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KayC: getting off venlafaxine 300mg


KayC

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Greetings!

 

A bit of history:

I sought mental health support the second semester of my freshman year in college (1997) at the college counseling center, and within months, was put on my first antidepressant - Prozac. Many followed suit.

 

Misdiagnosed Bipolar 1 (although I repeatedly told him I NEVER have had a manic episode and did not really fit any of the DSM criteria well) and treated as such from 2001-2014.

 

Finally properly diagnosed as having CPTSD, or Developmental Trauma, by a therapist in 2015.

 

Tapered off all drugs after working with the trauma therapist except the Venlafaxine. Tried tapering twice using the 10% rule and suffered severe depression within days. I have no social support, this is not an option for me currently as I am a single mom and work full time.

 

I am currently on 300 mg of Venlafaxine IR. I believe it is causing me serious issues, possibly the major cause of a "mystery" illness I've been suffering from for 5-7 years that no blood work so far has been able to explain. (My most recent test was for Lyme....we'll see.) Been on some combination of Effexor/Venlafaxine with other drugs or singly at least for 15 years now.

 

Here are my symptoms:

1) Sleep issues - (QUALITY SUCKS)

- Vivid, intense, often disturbing dreams every single night

- Insomnia (takes 1.5-2 hrs to fall asleep without aids)

- Waking frequently through the night (I had a sleep app show me I was waking at least 11 times during the night, but I'm not sure how accurate the app was)

- NEVER feel well rested upon waking, no matter how long I sleep

- Severe bruxism (as in, having to purchase a rigid mouth guard splint every 3-4 years to replace the one I wore down)

- Talking in my sleep, acting out my dreams: kicking, flailing, falling out of bed trying to escape something, once I even stood straight up in bed and then lay back down. (No history of sleepwalking)

 

2) Cold hands, feet, and nose (peripheral vascular disorder)

 

3) Frequent "icky" feeling, like "poison running through my veins."

This isn't just nausea. I really don't know how else to describe it. Nothing helps.

 

4) Frequent headaches (though this could be due to bruxism and or caffeine)

 

5) Chronic runny nose

 

6) Heat intolerance (I am not perimenopausal according to my OBGYN, at 43 it seems a bit early and my mom went into it in her 50s)

 

7) Other weird, random, mysterious symptoms like heart palpitations, chest pain, stomach cramps etc.

 

TODAY, I'm afraid to take the Venlafaxine because I don't want to feel like there's "poison in my veins" like yesterday. My first questions are, do you think taking the 300 mg all at once as an IR could be causing this? And would it be worthwhile to space it out while I run out of pills and then request an XR prescription for the time being? I do take it with food.

 

My long-term plan for getting off Venlafaxine is currently under review for two options, would love feedback for these too:

 

1) Start on Prozac as a bridge and then taper off the Venlafaxine. Current doctor is looking for a specific schedule for this - anyone have one? No one here has any kind of experience with getting off Effexor other than, I quote, "It's a bear!"

 

2) Go to a rehab facility and get off in 2-3 months with support and care (I am really leaning towards this because I seriously need time off work, I am all out of sick/vacation leave, and FMLA would keep my job for me), but I need to check to see if my insurance would cover this.

 

THANK YOU!!!

_________

Drug history (to be updated with more detail soon):

Starting November 1997: Prozac (10-20 mg)

In quick succession (1997-2001): Effexor XR, Wellbutrin trial (1 mo), Zoloft, Celexa, Serzone

Misdiagnosed BP1 2001-2014: singly and in various combinations - Depakote, Trileptal, Tegratol, Lithium (which proceeded to affect my parathyroids, thyroid, and kidneys before I was taken off - now have hypothyroidism and CKD3), Lamictal, Remeron, Cymbalta, Geodon, Risperdal, and Abilify. Effexor/Venlaxine frequently was combined with these.

Since 2015: Tapered off Abilify over 1.5 yrs, got off Lamictal in 1 month, tried to get off Venlafaxine twice.

Now: Just Venlafaxine IR 300 mg daily. Also on Pravastatin 80 mg for high cholesterol and Levothyroxine 68.5 mg for hypothyroidism.

 

 

Pre-taper starting doses (2018): Abilify 7.5 mg, Lamictal 450 mg, Venlafaxine IR 300 mg (taken all at once). Trazodone for sleep, 100 mg/night.

Jan 2018 - Feb 2020: Tapered off Abilify, Trazodone, and Lamictal.

Feb 28, 2020 - March 11, 2020: First trial tapering Venlafaxine IR, 300 to 225 mg, alternating doses in accordance with Psych Nurse advice (after 6 days experienced severe emotional distress and went back up).

March 11, 2020 - June 15, 2020: Holding Venlafaxine IR, 300 mg

June 15, 2020 - July 5, 2020: Second trial taper Venlafaxine IR, 300 mg to 225 mg, alternating doses in accordance with Psych Nurse advice (after 12 days experienced severe emotional distress and went back up).

