysfunction. I personally have decided that I will confer with my dr but the Effexor has to go. It's not worth it to stay on it and I will find another way to deal with mood swings. Everything that I have read on Effexor makes me run from it.
 POD - Mon Oct 03, 2005 6:05 am

I'm in the same boat, missing pills is terrible.

I just tried to withraw from my 75mg dosages. Been on 75mg for a while, been sorta okay on every second day, today went for 3rd, made work near impossible. no ability to concentrate, dull eyes, a little nausea, agitation, tiredness etc.

I am going to crack all the pills open and try 37.5gms every second day if I can. I struggle to believe that this drug has penetrated the market and no media outlet (here in Aus anyhow) haven't picked up on it.

No-one warns you of the withdrawal issues etc.
 DeLWolcott - Tue Oct 04, 2005 1:29 pm

Some people have even gone to the point of counting out the beads inside the capsules during their withdrawal, going down as slowly as possible.

Most are not warned about the potential (and very common) side effects while taking these medications or about what they now call "discontinuance syndrome". In the physicians' defense, they were not informed of these problems by the drug companies. These problems are now being reported publicly and the drug companies can no longer deny the allegations.

We also have the stigma when taking these medications that there was something mentally wrong to begin with or we wouldn't have been on these medications, therefore the withdrawal effects or side effects must all be in our heads also. It's very frustrating, but the tide is turning.

Be patient during your withdrawal. Listen to your body and brain because it will be evident when a dosage drop is too much or you are ready for your next step down. Do as much research as you can through the Effexor website and any other resource so you will be educated when speaking to your physician, and you will have definite questions you want answered/researched by him/her.

Best of luck to you. Withdrawal is attainable even though it may take longer than you would like.
 asteroids12 - Sat Oct 15, 2005 7:03 pm

if u taper your effexor every two weeks u will only suffer mild side effects for a week well i did .
 brokensmile - Sat Feb 25, 2006 6:15 am

First off, Im female and 18 years old (19 next month) and have been on effexor since I was 17 (the summer before grade 12).
I was put on effexor by my doctor after I began breaking down at school. I was in his office five minutesone day when he decided to put me on it. I started on 75mg, but it quickly became too little. I then was switched to 125mg and then to 175mg. All of this within the course of about a year, although it was never really enough, at one point I was put up to 200mg. However when I went off to university this year my docotor knocked down my dosage (already hardly working) and put me back on 150mg because he was unable to check in with me monthly. Since I have been at school I ahve had endless difficulties.
They put me on 75 mg when I got here!! Imagine. I was going crazy!
I quickly upped my dose to 121, closer to what my doctor had suggested and soon evend out.
However my biggest problem on effexor has always been how erratic it makes everything.
Inrease in anger, sleep too much or way too little, moody, irritable and if I miss a dose (Im always rediculously forgetful) I feel physically ill (even when I don't realize Ive missed a dose, which excuses the possibility of it being all in my head), and Ive gained so much weight this alone is enough to want to kill myself.
Recently I attempted suicide, this attempt failed miserably, but the thought was there.
As of a week ago I ran out of medication and have been irritable, crying over stupid things. (this being a huge change to the emotionless self I have become used to on effexor ex: hardly laughing, mopey,tired, never able to cry until I reach a breaking point)
HOwever I have wanted to get off of this medication for a long time. The only thing that has really helped me is smoking marijuana. It calms me down, helps me sleep, gives me an appetite (coming off effexor I find I no longer feel the need to gorge like I would before), and generally just gets rid of my stress. I am aware of its classification as a downer, but in my case I find this isnt so..
My true concern is how will coming off effexor effect me (its been a week), what can I do to make myself feel better (this is cold turkey style). How long will I have to wait before I can expect to be normal again?
I keep having moments where my thoughts seem to smash into a wall and I go this even normal?
 brokensmile - Sat Feb 25, 2006 6:34 am

after reading many of these posts Ive realized what Im feeling isnt .. well its not just in my head.
When placed on effexor by my doctor I was underage and knew nothing about it except it would make me stop crying and cutting and hating myself. I was never concerned with the long term. When you get to so low a place you only want to get out.
Now I find it so difficult to do anything... especially because of my age. I speak to people, my mother, councellor, doctor and try to explain how I feel at times, but nobody seems to believe me. I feel this is the most frustrating part. Seeing that there are other people out there like me however makes me feel alot better.

