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Rapunzelblue: Getting off Effexor and Xanax


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Sorry, this ended up being long. It felt useful to type it all out though. Thanks for reading and good luck in your journeys.


I have been on antidepressants for over half my life, since I was a teenager. (I am in my late twenties now.) I started with Celexa for a few years, then transitioned to Prozac for another few years. I was initially prescribed the drugs for depression, but in college I started having major trouble with anxiety as well.


I went on medical leave from school and started going to therapy once a week as well as seeing a psychiatrist. The doctor suggested I switch from my SSRI to an SNRI, Effexor, because he said Effexor would help more with anxiety. At some point (I can't remember if it was before or after that) he started me on Xanax as well. My good friend had found Xanax to be a miracle and it helped me sleep.


Eventually I went back to school, graduated, and started working. After a few years at a really good job I started to get very concerned about my Xanax use. I found I was taking up to 6 mg a day and not even feeling it. When I first started it, 0.5 mg would put me to sleep. I tried to express my concerns to the doctor, even saying once that I felt like I was "popping them like candy" because I thought that would cause him to realize there was a problem. He just shrugged and said it was OK to keep taking it.


Then I found the Ashton Manual online. I realized that benzodiazepines were a serious problem and I probably had brain damage. I brought it to my doctor, but he didn't bother to read it. He disagreed with me that I should try to get off them. Since he had completely lost my trust, I decided to stop seeing him and find someone else to help me taper. I made an appointment with another psychiatrist, but they couldn't see me for six months. I wanted to start getting off immediately, so I tapered off over a period of three months, cutting by 0.5 mg every two weeks. I realize now that this was extremely fast, but I couldn't get anyone to prescribe liquid Valium for doing a slower taper. I used cannabis heavily to manage the withdrawal symptoms.


My taper went smoothly and things went really well for a few months. I saw the new psychiatrist a month after finishing my taper and he said he was very impressed with what I'd done. Since I had been taking 300 mg Effexor for quite some time and I wanted to try to be drug-free, I asked him to help me taper down on that. Over the next few months I went down to 150 mg Effexor.


Five months after my benzo taper ended, I hit a wall. I was thrown into an extreme panic state and had constant obsessive morbid thoughts. My doctor suggested I go back up to 300 mg Effexor, and not knowing what else to do, I did.


Now I am a few months past that and trying to go down on Effexor again. My doctor thinks that an SSRI like Prozac would be more effective in treating my symptoms. Since my system has handled Prozac before and since I think that will be easier to taper off of later, I've decided to go along with this plan. I'm doing better than I was and I even have a new job, but I'm still finding the anxiety and depression more difficult to manage than I ever did before.


I have been going down by 37.5 mg every three weeks as suggested by my doctor, but I think I might try a slower bead-counting method for the next few cuts. I'm not sure how far down he thinks I need to go before I can start adding Prozac. (I would prefer to add nothing and just keep going off, but at the same time I don't know if I'm doing well enough to merit that.)


Trying to take it day by day and survive ... .

2008-2013, up to 6 mg Xanax daily for anxiety

2013-2014, unsuccessful x/taper to Klonopin, then successful to Ativan

6/2014-9/2014, tapered off 4 mg Ativan by 0.5 mg increments (fast!)

9/2/2014, first benzo-free day


2007-present, 150-300 mg daily Effexor XR for anxiety and depression

10/2014-12/2014, tapered from 300 mg to 150 mg Effexor XR

2/2014, terrible setback, back up to 300 mg Effexor XR

5/2015, trying again, 262.5 mg daily Effexor XR

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  • Moderator Emeritus

HI RB, welcome to SA.  Your nervous system is struggling because of withdrawal from the benzo and all the changes with effexor too. I would hold where you are to stabilise before making any further attempt to taper effexor. Your doctor is having you go far too fast and if you keep to his recommendations you will likely become very ill quite quickly.  When you are ready to taper read the topic on tapering effexor, if you take it slowly and carefully you should be able to taper without bridging with prozac, which works for some but makes others ill. I tried the prozac switch from effexor but it didnt go well and I went back to effexor, which I finished tapering 3 months ago after tapering for 3 years. Sadly I tapered too fast and quit too soon after 1 year and reinstated a very low dose. It took a further 2 years to taper from that tiny dose. I just went too fast and I didnt find this site until I was in withdrawal. If I had known about the 10% rule it would still have taken the 3 years but it would have been easier and smoother without the withdrawal after tapering too fast for that first year. 


Read the topic for the prozac bridge too....http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/1463-the-prozac-switch-or-bridging-with-prozac/


Tapering effexor. http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/272-tapering-off-effexor-venlafaxine/

**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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  • Moderator Emeritus

Welcome from me too Rapunzelblue,


You got some good advice from MammaP and I agree that you should probably hold for a while until your symptoms settle down. You might also find this topic useful:


 Why Taper By 10% of My Dosage?

