I Did It: How to Stop Taking Effexor

I had taken Effexor XR for almost four years. At every appointment with my oncologist, I would mention that I didn’t feel it was necessary to continue the drug since I was originally prescribed the anti-depressant to help with hot flashes during chemotherapy. I had long been finished with chemo and the hot flashes had subsided but I couldn’t stop taking Effexor without dealing with the horrible withdrawal symptoms. My oncologist repeatedly recommended to wean to the lowest dosage available and then begin an every-other-day regimen until I finished the prescription.

But, it wasn’t working!

I felt dizzy, drunk-like, almost. I had blinding brain zaps. I felt nauseous, tired and sick. I could not function without taking that pill every day. I do remember considering to stop cold turkey but who knew how long the symptoms would last. It could be a weekend or it could be a month. I wasn’t willing to white knuckle my way through it.

I finally found some info online about why I was having such a hard time weaning from Effexor XR. I’m guessing since you’re reading this, you are also trying to find a way to get off the anti-depressant without the debilitating withdrawals. {Edited} Be sure to read the almost 200 comments on this post, you are not alone.

I took what I read online to my general practitioner and thankfully she was familiar with the Effexor-Prozac Bridge. If you don’t know what “the bridge” is, please take a few minutes to read this here:  Effexor-Prozac Bridge  In sum, it explains the chemistry of Effexor and Prozac.

how to wean from effexor

In less than TWO WEEKS I was able to stop taking Effexor!

After speaking with my doctor about the bridge, she prescribed a 30-day dosage of 10mg Prozac. She strongly advised that if I started to feel the Effexor withdrawal symptoms to open the Effexor capsule and take 3/4 of the granules.

On her advice, this is what I did to stop taking Effexor XR.

This information is not intended to replace any medical advice. This is my own, personal experience successfully weaning from the anti-depressant. 

Day one – I replaced one 37.5 mg capsule of Effexor XR with one 10 mg capsule of Prozac.


The first day I simply swapped pill for pill.  Whamo!  I started feeling those awful flu-like withdrawal symptoms and worried I wouldn’t be able to break free from my Effexor addiction.  And then I remember my doctor’s advice – TAKE THE EFFEXOR!  I broke open one Effexor capsule, poured out and counted the granules (there were about 35 in the pill).

You can see from the photo below, I put the granules in applesauce to swallow them.

Day two –  I took one 10 mg of Prozac and 26 Effexor XR granules.  I continued that ratio for another two days.

Days five and six – I took one 10 mg of Prozac and had reduced the number of Effexor granules by 1/2, taking about 15 or so.  I continued that particular ratio for another two or three days.

Days nine, 10, and 11 – I took 1 10 mg of Prozac and about 8 Effexor granules.

Day 12 – 1  10 mg of Prozac and NO Effexor!


How long did you stay on the Prozac?

I finished the 30 day prescription of Prozac and refilled for one additional month. I was worried weaning from Prozac would be difficult considering my experience with Effexor XR. I reduced my Prozac dosage to every other day, then every third day and simply stopped by the end of the second prescription.


It took me roughly two weeks to stop taking Effexor.  Two weeks to stop taking a drug that I thought I’d never be able to move on from.  Two weeks!  Don’t accept that you have to take Effexor XR forever.  Talk to your doctor about the Prozac bridge.

Have you ever taken Effexor XR?  Tell me about your experience!

PLEASE NOTE: This experience with Effexor XR and withdrawal regimen is totally my own at my doctor’s advice.  Please do not replace this information as professional medical advice.  Please talk to your doctor. If you are feeling suicidal, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at (800) 273-8255.


  1. That’s great news!! I am go glad using the Prozac bridge worked and that it didn’t take too long. I am sure it was a much cleaner transition than my own crazy-stupid cold turkey method.

    • I totally would have white knuckled it if the bridge didn’t work. I’m so so so glad I didn’t have to do that!

      • I don’t get it. You swapped one anti-depressant for another. I was just as happy as you are to switch from Prozac to Effexor. Am I missing something?

      • Old post, I realize, but here is what seems ODD to me. These medications aren’t INSTANT! They aren’t like popping a Xanax or even a Tylenol for a headache. . It takes a few weeks (at least) to build up in your system so how in the world can Prozac work in a snap on day 1?? You may be lucky, but I would build that Prozac up before taking the effexor away. One can’t compensate for the lack if the other until it’s TRULY in your body. But, that’s just me (and my own physician).

        • Some people–I am one–react more quickly to SSRIs or SNRIs like Effexor. It depends on your individual metabolism.

        • 225mg xr to 0 using Prozac bridge here. Currently down to 75mg.

          I think you’re spot on for me. I went from 225 effexor xr to 150 for 2 weeks no Prozac no problem. Today I got greedy and took the plunge to 75mg effexor and added 10mg Prozac. I have the brain-zap-behind-my-eye symptom that makes my left eye feel like the death star is blowing up. Also other symptoms I can’t describe well like dizzy 2-dimensional walking, nausea etc… Not good.

          I should have gotten a head start with the Prozac first. I’m not going back up in dose though forget that. It’ll just be a rough few days until it soaks in.

      • I know it has been awhile since this post, but reading it I finally have hope and I pick my prescription of Prozac up tomorrow. I’m just a little confused on the first day. I saw you took out the beads and put them in Apple sauce but how many beads did you use with that first day of taking Prozac? I’m going to follow your way I just want to make sure I am doing it right.

        Thank you! I feel like God answered my prayers sending me to your blog ?

  2. My daughter was taking it for OCD symptoms and it had gotten her out of depression. She was the one who would complain about a headache if she missed a dose. Her Effexor stopped being effective for her OCD and we had to get her off to star Zoloft. I did the every other day thing but I staggered it so it was like every 36 hours. I had wrote down and manage and it was rough but we eventually got her off but she did have a headache. I wish I knew about the Prozac bridge back then.

    Congrats to you! So glad you are free!

    • Interesting. I didn’t realize that the drug could be used for OCD. It did certainly help me out during some dark days after being diagnosed and dealing with treatment. But since then, I’ve been taking something else for my “depressed state.” I’m just SO glad to be done with Effexor!

      • What about Prozac? Do u next stop that or just replace one w the other? What other treatment do you refer to? I have been on effexor for years, currently at 150mg. I wanted to get off rameron and my doc at time put me on this horid stuff. Sure wish I’d done my own research, I just trusted my doc knew what she was doing. I have had a mirad of problems w this drug, weight gain, lost multiple jobs, drinking, badly injured in car accident….have tried quiting….i am scared, I want off this drug, but I have a family to support, I can’t lose another job, I feel like a prisoner. I have read so many horror stories. My brother was on paxil, which is older too. We lost him in 2007 to suicide. He was trying to quit his drugs too…..i don’t want to ‘fall’, but don’t want to be on this drug for life. Switching to another drug doesn’t seem like a good plan….

        • prozac can help you wean off effexor…it is the hardest drug to quit simple due to the side effects…im currently on day 18 of going cold turkey….no by choice but because I lost my job and by proxy, my medical insurance and cant afford the $135 refill price for the generic……living a nightmare daily

          • Craig…that sounds horrible. I too lost my job. My doctor helped me fill out the paperwork to apply for assistance from the pharmaceutical company. My income (of lack of) qualified me for 100% coverage for my Effexor. That being said…I am now struggling to get off of it. Down to the 37;5mg which seems to be the point where most get stuck. Going to ask my doctor about the “prozac bridge”.

          • Hi Craig, were you able to successfully get off the Effexor? I’d like to hear and learn from your experience.

  3. Dude – this is freaking AWESOME. So happy that you were able to get off that shit once and for all. *high fives and big hugs*

  4. I took Effexor years ago for anxiety and I would get these horrible electric jolts through my entire body if I was late taking a pill. It was horrible and the drug companies won’t admit that there are withdrawl symptoms. I didn’t use the Prozac bridge, but I did open the pill and remove a couple more granules every few days and that did the trick. Good for you for weaning off of it!

  5. Hello Wendy, Did you eventually wean off prozac, too? I am beginning effexor withdrawl today w/ prozac bridge with high hopes of being free of all anti-depressants. Thank you for posting your tips.

    • Hi Robin!
      Yes, I did eventually wean myself from the Prozac and it was fairly easy (versus trying to quit Effexor without doing the bridge). It was the start of my third month on Prozac that I started to wean from the drug. I followed an every-other-day regimen at first then adding an additional day in between and so on until I felt I didn’t need it any longer.
      I hope to be anti-depressant free in 2013 too. I am still currently taking Wellbutrin (I changed from XL to SR a few months ago) and still waiting for the perfect time where I feel well enough (I’ve been battling cold after cold) to make the change.
      Best of luck to you and let me know if you have any other questions. You can always email me at wendy@wendy-nielsen.com or find me on Facebook.

