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.

Join Over 56,000 Subscribers at The People's Pharmacy

Each week we send two free email newsletters with breaking health news, prescription drug information, home remedies and a preview of our award-winning radio show. Join our mailing list and get the information you need to make confident choices about your health.

  1. Claire
    United States

    Seriously, so many of the side effects happen upon withdrawal. Why are so many people trying to stop taking it? If it is doing what you wanted it to do, why stop? Not being cynical, but I seriously don’t understand the seeming big PUSH to stop Effexor. What am I missing?

    • Sue

      I am ceasing Effexor after 8 years on the drug, and I do not suffer from depression. I have been treated for breast cancer, and the awful side effects of night sweats whilst taking Tamoxafin are attenuated by Effexor. Under the care of my oncologist I am weaning myself off this awful drug, and frankly, I feel like crap.

  2. j

    I was on effexor for over 8 years. It was for a serious situational depression. I went off of it recently and titrated slowly as directed. The situation I was in no longer existed. But memories linger and I can deal with them with meditation and talk therapy. I was on 75 mg 3X a day. I did NOT like the loss of libedo that effexor caused. I did not experience the side effects that many of you share here. I just feel fatigue, tired, loss of energy. Have any of you experienced this? I am retired now and lost many of my friends. I seem to have lost interest in the few activities that I loved. Being retired is an adjustment but a good one. In the end, I hated my job. I am in my 60’s now and I’m financially OK. But now I know what brings me down is seeing friends die, get sick, move away, no longer contact me… so it is now situational loneliness not depression I told my psych… He agrees. I would NOT go back on that med again. It got me through a really tough life experience and I dealt with the side effects at the time. But am I relieved to be off the meds. I did not know people took it for migraines.
    I suffer from them but the effexor did nothing for them. Believe it or not, herbal remedies are helping along with the occasional heavy duty pain killer.

    • Ty

      Officially 1 week since I stopped taking Effexor. Brain shivers, trails when I move my eyes too quickly, inability to focus/concentrate, somewhat blurred vision, vertigo… I have experienced all of these in the last week, but have noticed significant improvement in other areas; most notably an increase in libido already.

      My advice?

      Don’t let anyone you love ever start taking this medication.

  3. TJ

    I have been completely off of Effexor for 5 weeks now. Some withdraw has subsided but not all. I’m still having the brain zaps, some days are worse than others. Still having stomach issues. Having dizziness. Memory problems. I’m starting to wonder if these will ever go away or if this is something permanent I will have to live with the rest of my life. I noticed the days my brain zaps are really bad is when I have the most stomach issues, and dizziness. I was on Effexor for 9 years. Has anyone else taken effexor this long and stopped. Please tell me this will go away!

    • Momroxs2014

      Same issues as all of you. Four weeks since stopping Effexor gradually tapered for about a six months stopped at 9 mg of Effexor not XR. Still having some head zaps but mostly really weak stomach, almost the same stomach issues when I first started the drug. I am taking fish oil, multivitamin and ginkgo biloba, drinking acv with green tea peach and mango by Crystal Light and still suffering. Some relief but not much. Help?

    • Claire
      United States

      I have taken Effexor for about 10 years with no known side effects, but decided to wean myself off it simply because it would be “one less Rx to take” and that seemed “virtuous.” But I am certainly experiencing the stomach problems described and increased hot flashes (which I did not even realize Effexor was helping until I stopped!), I think I will start taking it again. The hot flashes are doing me in and the stomach issues (mild stomach aches, nervous stomach, etc.) are very bothersome too. Why is it that people are so determined to STOP taking this drug in the first place? In retrospect, I think it is a good drug. I was originally prescribed about 10 years ago for anxiety. I no longer feel that I need it for that, but I now see that I need it for the reasons above. I don’t mind taking meds that are helping me.

