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Abigail: tapering Effexor


Abigail

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Hi all!

 

I'm 23 years old, about to start graduate school, and I've been on antidepressants since January of 2015. I've been anxious and depressed for pretty much as long as I can remember. My therapist at the time recommended medication after I went through the most severe depressive episode of my life, and my college's campus prescriber put me on Prozac. The Prozac made me sluggish, foggy, and basically a zombie, but at the time I thought it was better than the depression had been, so I stayed on until October of 2015, when I switched over to Effexor. I've been maintaining at Effexor XR 150 since then, and I've finally made the decision to come off of antidepressants completely. 

 

The hardest part of all this for me is not knowing what's a side effect of the medication, and what's just me--I think I used to go out more, have more energy, better concentration, but it's hard to remember. I find it hard to focus on my reading and writing now, nearly impossible without some sort of stimulant. I'm frequently exhausted and lethargic, have to force myself to leave bed and do things, often feel restless and lethargic at the same time. I still have bouts of anxiety and depression. I'm pretty certain the Effexor has greatly increased my sexual dysfunction (I already had sexual problems due to past trauma, but before the antidepressants I at least had a sex drive, and now I have absolutely none.)

 

I've recently moved to a new city to start graduate school. I don't know anyone here, and my partner is staying with me for the summer but will be going back to his grad program halfway across the country at the end of August. He's the most wonderful and supportive person in the world, and we've been doing long-distance for a year and a half now, but I'm worried about tapering while starting a new program in a new city once he leaves. 

 

I found a psychiatrist here who agreed whole-heartedly with my decision to get off the Effexor, for which I am very grateful. She put me on a tapering schedule in which I would be off the Effexor in a month, and I reduced to 112.5 for a day before doing a lot of research (and thankfully finding this site), at which point I decided to do a 10% taper over a long, slow period. She's been completely supportive of that decision, thankfully.

 

Anyway, I'm back up to 135 now, and will be holding here for a month before reducing again. I'm not sure when withdrawal effects normally kick in, and can't tell if the anxiety and brain fog I'm feeling are just what I normally feel like, or because of the drop. Either way, I'm grateful to have found this community, and to have a place to put down my thoughts.

 

 

January 2015: Prozac 20 mg (caused sluggishness and brain fog)

October 2015 - July 2018: Effexor XR 150

July 4, 2018: Decreased Effexor to 112.5 as per psychiatrist's tapering instructions

July 5, 2018: After research increased to 135

August 1, 2018: 121.5 

August 22, 2018: 109

September 17, 2018: 98.4

 

Supplements: Magnesium Citrate and fish oil

 

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Hi Abigail, welcome to SA.  It's great that you found this site and learned about slow tapering in time.  If your psychiatrist supports your slow tapering plan, she sounds like a rare gem.

 

Thanks for creating your signature.  Are you taking any other meds or supplements?

 

Please be aware that 10% dose drops with holds of 4 weeks is a general guideline.  Some people find they need to do smaller drops and/or hold for longer.  The key thing is to listen to your body and adjust your taper accordingly.  Are you using liquid Effexor to measure your doses? 

 

It can be hard to tell how much of our symptoms are from withdrawal and how much could be a pre-existing condition.  ADs don't cure depression and anxiety - they only suppress symptoms, like sweeping things under the rug.  Depending on what brought someone to meds, whatever it was may still be there to deal with after coming off.  To be able to live a life without meds can mean having to find effective non-med treatments to use instead.

 

We have some topics here you may find helpful: Non-drug techniques to cope with emotional symptoms

 

Please post all your updates and questions about your situation here in your introduction topic.

 

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

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littleball

Hi Abigail, our stories are very similar, starting from the side effects you got. 

Did you get brain zaps when reducing your dose? I think that if you got them this was an unequivocal sign that you are subject to withdrawal effects, so you must be very careful when tapering. If you feel somewhat different from what you remember you were, I think that you can blame the drugs at least partially. My doctor, who strongly believes in neurotoxicity, says that people who can't tolerate the drugs claim to feel "strange", "not themselves", other than depressed.

November 2014 - September 2015: Zoloft 50 mg, Trilafon 4mg, clonazepam 1mg
October 2015 - September 2016: Effexor 75 mg
September 2016 - January 2017: Effexor 150 mg
Stopped Effexor in March 2017 after tapering under medical supervision
The doctor I've now found is an expert in withdrawal from ADs
Persistent withdrawal syndrome since July 2017: Prozac 10 mg, clonazepam 0.5 mg, to cope with it.
December 2017 -  withdrawing from Prozac, 10 mg every 2 days
Drug free since January (?) 2018
 
Symptoms: pins and needles, burning skin sensations, PSSD, OCD, mood swings (a lot), malaise (a lot), muscle spasms, voice in my conscience. 

Doing not so bad, but I want to be the person I was. 
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4 hours ago, Songbird said:

Hi Abigail, welcome to SA.  It's great that you found this site and learned about slow tapering in time.  If your psychiatrist supports your slow tapering plan, she sounds like a rare gem.

