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EllaMae: Tapering off Effexor on my own


EllaMae

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Glad I found this site! By 'on my own' I mean without a doctor, because I am unemployed and don't have health insurance. That is one of the primary reasons I have reduced taking the Effexor, because I would not be able to get anymore until I find a job (and it's taking a loooong time).

 

So, my history is of "mild" depression, which I know is not an official diagnosis, but anyway I suppose that is besides the point right now! I was taking Prozac in the 90's for about 3 years and tapered off with no noticeable side effects, was 3 years without medication and became depressed again. I was given Prozac but this time I became very anxious, so was switched to Effexor, and that did the trick. Over the next 11 years several doctors gradually increased my dosage, which started at the lowest, to 150 mg XR a day. I had been feeling really good, in spite of being unemployed, and I read articles about the research that says they don't really know if/how these drugs work anyway, so I started reducing.

 

At first I reduced about 25%, and now I am taking 50% of the capsule (about a month each reduction). I did not know about the 10% guidelines until I found this site. However I really didn't have much in the way of withdrawal symptoms except I went through a period of very bad headaches, but I had a sinus infection so that may have been the cause.

 

Recently I have been having a lot of digestive problems. I've always had on & off digestive problems but it seems to have gotten worse - a lot of nausea, diarrhea and sometimes severe heartburn. Before the tapering off I was had constipation a lot, and the positive aspect of this is I think I might lose some weight! When my stomach is very upset I get the chills.

 

I have had NO brain zaps, I do occasionally feel a little light headed, I think. I think I am sleeping more, and my biggest issue is I am having a LOT of anxiety. I feel a knot in my stomach more often than not these days and I have to remind myself to breathe. I also sleep more and I am isolated - I live alone and while I was involved in some volunteer activities, I find myself afraid or uncomfortable to go and deal with people I don't know very well. I sleep a lot more. I seem to be a bit more sensitive than I was even a month ago, more quick to anger, and weepy more often.

 

I'm 53 years old and am in menopause. I'm also a recovering alcoholic, 22 years clean & sober. I've always been sensitive and emotional, and prone to depression & anxiety, so it's hard to know if any of my symptoms are related to tapering off the Effexor or not! And of course I may be getting more anxious about finding a job. I really don't feel depressed though, not in the sense of feeling hopeless or grey, and I have no problem being around people I know well, and who know me well.

 

Additional info: I attend AA and ACOA meetings, and have been in therapy numerous times, the last time was about 2 1/2 years ago and it led me to finally feeling good about myself. So, any input or support would be welcome - especially if anyone else is also in menopause.... :huh:

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hi there,

 

I am not in menapause yet, and dont think I will be bc I am a 27 year old guy :P lol. But One thing we do have in common is effexor. That was the first drug I ever tried and it was my journey into the world of psychiatry, yay! The doctor who gave it to me was totally a pill pusher for wyeth pharmaceuticals. Once I complained about hair loss, he even told me to take a wyeth brand multi vitamin (centrum, although I think wyeth got bought by pfizer). Anywho, I think it is interesting you said you did not really experience much or any withdrawal from prozac, that is great news! Hopefully it will be the same for effexor.

 

My advice on effexor withdrawal is to open up the capsule and count the beads and go very slowly if you begin to experience withdrawal. Effexor is a pretty hard drug to get off of, so hopefully you wont have problems. I experienced violence when I tapered off of that drug and it was a big big mess. I am sure you can do it, please keep us posted and look at all the helpful info on the site. Good luck!

Various SSRIs/SNRIs 7- 1/2 years

Went Cold Turkey from Celexa 2011, Stayed Off

Psych Drug Free and Loving Life (over 6 years and counting)

 

How I Stay Well: Diet, exercise, meditation, supplements, etc

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Hi!

 

Congratulations on your determination to get off these meds that haven't really been proven to even work, but that do have bad side effects and known toxicity. I think you'll be glad you did.

 

Menopause makes the withdrawal process even trickier and bumpier than it might otherwise be, because our hormones work as neurotransmitters themselves, and these meds all interact with our endocrine systems, so the chemistry's complicated. If your hormones are bouncing around too then you have other factors to consider.

 

Personally, I'd suggest taking it a lot slower than you have been. Since you're doing okay now--not great, but okay, it sounds like--you may want to consider just holding your dose right where you are.