      • Ez

        Hey Claire, I have been on these wretched things for 20yrs and I am happy to say I have finally weaned off them and would never go on them again.
        I use wild yam and chaste berry tree cream twice a day and its extreemley effective for hot flushes. I’ve been clean for 3 weeks now and apart from the occasional brain snaps I am doing very well. I also have a very healthy diet no sugar, MSG, preservatives and drink non fluoridated water. I drink green tea and dandelion tea with ginger and lemon aprox 2-3 times a day and I believe the combo certainly helps me. I hope this helps.
        It’s also great to know I am not financing the Pharma industry anymore. We the public are their lab rats and they only care about the $$$$$. It’s great to finally be well and free from the nightmare of Effexor.
        All the best with your journey.
        Cheers Ez : )

        • marisol

          Reading your your comment made me feel better, nobody else is saying if they finally got over the brain zaps.. my doctor never told me about it, I have found out about it in the internet and sites like this one. I also appreciate what you are currently doing to help ease these side effects, I will try anything natural. I was on effexor for about 9 months so I am hoping it didn’t do any neurological damage. I am also having the stomach issues and have been on low sodium diet to lower blood pressure caused by the Effexor XR. I haven’t exercise because i am afraid of the brain zaps..what do you think? should I do it anyways? I feel like I need to exercise. Overall though, I am thankful I took effexor when I did, it was a total dark time in my life and made me deal with so much stuff at the time. Thank you

        • drummerseve

          I’ve been weaning for a year and a half after 15 years on ssris. I stopped at ten beads and with in two weeks was hit with about 50 of the most horrific symptoms ever. From depression and sleep problems, illogical guilt and extreme lows to suicidal thoughts, hopelessness and massive anxiety over anything. Also uncontrollable anger issues. I just reinstated two days ago and it has helped a lot. I’m gonna stabilize and continue the taper slowly. How have you been feeling now that you are a couple months off?

    • Kim
      United States

      I have been taking effexor xr for 11 years for a situational depression. I have tried over and over again to get off this medication. I get the worst brain zaps, rapid eyes, almost passing out from the electrical shocks in my brain. I also get very very sick to my stomach. Then I get non-stop crying jags. I cannot get OFF this stuff!!!

      • Ez

        Hey Kim, I just want to say it is POSSIBLE to get off these wicked things. I have recently weaned after 20yrs on them. Yes I have occasional brain snaps and dizziness after being 3wks clean but it’s tolerable and worth it! I want to encourage you to hang in there as its possible. I’ve done it!
        I am getting me life back and it’s great! I’d never go on another pharmaceutical again, too many side effects. Natural is the way to go for me now.
        All the best, Ez

    • Ez

      Hey TJ, it will go away! It takes time! I am clean after 20 yrs!
      It’s just damn slow. Get into natural foods vitamins etc. it does help. Hang in there you WILL get through this! I can vouch for it!
      Wishing you well.
      Cheers Ez : )

  4. Fish914

    I ran out of Effexor (150 mg) daily a week ago. I have never felt so out of control. I was started on this med due to hot flashes caused by one of the chemo drugs given. No one ever told me about the side effects of ceasing Effexor. I have had night sweats, chills, ringing in my ears, brain zaps, dizziness, nausea, anxious and irrational behavior. I haven’t been sleeping, partly due to my fear of having a seizure. I am afraid to drive.
    My family thought I’ve been drinking, but not so. I have a Dr. Appt in two days but I’m afraid to go back on Effexor. I’ve been on this drug four over 2 years. I have to believe that individuals have suffered near fatal or fatal ramifications through stopping Effexor. Do any regulatory agencies track or relate deaths due to ceasing the drug? At this point, I am convinced that I would rather suffer through the withdrawals than go back on it. How sad for so many unsuspecting patients to prescribed Effexor not knowing the ramifications of ceasing it.

    • Jayne

      I was started on Effexor to help with night sweats and slight depression due to having to stop taking my bio-identical hormones when I was diagnosed with breast cancer last year. I am stopping myself because I can’t deal with no sleep. I take the med in the morning & still can’t get more than 4 hours sleep per night. Did stop the night sweats but memory issues, sleeplessness and weight gain aren’t worth the additional chemicals. I would like to know who monitors the side effects too.

