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CatL: effexor withdrawal


CatL

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Was on effexor since October 2007. Finally had enough and after much research (I quit Paxil cold turkey when I was a teenager and remember vividly the suffering) I bought a case of fish oil and began tapering as slow as possible. I was up to 150mg so I started removing 5 beads out per pill ( these had 150 in them) until I got down to 75 mg. Not one withdrawal symptom occurred so once I got down to 75 I only stayed on that for a week before continuing to drop at the same rate. Once I got to 37.5 I kept going but about three days later I had a complete crying meltdown and went back up to 37.5 for two weeks to rest. The 37.5 pills had about 60 beads in them but I still only took out 5 more each day. No issues, no symptoms. Last night was my first night without taking any and today I have the familiar dizziness I'd get if I forgot to take my pill the night before. I did just get diagnosed with pneumonia which may be making it worse but because I'm in such rough medical shape right now I'm wondering how long might the acute dizziness last?

Edited by ChessieCat
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9.5 years of effexor. Tapered from 150 by removing 5 beads per pill until 75,rested for a week. Same down to 37.5, rested for 2 weeks, then same taper until off.

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Hello CatL. Welcome to our virtual support group!

 

You probably tapered too fast. Here they recommend tapering by 10% of your current--not original dosage. I made the mistake of confusing the two. May still be paying for it.

 

For example, with 150 beads of Effexor you would remove 15 beads to start with. But then, after 4 weeks or a month you would only remove 14. The month after, you would remove 12 from 121 beads and so on.

 

My original Effexor dose was 150 mg, but the generic time release beads are very big. Say 1.25 mg per bead or 120 beads per capsule.

 

Though I thought I could drop from 90 mg (72 beads) to 75 mg (60 beads) in three weeks this proved to be a horrible idea. It may be responsible for my current pneumonia infection. Withdrawal really weakens my immune system.  :excl: Went back up to 90 mg a few days later. After about a month I am back down to 81.25 mg.

 

As the old proverb goes, "Haste makes waste." :(

I have been on so many medications since I was 20 and diagnosed as "mentally ill" that I have lost count.

Right now, however I have been taking:

Lamictal 25 mg: I went on it in March for only 13 days, then cold turkeyed off when I thought I was developing a rash because of it. Pretended to go back on it, but didn't. Not the best idea, but I had no way to reduce the dose. Anyhow I had no adverse withdrawal reactions, probably because I was on it for less than 2 weeks.

Abilify 20 mg:  I have been on this for several years. Actually at least half the time I have spent as a meds "consumer" I have been on this nasty pill. I finished tapering off it at the beginning of 2016. Was reinstated during the 4 days I spent in a psych ward in March. Tapered off it again in 10 weeks, from say March 15-June 30. Needless to say this is not exact, but I remember I was off it before July 4 (patriotic holiday in America!) I am doing fine, although I know I may have to wait till Christmas or later to know I am out of the danger zone for withdrawal psychosis. The main thing I notice about being off is that I no longer crave sweets all the time and am losing weight without trying. Good thing since I used to weigh 350 lbs.!

Effexor 150 mg: This is the real trouble-maker. Since I have no other way of tapering I do the best I can by bead counting. I unscrew the gel capsule and count out the tiny micro-capsules or beads inside. This works fairly well with the generic time release version. Only 120 beads to count of almost identical size. Lately I have been "holding" at 20 bead removal due to some major stress in my life. Moving hundreds of miles from my old home and a bout of strep throat that wouldn't respond to antibiotics.  I guess that means I'm on 120 mg of Effexor right now. On October 16 I am going to recommence my taper since I am safely moved and no longer have strep! 

I admit now that I did something stupid. I had trouble opening the extra strength gel capsules containing the beads so I reinstated at the original dose for a week. I know it's not good to play ping pong with my brain, but I could never open the capsules without spilling those microscopic balls all over so I was never sure what dosage I was taking! Thank the LORD that I finally have the old kind again and can safely count out the amount. I am now back on 135 mg and feel somewhat better.