  6. I have been completely off of Effexor since November 24,2012 after taking it for a year. Started at 35mg that was later increased to 75mg a day. All for my irritability which I would rather have then what I have dealt with the past 2 months. I took myself to the ER because I was sitting at my desk one morning and had this intense feeling of vertigo and my chest felt fluttery. I was discharged from the ER because all the tests came back normal. I asked if it could be from my Effexor and of course, they said no way. So I went for a follow up appt and was treated for vertigo. Then I was told I was having panic attacks. After being completely frustrated with not knowing what the hell was wrong with me I started to do my own research and came across ssri/snri discontinuation syndrome. Hmm why didn’t this come up in any of my appointments with my internist!?! I told my internist I wanted to be weened off the Effexor XR. She dropped my dose to 35mg once a day, then once every other day for a week, then once every two days for a week and then none at all. The first three days off of it I could definately feel some signs of discontinuation. While I was sleeping I felt like I was wide awake and thinking. Had some crazy deams as well. Then I felt fine for about a week. That is until out of no where I was at Toys R Us xmas shopping having a jolly time and boom that same feeling that put me in the ER came back. Hit me so fast I had to stop. I didn’t feel like everything was spinning. It was more like my balance was off and I felt light headed accompanied by the tightness in my chest. I stopped in my tracks, told my boyfriend to grab me a water and held on to the shopping cart so tight bc I thought I just might pass out. I wanted to abandon the cart full of toys and get the hell in the car so I could sit down. Went to the doc to complain about this and this is when she said I was having panic attacks. Hmm never been an anxious person in my life, pretty damn calm if you ask me and why the f would I have a panic attack when I’m buying my daughter a bunch of toys for Christmas. I was so excited!! She wrote me a script for Xanax. She advised me to take one when the episode happened again. About a few days later it happened again in the shower. I felt this huge feeling of doom like I wanted to cry my eyes out accompanied by the off balance strange feeling. Xanax did calm my nerves but the imbalanced feeling and sort of out of body feeling was still there until I went to bed. Happened AGAIN a few days later at work but was much more intense. Standing in line to get food at our Holiday party just chatting and boom HERE WE GO AGAIN! Dizzy, anxious, and this time I had an intense feeling of needing to walk and not stand still. Popped a xanax, did barely anything for me, so I drove home. To be honest I don’t know how I got home! I cried the whole way feeling completly hopeless. Never in my life have I felt this way. Back to the doc I go and she tells me Effexor wouldn’t be causing discontinuation syndrome bc it is XR. EVEN after I explained the syndrome to her since she didn’t know anything about it. Left the office with a script for a tilt table test and a referral to a neurologist. My mom had an appointment with her psychiatrist the following day. I was so desperate for answers and had a feeling I was going through the discontinuation syndrome that I asked her to please ask her pyschiatrist if he knew of it. My mom was explaining to him what was going on and he stopped her and said “she is experiencing withdrawals known as discontinuation syndrome.” He told her to tell me to get on the phone with my internist and request with his referral to write me a script of Prozac at 20 mg once a day for one month. I almost cried when I heard this because I FINALLY felt like I wasn’t crazy or going to die from a stroke or something. This psychiatrist didn’t have to tell my mom anything (he is nearly $250/a visit). But he did because he isn’t a pill pushing doctor who thinks everything in the world is wrong with you besides what is really wrong. I am picking my script up today. I am praying to every god out there that this is my miracle I’ve been waiting for. I am just hoping taking the Prozac is going to do what he says. Take away this god awful nightmare of withdrawals. He said I can stop taking it after a month without the worries of withdrawals occuring from it. Any feelings on this?

    • Hi Angie!
      I’m so sorry – I just came across this comment from you! Your experience sounds so awful! And most frustrating working with a doctor who doesn’t know what the Effexor withdrawals can do to a person. I’m so glad you found help.
      Please let me know if the Prozac bridge worked! I’m anxious to hear!

  7. My daughter who has been on effexor for 10 years just tapered off. She was taking 225mg and quickly tapered down to 150mg and then started taking 10mg of prozac with the effexor. 3 days ago she curtailed the effexor and she’s had a couple emotional moments and some physical symptoms but nothing she couldn’t handle. My question is how long were you on the prozac. Did you just stop taking it all at once? I don’t think 10mg is a big dose so I’m hoping she can just stop taking it or did you have to taper that as well?

    • Hi Nancy, Yes, I did eventually wean myself from the Prozac and it was fairly easy. It was the start of my third month on Prozac that I started to wean from the drug. I followed an every-other-day regimen at first then adding an additional day in between and so on until I felt I didn’t need it any longer.
      Best of luck to your daughter! I’m certain she’ll find it much easier than weaning from the Effexor!

  8. I took the Prozac for almost a month and it stopped all my withdrawal symptoms from Prozac within a week. At week 3, I started to feel this terrible nervous feeling in my stomach and chest that was making me feel extremely anxious. My psychiatrist told me to discontinue the medication because it served its purpose of stopping the withdrawals from effexor but once it was completely in my system at 3 weeks and making me feel nervous it was obviously not what I needed to be on. SO, it’s been a month of being off that and I’m ok. Mentally, I feel great actually! However, at least once a week I keep getting this out of breath, fluttery feeling in my chest. Sometimes it lasts all day, sometimes it is short lived. I do believe it is anxiety and my brain just trying to adapt to not having it controlled by anything (common for this to occur for quite some time after discontinuing ssri/ssnri’s.) I have a prescription of .25 xanax which I ONLY take if I feel I can’t talk myself out of the rushes of anxiety that is triggered by absolutely nothing. I’ve had a script of 20 for 2 months and still have 10 left. My hopes are to eventually not even have to take those but I can tell you it is much better than being on effexor and great that I only have to take as needed which isn’t often. I do agree that weaning off effexor is much better than weaning off Prozac! What a nightmare it is! I will be seeing my psychiatrist the 26th so I will let ya know what he thinks of my progress. He has been a god send so far!!

    • note: I meant it stopped all my withdrawals from Effexor.

      • Hi!I had the exact same experience while i was weaning off effexor at the past.Can you tell me how are you doing now while on prozac?Did the anxiety decreased?
        Thank you in advance

        • wendy nielsen says:

          Hi John,
          I weaned off from the Prozac shortly after I used it to get off of the Effexor. I’m currently not taking anything. Days I struggle with anxiety, I do take Xanax but this is on a very rare occasion. Best to you!

    • I tried doing what everyone else did and failed. I then tried the Prozac bridge and success. Thank you so much Wendy

  9. Until last week I had been taking a split dose of 225mg effexor. I have been on it for 7 years for severe depression combined with lamotragine as a mood stabiliser for the last 5 yrs. every year i would try wean off and have to resume due to how ill I felt.
    last week i didnt have the money to get a script filled for effexor so I went cold turkey. Today is day 4 and had the worst symptoms nausea, light n noise sensitive. Only place i was happy in a cool dark room. Then I remembered the prozac and got hold of some. Took 2 at lunch (instant relief) and tomorrow ill do am and pm for couple of days. Then 1 a day for a week.
    SO HAPPY to not b a prisoner of effexor any longer !!!

    • Thanks for this post. I’m on 325mg of Effexor and also taking lamotragine. Effexor is seriously ruining my life. I’ve tried to go off it several times and I can’t cut the dose more than 20mgs without getting sick. It’s so terrible to be physically addicted to a drug. I’m glad other people understand. Some people think on you get withdrawls? The medicine must make you high. NO! I have to take it otherwise I get sick! I hope the Prozac bridge will work for me.

  10. As I write this, I’m on my 4th day after my last Effexor XR and feel like I am dangling from a thread that is going to drop me into a bottomless pit at any second…..I have been taking a min. 300ml of Effexor since …well honestly I can barely type let alone remember the date; over 10 yrs for sure. My Dr. gave me prozac to ease the withdrawl which I’m taking but these symptoms are HELL. I just found your website and opened the 6 EFXR I have left and will try this method of bridging. THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE!!!!!!!!

    • wendy nielsen says:

      I’m so sorry you’ve been dealing with those awful symptoms!! I hope the bridge works!! Please keep me posted!!

      • Wendy,
        This post is old but I took your advise along with my Dr and did the PRozac bridge…..ITs worked so far but now I’m wondering how to stop the Prozac ? Ive been Effexor free for 2 days:)

        • wendy nielsen says:

          Hi Melissa! Yes, definitely an old post but my most popular. The Prozac is FAR EASIER to wean from. In my experience, I took it every other day, then every 3rd day and so on. But definitely speak with your doctor before doing anything as I am NOT a medical professional. Best to you!