For anyone on anti depressants trying to come off I suggest replacing meds wth marijuana. It takes the edge off quite a bit and calms the panic attacks I would normally have had I forgotten a dose. And since Im stoned Im not angry or irritable. Its also a great help sleeping...which Ive done alot this week (luckily my one week off from school) I still found myself feeling nauceous and having headaches the past week (weeping to no end too) but if you're desperate, its not nearly as addictive as effexor.

good luck everyone. live, love... feel happy :)
 asteroids12 - Sat Feb 25, 2006 3:36 pm

yep i went threw all that. first off all i been on it for 3trs 75mg.but got off it ! doctor shouldnt upped yu dose omg!.st johns wort tea helps the same way effexor does but no withdrawal effects.anyways don't listen to me .im just saying i was bed ridden for 2weeks but that because ones poor body is trying to get this filthy drug out when u stop it !
 asteroids12 - Sat Feb 25, 2006 3:39 pm

no none f the docs seem to of heard of these extreme withdrawal effects but get down to 75mg and taper from there it gets easier every day!u shouldnt be on it.there is natural sources tried passionflower tea?
 rogers18703 - Fri Jan 12, 2007 5:12 pm

I have been coming off of Effexor now for several months. Key words several months.

You must come off of it very slowly. I was taking 150mg in the morning and evening. When it was time to stop I then just took 150mg in the evening for 3 months. I then went to 75mg for 1 month. I took it in the evening. I just now went to 37.5 and I take it in the evenings. It has not been until now that I have felt a huge change in my moods, the way feel, etc. I don't have the problems with the dizzyiness like you do if you go cold turkey. I am determined to get off of it but it must be done slowly and under a doctor's care. My doctor said it was one of the worst things for you-Effexor. She is a different doctor then the one that gave it to me over 3 years ago.

I wish you all luch but again DO IT SLOW...
 Dr. K. Eisele - Sat Jan 13, 2007 5:20 pm

User avatar rogers 18703:

You are absolutely right about slow withdrawal of this medicine. I'm glad it's working for you and that you continue to do well with the withdrawal process.

Best Wishes
 meaculpa115 - Tue Jun 15, 2010 10:59 pm

It feels so good to know that I'm not alone in these effects. I feel like Effexor has put a huge damper on my relationship with my boyfriend and now I wish that I had never started taking it in the first place. Since we started going out, my sex drive has steadily decreased to the point that I have to tell myself to be intimate with him, when we do have sex. I try telling him that it's nothing personal and that I think it's just the medication, but he still gets so cold and withdrawn when we don't have sex for a while. When I try not taking it, I get so sleepy and end up sleeping practically the whole day away. Then he complains that I'm lazy and have no drive. I feel like there's no winning and there's not really anyone I can talk to about it. I'm not the type of person that feels comfortable divulging in the details of my sex life to my friends and when I try to explain things to him he just doesn't get it. I don't even feel like I need it anymore, since I feel like I've matured a lot emotionally from the age that I started it. I've started to ween myself from 150 mg to 75 mg since spring of this year, but I'm scared for my relationship! Don't get me wrong, my boyfriend is a great person, but I feel so pressured and tired of fighting.
 anotherone69 - Tue Jun 22, 2010 7:43 am