  5. RTD

    After a year and a hell of hell with my adolescent daughter, we are working with a naturopath to wean her off the prescriptions for anxiety and depression. We are off three of the four meds, and the last to go is Effexor – which we are down to 37.5mg, from a high of 150mg. We have tried all sorts of things, klonopin, clonazapam, abilify, trazodone, plus others that I don’t even recall anymore, etc….
    One med made her gain 10 lbs on less than a month, and she was only 78 lbs before!!! It caused her to literally crave sugared foods, and she would ask for seconds and thirds, it was creepy how it affected her.
    We have seen a counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist, been to the emergency room a few times (felt like we were earning our frequent flyer miles), taken anxiety classes, neurofeedback, etc… We put her into a small school instead of the big middle school of 1200 kids, where her anxiety evolved into being treated like a behavior problem.
    Of all the professionals we worked with, and the thousands of dollars spent trying to help her, guess what? The naturopath was the FIRST person to look at my daughters’ chemistry and hormonal balance. So, instead of the buckshot approach we were taking with the meds, this doctor looked at what was happening with our kid and targeted the treatment specifically to get her back in balance.
    To help wean her off the medications, the doctor supported her with a LOT of supplements to help with the anxiety. These were chosen specifically to address her unique needs, not a one-size-fits-all treatment.
    I am seeing a happy kid emerge from this nightmare. As we cut the dose of effexor, we up some other supplements, like the fish oil mentioned earlier, 5-htp, l-theanine, plus some others. The cost for the supplements is way less than we were paying for abilify. The insured cost of effexor is dirt cheap, like less than a dollar for a months’ supply. Shameful, really.
    So, we are slowly tapering off the last of the effexor. We had a blip a few weeks ago, when the kid was just DONE with the meds! That was at about the 75mg level. Oops. Back we went to the slooooooow taper after that mistake. Every time I lower the dose, and she doesn’t know when it happens, because I mix it with a different capsule, I see a happier more lighthearted child reemerge. As an added bonus, her anxiety is better managed and (this very picky kid) is now open to things like eating salad – something I could even bribe her to do before.
    I have not seen this approach of supplemental support mentioned much on this thread, so I wanted to offer you a bit of our experience in hopes it might give added support out there. The test we took to check the kids chemistry cost about $450 (ouch) with no coverage from insurance (our insurance doesn’t pay for naturopaths!). But it looks like it was some of the best dollars we could have spent. And I am angry that it is not “normal” to look at these simple, simple things.
    If you break a bone, there is a protocol to fix it, right? If you break your emotions, here is no clear path – and so many of us are desperate to find help with no clear guidance. It was very scary to trust yet another medical professional, especially one who was encouraging us to “jump off the cliff”, after the fears and tears of the last few years. Scary.
    I am optimistic we will taper off safely and with few effects, knowing we have support. Even of we have some bumps, think of this, my kid is already off a lot of junk that didn’t serve her!!!!
    So, think about it. And know that it’s your body, not anyone else’s, and it’s okay to ask different people to help. I felt guilty, like I was cheating on the psych doc by seeing the naturopath. No I feel a lot more empowered, and that there is hope.

  6. tiffster1

    Hi. Shame these drugs aren’t studied better. Paxil turned me into one big mess, total different person. Didn’t help the panic attacks, anxiety. Dr kept adding odd combos. Not good. Brutal coming off, tried effexor, it controlled panic, but raised blood pressure, which I never had, caused hair loss. Also went off in two years to cymbalta, in one day and was great, but hair loss, jumpiness, these are all awful. Over ten years on cymbalta, started getting nervous and blurred vision. Went on Zoloft 50mg. Hair loss ended. Excellent. For panic and anxiety only been over a week. The worst was the sudden stop of effecor. I couldn’t drive I was so dizzy and sick.

  7. dlgopp

    I also am going thru withdrawals from Effexor XR 150mg after being on it for 3 years, I just stopped taking it Feb 1st, I had to leave work today cause I actually thought I was sick with the flu but once home started looking at withdrawal symptoms of it and realized that is what I’m going thru. Wow. The dizziness, nauseated feeling so bad and the brain shocks, I just hope and pray this ends soon as I have to work and I’m definitely not going back on them. Can you tell me are you still experiencing withdraw symptoms or are you thru them, also did you find anything helpful to get thru. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you

    • Andreanne

      My Doctor made me stop my Effexor cold Turkey after being on it since 2007. I was taking one 225mg and one 150mg a day for fibromyalgia and depression. He gave me a difference medicine to try. The second day, I started feeling very sick. I thought I had the flu. I started feeling very feverish. My head started hurting very bad, I felt so sick to my stomach, nauseated, my mind started feeling crazy, I felt like crying constantly. I thought I was going insane. My body was aching so much I couldn’t even walk or stand. I could only stay in bed. I couldn’t eat or drink. I would fall asleep and have nightmares, wake up in sweat and be cold.

