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Kay

Kay: 10 Years on Effexor & Beginning Taper

57 posts in this topic

After many years I am working on getting off Effexor (Venlafaxine) XR 75mg. Four days ago I switched from Venlafaxine XR 75mg to Venlafaxine 75mg, and am feeling some withdrawal symptoms! Emotionally upset, and constipation and gas. Should I be splitting this non-extended tablet and taking it every 12 hours? If anyone knows, please let me know. 

 

I am planning to taper very slowly, in small increments. Will see how it goes.

 

Also, seven years ago I began developing a neck spasm, which developed and was diagnosed as Cervical Dystonia, also called Spastic Torticollis. It is painful and debilitating. Also have at this point soreness in my neck muscles, and spine, these symptoms have developed since the past year of not sleeping well (another symptom). Only in recent months I began to find that the drug may have caused this condition.

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Hi Kay - welcome to SA!  Thank you for filling out your signature block!  Could you fill us in on which supplements you are taking?

 

It is very common for people to have symptoms rise up from switching from one version of a drug to another (dry to liquid as well), from switching from name brand to generic, from one generic to another, etc.  May I ask why you switched to the non-extended release version?

 

Yes, the regular version should be taken twice a day due to the relatively short half life of Effexor.

 

I am tapering venlafaxine myself.  At SA we recommend a 10% taper, so it is good that you have come here before beginning. You may have already seen this but here is a thread on tapering Effexor:

 

Tips for tapering off Effexor (venlafaxine)

 

Preparing to taper

 

I am on a generic that is the extended release with little balls inside the capsules.  I find this easier to deal with than the regular release tablets.  A lot of us find it easiest to get the milligram jeweler's scale and weigh doses in addition to counting beads.  With the tablets, you would either have to weigh crumbs which means breaking the tablets down, or you can make a liquid from the tablet and use an oral syringe.  I'll be doing the bead counting/weighing until it gets difficult to get an accurate weight, and then likely switch to the immediate release and make a liquid.  It's going to take effort no matter which way you go at it, but worth it to save your nervous system from the ravages of withdrawal!

 

Using a digital scale to measure doses

Counting beads in a capsule versus weighing

How to make a liquid from tablets or capsules

 

Use your thread as a place to document your journey.  If you bookmark it, you'll be able to find it more easily.  You can also click "Follow" above, and you will will be notified of any responses to your thread.  

 

You will find all kinds of knowledgeable guidance and support here, so I'm very glad that you found SA!

 

SG

 

 

 

 

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Oh, I meant to add that muscular-skeletal issues are common with these drugs.  Surf around the Symptoms & Self-Care forum and you will find that out!  I have in hind-sight realized that I have had a lot of odd side effects from Effexor that I never made the connection on, and Peter Breggin calls that "spellbinding," not seeing the negatives of the drug as being caused by the drug.  I had a bad, stabbing pain just under the edge of my rib-cage on the right side that I've seen others mention, as well as horrible plantar fasciitis that lasted years, clumsiness (poor hand control), bruxism, fidgeting, etc. so it does not surprise me that you think your neck issue is related to the drug!

 

SG

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Hi Kay,

 

Welcome to SA from me too.  The members here are very supportive and encouraging and there is a wealth of information here too.

 

You might find these helpful as well:

 

Introduction to AD Withdrawal Syndrome

Why taper by 10% of my dosage?

 

Dr Joseph Glenmullen's Symptoms Checklist

 

Brain Remodelling (Rhi's Description of Brain Healing)


Video:  Healing From Antidepressants - Patterns of Recovery

 

It's great that you have found SA now so you can taper the recommended way.  Please ask questions here in your Intro/Update topic.  It's also helpful if you update your signature with the date and dose change as you go so that your drug history remains current and can be seen at a glance.

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Hi Kay......I am pretty new here but a big welcome...it is a wonderful community. I think you are doing it in completely the right way 

by going slowly. I came off too fast and the withdrawal has become protracted. If I had come across this site earlier it would have 

been a different story but am grateful to have found it now. The very best to you in your journey to free yourself from Effexor. 

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Hello Kay - just popping in here to say welcome from another effexor taperer.  You're getting all the good info before you begin, so the odds are on your side. 

