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Podatus: Weaning off Effexor


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Hi, I am 55 and have had several episodes of major depression. Two of them were treated with Effexor XL. The first time (16 years ago), I came off without problems. I didn't even realize that there could be problems.


About 2 years ago I went back on due to a very stressful time that I couldn't solve with my usual coping skills. I tried to wean off last summer and had significant neurological symptoms. I thought I was either going crazy or had a brain tumor. It took me almost a week to think that it might be withdrawal symptoms. (Thanks internet.) I went back on and the symptoms went away quickly. When I told my doctor, he said 'Why do you want to wean off? Why not just relax and be happy?' Sigh.


I have been afraid to try again until I found this forum. I am also nervous to try at this time of year because my symptoms are always worse in the fall/winter which is approaching, but I realize this is going to have to be a very long, slow process. I have some hope now that I can do this.

Edited by baroquep

Venlafaxine XR 150 mg 2000-2001


Venlafaxine XR 150 mg December 2014 to April 2018

         began taper April 28/18  146mg (2.5%); May 5/18   142mg (2.5%); May 12/18  138mg (2.5%); May 19/18   135mg (2.5%)

                               May 26-Jun2 holding for weeks 5&6



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  • Moderator Emeritus

Hi Podatus,


Welcome to Surviving Antidepressants (SA).  I am really glad that you found the site.  I can certainly understand your reluctance to try tapering again after having the exact same experience trying to discontinue these drugs twice before and always ending back on the drug as the withdrawal symptoms were so horrific.  It is good to hear that you are taking the steps to inform yourself how you can safely withdrawal from Effexor.  Like you, I was determined to stop taking antidepressants and my family doctor obviously didn't have a clue how to taper off of them safely, so I scoured the internet and finally found Surviving Antidepressants.  Since starting my taper a year ago I have reduced to 50% of my dose and am confident that I will eventually get off of Effexor safely and permanently while minimizing withdrawal symptoms. 


Not to frighten you but as you have mentioned that your symptoms are always worse in the fall/winter, perhaps this might not be the best time to begin to taper.  Withdrawing from antidepressants can be a very challenging experience because symptoms of withdrawal are so unpredictable; no one knows which ones will occur, how long they will last, or how intense they will be if you run into difficulties tapering. 
That being said, at Surviving Antidepressants, it is recommended that a person taper by no more than 10% of their current dose with at least a four week hold in-between decreases.  The 10% taper recommendation is a harm reduction approach to going off psychiatric drugs and to minimize withdrawal symptoms.  Some people may have to taper at a more conservative rate as they are sensitive to even the smallest drops, especially when they have been taking these drugs long-term.  


To get you started, and familiarized with the protocols followed by SA, I am linking a few topics so that you have a better understanding of what is recommended here. 


Before you begin tapering what you need to know

What is Withdrawal Syndrome?

Why taper by 10% of my dosage?
Tips for Tapering off Effexor/Effexor XR/Venlafaxine


We ask all of our members to fill out a withdrawal history signature so that all of your information can be read at a glance.  This helps moderators determine you current situation and we would ask that you follow the instructions at the link below.


Instructions:  Withdrawal History Signature


 •    Please leave out symptoms and diagnoses.
 •    A list is easier to understand than one or multiple paragraphs. 
 •    Any drugs prior to 24 months ago can just be listed with start and stop years.
 •    Please use actual dates or approximate dates (mid-June, Late October) rather than relative time frames (last week, 3 months ago)
 •    Spell out months, e.g. "October" or "Oct."; 9/1/2016 can be interpreted as Jan. 9, 2016 or Sept. 1, 2016.


I realize that I have given you a lot of information to review, so if you have any questions or need clarification, please post all of your questions back here in your introduction topic and one of the moderators will get back to you.  


Please feel free to connect with other members of the Surviving Antidepressants Community by posting in their introduction topics, they are a supportive group and are here to share their experiences tapering off of antidepressants.  

Current Prescription Drugs for Hypothyroidism:  Synthroid 100mcg / Cytomel 5mcg (15 years Pristiq/Effexor)

Tapering Schedule
September 15, 2016 - switched from Pristiq 50mg to Effexor XR 75mg; November 10, 2016 - reduced to 67.5 Effexor XR
December 9, 2016 - reduced 60.75
January 5, 2017 - reduced 54.67
January 30, 2017 - reduced to 49.0
February 20, 2017 - reduced to 44.0 
May 20, 2017 - reduced to 40.25 (holding for additional month due to late onset of withdrawal symptoms after this taper)
July 17, 2017 - reduced to 38.24
August 15, 2017 - reduced to 37.5 (50% of my original dose)

October 15, 2017 - reduced to 35.6

November 12, 2017 - reduced to 33.8
December 15, 2017 - up-dose to 35.6
December 28, 2017 - up-dose to 37.5

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  • 3 months later...

Podatus are you able to give an update?

Thought for the day: Lets stand up, and let’s speak out , together. G Olsen

We have until the 14th. Feb 2018. 

URGENT REQUEST Please consider submitting  for the petition on Prescribed Drug Dependence and Withdrawal currently awaiting its third consideration at the Scottish Parliament. You don't even have to be from Scotland. By clicking on the link below you can read some of the previous submissions but be warned many of them are quite harrowing.


Please tell them about your problems taking and withdrawing from antidepressants and/or benzos.

Send by email to petitions@parliament.scot and quote PE01651 in the subject heading. Keep to a maximum of 3 sides of A4 and you can't name for legal reasons any doctor you have consulted. Tell them if you wish to remain anonymous. We need the numbers to help convince the committee members we are not isolated cases. You have until mid February. Thank you

Recovering paxil addict

None of the published articles shed light on what ssri's ... actually do or what their hazards might be. Healy 2013. 