As you can see by my user name I am yet another victim of the dreaded effexor withdrawal syndrome. I started taking effexor in 2007 after being diagnosed with a Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I was prescribed 150mg at the time by my family doctor, who at the time informed me that effexor had less side effects than other SSRI's used in the past. Apparently they were having a better response with this particular medication. I think sometimes we can be a little unkind to our doctors the reason I say this is because at the time of diagnosis I was so afflicted by anxiety and panic attacks that I would have done or taken anything for it to stop. I was warned by my GP that there were side effects and that I may experience some of these but the pros of the medication far outweighed the cons. I did have a few mild side effects that lasted briefly and spent the next two years in effexor heaven so to speak, apart from a little weight gain, all the symptoms of my anxiety dwindled away. I had a few sessions with a psychotherapist to learn strategies to help me control my anxiety, I felt great, in control and decided now that I had the tools to help me I no longer needed the medication. Anxiety and Depression can be a frightening experience, as you all know from the posts I have read, I have always believed that medication is really there to help us in the acute stages of our illness, until we learn how to cope better with the symptoms, so I decided that this was it. After consultation with my GP we decided to taper off from 150mg to 75mg, which I believe is normal procedure, according to the drug company who makes the drug.
Here lies our problem, doctors are guided by the drug companies themselves and the patients information. I live in Australia so if the drug was not safe the doctor would not be able to prescribe it, so therefore I was not advised on the withdrawal effects as coming from a rural town there was not a lot of patient info for the doctor to go on, only that of the drug and my own reaction to discontinuing the drug. My symptoms of withdrawal were much the same as what has been reported on this site, major gastrointestinal upset, chronic diarrhea, headaches, balance problems, nausea, and brain zaps. I have found the brain zaps the worst symptom of all and often sat there wondering what the hell have I done to my poor brain, is this a permanent effect? Fortunately they reduced after about four months and I decided to stay with that dose for another two months before reducing again. At the sixth month mark I reduced from 75mg to 37.5mg. The symptoms were far less severe I can only assume due to the fact that it was a smaller drop. I was on this schedule for another six months. Only then did I decide to discontinue the medication completely. The first day off no side effects I thought great, then I woke the second day got out of bed fell over while trying to put my slippers on, lifted my head and got a mighty zap. Since that day it has been a slow process but each day improves, there is less nausea, less brain zaps, less tummy upsets. I have found that drinking lots not worrying about food too much, and taking a fish oil supplement and ginkgo biloba which has been found to help vertigo has reduced my symptoms somewhat. I really feel for all people coming off these drugs as I have felt the wrath of effexor first hand. Fortunately I have had a positive experience if you could call it that, remember that there is no gain without pain. The reason for my post is to inform people of the effects of discontinuing Effexor and to also encourage those who are experiencing the negative effects that there will be an end to the symptoms eventually. At the date of this post my symptoms of discontinuation have continued to lessen and there has been no return of the dreaded anxiety disorder which led me here in the first place. Good Luck to you all.
 pinkpetals - Thu Jul 08, 2010 6:39 pm

Hello docs,

I'm looking for some specific advice regarding Effexor withdrawal.

I realize this is not a doctor's visit. I no longer have health insurance as of 6 months ago, so I cannot see my doc now and am needing to figure this out on my own.

My doc & I knew I would no longer have health insurance so we devised a weaning off plan: I SLOWLY weaned off Effexor over the course of about 5 months. I was on 150 mg so I switched to 75 mg for about 2.5 months and then down to 37.5 mg for about 2 months and then I stopped taking the medication altogether.

I stopped about 14 days ago. The first week was unbearable. All the symptoms others mention before me. It has improved by now (day 14) but I am still having this Bone-Aching-Pain all over my body. And extreme Exhaustion. I mean really bad pain and fatigue.

