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Lvr123: Venlafaxine - please help


Lvr123

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Hi all. This is my first post, I hope you don't mind me joining to get a little advice. I'm sorry to waffle on, I'm a chronic oversharer!

 

I started Venlafaxine at the beginning of 2012 and went up to 150mg. I had side effects of this weird dizzy feeling in front of my head and eyes that was quite pronounced and made me feel out of balance. Also had mild brain zaps.


I was told to withdraw very quickly when I became pregnant in May 2013 (subsequently miscarrued). I really struggled with the withdrawal, the first day I reduced by 37.5mg as ordered to by my GP, within hours I was experiencing severe brain zaps, uncontrollable shaking, sobbing, vomiting and diarrhoea, migraine etc.. I was then given fluoxetine to help with withdrawal symptoms and then tapered by 17.5mg every 2 weeks or so, although i really had to push for this as GP said it should be easy to come off. I would still have the constant dizzy feeling in my forehead and brain zaps, plus feeling like if I moved my eyes, I would get a shock in my eyes and it would take a few seconds for my vision to catch up. 


After pregnancy in 2016 I was put back on venlafaxine for crippling anxiety (present from when I stopped previously but nothing would help) and put up to 300mg. Reduced down to 225mg about 5 months ago after experiencing too much vertigo and fuzzy dizzy forehead feeling and eye pain. Also excessive sweating - walking up the stairs makes me literally drip with sweat and I have also put 42lbs on in about 7 months.


I suffer with chronic daily migraines and don't think venlafaxine is helping as it's giving me this disjointed vision and fuzzy headed feeling all time, I don't know how else to describe it but I just can't cope with it. My GP is unsympathetic and says i need to reduce by 37.5mg per 2 weeks but I give in and take the missed 37.5mg within 2 hours as it makes me so ill.. 

 

I would like to come off it because I just don't feel like I can enjoy my life. My anxiety is under control but my low mood isn't, I feel like I'm constantly in the depths of despair and spend so much time feeling guilty about how rubbish I am at parenting because I always feel ill and can't do things that I want to. I'm having botox for migraines but that isn't working, so the venlafaxine side effects plus the migraines are just making me miserable. Most of the time I feel like every one would be better off without me! I'm always irritable, literally everything bothers me (the clothes I'm wearing feel uncomfortable on my body, my hair hurts in a ponytail, wearing mascara makes me mad the way it feels heavy on my eyelashes, the dog drinking makes me want to scream..) I can't talk to people about this as they just look at me like I'm crazy. My GP just increases venlafaxine. I told them I was suicidal over a year ago and they don't even follow up to that, I haven't filled in a depression and GAD questionnaire since then and they just keep prescribing it. 

 

When I've discussed reducing venlafaxine they just say 37.5mg per fortnight is reasonable even though I tell them how it makes me feel. They don't care.

 

I've then read into how to withdraw on this site and have seen that 10% every 4 weeks is sensible.. this would mean I don't be free from venlafaxine for over 5 and a half years (296 weeks).. I've just had a bit of a meltdown about that about spent an hour sobbing to my 2 year old daughter.. is there no way I can get off this quicker? I can't take 5 years of these side effects :mellow:

 

Thanks in advance for anyone that may be able to help.

 

 

 

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  • ChessieCat changed the title to Lvr123: Venlafaxine - please help
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Hello, Lvr123 and welcome to SA.


Reducing Venlafaxine 37.5mg every fortnight is terrible advice and will leave you in very bad shape indeed.  Doctors, as you will have realized by now, know little, if anything about withdrawing from psychiatric drugs.  Yes, I know it is hard to wrap your mind around it taking 5 1/2 years to get off.  It was for me.  But here really isn't a slower way to do it.  There is no easy or quick fix.  It is going to take time.  (I've got two more years to go off the Lexapro, then comes the Lorazepam and the Imipramine, which I haven't even calculated yet.)  It will not be be five years of these symptoms.  Symptoms will come and go.  The lower I've gotten, the better I've felt.  The 5 1/2 years will pass whatever you do.  You might as well do the taper right and be drug-free and in good shape when that time arrives.

 

As you know, 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.  Some people may have to taper at a more conservative rate as they are sensitive to even the smallest drops.  
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. 

 

Tips for tapering off Effexor (venlafaxine)

What is Withdrawal Syndrome?

Glenmullen’s withdrawal symptom list.

 

The following link explains why a slow taper is essential:

Brain Remodelling

 

To ease your way, the techniques in these links have helped many members deal with withdrawal:
 
Many people find these to be calming to the nervous system. 
Please research all supplements first and only add in one at a time and at a low dose in case you do experience problems. 
 
This is your introduction topic -- the place for you to ask questions, record symptoms, share your progress, and connect with other members of the SA community. 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 I am glad that you found us.
 
Best,
Gridley

 

 

 

 

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.   

March 22, 2022: hold at 4.8mg and shift to Imipramine taper

Aug. 5, 2022: shift back to Valium taper.  

Current dose as of Dec. 2, 2022: 2.6mg

Taper is 86% complete.

