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Heligoland: Effexor and Seroquel withdrawal


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I'm a 40 year old male that has been taking 150mg of Effexor XR and 25mg of Seroquel for the last 12 years for depression and anxiety.  The Effexor was prescribed to treat depression and the Seroquel was prescribed for difficulty sleeping.  My goal in posting this thread is to document my thoughts and observations through the process of withdrawing from these drugs in the hope that others who are unaware of what to expect when withdrawing from similar drugs will gain a reference point to orient themselves about what they're experiencing during their own withdraw process. 


I found in my own research that I was often frustrated by a lack of clear feedback from folks regarding the duration of withdrawal symptoms.  Often I would read about the symptoms people experience, but usually those symptoms weren't documented in such a way as to provide an estimate of the amount of time they persisted before easing.  


Over the last few months I have weaned myself from 150mg of Effexor XR down to 75mg daily.  In retrospect, I recognize (after discovering this site) that I've been too aggressive in my taper schedule to this point.  I was initially unsure if tapering off Effexor would even produce improvements in my mental state and was operating on unconscious intuition that it was affecting me negatively. 


My experience thus far has been that I experience acute withdrawal effects from a reduction of Effexor immediately upon reducing my dose approximately 15%.  Oddly, I tend to experience more physical withdrawal symptoms for the first few days, with mood effects following afterwards.  I can paradoxically actually feel my mood improve immediately following a reduction in dosage for the first couple days, which is what initially led me to believe that I was on the right track in deciding to get off the medication.  I experience a decrease in mood around the time that the physical withdrawal symptoms start to subside and this is tricky to deal with and track because I become disoriented with the symptoms and lose the perspective that they are the result of withdrawal.  This is what allows doctors to convince patients they are observing a return of depression symptoms, I'm sure.  I usually start to sense a lifting of my negative mood after a week and a half or so following a reduction.  


While I am feeling relatively confident in my ability to persist and get through the Effexor withdrawal, I've badly underestimated Seroquel withdrawal.  I'm still trying to figure out how I could have been as naive as I have been regarding my use of Seroquel.  I knew that I was emotionally more scared of withdrawing from Seroquel than Effexor, but wasn't fully conscious of why.  I assumed it was because I have experienced sleep problems and the sedating effect of Seroquel has provided me with comfort and decreased my anxiety about sleep. 


A couple weeks ago I decided to stay on my current dose of Effexor (75mg) for the next month or so and try to reduce my dose of Seroquel during that period.  It turns out my body was anxious about the Seroquel withdrawal for good reason, even though I'd convinced myself I was on a low enough dosage that it shouldn't be a major problem.  I have withdrawn from a benzodiazepine in the past and it was maybe the worst experience of my life.  I am extremely sensitive to drugs and especially to anxiety drugs that effect GABA receptors, possibly due to my introverted nature and anxiety.  Approximately 10 days ago I reduced my Seroquel dosage by around 40% from 25mg to 15mg nightly.  

Having been through Effexor withdrawal the previous months, I was expecting the symptoms to start off intense and fade along the same trajectory as I've experienced with Effexor tapers.  This may have caused some false confidence after the first few days post-reduction when I didn't get nailed with immediate debilitating symptoms.  My experience has been that mistaken expectations are a big factor in being able to emotionally cope with withdrawal symptoms.  If you expect symptoms to be easier and they turn out to be harder, it has a negative psychological effect and the disorientation can cause you to confuse the source of the symptoms, which again is how doctors are able to convince patients that withdrawal is in fact a "return of the symptoms of depression/anxiety."  


After about four days of Seroquel withdrawal my ability to fall sleep began to degrade significantly and my mood and physical symptoms of withdrawal increased to where I am now about 10 days from the reduction.  I am going to stick it out and persist through what I am experiencing, but I am certainly brought back to the trauma of my past benzodiazepine withdrawal.  I recognize I was naively too aggressive with my reduction of Seroquel, in retrospect.  When I was withdrawing from benzodiazepines fifteen years ago, I found I had to wait a month between small dose reductions because withdrawal symptoms occurred for three weeks after a cut and then I needed a week of consolidation before I could muster the psychological wherewithal to attempt another reduction.  My current experience with Seroquel withdraw seems to be mirroring that timeline based on my intuition from past experience.  


