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hoangyen: On the way of recovering after coming off Effexor for panic attacks for 14 months (taper twice)


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Hi there, I was on Effexor 37.5mg from 11/2022 to 3/2024, it's nearly 3 months since I quit the drug completely. I'm still suffering from the withdrawal symptoms but I'm confused about the way I come off it and how I've been suffering withdrawal. I was diagnosed with panic attacks and anxiety 2 years ago and the psychiatrist made me start with Effexor 37.5mg because I had severe symptoms when starting Zoloft 50mg before. I responded to the med quite well and my symptoms improved a week later, I continued to use my med for a few months and when I felt better, I asked to quit, at that time I didn't know anything about the withdrawal but the psychiatrist let me stop cold turkey. The severe symptoms of anxiety came back within 3 months, I called him back and he said it was a relapse (now I think that was withdrawal because I felt better after retaking the med shortly), so I had to restart with Effexor 37.5 and continued using it until 2/2024 then I decided to stop because I didn't feel the effect of the drug as I felt at the first time, I gained weight much along with PMS which I never had before. The psychiatrist agreed and tapered down only one time from 37.5mg to a half for 4 weeks and said I finished the course of treatment. After a few days of coming off the med, I suffered from severe anxiety, shaking, diarrhea, and mood swings for 2 weeks, then the symptoms seemed to improve a little bit, and then they came back after a few weeks. The withdrawal is like waves, they come and go, reach a peak then resolve. The wave I've been experiencing recently seems to come at the same time as my PMS, causing me to have panic attacks and insomnia at night. Now I'm worrying whether the withdrawal will persist and whether I will be able to return to normal like I used to or not. However, I still feel lucky because I haven't used antidepressants for too long, although having debilitating withdrawal, I had some days when I enjoyed my life, my energy was full and  I felt optimistic. Now it's hard for me to trust the doctor who treated me even though I knew people said he had a lot of experience and good expertise after I've known better about the withdrawal and the impacts of antidepressants on people's health. I'm from Viet Nam and, to be honest, mental health here is not considered as well as in Western countries. 

Edited by Emonda
Name to title

Effexor 37.5 (11/2022-4/2023) (then tapered for the first time)

Effexor 37.5 (7/2023-3/2024) (tapered 2nd time to 18.75mg and stopped)

Never used other supplements. 

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  • Emonda changed the title to hoangyen: On the way of recovering after coming off Effexor for panic attacks for 14 months (taper twice)
  • Moderator

Hello @hoangyen, and welcome to SA!  We are a community of volunteers providing peer support in the tapering of psychiatric medications, and their associated withdrawal symptoms. 

 

We would appreciate it if you could complete your drug signature.  This will allow people visiting your thread to know your history at a glance, and will give us all the information needed to assist you.  Clicking this link should take you directly to your signature page: Account Settings – Create or Edit a signature.   Please include any other medications or supplements you are taking. 

 

I'm sorry to hear that you don't have much support in Viet Nam for your mental health.  That must be very difficult.  We will be here to support you along the way, so I'm glad you've found us.  Do you have understanding friends and family in your life that can support you through this withdrawal journey?

 

You tapered from your Effexor extremely quickly, and Effexor certainly is well known for inducing withdrawal symptoms, so it's not overly surprising that you're struggling.  Are you able to function in your daily life during your symptom waves?  Are you able to work/care for children/perform normal tasks of daily living?  If these things are a struggle, you could consider a small reinstatement of Effexor to try to reduce your withdrawal symptoms.  It is best done within three months of stopping the medication, and you are a bit outside of that now, but it might be worth a shot if you are really struggling to cope.  Here is more info on reinstatement: About Reinstating and Stabilizing to Reduce Withdrawal Symptoms.  It would be a very small dose at this point- too high a dose could really destabilize you, so we would want to start small.  

 

If you are managing OK through your waves, it's fine to continue as you are.  But you are totally correct when you say that the symptoms come in waves and then resolve. This is known as the windows and waves pattern of stabilization, and everyone here goes through that.  The good news is that having those windows where you are feeling better is a fantastic sign that your nervous system is healing.  You are on your way!  The bad news is that no one can tell you how long withdrawal is going to take.  But we can assure you that you WILL get better!

 

Many of us here do have terrible insomnia while withdrawing- you are absolutely not alone in that.  This link can provide you with further info on coping with this symptom: Tips to help sleep: so many of us have that awful withdrawal insomnia.  

 

And it's very important to develop some non-drug techniques to cope with those feelings of panic that are popping up, and to avoid treating withdrawal symptoms with other psychiatric medications. 

 

Anyway, I'm very glad you've found us, and I look forward to following your journey!  Please post any updates or questions on this thread, and we will happily help you along the way! 

1995- 2007- On and off multiple antidepressants (Prozac, Paxil, Effexor, Wellbutrin, escitalopram). Memory poor- can’t remember dates. Always tapered fast or CT.  2007- tapered Wellbutrin, zopiclone and escitalopram over one month to get pregnant.  Withdrawal hell for many years.

2009- Daughter born 🥰 Post partum depression/psychosis- no meds taken.

2016- Back on escitalopram due to job change/anxiety

2022- Severe covid infection- Diagnosed with long covid 08/22.