 

Imipramine 75 mg daily since 1986.  Jan-Sept 2016 tapered to 16mg.  

Held until Aug 2021, tapered for 4 weeks to 14.4mg

March 22, 2022: Begin 10%/4 week taper.  Current dose as of Aug. 5: 9.5mg 

Aug. 5, 2022: hold at 9.5 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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Lvr123, I'm so sorry you are feeling so badly.   And especially while trying to raise a young one.   I was on Effexor 187.5mg.  After a month of reducing, I am on about 179mg.   I have been on AD for about 17 years.   I have been taking Effexor for maybe 10+ of those years.   About 7 years ago I wanted to be off of Effexor.  I weaned myself 37.5mg every month for probably 6 months, then dropped from the last 37.5mg to 0mg.  (I didn't know how to do a smaller dose).  I had nausea, crying at the drop of a hat, guilt, heaviness, pain-"everything" hurt, knowing I was a terrible person, knowing I was a terrible mother, I believed that I had ruined all of my children's lives, no interest in going anywhere or doing anything, and couldn't understand why my family would care about me. I could barely get clean and dressed. I lived on my couch for months.  I HATED waking up every day to do it all again.  After months, I knew the only way for me to get relief was to commit suicide or go back on Effexor.  I was told that  my depression had returned; that I had a chemical imbalance.  I decided I couldn't fight it any longer, and I restarted Effexor.  My symptoms disappeared instantly.  What I didn't understand was that it wasn't my depression that had returned, but what I had been experiencing all those months was withdrawal syndrome.   This is what you are experiencing, withdrawal syndrome.   IT IS HELL.   I know exactly how you are feeling, as do many, many members here on SAD.   Right now I am only trying to decrease my dose from 187.5mg to 150mg.  I am pretty sensitive to medications, and since I am having some w/d symptoms, I am going to go very, very slow with tapering.  I would rather have milder side effects for a long time instead of the devastating ones that I experienced for 7 months, and that you are having now.  Believe me that I DO know how badly you are feeling right now.   My advice is to go back to a dose where you are not having symptoms.  Then make a reduction plan with your partner.  Are you taking tablets or capsules?  You will then begin to make minuscule reductions in your dose, either by counting the little balls in the capsules (and believe it or not, the number varies!), or by shaving powder off of tablets.  I was removing only 1 little ball out of the capsules every 3 days.   And I was having mild w/d symptoms.  Then I realized that the capsules have varying numbers of balls, so my reduction dose was changing every day!  My husband told me to take the number of little balls a day that I wanted to meet the mg amount and discard the rest.   After getting to 179mg (6 wks), I was having fairly significant w/d symptoms.  After finding this group, SAD, I have decided to stay at 179mg until I am feeling better consistently for a number of weeks.  I had originally thought I could be completely off the 187mg of Effexor after 1 1/2yrs.  But I am realizing now that it will probably take much longer.   I will be much happier being able to function with mild side effects, than becoming debilitated by tapering too fast.  It is horrible to think that it will take years.  Maybe it will and maybe it won't.  But you cannot go faster than it takes.  Best of luck to you, Lvr123!  

1999 began Wellbutrin, and Zoloft, then off both, tried Lexapro, then eventually Effexor XR

2009 slowly weaned self off Effexor XR  experienced 7 months of withdrawal syndrome, became suicidal

2010 went on Prozac (dose ?), then off Prozac (agitation/anxiety), resumed Effexor XR

2010-2014 titrated up to Effexor XR 150mg and Effexor 37.5mg

2014-2018 have been on this dose for 4 years~Effexor EX 150mg and Effexor 37.5mg (Total 188mg)

January 22, 2018, began decreasing dose of Effexor 37.5mg (Continuing 150mg dose unchanged)

February 19, 2018 Effexor XR 150mg + 29 balls of Effexor 37.5mg capsule (29mg?????) x 2 days

August 15, 2020 Effexor ER 60mg x 5 months

August 10, 2021 Effexor ER 10mg Experiencing vertigo since last taper (from 11 beads/?mg to 10 beads/?mg) 4 days ago.

August 21, 2021 Vertigo gone 🥳(lasted 8 days) Will stay at 10 beads/?mg.

July 1, 2022 Effexor 7 beads/?mg 

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Thank you Gridley and 92sharks for your responses. I have been looking into the omega 3 and magnesium - I have actually been recommended to take these as a supplement to help with my chronic migraines. I have ordered some that should be coming this week. So I'll try the omega 3 first then add in magnesium once I know I'm doing ok.

 

62sharks I hadn't even considered that I'm suffering right now from withdrawal as I withdrew from 300mg venlafaxine to 225mg probably about 6 months ago.. but now you mention it, I have felt dreadful since then, both mentally and physically. I'm always feeling weak and absolutely exhausted.. walking into the kitchen to make lunch feels like such an effort and my body feels like it can't cope. My husband is always falling me lazy as I just want to lie down and sleep all the time - i though it was because of my daily migraines. 

 

I have a plan to go to my doctor with (reduce by 10% per 4 weeks)..