 

Welcome to s/a,

Karen

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Thanks very much to everyone for posting welcomes here. I am grateful for your responses, and the information and resources you have listed.

 

I have started on the supplements sold at theroadback program, and following their instructions have switched over to the non-release form of Venlafaxine. Today is day six of making that switch. I have felt some reaction (as mentioned in my previous post) but today am feeling fine. 

 

I plan to stay on this dosage for four weeks, then to try stepping down to 65mg. I will let you know how it goes.  :unsure:

 

Thanks again to everyone who posted.

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Hi Kay,

When you say you have switched to the non-release form, do you mean you are now taking instant release? Instant release Venlafaxine is usually taken 2 or 3 times a day due to its shorter half life. Have you divided your dose since switching?

 

Taking this form 2 or 3 times a day will help it to stay stable in your blood, will keep your nervous system stable and help avoid symptoms.

 

Please see: Tips for tapering off Effexor (venlafaxine)  especially the section on how to taper instant release Effexor (venlafaxine)

 

It would be great if you let us know you are doing this.

 

Petunia.

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Hello Petunia!

 

i appreciate your post. I'm concerned, I don't want to alienate other group members because I've been following theroadback program. 

 

Today, 4pm my neck is really spasming and hurting. Those are my two big health issues the neck condition and not getting good sleep, which has been ongoing for about a year now. Over the months without good sleep my neck has become more painful.

 

I am dividing the dosages, taking one in the morning and the other in the evening.  :mellow:

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Hey Kay - welcome!
 

You won't alienate anyone by following TheRoadBack stuff.  It's your body, and it's your money.  As long as you don't try to sell it to the rest of us!  I am going to discuss some differences between SA and TheRoadBack, though.  

 

We have not found many who have had success with it, we have had more than a few who came here in a mess because of it.  The supplements are expensive multivitamin / minerals, coupled with shotgun approach one-size-fits-all amino acids.  While vitamins, minerals, and aminos have their place in recovery, we are more cautious at SA.  Vitamins can be overstimulating, and aminos - different conditions warrant different aminos at different times of day - it's individual (not one size fits all).  Additionally, if any of the supplements contain 5HtP or Tryptophan, it could be destabilising and cause more problems instead of reduction of symptoms (I'm sorry, I haven't looked at the supplements for this program for years).

 

For one thing, I'm baffled by the switch to immediate release.  And they didn't tell you to take it multiple times per day?  This emphasizes to me that they don't understand how withdrawal works, and they do not understand "harm reduction."  As long as they get paid, they are willing to experiment on you just as much as the doctors did.  They are preying on the pain that so many people feel when they try to get off the drugs.  This sort of advice comes from people who believe that "doing something" has to be better than "doing nothing," even if it gets you into trouble.

 

At SA, we practice Harm Reduction:  minimizing symptoms so that your life is disrupted by withdrawal as little as possible.

 

We can offer you our best suggestions here, but it may conflict with what you are being told by TheRoadBack.  You are welcome to take our suggestions (like Petunia's suggestion that regular Effexor dose be split and taken 2-3 times a day) and consider them against TheRoadBack.  Everyone is different.  Maybe on some issues, you will find their advice fits you better, but on other issues, our advice will make more sense or feel better for you.  It's up to you to decide.

 

The same goes for doctors - most doctors do not understand withdrawal, especially not protracted withdrawal.  So sometimes what you hear on SA is not what your doctor is telling you.  It's up to you to decide what is best for you, whether it is TheRoadBack, your doctor, or the Harm Reduction protocols here at SA.  Or maybe finding your own path in the middle of these.

 

We do not have any profit motive, we are all volunteers here - survivors who want to help others do it better than we did.  We also don't want to make your decisions for you - taking responsibility for your own health and decisions (as opposed to just surrendering your power to the doctors' "standard of care" protocols) is a key piece to your healing.

