woman screaming from a nightmare

Q. I have had great trouble stopping the antidepressant Effexor. I tapered off this medicine as instructed, but I still have a feeling like electrical shocks going through my brain.

Getting off this drug has been a nightmare. If for some reason a person had to stop suddenly, he might go crazy with the withdrawal. Before stopping, I forgot to take my medicine with me on a short trip and the symptoms were excruciating!

A. Many readers report difficulty stopping antidepressants like Effexor or Paxil suddenly. The electric shock sensation is a common symptom. Discontinuing such drugs requires medical supervision.

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  1. Britt
    Nebraska
    Reply

    I only started Effexor/Venlafaxine 150 to help with depression that I thought was related to long term use of ortho tricyclen-lo. I actually increased the dosage to 225 mg (after talking with my doctor) soon after starting the antidepressant because I was experiencing a lot of anxiety about going off birth control. However, after stopping birth control, I started to feel better within a couple of months, so I transitioned back down to 150 mg, then 75. The problem started when I tried to reduce to every other day. Fatigue was a constant problem, but I kept going because I want having anxiety or mood issues, so I didn’t need to medicate. After a couple of weeks, I had leveled out, so I decided to stop taking it. At first, I thought I had a stomach virus because of the intense dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. I also saw a shiny outline around objects, so that made the dizziness worse. Overall, I spent about 4 months quitting this antidepressant. I have to say that those last few days made me want to stay away from prescriptions, but it was very helpful when I needed it. If you have the option to switch to another antidepressant after lowering your dose of Effexor/Venlafaxine, that may be helpful at the end of the process. It is definitely a struggle to quit taking this medication, but if you really need it to combat anxiety and depression, I can tell you that this medicine helped a great deal with reducing anxiety and repetitive thoughts when I was really struggling.

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