July 2020 - Sept 2021: Holding Venlafaxine IR, 300 mg

Sept 2021: Third trial tapering off Venlafaxine IR. Started again with Psych Nurse advice and transitioned to 10% method. 300 mg down to approximately 270 mg by December 2021.

January 17, 2022: 2nd 10% taper Venlafaxine IR, approx 270 mg to approx 243 mg.

March 19, 2022: Holding at ~243 mg (0.488 g 2x daily).

 

 

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  • Administrator

Welcome, @KayC

 

On 9/19/2021 at 12:22 PM, KayC said:

I am currently on 300 mg of Venlafaxine IR.

 

You are taking 300mg immediate-release venlafaxine? That is unusual. Why not the extended-release version? What time o'clock do you take it?

 

Your symptoms indicate activation from too much of the drug is getting into your system at once, or your overall dosage is too high.

 

Please put ALL your drugs in this Interactions Checker and post the report or a link to it in this topic.

 

To help us out, follow these instructions Please summarize your drug and withdrawal history in your signature You may need to use a computer to do this.

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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Yes! I don't know how that happened. I had a horrible psychiatrist, honestly. I think I was previously on XR, and then just switched to IR because according to my pharmacist, "if you just eat a meal, it does the same thing," and my psychiatrist didn't catch it. At the time I was taking other medications, so it didn't seem to make a difference. But now that I'm ONLY taking the Venlafaxine IR, the side effects are awful. I'm currently checking with my mail-in pharmacy to find out why I don't have better guidance on the label. It just says, "take 3 tabs daily," and I've always taken them all at once, with food, because no one ever told me differently. I think I wanted to stay on IR at one point because the sexual side effects went away in the evening when I was more likely to be sexually active, where with XR, they persisted. I stopped seeing this psychiatrist in 2016 and transferred care to a behavioral health facility. I had issues with one of their psych nurses (he triggered my PTSD - also not listening to me), and left. Now my PCP refills the prescriptions. I usually take it in the morning with food, right after breakfast, maybe 10 am.

 

Honestly, if I could sue the original psychiatrist for malpractice, I would, because he just didn't listen to me when I said I'd never had a manic episode. I never had a formal assessment to diagnose me properly. Also, while I was under his care and taking Lithium, I experienced hyperparathyroidism and had surgery for parathyroid removal, hypothyroidism, which is now chronic (thus the Levo); and kidney scarring, causing CKD3. I also had a negative drug interaction once from a few drugs he prescribed at the same time. 

 

Thank you so much!

 

 

 

Drug Interaction Report - Drugs.com.pdf

 

Pre-taper starting doses (2018): Abilify 7.5 mg, Lamictal 450 mg, Venlafaxine IR 300 mg (taken all at once). Trazodone for sleep, 100 mg/night.

Jan 2018 - Feb 2020: Tapered off Abilify, Trazodone, and Lamictal.

Feb 28, 2020 - March 11, 2020: First trial tapering Venlafaxine IR, 300 to 225 mg, alternating doses in accordance with Psych Nurse advice (after 6 days experienced severe emotional distress and went back up).

March 11, 2020 - June 15, 2020: Holding Venlafaxine IR, 300 mg

June 15, 2020 - July 5, 2020: Second trial taper Venlafaxine IR, 300 mg to 225 mg, alternating doses in accordance with Psych Nurse advice (after 12 days experienced severe emotional distress and went back up).

July 2020 - Sept 2021: Holding Venlafaxine IR, 300 mg

Sept 2021: Third trial tapering off Venlafaxine IR. Started again with Psych Nurse advice and transitioned to 10% method. 300 mg down to approximately 270 mg by December 2021.

January 17, 2022: 2nd 10% taper Venlafaxine IR, approx 270 mg to approx 243 mg.

March 19, 2022: Holding at ~243 mg (0.488 g 2x daily).

 

 

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On 9/20/2021 at 8:21 PM, KayC said:

"take 3 tabs daily," and I've always taken them all at once, with food, because no one ever told me differently

 

Someone should have told you to take these 8 hours apart.

 

You reduced from 300mg venlafaxine IR to 225mg 5 days ago? That would be a 25% reduction. How are you feeling?

 

I'm so sorry you have long-term health consequences from that psychiatrist's treatment. Yes, he does sound like a very bad doctor.

 

Making a pdf of your drug interaction report is very sophisticated. We prefer links so we don't have to download anything. At any rate, it looks like you don't have any significant drug interactions.

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 so much for your feedback. Actually the schedule I'm now following (today is day 😎 8.) is the last one recommended by a psychiatric nurse I went to a year ago. I take 225 mg one day, then 300 mg for two days, then 225 mg, and so on for one month. This is kind of how I tapered off the Abilify (I made my own schedule on that one). I thought it was the 10% rule. But I looked back on my notes and now I'm not so sure. So far I'm doing better than I did in the past when I tried this regimen. I don't feel any different yet. But last time it took 12 days before the severe depression returned and I think I was just scared. My moods have always been all over the place and what made them worse was thinking that was a bad thing. Now I have an attitude of radical acceptance...this is just the way I am, and yes, some days suck, but it isn't necessarily bad. I also had my doctor fill a prescription for 10 mg Prozac so I could attempt a bridge if I felt it was necessary. I feel so much like I'm flying blind with this and I don't like it.