 

Another thing which you may find helpful, is this:  if you wish to taper off the drugs, it is important to address the reason you went on them in the first place.  You will need to replace the drug with other coping mechanisms, other strategies, other techniques.  It is hard work - there is no easy path!  But here are some tools to help you:

 

Non Drug Techniques for Coping with Emotional Symptoms

 

and some descriptions of withdrawal, and how to prepare for it:

Healing from Antidepressants: Patterns of Recovery (Toxic Antidepressants)

 

Psych Central 6 Ways to Prepare for Antidepressant Withdrawal

 

Welcome to SA!  I hope we can be helpful to you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At SA, we practice Harm Reduction:  minimizing symptoms so that your life is disrupted by withdrawal as little as possible.

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My symptoms are worse, beginning yesterday, real bad night of sleep, and neck spasm continues to be more active today, body pain. I tapered off theroadback supplements, ending 10 days ago...wondering if that might have something to do with it. I took some more of the supplements today to see if it might help...haven't noticed any real improvement... Have been on the Venlafaxine 75mg for several weeks now, and planning to reduce to 70mg in 4 days. Just feeling miserable, in pain today, and sleep deprived. My neck is quite sore, and the spasm continues to pull.

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Hello Kay,

 

It could easily just be a 'wave' of symptoms, as this is the pattern of healing:  The Windows and Waves Pattern of Stabilsation.  

 

I would suggest continuing to hold until you feel more stabilsed again, especially as you have just made changes with your supplements.  See Keep it Simple, Keep it Slow, Keep it Stable.

 

Did you start magnesium or fish oil yet?  They do help some people quite a lot. 

 

Karen

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Thanks so much Karen.

 

I do put magnesium in water on my skin several times a week. 

 

Interestingly, this morning I took two Omega 3 fish oil gel caps, and it very noticeably reduced the spasm in my neck. This is huge, I've never experienced anything reducing it before. I ordered some more high quality omega 3 algae caps from a local naturopath here today. So definitely planning to continue taking the omega 3!!!

 

And feeling better today! Thanks again.

 

Kay

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Thanks so much Karen.

 

I do put magnesium in water on my skin several times a week. 

 

Interestingly, this morning I took two Omega 3 fish oil gel caps, and it very noticeably reduced the spasm in my neck. This is huge, I've never experienced anything reducing it before. I ordered some more high quality omega 3 algae caps from a local naturopath here today. So definitely planning to continue taking the omega 3!!!

 

And feeling better today! Thanks again.

 

Kay

Hi Kay, I tapered off Effexor, it can be rough but it can be done, fish oils helped me and organic  wheat grass and I also took vit c and vit d, I was on Effexor for only two years. My only advice to you is take one day at a time and keep going.

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Thanks dowdaller. I don't even remember when exactly I started taking the Effexor XR, over 10 years as best as I can remember. It's scary to be working on this. Is it normal for people who aren't reducing the med to have side effects? At this point I haven't slept well in a year, have had the dystonia (neck spasm) for seven years (which has become more painful due to lack of sleep) and also body aches. 

 

I'm resuming taking some of theroadback supplements, in order to support transitioning tomorrow to 70mg from 75mg. Hoping I won't get too messed up. We'll see...

 

I am having quite a few superfood supplements in smoothies every morning, including right now Barley Grass and a # of others. 

 

Yes one day at a time, keep it simple, keep it safe, keep it stable...

 

Thanks to everyone, grateful for this community! 

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I know if you drop your dose anything can happen in terms of side effects. I used mindfullness body scan to get to sleep with some lavender on my pillow. 5mgs should be okay, its hard but not impossible. Just take it hour by hour. I always feel better in the evening. Once I get to evening time I know its another day done and tommorow may be awee bit better. Good luck..

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Thank you Dowdaller. Good luck to you as well   :)

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Tuesday June 7 2016, Taper Day 18 from Venlafaxine 75mg to 70mg

 

Last evening I had a huge burger pattie for dinner, made from ground beef bought from the supermarket, and today my neck spasm was at its worst. It's now just before 9pm, and feeling a mild sensation of the "flu like" feelings, achy. Suspect that there was toxins in the burger, and so it triggered worsening of my symptoms? A bit scary.

