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Venlafaxine (effexor) - is it a horror drug?

(20 Posts)
sometimessad Sun 26-May-13 10:14:43

I have been prescribed this anti-depressant by my GP as apparently it is very good for anxiety and depression. She looked it up and said it did not have any side effects different to other anti-depressants and said it didn't seem to put on weight for most patients. I have tried various anti-depressants before but wanted something to combat my anxiety which is getting worse. I have not taken any anti-depressants in over 2 years.

Anyway, I looked it up online and the consensus seems to be that it is pretty much a horror drug and trying to get off it is akin to getting off illegal drugs and that if you miss a dose you will have cramps, sweating, vomiting, migraines and brain shocks. This terrifies me. I am not sure if I want to risk taking it (anti-depressants have been very hit and miss with me - the only one that has really worked was Mirtazapine but I put on so much weight with that which I really don't want and I found it lost it's effect after a year).

Has anyone taken Venlafaxine? Please let me know how you found it (both the effects whilst taking it and if you have stopped taking it, how bad was it to stop)?

kerstina Sun 26-May-13 11:09:41

Find out if its available in liquid form for when you do come off it. So withdrawl can be very slow and gradual. I took seroxat and got brain shocks, eye twitching and thought I had a bug the one day as felt so bad but did not connect what it was till afterwards.

Kittensandkids Sun 26-May-13 11:13:20

Ive been on it and I had the brain zaps but only if I was late taking or forgot to take it, they went when I came off it.

If you take them as prescribed and take them on time, cutting down with GP help you, should be okay.

I'm on Mitrazipine I have the weight gain too which isn't great but cannot sleep without them.

larahusky Sun 26-May-13 19:50:35

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Dancingqueen17 Sun 26-May-13 20:09:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

williaminajetfighter Sun 26-May-13 21:59:10

Tried it and hated it. Nauseous, spacey, zappy. Urgh. I would avoid but that's because of my experience of course...

AuntAlexandra Sun 26-May-13 22:10:56

I find it really does help with anxiety. On 150mgs and I only have side effects if miss a dose (75mgs, twice daily). A missed dose results in headache and very slight nausea. I'm back at work and managing well.

I do hope you feel better soon.

AlteredState Sun 26-May-13 22:15:38

Yes I have and still am taking venlafaxine (had effexor about 10 years ago and am now in process of coming off Venlalic, a modified release tablet, after 2 years). I have little recollection of coming off effexor - although i do remember that i was tapered with mirtazipine so it wasn't a straight coming off. I don't recall any horrendous time but then because I wasn't well (just not as ill as when I started taking it) it may not have been that noticeable anyway. I lost weight on it initially but have gained what I lost plus put on a few more pounds in the last 6 months or so.

The side effects for me were loss of appetite but craving for carbs, poor memory, tiredness, crazy dreams, tingling in arms and feet and mood swings. I'm currently stuck at 75mg per day with virtually no symptoms (i think, except the dreams) but I'm not at a therapeutic dose and feeling more depressed and anxious than I have in a while (though no where near as bad as when I first started taking it).

For the first few weeks of taking it (and every dose increase), were the worst - it made me feel sick, dizzy and tired. The standard version (rather than the modified release) made me feel even more ill.

williaminajetfighter Sun 26-May-13 23:23:44

Forgot to say that I gained 2 stone in 2 months on venlafaxine that was very odd and disturbing.

Hoophopes Mon 27-May-13 23:31:45

Have you tried any other medication before? If not then personally I would ask for an SSRI first such as sertraline or citalopram or fluoxetine. Venlaflaxine is in my experience a horrible drug. It has two therapeutic dose levels, the Effexor one works as an SSRI up to 150mg and above that (up to 225mg) as an SNRI. It took me over a year to come off, if i miss a dose i hadphysical symptoms that tell you you've missed it. Weight gain. Hunger, bad dreams, carb cravings.

It can work but is not easy to take or come off so it depends on what you have tried before. You should have an ECG done by a practise nurse once a year on it as can affect heart and blood reassure checks (mine forgot to offer yearly but had first one!)

Other drugs may have less side effects. But may not work as well, or may do.

My psychiatrist gave me a choice of three with patient leaflets to help me choose. I asked her about venlaflaxine having been on it before and she said she did not tend to suggest it as there were other drugs that did the same with less side effects.

GetOrfMoiLand Mon 27-May-13 23:40:25

For me it was very good. I was on a high dose and it worked very well. I no longer take it (no longer take anything) am it was the drug which led me to break free from years of depression coming and going.

I had side effects when I started, sickness, spaciness and generally tiredness which lasted about a week. And then fine. I came off it quite abruptly as well and experienced none of the brain zaps. I too had read about these things online and was very apprehensive, but I had no horrible things happen. Just came off them. I appreciate though that I may have been lucky in this regard.

One side effect which was strange, complete and utter loss of appetite. I lost a lot of weight, and then had to almost force myself to eat. Completely lost all enjoyment of food and all desire to eat anything. This faded after a while luckily.

I do recommend them, obviously these things are very personal but I remember the apprehension when I was first prescribed them and I looked at all the horror stories online,

Good luck, I hope you start to feel better soon.

CrabbyBigBottom Tue 28-May-13 18:05:19

It was a bloody nightmare for me personally, I must say, and sent me to a very dark and unpredictable place. These drugs affect everyone differently though, so it won't necessarily do the same to you.

