Jump to content
SurvivingAntidepressants.org will be closed to new registrations November 1st through December 31, 2023 ×

Irish714: Return of Depression - w/drawl side effect or return of pre-existing depression


Recommended Posts

Hello everyone. My name is Chris and I am a new member, with a potentially complicated beginning. Before jumping into it, let me share that I am so sorry for the length and I THANK YOU so much if you choose to read my story and respond to my inquiries:


I suffered my first depression and sever anxiety (they always go hand in hand, with anxiety typically coming first) at age 15. The anxiety never fully left me, and I suffered a depressive episode (with heightened anxiety) every approximate 2 1/2 years. Almost all of the episodes were triggered by the demise of a romantic relationship which, in term, may be a result of my own relationship with my mother (alcoholic w/ mental health issues - not a happy or fun alcholic; very much the opposite).


At age 37 my primary doctor proscribed Effexor 37.5 for anxiety. I stayed on it for 14 (wonderful mostly depression free) years, occasionally upping to 75mg when a I hit a difficult spot. I could never sustain at 75mg. It made my condition worse, and added restlessness, (more) insomnia, (more) evaporation of my appetite, more shaking and increased anxiety. I never stayed at 75 for more than a week, or less.


In 2016 my wife and I believed she had cancer. My anxiety skyrocketed; worse than any time in 14 years of Effexor.


Approximately a week after concluding (incorrectly) that my wife had cancer I had my first EVER panic attack. That night I got exceedingly drunk. The next day I had my second ever panic attack, worse than the day before. In mid January my primary doctor pulled me, cold turkey, off Effexor and immediately onto 10 mg Lexapro. Four days later I could not function; cold sweats, waves of inconsolable sobbing coming from nowhere, insomnia, rumination ("you're going crazy and you're going to end up just like your mother"), lost appetite, total fear and anxiety; shacking.


I thought it was the Lexapro. What did I know about withdrawal. Every day my condition deteriorated more. During this time I participated in my daughter's (10 year old) field trip. I had my third panic attack - running to the bathroom to sob. 19 days later I finally went to a psychiatrist. He took me off Lexapro immediately and put me back on Effexor (in February this year). I still felt horrible. He began titrating me up; 75 and then 112 and then 150. I got worse. I freaked out, hands now shaking uncontrollably etc. - sobbing worse than ever; I thought I would be and should be locked up in a mental ward. I think my psychiatrist took my reactions to the increase in Effexor as signs of Bipolar, though I've never been hypomanic or manic. He reduced me back to 75mg, and then 37.5; all of this in approximately one month time; maybe a bit more. He eventually added Lamotragin and titrated me up, from 25mg to 200mg which I hit mid July, keeping me at 37.5 Effexor.


I believe, over time, the Lamotragin may have tamped down my ruminations and may have some other minimal positive effects. However, my major depression and anxiety did not and has not resolved.


In August I began titrating off Effexor. It took me just over two months. I've been 12 days without Effexor. The last month or so, coming off Effexor, I experienced violent nightmares (where I would fling myself out of bed on occasion), a feeling that my brain is heating up (seriously) and at other times, a kind of movement in or around my brain. I also experienced daily headaches and body aches and, on some days, from out of nowhere, 100% exhaustion and aches (flue like?), requiring me to go home and take clonazepam and lie in bed for two hours. The headaches are now gone and the exhaustion episodes are also gone, as are the nightmares. The depression remains BIG and the anxiety too; I wake up at 5:30 kind of frozen in bed with anxiety but with no clear source for the anxiety aside from "You'll never recover" thoughts. I take .25 to .5 clonazepam every day. 


My questions are, from your experience or readings:


1. Is my depression and increased anxiety someone related to the Effexor - which developed when I went cold turkey in February (through today);


2. Do I likely have brain damage and, if yes, can I recover from this and find my depression dissipate over time;


What do you think of my theory: After 14 years of Effexor my brain just decided it didn't need to make whatever it was the Effexor was providing, until it stopped providing it (pooped out) and now, whatever it is that I need to pull out of this depression is just not there anymore. If this is the case, can my brain learn to make X again, and pull me out of this depression, or do I need to go back to the SSRI's (Effexor is essentially an SSRI at 37.5) for the rest of my life.


I'm sorry for the length. Sincerely, Chris from Seattle







2002 - February 2016 Effexor 37.5mg - worked great for recurrent depression and GAD

February 2016 lost effect - two panic attacks (never had one before)

February 2016 pulled cold turkey and immediate switch to Lexepor 10mg - sick...So sick

March 1, 2016 back on Effexor via Psychiatrist

March through end of April titrate up to 150mg - sick...So sick / shaking body and hands/no sleeping or eating etc.

May back to 37.5 and add Lamotratin

Lamotrin titrate to 200mg over two months

July 200mg Lamotragin - maybe helps with ruminating negative thoughts a bit but that's it

August 2016 through October 3rd titrate off Effexor - no so easy

Depression very severe with anxiety - considering what to do next

Alternative SSRI (am told 37.5 Effexor is equal to an SSRI) or what.....​

Link to comment



Glad you found this forum, I live down in North Tacoma.  You'll find that your experience parallels many on this website.  Your depression and anxiety is almost certainly linked to the rapid withdrawal from Effexor.  I went through the same after withdrawing from Paxil too quickly, experiencing levels of distress, despair and depression that I had never previously experienced and for no particular reason.  A two month taper is very quick and ill-advised.  You may want to look into the threads on reinstatement of the drug since you are only a couple of weeks off.  For some people it works, for others it can make the situation worse.  With reinstatement the key is to start slowly and at very low doses.  It unfortunately did not work for me.