 

I have a question, I am waiting for four weeks on 70mg to pass before stepping down to 65mg, since generally I'm fairly stable with symptoms (or should I reconsider after my experience today)? Since I'm in pain daily with the neck condition, I am anxious to reduce, hoping for relief. Already, I have had a couple days with some window of improvement in the neck problem (out of 18 days on 70mg).I wonder what others in the group think, about stepping down to the 65mg after 25 days on 70? I know I'm taking small steps, after last year trying on my own and making a bit of a mess of it, I am taking a more cautious route. Curious to hear if anyone has any suggestions for me. Thanks!

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I would wait and see if things settle out with this blip.  If this was a one day blip, it would probably be fine to continue as planned, but if it lasts longer, then I'd push your taper date out a bit.

 

Stressors of all kinds can trigger WD symptoms.

 

Have you tried Emotional Freedom Techniques (tapping) for the pain?  I'm curious to know if that might help.  I've used it for insomnia, usually takes a few rounds to drop me back to sleep, so might take a few for this as well. http://www.emofree.com/eft-tutorial/tapping-basics/how-to-do-eft.html

 

SG

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Tuesday June 7 2016, Taper Day 18 from Venlafaxine 75mg to 70mg

 

Last evening I had a huge burger pattie for dinner, made from ground beef bought from the supermarket, and today my neck spasm was at its worst. It's now just before 9pm, and feeling a mild sensation of the "flu like" feelings, achy. Suspect that there was toxins in the burger, and so it triggered worsening of my symptoms? A bit scary.

 

I have a question, I am waiting for four weeks on 70mg to pass before stepping down to 65mg, since generally I'm fairly stable with symptoms (or should I reconsider after my experience today)? Since I'm in pain daily with the neck condition, I am anxious to reduce, hoping for relief. Already, I have had a couple days with some window of improvement in the neck problem (out of 18 days on 70mg).I wonder what others in the group think, about stepping down to the 65mg after 25 days on 70? I know I'm taking small steps, after last year trying on my own and making a bit of a mess of it, I am taking a more cautious route. Curious to hear if anyone has any suggestions for me. Thanks!

 

You seem to be in good shape, the flu like symptoms come and go,  I find the mental withdrawals are much harder to deal with than the physical pains, I would proceed as planed and see how it goes. This is a marathon not a sprint, and just be prepared for crap days.

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Thanks for your responses SquirrellyGirl and dowdaller. Today is day 20 of my beginning my taper from 75 to 70mg. It almost seems like daily I'm switching back and forth from having a relatively good day, to having a day where I feel not so great. I only have 8 more days to reach 28 and then reduce down to the 65mg, so it's not long to wait at this point. I need to adjust to this process and cultivate patience, since it seems it's going to take a fairly long time.

 

Thanks for suggesting EFT, I could work with that more than I have been. For the pain? hmmm. I'm impressed you use it to get back to sleep, I feel it takes too much energy, is too active, so I always just lay there and wait for sleep or just laying there... ^_^  I should work with it more though in the daytime, I'll try it for the pain I haven't done that.

 

I've been researching a bit more and found that what's called Tardive Dyskenesia is often caused by antidepressants. And that's pretty much the condition I have. There's a constant spasm of the one muscle on the side of my neck, and it unbalances everything (turns my head) and all the surrounding muscles can get sore and stiff. It is not fun don't recommend ha. I am looking into creating a lawsuit, because at this point it seems very likely it's caused by the Venlafaxine. To sue the drug company that sells the Effexor XR. I don't know anything about doing this really, but researching it. Definitely feel it would be my right to do.

 

And so hoping that as I reduce the dosage, the neck spasm will heal. Otherwise, I would be continuing to live this way, a rather horrid possibility.

 

Yes,a marathon, not a sprint, and be prepared for the crap days. Need to work on that. 

 

Thanks.

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If you are having windows and waves in between cuts, you might try doing 5% every two weeks.  I have found this to work very well with my mirtazapine taper.  Hardly notice anything at all!

 

SG

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Just a quick hello Kay. I am tapering Effexor myself as per my signature. There was a time when I was on 300 mg daily. My signature reflects where I am today. Slowly but surely. I wish you the best of luck.  :)

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I had no trouble switching from Effexor XR to Venlafaxine (generic)-

 

but always waited at least 1 month and a half to give withdrawal every chance to show up before another drop. Sometimes I waited months-it has to depend on how you're feeling much more than the calendar.

