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Hi, I'm RaysFan. Quitting Effexor cold turkey because I'm pregnant

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RaysFan

I have been taking Effexor ER 150 for 4.5 years along with Wellbutrin 300 for 3.5 years to treat my depression and anxiety. I found out that I'm pregnant about a week ago (approx. 6-7 weeks along). My first OB appointment isn't until Aug 17th - apparently they want you to be about 8 weeks before they see you for the first time. I met with my psych on Tues for my regular 3-month check in & script renewal, and she advised me to call my OB/GYN to get her sign off before continuing the meds. Called my OB/GYN & she wants me to stop Effexor ASAP since it is a Class C drug, and will cross the placenta which is particularly bad in the first 12 weeks. She said the Wellbutrin was OK because it's a Class B (?). Called my psych to inform her, and expected her to prescribe me a reduced dose like 75 to start weaning me off. She told me to stop taking it cold turkey (!!). I have been reading lots of blog posts and 'for medical professionals' websites/study results and pretty much everything I've read has said to NOT quit cold turkey but taper off instead. Nearly all first-hand accounts mention 'brain zaps', headaches, nausea, flu-like symptoms, crying jags & more as a result of tapering down and/or skipping doses. I'm following Doctor's orders because I really don't want to expose my baby to Effexor. I'm staying on Wellbutrin for now since it's supposed to be 'less harmful' and I don't want to stop EVERYTHING at once (I've already quit drinking alcohol, lowered my caffeine intake to half a cup of coffee or soda per day, plus started gentle exercise/eating healthier) because I just don't think I could handle that. But I'm really worried about the Effexor withdrawal side effects because I could always tell when it was time for me to take my daily pill. I usually take it in the morning but if I for some reason delayed until later in the day I would feel weird pressure in my brain, located centrally, kindof behind my nose. The best way to describe is that my brain felt like it was gasping for air...and my mind would feel oddly spacey. I don't know if this is the brain zaps people talk about but it sucked!

 

So, today is day 1. It has been 36 hours since I've taken my last dose of Effexor. My brain hasn't felt too pressure-y but it started to earlier this afternoon so I took a long nap to try to sleep past it. Sorry to ramble but I'm afraid of how I'll feel later tonight and tomorrow. I'm hoping the pregnancy hormones will help me out here. Has anyone else quit cold turkey while pregnant?

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Altostrata

Welcome, RaysFan.

 

You are in probably one of the most difficult situations regarding antidepressants.

 

Your OB-GYN is right in that Effexor isn't good for the fetus.

 

But if you are suffering withdrawal syndrome throughout your pregnancy....I don't know, I don't think that will be good for you or the baby. It might cause a lot of stress. Withdrawal can be a lot worse than that brain pressure.

 

Here are the odds, as I see it:

 

- Some people can quite cold-turkey and get no or mild withdrawal symptoms that are over within a month

- If you're not in this lucky group, cold turkey (or alternating dosages) is a good way to get severe withdrawal symptoms.

- People who have been on antidepressants longer have worse problems with withdrawal. At 4.5 years on Effexor, you are in this group.

- Effexor is one of the worst antidepressants for withdrawal syndrome.

 

The way I look at it, given the amount of time you've been on Effexor, and that it's Effexor, you are running a substantial risk by going cold-turkey.

 

If you start to get withdrawal symptoms in a day or so, you might want to rethink the cold turkey.

 

Do you have Effexor capsules with the granules inside them?

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RaysFan

Thanks for the quick reply. Yes, I have the capsules, so I could try granule counting if the withdrawal becomes too bad (or ask doctor for smaller dose). We'll see how tonight goes. Maybe I'll be lucky. :P

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Altostrata

Crossing fingers for you!

 

I look forward to the day when doctors will not be prescribing antidepressants for women who want to become pregnant.

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Patience

Hi Raysfan,

 

That is a scary situation to be in, having to quit oold turkey due to pregnancy. I thought I'd tell you my experience. I had been taking Prozac for about five years. I wanted to get pregnant, but knew I couldn't get off the drug without unbearable and unrelenting withdrawal (I tried a few times before and failed). I got pregnant and stopped the prozac cold turkey on the day I conceived. I really didn't experience any withdrawal. At worst, I had about 30 minutes of some flashing lights in my peripheral vision when I was probably two months along. Then at maybe six or seven months along, I developed social anxiety for about one hour. That was it. My daughter was born with a perfect score on the APGAR (a 10). She's sixteen now and has been healthy all her life so far.

 

I went back on the drugs nine weeks after she was born because the post-partum depression was really hard for me.

 

I hope your experience is as easy as mine was. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you, too.