 

Withdrawal has both immediate symptoms and delayed symptoms. It sounds like you might be getting hit with some of the delayed symptoms now. There's no telling at this point if it will get worse before it gets better, or just get better slowly, but either way, it sounds to me like it's time to hold the taper, stop tapering until you feel better and you're stable.

 

Then you can taper the rest of the way at a safe, slow rate that will keep you feeling better and more functional.

 

Good luck!

Started on Prozac and Xanax in 1992 for PTSD after an assault. One drug led to more, the usual story. Got sicker and sicker, but believed I needed the drugs for my "underlying disease". Long story...lost everything. Life savings, home, physical and mental health, relationships, friendships, ability to work, everything. Amitryptiline, Prozac, bupropion, buspirone, flurazepam, diazepam, alprazolam, Paxil, citalopram, lamotrigine, gabapentin...probably more I've forgotten. 

Started multidrug taper in Feb 2010.  Doing a very slow microtaper, down to low doses now and feeling SO much better, getting my old personality and my brain back! Able to work full time, have a full social life, and cope with stress better than ever. Not perfect, but much better. After 23 lost years. Big Pharma has a lot to answer for. And "medicine for profit" is just not a great idea.

 

Feb 15 2010:  300 mg Neurontin  200 Lamictal   10 Celexa      0.65 Xanax   and 5 mg Ambien 

Feb 10 2014:   62 Lamictal    1.1 Celexa         0.135 Xanax    1.8 Valium

Feb 10 2015:   50 Lamictal      0.875 Celexa    0.11 Xanax      1.5 Valium

Feb 15 2016:   47.5 Lamictal   0.75 Celexa      0.0875 Xanax    1.42 Valium    

2/12/20             12                       0.045               0.007                   1 

May 2021            7                       0.01                  0.0037                   1

 

I'm not a doctor. Any advice I give is just my civilian opinion.

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Another option, if your withdrawal symptoms become intolerable or are getting worse, might be to increase your dose slightly, maybe to about 75% or 80% of your original dose, and stabilize there. Once you stabilize you can then begin to taper at the 10% rate (or less, not everyone can taper as fast as 10%, but it's a good place to start).

Started on Prozac and Xanax in 1992 for PTSD after an assault. One drug led to more, the usual story. Got sicker and sicker, but believed I needed the drugs for my "underlying disease". Long story...lost everything. Life savings, home, physical and mental health, relationships, friendships, ability to work, everything. Amitryptiline, Prozac, bupropion, buspirone, flurazepam, diazepam, alprazolam, Paxil, citalopram, lamotrigine, gabapentin...probably more I've forgotten. 

Started multidrug taper in Feb 2010.  Doing a very slow microtaper, down to low doses now and feeling SO much better, getting my old personality and my brain back! Able to work full time, have a full social life, and cope with stress better than ever. Not perfect, but much better. After 23 lost years. Big Pharma has a lot to answer for. And "medicine for profit" is just not a great idea.

 

Feb 15 2010:  300 mg Neurontin  200 Lamictal   10 Celexa      0.65 Xanax   and 5 mg Ambien 

Feb 10 2014:   62 Lamictal    1.1 Celexa         0.135 Xanax    1.8 Valium

Feb 10 2015:   50 Lamictal      0.875 Celexa    0.11 Xanax      1.5 Valium

Feb 15 2016:   47.5 Lamictal   0.75 Celexa      0.0875 Xanax    1.42 Valium    

2/12/20             12                       0.045               0.007                   1 

May 2021            7                       0.01                  0.0037                   1

 

I'm not a doctor. Any advice I give is just my civilian opinion.

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  • Administrator

Recently I have been having a lot of digestive problems. I've always had on & off digestive problems but it seems to have gotten worse - a lot of nausea, diarrhea and sometimes severe heartburn. Before the tapering off I was had constipation a lot, and the positive aspect of this is I think I might lose some weight! When my stomach is very upset I get the chills.

 

I have had NO brain zaps, I do occasionally feel a little light headed, I think. I think I am sleeping more, and my biggest issue is I am having a LOT of anxiety. I feel a knot in my stomach more often than not these days and I have to remind myself to breathe. I also sleep more and I am isolated - I live alone and while I was involved in some volunteer activities, I find myself afraid or uncomfortable to go and deal with people I don't know very well. I sleep a lot more. I seem to be a bit more sensitive than I was even a month ago, more quick to anger, and weepy more often.