      It was one of the worst experience of my life. I decided to go back on the 225mg and slowly taper this drug down because the side effects are just horrible if you stop cold turkey.

  8. c emert

    I am just past a week of stopping the Effexor XR (150 mg dose) after being on it for eight years with my highest dosage being 225. Even though most of these posts are very old–withdrawing from this medication remains a hellish proposition.
    Nightmares, headaches, dizziness, noises in my head, nausea along with extreme hunger, anger (but this is with my ex-doctor and totally reasonable).
    Through these eight years I have consistently gained weight and decreased physical activity due to fatigue and now have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, am obese with a severe vitamin D deficiency, and am flirting with Diabetes.
    Looking back, my problems began when I was offered a simple prescription to help with hot flashes and “take the edge off” as I began menopause. I didn’t even request help, it was generously offered (hah!).
    Not once was Effexor offered up as a possible contributor to my fatigue and overall lethargy–in fact the dosage was increased due to my depression (signified by my abnormal need to sleep and my tearful pleas in the doctor’s office regarding my lack of motivation, energy, etc.).
    Wish me luck as I attempt to crawl my way out of the abyss, and know that you are not the only idiot out there who blindly followed a doctor’s recommendation.

  9. trudi

    hi. I forgot to take my efexor 150mg pills with me on a houseboat and had no way of getting them. I’ve had 2 pills since 8th October and don’t want to take anymore. The nightmares I’ve been having are getting worse, especially last night, I operate a garbage truck and have done ok the last couple days but not confident to do that today. I feel like I’m getting worse, I feel off in the tummy, trembles in my stomach, bad headaches, I’m taking magnesium and have some rescue remedy. I really don’t want to take them anymore. I feel happier and the world is a brighter place for me but damn its hard. Any help or comments would be great. My boss won’t be happy when I ring him but then it will be better than running someone over.

  10. Ibaslp

    I have been off Effexor for 2 years, have no residual side effects. I can’t remember how long I had some effects after stopping but here’s how you do it. You TAPER every pill every day. Take a weekly pill box, dump some out of the capsule… do this every day for a week… try to keep the amount the same. The next week… dump a little more… keep doing this for as long as you need to. As you pour out more you can tell how you are doing… if good, then the next week keep it up, if not stay on that amount for another week… slowly, very slowly get to the point of almost no drug in the capsule… then you are done. It could take a month, or more… but slowly your body adjusts to less and less of this difficult drug.
    Good luck, you’ll be glad you stuck with it!

  11. Dan oja

    It’s 7:16 pm, Tuesday evening.
    I figured I’d ” google” Effexor, just to see if anyone had problems quitting this medicine. I started taking it over 3 years ago, and I’ve been off of it for a month, and I feel like I’m going crazy! I have electric shocks going through my body daily, and I feel like my skin is getting poked by needles.
    I feel a thousand times worse now, vs the very reason I was prescribed this medicine in the first place!
    I’m praying daily that I can pull through this, and it hasn’t changed since I’ve quit- I don’t feel I’m getting better:)
    I do however feel better knowing others felt this way:( sorry to say, but it makes me feel better.
    If you are someone reading this because you also have the same issues, I wish you luck seriously!

  12. Esther

    I began using Effexor per my psychiatrist recommendation approximately 3.5 months ago. I suffer from chronic pain, Spinal nerve damage and major depression. Previously I had been on Paxil, but after years of use, it’s effectiveness was dwindling.
    I felt an immediate improvement in my mental well being upon taking my first dose of Effexor, however, after a month of increasing the dosage to 75mg from 35mg, I began having debilitating dizzy spells, nausea, severe eye pressure/pain and my head… I don’t know whether to call it headaches, brain pressure, cranial pressure, brain zaps; they all describe the feeling as well as the anger I am experiencing, which is so unlike me and unbecoming. Where did I go and how do I find myself again.
    A week ago, I went back to 35mg as to wean myself off the Effexor and now I am totally debilitated. I have suicidal thoughts, the side effects have made my other problems ten-fold. My faith has always been in God first and now I feel SOME physicians are just out for the bucks.
    My body feels poisoned and weakened mentally and physically. Is there any end to this? It is not worth losing yourself for, as I am sure there is something out there as effective and less toxic.