This is so true, with anything you get on these drugs, dependance, tapering, withdrawal symptoms, side effects, just silent. And if there is something mentioned then their is a serious disconnect between what is said and reality! 

  "Every time I read of a multi-person shooting, I always presume that person had just started a SSRI or had just stopped."  Dr Mosher. Me too! 

Over two decades later, the number of antidepressant prescriptions a year is slightly more than the number of people in the Western world. Most (nine out of 10) prescriptions are for patients who faced difficulties on stopping, equating to about a tenth of the population. These patients are often advised to continue treatment because their difficulties indicate they need ongoing treatment, just as a person with diabetes needs insulin. Healy 2015

I believe the ssri era will soon stand as one of the most shameful in the history of medicine. Healy 2015

Let people help people ... in a natural, kind, non-addictive (and non-big pharma) way. J Broadley 2017



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I took the advice of a member and decided not to start my wean off with winter coming on. It was a good decision. The past 2 months have been stressful, but I’ve been working on making my diet cleaner. I plan to start with a 5% decrease in the next few weeks. 

Venlafaxine XR 150 mg 2000-2001


Venlafaxine XR 150 mg December 2014 to April 2018

         began taper April 28/18  146mg (2.5%); May 5/18   142mg (2.5%); May 12/18  138mg (2.5%); May 19/18   135mg (2.5%)

                               May 26-Jun2 holding for weeks 5&6



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  • Moderator Emeritus

Hello, Podatus, and welcome again to SA.  


To give members the best information, we ask them to summarize their medication history in a signature -- drugs, doses, dates, and discontinuations & reinstatements, in the last 12-24 months particularly?
  • Any drugs prior to 24 months ago can just be listed with start and stop years. 
  • Please use actual dates or approximate dates (mid-June, Late October) rather than relative time frames (last week, 3 months ago) 
  • Spell out months, e.g. "October" or "Oct."; 9/1/2016 can be interpreted as Jan. 9, 2016 or Sept. 1, 2016. 
  • Please leave out symptoms and diagnoses. 
  • A list is easier to understand than one or multiple paragraphs. 
  • Link to Account Settings – Create or Edit a signature.
Before you begin your taper, please be sure to read the information and links furnished to you earlier by Baroquep.



Gridley Introduction


Lexapro 20 mg since 2004.  Begin Brassmonkey Slide Taper Jan. 2017.   

End 2017 year 1 of taper at 9.25mg 

End 2018 year 2 of taper at 4.1mg

End 2019 year 3 of taper at 1.0mg  

Oct. 30, 2020  Jump to zero from 0.025mg.  Current dose: 0.000mg

3 year, 10 month taper is 100% complete.


Ativan 1 mg to 1.875mg 1986-2020, two CT's and reinstatements

Nov. 2020, 7-week Ativan-Valium crossover to 18.75mg Valium

Feb. 2021, begin 10%/4 week taper of 18.75mg Valium  

End 2021  year 1 of taper at 6mg

End 2022 year 2 of taper at 2.75mg 

Current dose as of Nov. 21, 2023 1.12mg

Taper is 94% complete.


Imipramine 75 mg daily since 1986.  Jan-Sept 2016 tapered to 14.4mg  

March 22, 2022: Begin 10%/4 week taper

Aug. 5, 2022: hold at 9.5mg and shift to Valium taper

Taper is 87% complete.  


Supplements: omega-3, vitamins C, E and D3, magnesium glycinate, probiotic, zinc, melatonin .3mg

I am not a medical professional and this is not medical advice but simply information based on my own experience, as well as other members who have survived these drugs.

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  • 3 months later...

Hi! I'm back.

Finally began my taper April 28/2018. It's spring and I want to take advantage of as many of the longer days as I can.


I decided to use the "Brassmonkey Slide Method" first, because my previous attempt at tapering scared me, and second, because I liked the idea of feeling more proactive with the medication changes. It was quite an adventure getting all those little bouncy pellets out of the original capsules and into the new ones. Thanks for all of the detailed instructions. I would have felt completely defeated without them. I have a lab science background and there was something very satisfying about doing all of the weighing and figuring and then making nice, neat charts of the data.


I have just started week 2- took my first dose of the 5% decrease today.


My week 1 (2.5% decrease), I am happy to report, was completely uneventful. Right now, I am feeling very hopeful.

Venlafaxine XR 150 mg 2000-2001


Venlafaxine XR 150 mg December 2014 to April 2018

         began taper April 28/18  146mg (2.5%); May 5/18   142mg (2.5%); May 12/18  138mg (2.5%); May 19/18   135mg (2.5%)

                               May 26-Jun2 holding for weeks 5&6



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  • Moderator Emeritus

Good going, Podatus.  Your lab science background should be ideal for this.  Good luck, and I hope things stay nice and uneventful for you.

2001–2002 paroxetine

2003  citalopram

2004-2008  paroxetine (various failed tapers) 
2008  paroxetine slow taper down to

2016  Aug off paroxetine
2016  citalopram May 20mg  Oct 15mg … slow taper down
2018  citalopram 13 Feb 4.6mg 15 Mar 4.4mg 29 Apr 4.2mg 6 Jul 4.1mg 17 Aug 4.0mg  18 Nov 3.8mg
2019  15 Mar 3.6mg  21 May 3.4mg  26 Dec 3.2mg 

2020  19 Feb 3.0mg 19 Jul 2.9mg 16 Sep 2.8mg 25 Oct 2.7mg 23 Oct 2.6mg 24 Dec 2.5mg

2021   29 Aug 2.4mg   15 Nov 2.3mg

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