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Ucfgemini

Hey RaysFan! I'm in Orlando so not too far from you. Are you able to take antihistamines such as benadryl? Those helped me tremendously with the light head and the weird feeling when I moved my eyes or turned my head. Today is one month free for me (I quit because I want to get pregnant). You can do this...surround yourself with positive people and ride out the initial physical symptoms. What were you put on effexor for??

 

Patience...thanks for sharing your story. I have been searching high and low for positive experiences where people did not have severe withdrawals that lasted years. I just want to make it a year or two so I can get pregnant and have a baby. So thank you for the hope!

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Ucfgemini

Never mind RaysFan just answered my question from your previous post.

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RaysFan

Thanks for the replies & good wishes Patience & UCF. Today is Day 2. :) Last night I had a hard time getting to sleep (probably because I slept so much during the day), but other than some realllyyyy bizarre dreams, wasn't doing too bad even tho all I wanted to do was sleep and didn't get out of bed until 2 pm! I took my wellbutrin as soon as I got up and - hello! - along came the major mood swings I've read about. My poor family! It seems better now that I ate. Will keep you posted as the two of us take this monster head on. Thanks so much for your support, this is helping so much.

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Nadia

I quit ADs to get pregnant, too... but so far have been unable, probably because my cortisol is too high. I wish you the best of luck!

 

When I was researching pregnancy and depression stuff, I DID find a lot of stories like what Patience describes, women who stopped cold turkey or tapered very quickly at the beginning of their pregnancy and did just fine. I do think pregnancy hormones protect you somewhat. I wish I had gotten pregnant closer to having C/Td, before I started having the really bad symptoms.

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RaysFan

Day 3...woke up feeling fabulous and energized. Had major nighttime sweats last night along with overly detailed, lengthy dreams; I feel like I remember details from every minute that I actually hit REM. Has anyone experienced that as part of the side effects?? I wouldn't mind that so much had an old boyfriend from years ago not made a little cameo appearance. :P

 

Went for a little bit of sun today at the beach because I thought a little natural vitamin D wouldn't hurt...and have been in tears since I came inside. Maybe that's just pregnancy hormones? Had myself a a good little cry while watching the game (go Rays!) and that seems to have helped a bit.

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Ucfgemini

LOL. You are inspiring me! I've been afraid to get pregnant,even after quitting meds because I'm afraid of my own emotions and feelings. I'm so glad to see that the hormones may work in our favor!! I have never been pregnant, but I'm thinking the tears are probably normal. I've been trying to stay out in the sun, as well. I've been laying in the pool at least an hour every day this week. I'm amazed at how well you're doing- that's awesome!

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RaysFan

Hi all...Day 4 and first day back at work with the new me! Brain felt a little foggy and swimmy when I tried to focus, but as the day wore on, I started to feel sharper than I have in years. Woo hoo!

 

UFCGemini - glad to hear I'm inspiring someone; it's reassuring to have someone along the way who gets it! I don't think I mentioned before but this is also my first pregnancy, still muddling through what is normal versus withdrawal. (I got up this morning feeling super sad and cried in my boyfriend's arms for a good 35 minutes before I could get it together enough to go to work. I think the crying is actually more of the prego hormones cause I laugh periodically while I'm bawling because it's just so ridiculous! It helped when I called one of my best girlfriends, who is also expecting her first. She helped talk me out of my tree and confirmed that the extreme swings are normal - but they get better later on). Looking forward to that day when I'm not saddened by minutiae like tv commercials. :D

 

One really nice thing to report is that I'm feeling little snippets of me coming back that I forgot that I lost during my 4 yrs on the evil Effexor-go-round, if that makes sense? Each day I feel just a little bit better!

 

P.S. is anyone else JUST SO PISSED OFF at your doctor for ever prescribing this crap? I know it was ultimately my choice and I should have read the fine print/researched more - but I really don't remember seeing, hearing or finding details on being OFF the meds/withdrawal....just risks associated with side effects of being ON the meds?? Struggling to hold myself accountable for my own actions while at the same time wanting to scream at my doctor.

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Altostrata

....

P.S. is anyone else JUST SO PISSED OFF at your doctor for ever prescribing this crap? I know it was ultimately my choice and I should have read the fine print/researched more - but I really don't remember seeing, hearing or finding details on being OFF the meds/withdrawal....just risks associated with side effects of being ON the meds?? Struggling to hold myself accountable for my own actions while at the same time wanting to scream at my doctor.

 

This could be the slogan of this site! We're all very angry. This cat is our mascot.

 

Oh, feel free to "educate" your doctor....

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RaysFan

That is a great idea! I am bringing a list of the side effects I experienced and will insist that this be formally documented. As if that will have any impact, but doing due diligence regardless!

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Barbarannamated

RaysFans, THANKS for a good laugh about x boyfriend cameo in dream! I've noticed that sig others from my past show up in my dreams, but never the current person. Funny that you mentioned it.