October 30, 2016. I am down to 120 mg effexor. November 27, 2016. Down to 105 mg effexor. December 25, 2016. 90 mg effexor. January 15, 2017. 75 mg effexor. January 21. 82.5 mg effexor. January 23, 90 mg again. Feb. 14, 81.25 mg. Mar. 15, 72.5 mg. Mar. 27, 65 mg.  Apr. 9, 58.75 mg. Apr. 24, 52.5 mg.

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Oh wow, that is a really slow tapering method. It's weird because I had zero symptoms of withdrawal through the entire process besides the one emotional episode so I figured it was going well and I wasn't rushing it too fast. Because the dizziness isn't too severe I'm not going to go back and try again. Just wait it out. Especially since I'm so sick right now that it's just a slight annoyance compared to the rest of my pneumonia symptoms.

9.5 years of effexor. Tapered from 150 by removing 5 beads per pill until 75,rested for a week. Same down to 37.5, rested for 2 weeks, then same taper until off.

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  • Moderator Emeritus

CatL -- Welcome to Surviving Antidepressants (SA)

 

Thanks RachelE -- Great post!

People are given either no information about tapering or bad information about tapering. Large reductions in dosage made too close together are a near-guarantee of getting symptoms. this topics explain how the drugs work on the CNS (central nervous system) and what happens when dose is significantly reduced:
One theory of anti-depressant withdrawal syndrome
How your brain responds to psychiatric drugs - aka "Brain remodeling"
Youtube video, 4 minutes: Healing from antidepressants

Discontinuing these medications isn't about getting to zero quickly, it's about getting to zero safely -- with maximum ability to function in your life. As RachelE postedwe suggest that each next dose be no less than 90% of the previous dose (10% reductions)and that reductions be made no more often than once every 4 weeks. Some people find they need to make smaller reductions and to allow more time between dose drops.
Why taper by 10% of my dosage?.

Here's our topic with Tips for tapering off Effexor (venlafaxine).

Also relevant: Counting beads in a capsule versus weighing.

I hope you'll find the information in the SA forums helpful for your situation. I'm sorry that you are in the position that you need the information, but am glad that you found us.

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.
1997-1999 Effexor; 2002-2005 Effexor XR 37.5 mg linear taper, dropping same #beads/week with bad results

Cymbalta 60 mg 2012 - 2015; 2016: 20 mg to 7 mg exact doses and dates in this post; 2017: 6.3 mg to  0.0 mg  Aug. 12; details here


scallywag's Introduction
Online spreadsheet for dose taper calculations and nz11's THE WORKS spreadsheet

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Thank you and I do appreciate the info. The dizziness is quite mild so I'm going to stick with the zero pills for now and not do any reinstatement. It's been two nights with zero effexor so if this is all I get I'll be thrilled. Usually within 12 hours of a missed dose I'd be practically bedridden. I had a friend who was on 225 and her dr made her do the one day on one day off method and somehow she survived but it was pretty gruesome. I guess no one else really knows how long the symptoms last as I am reading some people never seem to fully recover. That doesn't have me in very high hopes right now but one day at a time for at least this week I guess.

9.5 years of effexor. Tapered from 150 by removing 5 beads per pill until 75,rested for a week. Same down to 37.5, rested for 2 weeks, then same taper until off.

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Oh, Cat, there is often a "honeymoon" of several weeks when no symptoms occur and then symptoms bite HARD. The best way to prevent this is to reinstate, and the best time to reinstate is sooner after last dose than later. As time passes, it gets harder to predict whether reinstatement will be effective and people have to fiddle with doses, tolerating symptoms for a few weeks until the CNS (central nervous system) settles down.
 
For details of reinstating, please read About reinstating and stabilizing to reduce withdrawal symptoms.