          • Wendy,
            I have been on Effexor 150 mg for 10 years. I am hoping to switch to Wellbutrin. You had said you were on Wellbutrin as well. When did you start taking the Wellbutrin durin the Effexor/Prozac Bridge? Thank you!

          • wendy nielsen says:

            Hi Jennifer,
            I was taking Wellbutrin and Effexor at the same time. The Wellbutrin was for depression and the Effexor for hot flashes. I stayed on Wellbutrin while completing the Effexor/Prozac bridge and decided to come off of Wellbutrin too after I was done with the bridging process. Hope that clears things up.

  11. Just saw this post (a bit late, I know). I weaned off Prozac in Nov/Dec of last year and oh my god, it was the worst experience ever. I wasn’t transferring onto a diff SSRI (at least that was the plan) and I think my Dr. had me halving the doses too quickly- I was getting brain zaps so bad I was in bad for almost 2 weeks. However, I’ve weaned off some SSRI’s while going ONTO others, and that’s been a ::much:: better experience. Now (because after a couple months AD-free I realized that wasn’t going to work) I’m trying Wellbutrin XL– a SNRI that’s not known for weight gain, yay– but apparently it takes 6-8 weeks to really see any results. It’s a fun process, no?

  12. Update…7 days ALE ( after last Effexor)…and the symptoms have subsided. The bridge definitely helped with the ‘shifting head’ feeling and nausea. I awoke on day 5 with a fabulously clear head! What a relief to be able to work and think again.
    Other than the priceless advise from Wendy’s website, I take away 2 main lessons from this experience. 1. Doctors MUST listen to us when we tell them the SSRI discontinuation syndrome symptoms may not out weigh the benefits of the medication. I was never told by any doctor over the last decade that discontinuation for any reason would be so horrible.2. DO NOT TRY TO DO THIS without a mate, friend or family member around. IF YOU LIVE ALONE …try to have someone stay with you for a few days or stay with them. I was lucky enough to have a wonderful friend invite me to their house where he cooked and cared for me for 24 hours.I experienced mental anguish; extreme anxiety and mood swings on days 2-5 ALE that honestly made me feel crazier than before medication. I am now taking 40ml daily of Prozac compared to the 300 ml of Effexor I was taking. I can’t say I feel 100% yet but I am on to better days…… :)

    • wendy nielsen says:

      Excellent points, Maggie! I’m definitely not a doctor so I would never recommend anyone trying this without consulting a medical professional first. I’m so happy you’re feeling better!!

  13. Stephanie says:

    I have been doing the bridge method for 7 months now. But if I skip a day or 2 of Prozac, I start to feel very mild withdrawal symptoms again! Do I now have to slowly ween off of prozac as well? How long do I have to continue taking Prozac to not feel any withdrawals?

    • wendy nielsen says:

      I’m sorry you’re having such a difficult time. Are you still taking part Effexor, part Prozac? Or just Prozac alone?
      I didn’t have a problem weaning from the Prozac. I stayed on it for about a month when I started to wean. Is there a lower dose your doctor can prescribe?
      Keep me posted!!

  14. I have been trying to come off effexor for a little over a month. I am having trouble. I have had issues with depressions for two years. I came off Ciprolex about 10 months ago with some withdrawl, but nothing like this. I can handle the physical withdrawl, but the mental, mood swings, rage, anger, withdrawl I have experienced is so intense, I do not feel like I can control myself. I know many have written here and on other sites about similar problems, but I want to know…will it end….will the mood swings stop?. I have been tapering down 2 beads a day from the 75 mg capsule (250 to 150 to 75 and now 2 beads a day for a month. and at first, the first week was crazy, I was crying everyday, angry, agitated, and then full out rage, so emotional, just a mess. Then i started to get a bit better. But yesterday I missed my dose and today I am a mess. Crying, starting fights with my partner over silly things, and going into a full out rage…crying, screaming…this is not me,,,,this has never been me, even at my worst. I wish it could end. Would the prozac bridge help the mood swings?…please, I need some advice. I have a great partner and life, and I fear totally messing it up because of this emotional side effect to the withdrawal. I wish I never went to the Dr that day, and got the script for Effexor. Will it get better….

    • wendy nielsen says:

      I wish I knew that answer, Kylee! I know what worked for me and the Prozac bridge definitely worked ease the withdrawals from the Effexor. Please seek out medical help. Ask your doctor about bridging the two drugs. If your doctor won’t listen – find another one! Please keep me posted!! xo

    • Hi Kylee,
      I think that you’re tapering too quickly! I was on effexor XR for 5 years (like Wendy, I was given it after a breat cancer diagnosis) and I am now in month 4…yes, MONTH 4, of discontinuing. I still have a planned 2 months to go until I am effexor-free. I started at 3 x 37.5mg caps/day and reduced to 2 caps/day for 4 weeks, then 1 cap/day for 4 weeks and now 1/2 cap. I will be switching to 1/2 of a 25mg tablet/day soon, and will stay on that for 4 weeks, then 1/4 tab for 4 weeks, and then I’m done!! Even with this snail-pace taper, I still experience slight withdrawal symptoms. The half-life of effexor and its metabolites are super short, and this is why the symptoms appear after even one missed dose. Prozac has a much longer half-life, thus it can be used a the bridge Wendy speaks about. I would never advise an alternate day approach to tapering as this is like ping-pong on your brain. If you don’t have the time to taper slowly, the Prozac bridge is a recognized aternative.

      I wish you the best of luck!!

  15. I started effexor during radiation for breast cancer. I’m tapering off of it now and it’s rough! I asked my doctor for a short prozac script and he said it wasn’t necessary. I really think doctors should be knowledgeable about drugs before they prescribe them!

    Effexor was definitely needed when I first got it, so I wouldn’t say I regret it, but it’s not something that should be as casually prescribed as it seems to be. Thanks, Wendy, for sharing your story. It makes me not feel so crazy to be having such a hard time with this!

    • wendy nielsen says:

      Thanks for commenting, Stephanie! Ask your doctor again. You must be your own advocate! If he won’t give you a short prozac script, ask another doctor! Keep me posted on your progress!! xo

  16. Hi, thank you for your website! I am starting Day 6 of 150 Effexor ER withdrawal aka Cold Turkey Hell. I think one thing that we all have to remind ourselves is this: All that crazy crying, wanting to kill everything and anything and over the top mood swings, ARE controllable, just merely by our very admission to ourselves that they exist! Just stop for a minute, in the middle of a brain-blink (as I like to call them) and remember that YOU are in charge now! Our brains will heal, our bodies will detox, it’ll just take time. Starting one drug to end another might not be the best idea for everyone, as you might then have to detox from TWO drugs simultaneously. LOVE yourselves. Calmly recalibrate, rethink and revive to a new YOU! A drug-free YOU! I’ve been on 150 XR for 3 years for PTSD and everything that goes with that, and it all boils down to YOU. YOU have to get a grip, YOU have to want out of this drug hell, and YOU CAN DO IT. YOU can heal better with good therapy than you can with these toxic pills. Drink tons of water, take magnesium, fish oil, Omega oils, vitamins, B complex and overload on these, they help TONS. I also am taking a Liver Detox from Walgreens, and I think that is helping this crap get out of my body quicker. STAY STRONG. If you feel dizzy, drink a glass of water and go to bed! Your body is going to need tons of rest to repair the damage this drug has done. And one more thing, reading the computer and watching TV don’t mix with this dizzy crap. Just turn it ALL off. God Speed friends.

  17. No one ever tells you about the downside of coming off these awful things. I have been on 300mg for 7 months and after attempts to reduce the dosage with disastorous consequences and on the advice of my psychiatrist admitted myself to a private psychiatric clinic. Tapering the Effexor slowly some dosage reductions were harder to deal with and once down to 75mg she added 10mg Lovan. Today is day 2 of 37.5mg Effexor and 20mg Lovan and I must admit I am not feeling great but know I am through the worst of it. I really admire you all who have been able to do it at home I honestly don’t think I would have survived without the help of clinic staff, 3 visits to my psych a week and the group sessions.

    • Jerry Durden says:

      If you get a chance and are on Facebook, then consider joining or liking the group Ban Effexor. I’ve never in my life had the kinds of problems that withdrawing from this drug has created. I’m a very strong willed, type A man. Hell! I’m even an Aries :-) but, withdrawal symptoms of this drug are REAL. I can wait to be the old, anxious and hyper me vs the unmotivated and distant person that I’ve become. Thanks to everyone for their posts.