Concerning brain damage...continuous use of psychotropics does alter the way the brain functions, that's for certain.  Whether you want to call it brain damage, injury, or otherwise doesn't really matter because there is no anti-dote to return it to normal function other than slow reduction of the drug and time.  For me I found that once I was able to control my distress over the cognitive and physical issues from drug discontinuation, I was able to better tolerate my condition.  There's a lot of scientific literature openly available that can provide further insight to the effects of antidepressants.  I would suggest reading the thread on success stories for long term outcomes.  



Year 0:      Social anxiety, obsessive thoughts, NO depression, NO suicidal ideations

Years 1-2: Ativan (benzo) <1mg as needed, not abused but developed physical dependence

Years 2-3: Paxil (20mg) augmented with Adderall XR (10-20mg) due to withdrawal from Ativan

Years 3-Present: Severe depression, headaches, psychiatric hospitalization, lost job, etc.


Link to comment
  • Moderator Emeritus

Hi Chris, and welcome to SA,


I'm really sorry that you are in the situation you are in and that you are suffering because of a doctor's lack of knowledge that for some/many people going off antidepressants too quickly or by cold turkey can result in withdrawal symptoms.


It will be helpful if you would Please put your Withdrawal History in Signature.  Please include details for the last 12-18 months of  all drugs, dates, doses and discontinuations & reinstatements.  If you can't remember dates, please write it as "early March" or "mid-August".  Please provide a summary of any drugs prior to that which can just be listed with start and stop years. Please include all prescription, non-prescription drugs and supplements you are currently taking.


Because you have only been off Effexor for 12 days, reinstatement is an option as IHadPassion mentioned.  SA suggestions that when reinstating you start with a small dose.  This may be enough to bring the withdrawal symptoms to a bearable level.  If you do decide to reinstate, please post your decision here and then we can suggest a dose for you to try.


After reinstating you would then stabilise for a couple of months, keeping a daily diary of symptom improvement/worsening/staying the same, and then you could do a harm reduction taper of no more than 10% of the previous dose, followed by a 3-4 week holding period to allow your brain to adapt to not getting as much of the drug.


Before you begin tapering what you need to know

About reinstating and stabilizing to reduce withdrawal symptoms


Why taper by 10% of my dosage?


Dr Joseph Glenmullen's WD Symptoms Checklist


Tips for tapering off Effexor (venlafaxine)


These might provide some helpful tips:


What should I expect from my doctor about withdrawal symptoms?

How do you talk to a doctor about tapering and withdrawal?


These helped me to understand SA's recommendation:


Brain Remodelling

Video:  Healing From Antidepressants - Patterns of Recovery



You can ask questions here in your Intro/Update topic and journal your progress.


MISSION ACCOMPLISHED:  (6 year taper)      0mg Pristiq  on 13th November 2021

ADs since ~1992:  25+ years - 1 unknown, Prozac (muscle weakness), Zoloft; citalopram (pooped out) CTed (very sick for 2.5 wks a few months after); Pristiq:  50mg 2012, 100mg beg 2013 (Serotonin Toxicity)  Tapering from Oct 2015 - 13 Nov 2021   LAST DOSE 0.0025mg

Post 0 updates start here    My tapering program     My Intro (goes to tapering graph)

 VIDEO:   Antidepressant Withdrawal Syndrome and its Management

Link to comment
  • 3 weeks later...

Irish714 I am gathering people to join in filing a lawsuit for Effexor XR to sue the drug company. Since you experienced symptoms from dosages of Effexor including shaking, you may be an eligible plaintiff. To read about it please visit my post here: http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/12939-effexor-xr-tardive-dyskinesia-lawsuit/ and you can message me there or privately. 


Aug.22.2019 20mg | July.4.2019 20.5mg | May.16.2019 22mg | Mar.28.2019 23.5mg | Feb.7.2019 25mg | Dec.20.2018 26.5mg | Nov.1.2018 28.5mg | Sept.13.2018 30.5mg | July.26.2018 32mg | June.7.2018 33.5mg | Apr.19.2018 35.14mg | Mar.1.2018 37mg | Jan.11.2018 39mg | Nov.2.2017 41mg. | Sept.21.2017 stepping down to 43mg. Aug.10.17 45mg. | June 1.17 47mg.| Apr.20.17 50mg | Feb.12.17 53mg  | Jan.1.17 56mg | Nov.9.16 59mg | Sept.1.16 62mg | June 16 .16 65mg.  May 21 2016 Stepped down to Venlafaxine 70mg. 

April 22 2016 switched from Venlafaxine XR 75mg to: different brand, Venlafaxine non-extended release 75mg. Been taking Effexor XR 75mg. many years. Tried reducing last year, began having bad side effects. 

Link to comment

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

Terms of Use Privacy Policy