You are very fortunate to have come across the information this soon after your discontinuation. Your timing allows you to STOP a crash of symptoms from occurring. Please, please reconsider.

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.
1997-1999 Effexor; 2002-2005 Effexor XR 37.5 mg linear taper, dropping same #beads/week with bad results

Cymbalta 60 mg 2012 - 2015; 2016: 20 mg to 7 mg exact doses and dates in this post; 2017: 6.3 mg to  0.0 mg  Aug. 12; details here


scallywag's Introduction
Online spreadsheet for dose taper calculations and nz11's THE WORKS spreadsheet

Link to post

I just found out the antibiotics causing the dizziness, levofloxacin. Thanks.

9.5 years of effexor. Tapered from 150 by removing 5 beads per pill until 75,rested for a week. Same down to 37.5, rested for 2 weeks, then same taper until off.

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Sadly, I think scallywag may be correct.

Don't count your chickens. 9.5 years on Effexor is a very considerable period.

Often, folks think they have escaped the clutches of Effexor lightly, only to be hit hard with withdrawal symptoms later.

Personally, I would be very cautious about not taking advice on reinstatement, to arrest your probably inevitable rapid fall.

 

Should you be very fortunate, well and good, but these patterns have been observed at first hand by many on here.

Born 1945. 

1999 - First Effexor/Venlafaxine

2016 Withdrawal research. Effexor.  13Jul - 212.5mg;  6Aug - 200.0mg;  24Aug - 187.5mg;  13Sep - 175.0mg;  3Oct - 162.5mg;  26Oct - 150mg 

2017  9Jan - 150.00mg;  23Mar - 137.50mg;  24Apr - 125.00mg;  31May - 112.50mg holding;  3Sep - 100.00mg;  20Sep - 93.75mg;  20Oct - 87.5mg;  12Nov - 81.25mg;  13 Dec - 75.00mg

2018  18Jan - 69.1mg; 16Feb - 62.5mg; 16March - 57.5mg (-8%); 22Apr - 56.3mg(-2%); CRASHED - Updose 29May - 62.5mg; Updose - 1Jul - 75.0mg. Updose - 2Aug - 87.5mg. Updose - 27Aug - 100.0mg. Updose - 11Oct 112.5mg. Updose - 6Nov 125.00mg

2019 Updoses 19 Jan - 150.0mg. 1April - 162.5mg. 24 April - Feeling better - doing tasks, getting outside.  7 May - usual depression questionnaire gives "probably no depression" result.

Supps/Vits  Omega 3;  Chelated Magnesium;  Prebiotics/Probiotics, Vit D3. 

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As for me, I have only been taking Effexor for 3 years (including tapering time.) However I have been taking Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors for over 22 years. Sometimes I worry I will be physically dependent on some amount of this stuff for the rest of my life. Perhaps my brain can no longer produce enough serotonin.  :unsure: Very depressing thought!

 

If this IS the case--and I can't tell yet--at least I can take the smallest amount necessary. 75 mg is still better than 150; 37.5 better still. ^_^

 

When I think how I have been told I would have to take my disabling drug cocktail for the rest of my life I have reason to be grateful. :)

I have been on so many medications since I was 20 and diagnosed as "mentally ill" that I have lost count.

Right now, however I have been taking:

Lamictal 25 mg: I went on it in March for only 13 days, then cold turkeyed off when I thought I was developing a rash because of it. Pretended to go back on it, but didn't. Not the best idea, but I had no way to reduce the dose. Anyhow I had no adverse withdrawal reactions, probably because I was on it for less than 2 weeks.

