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Walkingrock: Discontinuing Effexor


Walkingrock

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I started on Effexor in 1998 or 1999 for fibromyalgia. I’ve tried to discontinue it twice, unsuccessfully. I just read Dr. Glenmullen’s second book (2005). I had already been removing 1 additional microbead from my XR capsule daily since August 1st of this year. My usual dose is 150 mg every AM.

 

I had horrible withdrawal symptoms when I tried to discontinue in 2012 (my second attempt, only got to 75mg my first attempt), with my doctor who had me do it over 4-6 weeks.  I just couldn’t function and cope with the withdrawal symptoms even after months off the medication, and tried other meds to help relieve symptoms, but eventually went back on my medication.

 

This time, I’m down 70 microbeads/capsule (125 mg) and about into it 10 weeks. I started having mild to moderate symptoms after taking a few beads out of the capsules and only a few days into this, able to function though!

 

Today, I filled a script for 75mg tablets and they are not extended release. I’m going to start a stepped taper. Thinking I will take a month for each dose change step, but will be tracking my symptoms and adjusting my schedule and dose accordingly. I have been going to a specialist for my fibromyalgia for the last 3.5 years, so don’t think I need Effexor for that anymore.

 

Really want to get off of it, but S.L.O.W.L.Y. 

Edited by baroquep
White Space

Walkingrock 

Effexor 150 mg 1998-August 2017

weaned to 75 mg slowly in 2004

back to 150 mg July 2004

weaned by GP over 6-8 weeks 2012

back to 150 mg after several months 

had horrible withdrawal symptoms 

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  • ChessieCat changed the title to Walkingrock: Discontinuing Effexor
  • Moderator Emeritus

Hi Walkingrock,

 

Welcome to Surviving Antidepressants (SA), glad that you found the site before you got any further in your taper.  Unfortunately very few doctors have any real clinical experience tapering people off of antidepressants and often provide inaccurate information.  It sounds like you have experienced withdrawal syndrome in the past and I would caution you to be especially careful trying to discontinue by "stepping off" of Effexor.  I am currently tapering from Effexor and am all too familiar with the horrid withdrawal symptoms after trying to discontinue on two different occasions under the supervision of my family doctor with disastrous results.  

 

Once I found Surviving Antidepressants I was able to learn for myself how to taper off of Effexor safely and carefully and am happy to report that I am currently at 50% of my original dose and now experience only very mild withdrawal symptoms which allows me to function normally on a day-to-day basis.  Like you, prior to following the guidelines here, I was always back on the full dose of my antidepressant as I couldn't deal with the withdrawal symptoms.  Fortunately for me, I was determined to get off of this drug and found Surviving Antidepressants and haven't looked back.  I have the full cooperation of my family doctor now and am working closely with a compounding pharmacy that prepares my monthly tapering doses.  

 

SA recommends tapering by no more than 10% of your current dose followed by a hold of at least 4 weeks to allow the brain to adapt to the changes in the central nervous system (CNS).  When changes are made too quickly, doses are alternated/skipped or the drug is discontinued abruptly, the brain is unable to adapt to the changes and this results in uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.  I am attaching a few links so that you can familiarize yourself with the recommendations made by Surviving Antidepressants.

 

What is Withdrawal Syndrome?
Before you begin tapering what you need to know

Why taper by 10% of my dosage?


Tips for Tapering off Effexor and Effexor XR / Venlafaxine

 

Without having more information with respect to your drug/tapering history it will be difficult to make any specific recommendations.  We ask all of our members to fill out a 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.

 

Please feel free to connect with other members of the Surviving Antidepressant community by posting in their introduction topics, they are a support group, know what you are going through and are here to help.  

 

I realize that I've given you a lot of information to digest, but believe an informed decision is the best decision you can make for your health and well-being.  If you have any questions, or need clarification, please do not hesitate to post back here in your introduction topic and one of the moderators will get back to you.
 

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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Thank you baroquep for your detailed reply. I tapered from 150 mg to 125 mg over 2+ months and am holding at that for 3 weeks. Plan to taper to 112.5 mg on November 1. I will monitor my symptoms on paper daily and stay at that dose for 1 month, then evaluate my next dose taper. I’m wondering if there is any consensus here regarding this: I’ve been on the extended release capsules, I’ve been removing microbeads to make my dosage change. I now have 75 mg tablets that are not extended release. Is it reasonable to do the 112.5 mg by taking 75 mg in AM and 37.5 mg (half a tab) in PM? Or do I need to take a half and a quarter tab AM and PM (56.25 mg AM and PM). 