 

Hi EllaMae and welcome to the forum. I am a post-meno female coming off of Effexor and it sounds to me like you are experiencing withdrawal symptoms. I agree with Rhi that being meno complicates things.

 

I think your GI symptoms, bad headaches, light headedness, and anxiety all sound like withdrawal symptoms to me. Even being more weepy and quick to anger sound like withdrawal symptoms. I agree with Rhi that if these current symptoms are not tolerable you might want to increase your dose up a little until you feel some relief and then begin of slow control taper of not more than 10%.

 

I realize you may have pressing reasons to get off of Effexor sooner rather than later, but you'll do yourself a huge favor by taking it at the pace your system can adjust to.

 

Karma

2007 @ 375 mg Effexor - 11/29/2011 - 43.75 mg Effexor (regular) & .625 mg Xanax

200 mg Gabapentin 2/27/21 - 194.5 mg, 5/28/21 - 183 mg, 8/2/21 - 170 mg - 11/28/21 - 150 mg
Xanax taper: 3/11/12 - 0.9375 mg, 3/25/12 - 0.875 mg, 4/6/12 - 0.8125 mg, 4/18/12 - 0.75 mg; 1/16 0.6875 mg; at some point 0.625 mg
Effexor taper: 1/29/12 - 40.625 mg, 4/29/12 - 39.875 mg, 5/11/12 - Switched to liquid Effexor, 5/25/12 - 38 mg, 7/6/12 - 35 mg, 8/17/12 - 32 mg, 9/14/12 - 30 mg, 10/19/12 - 28 mg, 11/9/12 - 26 mg, 11/30/12 - 24 mg, 01/14/13 - 22 mg. 02/25/13 - 20.8 mg, 03/18/13 - 19.2 mg, 4/15/13 - 17.6 mg, 8/10/13 - 16.4 mg, 9/7/13 - 15.2 mg, 10/19/13 - 14 mg, 1/15/14 - 13.2 mg, 3/1/2014 - 12.6 mg, 5/4/14 - 12 mg, 8/1/14 - 11.4 mg, 8/29/14 - 10.8 mg; 10/14/14 - 10.2 mg; 12/15/14 - 10 mg, 1/11/15 - 9.5 mg, 2/8/15 - 9 mg, 3/21/15 - 8.5 mg, 5/1/15 - 8 mg, 6/9/15 - 7.5 mg, 7/8/15 - 7 mg, 8/22/15 - 6.5 mg, 10/4/15 - 6 mg; 1/1/16 - 5.6 mg; 2/6/16 - 5.2 mg; 4/9 - 4.8 mg; 7/7 4.5 mg; 10/7 4.25 mg; 11/4 4.0 mg; 11/25 3.8 mg; 4/24 3.6 mg; 5/27 3.4 mg; 7/8 3.2 mg ... 10/18 2.8 mg; 1/18 2.6 mg; 4/7 2.4 mg; 5/26 2.15mg; 8/18 1.85 mg; 10/7 1.7 mg; 12/1 1.45 mg; 3/2 1.2 mg; 5/4 0.90 mg; 6/1 0.80 mg; 6/22 0.65 mg; 08/03 0.50 mg, 08/10 0.45 mg, 10/05 0.325 mg, 11/23 0.2 mg, 12/14 0.15 mg, 12/21 0.125 mg, 02/28 0.03125 mg, 2/15 0.015625 mg, 2/29/20 0.00 mg - OFF Effexor


I am not a medical professional - this is not medical advice. My suggestions are based on personal experience, reading, observation and anecdotal information posted by other sufferers

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Thank you everyone for your support & responses. Yes I will have to start counting the beads and also count the pills I have left. I don't plan to reduce the dosage for a while and hope I can adjust to this phase. I don't know about increasing what I'm taking or how long I can make what I have last. As I said, I have no health insurance, so if I run out then what? Although a friend mentioned ordering online from Canada.

 

My symptoms are not intolerable now, although the anxiety does seem to be getting worse. That's my main concern. I do know that after I posted last night I felt much calmer. I have kept a journal all my life and writing always helps whatever problems I have, and I'm going to continue that, but it really helps to write and know that others understand what I'm feeling!! I have started taking Calcium & Vitamin D for the digestive problems (and already take probiotics) and that is improving. Headaches come only when in a stressful situation.

