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venlafaxine hell

(14 Posts)
duckwalk Mon 05-Jan-15 03:42:59

Hi everyone,
Not sure why I'm posting....I guess sometimes I feel it helps to write/type it out. Therapeutic I guess?
Does anyone have any experience of Venlafaxine? I've been on it for a few years now, after being on Citalopram and Fluoxetine. I was on 150mg for the first 6 months but after a blip I was upped onto 300mg daily (150mg twice a day). I desperately want to come off it.
I just know that I don't need it. My depression was brought about by extreme circumstances in my life at that time, as opposed to a chemical imbalance....I'm in a completely different chapter in my life now, and 95% of my issues are resolved (Dd's dad still sometimes being a bit of a shit from afar).
I'm remarried and want to have another baby but can't while taking this crap. I simply couldn't risk putting my baby through withdrawal, even for a few days as stated online. I've been through it and wouldn't knowingly put it upon anyone else least of all a baby.
A year ago I tried coming off it under my GPs supervision but it didn't work out....he cut my daily dose by a quarter which led to me being practically bedbound within days. I slept for days at a time....waking when shaken firmly by my dh, for my meds and offers of food and water. I felt so nauseous and had no appetite so I mainly only had water. My bones and muscles ached. Suffered vertigo just sitting up in bed. When awake I would frantically Google search pain free ways to end it all. I was hallucinating and paranoid. I had switched the self destruct button and pushed everyone away. This went on for almost 3 weeks.....I wanted to ride it out but dh simply couldn't watch me go through it and marched me to the hgp in pyjamas and wellies. I was put back up again and it took around 3 months before I felt back to my pre-weaning self.
Even that/this isn't great. I feel as though I'm looking at the world from behind a window......I can see that everyone is getting on with their lives but I can't quite join them, not fully. I feel I've got nothing to look forward to, little purpose, no motivation, a black cloud hanging. Lower concentration, poor memory.
I love my dh and dd so much but somehow don't feel I'm giving them my all. I feel incomplete. Not because I can't have a baby, but because I'm my medicated self instead of me if that makes sense?
I want to be free from this awful drug but I'm so so scared of going through the withdrawal again sad
Last week I accidentally missed a dose...just one.....and slept for 26 hours practically straight. Could still be roused. Very black cloud over me still, very irritable, feeling a lot of self hatred. Just from missing one dose!! (I'd went upstairs to get capsule, no drink in my bedroom, put in pocket, and by the time I got downstairs I'd forgotten.
Does anyone have any advice or positive stories? My gp seems to think I'm particularly sensitive to the medication and reacted badly to weaning down. Anyone else the same?
Sorry for the long rambly post!

MooseBeTimeForSnow Mon 05-Jan-15 04:37:40

I'm not going to be much use as I'm only on the lowest dose (37.5mg) of Effexor XR. My GP told me to take one every other day for a week, then every two days etc. The Pharmacist said that was bollocks and I should go cold turkey and take anti nausea meds. I made it to 10 days but felt so desperate I started taking it again.
I've seen other suggestions including switching to Prozac, as that's easier to withdraw from. The most long winded was opening the capsule and in week 1 removing one granule a day, week 2 removing 2 granules etc.

windchimes23 Mon 05-Jan-15 09:44:55

I have stopped Effexor, it was nasty but I did it through sheer determination and bloody mindedness. It can be done.

I was on 300mg and went to 150 for two weeks. I had terrible symptoms. Shaking, brain zaps, nausea, sweating, diarrhea, headaches etc, etc. I started to feel better at two weeks and then the brain shivers and vertigo stopped at three, so I cut to 75mg and the withdrawal started to ramp up again.

So I thought why prolong the agony, let's just get this done. So I stopped cold turkey two days into taking 75mg.

I was very poorly for two weeks, a little better the third week and by the fourth week the worst was over.

What helped me was Phenergan, Vitamins B, C and D, Omeaga 369, and 5-HTP (only when I'd gone CT), and drinking lots of water and green tea.

No matter how I felt I exercised every day (a wobbly walk in the park), did crosswords (badly) and ate little and often. I did not Google anything about Effexor at that point, it just made me obsess.

I also smoked a teeny tiny bit of cannabis a couple of times when things got really rough. I do not normally smoke it at all.

I stopped taking it as it made me numb to all emotions, I felt I was living behind a glass screen, just tapping on the glass. Even my skin felt numb!

I am only five weeks off it, but I do feel better now. I laugh, I cry, I have more effect. I am not out of the woods but I know that I will never ever take it again.