 

I didn't know how to make a link to the drug interaction page, but I can try to do that if it's better.s8pan widgetspan widget

 

Pre-taper starting doses (2018): Abilify 7.5 mg, Lamictal 450 mg, Venlafaxine IR 300 mg (taken all at once). Trazodone for sleep, 100 mg/night.

Jan 2018 - Feb 2020: Tapered off Abilify, Trazodone, and Lamictal.

Feb 28, 2020 - March 11, 2020: First trial tapering Venlafaxine IR, 300 to 225 mg, alternating doses in accordance with Psych Nurse advice (after 6 days experienced severe emotional distress and went back up).

March 11, 2020 - June 15, 2020: Holding Venlafaxine IR, 300 mg

June 15, 2020 - July 5, 2020: Second trial taper Venlafaxine IR, 300 mg to 225 mg, alternating doses in accordance with Psych Nurse advice (after 12 days experienced severe emotional distress and went back up).

July 2020 - Sept 2021: Holding Venlafaxine IR, 300 mg

Sept 2021: Third trial tapering off Venlafaxine IR. Started again with Psych Nurse advice and transitioned to 10% method. 300 mg down to approximately 270 mg by December 2021.

January 17, 2022: 2nd 10% taper Venlafaxine IR, approx 270 mg to approx 243 mg.

March 19, 2022: Holding at ~243 mg (0.488 g 2x daily).

 

 

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I accidentally put an emoji in and I don't know how to get rid of that!

 

Pre-taper starting doses (2018): Abilify 7.5 mg, Lamictal 450 mg, Venlafaxine IR 300 mg (taken all at once). Trazodone for sleep, 100 mg/night.

Jan 2018 - Feb 2020: Tapered off Abilify, Trazodone, and Lamictal.

Feb 28, 2020 - March 11, 2020: First trial tapering Venlafaxine IR, 300 to 225 mg, alternating doses in accordance with Psych Nurse advice (after 6 days experienced severe emotional distress and went back up).

March 11, 2020 - June 15, 2020: Holding Venlafaxine IR, 300 mg

June 15, 2020 - July 5, 2020: Second trial taper Venlafaxine IR, 300 mg to 225 mg, alternating doses in accordance with Psych Nurse advice (after 12 days experienced severe emotional distress and went back up).

July 2020 - Sept 2021: Holding Venlafaxine IR, 300 mg

Sept 2021: Third trial tapering off Venlafaxine IR. Started again with Psych Nurse advice and transitioned to 10% method. 300 mg down to approximately 270 mg by December 2021.

January 17, 2022: 2nd 10% taper Venlafaxine IR, approx 270 mg to approx 243 mg.

March 19, 2022: Holding at ~243 mg (0.488 g 2x daily).

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

UPDATE:

So, at first I tried taking the tabs later in the day after a big meal to try an ameliorate the side effects (especially the nausea). This way, I seemed to suffer fewer side effects during the day, but then my insomnia got way worse, even with sleep aids. That wasn't tolerable to me.

 

I stopped tapering the "Psych Nurse" way (really, why are they so clueless?) and started a modified 10% method, taking 275 mg (which is a bit less than 10% of 300 mg, I know, but it's easier to break the tabs into quarters), and spacing up the dosing, since I'm on IR. So far, this is the longest I've gone without an episode while tapering. I'm hopeful, but it's early yet.

 

The Psych Nurse recommended regimen:

Started September 19, 2021: 225 mg

9/20: 300 mg

9/21: 300 mg

9/22: 225 mg

9/23: 300 mg

9/24: 300 mg

9/25: 225 mg

9/26: 300 mg

9/27: 225 mg

9/28: 300 mg

9/29: 300 mg

9/30: 275 mg

10/1: 300 mg

 

Start the (modified) 10% method:

10/2 - 10/5: 275 mg daily (all at once with food)

10/6: Decided to break up my doses the way IR is designed to be taken; 150 mg am (w/ food), 125 mg pm (w/ food)

 

Having to plan to take the dose with food is a big pain, because I have to eat enough not to feel the nausea the pills will induce on an empty stomach, but not eat so much I get bloated. I don't have a strict meal schedule, either. I eat three meals a day, around the times people generally eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

 

As far as feeling withdrawal, I am feeling the brain zaps a bit more, but they are not one of the more troublesome side effects for me. One day I actually felt like "my old self," in that I was super sad ALL DAY. I made myself just sit with it. And remembered before the meds I used to just get sad sometimes, and it lasted all day. That was just me. Radical acceptance is everything. "It's OK not to be OK."

 

The GOOD thing is, I haven't had a severe depressive episode (YET), and it's been 21 days...the longest I've tried tapering. Maybe it won't be so bad for me! (Crossing my fingers!)