 

I actually think my menopausal symptoms have calmed down, at least I rarely get hot flashes these days. Who knows what is what.... but does anyone else get the chills? I don't know, maybe that's better than hot flashes!

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  • Administrator

Hello, EllaMae, and welcome to our community.

 

Rhi, Zepp, and Karma gave excellent advice above.

 

With Effexor, it seems that a lot of people get about halfway down, then withdrawal symptoms set in.

 

I'd consider the increasing anxiety to be a red flag for withdrawal symptoms. Second the suggestion to stay where you are for a bit and see if your nervous system stabilizes. If not, increasing your daily dosage by a few pellets might help. Stabilize, then go down more slowly from there.

 

I believe you can get prescription generics from Walgreen's or Target (and Walmart? Costco?) for very low cost. You might look into that.

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has surpassed our humanity." -- Albert Einstein

All postings © copyrighted.

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Hi EllaMae, from another Effexor survivor!

I was also on 150mg for a long time, tried many times to get off, always too quick and ended up back on, thinking i was relapsing. If you are now taking about 50% of the capsule, can you get a prescription for 75mg so you can be sure of what you are taking? I know that the first few times i got off i was just estimating and once i started counting i realised it was much better to be accurate. I counted about 250 beads in a 75mg capsule, about 10 beads for every 3.3mg. It is much better to be as accurate as possible.

 

I am also post menopause - i find that my hot flashes are much worse just after a reduction.

Started in 2000 - On 150mg most of the time, (but up to 225mg at highest dose for 6 months in the beginning)
Reduced off easily first time - but got depressed (not too much anxiety) 6 months later
Back on effexor for another 9 months.
Reduced off again with no immediate w/d - suddenly got depressed and anxious ++ again 3 or 4 months later.
Back on effexor - this time for 3 years
Reduced off over a month - 6 weeks later terrible anxiety - back on.
Rinse and repeat 4 more times - each time the period before the anxiety comes back got shorter and shorter
Jan - July 2012 75mg down to 37.5mg;, 8/3/12 - 35mg. 8/25/12 - 32mg. 9/11- 28mg, 10/2 - 25mg, 10/29 - 22mg, 11/19 - 19.8mg; 12/11 - 17m,
1/1- 15.5mg; 1/22 -14mg, 2/7 14.9mg, 2/18 - 17.8mg - crashed big time: back to 75mg where i sat for 2 years....

4th  March 2015 - 67.5mg;   31st March - 60mg;  24th April - 53mg; 13th May - 48mg; 26th May - 45mg;  9th June - 41mg; 1 July- 37.5mg; 20 July - 34mg; 11 August - 31mg; 1st Sept - 28mg;  1st Dec - 25.8mg;  28th Dec - 23.2mg; 23rd Jan-21.9mg; Feb 7th- 21mg; March 1st - 20.1mg, March 30th - 18mg

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  • Administrator

Just a note -- if you're counting pellets, the pellets in a 75mg capsule and 150mg capsule may be of different sizes and amounts. You cannot figure that a 75mg capsule contains half the number of pellets.

 

I personally would stick with the same size capsule throughout the process. As your dosage gets smaller, the number of pellets in a capsule will last longer.

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has surpassed our humanity." -- Albert Einstein

All postings © copyrighted.

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Just a note -- if you're counting pellets, the pellets in a 75mg capsule and 150mg capsule may be of different sizes and amounts. You cannot figure that a 75mg capsule contains half the number of pellets.

 

I personally would stick with the same size capsule throughout the process. As your dosage gets smaller, the number of pellets in a capsule will last longer.