I also made a mantra for myself. Every time I had a brain zap or vomited I told myself 'This is one step closer to getting off Effexor'.

If you want to know anything else just ask. I wish you good luck, it can be done xx

duckwalk Mon 05-Jan-15 12:31:43

Thank you both for replying.
I'm just so scared of going through it all again, I really admire your bravery itisnt and hope I too can do the same. My dh works away on the rigs...2 weeks on, 2 weeks off. When he's here I know I can rely on him to care for my daughter but when he goes back to work I'm pretty much on my own. My family and friends all work full-time, and although I know they'll help where they can I would never expect them to take time off work. My biggest problem is the tiredness. I literally cannot stay awake, it just engulfs me! And I fall into the deepest sleep. I worry about my dd and being able to see to her needs, and also shielding her from what I'm going through sad I know it seems like I'm making excuses and putting up barriers, I don't mean it to come across in that way. I just know I'll not cope at all without my dh here. He's gone back to work this morning. I had considered taking granules out Moose. Maybe the effects wouldn't be as crippling that way? F*ing hate these tablets. Sorry for being so defeatist x

duckwalk Mon 05-Jan-15 12:39:04

I could hold off and wait until dh next has annual leave, that way he's home for 6 weeks straight. Unfortunately his leave is all used up between our wedding and honeymoon so he's not due more until the new financial year. But then I know he'd be here to support me through it and care for dd. I'm fortunate enough to work on an agency basis and so can pick and choose if I want to work, and when..... I normally do this when he is home, so dd isn't too unsettled with going for countless sleepovers with family (leave for work at 630am home at 8pm). So I guess that's something to aim for..... hopefully 6 weeks will be enough time to get this crap out my system x

windchimes23 Mon 05-Jan-15 13:22:51

I'd wait until he has leave, that way you are covered. Why suffer for two weeks to know that you may not have the help you need to see you through. Six weeks will be enough to make sure you are steady enough to cope with your little ones needs.

The 5-HTP may help with the tiredness, it can not be taken in conjunction with ADs though because of Seratonin Syndrome.

I am not brave, just a stubborn git. I have two toddlers too, and would not have been able to do it if my DH hadn't been around. I was on a cocktail of psych meds and my psychiatrist wanted to up my Effexor dose and my mood stabiliser. I had just finally had enough and wanted to get off the merry go round and start the new year drug free.

If you want to start reducing now try the bead method to get down to a lower dose, that gives a more smooth taper. To be honest I know a few people who have come off on a slow taper and it's not all doom and gloom. The internet just seems to be full of bad stories. I was just impatient and thought f*ck it.

Did you take anything to help with the withdrawal last time?

As long as you know it will end (all I have now is slightly shaky hands) you can keep going. You are not making excuses, it's a nasty drug to come off and you need to have your support system in place. You can do this but you need to plan in advance. If and when you decide to stop or taper you can contact me anytime and I'll be happy to offer a hand hold.

Shame the doctors don't tell us about the 'discontinuation syndrome haha, erm full blown withdrawal' when they dish these drugs out.

There is a class action lawsuit in the US about Effexor causing birth defects. The trials for this drug were done over a twelve week period, not on long term use. I am not anti meds but I think this one should be approached with extreme caution.

It can be done xx

duckwalk Wed 07-Jan-15 11:13:14

Hi again and thanks for your helpful reply! Yes I'm definitely going to wait for dh annual leave before making any attempts again.
Didn't take anything to help with the withdrawal symptoms last time.... gp was so insistent that dropping dose by a quarter was childsplay. I questioned whether this was too much too soon, and whether he'd done this before... his response was "it's not rocket science". Thought he was a right twat at that point but stupidly trusted him against my better instincts. By the time the symptoms set in I was too far gone to ask for help. When my dh dragged me back to gp to get my dose upped again, apparently gp was visibly shocked by the state I was in. As soon as I was well enough I changed gp.....no way was I trusting him with my dd's health!
Had a read through some sites re the lawsuits in America..... shocked! I'd done a little research in the past but not much to be found online about the risks in pregnancy, but then that's what they want eh!
Honestly can't thank you enough for your support, nice to talk to someone who really properly understands what it's like xx

Somethingtodo Wed 07-Jan-15 11:53:54

I have just got off V -- it has taken 6 months - my psychiatrist put me on a programme of reduction - it involved only dropping the dose once each month. It was really tough and I had many many mad mental days (in the past I had gone back on it) -- but I had to believe that these were due to the withdrawal - rather than any untreated underlying depression - and I believe I was right. I totally relate to just missing a single dose sends you into a spin -- but if you can hang on tight to the roller coaster and keep telling yourself that these feelings are not real (they are real but dont react to others) - they are temporary due to the drugs

I am delighted to be free of it and will never go on it again. When I swapped a drug regime in the past I (diff drugs) my psyc - said think of this transition as having a bad flu for 2 weeks....with V getting off it does get better each month - but it is slow.