 

I also have some more social support in my life recently, which is super helpful. And am trying to get into an exercise routine of sorts. Exercise is so important for EVERYTHING. Especially the anxiety/restlessness. I've always had horrible anxiety, which gets worse if I frame it as "bad," or try to get rid of it. But exercise really does help.

 

 

 

Pre-taper starting doses (2018): Abilify 7.5 mg, Lamictal 450 mg, Venlafaxine IR 300 mg (taken all at once). Trazodone for sleep, 100 mg/night.

Jan 2018 - Feb 2020: Tapered off Abilify, Trazodone, and Lamictal.

Feb 28, 2020 - March 11, 2020: First trial tapering Venlafaxine IR, 300 to 225 mg, alternating doses in accordance with Psych Nurse advice (after 6 days experienced severe emotional distress and went back up).

March 11, 2020 - June 15, 2020: Holding Venlafaxine IR, 300 mg

June 15, 2020 - July 5, 2020: Second trial taper Venlafaxine IR, 300 mg to 225 mg, alternating doses in accordance with Psych Nurse advice (after 12 days experienced severe emotional distress and went back up).

July 2020 - Sept 2021: Holding Venlafaxine IR, 300 mg

Sept 2021: Third trial tapering off Venlafaxine IR. Started again with Psych Nurse advice and transitioned to 10% method. 300 mg down to approximately 270 mg by December 2021.

January 17, 2022: 2nd 10% taper Venlafaxine IR, approx 270 mg to approx 243 mg.

March 19, 2022: Holding at ~243 mg (0.488 g 2x daily).

 

 

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Good you've found a calming technique to surf the bumps!

25 minutes ago, KayC said:

started a modified 10% method, taking 275 mg (which is a bit less than 10% of 300 mg

 

It's fine to taper at less than 10%. 

 

If you're getting brain zaps, please stop tapering right now. That's a yellow flashing "caution" from your nervous system. You need to stop making drug changes to let it settle down.

 

If you're tapering by 25mg at a time, that's a linear taper. You'll be within 10% exponential reductions until you get to 225mg. At that point, a 25mg reduction is larger than 10%, and will become a greater and greater reduction rate if you continue that reduction schedule. I strongly suggest you look carefully at Tips for tapering off venlafaxine (Effexor) You've had failed tapers before, this puts you at elevated risk of withdrawal.

 

You can copy the link to your drug interaction report from the drugs.com browser bar and paste it here.

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...

Update (November 30, 2021)

 

Due to physical and mental exhaustion I requested a long-term hiatus from work and resolved to focus on proper tapering off my Venlafaxine IR. It took about 3 weeks of rest for me to feel like I had the capacity to properly manage anything. I bought a jeweler's scale and started breaking up the 275 mg dose into equal parts, to be taken 12 hours apart (9:30 am and 9:30 pm) with food. I calculated that 275 mg was about a 7.7% reduction. I also started taking a omega oil vitamin. During this time, some of my side effects/withdrawals have significantly improved, noted below:

 

Improvements:

Insomnia much less common

Waking less frequently during the night

Nausea gone

Headaches less common

Heat intolerance gone! 

Other symptoms less frequent (occasional heart palpitations)

 

No improvement:

Vivid, intense, often disturbing dreams every single night

NEVER feel well rested upon waking, no matter how long I sleep

Severe bruxism

Talking in my sleep, acting out my dreams

Cold hands, feet, and nose (peripheral vascular disorder)

Chronic runny nose

 

I plan to start my next taper (7%) December 1st.

 

Drug interaction report: https://www.drugs.com/interactions-check.php?drug_list=2296-0,1463-0,1929-0

 

Pre-taper starting doses (2018): Abilify 7.5 mg, Lamictal 450 mg, Venlafaxine IR 300 mg (taken all at once). Trazodone for sleep, 100 mg/night.

Jan 2018 - Feb 2020: Tapered off Abilify, Trazodone, and Lamictal.

Feb 28, 2020 - March 11, 2020: First trial tapering Venlafaxine IR, 300 to 225 mg, alternating doses in accordance with Psych Nurse advice (after 6 days experienced severe emotional distress and went back up).

March 11, 2020 - June 15, 2020: Holding Venlafaxine IR, 300 mg

June 15, 2020 - July 5, 2020: Second trial taper Venlafaxine IR, 300 mg to 225 mg, alternating doses in accordance with Psych Nurse advice (after 12 days experienced severe emotional distress and went back up).

July 2020 - Sept 2021: Holding Venlafaxine IR, 300 mg

Sept 2021: Third trial tapering off Venlafaxine IR. Started again with Psych Nurse advice and transitioned to 10% method. 300 mg down to approximately 270 mg by December 2021.

January 17, 2022: 2nd 10% taper Venlafaxine IR, approx 270 mg to approx 243 mg.

March 19, 2022: Holding at ~243 mg (0.488 g 2x daily).

 

 

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  • 1 month later...