 

I think they are pretty much the same - yes, some pellets are bigger than others but that may be the filler that is used rather than the actual active drug - i have not counted 150mg capsules, but there is about half the number of pellets in a 37.5mg capsule than in the 75 -maybe generic is different - but in the effexor brand XR it is correct. Regardless, being accurate with what you have is better than estimating 50%

Started in 2000 - On 150mg most of the time, (but up to 225mg at highest dose for 6 months in the beginning)
Reduced off easily first time - but got depressed (not too much anxiety) 6 months later
Back on effexor for another 9 months.
Reduced off again with no immediate w/d - suddenly got depressed and anxious ++ again 3 or 4 months later.
Back on effexor - this time for 3 years
Reduced off over a month - 6 weeks later terrible anxiety - back on.
Rinse and repeat 4 more times - each time the period before the anxiety comes back got shorter and shorter
Jan - July 2012 75mg down to 37.5mg;, 8/3/12 - 35mg. 8/25/12 - 32mg. 9/11- 28mg, 10/2 - 25mg, 10/29 - 22mg, 11/19 - 19.8mg; 12/11 - 17m,
1/1- 15.5mg; 1/22 -14mg, 2/7 14.9mg, 2/18 - 17.8mg - crashed big time: back to 75mg where i sat for 2 years....

4th  March 2015 - 67.5mg;   31st March - 60mg;  24th April - 53mg; 13th May - 48mg; 26th May - 45mg;  9th June - 41mg; 1 July- 37.5mg; 20 July - 34mg; 11 August - 31mg; 1st Sept - 28mg;  1st Dec - 25.8mg;  28th Dec - 23.2mg; 23rd Jan-21.9mg; Feb 7th- 21mg; March 1st - 20.1mg, March 30th - 18mg

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Well I have 73 150mg capsules left! They are the generic kind, so maybe the pellets are larger, because I counted a little over 150 .... I can see that accurate is good but man, those little things roll away and off the table! :lol: :lol:

 

I don't know what I'll do. Just stay at the half dosage for now. If I were to try to get another RX I would have to go to a doctor, of course, and would have to pay for the visit myself. Since I'm living on unemployment that could be rough. Yes I know I'm not in a great position but I've been in worse. I will report back in soon.

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  • Administrator

73 150mg capsules is enough for 146 days at half-dose.

 

As you decrease, each capsule will last longer. (Save those little pellets for the end. And don't let your pets eat them!)

 

So no need to worry about running out just yet, seems you have enough for at least 5 months now.

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has surpassed our humanity." -- Albert Einstein

All postings © copyrighted.

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Thank you everyone for your support & responses. Yes I will have to start counting the beads and also count the pills I have left. I don't plan to reduce the dosage for a while and hope I can adjust to this phase. I don't know about increasing what I'm taking or how long I can make what I have last. As I said, I have no health insurance, so if I run out then what? Although a friend mentioned ordering online from Canada.

 

My symptoms are not intolerable now, although the anxiety does seem to be getting worse. That's my main concern. I do know that after I posted last night I felt much calmer. I have kept a journal all my life and writing always helps whatever problems I have, and I'm going to continue that, but it really helps to write and know that others understand what I'm feeling!! I have started taking Calcium & Vitamin D for the digestive problems (and already take probiotics) and that is improving. Headaches come only when in a stressful situation.

 

I actually think my menopausal symptoms have calmed down, at least I rarely get hot flashes these days. Who knows what is what.... but does anyone else get the chills? I don't know, maybe that's better than hot flashes!

 

be careful about the Canadian pharmacies, especially if you order generic. I used to order brand name there and had no problems with the drug (only ordered a couple times, though) but once i ordered a generic and found out it was made in india. I immediately developed joint pain. My jaw locked up, my knee locked up, and I became ill. I sent the drugs to be tested for heavy metals by the FDA, but they said the tested negative so who knows what was in those things. It took me a long time to recover.

Various SSRIs/SNRIs 7- 1/2 years

Went Cold Turkey from Celexa 2011, Stayed Off

Psych Drug Free and Loving Life (over 6 years and counting)

 

How I Stay Well: Diet, exercise, meditation, supplements, etc

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just checking in: still taking the half dosage. I was feeling a lot of anxiety and got a cold, got a lot of rest and emotionally was feeling OK, and my stomach has settled down. Today I have been feeling a bit weepy, but it doesn't feel that bad (I don't know if it will continue). It may be at least partially hormonal, of course.

 

I'm thinking that maybe some of the emotions that are coming up are because the drug was suppressing them? I was NOT an unemotional zombie before, by any means, but I can't help but think I hadn't cried as much as I used to, and sometimes crying is a good thing, and this feels like a release. I'd be interested in any others' thoughts on this.

 

Thanks for the advice on making the pills last, and on ordering from Canada. Hopefully I won't need to do that!

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