Jump to content

sollicitudo: protracted Effexor w/d


sollicitudo

Recommended Posts

 Hello everyone!

 

I'm finally taking the time to write my introduction after procrastinating for a few months. I really don't know how much detail I should put into this intro, there's been so much going on in my personal life the last few years that inevitably has affected my well-being in some way, but I will try to stick to the most significant events that I believe are interesting to the users of this forum.

 

I am almost 30 years old today and I have suffered from depression and panic attacks since around the age of 17. I was in college between 20 and 24 going for a Bsc in Computer Science. During this time my depression never really improved nor did it get much worse. I didn't exactly perform well in school(except in programming courses) but somehow I managed to push through and get my first job as a software engineering consultant.

 

Being a decent programmer(as it was also my hobby) I never really thought that work would be the challenge it turned out to be. When finally being put to the test in a real-life job situation I quickly realized that I was severely lacking in confidence. When receiving instructions for some problem to solve I would often just obsess about messing up and ended up getting nowhere. Also, in the more leisured situations I couldn't keep up at all with my quick-witted colleagues, so I quickly became the company recluse.

 

This situation kept on for about 3 quarters of a year and pushed me into a deep depression.

 

Earlier in life I had been offered anti-depressants multiple times and turned them down, but now I felt as if I had no other option, so I agreed to try Venlafaxine(Effexor) (and yes, the psychiatrist endorsed them as a new, effective, safe AD).

 

I quit my job for one at a smaller company and pretty soon I felt the meds starting to work. Around this time I started turning into a completely different person - partially someone that I wanted to become. Things went fairly well during this time.

 

Work was ok.

I was much more active in my social life(I also drank too much, though).

I had much more projects going on in my personal life.

 

On the down-side, however, I also became more reckless and about a year after starting Effexor I ended up getting a girl pregnant who I barely knew at the time. Fun-time was over. The next few months revolved almost completely around worrying, arguing, fighting and loosing sleep over the whole pregnancy situation. She wanted to keep the child and I didn't.

 

Fast-forward to August 2013 and my son is born. Against all odds we decided to stick together and give parenting together a shot. Soon after he is born I start getting worried about my perceived lack of affection towards my son. I knew that I loved him, I just couldn't really feel it. I had noticed this regarding feelings for other people or things during my time on Effexor earlier, but it didn't really bother me then. I had also noticed that my memory was getting worse. Returning at work after the weekend I could look at work that I knew that I had done the week before and not recognize it at all, or see notes in my handwriting on the computer screen that I couldn't remember writing.

 

Doing a few searches on google on “Effexor” and “Memory” was convincing enough to consider quitting. Other than that, I just wasn't feeling well. I felt like Effexor was adding to my stress and causing heart intense palpitations even when I was sleeping.

 

In March 2014 I took my last dose of Effexor. I didn't really go cold-turkey but the taper was very steep. If I remember correctly I might have dropped down from 150mg to 75mg and stayed there for a week or two before taking 75mg every other day for a week at most. This wasn't exactly as prescribed by my doctor, but not far from it. I think I was supposed to carry on with the every-other-day dose a couple of weeks more, but that's it.

 

Now, the immediate time after quitting was so turbulent with fighting at home and stress at work that I really don't know which feelings to attribute to what, but I wouldn't say that I suffered from acute w/d from Effexor given the severity of other peoples accounts that I have read. What happened instead was that I slowly got worse and each new symptom that showed up was weirder than anything I had felt before.

 

Within a year I had started to experience a lot of symptoms, and just to name a few:

 

  • Pressure and strange sensations in head, and over my face

  • My vision was off. In particular, focusing on objects far away felt strenuous and weird

  • Panic attacks that where different from any I've had before

  • Extreme tiredness and fatigue

  • Insomnia / shallow sleep

  • Severe derealization/depersonalization

  • Cognitive issues(lack of concentration and poor memory)

  • Intense feelings of confusion that are hard to explain and unlike anything I've ever had before

  • Zero stress-tolerance

 

I assumed at the time that all of this was the result of poor sleep and the sometimes very stressful situation at home. I had repressed a lot of anger during this time.

 

I tried my very best to keep up at work, but just over a year after quitting Effexor I had to stop working. I live in Sweden, so I could get paid sick leave for depression. (This is something I know I shouldn't take for granted, and how some people out there have managed to pull through this while still working is a mystery to me. You guys are amazing).

 

Just starting sick leave I thought I would do myself a favor and quit my nicotine habit (I used snus which is a smokeless yet very strong nicotine habit). I had quit before, many years earlier, only to pick it up again (yes, while on Effexor). My previous quit was pretty typical - very tough but completely doable with some discipline and intense exorcise. This time would be nothing like that. Aside from the first few weeks of nicotine craving misery, this was nothing like my previous quit.