  13. KLF123

    Hi all,
    Have been reading the comments and see the all too familiar pattern. I was on Effexor for 2 1/2 years and asked my doctor to take me off it because of the side effects.
    I have been weaning off for the last 2 months and am nearly 3 weeks “free”!
    I mostly feel ok, I was told by my pharmacist that fish oil would help with the brain zaps, and it absolutely does…. I’m on 6000 mg of this and it has all but eliminated the horrible feelings… would highly suggest it.
    What worries me at the moment is my emotions… I feel on the verge of tears all the time…. for no reason at all… and pointers or comments from anyone who has had a similar experience….
    I feel that this is a very dangerous drug that is being dispensed too easily!

    • Andreanne

      I completely understand how you feel. I am also I Christian and I fight this battle too. I would love to stop taking Effexor completely but I don’t think it’s possible for me. I have been battling depression for years now and accepting it. Depression is a disease just like any other disease. I pray ever day for God to give me strength to get up and do the things I’m suppose to do and take care of the people I have to care for. It’s not easy but you have to do it. Even if it means taking a medication to help your mind. I hope you feel better.

      • Ez

        Hi Adreanne, I just want to say that it is POSSIBLE to get off the stuff! And worth the difficulty.
        I have weaned after 20 yrs of depression and use of the toxin Effexor. There are so many natural things available to assist in this process. I am going really well despite the physiological symptoms. It was a very, very slow process but entirely POSSIBLE, believe me when I say I thought Id never get off and I have. Even if it’s not something you can do now, it may be for a later time.
        IT CAN BE DONE! So don’t give up hope.

  14. Keith

    Hi All,
    This is one of the worst drugs ever.
    I have been on effexor at various dosages for around 6 years. Came off them once due to not having a prescription and it was hell. I was busy and quickly got some more after 3 days as you can’t function. – The withdrawal symptoms are huge.
    As a background, I was put on them due to an amazing amount of stress in my life which I generally handled well. I also don’t take anything else and even at 50 I am healthy and need no other drugs.
    I went cold turkey about 7 days ago and it is hell. These drugs are not so much addictive but almost impossible to get off. The drug companies must love it as we use them for much longer than we need to.
    As a person who is reasonably healthy I have had the worst week of my life. Brain explosions, dizziness, diarrhea, bad nightmares (although that happened since I have been on them) sweats, bad moods, tiredness and the list goes on. Now this comes from someone who gets up and gets on with it. The only difference is Effexor. This is a bad drug that is almost impossible to get off even if you taper.
    Anyway, 7 days into it and I will never go back. Starting to feel normal again. I can see the light at the light at the end of the tunnel that I should never have been in….
    Good luck to anyone who is doing it or contemplating.
    Also, don’t listen to the bs about talking to your doctor. They have a snapshot in time and most don’t know how bad and hard it is to get off them – even with tapering.

  15. jeannie

    I was only on 50 mg of venlafaxine for just about three weeks when I decided to skip it for a couple of days so I could get some rest (was having unbelievable dreaming/nightmare experiences). Horrible experience! I had something like a surge going on behind my eyes that made me feel a bit like I was in a strobe light world. Started crying uncontrollably, headache, nausea, worse nightmares then when I was taking it, etc. I realized there was no way to come off all at once but one thing I knew…. I WAS coming off. After a MONTH of weaning down from my tiny dose..life was still nearly unbearable when I stopped all together. It is now just under a week since I have taken any and though my doc says it is completely out of my system, I am still “strobing” some, very easily nauseated (like even from walking around at times), having digestive problems, headaches, soreness, sudden weight gain and I am exhausted! She thinks maybe I should see a psychiatrist… I have never had that even come up before….. I truly feel this drug has done something that just lasts far longer than the professionals would care to admit. Any advice out there for me?

  16. dee

    THE best way to come off Effexor is to add Prozac while you are weaning off the Effexor. I have done this and it works!! I have no idea why it works, but it does. Get off the Effexor s-l-o-w-l-y and add 20 mg of Prozac a day….it takes away the brain zaps. If you are on Prozac, up your dose by 20 a day. Prozac is not hard to come off of….so once you are off the Effexor, wean off the Prozac.

  17. millys mama

    I too have begun the loving road of withdrawal symptoms since stopping effexor. This is absolutely horrid. What do I do????

