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SarahLeo: My Story on Coming off of Effexor


SarahLeo

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BACKROUND:

I was on Effexor for several years. I attempted to come off the SSRI drug a few times before my “final” taper down to 0. The first few times, I made the mistake of stopping this drug cold turkey – within 24 hours of stopping it, I immediately found myself popping that pill again to stop the horrible withdrawals. This June, after getting my health on track with my ND, I felt I was ready to get off this drug. This time I was determined to stop this chemical. I was on 75mg of Effexor, and did my first taper down to 37.5mg. Even with this first taper – I felt the withdrawals (I will explain my withdrawal symptoms further down). It took me 4 months to feel “normal” again at this reduced dose & to mentally prepare myself for the next taper. My next taper was down to the 37.5mg tables cut in half. Some people are on the Effexor that are in little balls, I was on a generic brand that were full size tablets (37.5mg were the smallest pill I could get) & I was unsuccessful at taking the brand with the balls (which would of made it easier to taper) so I was left with cutting the tablets in half. The pharmacy did their best at making the cuts even, but I know each night I would be getting a different amount. Knowing this – I decided to do the cut pills for 2 weeks only, then cut them into a quarter for a few days, then stopped completely. I just wanted to get the worse over with & not have to deal with the withdrawals in another 4 months. The pharmacy believed I did it slow enough, and said I could of gone from the 37.5mg to 0 without the cut pills, but I wanted to do it a bit slower, and not completely shock my brain/body. Writing this – I am now on day 6 of no Effexor at all.

 

SYMPTOMS:

I felt the withdrawal symptoms with my reduced doses & cutting it out completely (more severe with the final cut down to 0). Some of the symptoms I felt were: Nausea, headaches, brain zaps, restless leg syndrome, out of body feeling, confusion, vertigo, the spins, irritable, agitated, lack of appetite, brain fog, anxiety, hot flashes, and I am sure I am missing a few more.

 

GETTING READY TO TAPER DOWN/COME OFF:

You need to be mentally determined you will get off, and know the pain will only benefit you in the long run. I kept reminding myself when I was having the horrible withdrawal symptoms that it is my body flushing out all the horrible chemicals… it has a mean to an end, and once the worst of it is over (probably 4 days after each cut down), every day would be up from there. The other key factors are:

  1. Work: I am so thankful I had a job where I was able to take a few weeks off with each taper. You need to have the support from work to take the time off, no way in hell I would have been able to work.
  2. Support at Home: You need to let everyone close to you in your life know what your plan is. They will need to understand how tough it will be for you for some time. I wanted someone around for the first few days of my taper (to help with food, etc.), but once the nausea was gone after the first 4 days – I personally felt better alone. I didn’t want anyone to see me at my worst, especially because I was getting irritated so easily & didn’t want to take it out on close ones.
  3. Timing: I suggest not having any big plans for about a month after you reduce your dose. Most of the withdrawal symptoms will be gone by then. The only long term withdrawal symptom I have had is brain fog, after my first reduction in my dosage, it took 4 months for the brain fog to disappear… hopefully it isn’t that long with my final cut to 0!
  4. Benefits: there is no way I could have done this without medical benefits for my naturopath, acupuncture, massage therapy, chiropractor, and registered dietician. These were all key parts in my detox therapies. My wallet thanks me & so does my body.
  5. Money set aside for the supplements, vitamins, essential oils, teas, etc.

 

SOME OF THE REMEDIES I DID FOR WITHDRAWALS:

In no particular order, here is a big list of what I did to help get myself off this addictive drug.

