You, just like many others, started taking Effexor at your doctors request.
Effexor is most commonly prescribed to address psychological issues like general anxiety disorder and insomnia.
Basically, it helps people address an underlying sense of stress by altering certain chemical structures in the brain.
What many people soon realize after they start taking Effexor is that – while it can help calm your acute emotional pains – in the end it won’t actually fix the cause of your problems. And it can actually make your life worse.
A lot of people know this. They just want something to mask their pain. They know Effexor won’t “fix” the cause of their suffering.
But overtime, when this medication begins to increase your issues and make them worse than they were before – then there’s a problem. And this happens to a lot of people.
So you want to quit taking the drug and try another approach? Well you likely weren’t told that detox and withdrawals from this substance can be terrible. Often far worse than the likes of Xanax or Oxycodone.
If you’re ready to taper off, keep reading.
If it’s the first time you are considering Effexor for depression, I would strongly suggest that you discuss the option of other treatments before trying this medication. There can be heavy consequences on your life and your well being, which you might not notice at first since you’re relieved to feel better emotionally, but as time goes by, and as you wish to resume your normal life and activities, you might feel unable to do so because of the side effects.
Effexor is often considered to have the worst withdrawals of any drug of its class. So remember that when you’re tapering off the drug. It’s very important to follow medical protocol and your doctor’s recommendations.
In this post we’ll look at some facts that might help reaffirm your choice to quit or avoid Effexor. Also, advice to help you get off the medication.
Common Effexor (Venlafaxine) Withdrawal / Detox Symptoms
- headaches (often felt around the sinuses)
- increased anxiety
- hot / cold flashes
- profuse sweating
- vivid/disturbing nightmares
- stomach issues
- heavy mental fog
- eyesight problems
- throat feeling like it’s clenching
- body aches
- swollen joints
- gastric reflex
- absence of libido
- irregular bowel movements
More Severe Effexor Withdrawal Symptoms
- A continuous feeling of vertigo/being drunk/falling/standing up too fast
- Continuous brain “shakes” / “electric jolts” / “zaps” / fluttering inside of the head.
- Severe mood swings. Happy one moment, full of tears the next. Frequent suicidal thoughts.
- Extreme nausea and vomiting
- High blood pressure
- Serotonin syndrome
- Mental impairment
- High cholesterol
- Generally feeling like you’re dying…
*These more severe withdrawal symptoms happen most often when someone quits taking Effexor abruptly or doesn’t taper off slowly enough.
For many people it takes no less than three months to completely stop taking the medication, and for others even longer.
If you’ve been on Effexor for a long time you just can’t just stop taking it abruptly and not expect to have side effects. You have to take it slow since it directly influences very important chemical pathways / systems in your brain.
Your body needs time. It cannot fully “fix the situation” in 24 hours – or in Effexor’s case about 2 weeks for acute withdrawals.
On Tapering off of Effexor
To have MINIMAL withdrawals it is best practice to cut dosage at a rate of between 5-10% at a time. No more than that.
Some doctors will recommend their patients taper by progressively cutting their dosage in half. For example, from 150mg down to 75mg, then to 37.5mg.. etc. But be aware – tapering at this rate can cause some of those bad withdrawal side effects mentioned above. But it’d still be far better than cutting off cold turkey.
Tapering with IR tablets vs XR Tablets should help with withdrawals
Instead of counting out granules from the RX Effexor pills its best to use Effexor immediate release tablets. (XR’s are harder to get accurate as granule capsule contents vary anywhere from 105 – 124 granules per capsule).
Don’t worry you won’t feel any different than using the capsules—I switched from the capsules to the tablets). Switching from XR to IR shouldn’t cause you to feel any different as long as you keep taking the same mg dosages. The only difference is that you will take one half of your tablet dose in the morning and twelve hours later take the second half of your dose.
Utilizing Effexor IR Tablets
Effexor IR tablets come in these doses: 25mg, 37.5mg, 50mg, 100mg.
With a pill splitter you can split your pills in half when necessary. Or quarters. Or eighths. Splitting tablets like this will enable you to have more control stepping done your medication.
For more in depth info on tapering with this method, go here.
This really depends. Most people who are on venlafaxine drugs like Effexor can expect at least a year of tapering if they don’t want to experience the more severe withdrawals.
Some people REALLY want to be done with this medication, so they bear the suffering and taper quicker. For these people it can be accomplished around 2 weeks to 3 months.
If you find that you cannot afford enough of the medication to taper off with, then ask your doctor for some Effexor samples. It’s well known how severe withdrawal symptoms are from Effexor and they should hopefully be willing to help. If that doesn’t work and your XR scripts are too pricey, then ask for generics. Maybe you can afford some of them.
Addressing Potential for Weight Gain *This is an edit, as I have been asked to address the effects of Effexor on weight gain.
Many people have experienced weight gain as a result of taking Effexor. The drug effects a persons metabolism, slowing it down and often adding weight around the stomach / middle / butt area.
Often times this weight gain happens regardless of diet and exercise. Many people have experienced weight gain while not altering their diet or cutting back on exercise. Even with increased effort to lose weight, it is extremely difficult for many people to shed any weight due to the sluggish metabolic response that Effexor promotes in the body.
Most people get on this medication for anxiety and/or depression. The added weight issues may only add more to be displeased about in someones life. For all of the potential benefits in treating depression, many people find that the side effects like weight gain are making their lives even worse than before.
Once off this drug many people never want to get back on anything that can so drastically alter the body’s physiology, biology and all the other ‘ologies’ that forcefully ever again.