I divided the dosage in AM and PM dose-but always took the PM 6 hrs after AM. Different schedules will work for different people of course. I reduced the dosage by first rubbing the pill across a piece of sandpaper, then broke it along the indent. The problem is to find a way of measuring to make sure you take off the same amount each day.

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Thanks to everyone for your posts.

 

I am blown away by the high dosages (300mg). I also remember a young psychiatrist encouraging me to go up to 150, 200. Like kids playing with fire. So glad at least I reduced to 75mg before getting to the point I'm at. 

 

Glad to hear of success with getting off the Effexor. Good to know about the very small dosages at the end.

 

K

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Stepping down to Venlafaxine 65mg today  :)

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Stepping down to Venlafaxine 65mg today  :)

 

The best of luck to you!

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Today has been difficult. The neck spasm has been at it's worst, and somewhat feeling upset emotionally as well. Rested for two hours midday, took extra supplements (a lot of omega 3 fish oil) no real improvement.

 

It's the sixth day on 65mg. I'm guessing it takes about six days for my system to react to the reduction in dosage. Praying I'll be better tomorrow, since I have a number of errands that need to get done.

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Ah - sorry it's been a hard day.  Glad you got some rest though - it must help at some level.  Four days to a week is the usual for noticing dose changes.  Maybe you can find a way to have rests between those errands? 

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You will adjust, just stick to your routine, keep doing normal stuff. And you will get by.

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Thanks so much Karen and Dowdaller. I am feeling much better today, thankfully. I prayed for strength to do everything today. Thankfully maybe my bad symptoms will only last one day at a time. As we all I'm sure have done, I have to just see how it goes as I go through this process. 

 

I did make a list of things to do when it gets difficult. Resting I think when all else fails is the best medicine. And comedy! :-) Had some of that too. And being the "Observer."

 

Thanks again! So scary!

 

Kay

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Today, day 38 of taper, day 12 of stepping down to 65mg, has been difficult. I don't understand why, it seems, my neck condition, the spasm, is my main symptom? I felt some mild emotional stuff today, but mostly just stronger pulling in my neck. It is so painful. Many muscles are sore, yet the pulling is relentless. Finally now at about 6pm it's lessened slightly. I rested again today, twice, one hour each time. It seems it's more difficult than it was on the step down to 70mg. I am thinking I should stay on 65 for six weeks, instead of four. I am just really "dumbfounded" that my main symptom seems to be this neck condition...

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Not sure if it's exactly the same, but I'm having a weird neck thing too.  Always uncomfortably tight, needs constant readjusting/moving, can't get it comfy.  It's been mildly bothersome for over a year, but these last few weeks it's been so much worse.  I've taken to draping a heated wheat-sack round it for some relief.  It does reduce the intensity somewhat. 

 

Good call to have a longer hold between drops.

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Karen B I would be wary of that neck condition. Mine started small and grew in the first year, is a neck spasm, an uncontrollable neck spasm on the right side of my neck. Seven years I've had it. I'm working to get off the Venlafaxine since I now strongly suspect it is the cause. Yet I'll have to wait to see if it heals once I get off the med. My condition was diagnosed that first year as Spastic Torticollis, also called Cervical Dystonia. But, recently I've found instances of something called Tardive Dyskenesia linked to antidepressant use, and it's very similar. You can read about that on Dr. Breggin's site www.breggin.com

 

I am feeling better today than yesterday, thankfully. Seems I'm in for a long process with reducing. Grateful for this group.  ^_^ 

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Need some advice and support at this point.

 

Day 54 of taper, day 28 of stepping down to 65mg (from 70mg). I'm having some pretty marked bowel issues. For two days nothing, then multiple times in a day followed by next day multiple times and diarrhea. My plan is to continue 65mg for total 42 days, then step down to 61mg. I am literally waiting today, to see if the bowel issues continue. 

 

I would love to hear any feedback, advice on this. Last night was feeling scared, thinking maybe I'll have to go back up to 70mg. And thoughts? As I said I'm still waiting to see how it acts today. 

 

Thanks so much, Kay

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