 

Thanks for creating your signature.  Are you taking any other meds or supplements?

 

Please be aware that 10% dose drops with holds of 4 weeks is a general guideline.  Some people find they need to do smaller drops and/or hold for longer.  The key thing is to listen to your body and adjust your taper accordingly.  Are you using liquid Effexor to measure your doses? 

 

It can be hard to tell how much of our symptoms are from withdrawal and how much could be a pre-existing condition.  ADs don't cure depression and anxiety - they only suppress symptoms, like sweeping things under the rug.  Depending on what brought someone to meds, whatever it was may still be there to deal with after coming off.  To be able to live a life without meds can mean having to find effective non-med treatments to use instead.

 

We have some topics here you may find helpful: Non-drug techniques to cope with emotional symptoms

 

Please post all your updates and questions about your situation here in your introduction topic.

 

Hi Songbird. Thanks for your reply and your advice.

 

I'm not taking any other meds or supplements, aside from Claritin in the morning for awful allergies and an occasional Benadryl at night for sleep. 

 

I'm measuring my drops by counting beads--I know it's not exact (my generic appears to have between 220 and 235 beads in each 150 capsule), but I figure at a dosage this high the variation probably won't be so bad. 

 

And thanks for the link to that topic--I'll definitely check it out!

4 hours ago, littleball said:

Hi Abigail, our stories are very similar, starting from the side effects you got. 

Did you get brain zaps when reducing your dose? I think that if you got them this was an unequivocal sign that you are subject to withdrawal effects, so you must be very careful when tapering. If you feel somewhat different from what you remember you were, I think that you can blame the drugs at least partially. My doctor, who strongly believes in neurotoxicity, says that people who can't tolerate the drugs claim to feel "strange", "not themselves", other than depressed.

 

Hi littleball! No brain zaps yet, thankfully. In the past I haven't been super sensitive to medication, and I've gone half a day or so forgetting to take my Effexor in the past without feeling any withdrawal effects, so I'm hopeful. That being said I know it's too early to tell, so I'm definitely going to take it very very slowly from here. 

 

It's great that you have a doctor who believes in neurotoxicity—a rare find. My current psych doesn't prescribe Effexor to anyone because of how hard it is to get off, which has been a relief. But she somehow thinks that withdrawal symptoms would only be physical (no increased depression or anxiety), which is frustrating. Still, better than a lot of other psychiatrists I've had in the past or have heard about. 

January 2015: Prozac 20 mg (caused sluggishness and brain fog)

October 2015 - July 2018: Effexor XR 150

July 4, 2018: Decreased Effexor to 112.5 as per psychiatrist's tapering instructions

July 5, 2018: After research increased to 135

August 1, 2018: 121.5 

August 22, 2018: 109

September 17, 2018: 98.4

 

Supplements: Magnesium Citrate and fish oil

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Coming back to post and check in with myself. This morning reduced from 135 to 121.5 after four weeks at 135. So far so good--no major withdrawal symptoms after my first drop, maybe a couple of days of increased irritability two weeks in and some lethargy, but the lethargy is pretty normal for me and is, I suspect, a side effect of the effexor. The biggest thing I noticed was some increased anxiety in the mornings in the first week after my initial drop; the anxiety would dissipate by early afternoon, and wasn't anything I couldn't handle. From my reading it seems that morning cortisol spikes are normal. All in all, symptoms were minor at most. Hoping I can keep it that way as long as possible. Will stay at 121.5 for another four weeks. 

 

I've begun taking fish oil and magnesium supplements, which have helped (at first the magnesium seemed to be contributing to some insomnia, but now that I take it earlier in the day for the most part, it's no longer a problem.) 

 

Here's hoping the next month goes smoothly!!

January 2015: Prozac 20 mg (caused sluggishness and brain fog)

October 2015 - July 2018: Effexor XR 150

July 4, 2018: Decreased Effexor to 112.5 as per psychiatrist's tapering instructions

July 5, 2018: After research increased to 135

August 1, 2018: 121.5 

August 22, 2018: 109

September 17, 2018: 98.4

 

Supplements: Magnesium Citrate and fish oil

 

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  • 1 month later...

Checking in with myself again after a little hiatus. Down to 98.4, and no major withdrawal symptoms yet. Been working through a bad bout of insomnia (life-related, and not uncommon for me) and the past week has been tough anxiety-wise--dealing with some unavoidable PTSD related stuff, but I have good support and have been hanging on. The good news is that all of this is, I think, unrelated to the tapering, and just life's regular ups and downs. Hoping that I'll start getting some sleep soon--the exhaustion is wearing me down--but if not I'll take it slow and pause before my next drop. 

 

The other day I had a wave of feeling so incredibly frustrated with my lack of energy and depleted sex drive over the past few years since starting ADs. I don't think I even remember what it feels like to not be tired all the time, or to have a libido. I'm holding out hope that with some time and patience things will change for me. 

 

I don't post much, but this site is a great comfort. 