RE: Effexor w/d....good idea on granules. Years ago, I ran out of Effexor XL caps and had some of the short acting tabs left. My doc told me to use those until I got more XL capsules. They did NOT cover and I had bad w/d symptoms in 1-2 days.

This is just an FYI. Not sure if they even make the short acting tabs.

Most recently, I tapered off of Pristiq over a year and didn't experience the immediate ed symptoms (dizziness, ligjtheadednesd, electric zaps) like w Effexor after missing 1 or 2 days. Not sure of reason.

The anger ... OOOH YES. At docs and at myself for going along w treatment I knew was not working. In that state of depression, cogfog, blunting, I think we are much more 'suggestible' and WANT to believe the drug is working. I should speak for myself, I suppose. The nature of the beast compounded by meds that mask the feelings (gut/intuition) left my sense of self in the dust and looking to anyone who offered hope. And I looked in some wrong places.

When I told my psych that I had tapered off of Pristiq, he said "that's probably good. It may have been flattening to you." Flatten a person unable to experience pleasure. Goood strategy. ARGH!!

RE: the emotions...I imagine pregnancy would definitely increase that altho I've never been there. I am noticing my emotions coming out in spurts now. They were blunted for so long, it now feels like a dead car sputtering to restart, with jolts of emotional energy, then stalling.

LURCH forward, fall back.

'You rang??' ;-) (just an old TV reference that popped up!)

 

BEST TO YOU!

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RaysFan

Day 5. This is the best day I've had in a long time. Had a hard time getting to sleep last night even though I was exhausted. Boyfriend has been couching it the past 2 nights because apparently thrashing about and whistling whilst asleep have become my new nighttime hobbies. Happy to report that I had ZERO past flames intruding on my dreams last night (something to look forward to Barbaranamated, hee!) - funny that it's come down to rating the quality of me sleeps based on the # of unfinished chapters making their way into my subconcious! Mornings to be seem my biggest hurdle, mostly because I wake up with dream hangovers & the overwhelming physical urge to cry without having the emotional urge to cry. I think the crying part is prego-related.

 

During the day - still feeling foggy brained at work, but it's starting to feel like less of a percentage of the day. Another first - caught a little chill from the air conditioning at work! That hasn't happened since I went on EffectsSore - always felt HOT.

 

Also, I fired my doctor today. OK, well not exactly. I have new insurance, which she doesn't accept, so I found a new doctor who does not prescribe any controlled substances whatsoever. I felt some joy as I called my ex-MD to cancel my appointment. Altostrata - I still plan to 'educate' her, but instead of paying $85 out of pocket to do it in person, I'll write her a goodbye letter with the loooong list of reasons this drug is evil!

 

P.S. got a good laugh out of the mascot cat - didn't catch that it was a link until just a few minutes ago. :D

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Nadia

Great to hear that you're doing well. And yes, I'm angry too! At myself, as well... I've never been a fan of medicines, and yet I fell for it, wanting an easy way out of my pain. But you'd think doctors would be there to encourage you to try something more effective and less dangerous. I think they have no clue, for the most part. I have yet to meet an allopathic doctor I respect.

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RaysFan

Day 6. Oh, I hope it stays like this! :D

 

Didn't fall asleep right away last night, so I got back up for an hour and when I went back to bed, went right out. Dreams must have been normal because I don't remember what they were! Today, I was able to super concentrate at work, then went and banged out the best workout I've had IN YEARS at the gym. No brain fogginess and I just realized that I forgot to have my usual (though much smaller, now) cup of coffee or any form of caffeine during the day. Even feeling sleepy now that it's approaching my regular bed time. Could I have kicked the Evil EffectsSore??! Oh, please, please...!

 

We'll see how the night goes - Alto: good idea about drowning out some of the light. I moved my bed on Day 2 right under a window, so I am getting more light than I normally prefer - wouldn't have made the connection had you not mentioned it. It may be a little harder after the Rays huge 9th inning victory...but that's OK. :)

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Barbarannamated

Rays,

'EffectsSore' - excellent! Glad to hear you are doing so well!

Mornings are, by far, the worst for me. The early morning panic has subsided quite a bit w use of blackout curtains. I was doing the exact opposite and letting sun in, thinking that would lift my spirits.

I lost my career along the way and have never been able to formulate another plan (effect of drugs?) so have many days w not a thing scheduled. I do much better with ANYTHING to look forward to. It is alienating and a blow to self confidence to be extremely UNbusy when everyone I know is so overscheduled and running 24/7.

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RaysFan

Hi all. Haven't posted in a while because I was doing great and didn't have much to report, until today.

