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ShannonP: introduction


ShannonP

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Hi. I'm ShannonP, and this is my first time here. I guess I'm really just trying to wrap my head around what is going on and what to do about it, and I'm very overwhelmed by it all.  I have been on the 2nd to lowest dosage there is of venlafaxine xr (75mg) , and only once a day at that, for several years.  My doctor reduced my dosage to 37.5 mg 4 days ago.  I know there are horror stories about Effexor, but I thought that my dose was so small that I wouldn't be very sick.  I thought that if that wasn't the case, my doctor would have said something, or at least recommended some kind of taper.  I also assumed that if I had any problems at all, they would just be physical symptoms - nausea, headaches, appetite change maybe; that sort of thing. I NEVER imagined I would be an absolute basket case, felling like I am completely losing my mind, SCREAMING at my whole family because the dog got mud on her paws when she went out to use the bathroom (how does that even matter???!!!!!!), crying unconsolably for hours over all the hopeless issues in my life that didn't even exist last week but now are so all-consuming that I have even thought about dying to end it all, and all of that in addition to being so sick I have been living in my bathroom for days now. 

 

They told me to go back to 75mg on my next dose, and alternate between the 2 strengths, but I see this site says that's a bad idea.  I found this site while searching for some kind of evidence out there that I'm not going crazy, and that there is some kind of hope for this, and especially to find out what on earth to even do.  I desperately need some kind of idea of how long these kind of symptoms might last. 

 

I meant to just introduce myself in this post, but this is apparently what I typed.  I don't even feel like I am in any control over my own mind, or, in this case, fingers either, I guess.

So anyway, um, hi.

venlafaxine : 37.5 mg 1x per day from March 2012 - about July 2015 , increased to 75 mg. from July 2015 to February 2018. 

dosage decreased to 37.5 February 19, 2018.  Feb 23 2018 increased back to 75 mg due to severe discontinuation reaction, 

began taper March 3, 2018.

 

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  • ChessieCat changed the title to ShannonP: introduction
  • Moderator

Hi, ShannonP and welcome to SA.  I am sorry you have gotten such awful advice and that you are having to pay for it.

 

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.

 

Let me answer your questions first and then I'll provide some suggestions.  No, you are not going crazy.  You are in withdrawal.  It takes four days for the brain to register a chemical change, and yours arrived right on time with a vengeance.  Here is some information on withdrawal to help you understand what you're going through:

 

 

When we take medications, the CNS (central nervous system) responds by making changes over the months and years we take the drug(s). When the medication is discontinued, the CNS has to undo all the changes it made. Rebuilding the neurotransmitter production and reactivating the receptor and transporter cells takes time -- during that rebuilding process symptoms occur.  Some people have found the information and explanations at these links helpful:
 
 
Since it's only been four days, I would go back up to 75mg and hold there until you stabilize.  No one can say how long that will take.  I don't want to scare you.  It could take a month or it could take longer.  
 
Under no circumstances should you alternate doses.  Your nervous system craves stability.  The rule of 3KIS: Keep it simple. Keep it slow. Keep it stable.   
Alternating doses causes the amount of the medication in your bloodstream to go up and down, battering your nervous system, and makes withdrawal worse.  Alternating doses is the equivalent of playing ping pong with your brain.
 
Once you have stabilized, you should begin a slow taper.  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. 
Before you begin tapering what you need to know
Why taper by 10% of my dosage?
 
Doctors, including psychiatrists, know little, if anything, about tapering or withdrawal.  You might tell your psychiatrist you want to stay at 75mg and, when you are ready, start the 10% taper on your own.  Ideally, you should be able to talk to your doctor about your taper but often this is not the case.  These links give some more tips:
 
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.
 
 

 

 

 


 

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 Oct. 20, 2022: 3.2mg

Taper is 83% 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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  • 4 weeks later...