Abilify 20 mg:  I have been on this for several years. Actually at least half the time I have spent as a meds "consumer" I have been on this nasty pill. I finished tapering off it at the beginning of 2016. Was reinstated during the 4 days I spent in a psych ward in March. Tapered off it again in 10 weeks, from say March 15-June 30. Needless to say this is not exact, but I remember I was off it before July 4 (patriotic holiday in America!) I am doing fine, although I know I may have to wait till Christmas or later to know I am out of the danger zone for withdrawal psychosis. The main thing I notice about being off is that I no longer crave sweets all the time and am losing weight without trying. Good thing since I used to weigh 350 lbs.!

Effexor 150 mg: This is the real trouble-maker. Since I have no other way of tapering I do the best I can by bead counting. I unscrew the gel capsule and count out the tiny micro-capsules or beads inside. This works fairly well with the generic time release version. Only 120 beads to count of almost identical size. Lately I have been "holding" at 20 bead removal due to some major stress in my life. Moving hundreds of miles from my old home and a bout of strep throat that wouldn't respond to antibiotics.  I guess that means I'm on 120 mg of Effexor right now. On October 16 I am going to recommence my taper since I am safely moved and no longer have strep! 

I admit now that I did something stupid. I had trouble opening the extra strength gel capsules containing the beads so I reinstated at the original dose for a week. I know it's not good to play ping pong with my brain, but I could never open the capsules without spilling those microscopic balls all over so I was never sure what dosage I was taking! Thank the LORD that I finally have the old kind again and can safely count out the amount. I am now back on 135 mg and feel somewhat better.

October 30, 2016. I am down to 120 mg effexor. November 27, 2016. Down to 105 mg effexor. December 25, 2016. 90 mg effexor. January 15, 2017. 75 mg effexor. January 21. 82.5 mg effexor. January 23, 90 mg again. Feb. 14, 81.25 mg. Mar. 15, 72.5 mg. Mar. 27, 65 mg.  Apr. 9, 58.75 mg. Apr. 24, 52.5 mg.

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Hi CatL, and welcome :)

 

I also just went off effexor xr cold turkey, I was only on 8mg. I had a bit of withdrawal the first few days and then no symptoms for 2 weeks. I felt better than ever. By the 3rd week my withdrawal symptoms hit fast and hard and I had to reinstate a small amount. My fingers are crossed for you that you have zero withdrawal.

 

I should also add that at first I was thrilled to be off them and having no withdrawal. I also wish I had posted here and gotten the advice to reinstate and go off properly. When withdrawal hits it hits hard.. it damages you. It's not worth the risk. Take the advice of those who have been there. It's the safest thing.

Started weaning from Effexor XR (put on these in 1999)in September 2013 150 mg by removing a few little balls a week and ended at 8 mg January 2017. ER doctor stopped them January 3rd, 2017 due to what she thought was seratonin syndrome. I now know it was withdrawal.

 

Reinstated 2.25mg Effexor Xr February 4, 2017

 

Previous meds Zoloft 1997-1999 stopped abruptly July 1999. A few months later I was diagnosed as bipolar and put on Effexor XR, Epival, and Trazadone. A few years after that I was told the bipolar was a misdiagnoses and they stopped the Epival. At some point I stopped the trazadone myself.

 

Supplements:omega 3 fish oil, vitamin d, magnesium, high dose probiotic.Ativan when needed

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  • 2 weeks later...

If you are still going cold turkey, I want you to know this: Your nervous system is going to get damaged, so make sure you are not going to have big life changes coming in the future, because you are going to be stress intolerant for a long time. Plus, it is very, very likely that you are going to be in a very bad shape after 4-9 months after quitting meds. This is the time when people find themselves in the ER, because the symptoms are so hard. 

I went almost cold turkey, but I knew that it is going to be difficult and it is possible to take up to 5 years to heal. I also had to make sure that my partner understood what this project is going to be. I was well prepared and that is why I succeeded, but still it was a real struggle. 

So please, please make sure you know what you are doing. Read the stories here and seek for more information. Reinstatement and slow taper is what most people here are doing, and that should give you a hint of what getting rid of these drugs really is.

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

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