  1. Essential Oils: peppermint for the headaches, ginger for the nausea
  2. Epsom Salt Baths: so much goodness comes from these; I would use Epsom salts & Himalayan salts. I was having a bath a day during the worst of the withdrawals.
  3. Supplements/Vitamins: I am on a cocktail of vitamins/supplements under my ND’s guidance. The ones I noticed helped the most?
    1. L-theanine: extracted from green tea, helps create a calm, relaxed alertness. I am also drinking a ton of Matcha green tea, which is packed with this amino acid. Helps “zen” me out.
    2. Magnesium: I would take an advanced MG complex at night, to help with getting some sleep, for me it acted similar to a sleeping pill. You feel a bit groggy in the AM after taking it.
    3. L-Tyrosine: helps with stress, etc.
    4. Other supplements I have been taking for mood stabilizing is: B complex, omega 3(3:1EPA to DHA), D3, P5P, 5-HTP, and a few more. I only took what was suggested by my ND. I don’t recommend putting yourself on any of these supplements unless you are under guidance of an ND. Some of the supplements (ie. 5-HTP) can react with certain SSRI drugs and can cause bad reactions.  
    5. Prairie Naturals Rise & Shine: I love this stuff, great way to start off your day.
  4. Teas: I swear that teas are a form of medicine. You can find a tea that has ingredients for almost any ailment.  These are some of the teas I have been using:
    1. Banff Tea Co. “Detox Tea”: Liquorice, cinnamon, burduck root, ginger, dandelion root, fennel, aniseed, juniper berries, coriander, cardamom, black pepper, parsley, sage, cloves and kurkuma
    2. Banff Tea Co. “Tulsi Multi”: Tulsi herb, papaya pieces, apple pieces, rosehip peel, orange peel and natural flavor.
    3. Banff Tea Co. “Sweet Dreams of Banff”: Rose petals, chamomile, lemongrass, lavender, and spearmint
  5. Water: Flush that horrible **** out… drink as much as possible.
  6. Food: I am trying my best at eating whole, organic foods. I am having lots of green smoothies, wheat grass shots, etc. … FOOD IS MEDICINE, what you put in your body is what you get back.
  7. Chiropractor: I was having horrible restless leg syndrome, the chiropractor did several adjustments on me & with hours my RLS was cured! I have read several articles on Chiropractors helping withdrawal symptoms, etc. Have a google!!
  8. Acupuncture: I believe in this method of therapy so much!
  9. Massage Therapy: I have also read several articles on massage therapy and detoxing. I believe they are an important way to help your body detox.
  10. Staying on a schedule: after the first few days after you reduce the dose, try to get back on a sleep schedule, don’t sleep the days away because you feel sh*tty… it is good to stay on a schedule to easily transition back into work.
  11. Himalayan Salt Lamps: Google the benefits & judge for yourself, I love them.
  12. Exercise: After the first few days of hell, try and get some exercise/vitamin D. Even if it is just a short walk.
  13. Probiotics: Lots of researches linking gut health to immune system, mental wellbeing, etc.
  14. Stay Busy: read, colour, movies, exercise, whatever to keep your mind busy

 

Overall, my biggest piece of advice is that you need to be determined to get off. You need to be mentally prepared for what you will put your body through. There is a mean to the end!!! I am feeling better every day now. I will keep doing everything possible to speed up the detox process & to eliminate the brain fog quicker this time around. I would also suggest doing your research if your MD prescribes you other drugs while trying to get off the SSRI. One MD I saw wanted to put me on Prozac to eliminate my withdrawal symptoms – to me, this felt like I was going backwards & decided to deal with the pain. The MD’s also prescribed me Ativan & Valium – 2 very addicting drugs! I am still shocked how they easily prescribed me these drugs. I consider myself addicted to Effexor, or was addicted, and the fact they prescribed someone who is battling an addiction another addictive drug blew my mind. I took the Ativan when I went to the hospital, but haven’t taken it since. I am not risking getting addicted to another drug to deal with my withdrawal symptoms of Effexor.

There is “life after the meds” & I can’t wait to be there – to not having any withdrawals, and to not be dependent on a chemical drug.

“Doctors create addicts then cut the cord”. This needs to change, awareness needs to be brought to life after the meds, and more support is needed for people trying to get off SSRI’s. Every single MD I went to, not a single one had an answer for me on how to get off. It is insane how they will easily throw prescriptions at people, and not educate them on how tough it will be to get off. MD’s should have to try and help a patient using alternative methods first BEFORE making that patient an addict.