Update (January 28, 2022)

 

Ok, so I started my second 10% taper on MLK day, January 17th. 

 

The first 10% taper was considerably rocky because I was still trying to sift through all the conflicting information from the medical community telling me one thing and peer supports telling me another and trying to get things in order to do it properly, so my poor nervous system was a mess. You really do have to be exact with the math, weighing, and taking every crumb. Eyeballing it does not work.

 

First, you need to get the total weight of the tabs from your starting point. The tabs include inactive ingredients, so they are not going to equal your dosage. For example, I took 3 tabs - 100 mg each - to equal a 300 mg dosage of Venlafaxine IR, but when I weighed three tabs, the scale did not equal 300 mg. Also, the tabs do not all weigh the same! So I weighed 3 tabs 7 times and then took an average of the weights.

 

Using my Gemini-20 jeweler's scale, I found an average 300 mg dose of Venlafaxine to weigh approximately 1205 mg (1.205 g). 

For my first 10% taper, which I took nearly three months to get right, this meant a 10% reduction was about 121 grams less. 1205 subtract 121 is 1085 mg. 

 

Since I'm taking IR, I had to break the dose into two equal portions, to take 12 hours apart. Half of 1085 mg is 543 mg. I chose to take the first dose at 9:30 am and the next at 9:30 pm. At first I struggled to remember, especially since my sleep was so off, but then I put an alarm on my phone and worked hard to take it at exactly 9:30 (or within 10 minutes) with food.

 

I tell ya, this is tough for someone struggling with the side effects and withdrawals of this drug as well as mental and physical burnout and exhaustion from life. But I did it. 

 

I wasn't perfect. I would cut up the tabs into the exact weights, but there were often crumbs and bits that would get lost or stuck in the pill container...that meant I wouldn't get an exact dose, and I'd go through withdrawal. If I didn't eat enough with it, I'd feel sick. If I waited too long (30 minutes), I'd get withdrawals.  I ended up buying empty gelatin pill capsules at a health food store and pouring the crumbs into the capsules to make sure I didn't miss any.

 

By the beginning of January, I had it down and felt pretty stable and back to normal. It had been two weeks since I felt any significant emotional upheaval and awhile since I'd had physical symptoms, so I decided to try my next taper the middle of January. During this time I'd started back to work after my FMLA. I'd worked three weeks without having to take sick time.

 

Now, I wish I would have waited. (Well, sort of.)

 

I timed it so I'd have emotional support during the first week. I'm in a long distance relationship, so I asked my supervisor if I could work remotely and stayed a week with my significant other, working from his house. That was fine, I had a lot of physical stuff, but it was ok, and I was able to work a full week without issue. I forgot it takes about a week for the emotional stuff to begin. That was my first mistake. I came back home and was alone when the emotional stuff struck. 

 

That was this last week, and it was really rough. I've always struggled with obsessive thinking and accompanying anxiety, but it became exponentially worse. I became convinced my new boyfriend wanted out of the relationship. I knew rationally this was false but my brain wanted me to think and worry about it and feel the pain and grief it produced. My sleep was awful. I'd lay awake worrying about this, and the physical symptoms increased as well...heat intolerance and cold extremities. I put on clothes, and took them off, pulled my sheets up, and threw them off, all night. During the days, my work started to suffer. 

 

At the same time, I felt my "real self" start to emerge...this was what was incredible. She knew my obsessive thinking was bullsh*t, and she said so. I started journaling intensively and worked through some CBT skills. I went to bed the second night KNOWING I was going to be ok and life wasn't going to implode. I took a sleep supplement. All night my brain FOUGHT sleep. I'd wake up completely foggy and groggy from the sleep med and be like, "What the heck?!" then turn over and fall back into troubled sleep...all night. My obsessive thinking kept coming back to irrational thinking, causing anxiety and panic. My boyfriend was going to break up with me, I'd lose my job, I'd end up destitute, etc. My dreams reflected my confusion and added color and vivid disturbing visual images including torture, death, and apocalyptic weather and events.

 

The next day I was nearly hypomanic, while continuing the obsessive thinking all day. I had one of my most productive days at work. I was positive, energetic, on top of the world. However, I didn't sleep well again that night.

 

The day after (yesterday) was one of the worst. I only worked 2 hours and had to stay home the rest of the day. I was physically uncomfortable and mentally unfit. I finally contacted my supervisor and told her I'd need some time off this week - 3 weeks after coming back from FMLA. Yeah, you can imagine how I felt that would go over. I spent the day surfing the internet and reading on this forum and on supportive Facebook sites about withdrawal. I concluded that I shouldn't have tried to do this without a plan in place to handle the incapacitation withdrawal would induce. I need social support in place.

 

I tried to nap midday. I lay there for 1 1/2 hours without sleeping. Just lay there. I was exhausted and groggy, but sleep wouldn't come. About 2 pm, I decided to try and reinstate a bit. I actually was able to do the math, and reduce the 10% to a 7% taper. I somehow figured out the difference based on what I took that morning and weighed out the dose...a few crumbs! An hour later I felt groggy, but that evening I felt better physically and mentally. That night I took a sleep supplement again and was able to get somewhat restful sleep.