  18. Thanks so much for sharing , I am currently coming off Effexor , which I was prescribed for post natal-depression, I have got myself down to 75mg, and it hasn’t been too bad I have been drinking lots of Ginger tablets for the vertigo but I have been able to manage overall, I went to the doctor and goy the smaller does of 37.5 which I plan to start on Friday , so I can sleep over the weekend if I need,
    i’m going to try the opening on the pill and counting the pebbles out like suggested, I didn’t even think of that but makes total sense……… after Effexor im too scared to try Prozac bridge…. just cant wait to be a functioning person without Effexor….. good luck to all who are in the process of ridding the drug also.
    ALLY x

    • Wow! Can’t believe the stories I have just read! I have been taking Effexor for 5 yrs and now believe every symptom I have had, that I’m not crazy. I chose to have my Dr. ween me off about 5 wks ago. I felt like after yrs it wasn’t doing anything for me, and he would never reevaluate me. My biggest reason was I would like to have children within the next year. Within the 1st wk I cut my dosage from 150 to 75. I felt a little symptoms but not too bad. Over the next 4 wks I got down to 35mg. 2 days ago I quit completely. I still had about 10 pills left but figured I already went this far why give up. I have been a mess for about 2 wks now. It is awful!!! As much as I want to give up this process, I refuse! I can’t wait until all this withdrawal crap is gone! I can’t wait to be med free again…

  19. Trapped says:

    I’m having issues getting off of Pamelor and getting physically ill. I can’t seem to find any information or any doctor who is familiar with the symptoms I am having. It’s ruining my life.

  20. I’ve been doing it for a week now and it works perfectly, off effexor xr. Are you still on 10mg of Prozac? If not, how long did you take it after quiting effexor? Thank you so much for your article.

  21. Lindsay says:

    This is unreal!
    I was on Prozac for years (and always did very well on it) but switched to Effexor when it came out as the newest and “best” anxiety drug – it was the new buzz word drug … I’ve been stuck on it for about 5 years now, as the withdrawal symptoms were so horrendous and frightening.
    Thank you for sharing your story! I’m heading to see my doctor this week to discuss this fab option!

  22. I am on 150 Effexor to counter the hotflashes from tamoxifen. It helps with hotflashes, and seems to curb some of the post treatment depression I often feel. I ran out of the pills once and experienced the horrors of withdrawal. Crying jags, anger, nosedive depression. I have also found that the generic does not work as well, so the cost of the “addiction” is high. Although I am 4 years out from initial diagnosis, have encountered so many complications, I haven’t even thought of getting off of Effexor. I am under the understanding that many antidepressants counter the benefits of tamoxifen. Anyone know about that?
    Thanks, love this blog!

  23. Well, I must be one of the lucky ones. I have been taking Effexor XR and most recently Venlafaxine HCL 75mg one time a day for probably 8 to 10 years. About 2 months ago I started trying to ween myself by taking 1 tablet every other day. I seem to be able to skip a day with out feeling weird. When I went to my doctor last month, I told her what I was trying to do and asked for 37.5 mg. I started taking that lower dosage every other day for about 2 weeks and then 1/2 of that when needed (when I started having brain zaps). I am almost completely weened with no problems. Feel so blessed after reading so many horror stories. Best of luck to those of you still trying to get off this drug.

  24. I have been taking antidepressants for 20 years, Effexor for the last 7. With now being post menopausal I have hopes of not needing the pills. The impact they had on my body scared me. I took it at night because I didn’t like the zap I’d get if I took it during the day. If I missed just one dose I got such crazy dreams, sweats, long disturbing sleep, feeling like I had the biggest hangover. So about 3 weeks ago I took my dose of 150 mg a day to every other day. Then 2 weeks ago cut it down again to about 30 mg day. I should have guessed what was in store for me – extreme headaches, dizzy, fits of sweating then chills, inability to focus, fitful sleeping, feeling like I was outside of my body. One week ago I stopped taking it all together. I didn’t want to prolong this any further. Taking a pain reliever helps a little. Each day I keep hoping the withdrawal systems will be gone, but they are still hanging on.

  25. Hi Wendy! I found this website as I am trying to get off effexor. I was prescribed effexor as a result of my friend recommending it to me for my depression. I was going through a lot of changes in my life and could hardly get out of bed and get dressed in the morning. My dr. put me on 37.5 mg/day of effexor a year ago. It was the first time I took any anti-depressant and it changed my life for the better. Through a strong faith and self-confidence, as well as the help of the drug, I came out of the sadness and recently just got married. I’m in my mid thirties and would like to start a family within the next year. Because of this and the horrible things I’ve read online about the drug, I’ve decided to get off the medication for good. I also eat very clean now and no longer have artificial sweetener and caffeine (which my dr said can cause mood changes). I’m feeling very good, but am very nervous getting off this drug. My dr. put me on a 7 week plan. The first week I am supposed to take 6 pills, the second 5 pills, and so forth until I’m off the meds. This week is my first week tapering. On Monday, I skipped my dose and woke up Tuesday morning with flu like symptoms (nausea, dizziness). I called my dr and she prescribed an anti-nausea med. I felt 95% better within 20 minutes of taking it. I skipped my Tuesday dose and woke up feeling good today. I decided I wanted to be rid of the drug and get off it cold turkey, but my dr disagreed and said that was a bad idea and I could crash severely (experience extreme depression). I’m feeling very hopeless. I’m a teacher and am going back to work in 2 weeks. I’ll still be tapering off the drug for another 5 weeks while I’m at work. I’m so scared that I won’t feel well. I just needed to talk to someone and get some advice and maybe reassurance.

  26. Dee Plante says:

    Thank you for hope! I’ve been of effexor for 10 years and trying to wean off them for 8! Every time I get to the final stage of weaning I go into a deep depression and go back on them. Funny thing is, I’m not bipolar or manic. I had an episode of overhelm-ment. My 14year old daughter became pregnant, I found it had to cope with it so my doctor gave me effexor samples! What was she thinking!!! Everytime I would try to get off them, she would ask me why? She thought that if they kept me in a zombie state, it was good. I say no! So finally for the umpteenth time, I weaned myself off to where I was opening the capsule and counting the balls and decreasing from there. I was at 20 balls and quit. It’s been a month, still have brain zaps, vertigo, nausea and irritation. I’ve been smoking marijuiana when I feel the worst. It alleviates all the side effects! It also helps product serotonin naturally in the brain. (Effexor stops your brain from producing it naturally and provides it
    synthetically) Damn doctors who prescribe it willy-nilly without any thought what they are giving! It should only be prescribed by a psychologist! I’m still not done with the withdrawals after one month, man I hope I’m done soon!

  27. I just ready this post now. I can totally relate as I was taking Paxil for a while. Little did I know at the time it’s one of the worst anti-depressants you can take. When I wanted to wean off, I literally found myself going crazy and had to take medical leave in order to deal with the side effects. Luckily I found a good doctor who did the Prozac swap-out, like you described above. I’ve since gone off the Prozac too, but I wish I knew to transition from one drug to the other before I started on that horrible weaning off Paxil. I haven’t written about this on my blog, but have wanted to. You’ve inspired me to tell that story. Like your post, I think it’s probably really helpful to people.

  28. Finding these posts is like finding a light at the end of a very dark tunnel. At least I know I’m not crazy and others are experiencing the same craziness I am when trying to get off of Effexor. I just want to be done with this drug.

  29. Hi i have been on effexor xr for over 11 years .my doc said to come off so she said take my 6 tabs of 37.5 for 3 days then 4 tbs for 3 days then 2 tabs for 3 days then 1 tab for 3 days .i have been off this for 5 days and this is the first day i have been able to stay up out of bed still getting brain zaps and sweating and chills ,crying and screaming ,called the doc today hope she calls me back tomorrow .i sure hope i feel better soon .

  30. Hi Wendy. Thanks for your story am going to ask my doctor tomorrow if I can do the Prozac Bridge. I have got myself down to 19 of the round balls of the 37.5 mg pill of Effexor for about 2 wks now. I tried to skip a day but big mistake-I got the runs, flu like aches, and nausea. Wow, this drug is like coming off a street drug (not that I have been on drugs,but what I have seen on tv ). I am over a bout of depression after a few deaths in my family. The a Effexor helped but I want to give my body a break from medication. If I go on something again, maybe I will try something like Prozac that is not difficult to stop taking and will not cause weight gain. I have gone from 130 o 138 since the Effexor. But my normal weight was 120 before menopause. :)

  31. Candace L says:

    Hello I just have some questions. I stopped taking Effexor cold turkey for about a week. My doctor then said there was no point in weaning me off but I am having severe withdrawl symptoms. Should I seek a second opinion and wean myself off. I’m just worried that ill never be able to get rid of these symptoms since I went cold turkey. I would never suggest this drug to anyone it caused me to gain over 60 pounds and have me severe insomnia and now I feel not like myself and I will cry out of nowhere, and the list goes on! So is it possible to go back to
    normal one day even from stopping it cold turkey?