 

A few weeks into my quit, I was in the worst mental agony I had been in my entire life, by far. Forget not being able to work, every second of the day was so painful I couldn't focus on anything else but enduring the situation. At this time I had still not heard about protracted w/d from antidepressants but I strongly suspected that this condition was somehow related to my previous AD use. I started thinking that maybe my nicotine use had reduced the severity of coming off Effexor, and that it all came at once now. I still suffer from these feelings, 7 months later, but it is SO much better.

 

A few months after this I also quit coffee. Once again I get a severe reaction to something I had done earlier in my life with only a few days of manageable discomfort. I started having panic attacks, my body started to feel like lead and of course my depression worsened again. One good thing did come out of it though – I was finally able to sleep. I fall asleep pretty much

the instant my head lands on my pillow now.

 

So here I am, almost 2 years since I took my last Effexor. I recently became aware of protracted w/d after googling my symptoms and I instantly felt that more or less everything that had been going on with me the last few years got an explanation. I have some of my worst days in recent memory but I also think that quitting nicotine and coffee finally put me on the right course for proper healing. Today I'm not in that much pain, I just feel very sensitive to everything. Also my mind feels dull and shallow in some way and I can't really engage in problem solving or programming as I used to. I hope that at least some of the cognitive difficulties are still from nicotine w/d though.

 

I should wrap this up. I'm so glad I found this site, without it and without the acknowledgement of protracted w/d around the web I'm 100% certain that I would still be in the dark, probably heading even deeper into careless medication. I hope to find people in situations similar to mine who are heading towards recovery and in particular I hope to find people who have been on Effexor. Finding success-stories for recovering from this drug seems hard in particular especially when it comes to regaining cognitive abilities.

 

I wish you all full recovery!

 

Edited by scallywag
tags added

Effexor 150mg July 2011 - March 2014

Link to post

Well you really have gone through some serious stuff! 

This venlafaxine is one hell of a drug. I've been off venlafaxine for 13 months now and I think the strongest waves are behind, but things are definitely not right yet.

It seems that this whole withdrawal thing makes you mentally crippled and it takes years to heal completely. I say completely, because I hope that is happening, but then again can you go through all this without having a some kind of influence in you? Future will tell, I guess. At the moment I'm feeling very sceptical, sorry for that. 

I've noticed too, that there aren't many success stories about effexor, especially if you are looking for those that have started their journey from similar circumstances. I personally don't bother reading stories that involve multiple drugs or slow tapering, since I'm a rapid taperer myself and it makes things different.

So, welcome aboard!

PS. Veitsimakkara?  :)

My history:
Escitalopram 5-10mg 2006-2008

Fluoxetine 40mg 2008-2010
Venlafaxine 150mg 2010 - December 2014
I tapered off very quickly:
1. week 75mg
2. week 35,5mg
3. week 17mg
4. week 8,5mg
5. week none

Link to post
  • Moderator Emeritus

Welcome to the site .... ,  what a journey you've had.  I'm glad you finally found out what was going on.

 

It's always lovely to hear from members who have recovered significantly after ad use.  You  might like to post your

story in the Success Stories section.

 

There is a thread for Nordic members in the Relationships section here  http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/11077-finnish-nordic-members-please-check-in-here/

 

Best wishes ,  Fresh

Edited by Altostrata
masked name

1987-1997 pertofran , prothiaden , Prozac 1997-2002 Zoloft 2002-2004 effexor 2004-2010 Lexapro 40mg

2010-2012Cymbalta 120mg

Sept. 2012 -decreased 90mg in 6months. Care taken over by Dr Lucire in March 2013 , decreased last 30mg at 2mg per week over 3 months. July 21 , 2013- last dose of Cymbalta

Protracted withdrawal syndrome kicked in badly Jan.2014 Unrelenting akathisia until May 2014. Voluntary hosp. admission. Cocktail of Seroquel, Ativan and mirtazapine and I was well enough to go home after 14 days. Stopped all hosp. meds in next few months.

July 2014 felt v.depressed - couldn't stop crying. Started pristiq 50mg. Felt improvement within days and continued to improve, so stayed on 50mg for 8 months.

Began taper 28 Feb. 2015. Pristiq 50mg down to 45mg. Had one month of w/d symptoms. Started CES therapy in March. No w/d symptoms down to 30mg.

October 2015 , taking 25mg Pristiq. Capsules compounded with slow-release additive.

March 2016 , 21mg

Link to post
  • Administrator

Welcome, kniv.

 

Thank you for telling us about your progress. Yes, nicotine and caffeine are both neuroactive substances. Your having such difficulty going off them shows how taking Effexor and going off it sensitized your nervous system.

 

Good to hear your sleep came back, that will help you heal. To what extent would you say you've recovered now? 70%? 85%?

 

Are you working again?

 

(Please Google your screen name and send me a personal message if you decide you'd like to change it.)

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.

Link to post

Welcome, kniv.

