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Efexor/ venlafaxine, anyone else on it, and did you stop for pregnancy?

(9 Posts)
sarah76 Wed 16-Apr-08 23:01:53

I've been on anti-depressants almost constantly since I was 16 (now 31), and currently take Efexor. It really does work for me, but I've been taking it in varying doses for the last nearly 7 years. I have tried to come off of it before, but the withdrawal, no matter how slowly, is really rubbish. Plus I seem to be one of those who has some chemical problem--it doesn't matter how well life is going, I will make it turn to sh*t if not on ADs. I like the idea of going off the drugs while pregnant and breastfeeding, but not sure at all that I could handle it. Trying to get pregnant at the moment and just concentrating on that. But once I do, should I be trying to stop? One doc suggested I should switch back to something like Prozac which has been more researched during pregnancy. I guess the first step is actually getting pregnant, PCOS not making it easy.

So what did others do? Anyone successfully stopped this drug?

emma1977 Wed 16-Apr-08 23:19:46

Hi there,

I took venlafaxine 225mg for 3 years after 2 major depressive episodes and came off it prior to getting pregnant. I gradually reduced the dose down to 75mg daily over 6 months but had really difficulty reducing further as would get awful withdrawal symptoms on a daily basis when stopping the MR preparation.

What I eventually did was have a week of cold turkey. I felt like shit for the first few days, but it soon wore off and the symptoms stopped within the week. My psychiatrist prescribed me some diazepam o take the edge off the symptoms, but I didn't take them.

I got pregnant within a few weeks and thankfully haven't needed to start back on ADs- ds now 17w.

If you have no joy in stopping venlafaxine altogether, it is much safer to swap to a SSRI ADs such as sertraline or fluoxetine before or during pregnancy. Sertraline is first-line especially if you're considering BFing. Speak to your GP or psychiatrist for more advice.

All the best.

sarah76 Sat 19-Apr-08 08:28:21

Cheers Emma, I will have a look into those. I think in the U.S. those are Prozac and Paxil? Both of those I've taken before, and in fact was on Paxil when they just seemed to stop working--that's when I got on the Efexor. But even so, it might be time to switch back to something else. I do want to breastfeed, assuming I ever get pregnant!

I did go cold turkey with Efexor once, but it was by accident when I forgot my meds and went to Berlin for a long weekend. That was absolutely miserable, but it's good to hear your experience with the symptoms eventually stopping.

Nemoandthefishes Sat 19-Apr-08 08:45:19

Hi I was on it and took it when I concieved dc2 however I had a missed mc at 15wks and they couldnt say it wasnt because of it!
I stopped it to try to concieve and got dd1 psychatrist changed me to different antidepressants[fluoxetine[prozac]] as he said it wasnt recommended to take in pregnancy or breast feeding.Again I cam off it to concieve dd2 and did start it again but recently came off it as we are planning to ttc again in a couple of months so want it out my system

sarah76 Sat 19-Apr-08 21:30:37

Eeek! I have just moved so getting registerd with new doctor now. Going to keep on the Efexor as I can't afford to go cold turkey now, but will ask new doc to switch me to something else asap. I just don't want to chance it.

emma1977 Sat 19-Apr-08 22:36:53

Sarah, are you based in the USA?

If so, fluoxetine is called Prozac and sertraline is Zoloft or Lustral.

Paxil is paroxetine which is a truly awful drug and I strongly recommend staying away from if TTC.

Blimey, prescribing by generic drug name is so much easier!

sarah76 Sat 19-Apr-08 23:25:05

I'm from the U.S. but been living in UK for last 5.5 years. I agree, generic names are much easier! I did pretty well on Paxil (paroxetine), but when it stopped working for me about 7 years ago that's when I went on to venlafaxine. I took prozac years ago with first episode of major depression, but can't remember why/when I switched to paroxetine. Everyone in the world seems to be being put on citalopram, wonder if that should be an option?

emma1977 Sun 20-Apr-08 16:39:34

Citalopram is a good 'clean' AD, but the safety data isn't as convincing in pregnancy as other ADs

sarah76 Fri 10-Oct-08 02:47:21

Just in case anyone looks up this thread again re: venlafaxine, wanted to report that I successfully stopped. I got down to 37.5mg tablets once a day, and found out I was pregnant. Then started breaking the tablet taking 3/4 of it for a week, then 1/2 for a week, then 1/4 for a week before finally stopping. I had a miscarriage, but I used the time off to quit venlafaxine completely.

Have to echo what others have said here and what I've read elsewhere, the withdrawal from venlafaxine is awful! Even though I got to 1/4 of the tablet and still felt okay, going to nothing was fairly rotten. I didn't start feeling better until day 6, and even then I barely could get up off the couch. Now it's been nearly 3 weeks and for the last week have had no withdrawal symptoms at all. Back to normal life, and starting a new job next week. Hope this will be encouraging to anyone else who wants to quit--just give yourself lots of time where you don't need to do anything else (definitely take off work), and stick it out, it does get better!

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