  32. I am on day 14 of a cold turkey withdrawal from 200mg Effexor XR, took for two years.
    Looking back, my life only got worse while on this drug, in fact it fell apart. Withdrawal has been hell for me, I guess I asked for it doing to cold turkey method but 2 weeks in, despite the daily nausea, I will never go back. Daily B vitamin, Dramamine sparingly, regular meals, lots of water and being vocal about what Im experiencing has been helpful. I’ve also noticed I can no longer tolerate my beloved coffee? Makes me feel sick, the upside is smoking no longer appeals to me either,
    which I started back, a few months after being prescribed E, after being a non- smoker for 9a year

  33. Hi there, I feel really inspired by your post. Just today I realised I had forgotten my dose (300mg) and I have had the most awful symptoms. I’ve taken it for the last seven years and even though I have my issues, I don’t want to continue to take anything that could make me feel so terrible. I wonder now if I even am alive to so much of the world! Perhaps this isn’t appropriate to ask, but I would love to hear from anyone who has experience of professionals in London that might be able to help support and guide me on this task? Much love.

  34. Hi Wendy

    Interesting article indeed. I took myself off 700mg a day of Effexor (I’m not sure what Effexor XR is), but I kept going to work because I didn’t have any leave up my sleeve. Couldn’t take a sick day and not pay the rent (have one son, unsupported). I did it cold turkey and the effect was – OH MY GOD – like I was falling off the Earth, no equilibrium, brain freeze, vagueness. I got made “redundant” 22 August. They never saw me the same again, work didn’t – I made a video on it here : http://wordsfallfrommyeyes.wordpress.com/2013/09/05/when-they-pay-you-to-go/. Thing is, I’m not redundant as they now have someone else in my spot!

    Effexor. Yay.

  35. Oh my goodness. I was put on Venlafaxine ER after a total hysterectomy in 2008 for hot flashes. I went from 75-150 mg to aid in a bout of depression. I had no idea the side effects of this med or I never would have agreed to take it. Within 5 hours of a missed dose (75mg in am and 75 in pm) I am experiencing withdrawal: brain fog, brain zaps, nausea, dizziness, headache. I take a pill ASAP and within 2 hours am usually back to normal. Occasionally I forget to have a pill with me in my purse – and have had to leave work, church, events…etc. just to get a pill because I know how horrible I feel. I had worked in a mental health clinic for several years and thought I knew what weaning was. Knowing how bad this med affected me, I started a slow, deliberate wean over a period of months. Each time I dropped 1/4 pill or 18.75 mg, I would experience withdrawal, but not severe, I could tolerate it and it would even itself out after a few days…until I got down to 37.5 mg. I got SOOOO sick I ended up in bed, so dizzy I could not get up. I went to work the morning I went down to 37.5. Within 2 hours I vomited. I thought it might be flu – vomited again – went home. I got worse and worse and worse…where I couldn’t get out of bed without help. 48 hours later, I called the MD who advised taking a 75 mg tablet immediately. Within 1 hour I was feeling nearly normal. This is really scary to me. I never considered myself to be addicted until I read this site and I guess that is what it is – but not by choice! So I would like to try weaning again but in researching I fear I may be one of those 1% who may not be able to ever wean. The bridge sounds good, although this was never recommended to me. I am going to bring it up to my doctor – thank you for this site!!!

  36. Wendy I was wondering how you are doing now with anxiety. I have read about people getting off effexor and getting hit with worse anxiety. That’s what scares me the most is that. I have come off it before by lowering the does and taking something else too it wasn’t Prozac but something. I felt good from what I remembered and was off everything until I started a new job after being out of work for two years and was starting to feel like things may come back and got back on it again for the last three years and want to get off it again I am at another new job for over a year feel good and think it’s time I am just worried that in 6 months after quitting that it may come back.

  37. Went on Effexor after loosing twins in adoption. If I forget to pick up med, or don’t take for few days all those symptoms occur. Been slow weaning from 150 to 75mg. I get horrible nausea, equilibrium problems, headache, rushing sounds in my ears, hot flashes, the whole gam it. The sad part, I am in the medical field…a PA. Was a RN, when started med. I never learned this about this med ever in school!!!!! However, I will not use this drug any longer bc of this. I have just spent my weekend in bed wishing the world would end, puking my guts into the toilet bc I can’t go 3 days without 75mg of this drug.

  38. What a great post/thread Wendy. I too had to go thru Effexor post oophrectomy (before that my onc doled out Ativan like it was pez but I read somewhere it made your hair fall out so I was like “yikes”). I was able to taper down slowly without a bridge, but a few months later had terrible anxiety attacks, so my Dr. put me on Prozac which I loved. I stopped it because I thought I was seeing my weight creep up a little and tried to use Xanax as a rescue med (at night, especially great for sleeping). But now, I’ve found the Xanax is too addicting, and getting off of that is a real nightmare, so I’m going to ask my doctor whether the Prozac bridge will help me here.

  39. Trudi Sengstock says:

    I went away on a houseboat for a week and forgot to take my efexor er 150mg with me. Ive been on them for as long as i can remember. i took a few Valium to get through. I’m determined not to take another one , doesn’t matter how bad I feel I’m not doing it anymore. I feel so much lighter in the head and no suicide thoughts like I used to have everyday. I feel so much happier. Even though its only been a week . I drive a garbage truck so I praying ill be fine for work tomorrow.

  40. Everyone talks about how awful Effexor (venlafaxine) is but I have loved being on it. Although, I have to admit that I now take medication for high blood pressure and an under active thyroid because of it…!! I have also really suffered if I miss even one of my 225mg pills, I’m so sleepy I can’t get out of bed, night sweats, headache, abdomen pain almost like period cramps, back ache & I’m sure you guys know the rest! I have tried to lower the dose with a view to come off as I realise that due to the other ailments it’s caused it obviously a really dangerous drug. But, now I have a really challenge, I’m about to start IVF & don’t want to take the drug or any if possible whilst pregnant. However I was diagnosed with clinical depression nearly 20 years ago & struggle to function without meds.

    I live in the UK & I don’t believe doctors know even about antidepressants to be able to make a well thought out choice on my behalf & I was certainly not made aware of any of the side effects as I guess many others wasn’t. Obviously I read the leaflet that comes with it but by the time your that depressed to go on the pills your definitely not in a state to turn down something that could make you better & possibly worse in the long run.

    Anyway, I’m here researching how to get of Effexor AND go to work at the same, being able to function normally without anyone guessing you’re going through withdrawals. Anyone pulled that one off or care to share any advice? Thanks x

    • I have been only many different antidepressants for the past 20+ years for migraine headache prevention. Effexor XL 150 mg daily was the last prescribed. I have taken it for approximately 4-5 years. I could never taper without the horrible side effects many of you have described. I used the Prozac Bridge and had no withdrawal symptoms at all. I had become discouraged I would never get off the medications. I am so thankful I found out about the bridge and had a physician willing to work with me.

  41. Laura Pender says:

    Wendy!! I did it!! I got off of Effexor!! I have been on Effexor XR for 15 years! I printed off your information and faxed it to my Gynecologist and she had never heard of the Effexor-Prozac Bridge! She read about it and visited with her partners and she said “Go for it”!! She gave me the two weeks of Prozac! The only thing that I had a minor problem with is that the generic Effexor is not little round balls. It is little broken up cylinders. So I had to eyeball it. The pharmacy ordered the brand but my insurance would not pay for it! And they were (the pharmaceutical company) not getting another dime of my money! Anyway, a week before I sent your info to my doctor, another lady also sent the same to her! So, we are the only two doing it! She said if it worked for us she would recommend to her other patients wanting off of it! I have been Effexor free for almost 3 weeks now! I didn’t even finish the Prozac prescription! Go me!! LOL! I have a few little dizzy spells daily but they are getting few and far between. Thank you so much for your article! You saved me all the horrible side effects from the drug! May God bless you always!! Laura :)

  42. I was put on Venlefaxine to relieve my hot flashes. The doctor increased my dose to 175. I no longer need it and he decreased it to 50 then to 35. After that it was a nightmare! I tried taking them further apart, taking half the beads out, nothing worked. I’s get the horrid electrical head zaps, nausea, irritable, sick all over feeling. Finally I just took 1 bead out of the capsule every other day until I had four left, then I took four beads for a few days, then to three, then to two and finally one for several days. Now I am off, but I still get the zaps and ringing, and sick feeling, and hard to get up in the morning, but not at the intensity it was. I have been off for about two weeks now. I do not know how much longer the zapping will take. It is horrible stuff!!