I was on 75mg of Effexor for over 10 years - I slowly tapered down to 0 & have been off since the last week of October 2015. I have used several holistic approaches along my journey: Naturopath, Neurofeedback, massage therapy, chiropractor, teas, supplements, exercise, nutrition to name a few

 

My introduction post:

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/10478-sarahleo-my-story-on-coming-off-of-effexor/

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Hi SarahLeo,

 

Thanks for sharing your story, it's encouraging to see some success stories about coming off Effexor. Great strategy to also work with a team of health professionals who are committed to natural approaches rather than just relying on hour GP.

 

Regarding the supplements that you took, how did your ND know what to prescribe to you? Did you have to get certain lab tests or other tests done for these?

 

I recently read Nutrient Power: Healing your brain and healing your biochemistry by William Walsh and it talks a lot about taking supplements for mental illnesses, but didn't have a lot of practical advice so I'm wondering how to go about applying it (without spending a ton of money).

  • 25mg Cipralex 2009 - 2010

150mg Effexor + 50mg Quetiapine/Seroquel 2011 - 2015

50mg > 25mg > 0 Quetiapine/Seroquel December 2014

150mg > 112.5mg > 75mg > 37.5mg January - April 25ish 2015

Started experiencing worsening anxiety and depression post-withdrawal of medication from mid-July 2015

100mg Wellbutrin September - October 2015

25mg Quetiapine/Seroquel reinstated October 1 2015 but experiencing numbness, inability to focus, low heart rate, blood pressure, head rushes

Reinstated 37.5mg Effexor October 29, 2015 and trying to keep the hope alive

Stopped seroquel October 30, so far doing better since reinstatement but would like to taper off Effexor next year after stabilizing

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Hi hopealive

 

Thanks for the comment. MY ND specializes in vitamin therapy and we have worked together since June to come up with supplements that work. The biggest concern I got from her as well as my pharmacist was adding in the 5-HTP with the Effexor. I did not add in the 5-HTP until I was tapering down (should not be taken with high doses of Effexor). Another supplement that I will be starting to use is "Neuropas Balance" - this is a supplement that has st johns wort herb, valerian root, and passionflower herb. This is another supplement that should not be taken with an SSRI. I have heard miracle stories about this Neuropas Balance - I am just waiting to start it. I will wait about 2 weeks from my last dose of Effexor to start it (to ensure the SSRI is out of my system for the most part).

 

A lot of the other supplements she said I did not need to worried about taking with an SSRI. I also take a few other supplements for overall heath (zinc, green tea extract)

 

 

As far as lab tests go - I have only done a food sensitivity test. This was more to get my health on track to ensure I was ready to take on the withdrawals of Effexor.

I was on 75mg of Effexor for over 10 years - I slowly tapered down to 0 & have been off since the last week of October 2015. I have used several holistic approaches along my journey: Naturopath, Neurofeedback, massage therapy, chiropractor, teas, supplements, exercise, nutrition to name a few

 

My introduction post:

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/10478-sarahleo-my-story-on-coming-off-of-effexor/

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  • Administrator

Welcome, SarahLeo.

 

Good to hear you're feeling better since coming off Effexor 7 weeks ago. What are your current withdrawal symptoms?

 

See our Symptoms and Self-care forum  http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/forum/8-symptoms-and-self-care/for suggestions about how to cope with symptoms.

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has surpassed our humanity." -- Albert Einstein

All postings © copyrighted.

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Hi Altostrata,

 

I have only been off Effexor for 7 days now. I started my taper back in June, with the final cut to 0 last Thursday.

 

My nausea/headaches are gone. What I am feeling still is: brain fog, restless legs at night, confusion, and still not feeling in my body. I had an ND appointment today and she has put me on some other supplements to help "get my brain back". I beleive the worst is over, just a slow recovery to feel "Normal" again.