 

Today (Friday), I have terrible brain fog. I did try to work a little this morning and checked in with my boss. She advised me to take the rest of the day off. We made a plan for me to check with HR to see about more accommodations. I decided to continue to maintain the 10% taper, and not go back to 7% since I started it already and have made it this far, and the withdrawals, while at times are disturbing, have not incapacitated me substantially.

 

I have today and the weekend to recover. I'm nearly through two weeks of this. I am hoping it will be enough and I can resume a normal workweek next week. I'll have to fudge it somehow if I can't. After this taper I have decided to maintain my dosage until my life changes and I can have in-home social support and until I find a job that can accommodate a flexible schedule. I need to be able to work when I feel well, whether that's 10 pm at night or on Saturday. I also need to do more research and read these forums on this page and make a better plan.

 

But what's great is that there is a huge positive to this experience, even though the experience was difficult..I can feel my "real self" coming back. This means the me that knows my worth. I know I am worthy whether or not I have a job - this is totally new! I am worthy whether or not I have a boyfriend, or whether or not I have any friends, or whether or not I have a home, money, etc. etc. I am worthy, and awesome, and any employer or mate or friend is privileged to have me in their lives. I have made it through so much. I have made it through pain, and emotional panic...(none of which has ever come true), and my life is relatively secure. I've never ended up hospitalized, or near death, or near homeless, or any of the other things my obsessive brain decides to torture me with. True, I do mostly live alone, and I've done it for 7 years, nearly 8. I made it through a two year pandemic, and still have a job and money in the bank. I have hope for the future. I want to write. I want to go back to school and get a MFA.

 

 

 

 

 

Pre-taper starting doses (2018): Abilify 7.5 mg, Lamictal 450 mg, Venlafaxine IR 300 mg (taken all at once). Trazodone for sleep, 100 mg/night.

Jan 2018 - Feb 2020: Tapered off Abilify, Trazodone, and Lamictal.

Feb 28, 2020 - March 11, 2020: First trial tapering Venlafaxine IR, 300 to 225 mg, alternating doses in accordance with Psych Nurse advice (after 6 days experienced severe emotional distress and went back up).

March 11, 2020 - June 15, 2020: Holding Venlafaxine IR, 300 mg

June 15, 2020 - July 5, 2020: Second trial taper Venlafaxine IR, 300 mg to 225 mg, alternating doses in accordance with Psych Nurse advice (after 12 days experienced severe emotional distress and went back up).

July 2020 - Sept 2021: Holding Venlafaxine IR, 300 mg

Sept 2021: Third trial tapering off Venlafaxine IR. Started again with Psych Nurse advice and transitioned to 10% method. 300 mg down to approximately 270 mg by December 2021.

January 17, 2022: 2nd 10% taper Venlafaxine IR, approx 270 mg to approx 243 mg.

March 19, 2022: Holding at ~243 mg (0.488 g 2x daily).

 

 

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Update: February 3, 2022. Week three of taper and still suffering significant withdrawal symptoms.

 

On Tuesday, February 1, these are the symptoms I noted in my withdrawal journal:

 

Physical:

1) Insomnia and trouble sleeping worsened

2) Feel groggy, sleep deprived

3) Gut issues - some gut-related nausea before breakfast. May be due to diet, I am downing fiber as much as possible to help ameliorate what this stuff does to your digestion, I may have overdone it.

4) Heat intolerance/Hot Flashes (these are NOT menopause related; also no sweating, just hot)

5) Runny nose

6) Cold extremities (hands, nose, feet)

7) Mild brain zaps midday

 

Mental:

1) Some brain fog, slowness

 

Emotional:

1) Relatively good mood upon waking: motivated, positive

2) 10 am: I want to go back to bed :(

 

Today, Thursday, Feb. 3 - I have horrible brain fog today, and had to take the day off work again. I feel like I am viewing everything through a screen (isn't that called derealization? Huh, I've never had this before). My anxiety about work is heightened, so that I am thinking about work while off the clock and also while trying to sleep.  I feel like my stress about work is exacerbating the withdrawal symptoms and making me a less capable employee. Interesting enough, my mood is fine, and physical symptoms (other than a mild headache) are not bad today. I even went out to shovel snow earlier. Talking to HR tomorrow afternoon. Hopefully it will be good news.

 

Pre-taper starting doses (2018): Abilify 7.5 mg, Lamictal 450 mg, Venlafaxine IR 300 mg (taken all at once). Trazodone for sleep, 100 mg/night.

Jan 2018 - Feb 2020: Tapered off Abilify, Trazodone, and Lamictal.

Feb 28, 2020 - March 11, 2020: First trial tapering Venlafaxine IR, 300 to 225 mg, alternating doses in accordance with Psych Nurse advice (after 6 days experienced severe emotional distress and went back up).