  43. I’ve only been taking Effexor for 5-6 mos. & it hasn’t done anything wonderful or even remotely better than the Celexa I was taking previously. My dr. thought it wld be a wonder cure. He was wrong. Now, I’m trying to get off of it, especially because it’s difficult on my stomach.
    This has been incredibly difficult (as you all seem to know). I am down to 37.5 mg a day but my dr. wants me off it cold turkey for at least 7 days before, he says, he can put me on possibly Lexapro. He insists the 2 can not overlap. So, I’m curious how this Prozac bridge works if this supposed cross-over is so dangerous?
    Instead of going cold turkey I have opened up the capsules & split the content in half. So roughly 35mg a day here on day 2. I am easy to agitate & moody, but I will try & walk, breathe & keep as calm as I can. I live alone, so this whole thing is a bit scary.
    Most frustrating is my dr’s lack of understanding about how difficult this is. His “cold turkey” insistence along with “you’ll be fine” is not reassuring. He insists that MOST people don’t have a problem with it, yet I look on line & disagree.
    I am glad I found your blog. thank you, d xo

  44. Hi Wendy,

    Thank you so much for this blog which has helped me beyond measure. Also, a shout out to all who have taken the time to share their experiences.

    I write with mixed feelings and an open mind regarding the pro’s and con’s of Effexor RX. Like several women have already stated, I was first prescribed Effexor 10 years ago to help reduce symptoms related to cancer treatment. Recovery from a year of cancer drugs (chemo, radiation, Effextor, etc.) was difficult to say the least and impossible to know which drug effected which part of my brain and/or moods. Fast forward 5 years, while experiencing a six-week severe bout of anxiety, I went back on Effexor RX. Within 24 hours after starting 37 1/2 mg, my anxiety symptoms subsided. As directed, I increased to 75 mg and remained on that dose for approximately one year, I had ABSOLUTELY NO negative withdrawal systems. None! Nada!

    My “customary” anxiety remained tolerable for another four years. One year ago, following severe anxiety symptoms, again I returned to the same dose of Effexor RX but this time my insurance dictated the generic form, Venlafazine ER. I tapered off as directed but a week or so after stopping the reduced step-down dose of 37 1/2 mg, OMG. I was hit with vertigo, including vomiting, and sharp electrical type brain pains but without ANY negative mental or emotional side effects. Two months later, I’m still struggling with severe motion sickness precipitated by yoga, swimming, and car movements which invariably last the entire day.

    Given my life-long history with anxiety (no longer externally driven) I am pretty sure that I (my brain) will one day need help again. I do not want to rule out Effexor RX as an option but I will need a much better plan for withdrawing down from this drug.

    Thank you again, dawn

  45. I apologize if someone has already covered this, but if I take the beads out slowly over time, do I have to ingest them in the capsules, or is it okay to just swallow them?

    I know, I know. Talk to my doctor. I’m all about a slow taper, but my doctor of course advised the every-other-day strategy which is exactly as one person above put it: playing ping pong with my brain. The zaps, headaches, and vertigo is unbearable!!

    For anyone who reads this, I think the drug is great–didn’t have as many side effects as SSRIs and didn’t leave me feeling as drowsy–but yes, beware the half-life is short, so you are in hot water if you miss a dose.


  46. I took effexor for 15 years, from the age of 25 until I was 40 and the withdrawal was the most brutal, horrendous experience of my entire life. It took almost 2 years to be rid of the symptoms and in the meantime I felt as though I had lost my mind and been sucked into some kind of alternate dimension where nightmares are real. You know when you wake up from a distressing dream, or a nightmare and you thank God that it was “only a dream”? That is what withdrawal was like for me, every day, like a living nightmare where I didn’t know who I was, or what I believed. I felt as though my brain was having seizures and the electric shocks were so severe that they would wake me from exhausted sleep. I remember sitting in the corner of my kitchen, on the floor, in hysterics, screaming and shaking my fist at God because he hadn’t killed me. It took me 7 months to go from a 75mg capsule per day, down to 1/4 of a 37.5mg capsule daily and it was still horrific. I just wanted to say, for everyone else who has these kinds of withdrawal symptoms, don’t give up, it is possible to get off this stuff. It is a brutal, life altering experience, but it’s possible. Thankfully, not everyone experiences the extreme withdrawal that I did. Oh, one more thing, I was initially prescribed effexor for major depression. It was helpful to me for 2 years, maybe 3 at the most, after that I was no longer responding to it but I kept taking it because I had a little boy to take care of and had to be stable for him.

  47. Hi Wendy,
    Just came across your blog.
    I have been on venlafaxine for hot flashes caused by chemo. Did you have insomnia while on this medication as I am unable to sleep and really feel quite awful.Also how long did you take it for to control the flushes?
    thanks a lot

    • wendy nielsen says:

      I don’t recall any insomnia while on it. I starting taking it right before I started chemotherapy and for about 2.5 years after. The hot flashes subsided far before I stopped taking the drug. Just thinking… your insomnia might be a result of other changes. Are you menopausal? Just a thought.

      • Hi Wendy,
        I am in the UK and the pharmacists have said Prozac is only available in 20mg capsules!
        Maybe I should open the capsules and take half of the beads or maybe the syrup.
        Also how long did it take to get off Prozac?

        Thanks for your blog!

  48. Just starting today to try to get off this horrible drug…. wish me luck soooo happy that I have friends to help me thru this meaning you guys…. my Dr. had nooooo clue. I tried to go off it cold turkey and boy was I sick, yuk….
    I would haveNEVER gone on this stuff had I known…. well its Friday I am following exactly the wendy did it, Ill keep you posted Thanks Happy Thanksgiving -Kris

  49. Thank God Im not alone in this. I pray no children are taking this, how could they communicate their symptoms? Withdrawal from this is painful, though thanks to the prozac it is minimizing.

  50. Good luck to all trying to cut back on effexor. I will be trying again. Will post how I do.

  51. I am in week 3 of my with drawl from effexor. I was taking 150mg a day for years. My Dr had me reduce mine to 2 13.5 for 1 week then 1 13.5 a day for the next week. We did this to change me to another med. I had no idea about any withdrawal from the effector. No one told me I would have any at all. I started the new med and I am on day 6 for that one. I still feel horrilbe from the with drawl of the effexor. I feel so bad and just want it to stop. Sometimes I think about just dying to make it stop. I feel so alone, like no one understands what I’m going through. I feel like my relationship with my boyfriend is going to end because of it. I just want to go to the hospital for some kind of relief. On top of all of this I’m have relationship problems with my 13 year old daughter. I am constantly crying or ready to physically hurt some one or myself. Another issue my Pcp has been closed and his emergency call is another Dr who doesn’t even know me. I can’t even talk to my own Dr. All this has made it even harder for me to be going through all of this. I am feeling like a drug addict going through detox. I hope I can get through this hoping tomorrow will be better. Thank you for letting me share my experience from this awful drug. Someone really needs to get this drug off the market. I’m sure it has caused many people a lot of pain and suffering. Even death.

    • Sorry it was reduced to 37.5….another withdrawal symptom…can’t think straight.

      • Hi Wendy

        So I did the prozac bridge like u described and I have to say what a life saver….. I had been trying to get off effexor for 5 years prior to this. The only issue I am finding is that maybe I got off the prozac to fast… I only took it for two weeks after my last dose of effexor, and I’m getting the vertigo and brains zaps now. Should I have taken the prozac for longer??

  52. Thank you for this forum and thanks to everyone for adding comments and sharing their particular story. After reading this blog several months ago, I got the nerve to try and get off Effexor one more time. I have tried weaning myself off and all the way down to just 25 mg a day, which is miniscule, but I cant seem to go for 20 hours without having awful withdrawl symptoms. My doctor (GP) has prescribed me a low dose of Zoloft 25 mg to start taking with effexor for several weeks and slowly increasing. He has had a couple patients try this and it worked. Does anyone else have any experience with this Effexor/Zoloft bridge? I greatly appreciate your feedback.

    • Hello David,
      I’m currently tapering off of Effexor.
      I wanted to warn you though; I had similar (though not as extreme) symptoms when quitting Zoloft. I did so cold turkey because at the time I had no idea that there was anything wrong with that.
      The brain zaps were the worst (though not neatly as bad as w/ Effexor), but idk if that would be easily combatted by tapering off of Zoloft or not.

      Just wanted to make you aware!

  53. I have been taking Effexor for a year after a horrific month of overwhelming events occurred in my life. In the last few months it felt like I was getting even more depressed, gaining weight, but not emotionally responding to anything, not crying or reacting, but falling deeper into a hole of avoidance. I decided it was time to get my own life back so I started my own reduction of the drug. I divided up the next months pills and took out several granules over a weekly period at a time and put them in separate biggies, labeled them -15 granules, next week -25 and so on. I’m on my first week without the drug, it took me five weeks of a gradual reduction and I feel much more alive. Going on walks every morning, juicing (veggies) highly recommend that! The Nuitibullet is wonderful!! This week I’ve noticed kind of a caffeine high feeling, but that not worse. I hope that will diminish with time. I’m also starting to cry at sad songs and movies again, which makes me feel human again. I’m happy I did it, I’m going to be oh so cautious about what m uhh doctor decides to prescribe me in the future, this was a huge mind numbing trap. It’s nice to take a day or two off, even a few weeks, but I don’t recommend taking a year off from human emotion. We should feel pain from time to time, it’s natural.