Guiltypleasures001 Wed 07-Jan-15 12:04:16

Hi lovely

I was on this for a couple of years, at the time the circumstances were the reason according to the gp I needed them. But she told me they were for a maximum of 6 months.

Your dosage does seem to be very very high, but I'm not a clinician so can't really comment mine was 75 at the time per day.

I knew I had to come off of them because they were giving me wide effects. Huge panic attacks, awful bad blood filled dreams about ex husband. The gp thought I was depressed and wanted to up them, I said no change them and he said you can't change from one to another. In the end I cut them down and then went cold turkey, took 2 weeks to get over the flu symptoms then two weeks to get my brain chemistry back to normal. I suffered with the world sliding sideways if I looked left or right to quickly, I couldn't drive for a month.

But I woke up one morning and I felt huge relief like a weight off my shoulders, and was bak. To normal, I hated them they zombies me out when what I really needed was grief counselling, but back then there wasn't really any.

Best of luck op thanks

ArabellaStrange Wed 07-Jan-15 12:26:33

I must have been really lucky coming off these, as I don't remember any bad side effects at all (while I was on them I went into full blown mania but that is another story) but basically, I had to come off them (due to the mania).
I was in the usa at the time and my pysch dr moved me onto bupropion which might have been why it was easy for me. Bupropion is not licensed to treat depression in the uk though.

In your shoes, OP, I would be asking to be reffered to a pyschiatrist who can oversee your withdrawal.

duckwalk Wed 07-Jan-15 18:21:56

Thanks so much for your replies.
I was discharged from my psychiatrist about ?2 years ago, so would need to be 're-referred so I will definitely ask my gp to do that.
Yes I think my dose is very very high too. I see that this is normally only prescribed for people with severe depression, however I don't feel this is something I've ever suffered from!
It's very reassuring to hear of stories of people getting off V successfully!

SilverStars Wed 07-Jan-15 18:51:28

Took me a year to reduce slowly and successfully, sadly.

Dawnxx83 Fri 16-Jan-15 01:39:57

I have been told by my doctor that's its not the medication that makes me feel tired but my low mood and lack of energy.... I was told to join the gym???!!!! I can hardly function let alone go outside? This drug has made me feel dreadful and I simply can't come off it? My doctor says that I have tried so many drugs and that there is no miracle drug that I may be looking for???!!!! I feel let down and have tried many times to get off it.... I have asked for help but am just told every time to carry on!! I spend most days looking back on my life and it seems I am just a shadow of my once self. If it wasn't for my parents and my two dogs I would give in. I spend most of my time sad and lonely..... Don't wish to have a conversation or involve myself with anything! I am just a zombie existing not living..... This drug should be banned.... It is hell..... The Devils drug.... God help anyone who tries to come off it! I felt so sick, brain Zapps, dizzy, suisidal, I could go on and on..... God damn hell on this earth!!! What my next move will be I just don't know??? I guess I will keep on trying.

Somethingtodo Fri 16-Jan-15 13:05:39

Dawn - I have experienced all of these things too -- and also for months after I had taken my last dose - but I am totally clear of it now.

I feel loads better. I tried and failed before - but this time I did it slow and gentle and just endured the side effects -- they do fade in time - and finally are gone. As I said in my post my psych said to only change the dose once a month. Can you write out a a schedule so that you know that in 6-9 months you will be free - it will get worse before it gets better - but the SE are temporary and transient.

If you have dogs try to walk them more - march thru the side effects - this is the best therapy - "a walk a day keeps the MH issue away" - and I also enjoy meeting random other dog walkers - I go at diff times to diff places - so get the social interaction without it being too close for comfort - it has given me confidence and my life back.

I really wish you well - you dont need this dreadful drug - but you need to get out of its clutches by stealth....can you write a plan for cutting down a bit each month....and also build in time for at least 3 months at the end when you are not taking it but still getting SE - this is where I went wrong. I believed that the SE were an underlying low mood/depression exposed as not being treated by the drug -- but it was not the case - it was the SEs still ongoing for 3 months after last dose -- but I am now free. Good luck - you can beat it you can escape!

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