 

Thank you for telling us about your progress. Yes, nicotine and caffeine are both neuroactive substances. Your having such difficulty going off them shows how taking Effexor and going off it sensitized your nervous system.

 

Good to hear your sleep came back, that will help you heal. To what extent would you say you've recovered now? 70%? 85%?

 

Are you working again?

 

(Please Google your screen name and send me a personal message if you decide you'd like to change it.)

 

I think that I have recovered emotionally maybe 85% but I hope for more improvement in the cognitive areas. I'm also very mentally and physically fatigued but it's hard to tell if this is because of the stress from trying to move forward despite being in bad shape, or if it's caused directly from w/d.

 

I'm not working at this very moment. I tried going back on part-time but it just didn't work out. My plan now is to try and get a job that is less mentally demanding, at least until I feel fit to return to programming.

Effexor 150mg July 2011 - March 2014

Link to post
  • Administrator

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.

Link to post

You know what! I took effexor more than 10 years ago maybe for a year, 1.5 yrs.

I quit just like dr said and while looking back i am sure I suffered it was maybe 5% of what i am going through now.

I used to smoke cigarettes back then, an antidote to ez quit? If so I can't ***** believe it!!!

Probably just a coincidence...

10/2012 - Lexapro 10mg

2013/2014 - Started experiencing visual disturbances, like visual processing was slow, feeling drunk all the time

9/2014 - Lexapro 5mg, didn't notice any withdrawal, drunk feeling went away

2015 - Drunk feeling came back

5/2015 - Lexapro 2.5mg - 1.25mg - insomnia started

6/2015 - Lexapro 0.625mg

7/2015 - Severe symptoms started, in desperation on advice of pdoc restarted 5mg Lexapro - total disaster

8/2015 - Lexapro 5mg, disoriented, sleepless zombie

9/2015 - Very reluctantly started transitioning to Zoloft

as of 10/10/2105 - no lexapro, 37.5mg Zoloft

12/14/2015 - 35mg zoloft, 1/16/2016 - 34mg

Link to post

You know what! I took effexor more than 10 years ago maybe for a year, 1.5 yrs.

I quit just like dr said and while looking back i am sure I suffered it was maybe 5% of what i am going through now.

I used to smoke cigarettes back then, an antidote to ez quit? If so I can't ***** believe it!!!

Probably just a coincidence...

 

I think that nicotine and smoking in particular acts as an antidepressant. Maybe this helps during w/d from ADs, but I'm certain one has to pay the price sooner or later anyway(in my case when quitting nicotine)

Effexor 150mg July 2011 - March 2014

Link to post
  • 7 months later...

It's been a while so I thought I'd write an update.

 

Up until recently things were pretty much going downhill, or at least were not getting much better. The physical and emotional pain has been way to intense for me to be able to do anything constructive and/or enjoyable.

 

I had been reading a lot of good things about CBD-oil and after careful consideration I decided to give it a shot. I have been using this for a week and at this point I have to say it has worked well over my expectations. My physical pain, head pressure, general discomfort, anxiety depression etc has improved a lot!

 

I'll be back in a few weeks to give an update again.

 

Also, this is CBD-oil from hemp, so it only contains trace amounts of THC -  not enough to affect me in any way (especially not get high)

Effexor 150mg July 2011 - March 2014

Link to post
  • 5 months later...

I'm back with an update.

 

I see I didn't follow up on my last update as I said I would, but I didn't continue with CBD-oil as I believe it was interfering with my sleep. My pain did get a lot better around the time I used it, don't know if it was a coincidence or not.

 

This update will serve as a reminder to myself and to others that sometimes life is pretty good. Spring is around the corner and I have had some moments these last few weeks that were pretty amazing. More than once lately, I've been on the bus on my way to work, the weather has been great, and for short periods of time I've been able to feel this awesome connection with everything, as if the sun was shining right through me and I feel at peace. I haven't been able to feel these things in a long time even before meds so I have to believe that I'm making progress on many levels. Of course, moments later I'll be trapped inside my head again, foggy and achy thinking that these moments never occur.

 

Also, I have been observing my own thoughts regarding what role medication played in making me this ill. When I'm very low I tend to blame everything on meds obsessing about how they permanently "wired" me into something that I wasn't before. When I'm better, my mind is clearer and I feel more optimistic(realistic?) I tend to think of it differently. I have read so many stories now about people in situations that are strikingly similar to mine, and they have not touched meds. The only common denominator is stress. Stress is terrible to the body and brain and large doses over long time make us ill beyond recognition(just look at WW1 shell shock victims). On the other hand, the last thing I would suggest for a stressed out brain is throwing chemicals at it so I'm not saying that meds don't play a part in all this. But there has to be some explanation to why so many people can walk away from medication unscathed.

 

Just saving my thoughts in the cloud :)

 

Best wishes

Effexor 150mg July 2011 - March 2014

Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Terms of Use Privacy Policy