2023- 01/23- Long term disability approved for long covid.  Started taper under MD advice from 20mg: 11/23- 15mg. 2024- March-10mg. Started low dose naltrexone for long covid-5mg- terrible reaction, reduced to 0.5mg.  April- 10mg escitalopram, 1.0mg LDN. May 1- 9.0mg escitalopram, 1.0mg LDN. May 15- 9.0mg escitalopram, 1.5mg LDN.  June 12- 8.5mg escitalopram, 1.5mg LDN.  July 8- Brassmonkey micro taper started.  8.4mg escitalopram, 1.5mg LDN.  July 15- 8.3mg esc, 1.5mg LDN.  July 18 8.3mg esc, 2.0mg LDN

 

Supplements/other meds: Vitamin D, B12, Claritin

 

I am not a doctor.  I don't even play one on TV.  This is not medical advice, but based on personal experience.  Please consult a medical professional.

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On 6/14/2024 at 11:33 PM, Catwoman73 said:

 Are you able to function in your daily life during your symptom waves?

I've been feeling not very bad, I'm able to do the things I do, and after a month of free symptoms, they came back on my recent period, the symptoms have been lingering but not as severe as they did. I can sleep better and the vivid dreams that started when I first used the med gradually subside over time, though sometimes I experience insomnia, it doesn't bother me anymore. I find meditation is a great way to calm down my mind, because there were times when I struggled with anxiety, meditating was my lifesaving. My main problem now is that my moods change every day. I wake up with a bit of anxiety, go to work, and feel better for hours and then fatigue comes afterward. I read a post yesterday about somebody who also used the same antidepressant (but a higher dose) as I did with the same duration, he experienced windows and waves but as time went on, the waves became more frequent, making him overwhelmed, which made me feel worried and wonder what is happening to the poor guy. I know how our body reacts to withdrawal differs from person to person, but sometimes I also feel confused about whether I can be normal again. 

 

Effexor 37.5 (11/2022-4/2023) (then tapered for the first time)

Effexor 37.5 (7/2023-3/2024) (tapered 2nd time to 18.75mg and stopped)

Never used other supplements. 

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  • Moderator
12 hours ago, hoangyen said:

I've been feeling not very bad, I'm able to do the things I do, and after a month of free symptoms, they came back on my recent period, the symptoms have been lingering but not as severe as they did. I can sleep better and the vivid dreams that started when I first used the med gradually subside over time, though sometimes I experience insomnia, it doesn't bother me anymore. I find meditation is a great way to calm down my mind, because there were times when I struggled with anxiety, meditating was my lifesaving. My main problem now is that my moods change every day. I wake up with a bit of anxiety, go to work, and feel better for hours and then fatigue comes afterward. I read a post yesterday about somebody who also used the same antidepressant (but a higher dose) as I did with the same duration, he experienced windows and waves but as time went on, the waves became more frequent, making him overwhelmed, which made me feel worried and wonder what is happening to the poor guy. I know how our body reacts to withdrawal differs from person to person, but sometimes I also feel confused about whether I can be normal again. 

 

This is good!  Progress is often slow when healing, and sometimes it's hard to see that anything is happening at all.  The ability to stand back and look at the big picture, seeing how far you've come, can help give you hope as time marches on.  

 

I'm so glad you're meditating- that makes a massive difference for me as well. 

 

Moods fluctuating through the day is a very normal thing around here.  We often wake with anxiety because we have a cortisol surge early in the morning.  It is designed to get us up and moving for the day, but for those of us in withdrawal, it is often interpreted as a danger signal.  And fatigue at the end of the day?  Yup- absolutely part of the withdrawal process.  Be gentle with yourself- a short nap or some time engaged in other calming activities can be rejuvenating, and allow you to continue to function during the evening hours. 

 

You absolutely can be normal again, and so can the person whose post you read.  There are lots of mitigating factors in how we recover- the stress of our daily lives, diet, use of other substances, how much self-care we are able to engage in, and so on.  I think attitude is such a major and underrated factor as well!  I have terrible, hopeless days at times, but I try to look at my current difficulties as a bit of an adventure, with a new me waiting on the other side.  And I believe with all my heart that having that positive spin on a crappy situation helps me fare quite well on this journey!  Healing is a long, slow process for many of us, but learning to just float through the bad times makes it much more bearable.  Look up Claire Weekes on YouTube- she has some amazing advice on the management of anxiety.  I also love Angie Peacock- she is recovered from being polydrugged for years, and interviews fellow survivors.  She always ends her interviews with messages of hope.  Those messages have helped me immensely on my journey. 

1995- 2007- On and off multiple antidepressants (Prozac, Paxil, Effexor, Wellbutrin, escitalopram). Memory poor- can’t remember dates. Always tapered fast or CT.  2007- tapered Wellbutrin, zopiclone and escitalopram over one month to get pregnant.  Withdrawal hell for many years.

2009- Daughter born 🥰 Post partum depression/psychosis- no meds taken.

2016- Back on escitalopram due to job change/anxiety

2022- Severe covid infection- Diagnosed with long covid 08/22.

2023- 01/23- Long term disability approved for long covid.  Started taper under MD advice from 20mg: 11/23- 15mg. 2024- March-10mg. Started low dose naltrexone for long covid-5mg- terrible reaction, reduced to 0.5mg.  April- 10mg escitalopram, 1.0mg LDN. May 1- 9.0mg escitalopram, 1.0mg LDN. May 15- 9.0mg escitalopram, 1.5mg LDN.  June 12- 8.5mg escitalopram, 1.5mg LDN.  July 8- Brassmonkey micro taper started.  8.4mg escitalopram, 1.5mg LDN.  July 15- 8.3mg esc, 1.5mg LDN.  July 18 8.3mg esc, 2.0mg LDN

 

Supplements/other meds: Vitamin D, B12, Claritin

 

I am not a doctor.  I don't even play one on TV.  This is not medical advice, but based on personal experience.  Please consult a medical professional.

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