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Mattrick: Protracted Withdrawal Syndrome - Effexor?


Mattrick

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I have been taking Effexor for about three years and I didn't really so much as have side effects. I was taking it for Dysthymia and General Anxiety Disorder. I'm 28 and have been dealing with these two things since I was thirteen.

The withdrawal symptoms if I missed a day or two were quick, evident and annoying (the most annoying was, I cannot recall the name, but sensations of movement as if my brain moved several feet in a direction when it didn't).  A few months back I started having symptoms that could only be described as toxic levels of serotonin, though the conditions didn't seem to fit, all the symptoms did (muscle spasms, rigid leg muscles, trembling). I stopped taking the medication and battled on and off withdrawal symptoms that I was used to and after a few weeks both the Effexor withdrawal symptoms and the other symptoms gradually dissipated.

By this point I was starting to feel really normal again, the most normally I'd felt in about 6 weeks. But for the past month or so I've had different symptoms. Muscle weakness in the legs (mostly in the thigh above the knee) and in my arms (the biceps) along with short lived, seemingly sporadic numbness in my chest (which reminds me a lot of the feeling I get during times of extreme anxiety but I'm unsure if it's actually sporadic or if I just don't realise I'm feeling anxious) and a little bit of shakiness, nothing profound (I notice it most when say holding a cigarette, which I'm in process of quitting). I haven't made a doctors appointment because well, I've been afraid to. I've been convinced that I am dying for the past few months and it doesn't help I've spent a great deal of this year so far slowly watching people/pets die and even had several cats (including one I loved dearly) die in my arms and death is a central theme to a character in the novel I've written and re-written in the past year so that concept has been at the forefront of my mind lately. I've had a lot of digestive issues and some vomitting that came with it which I of course attributed to everything else.  I've been terrified that I have MS or, worse, ALS, Muscular Dystrophy, Parkinsons or some other conditions I haven't researched (reading about these things isn't helping, I know).  I've had a lot of panic attacks (I'm not really prone to them in the first place) which usually lead to extended bouts of dry-heaving.

I came across a few people who've posted their experiences online who have also had these exact same fears and near same symptoms and were tested for MS and ALS and Lyme Disease amongst other things and the tests came back negative. I know I can no longer hold off much longer when it comes to seeing my doctor and I am sure I will have to get tested for all these possible conditions anyways, but I am wondering if anyone here who is more experienced and knowledgable about Protracted Withdrawal Syndrome and whether or not that is something I should bring up to my doctor. Sometimes it feels like my muscle weakness almost feel percieved; I will avoid doing anything strenuous because I feel weak/fatigued but if I force myself to I've done extended period of activities like playing hours of horseshoes at my aunt's memorial, heavy lifting, hours of weeding/gardening along with day-to-day housecleaning; but then sometimes, like today out for a walk, it felt as if my legs were straining, kind of like the feeling of weakness muscles can for a day or two following weightlifting.

Also, a side note, I've been a daily user of Marijuana for about a decade and I haven't smoked any for about ten days because smoking it resulted in nausea, lightheadedness and an increased chance of panic attacks so I am not sure it was aggrivating my already existing symptoms or if that is merely a mental thing.  I couldn't find anything online about marijuana aggrivating existing medical conditions.


Any input or suggestions will be much appreciated. I live away from family and have grown apart from my most of my friends and am out of work currently on medical leave for mental health reasons...so I say I spent about 90% of my time by myself which means I've been kind of stuck with all this stuff in my head. I haven't wanted to worry my family about my health if it's just problems with withdrawals. I've already told them I'm not going to my uncle's cottage all next week because the idea, much like going to my aunts memorial in the same region (six hour drive) a month ago, filled me with a great deal of anxiety because I'm afraid either a) something is seriously wrong with me and something will happen on an island, an hour and a half away from any hospital or b ) they will notice what I've been dealing with and they'll be worrying about me.  I'll be making a doctors appointment for next week so any information anyone can offer me before I go in will be apprecaited!

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Hi Mattrick, welcome to SA.  Your symptoms do indeed sound like effexor withdrawal. The good news is

that it will get better,  No-one can say when, but the brain and nervous system are remarkable and have

the ability to heal.  Most doctors haven't a clue about it and usually say the problems are a sign that the 

mental illness is relapsing! 

 

I have been on effexor for 12 years and tapering for 2 years. I had most of the same symptoms before I

started tapering and doctors blamed depression.  Apparently depression " is a physical illness that can 

have some disabling symptoms " .  That is a load of rubbish!   I was bedridden for a time and several times

rushed to hospital where I was put through tests for goodness knows what  that all came back negative. 

I started to get better when I started tapering but sadly went too fast and they all returned as withdrawal.

 

Keeping busy is the very best medicine for withdrawal but you need to take care not to overdo things. 

Many of us find that we cannot tolerate things we have been used to for years when in withdrawal. 

Caffeine is one, I could no longer tolerate caffeine and cut it out, now I have no desire for it.  

Many find that a good quality fish oil and magnesium help with some symptoms. 

 

Take a good look around the forum and you will find a wealth of information, not just from members but scientific 

evidence too.  Especially in the symptoms and self care forum. 

I'm sorry I can't post the links right now, I have a 5 year old tugging at me for attention  :)

 

 

You will find lots of support here, we are all in the same boat, in varying stages of withdrawal or tapering.  :)

**I am not a medical professional, if in doubt please consult a doctor with withdrawal knowledge.

 

 

Different drugs occasionally (mostly benzos) 1976 - 1981 (no problem)

1993 - 2002 in and out of hospital. every type of drug + ECT. Staring with seroxat

2002  effexor. 