I was on 75mg of Effexor for over 10 years - I slowly tapered down to 0 & have been off since the last week of October 2015. I have used several holistic approaches along my journey: Naturopath, Neurofeedback, massage therapy, chiropractor, teas, supplements, exercise, nutrition to name a few

 

My introduction post:

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/10478-sarahleo-my-story-on-coming-off-of-effexor/

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  • Administrator

Sarah, I wish NDs and other alternative practitioners had the key to getting people off psychiatric drugs with no withdrawal symptoms, but I have not seen that to be the case.

 

While you have been tapering gradually, it's faster than the very gradual taper we recommend. Your nervous system is the final judge about whether it was slow enough.

 

I would be very careful with St. John's Wort. Please see our discussions about this.

 

Please let us know how you're doing, and if your symptoms get worse.

 

Many people do better with fish oil and magnesium supplements, see
http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/36-king-of-supplements-omega-3-fatty-acids-fish-oil/
http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/1300-magnesium-natures-calcium-channel-blocker/
 

The magnesium in particular might relieve the leg movements.

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has surpassed our humanity." -- Albert Einstein

All postings © copyrighted.

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Hi hopealive

 

Thanks for the comment. MY ND specializes in vitamin therapy and we have worked together since June to come up with supplements that work. The biggest concern I got from her as well as my pharmacist was adding in the 5-HTP with the Effexor. I did not add in the 5-HTP until I was tapering down (should not be taken with high doses of Effexor). Another supplement that I will be starting to use is "Neuropas Balance" - this is a supplement that has st johns wort herb, valerian root, and passionflower herb. This is another supplement that should not be taken with an SSRI. I have heard miracle stories about this Neuropas Balance - I am just waiting to start it. I will wait about 2 weeks from my last dose of Effexor to start it (to ensure the SSRI is out of my system for the most part).

 

A lot of the other supplements she said I did not need to worried about taking with an SSRI. I also take a few other supplements for overall heath (zinc, green tea extract)

 

 

As far as lab tests go - I have only done a food sensitivity test. This was more to get my health on track to ensure I was ready to take on the withdrawals of Effexor.

 

Thanks for the advice, I will be looking into a good ND for when I start to come off Effexor (again) in a much slower taper. Keep us posted on how you're doing if you can and best of luck on your AD-free recovery!

  • 25mg Cipralex 2009 - 2010

150mg Effexor + 50mg Quetiapine/Seroquel 2011 - 2015

50mg > 25mg > 0 Quetiapine/Seroquel December 2014

150mg > 112.5mg > 75mg > 37.5mg January - April 25ish 2015

Started experiencing worsening anxiety and depression post-withdrawal of medication from mid-July 2015

100mg Wellbutrin September - October 2015

25mg Quetiapine/Seroquel reinstated October 1 2015 but experiencing numbness, inability to focus, low heart rate, blood pressure, head rushes

Reinstated 37.5mg Effexor October 29, 2015 and trying to keep the hope alive

Stopped seroquel October 30, so far doing better since reinstatement but would like to taper off Effexor next year after stabilizing

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • Moderator

SarahLeo - congratulations on your taper!

 

Please keep in mind that there is often a "honeymoon phase" with antidepressant withdrawal.  The real effects often don't kick in until 3, 6, 8 months or even a year later.  I tell you this not to be alarming - but - if you start to have symptoms, you will know, "Ah, this is just withdrawal."  All psych drugs (and especially SSRI/SNRI's) can have a delayed withdrawal response due to upregulation of neurotransmitting receptors, which can make you sensitive to, well, nearly anything.

 

I agree with Alto that supplements may not be the sole solution.  I'm especially concerned about your B vitamins, which can be activating, St. John's Wort - which will go right back to the same serotonin receptors you are trying to heal.  5HtP is another one of these, as it is a serotonin precursor.  Also, please be careful with combination supplements - if you have a reaction, you will  not know what it is you are reacting to.