March 11, 2020 - June 15, 2020: Holding Venlafaxine IR, 300 mg

June 15, 2020 - July 5, 2020: Second trial taper Venlafaxine IR, 300 mg to 225 mg, alternating doses in accordance with Psych Nurse advice (after 12 days experienced severe emotional distress and went back up).

July 2020 - Sept 2021: Holding Venlafaxine IR, 300 mg

Sept 2021: Third trial tapering off Venlafaxine IR. Started again with Psych Nurse advice and transitioned to 10% method. 300 mg down to approximately 270 mg by December 2021.

January 17, 2022: 2nd 10% taper Venlafaxine IR, approx 270 mg to approx 243 mg.

March 19, 2022: Holding at ~243 mg (0.488 g 2x daily).

 

 

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  • 1 month later...

Update: March 19, 2022

 

Note: I've been holding my last dose drop since January 17 because of stressors in my life and waiting to feel more stable, but that doesn't seem to be happening. See below for today's journal entry. 

 

I am pretending to be well today so my 16-yr old doesn’t worry. I have bad Effexor side effects/withdrawal symptoms today. I am exhausted, and every time I stand up or move my heart rate goes way up, my nose is freezing, and I have a bad headache that nothing seems to help with. Even Excedrin, which usually does the job. It started last night. I took 2 aspirin for it and a Benadryl to go to sleep, and woke up with it. This morning I took my meds and supplements (Venlafaxine IR, 0.488 g; fish oil, magnesium, Pravastatin 80 mg) at 9 am with food and then some Excedrin, it’s now noon, and I still have the headache and exhaustion.

 

I don’t know where these awful side effects came from, I haven’t deviated from the schedule much. We had a time change, and so instead of 8 am/pm, I am now taking it at 9 am/pm (Spring Forward). Maybe the latest I took a dose was 12 minutes after the hour. I did change the type of Magnesium I am taking...a different brand. Same stuff.  I have been feeling awful all week. Heat intolerance too.

 

I am ready for another dose drop because of how awful I feel. But I am extremely stressed right now since I’m leaving my job. I can’t even manage to brush my teeth most days, much less maintain healthy strategies like yoga or eating right. The best I can do is radical acceptance, which seems to help a lot, and separating myself from my mean thoughts when I can. My house is a mess and I have no one to help. It’s going to take years to get off this drug - 2 or 3 if I stick to a regular schedule, maybe a decade if I can’t, like now.

 

I have a buzzing/ringing in my ears. I’m light sensitive. I feel so disabled. And I have so much to do.

 

Add in twitching, and now the gut nausea.

 

Pre-taper starting doses (2018): Abilify 7.5 mg, Lamictal 450 mg, Venlafaxine IR 300 mg (taken all at once). Trazodone for sleep, 100 mg/night.

Jan 2018 - Feb 2020: Tapered off Abilify, Trazodone, and Lamictal.

Feb 28, 2020 - March 11, 2020: First trial tapering Venlafaxine IR, 300 to 225 mg, alternating doses in accordance with Psych Nurse advice (after 6 days experienced severe emotional distress and went back up).

March 11, 2020 - June 15, 2020: Holding Venlafaxine IR, 300 mg

June 15, 2020 - July 5, 2020: Second trial taper Venlafaxine IR, 300 mg to 225 mg, alternating doses in accordance with Psych Nurse advice (after 12 days experienced severe emotional distress and went back up).

July 2020 - Sept 2021: Holding Venlafaxine IR, 300 mg

Sept 2021: Third trial tapering off Venlafaxine IR. Started again with Psych Nurse advice and transitioned to 10% method. 300 mg down to approximately 270 mg by December 2021.

January 17, 2022: 2nd 10% taper Venlafaxine IR, approx 270 mg to approx 243 mg.

March 19, 2022: Holding at ~243 mg (0.488 g 2x daily).

 

 

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  • 4 months later...

August 6, 2022

 

Buckle up, here we go....

 

At the end of March, I left my job. I have been off work for four months with no intention of going back.  I am pissed. I am pissed off about everything. I am going through a humongous existential shift that involves quite a bit of self realization, all the while understanding just how exploited I've been all my life. They got me. I was an easy target. I'm talking, of course, about Capitalism and the Pharmaceutical Industry. 

 

Here's a plot twist no one saw coming: I believe now that I am on the autism spectrum. Growing up in the 80s and 90s, of course this was overlooked because I'm a female. Not only did I have a traumatic childhood, but I had a different way of thinking and viewing the world that just made it difficult to be alive. And I didn't understand this until a week ago. At 43 years old. 4 months after leaving a job that was incredibly ableist and ALLOWED TO BE in 2022. F' them.