 

I finally saw my OB on Wednesday & she brought me back for a sono today. It turns out that I have a blighted ovum, which means that the fertilized egg made it so far as to implant and create a yolk sac...but no embryo developed. I am still 'pregnant', but will miscarry soon.

 

From what I've been able to learn, this is often due to a woman's body recognizing that there is a major genetic abnormality in the pregnancy & is the body's way of dealing with it. There's any number of reasons that could cause it - bad egg, bad sperm, age of parents (we're both over 35), or just plainly a pregnancy that was not meant to be...but it's really hard not to wonder if exposure to and subsequent withdrawal from EffectsSore had anything to do with it. I'm trying to look at the positives - that we can try again later, when my body is even healthier now that I'm effeX free, a future pregnancy that won't have been exposed to it at all, better timing in our personal lives, etc. etc. etc.

 

Not the happiest outcome but that's the way the cookie crumbled. Thanks to all of you, who helped me through a very challenging time in my life that few people outside our funky little world would understand.

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Barbarannamated

Rays, I'm sorry to hear of your news, but nodding in agreement while reading your message.

You are young! I have a few friends who didn't have kids until after 40 and had no problems. I can't keep up with them, but they are doing great. ;)

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Altostrata

So sorry to hear, Rays. Sounds like your coping with the disappointment okay.

 

If you find you have waves of anxiety and depression, check back with us, 'kay?

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Nadia

Wow... I'm so sorry to hear this. You have good perspective about the situation and I think you are right, if this was a signal about a major genetic deficiency then it's for the best, and there WILL be more opportunities for you, and it will be good for you to be off the Effexor for longer when you try again. Still, I imagine this is a very difficult time, no matter what. I hope the hormonal changes don't go too roughly for you. Here's wishing for beautiful healthy babies for us when we are ready and it's right!

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ajay

Hi RaysFan,

 

I'm so sorry to hear this news. I am thinking of you and wishing you healing.

 

Please keep us posted on how you're doing, okay?

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RaysFan

Thanks all, for the kind words. We're really trying hard to think of this whole situation as a blessing in disguise. The ups & downs of the past 3 weeks have brought us even closer, so that's another positive to be thankful for!

 

I've now stopped taking my Wellbutrin, cold turkey. My last dose was Friday morning, when I took my last prenatal vitamin - I'm switching back to my regular women's one-a-day vitamin. Happily, there have been no side effects of stopping Wellbutrin. I did have a little meltdown last night, but I'm pretty sure that was just all of the emotions of the past 48 hours finally catching up. Hopefully, the last bits of the physical part will wrap up soon...the sooner my body can get back to a non-prego state, the better. BF & I also allowed ourselves to indulge in all of the nasty, greasy, sugary junk food we wanted this weekend, which helped. Heaven! :P

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RaysFan

Ugh. Checking in because things are starting to get tough. Went in again today for another ultrasound and I have to go back in on Friday for a d&c :angry: NOT looking forward to that at all. Terrified, actually. OB GYN wants me to check in and to let her know how I'm doing after this is all said & done on Friday because, as she put it, 'my moods' may return. She's encouraging me to either go back to my old psych or find a new psych doctor just in case I do end up needing to go back on some kind of therapy - but to be sure to let them know that I want to eventually get pregnant again so that, if needed, they could prescribe me something much more mild.

 

Does anyone know any good websites to research different mental therapies? Methods, drug information, non-traditional approaches, etc?

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RaysFan

Thanks Alto! :)

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RaysFan

Oh what a year it's been...

 

I lost a close family member to suicide a couple weeks after my miscarriage. Talk about a sh!tty end to the year! I temporarily went back on Wellbutrin, which did nothing to alleviate my grief and depression, but it did keep me from going postal at work. I considered that to be a small success.

 

I tried looking for a different doctor in hopes of finding a natural, non-prescription relief, but struck out. I've given up on seeking professional help with my depression and decided to do the best I could on my own.

 

After about 3 months of grieving for my lost family member, I decided I still needed a little something to help me, but I'd be damned if I'd find it in prescription form.

 

Happy to say, I'm now EffectSore and Wellbutrin free, a year later! I still struggle with blue moods, but have have found some relief in OTC Lithium Aspartate (5 mg.) I feel no side effects taking it, only a gradual resurgence of sadness if I miss taking a dose after 2-3 days. I've also worked really hard to clean up other aspects of my life (changed jobs, lost 20+ lbs, eating better, exercising more - including weekly yoga, and limited my drinking to no more than a couple drinks per week). I feel much better. Though still not 100%, it's more manageable.

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Altostrata

Good to hear from you again, RF. Sorry to hear of all the troubles you've had to cope with.

 

Have you tried fish oil and magnesium? Perhaps some sublingual B12? All of these might help your mood.

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