    • Ez

      Hey MM, what ya do is hang in there with everything ya got girl.
      You can do it! I have after 20 yrs being on Effexor.
      Do a wee bit o research and you’ll find heaps of natural remedies to assist with the process, it definitely isn’t an easy road, I wish I could say otherwise. But I can say its worth it!!!!!!!
      I have read many other posts regarding this and I haven’t come across anyone else that’s been on it as long as me so far. If I can do it anyone can! You CAN DO IT! Cheers Ez

  18. KR

    I also have been completely weened off Effexor for a week and I kept thinking the symptoms were due to my retirement coming up this week. I was on the drug for hot flashes – not depression, but I sure feel as though I am depressed now. Eveyone says apprx 1 month until you feel normal. A month seems like a lifetime right not. And my husband is also beside himself with me crying every 5 mins. I hope you are healed soon.

  19. Cc

    I am half way off my Effexor and I have the solution for you all. I found a blog written by someone with similar issues you are all having. Here’s what to do;
    Inside the Effexor XR pill are tiny white balls. Each week get your pills ready for that week. Day 1 remove 1 ball. Day 2 remove 2 balls, day 3 remove 3, etc…
    It’s not extremely easy but it’s not all the difficult to do if you’re careful. If you still experience withdrawal you can space it out even more. I personally remove 1 ball for two days and then 2 balls for the next two days and so forth. It’s not been a month and I’ve gotten down to about half the amount of balls than my full dose with no withdrawal or electric shocks. The beauty of tapering off this way is you can control the pace and make it an extremely slow tapar.
    Good luck. Hope this helps!

  20. MB

    I have been on Effexor for several years. I didn’t like the weight gain and loss of sexual appetite so I talked to my doctor about switching to something else. I cut down to 37.5 and got that in tablet form instead of capsules. Tried taking them every other day but didn’t like the side effects, mostly brain zaps. I call it sandbag head because it feels like there is a bag of sand in my head and when I turn my head the sand shifts from one side to the other and I can hear it shifting.
    Then I started cutting the tablets in half and taking them every day, then eventually every other, then I finally stopped. It was a long process. It’s been 3 weeks now and I still have sandbag head. I also have had bad nightmares and some crying jags, which I thought were because of some stuff going on at work but now I wonder if it’s from the withdrawal.
    I thought the withdrawal symptoms should be gone by now but I see that they may last a while longer. I did switch to Wellbutrin which I think is finally starting to kick in because emotionally I’m feeling more normal. Someone earlier in this post said fish oil pills seemed to help with some of the withdrawal symptoms so I’m going to give that a try.

  21. GAV

    Hi everyone,
    I am slowly tapering down my dosage of Effexor from 150 mg p/day. I plan to take 75 mg for 7 days, then 37.5 mg for another 7 days then quit. I’d welcome any advice on this strategy.
    Thank you

  22. kk

    I have been off of effexor for about 2 months now, slowly taking less and less from 37.5mg. I feel ultimately better but I wake up every morning at 5 am and feel sick and most of the time throw up. I know i am not with child I have checked and I don’t know what else to chock it up to but the effexor. anyone else experience this?

    • JP

      I know this is late to answer your question, but it may help others. I was on Effexor XR for over 15 years. I tried to stop it once, but couldn’t. I was down to the lowest dose, 37.5. I looked at trying to remove a few of the little “beads” every few days, but couldn’t do that well. So, I worked out a different plan. I first added one extra hour to when I took my dose. Instead of 24 hrs., I went 25 hrs., for a week or so. It MUST be done slowly, especially after long term use. After a short while, I added another hour, up to 26, then 27, etc., etc. I took almost one whole year to wean off.

      However, here is the SHOCKER….. I have been completely off the med for 4 months, and I am STILL having MAJOR withdrawal symptoms. I spent 2 weeks in the hospital, and they couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. I cry at the drop of a hat, go into absolute rages, (not me at all), cannot eat (no appetite), feel extreme fatigue, and feel very depressed. Several days ago, I started thinking about all this, and decided to look up Effexor withdrawal, and I found out several things…..1, Some people can have withdrawal for months, to a year or two. 2., This is so bad, the NIH, has labeled withdrawing from this drug…”EFFEXOR WITHDRAWAL SYNDROME”, 3. NO ONE wants to help in the professional field, Doctors (a few acknowledge the issue), generally don’t admit this is a problem, or simply don’t understand it, NO attorney will start a class action, and patients all across the globe are left to deal with their misery by doing what we are doing here….reaching out to each other. I would recommend that NO ONE, except in the most extreme circumstances ever try this drug. You may be hooked for life. My concern was the cost of our insurance now, (31K year), and what if we suddenly were without insurance and/or a job?