 

 

Edited by Walkingrock
Correction

Walkingrock 

Effexor 150 mg 1998-August 2017

weaned to 75 mg slowly in 2004

back to 150 mg July 2004

weaned by GP over 6-8 weeks 2012

back to 150 mg after several months 

had horrible withdrawal symptoms 

Link to comment

I tried to make a signature, not sure how to add it! 🤔

Walkingrock 

Effexor 150 mg 1998-August 2017

weaned to 75 mg slowly in 2004

back to 150 mg July 2004

weaned by GP over 6-8 weeks 2012

back to 150 mg after several months 

had horrible withdrawal symptoms 

Link to comment
  • Moderator Emeritus

Hi Walkingrock, Is there a reason why you switched from XR to immediate release?  Members seem to find they have difficulty switching from the XR version to immediate release and if there isn't a specific reason for you switching, I would stick to XR and taper that.  If you need to start taking the immediate release for whatever reason, I would split the dose in two and take the exact same amount in the AM and the PM.  You'll want to have a consistent dose in your system at all times.   There are various ways to prepare doses and I've included the links below.

Tips for Tapering off Effexor and Effexor XR / Venlafaxine
 

Compounding Pharmacies
Using a digital scale to measure doses
Using an oral syringe and other tapering techniques
Making a liquid from a tablet or capsules
Cutting and/or filing down tablets

 


Rate symptoms daily to catch withdrawal early

Keeping a record of your withdrawal symptom pattern so you can manage it.


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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I think it is easier to divide the tablets. I thought this was the recommendation in Dr. Glenmullen’s book. 🤔

Walkingrock 

Effexor 150 mg 1998-August 2017

weaned to 75 mg slowly in 2004

back to 150 mg July 2004

weaned by GP over 6-8 weeks 2012

back to 150 mg after several months 

had horrible withdrawal symptoms 

Link to comment

I would definitely have to get a milligram scale if I continue to use the capsules to taper. Which I could do. 

Walkingrock 

Effexor 150 mg 1998-August 2017

weaned to 75 mg slowly in 2004

back to 150 mg July 2004

weaned by GP over 6-8 weeks 2012

back to 150 mg after several months 

had horrible withdrawal symptoms 

Link to comment
  • Moderator Emeritus

If you haven't already started the immediate release, I would stick with the XR.  I've been tapering for just over a year, and haven't had any major issues to date tapering the XR (once I found the right speed of how often I could taper, 5% per month with longer holds now and again).   We have a few other other members reducing the XR without too much trouble as well.  One member here recently switched from XR to immediate release and ended up having issues and switched back so that is the reason I think it's best to stick with what your central nervous system is already familiar with rather than making any changes at all.    You have a few options as to how to prepare your doses using the XR, so just pick the one that you are most comfortable with.

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

Link to comment

Good to know. Do you measure your doses on a milligram scale?

Walkingrock 

Effexor 150 mg 1998-August 2017

weaned to 75 mg slowly in 2004

back to 150 mg July 2004

weaned by GP over 6-8 weeks 2012

back to 150 mg after several months 

had horrible withdrawal symptoms 

Link to comment
  • Moderator Emeritus

I have mine prepared at a compounding pharmacy.  Am extremely lucky that the insurance company through work covers the cost 100% or I don't know what I would have ended up doing.  Didn't want the additional stress of having to figure out doses on a scale or count beads every month, but would have done that if I'd had to as I wanted off antidepressants with a passion.

Edited by baroquep

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

Link to comment

Do they compound it into a capsule? From extended release capsules?

Walkingrock 

Effexor 150 mg 1998-August 2017

weaned to 75 mg slowly in 2004

back to 150 mg July 2004

weaned by GP over 6-8 weeks 2012

back to 150 mg after several months 

had horrible withdrawal symptoms 

Link to comment
  • Moderator Emeritus

Yes, Effexor XR.  I had my family doctor submit the request before I started tapering to ensure that I was approved. 

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

Link to comment
  • Moderator Emeritus

If you are thinking about having the XR compounded, this link might help you to locate a pharmacy.

 

Compounding pharmacies

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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