Effexor (aka Venlafaxine) is an antidepressant and nerve pain medication.
It’s prescribed to treat conditions such as:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Panic Disorder
- Social Anxiety Disorder
It’s part of a class of antidepressants called serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRI)s. They increase the level of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain by blocking or delaying their reuptake by nerves.
As far back as the year 2000 I was prescribed Effexor. During this time I was diagnosed with ADHD and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
At the time there were tangible benefits including reduced anxiety and less depression. However, my symptoms keep recurring and my doctor increased the dosage and the symptoms subsided. This was an endless cycle that kept occurring until the dosage was maxed out at 300 mg. By this time I started having problems.
Over time there were fewer tangible benefits to being on Effexor; anxiety and depression began to worsen and I started experiencing worsening mood swings.
I wanted to get off this medication, but due to severe withdrawal symptoms I gave up and continued taking it for a number of years.
Why Is Effexor So Hard To Withdraw From?
Trying to get off of Effexor is easier said than done. This is due to very unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, which vary in severity depending on how much the dose is reduced. Also, these symptoms occur even when you miss one dose.
Withdrawal Symptoms Include:
- Feeling Dizzy
- Brain Zaps (mini seizures)
- Body and Muscle Aches
- Sleep Problems
- Recurring Anxiety and Depression
My Motivations For Getting Off Of Effexor?
- New Diagnosis: After changing therapists in 2017 it was determined that I didn’t need to be on Effexor. It turned out that I had high functioning bipolar disorder instead of ADHD and the medication was making my symptoms worse.
- Class Action Lawsuit: Due to some really nasty side effects such as severe withdrawal symptoms and numerous birth defects there have been numerous class action lawsuits against the makers of Effexor.
- Side Effects: Over time the benefits of being on Effexor were outweighed by the side effects. These include long term problems with sleep problems, weight gain, worsened anxiety and depression, mania, memory issues, brain fog, confusion, inability to focus and high blood pressure.
- Psychological and Physical Addiction: Effexor is not considered an addictive drug, but some users can become psychologically and physically addicted to it. This means you can have a mental and emotional attachment to a substance.
How To Get Off Of Effexor Successfully?
Starting in 2017 I worked with a new therapist to start slowly tapering off of effexor. It’s not recommended that you quit taking cold turkey.
Here are some tips for minimizing the severity of the withdrawal symptoms:
- Taking Benedryl: Benedryl is an over the counter allergy medication that has been reported to minimize effexor withdrawal symptoms. Be careful to not take too much.
- Stay Active: When you’re tapering off effexor it can be difficult to stay motivated, so it’s important to start slow with a 20 minute walk a couple days a week.
- Stick To A Schedule: It’s important to stick to the schedule layed out for you, because it makes withdrawal more painful if you jump ahead of schedule.
- Taking CBD Oil: There’s a lot of promising research into CBD oil and it’s usage for treating withdrawal symptoms, especially when you’re feeling anxious and nauseous.
- Eating Nutrient Dense Foods: What you eat affects your mood. A lot of processed foods that contain white flour and sugar can make withdrawal anxiety worse. The foods that are recommended are anti-anxiety superfoods such as blueberries, dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds, avocados and turkey, which are nutrient dense.
Please click on the button below to read about blueberries being a superfood:
- Supplements: It’s important to include supplements when you’re having withdrawal symptoms. These include Omega-3 Fatty Acids, B Vitamins and lots of Vitamin C.
Getting off of Effexor was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
Benefits To Getting Off Effexor Include:
- Lost 50 pounds
- Lower Blood Pressure
- Reduced Anxiety
- Better Sleep
- Clearer Mind
- Improved Memory
Have you ever had a hard time withdrawing from a medication?
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