      I decided to try and get off of everything I could. This drug, however, is so difficult, I don’t know what I will do yet. I’m hanging in there, but it is difficult, and not fair to my family. I’m so angry, especially after I was CONVINCED by my Dr., that this drug was NON – ADDICTIVE. He gave it to me when it first came out, and I know he didn’t know about this at the time, I blame the drug co., as I found out THEY KNEW about these effects. SHAME on them! With God’s help, I will make it, but I am struggling so much. Get off slowly, if possible. Ask your family for support, and show them what other patients have said. And, GOOD LUCK TO EVERYONE! God Bless YOU in your endeavor to rid yourself of this drug.

  23. boo

    It’s good to read all these posts,
    I feel for you guys, I’ve been off effexor now for 11 weeks, and i still don’t feel like my old self, I have improved a lot , but I still get bouts of anxiety now and then, in the beginning it was lot worse, but my anxiety is making me feel like running away from everything, and that makes me angry –> making anxiety ever worse. I go to CBT therapy, I hope this helps to cope better, I wish I’d never started effexor in the first place, the remedy is worse than the disease, I started this for hyperventilation after concussion in 2008, I just want to be my old self, feel free of anxiety, and crazy thoughts
    may god help us..

  24. candyw26

    I am so thankful to have come upon this site. I was feeling like I was alone with the withdrawal symptoms of stopping effexor. Its a scarey and unusual feeling. Like I’m not myself. I have bad dreams nausea dizziness crying spells, it’s like some things feel unreal. Then sometimes I want to eat eventhough I shouldn’t be hungry. I can’t wait to feel in control again. These brain zaps are so weird too.

  25. apk

    I was put on effexor about 5 months ago, I remember talking with someone whom told me at the time that this drug is hard to get off. What led me to first experience the hell of not taking effexor happened when I was looking for a new job, also at the time I was taking depakote & my hands shake really bad. I was scared the people that where interviewing me were gonna think I was on CRACK so I decided to stop taking it. WOW, I remember walking down the street after day 2 with a buddy of mine telling him that I felt is if I was messed up in head, almost like trippen on LSD, then came the HEADACHES & the NAUSEA.
    I then started taking these medication every other day to minimize that hand trembling. I had just moved to a new city & new I needed to find a Doctor to get the HELL of this stuff. If I would’ve know these side effects in advance which the doctor seemed to not tell me about then I would have never taken them. You know coming off this stuff & the hellish withdrawals could be almost compared to someone coming off of HEROIN. When you first try to stop, the withdrawals make you sick so you go back on them as if your mind is dependent on them.
    I stopped taking them cold turkey on Dec, 22, was in bed for about 4 days, finally worked up the courage to go outside on the 5th day. I can say that I do feel better but still feel there vertigo, dizziness & having really bad HEADACHES. I’m starting my new job on the 7th of Jan & hope that I feel much better then. You know I could go on forever on how horrible of a medication this crap is, I’ve tried numerous meds & have come to the conclusion that they are all a joke. I think these doctors need to prescribe their own drugs before giving to people.

  26. BB

    I have suffered from depression for many years and have been treated with many different meds, most recently effexor and trazodone, the trazodone at a dosage for insomnia, they seemed to make a big difference at first, but as any manic as myself can tell u,the “thought” of finally getting help, makes u feel much better.
    My Doc left to go home to practice, I was “dumped” to another doctor, and quite frankly he is a jerk and has no business treating people with mental disorders, so to get to my point, I am off the effexor, for 1 week now, and the vertigo, and the noise is unreal, I call the noise rabid crickets in my head, that is the best way to describe it, and the stomach issues have almost made me get adult diapers.
    So far I feel ok mentally, not great but it’s livable, I just want it to be over, I would have never thought it does that much to ur body and ur brain, God help us all is all I can say.