 

I do not owe ANYONE a single minute more of my time, effort, or money. Least of all the society I grew up in. I have been exploited to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. I don't know the exact sum, but I know it is close to this because I was awarded an $80,000 health savings account in my divorce, and guess how long it took that to be gone? 5 years. That went to the insurance companies I didn't understand how to navigate and to the healthcare industry that I recently realized (to my absolute horror) is a business, like everything else. Why did it take me so long to realize this? Well, I am naive, yes. I grew up believing someone was always going to take care of me, and like an idiot, I believed it until my ex divorced me. AND probably because I'm autistic and that means I thought the way society was set up was to HELP the individuals that make it up. I believed this for a very long time, probably because that's what I was taught in school. And for a very very long time I believed if I followed the rules, everything would be ok. Thank you COVID-19 for disabusing me of that knowledge. You know what working for Public Health during the COVID-19 pandemic taught me? That in this country BUSINESSES are more important than people. We gotta save the businesses. Well, they got my money. Now it's my turn....wait, what do you mean no one cares?

 

Getting back on the subject: Pharmacology made me sick. Instead of accommodations, compassion, and understanding, I was made to believe I was irreparably broken at 19 years old. Years later, my marriage fell apart under this stress. I was taking frickin' psychotropics WHILE PREGNANT at 25 years old because I believed I needed them. (My child is fine. She is wonderful. She is a beautiful 16 year old girl who I realize is also probably on the spectrum, but she is happy and content, despite living in two very different households, because I love her no matter what and I make absolutely sure she knows it every single day.) Even though no one said a word about it after I gave birth, I NOW know that my precious newborn suffered for (at least) a week while she withdrew from the drugs I put into her system while pregnant. So much could have gone wrong. All to make some rich guys more money. There you go. There's my humanity you effers.

 

Pharmacology made me an anomaly at specialists' offices. I would sit among much more elderly, much sicker people, and when called back, the first thing the doctor (endocrinologist, nephrologist, urologist, etc.) would say would inevitably be, "You're too young to be in this office." I suffered from hypoparathyroidism, which pumped my system full of calcium that could have weakened my bones, and went through surgery to have one removed. I suffered from hypothyroidism, which caused me to sleep 12 hours a day while my toddler played quietly on the floor next to me, and prevented me from getting up for her in the middle of the night (and my spouse resented me for). I suffered from stage 4 chronic kidney disease, which a specialist told me I'd need to have a kidney transplant for some day (at 31) and prevented me from conceiving another child because it would have been unwise, even though we were ready for another. My kid would have enjoyed a sibling.

 

When I successfully dropped from 300 mg to 243 mg over those months, at first my labs went haywire and I was terrified I was causing more damage to my already compromised organs. But then they settled. There is good news. I no longer have Chronic Kidney Disease. They are ALMOST back to normal functioning. The body has amazing healing properties, and I am young, and very lucky. I still have hypothyroidism, but now take about half the dose I did before. 

 

The bad news is, now that I am taking the instant release Venlafaxine properly, twice a day, I struggle with sexual function. I realized I have never had a normal sex life because when I was put on Prozac at 19, it was before I was sexually active. I was on psychotropics all through my marriage. I am determined to get off this poison before perimenopause hits so I can possibly experience what sex is supposed to feel like. It is incredibly fundamental to humanity. I realize I am incredibly lucky to have lived as long as I have and that I am tremendously privileged, but I am so angry at all I have lost. I could have done so much more with my brilliant self if someone had bothered to really look at me, notice patterns that are glaringly obvious to me now, and handed me the tools to be successful.

 

These are the tools: COMPASSION, KINDNESS, UNDERSTANDING, "THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU. YOU ARE HURT, IN NEED OF HEALING, AND YOU ARE SO, SO, SPECIAL. WE WILL HELP YOU SUCCEED."

 

Guess what, world? I have done all this almost entirely ALONE.

 

I am f'in amazing, and I am going to go on to share my story and change lives and do amazing things.

 

Pre-taper starting doses (2018): Abilify 7.5 mg, Lamictal 450 mg, Venlafaxine IR 300 mg (taken all at once). Trazodone for sleep, 100 mg/night.

Jan 2018 - Feb 2020: Tapered off Abilify, Trazodone, and Lamictal.

Feb 28, 2020 - March 11, 2020: First trial tapering Venlafaxine IR, 300 to 225 mg, alternating doses in accordance with Psych Nurse advice (after 6 days experienced severe emotional distress and went back up).

March 11, 2020 - June 15, 2020: Holding Venlafaxine IR, 300 mg

June 15, 2020 - July 5, 2020: Second trial taper Venlafaxine IR, 300 mg to 225 mg, alternating doses in accordance with Psych Nurse advice (after 12 days experienced severe emotional distress and went back up).

July 2020 - Sept 2021: Holding Venlafaxine IR, 300 mg

Sept 2021: Third trial tapering off Venlafaxine IR. Started again with Psych Nurse advice and transitioned to 10% method. 300 mg down to approximately 270 mg by December 2021.

January 17, 2022: 2nd 10% taper Venlafaxine IR, approx 270 mg to approx 243 mg.

March 19, 2022: Holding at ~243 mg (0.488 g 2x daily).

 

 

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  • ChessieCat changed the title to KayC: getting off venlafaxine 300mg

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