It's not easy to decide whether to try to get off Seroquel entirely first or whether to deal with the Effexor first considering I think the Effexor will be the easier of the two for me to deal with.  I am open to feedback and suggestions about that decision and will update with my experience as I go along.  Someone made a terrific analogy in another thread about how getting off these drugs is like encountering a bear in the woods; you have to stay calm and suppress your natural inclination to run in order to survive.  My impulse is to become obsessive when I encounter the kind of withdrawal I have from the Seroquel, especially, and try to accelerate things because of a newfound realization of how negatively it must be affecting my brain given the intensity of withdrawal it produces.    


We are all privy to unique awareness as a result of our experience with these drugs.  95% of the population has no idea how corrupt and unethical the medical industry is to push these on the population the way they do.  It's an incredible lesson in the value of being able to think for yourself.  Literally, the entire history of medicine has mostly been an exercise in exactly what we're experiencing in modern day psychiatry, with arrogant doctors self-assuredly prescribing treatments that are proven 50 years later to have been criminally damaging.  




150mg Effexor daily for 12 years for depression/anxiety.  25mg Seroquel nightly for 12 years for sleep problems.  

Started Effexor taper May 1st at approximately 15% reduction every 3 weeks to current dose of 75mg daily.  

Started Seroquel taper July 21st from 25mg to 15mg.  

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  • ChessieCat changed the title to Heligoland: Effexor and Seroquel withdrawal
  • Administrator

Welcome, heligoland.


Please stop tapering immediately.


We recommend tapering only one drug at a time, that way you know where symptoms are coming from.


As you have explained, you have sporadically experienced withdrawal symptoms from decreasing Effexor. Going on and off drugs and experiencing withdrawal symptoms and other adverse reactions causes the nervous system to become sensitive to all drug changes. If I were you, I'd consider your nervous system to be so sensitized.


Your diffiiculties with the Seroquel reduction may be because of this vulnerability, or it may be because sleeplessness is a common adverse effect of Effexor. If you were put on Seroquel to counter the adverse effect of Effexor, you can expect removing the Seroquel while you're taking Effexor will allow the sleeplessness to break through.


(If Effexor affected your sleep, you doctor should have reduced the dosage at the beginning instead of getting you dependent on an additional drug. There's no such thing as an inconsequential dosage of a psychiatric drug.)


If your sleeplessness is getting worse, if I were you, I'd updose the Seroquel slightly to 17mg. A very small increase is often sufficient. Here's our topic about titrating Seroquel: Tips for tapering off Seroquel (quetiapine)


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

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  • 6 months later...
  • Moderator Emeritus

Hi heligoland, 


How are you doing?💚

Been on APs, benzos, ADs and opiates, all for chronic pain. Had severe Akathisia in the past that made me suicidal. Still on Seroquel. 2019:➡️ March10=7.25mg ✔️April17=7.0✔️June5=6.75✔️ July14=6.50✔️Aug28=6.25✔️Oct10=6.20 ✔️ Oct21=6.0✔️Dec16=5.80 ✔️  2020➡️Jan 21=5.60✔️April2=5.40✔️May29=5.20✔️Aug14= 5.0 ✔️Sep29=4.80✔️2021➡️ Jan31=4.60 mg✔️April24=4.40mg✔️Jul17=4.30mg ✔️Aug 28=4.20✔️ Oct 11=4.15✔️Nov1=4.10✔️ Nov21= 4.05✔️ Dec13= 4mg✔️  2022➡️Jan8= 3.95 Jan 31=3.90✔️March2=3.85✔️ April4=3.80✔️June16=3.75✔️July26=3.70✔️Sep2=3.65✔️ Oct21=3.60✔️Dec8=3.55✔️ 2023➡️Jan 26=3.50✔️March 17=3.45✔️ THIS IS NOT MEDICAL ADVICE, consult a doctor.

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