  54. Thank you for posting about the Effexor-Prozac bridge. I’ve been on Effexor XR 150 mg for about 18 months after failing 5 SSRI’s for a severe case of postpartum depression. This drug, in combination with intense therapy and support groups, saved my life. I agree some of the side effects I experienced were bad (inhibited platelet aggregation being the worst) but I must say for me, this was the wonder drug. It did its job. I’m alive. I am on Day 7 of a slow taper off this medication. The withdrawal symptoms have been manageable thus far but knowing about this taper will make discontinuing this potent medication successful. Also thank you about posting about counting the granules – I thought I’s be crazy if I did so but it clearly is a strategy to consider!

  55. I am a 36 year old woman who has been on Effexor since I was 19 years old. By now everyone knows that this drug has wreaked a lot of havoc in many of our lives. I have wanted to wean myself off for years but have been too scared to do it..until this last year. I was also taking 2mg of xanax right before bed every night for 4 years and have been off of that for a couple months now! I am extremely interested in this Prozac-Effexor bridge (a little scared because I took Prozac for a month or so back when I was trying to figure out which anti-depressant worked for me; and, i had a lot of side effects. (but, none as crazy as the effexor) I have been taking 75mg at night and 75mg in the morning and now down to half of that. Do you have any advice on what to look for when searching for a doctor to help me with the bridge?? I don’t have insurance and have been doing the tapering on my own..(with a lot of advice from doctor sites etc) Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

  56. I simply cut in half, from 150 mg , then stopped. No withdrawal other than a few body aches and tired..then I just stopped..

    • wendy nielsen says:

      That is so out of the norm, if you read the 90+ comments from other readers. I’m so happy you were able to get off without the crazy symptoms!! Thanks for commenting.

      • Effexor is marginally less and less effective at higher doses at least for serotonin. So reducing from higher doses (which target norepinephrine anddopamine) does not significantly reduce effects on serotonin. This is why the difficulty is as the dose gets to 37.5 and below, where each mg of med has a maginmarginally greater effect o. Serotonin, which appears to be what makes us feel sick when quickly reducing below 37.5.

        • Thank You for this comment. I take 75mg for nearly 15 years and a few times my doc increased it by 37.5mg but I didn’t feel any better. So back down to 75mg. Since then, Doc tried to change my meds a few times, but I cannot get away from the dreadful withdrawals of Effexor XR…Even at 37.5mg I still had the vertigo, nausea, sweats, etc. I may ask my doc to try this Effexor-Prozac bridge since it is a terrible experience trying to wean off it….so I see what you are saying…trying to reduce under the 37.5 makes us feel sick…thanks for confirming what I thought/felt!

  57. Hello,

    Glad you got through and I have a question.

    How did you take the granules. You took them like taking the 37.5 mg capsule just with water or you made them dissolve in a kind of liquid? I wanna know how to safely take those granules.

  58. I am so glad I found your site. My doctor switched me to 37.5 mg per day of Effexor XR after gaining 20 pounds and wanting to sleep all the time on Lexapro. One day I missed a dose of the Effexor and had amazing dizziness. I’ve been taking this less than a month! The more I have thought about it I have decided that I want to work on the problems I was having more naturally and want to get off the Effexor. My doctor has suggested the every other day route but I’m afraid of the dizziness. I have to be able to function. I will call her and find out about doing the bridge. The more I read about how hard it is to get off this drug the more angry I get as to why I was put on it in the first place.

  59. After being on 75 mg of Effexor for 4 years, I became pregnant. Something I never considered because of the effexor. I didn’t know how to come off of it. Didn’t know where to begin. Didn’t know what to do. After getting pregnant I spent HOURS every night researching my best possible plan to get off this medication WITHOUT all of the terrible withdrawal symptoms. Or to at lease minimize them. For 6 weeks I did ‘bead counting’, removing a couple of beads out of my extended release capsul every night. When I got to a low enough dose, which I believe to be about 37.5 mg, I did the prozac bridge. Added a prozac with my effexor for a couple of nights, then took only the prozac. As of now, 3 days effexor free, I have had no withdraw symptoms, and it has been fairly easy to discontinue. My advice is DO YOUR RESEARCH! It can be done! Good luck to everyone!

    • This is so great to hear. I have been doing research in hopes of stoping Effexor XR. I’ve been on it for 6 years and my husband and I would like to start trying to get pregnant. Your post gives me hope! Thanks! I’m glad you’re Effexor Free!!

  60. I just started going off Effexor today from 37.7 milligrams and I am on lamitrigine. So far I am very worried about these nasty withdrawls that I heard about and am not sure how I am going to be feeling today.

    • wendy nielsen says:

      best of luck. keep us posted.

      • I’m glad I am not alone in all this, although my heart goes out to everyone who goes through these horrible symptoms. It’s 1:30 in the morning, and I can’t sleep. I have been crying on and off all day, and just feel terrible, and have a lonely feeling. Some of these posts are really encouraging, and wish for everybody what I wish for myself – that we all get better, and normal. So God bless everybody; peace, health, and happiness.

        • The good news is that I’m going to start taking prozac tomorrow morning and I thank Wendy Nielsen for this wonderful blog and i’m looking forward to feeling better. I hope all of you feel better and trust me you are not along in this. Gracie I have been having some of the same withdrawals as you such as myself crying all day as if taking Effexor in the first place was feeling like a prisoner.

  61. Hello all,
    I know these success stories helped me a lot, so I wanted to share mine which is a tad different.

    I had only been on Effexor for 3 months when I noticed the positive symptoms starting to wane. My dosage was at 75mg, and my psychiatrist and I were considering upping it. I was certainly no longer depressed or anxious, which is why I started taking the pills, but I wasn’t better.
    I became a zombie. I stopped enjoying my hobbies. Nothing could excite me. I was irritable and unforgiving, cold even. Though I felt capable of completing my responsibilities for the first time in a while, I had literally oh motivation to do so. I ceased being able to have fun on my own (which was very hard on my relationship).
    I realized that it wasn’t that Effexor was not working to make me feel better, it was that Effexor was making me feel worse. So I decided to stop taking it, cold turkey. I have a performance (I am a member of a theater group) tomorrow, and I didn’t have time to wean myself off of it. I had planned on taking Prozac if needed but I was lucky enough that it wasn’t necessary for me.

    The first few days were extremely rough. The “quick to cry” symptom is no joke; my entire awareness often was dedicated to not crying, even if there was nothing remotely upsetting happening (hell, even if something happy was happening). One symptom people haven’t mentioned a lot is fogginess. Focusing was extremely difficult and I would often forget my point halfway through a conversation. Insomnia was big for me too. I barely slept at all during the first few days, and when I did, I had night sweats so bad that I would wake up so soaked that I needed to change clothes twice a night. The brain zaps were crippling and constant, but I found for me that limiting external stimuli and focusing on one simple thing (like music or a book) helped me get through the worst.
    After 3 days of symptoms quickly getting worse, they began to gradually get better. I’ve only been off for a week and I am nearly back to normal. I have small, far less disruptive brain zaps, I have trouble focusing, and I still have issues falling asleep and staying asleep, but otherwise I feel infinitely improved. I haven’t been this happy in a very long time.

    Thank you to everyone who has posted here; this website has been extremely helpful for me.

  62. I’m on 37.5mg now of the generic effexor I started taking St. John’s wort yesterday and going to stop the effexor generic so uou think I can use the St. John’s in place of Prozac? What are your thoughts?

    I can’t take Xanax due to past addiction to pills like it. I’m so scared of this withdrawal.

  63. I stopped Effexor 2weeks cut down by half then cold for two weeks now I’m 100%off Effexor feel awesome

  64. Wendy, you have given me so much hope! I have been taking Effexor for over ten years now ( present dosage 150 mg daily) and so much want to get off the stuff. I am worried that I will fall back into severe depression but I won’t know until I try. I KNOW that the drug has ugly side effects that I want to go away. I have tried cold turkey several times and never made it over 48 hours. My doc doesn’t seem to think it is any big deal but thankfully she is generally supportive of things I want to try. The Prozac bridge sounds as if it is an answer to my prayers – can’t wait to get started. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experiences with all of us. You are making a positive impact on the lives of so many people. I hope that you have a sense of deep fulfillment – you certainly deserve it. Thanks again.