Does anyone have a time frame for these withdrawals? How much longer do people normally experience these symptoms?
Also, I don't have health insurance now and can't visit a doctor, but I'm looking for advice on what could help me through this. I'm open to anything.
Thank you
 physsie1 - Fri Jul 16, 2010 3:55 pm

I have depression with anxiety and was taking effexor for roughly 5-6 years i was taking 187.50 mg. i am in the same boat as many of the above users...with all the same symptoms the brain zap was the most troubling and was not mentioned by my health care provider. It scared me the first few days and was noticably stronger when i would have a cigarette...i have seriously cut down on the smoking. Effexor was a gift to me in the beginning but grew less and less so as some of the side effects became less bearable over time.
I tapered off and was closely paying attention to the amounts and dates but once i was off it I was again experiencing the whole gammet of symptoms of withdrawls...i refuse to restart taking the medication and will gut out the symptoms ...
i need to know...any helpful hints to help ease the discomfort
i have been told by various non medical people
benadryl 12
fruits veggies
...the only time i feel okay is when i am laying down...
***please does anyone have an idea of when this madness will go away...
tapering off just seemed to prolong the inevitable for me and really need to know how long can i expect to feel "off" symptoms
 Faye Lang, RN, MSW - Sat Jul 17, 2010 4:37 pm

Hello, physsie1,

This is a late response to this continuing discussion, but wanted to add information in case it might be helpful. Effexor is difficult to discontinue, and should never be discontinued "cold turkey". Doing so can prolong the negative effects of withdrawal, as well as having the potential for a dangerous response to the sudden withdrawal. If withdrawn under the supervision of your doctor, it is done slowly and your physical reactions are monitored. It's possible to switch to another antidepressant for a time, and then withdraw from that one. Withdrawal symptoms can also be addressed by supportive medications, as anti-anxiety medication. I hope this information is helpful.
 opjethro - Wed Jul 21, 2010 9:48 am

I have been on effexor xr for about 7 months while slowly increasing my dosage and now i'm at 112.5 mg/day (75 +37.5) , i moved away and was unable to get more pills and stopped cold turkey.. I CAN BARELY WALK AND HAVE CONTINUALLY DIZZINESS 24/7 FOR THE PAST 3 WEEKS .. HELP ME... extreme headaches, puking, dizziness, vertigo, are all possible symptoms, i had none previously, now im ######.. please give me a solution.. i double dosed my meclizine 5 days in a row and they did absolutey nothing.. the only thing that temporarily relieves symptoms is smoking marijuana.. if you have any remedies that have helped you please let me know
 kb142814 - Tue Jul 27, 2010 6:36 am

It's so good to know I'm not alone. I was prescribed effexor when I was 15 for ONE panic attack. I did what my doctor told me, and took it. I am now almost 26 and have been weening off this drug for 5 years. I am now on 37.5mg every other day, and the withdrawal is horrible. On the second day, before I take the pill, I am very dizzy, feel like there is electricity running through me, feel like my brain is's terrible. I had one doctor who totally agreed with me and supported me, but she ended up leaving that office, and I'm not happy with the doctor I see now. He is telling me that there is no withdrawal, I'm feeling this way because my body is trying to tell me I need this drug due to a chemical imbalance. I'm sorry, but that's ridiculous. I have not been able to go longer than every other day, and am getting quite discouraged. I want nothing more than to be off this drug, but always give in and take it because I cannot feel so badly when I work and attend school full-time.
 Faye Lang, RN, MSW - Tue Aug 10, 2010 7:56 pm

Hello everyone,

The "discontinuation syndrome" occurs more often in some antidepressants than in others. It appears that the ones known as "tricyclics" have not given as many problems when discontinuing. It is counterproductive to discontinue by taking the medication every other day, as Del pointed out. Most people find that going back on the medication and then very slowly discontinuing it over a period of 2 months or more has the best success in regards to the discontinuance side effects. It's frustrating, but easier on your body. Many University medical centers, as a result of information from person like you, are now having patients sign waivers that they understand the potential discontinuation syndrome may occur. Never try to stop cold turkey. Banning such medications isn't the answer, since for some emotional disorders, they may really be the best choice, and it becomes a matter of benefit vs. risk.

Good luck to all of you!!

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