Venlafaxine Withdrawal Horror.
HOW TO STOP TAKING EFFEXOR
I was held captive by an anti-depressant medication called Effexor XR (venlafaxine) for nearly four years before I found a doctor who finally heard me when I said that I couldn’t quit this drug simply by weaning off of it. Here is my experience on how I was able to stop taking Effexor without suffering from the debilitating withdrawal symptoms.
My oncologist first prescribed Effexor when I was undergoing treatment for breast cancer. The anti-depressant is commonly prescribed for management of hot flashes (one of the many side effects of chemotherapy) and it totally worked for me. However, as I got further and further away from completing treatment, I found that I was tethered to this drug. If I had forgotten to take it, even by a few hours, I was bedridden with awful withdrawal symptoms. I spoke with the prescribing doctor on several occasions about wanting to quit and every time she would recommend weaning to the lowest dosage available and then begin an every-other-day regimen.
Down to the lowest dose of 37.5 mg, I would attempt skipping a day, as suggested by the prescribing doctor. Inevitably overcome with nausea and dizziness, almost drunk-like, I had blinding brain zaps, sensitivity to light and sound, and extreme fatigue. The every-other-day method was not working. I even considered stopping cold turkey but who knew how long the symptoms would last. It could be a weekend or it could be a month. I was not willing to white knuckle my way through it.
I finally found some information online about Effexor’s half-life and why the every-other-day method doesn’t work. I am guessing if you are reading this, you also are trying to find a way to stop taking Effexor without suffering through the horrific withdrawals. Here is how I was able to stop taking Effexor successfully and without the withdrawal symptoms.
ADVOCATE FOR YOURSELF
I gathered up all the information I could find about Effexor, its half-life and the Effexor-Prozac bridge method. I wrote about the bridging method here if you need a better understanding of what it means to bridge the two anti-depressants together to successfully get off Effexor. I presented the information to my family doctor (this is not the doctor who prescribed the drug initially. That doctor was my oncologist and she was not familiar with the Effexor-Prozac bridge.) and thankfully she was already familiar with the bridging process.
I will forever be grateful for my family doctor for getting me off this drug. With her willingness to listen to my concerns and her full support to prescribe Prozac, I successfully weaned off Effexor within two weeks.
STEPS TO THE EFFEXOR-PROZAC BRIDGE
This information is not intended to replace any medical advice. This is my own, personal experience on how I stopped taking Effexor. Please consult a medical professional.
My doctor prescribed a 30-day course of 10 mg Prozac. She strongly advised that if I started to feel the familiar Effexor withdrawal symptoms to open the Effexor capsule and take 3/4 of the granules inside.
Day one – I replaced one 37.5 mg capsule of Effexor XR with one 10 mg capsule of Prozac.
The first day I simply swapped pill for pill. I immediately started to feel those awful flu-like withdrawal symptoms and worried I wouldn’t be able to break free from my addiction. Then I remembered some very important advice my doctor shared with me. TAKE THE EFFEXOR!
TAKE THE EFFEXOR
I know that advice seems like a set back yet she encouraged me to open the Effexor capsule and take 3/4 of the granules inside the capsule. The reason is so I wouldn’t be going cold turkey. I was still taking some Effexor just not the full dosage. I broke open the capsule and poured out the granules (there were about 35 inside each pill).
I put the granules in a serving of applesauce to swallow them.
Day two – One 10 mg Prozac and 26 Effexor granules.
Day three – One 10 mg Prozac and 26 Effexor granules.
Day four – One 10 mg Prozac and 26 Effexor granules.
Day five – One 10 mg Prozac and 15 Effexor granules.
Day six – One 10 mg Prozac and 15 Effexor granules.
Day seven – One 10 mg Prozac and 15 Effexor granules.
Day eight – One 10 mg Prozac and 15 Effexor granules.
Day nine – One 10 mg Prozac and 8 Effexor granules.
Day ten – One 10 mg Prozac and 8 Effexor granules.
Day eleven – One 10 mg Prozac and 8 Effexor granules.
Day twelve – One 10 mg Prozac and no Effexor.
In twelve days I was able to finally quit taking Effexor. After years and years of being tethered to this anti-depressant, I was finally free.
Again, I encourage you to read the comments below. There is a lot of shared personal experiences and advice from men and women currently suffering from Effexor withdrawal symptoms or who have successfully weaned from the drug by using the bridge method.
If you were able to quit Effexor by using the Effexor-Prozac bridge method, I would love to hear from you. Please consider adding your experience below.
Hundreds of replies on the thread to this article by Wendy Nielsen worth reading: