Jump to content

Kass45: Severe Effexor XR withdrawal

Recommended Posts


I am at the point right now that I can’t handle the severe withdrawal symptoms anymore. I have been trying to get off Effexor XR since October of 2019. I was at 225 mg. I have been on it since around 2004. I slowly weaned down and was at 37. 5 mg at Christmas. I got bad withdrawal symptoms  (anxiety, exhaustion, headaches, flu symptoms, brain zaps etc. ) each time I reduced the dose but they subsided after a week or two. However, weaning off 37.5 mg has been extremely bad. I slowly  extended the time between doses, at my psychiatrist’s advice. I first did this by hours and maintained it for a week or 2 and then began skipping days. By day 4 the withdrawal was so terrible. Almost falling over with dizziness, extreme exhaustion, nausea, flu symptoms, severe muscle aches and muscle heaviness, headaches, brain fog, body prickles, brain zaps, severe chills, extreme irritability and anxiety and more). I pushed myself to 11 days without. I saw my psychiatrist and he said just push through it and wouldn’t suggest anything else. He doesn’t want to prescribe another medication. It didn’t seem like he took my symptoms seriously. I have made it for 15 days but am at the absolute end of my rope. I had to take days off work and the days I have worked have been so hard and literally I am not able to function after work. My anxiety is worsening and I am getting paranoid and negative thoughts that are hard to stop. My chest is in pain due to anxiety. I ink straight. This website came up in my search. Please help. I briefly read that I could break open my capsule and reduce that way. I don’t know if I should just endure or take a capsule and reduce from there by counting beads.

Share this post

Link to post

Welcome to SA, Kass45.  I'm sorry you're going through this.  All the symptoms you describe are typical withdrawal symptoms.

It is entirely understandable that you're undergoing this.  


The withdrawal symptoms you're experiencing are being caused by your extremely fast taper from 225mg to 37.5 in the space of around three months, much worsened by your skipping doses, which is a terrible way to taper that is beloved by psychiatrists who know nothing about safe tapering or withdrawal, which they don't even believe exists.  Skipping doses is equivalent to reducing your dose by 50%.  Skipping days is NOT recommended by SA.  SA recommends tapering by 10% of the previous dose followed by a hold of about 4 weeks to allow the brain to adapt to not getting as much of the drug.  We'll get to tapering later after you've stabilized.


Skipping Days vs Every Day Dosing Graph


Skipping doses causes the amount of the medication in your bloodstream to go up and down, battering your nervous system, and makes withdrawal worse. No wonder you're feeling terrible.  If your psychiatrist doesn't take your symptoms seriously, we do.  


So that you understand what you're going through, please red the following about withdrawal:


What is withdrawal syndrome.


Daily Checklist of Antidepressant Withdrawal Symptoms (PDF) 


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.   

   On 8/30/2011 at 2:28 PM,  Rhiannon said: 
When we stop taking the drug, we have a brain that has designed itself so that it works in the presence of the drug; now it can't work properly without the drug because it's designed itself so that the drug is part of its chemistry and structure. It's like a plant that has grown on a trellis; you can't just yank out the trellis and expect the plant to be okay. When the drug is removed, the remodeling process has to take place in reverse. SO--it's not a matter of just getting the drug out of your system and moving on. If it were that simple, none of us would be here. It's a matter of, as I describe it, having to grow a new brain. I believe this growing-a-new-brain happens throughout the taper process if the taper is slow enough. (If it's too fast, then there's not a lot of time for actually rebalancing things, and basically the brain is just pedaling fast trying to keep us alive.) It also continues to happen, probably for longer than the symptoms actually last, throughout the time of recovery after we are completely off the drug, which is why recovery takes so long.


On 3/8/2020 at 4:09 PM, Kass45 said:

don’t know if I should just endure or take a capsule and reduce from there by counting beads. 


I would not just endure and you're not ready to taper. That comes later and yes, there is a way to do that by removing beads and we can help you with that.   But first we have to get you stabilized.


Reinstatement is the only way to alleviate withdrawal symptoms.  Please read:


About reinstating and stabilizing to reduce withdrawal symptoms. -- at least the first page of the topic


I would stop skipping doses immediately and  take 37.5mg every day at the same time.   It takes about about a week for a dose change to get to get to full state.  You might get some relief within a few days, but it will take a while for you to stabilize. Be patient.  Keep daily notes on paper to track your updose.  And keep us updated please.


Do you have enough 37.5?  If not, will your doctor prescribe more?  If not, any M.D. can prescribe it.


We don't recommend a lot of supplements on SA, as many members report being sensitive to them due to our over-reactive nervous systems, but two supplements that we do recommend are magnesium (glycinate is a good form) and omega 3 (fish oil). Many people find these to be calming to the nervous system. 


Magnesium, nature's calcium channel blocker 


Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) 


Add in one at a time and at a low dose in case you do experience problems.


This is your Introduction topic, where you can ask question, post your updates and connect with other members.  We're glad you found your way here.






Share this post

Link to post

Thanks so much Gridley. I am so relieved that I am not alone and that these issues are indeed normal for other people too. I am feeling angry that I wasn’t taken seriously by my psychiatrist. I strongly believe that he thought I was exaggerating or lying. I have resumed the 37.5 mg dose of venlafaxine. I am actually on a generic version of Effexor XR.  I am feeling so much better today. Yesterday, I took a dose and then again today. Yesterday, I felt about 30% better and today I feel another 30% better. I have to work the next 2 days so am hopeful tomorrow will be even better. I will be seeing my family doctor next week and will take some of the information I have obtained here to show him. My family doctor generally listens and takes my concerns seriously, unlike the psychiatrist I see at the local hospital. At this point I just want to be stable for awhile. It has been a rollercoaster the past number of months. I am very hesitant to taper due to how good I feel even after being back on the 37.5 mg for 2 days. On the other hand, I don’t want to be so dependent on a medication that has messed with my brain so much.
I am also taking bupropion 300 mg, Adderall (generic version) 50 mg, and risperidone 0.5 mg. 


Share this post

Link to post
23 minutes ago, Kass45 said:

I am feeling so much better today.

That's fantastic!  I'm so glad you're feeling better.  That was a brutal experience you went through at the advise of your psychiatrist.


Now you should rest and recover and continue feeling better and better.  It can take several months for you to stabilize and get the full benefit of a reinstatement.  When you're feeling ready--and again this could take several months--we can help you taper very slowly and safely off the effexor XR.



Share this post

Link to post

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

Terms of Use Privacy Policy