 

I have however just been reading about the Prozac bridge, I reduced using a small amount of fluoxetine back in 2013. It did help but I didn't do a straight swap like I've been reading on the forum here. 

 

Is there any way I can do this.. so take Prozac 60mg for a week then stop taking venlafaxine cold Turkey? I found it really easy to get off fluoxetine when it came to it.

 

Any advice would be much appreciated.

 

Thank you LVR123

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Lvr123, when I went from 37.5mg to 0mg several years ago, I immediately developed nausea, dizziness, brain zaps, fatigue, and continued to deteriorate into guilt, severe fatigue, hurting everywhere, could barely get up to take a bath or dress, crying all the time, HATED waking to another day, and a horrible continuous voice in my head telling me how worthless I was, and how I had ruined my family's lives.  The last straw was when I was trying to walk on the treadmill, barefoot and in my nightgown, crying while thinking of a way to commit suicide that wouldn't cause a mess and sadness for my family.  Luckily, I didn't come up with any!  There didn't seem to be a way, so the next thing would be to go back on Effexor, which I did.  I thought I had tapered slowly enough, but now realize I hadn't. I am telling you, ANYTHING you feel is most likely w/d symptoms.  I will say, I am not sure about the migraines.  I have had mild, short headaches, but not anything severe.  You may have a migraine "condition", and I know nothing about that.  You can hope (?) that the migraines are headaches from Effexor withdrawal.  I have taken omegas for years and have increased the number from 3-4.  I have never taken Magnesium, but am planning to add it, too.

 

I'm so sorry that your husband is not aware or being as supportive as he could be.  I hope that improves.  There is enough second guessing of yourself while tapering or IF you should taper without his help.   I would ask him to read some of this site or other posts for him to become educated on withdrawal syndrome.  My husband has been supportive on both of my tapers, but this time he is doing research on his own.  My kids were younger the last time I tapered and I'm sure it was very, very hard on them.   If you have friends or family members to support you, that is a great idea, too.

 

I am hoping one of the moderators will chime in with some specific recommendations for you. I don't want you to have to increase your dose of Effexor, but I don't know what else to suggest to help you feel better.  Are you pretty much incapacitated, or do you feel like you are functional?   Are you able to care for yourself and your daughter?  I read in your introduction that Effexor at your previous dose made you feel bad, so it doesn't make sense to return to that dose.  I would continue to ask questions until the moderators respond.  I know they will.  You are in need of some help.  

 

I do not know about using Prozac as a bridge.  I know of the concept, but I have no experience.  I believe this forum says it can help some, but some it may not.  Everyone is different.  I think there is a lot of information in this forum about bridging.  

 

About all I can offer you is support, Lvr123.  I am sending love, hugs and encouragement.  Don't give up!   I KNOW there are answers that can help you!  

1999 began Wellbutrin, and Zoloft, then off both, tried Lexapro, then eventually Effexor XR

2009 slowly weaned self off Effexor XR  experienced 7 months of withdrawal syndrome, became suicidal

2010 went on Prozac (dose ?), then off Prozac (agitation/anxiety), resumed Effexor XR

2010-2014 titrated up to Effexor XR 150mg and Effexor 37.5mg

2014-2018 have been on this dose for 4 years~Effexor EX 150mg and Effexor 37.5mg (Total 188mg)

January 22, 2018, began decreasing dose of Effexor 37.5mg (Continuing 150mg dose unchanged)

February 19, 2018 Effexor XR 150mg + 29 balls of Effexor 37.5mg capsule (29mg?????) x 2 days

August 15, 2020 Effexor ER 60mg x 5 months

August 10, 2021 Effexor ER 10mg Experiencing vertigo since last taper (from 11 beads/?mg to 10 beads/?mg) 4 days ago.

August 21, 2021 Vertigo gone 🥳(lasted 8 days) Will stay at 10 beads/?mg.

July 1, 2022 Effexor 7 beads/?mg 

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Lvr123, did you have migraines before being on Effexor?  If not, when did they start in relation to your doses of Effexor or tapering?

1999 began Wellbutrin, and Zoloft, then off both, tried Lexapro, then eventually Effexor XR

2009 slowly weaned self off Effexor XR  experienced 7 months of withdrawal syndrome, became suicidal

2010 went on Prozac (dose ?), then off Prozac (agitation/anxiety), resumed Effexor XR

2010-2014 titrated up to Effexor XR 150mg and Effexor 37.5mg

2014-2018 have been on this dose for 4 years~Effexor EX 150mg and Effexor 37.5mg (Total 188mg)

January 22, 2018, began decreasing dose of Effexor 37.5mg (Continuing 150mg dose unchanged)

February 19, 2018 Effexor XR 150mg + 29 balls of Effexor 37.5mg capsule (29mg?????) x 2 days

August 15, 2020 Effexor ER 60mg x 5 months

August 10, 2021 Effexor ER 10mg Experiencing vertigo since last taper (from 11 beads/?mg to 10 beads/?mg) 4 days ago.

August 21, 2021 Vertigo gone 🥳(lasted 8 days) Will stay at 10 beads/?mg.

July 1, 2022 Effexor 7 beads/?mg 

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