I went back to my original dose (75 mg.) of venlafaxine, then on March 3rd, after reading a lot here  as well as talking further with my doctor, I started tapering slowly.  I have been trying to come to terms with tapering as slowly as this website recommends.  I couldn't bear to stay on this medication for so much longer, so I tried a compromise.  My doctor advised me to remove only 3 beads from the capsules, which is a 3% reduction instead of 10%, but to reduce 3% more each week.  I figured that this way would take about the same amount of time, but I would feel more like I was getting somewhere.  Unfortunately, I am still experiencing problems, just not as severe and not all the time.

 

Is this more likely because of the method I am trying to use, or is it just normal to still have some bad days in there? Also, if it is still not a method my body/brain can tolerate, how have other people here come to terms with taking so long to get free of medications when wanting so badly to be off of them NOW!?

venlafaxine : 37.5 mg 1x per day from March 2012 - about July 2015 , increased to 75 mg. from July 2015 to February 2018. 

dosage decreased to 37.5 February 19, 2018.  Feb 23 2018 increased back to 75 mg due to severe discontinuation reaction, 

began taper March 3, 2018.

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Shannon, quite honestly, as bad as it's been for you, you are in an enviable position right now in comparison with lots of people. Many quit their AD cold turkey, or close to CT--often at the direction of their doctor--and are then hit months later with horrific WD symptoms--and by that point in time, it may be too late to effectively reinstate. Then people enter into a state of protracted WD, which can linger for many months or even years. You were hit with WD symptoms almost immediately and were able to quickly reinstate and updose --lucky you!  Taking it s-l-o-w-l-y is the only way to minimize the chance of developing hellish withdrawal symptoms. Do yourself a big favor and do it as slowly as is necessary.  Don't worry--one day, you'll get there, and you'll be drug-free.

Yes, if you read around this site, you'll discover that is absolutely normal (for WD) to have bad days interspersed with better ones.

How is it going--are you feeling more stable now?  

 

Drugfree Prof

Psychologist and Psychotherapist

Prozac 20 mg for approx 3 months during 2000, withdrew, no w/d sx

Prozac 10 - 30 mg Jan. 2008 - Dec. 2014

Ritalin 30-40 mg Jan. 2008 - Mar. 2015

W/d sx from Prozac started around 3 months after cessation--crying spells, depressed mood, lethargy; resolved in 8 - 12 mos. post cessation

Used and continue to use a TON of alternative methods--meditation, mindfulness, nutrition. supplements, exercise, etc.

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  • Moderator

The taper you are using is a version of the Brassmonkey Slide Taper, devised by one of our moderators, Brassmonkey.  It calls for four equal 2 1/2 cuts for four weeks, followed by a two week hold to let the brain stabilize.  This two-week hold is critical.  This taper was designed to lessen the shock to the system of one 10% cut each month.  It would be good if you could bring your cut down to 2 1/2% from 3% because...well, it's safer.

 

I've been using this method to taper Lexapro.  In 16 months I've gone from 20 mg to 7.4.  Twice I extended my two-week hold to six because I felt I needed it.  It will take me a bit more than two years more to be Lexapro-free.  Slow, yes, but I have not had to updose and, though not symptom-free, am functional.  You will just have to learn to be patient.  If you go too fast, you are in risk of lengthening, rather than shortening, your time on the drug, what with possibly incurring intolerable WD symptoms, guessing at how much you need to updose, waiting months to stabilize, or maybe not stabilizing and trying another dose, waiting to stabilize, etc.

 

Please read the following by Rhiannon, one of our moderators:

 

"I feel like it's important to introduce the possibility of multi-year tapers to people who are approaching tapering--especially if they've failed previous attempts or have a history of difficult times with med cuts or med changes. It's no fun to hear, but it's worth wrapping your mind around. I can't tell you how many times I've heard "taking years to taper off is just unacceptable to me" or the equivalent. So, what, it's better to stay on a med or meds for the rest of your life, than to spend years tapering off?"

 

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 Oct. 20, 2022: 3.2mg

Taper is 83% 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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