January 2015: Prozac 20 mg (caused sluggishness and brain fog)

October 2015 - July 2018: Effexor XR 150

July 4, 2018: Decreased Effexor to 112.5 as per psychiatrist's tapering instructions

July 5, 2018: After research increased to 135

August 1, 2018: 121.5 

August 22, 2018: 109

September 17, 2018: 98.4

 

Supplements: Magnesium Citrate and fish oil

 

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  • 4 months later...

Haven't been updating as everything has been going relatively smoothly, but after my most recent drop--down to 58.11--I've been having some insomnia issues. I was wondering if this could possibly be related to the fish oil, as well--I wasn't taking it for a while, and started up again after this drop, and I've found I've been frequently waking up at 4 or 5 without being able to get back to sleep. I might try to lower my fish oil dosage and see what happens.

January 2015: Prozac 20 mg (caused sluggishness and brain fog)

October 2015 - July 2018: Effexor XR 150

July 4, 2018: Decreased Effexor to 112.5 as per psychiatrist's tapering instructions

July 5, 2018: After research increased to 135

August 1, 2018: 121.5 

August 22, 2018: 109

September 17, 2018: 98.4

 

Supplements: Magnesium Citrate and fish oil

 

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Hello friend, our stories are similar, I have been reducing effexor from 150mg to 54mg for 10 months right now, it has not been difficult to go below 75mg, at this point each fall however small I notice it for a week or more and then everything is stabilized. I am also confused between what the drug is and what I am, it is almost impossible to know and it is to spend energy on something useless. I do not feel the effects of magnesium and fish oil but I take it because I trust that it does me good. On the cognitive problems I am sure that they are the product of the destabilization of the nervous system when withdrawing the drug, I am also going through a poor thought and I feel quite silly and without mental activity although it has been much worse also in high doses of effexor. I congratulate you for reaching the dose in which you are, the end is near and we will heal. If you want to talk I leave my Facebook: Alan Calpe Puig

Mayo 2018: Venlafaxina 150 mg y toma 64mg Diciembre 2018: Venlafaxina xr 56mg 

Diciembre de 2018: Venlafaxina xr 58mg Enero de 2019: Venlafaxina xr 56mg

Febrero 2019: Venlafaxina xr 37,5 mg + 40 perlas Mayo 2019: Venlafaxina xr 37,5 mg + 7 perlas Mayo 2019: Venlafaxina xr 37,5mg

Octubre 2019: venlafaxina xr 18mg aprox.

Enero 2020: 50 perlas Febrero 2020: 40 perlasMarzo 2020: 30 perlas 

Abril 2020: 35 perlas (en crisis)

Agosto 2020: 25 perlas, 23 perlas Noviembre: 03/11/2020 26 perlas 05/11/2030 22 perlas, 22/11/2020 24 perlas.Diciembre: 40 perlas (5 días) , vuelvo a 30 perlas.

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  • ChessieCat changed the title to Abigail: tapering Effexor
  • Administrator

Hi, Abigail. Here's a good way to improve sleep -- soft music: 

 

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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  • 1 month later...
  • Moderator Emeritus

Hi Abigail, 

 

How are you doing?💚

Been on antipsychotics, benzos, antidepressants and painkillers for chronic pain. 

Been cold turkeyed and put on and off all sorts of things. Was suicidal n ended up in a psych ward because I had akathisia from withdrawals. Can’t remember what I was put on but when I was released was in the same predicament with severe akathisia n was suicidal again.

Back to the ward and was given different meds. Tapered off one and have been trying to taper off Seroquel since. It’s been many, many years of tapering so far.

I’ve  tapered from 300mg of Seroquel to 7.5mg./ March 10 2019=7.25mg / 17th of April=7 mg / June 5th=6.75mg/ July 14th=6.50mg/ August 28=6.25mg/ 10th of Oct= 6.20mg/ October 21=6mg/ December 16=5.80mg/.   January 21 2020=5.60mg/April 2=5.40g/ May 29=5.20mg/ August 14= 5mg/ September 29=4.80mg/ Jan 31, 2021=4.60 mg/

 

I AM NOT A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL. These are my own views based on what I’ve experienced myself.

 

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi everyone!!! Thanks for all your responses. I've been having a hard couple of months--I had to have ankle surgery suddenly, and was stuck in bed all of the time which did not do good things for my brain. And I don't know if it's the withdrawal or just situational, but my anxiety has been pretty out of control lately. I keep making plans and then immediately cancelling them because seeing people and talking to them just sounds too exhausting. I've been taking a break from tapering and am holding at 52.3 now. It's nice to be able to come here and read people's posts. Feels comforting. 

January 2015: Prozac 20 mg (caused sluggishness and brain fog)

October 2015 - July 2018: Effexor XR 150

July 4, 2018: Decreased Effexor to 112.5 as per psychiatrist's tapering instructions

July 5, 2018: After research increased to 135

August 1, 2018: 121.5 

August 22, 2018: 109

September 17, 2018: 98.4

 

Supplements: Magnesium Citrate and fish oil

 

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