I'm not a doctor.  My comments are not medical advise. These are my opinions based on my own experience and what I've learned. Please discuss your situation with a medical practitioner who has knowledge of tapering and withdrawal...if you are lucky enough to find one.

My Introduction Thread

Full Drug and Withdrawal History

Brief Summary

Several SSRIs for 13 years starting 1997 (for mild to moderate partly situational anxiety) Xanax PRN ~ Various other drugs over the years for side effects

2 month 'taper' off Lexapro 2010

Short acute withdrawal, followed by 2 -3 months of improvement then delayed protracted withdrawal

DX ADHD followed by several years of stimulants and other drugs trying to manage increasing symptoms

Failed reinstatement of Lexapro and trial of Prozac (became suicidal)

May 2013 Found SA, learned about withdrawal, stopped taking drugs...healing begins.

Protracted withdrawal, with a very sensitized nervous system, slowly recovering as time passes

Supplements which have helped: Vitamin C, Magnesium, Taurine

Bad reactions: Many supplements but mostly fish oil and Vitamin D

June 2016 - Started daily juicing, mostly vegetables and lots of greens.

Aug 2016 - Oct 2016 Best window ever, felt almost completely recovered

Oct 2016 -Symptoms returned - bad days and less bad days.

April 2018 - No windows, but significant improvement, it feels like permanent full recovery is close.

VIDEO: Where did the chemical imbalance theory come from?

VIDEO: How are psychiatric diagnoses made?

VIDEO: Why do psychiatric drugs have withdrawal syndromes?

VIDEO: Can psychiatric drugs cause long-lasting negative effects?

VIDEO: Dr. Claire Weekes




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Thank you so much for your responses and advice. I really appreciate hearing your thoughts and hearing about your experience. There is so much misinformation and contradictory information that it's really hard to make sense of anything having to do with this!


I checked out the posts you recommended and found them very valuable, thanks. I found a post on here recommending a doctor that works near me, so I just sent in some forms and am hoping to get an appointment with them. I really want guidance from someone who has more experience with this and doesn't believe that drugs should solve every problem, because I feel like I've been put on so much drugs and that's made my problems so much bigger. I'm holding at my current dose until I can get this new appointment and see what they say.


How do you deal with the impatience to be off the drugs as soon as possible? I feel strongly that they're causing more problems than they're helping, but I know that tapering off too fast will probably make things worse because of withdrawal. It's a difficult balance of getting through withdrawal to get to a better drug-free existence on the other side. But it's so hard to keep taking them because I'm so tempted to aggressively lower my dose. Did you feel some of the same things?

2008-2013, up to 6 mg Xanax daily for anxiety

2013-2014, unsuccessful x/taper to Klonopin, then successful to Ativan

6/2014-9/2014, tapered off 4 mg Ativan by 0.5 mg increments (fast!)

9/2/2014, first benzo-free day


2007-present, 150-300 mg daily Effexor XR for anxiety and depression

10/2014-12/2014, tapered from 300 mg to 150 mg Effexor XR

2/2014, terrible setback, back up to 300 mg Effexor XR

5/2015, trying again, 262.5 mg daily Effexor XR

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Hi; While I read a lot here, I rarely write..but the whole orientation I have received to the issues here has been excellent.


For the last 14 yrs, Ive been taking Effexor, after several years of other ADs.. My main other health issues is chronic pain (neck and head.. and which the Effexor was supposed to help..and in its own way it did,,,); I now have excellent doctors. Once it was all properly diagnosed and the pain massively reduced (through Radio Frequency Ablation); I was in the position to begin reducing from 300mg.


I recognised before hand that it had become an addiction.. and wanted off fast.. and had a six month plan... After six weeks.. I was in a state.. reinstated... then found these boards. After about a year of stabilisation and lots of reading, I tried again.. this time by tiny increments.. usually below 5%.. some withdrawals.. but all passed.. and was successfully working overseas at the same time..


Also, I learned after the first attempt.. that it was difficult to see an end point.. but I could see getting down to the the next tablet measure (ie 37.5mg)..by small increments.. When I reach that point, I would rest for three months before starting again...


In 18 months, I reduced to 187.5mg... Might seem slow.. but all time spent consolidating has not been a waste.


Ive come to a halt for a while.. My mum died last December... and I didn't want to mix up grief with WD...Then in March, I had my lastest pain treatment (RFA)...They have been holding for about 20 months.. My doctor has altered his method to see if it can last for longer.. Well, the side effects have been far more pronounced... Every other day, I have a level of pain that is very debilitating...


I do expect it will resolve.. but until it does, I wont be reducing again..


So, while Im suffering again in other ways.. the time staying stable at 187.5 now... just serves to make that a more solid starting pint when next I set off..

1996-2001 Various SSRIs
2001 Effexor 300
2011 25% reduction in six weeks. Reinstated

11.11.12   300
12.11.12   287.5 
24.12.12   275
10.03.13   262.5
26.05.13   250
21.07.13   237.5
12.09.13   225
24.05.14   215.6 
13.07.14   206.25
31.08.14   196.85
12.10.14   187.5
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