  27. Tclement

    The best way is to buy a weekly pill box. Start by pouring a bit of your Effexor in the Sunday spot. Take your pill. Next day… pour some in the Monday box, eyeball it to be about the same amount as the day before. Do this for a week… then next week pour out a little more, keep doing this until there is nothing in the pill! Dropping off to a lesser dose such as 37.5 or 75 will not work… trust me I tried it.
    Slowly weaning yourself is the best way and believe it or not I did it in less than a month without many side effects. It’s been over a year now since getting off Effexor, I had some bad days afterwards, but each month I got better. Hang in there, you can do this!

  28. A.J.

    I am a doctor, so I should have known better, but due to very difficult family circumstances I started Effexor 1 year ago. On my psychiatrist’s advice, I went up to 300 mg, along with 90 mg mirtazapine; I think this is what they call “california jungle juice” or something similar – for major, major depression.
    Depression and anxiety are now gone and I am trying to get off Effexor while keeping Mirtazapine for the moment. For me, it is a near death experience, despite slow tapering. If I had known this, I would NEVER have gone on this drug. I am in the worst agony I have ever been in in my entire life. 2nd day without any Effexor at all and I don’t know if I can do this, I seriously don’t.
    Psychologically, I am actually OK except some sadness, but physiologically it is hell. I cannot stand up without falling; the brain zaps are crazy, the nightmares, the vertigo. I would never, ever prescribe this drug to anyone. It will never happen and people need to know this before they start this treatment.
    I am trying to cope with my work and looking after my children and it is hell. I just hope that it will not last for too long because then I have to start again for the sake of my children.
    Dear A.J.,
    We are so sorry to hear about what you are going through. We would encourage you to rethink the sudden withdrawal. This really requires a very slow taper (that might take several weeks or months). You need a physician who can help you accomplish this gradually so you do not need to go through such a terrible experience.

  29. BW

    I’m not going mad, dying from a brain tumour, having a heart attack etc.. I was prescribed Efexor for hot flashes and mild depression. Similar story to many but failed to fill my script when due and went three days without by 75mcg dose. Geez! They’re all very disturbing symptoms but probably the light globe that went on for me was the weight gain. I am menopausal and assumed this was just another part of all these wonderful things that happen to women. LOL I have been thin to average weight all my life. Since taking Efexor I have gained 12 kilos (30 lbs) for our American friends.
    I felt so ill and off kilter yesterday that I relented and re-filled my script. I cannot wait to get off this drug FOREVER!
    P.s. intend trying the fish oil. It’ good for you anyway.

  30. Lauren

    I am very relieved and yet saddened to hear that I am not alone in this! I was on Effexor XR for about 3 1/2 months and decided to get off, because of the daily negative physical symptoms I was having. I was a little hesitant to get off of them, because they have helped tremendously with my depression and anxiety. Seeing as yesterday was my first complete day without them and now I am on day 2…..OH MY GOSH.
    My psych. (gov. doc mind you) never told me it would be so bad. I am literally lying in bed right now typing this, because I had to come home from work! I have a temperature of 100.0 and I am having the most SEVERE CHILLS. I am sweating profusely and yet shivering from feeling cold. My brain doesn’t keep up with my physical movement and the “electric shock” symptoms are really kicking in now way more than when I was on it. I am extremely emotional and have on and off suicidal thoughts (don’t worry I am not actually suicidal), which I have not struggled with in a long time. I have disorientation and consistently fall over into things or lose my balance and feel like my brain is shaking uncontrollably and feel as if I must hold onto something. Trembling hands and VERY sore throat with a cough.
    Unfortunately for me I just started my period yesterday so I am positive that does not help anything! Despite all of this pain I won’t go back onto Effexor even though I’m only 2 days off. I would rather just continue down the road to quitting, because if not now then when? Scary to think this drug that causes such reactions to our minds and body are readily available to millions. I understand that anti-depressants are a trial and error so to say, but I didn’t understand the risks until withdrawing from this one (I have been on Welbutrin, Zoloft, Prozac, xanax and clonazepam, but none have ever had horrible withdraw symptoms until now!!!).
    Thanks for sharing and I am hoping this won’t last too much longer though I see here that some people experienced symptoms up to 4 months later from withdrawal! Keep the faith :]

What Do You Think?

Share your thoughts with others, but be mindful of protecting your own and others' privacy. Not all comments will be posted. Advice from web visitors is not a substitute for medical attention. Do not stop any medicine without checking with the prescriber. In posting a comment, you agree to our commenting policy and website terms and conditions.