 

You've got the right idea - get all the support in place for your taper and withdrawal, and you've been doing that in spades, which is awesome! 

 

You may wish to look here, to see what other people have experienced on the supplements you are using:

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/606-important-topics-about-tests-supplements-treatments-diet/

and

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/2836-supplements-what-helps-what-doesnt/

 

Keep in mind, that - if you read enough threads - many of us have been harmed by natural practitioners of all types, because antidepressant withdrawal is not understood by them.  They, too, often subscribe to the "chemical imbalance myth," and try to "detox" everything at a rate which is very shocking to a system which is withdrawing from a powerful psych drug.  You seem to trust your practitioners, but please do some research on your own.  You will save money, and possibly grief.

 

Welcome to SA!  You're never alone in the world!

 

PS Please help us help you by completing your signature line:  

How to complete your Signature or Complete your Signature from Phone or Tablet

"Easy, easy - just go easy and you'll finish." - Hawaiian Kapuna

 

Holding is hard work, holding is a blessing. Give your brain time to heal before you try again.

 

My suggestions are not medical advice, you are in charge of your own medical choices.

 

A lifetime of being prescribed antidepressants that caused problems (30 years in total). At age 35 flipped to "bipolar," but was not diagnosed for 5 years. Started my journey in Midwest United States. Crossed the Pacific for love and hope; currently living in Australia.   CT Seroquel 25 mg some time in 2013.   Tapered Reboxetine 4 mg Oct 2013 to Sept 2014 = GONE (3 years on Reboxetine).     Tapered Lithium 900 to 475 MG (alternating with the SNRI) Jan 2014 - Nov 2014, tapered Lithium 475 mg Jan 2015 -  Feb 2016 = GONE (10 years  on Lithium).  Many mistakes in dry cutting dosages were made.


The tedious thread (my intro):  JanCarol ☼ Reboxetine first, then Lithium

The happy thread (my success story):  JanCarol - Undiagnosed  Off all bipolar drugs

My own blog:  https://shamanexplorations.com/shamans-blog/

 

 

I have been psych drug FREE since 1 Feb 2016!

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  • 1 month later...

Update: I am coming up to 8 weeks of being free of the drug. My brain fog is still here, but I recently started Neurofeedback which I believe is helping. I am on sessions 6 of my training and have noticed I am less irritable, my mood feels more stable, and I am able to make decisions again in my life... I am finally getting my brain back!

 

I am staying positive and working towards my goal. The mind can do amazing things when you are determined.

I was on 75mg of Effexor for over 10 years - I slowly tapered down to 0 & have been off since the last week of October 2015. I have used several holistic approaches along my journey: Naturopath, Neurofeedback, massage therapy, chiropractor, teas, supplements, exercise, nutrition to name a few

 

My introduction post:

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/10478-sarahleo-my-story-on-coming-off-of-effexor/

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  • 3 weeks later...

Well done sarahleo, sounds like you have an amazing attitude which is a necessity during this process. Good luck with everything, and may you continue to see improvements.

<p>Various benzos 4 months for insomnia prior to Effexor 37.5mg may 2014 for two weeks, Mirtazapine 30mg june 2014 - feb 2015.Pristiq 50 mg Feb 2015. six weeks later attempted coming off with a six week taper. ten days off and it got ugly. Tapering now using compounded pristiq with slow release agent. 37.5 mg 3 weeks, 30 mg 6 weeks, 25mg 4.5 weeks, 20mg for 6 weeks, 17.5 mgs 7 weeks, 20 mg 8 weeks, 19 mg 3 weeks, 18 mg 3 weeks, 17 mg 3 weeks, 16 mg 3 weeks, 15mg 2 weeks, 14mg 2 weeks, 13 mgs 2 weeks, 12 mgs 6 weeks, 11mg 3 weeks, 10.5mg 2 weeks, 10 mg 3.5 weeks. 9mg 4 weeks. Jumped at 8mg currently 16 months free

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