Tapered  March 2012 to March 2013, ending with 5 beads.

Withdrawal April 2013 . Reinstated 5 beads reduced to 4 beads May 2013

Restarted taper  Nov 2013  

OFF EFFEXOR Feb 2015    :D 

Tapered atenolol and omeprazole Dec 2013 - May 2014

 

Tapering tramadol, Feb 2015 100mg , March 2015 50mg  

 July 2017 30mg.  May 15 2018 25mg

Taking fish oil, magnesium, B12, folic acid, bilberry eyebright for eye pressure. 

 

My story http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/4199-hello-mammap-checking-in/page-33

 

Lesson learned, slow down taper at lower doses. Taper no more than 10% of CURRENT dose if possible

 

 

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Thanks. I decided that I am going on vacation thinking that I will be fine and it will be better to be around family and in a relaxing place in the middle of nowhere where I can canoe and enjoy nature.

The worst part about all of this is the lack of exercise I've been able to do. A big issue of mine when it's come to my mental health has been my weight (even though I was a thin as someone could be at 300 lbs lol). Over the past two years I'd done a lot of running, did a lot of researched and maximised my diet (I try to avoid supplements since it's always better to get vitamins etc., from diet as opposed to supplements. I ate a lot of stir-fry with about 16 vegetables in it and in two years I dropped my weight from about 300 to 235.  Now I'm back up to around 250 because not only is my activity limited to the couple KM walk to the store and back but because I've barely had the energy to cook and prepare meals let alone do all the clean up so I ate a lot more quicker, less healthy options and spent more money than I should eating out. So it's been a very frustrating four months.

I'm glad I happened to come across the information I did that led me to realise what I've been deatling with could simply be effexor withdrawals. I mean, I'm stubborn and can tolerate almost anything so I know I can tough this out, especially without thinking most of the day that I'm on my last days. It seemed completely ironic to me that the last few years I've spent improving myself, finally writing a book and accomplishing things I never thought I could, losing weight, being healthier, after all the loss I've experienced the past couple of years....just to die before I could enjoy the rewards of my hard work lol.

It's funny (well, maybe not funny) that you said you couldn't tolerate caffeine because my original fears months back were that the coffee I was drinking (Tassimo + Writing ten hours a day = lots of coffee lol) was giving me very adverse effects which again, was funny, after rarely drinking coffee for about 7 years lol. I've cut back on my coffee/caffeine intake now, sticking to one a day if I even have that.


I read online that a way to combat such withdrawals as I've experienced is to start taking Effexor again, at a lower dosage, and slowly wean on of it.  I went cold turkey. Is this something I should bring up to my doctor?  I'd look through the site but I have to clean and get ready to go away for tomorrow.  Thanks!

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  • Moderator Emeritus

I'm back now minus the 5 year old! Questions I should have asked earlier... 

How long is it since you stopped effexor?   Reinstating is more likely to help within a few weeks of quitting.

The longer it is the less likely it is to help.   It could be worth a try though. 

What dose were you on when you quit?   Just a few beads from a capsule could make a difference.  Then you

could start a slow taper from the few beads. Even just 5 beads can make a difference! 

 

It would help if you could put your drug history in your signature,  particularly psych meds. When started,

stopped and doses, plus the marijuana history. Here is how to do that. http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/893-please-put-your-withdrawal-history-in-your-signature/

 

About reinstating and stabilising..http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/3079-about-reinstating-and-stabilizing-to-stop-withdrawal-symptoms/

**I am not a medical professional, if in doubt please consult a doctor with withdrawal knowledge.

 

 

Different drugs occasionally (mostly benzos) 1976 - 1981 (no problem)

1993 - 2002 in and out of hospital. every type of drug + ECT. Staring with seroxat

2002  effexor. 

Tapered  March 2012 to March 2013, ending with 5 beads.

Withdrawal April 2013 . Reinstated 5 beads reduced to 4 beads May 2013

Restarted taper  Nov 2013  

OFF EFFEXOR Feb 2015    :D 

Tapered atenolol and omeprazole Dec 2013 - May 2014

 

Tapering tramadol, Feb 2015 100mg , March 2015 50mg  

 July 2017 30mg.  May 15 2018 25mg

Taking fish oil, magnesium, B12, folic acid, bilberry eyebright for eye pressure. 

 

My story http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/4199-hello-mammap-checking-in/page-33

 

Lesson learned, slow down taper at lower doses. Taper no more than 10% of CURRENT dose if possible

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi 

First of all welcome

 

 

I have been tapering off effexor and just got back from new psychologist who said I should be tested for Lyme disease.  Have you been tested already?

Started Effexor August 2012 Sept'12-150mg=extreme anxiety Oct'12 cut half-75mg severe wds

Feb 2013 68.5mg. Mar'13- 65mg. Apr'13-59mg. May'13-57mg. June '13-52mg Aug'13 49.75mg.

Sep'13-48.75. Nov'13-47mg Dec'13-45..5mg

May 2014 42mg. Jun'14 40mg (depressive mood started). Aug'14 -40mg/ started brintellix 2.5mg

Oct '14 -39 Nov'14 36.89 Dec'14 34.45

Jan 2015- 31 Feb'15 29mg. Mar'15 26.72. Apr'15 24.48. May'15 22.31mg. Jun'15 20.30mg

Aug'15-18.89. Oct'15 16.96. Nov/16- 16.10. Dec/15- 15mg

Jan 2016-14.22. May'16 11.45. Aug'16-9.60. Sep/16- 8.88mg. Oct/16- 8.39mg. Nov/16- 8.13. Dec/16- 7.89

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