Hope you find something that works for you.

TheImpracticalCat Thu 30-May-13 00:46:32

I'm on 150mg daily and I wish my pdoc had told me about the withdrawal symptoms before he prescribed it! If I miss a dose I get very shaky, nauseous, headachy and my brain feels like it's full of treacle, I can't think properly and my speech is very slow and full of pauses while I try to force my brain to catch up. I also feel very low and tearful and irritable, like mega PMT. These symptoms go away within an hour of taking the pill, so the only time it really bothers me is if I accidentally forget to take it before work, and then I have to go all day feeling like shit and not doing my job properly. I was initially on 75mg, which was then increased to 112mg and then to 150, and as the dose has increased the withdrawal effects have got worse.

If I remember to take the bloody things, they have no side effects for me (well, I do crave carbs, but that predates the medication!) so I would probably find it to be quite a good medication if it actually did anything for me. hmm Now the pdoc wants to increase it further to see if the SNRI effect will be more helpful, but I am wary because I just dread the day I have to start weaning myself off them. But so far I have seen no improvement on this drug, so for me it has been a waste of time with some very unpleasant withdrawal effects. I just wish there was some way of knowing in advance what your experience will be - you might find it crap, or it might be the wonder drug that solves everything! It's a shame there's no way to know until you're already on it.

CrabbyBigBottom Thu 30-May-13 08:55:38

Cat be very careful - my GP kept increasing the dose when it wasn't working for me, too, because
"Well we've tried everything else, if this doesn't work I don't know what we'll do" hmm hmm hmm We'd only tried prozac, one other SSRI and a bloody tricyclic! angry

I ended up in a very dark place, feeling as though I was having thoughts that weren't my own (different to the depression and anxiety, and not a feeling I've ever had before or since) and ended up almost walking into the sea on NYE 2001. He kept increasing it and I ended up manic, not sleeping. Within the first few months of that year I'd ended my marriage on a whim, entered a mad affair with DD's dad, and was pregnant within 2 months, totally unplanned (all of it, not just the pregnancy!) shock

I was already weaning off it when I got pregnant, thankfully, and was determined to stop. Awful job coming off it, then looked around at the devastation I'd caused like this shock shock sad

It all turned out fine in the end - DD is much loved, xDP went from the world's biggest abortion advocate hmm to being a doting dad (although our relationship was a bit of a car crash), and my marriage was, in retrospect, probably doomed to fail anyway. Still, I still refer to it as 'my mad period'. grin

I've been on citalopram since then - much gentler!

Didn't post all this first because didn't want to scare the OP, but don't let the GP just keep upping the bloody dose - try a different one!

GracieLoo Thu 30-May-13 18:00:59

Just wanted to say I hated it, had weight gain (lost weight since coming off it), dizziness, brain zaps and really awful nausea which seemed to get worse. Didn't like it at all.

pixwix Thu 30-May-13 19:40:15

Hi! I took venafaxine for quite a while when I was in a mother and baby unit for PND. I'd had various other ssri's before which had been effective also.

On the venlafaxine, I found it very helpful for the depression. I didn't gain weight at all, but had some constipation and anorgasmia. After a few years, I was on the maximum licensed dose (375mg) we decided it was time to cut down. I did it over 18 months, and the last 75mg was tricky. I used to shave bits off my tablet and titrate it to withdrawals.

because I did get withdrawal. I had had various other ssri's and tricyclics, and came off them no problems. But if I forgot to take it - I certainly knew about it - brain zaps, flu like symptoms etc. I came off it very very gradually.

I was off anti-d's for 2 years, then I recognised it was coming back, so went to my doctors - they offered me venlafaxine, and although it was effective, I didn't much like the withdrawals, so we decided on citalopram, which has been great! especially for the anxiety! I went away for a weekend recently, and forgot it blush although I noticed it because I went from 30mg to nowt over three days, I was more emotionally labile and the anxiety came back, but I didn't feel incapacitated like I would have done if I had forgotten the venlafaxine..

Buit this is only my own experience - everyone is different.

It has to be said though - citalopram really suits me.. x

TheImpracticalCat Thu 30-May-13 20:05:13

Thanks for your post Crabby, it is helpful to hear someone else's experience and I'm sorry it had such a scary effect on you. My psych has said similar about not knowing what to try if this doesn't work - I have been on fluoxetine, citalopram and sertraline in the past. If the venlafaxine doesn't work he is considering either combining two different drugs, possibly an AD with an anti-psychotic (even though I have no psychosis symptoms), or a mood stabiliser like lithium. Scary stuff, to my mind!

CrabbyBigBottom Fri 31-May-13 14:10:11

Cat that does sound bloody scary! There must be other SSRIs or similar which he could try before the antipsychotics - they are seriously deadening meds. Don't let him talk you into anything you're not comfortable with! Hope you find one that works for you and helps you feel better.

Varya Fri 31-May-13 20:25:22

Citalopram suits me better than most, but prolonged time on it is a worry for me! Varya XXX

eminemmerdale Fri 31-May-13 20:27:51

I have been on it off and on for 10 years and it is the only thing that works for me - yes I do feel a bit 'odd' if I forget for a day or two, but I would be hppy to stay on it forvere than go back to how I was. I'm only on 75mg.

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