  65. Thank you for this post. I’m 26 and I’ve been on a string of different anti-depressants since age 15, starting with Zoloft and passing through Wellbutrin, Lexapro, Anafranil, and Cymbalta, among others. At one point I was prescribed the anti-psychotic Abilify (even though I’ve never had symptoms for anything but unipolar depression), which gave me akathisia—and for those reading this who don’t know what that is, consider yourself lucky. It was the worst experience of my life and the stress from that ordeal was almost certainly the reason I developed shingles at age 19. My doctor tried to replace Abilify with Geodon, which made no difference. When I told them the akathisia was absolute torture, they prescribed me an anti-cholinergic drug which came with its own unpleasant side effects—finally I stopped those cold turkey and told my doctor I’d never take another anti-psychotic. (I also stopped going to that doctor, thankfully—I felt like a guinea pig under his “care.”)

    Four years ago I stopped taking my Cymbalta cold turkey. I knew there were risks, but having started SSRIs at 15, I couldn’t stand the thought that I don’t even really know what it’s like not to be medicated—and thus that I have no way to know what physical and mental symptoms are from depression and which are side effects of medication. I was fine for a week or so, and then suddenly I was very not-fine; I started making plans to kill myself, which I hadn’t done seriously in years, and thankfully I had a good enough support system that I didn’t carry them out but instead checked myself into a hospital. They put me on Effexor, and I have taken it for the last four years.

    It seemed to help the depression, or at least keep it in check, so I’ve mostly just decided to grin and bear it. But my life circumstances have changed, and I can’t stop wondering what the long-term effects of these chemicals have been on my brain and my body. I have persistent dry mouth and a horrible taste in my mouth almost all the time, even though I brush and floss diligently. I often sweat to a degree that is comically excessive—sometimes even on days that are mild and not too hot, I find myself sitting on a city bus surrounded by people who look comfortable and dry, while sweat drips down my face and soaks through my shirt. No matter how much sleep I get at night—even during vacations, when I’m technically well-rested and can sleep as long as I want—getting out of bed every day is a monumental struggle. (I feel so tired in the morning that not even the most appealing incentives—or the most pressing obligations—can break through the fog. I usually end up hitting snooze for an hour or more.)

    Most of the time I don’t feel GOOD, I just don’t feel all that BAD either because I’m too busy being numb. Hardly anything excites me or moves me. Occasionally something will get through and I’ll cry at a movie or a piece of music, and it is deeply cathartic and life-affirming, and it makes me feel that I am actually alive—but it never lasts. I try to hold on to it, but it fades and I go back to foggy indifference and feigned excitement. It’s not even that I want to feel happy all the time, because I know that that is impossible—I just want to feel SOMETHING.

    Since Effexor is an SNRI like Cymbalta, I know how awful the withdrawal can be. I would never, ever go cold turkey from this drug. But even if this numbness is part of my depression rather than a side effect of Effexor, I need to know that for sure. When I was 15 I was going through a difficult adolescence, but my life circumstances are so completely different now. The thought that I could be on this medication until I die is horrifying to me; I can’t live out the rest of my life not knowing what it feels like to be me without these experimental drugs working on my brain in ways that psychiatrists and neuroscientists don’t even really understand.

    I imagine many people will skip this lengthy comment, but if anyone reading this has had a similar experience and managed to get free of anti-depressants, I can’t tell you how much it would mean to me to hear your story.

    • I am on my 4th day of cold turkey quitting effexor. I am finally picking up the liquid Prozac tomorrow. I can let you know how it goes. You can email me anytime.

  66. Wendy, You’re my new favorite blogger. I love that you’re so open about your life, ups & downs. I have been on Celexa for 2 years now & its helped me beyond belief, but, I still hope not to live on it, yet feel crappy if I try to ween myself, I wonder if theres a way to bridge that RX, too? If you don’t mind my asking, are you still on the Prozac? xo

    • wendy nielsen says:

      Thanks, Mary! I am no longer taking Prozac. I weaned off that about a month after it helped me wean off the Effexor. I’m not sure if bridging with help with Celexa. It all boils down to the half life of the drug. Definitely ask your doctor! :)

  67. I am trying to go off 75mg of the Effexor or I should say Venlafaxine. Not going so well, I try to wait at least 2 or 3 days between each dose. Today I filled a script for 37.5 mg to help me get threw it. My DR said after a month of cutting back that she will put me on Prozac, should I be taking it now?

  68. Wendy you have no idea how nice it was to read your post. I took Prozac for years had gastric bypass and felt it wasn’t working anymore, was switched to effexor the fast acting one, what happened was my body couldn’t process a capsule. Anywho…I missed my mid afternoon dose, immediately the withdrawls started. I couldn’t take it, I immediately looked up how to get off of this. Ugh my dreams turned into a 4 day withdrawl hell. I went to the er after a seizure on the second almost third day of going cold turkey. They refused to even give me fluids and anything to calm down my terrible shakes, brain shocks and jitters unless I took another effexor. I refused. I looked up Prozac for Effexor withdrawl. I found some information then read yours. I emailed my phsychiatrist and she called in liquid Prozac to assist in the withdrawl. I also told her I only wanted two to three weeks on the Prozac and I immediately got a response with the Prozac tapering schedule that begins after 1 week. I will pick it up tomorrow and let you know I still feel like the devil is inside of me or if I can actually go bcj to work and even drive to work! Thanks again!

  69. Hi Wendy,
    Thank you for your blog post! I switched to prozac because I heard it was much easier to wean off than the cipralex I was on before. Unfortunately the doctor didn’t wean me off the high dose of cipralex and put me right on 20mg of prozac and I experienced awful withdrawal symptoms for 5 weeks! Now that the withdrawal has subsided, I am weaning off the prozac under a psychiatrists supervision. You have given me hope that I will never have to experience anything close to what I experienced coming off the cipralex. I have high hopes that I can wean off with minimal symptoms and have my life back! I was put on antidepressants 4 years ago after a misdiagnosis of anxiety. I found out I have obstructive sleep apnea, and since getting that treated, I haven’t experienced anxiety since! Thank you again for writing this inspiring post!

  70. Hi Wendy,
    Just curious if you had any side effects coming off the Prozac? If so, what were the side effects and how long did they last? I am weaning off Prozac now after bridging from Cipralex (Lexapro there). I guess I just need some hope that I will feel normal again some day. Starting to lose hope :( do you fund that you have any lingering side effects? Thank you in advance

  71. I am so glad that I stumbled upon this page. I’ve been struggling for quite a while now with finding a way to get off this medication, as my family psychiatrist has been of no real help, simply wanting me to wait longer. I’m tired of waiting, I haven’t needed this medication for 2 years now, and hate that I am bound to it because of it’s terrible withdrawal effects.
    I will say that the only time I managed to go cold turkey with no effects was while I was eating a meal-plan that was strictly vegan. No dairy, meat, wheat; simply pre-flood/fall type foods. During that time (about 5 or 6 days, though possibly longer) there were no withdrawals of any sort, but one evening I went out to eat with people and got a dinner that had meat and dairy, and within that hour the effects hit me again hard. Not sure if there is any correlation with that, and I’m not brave enough to want to try that again and risk the terrible withdrawals again, but just wanted to add my little bit to all of this; a little oddity that may or may not have any true relevance to detoxing. I’m definitely going to mention this method to my psychiatrist next time we meet. No matter what, I am not taking no for an answer in regards to cutting down on this medication. I am currently taking 225 mg, and most certainly do not need it, and will definitely not be forced to pay for it any more. Thank you for this blog!

  72. Greetings! Very helpful advice within this article! It is the little changes that
    make the biggest changes. Thanks a lot for sharing!

  73. Hey Wendy,

    Taking 37.5 mg a day and wanna stop taking.
    Do you have any idea about doing this without the help of another antidepressant? Because I wanna stop taking any kind of antidepressants, I don’t wanna take Prozac or another one. Do you have any idea how to do that? Side effects start after a day when I don’t take the dose. Do you know what happens when I keep not taking no matter how hard the side effects are? Would they pass after few days or would keep the same?
    Thanks a lot..

    • wendy nielsen says:

      Hi Eric,
      I’m not sure if/how long the side effects will continue without bridging. I wish I had some more information for you. Please ask your doctor for more advice.
      Best to you.

    • Just weaned off effexor 150 without drugs. I gradually decreased dosage and added a good dose of omega 3’s, vitamin B’ s, a good multi vitamin, and raw cacao powder mixed in liquid. I had a fairly smooth withdrawal. The first day completely off effexor, I felt waves of dizziness and nausea. Each day it has diminished. I am currently on day five. Very few symptoms now.

      • Angelia Borges says:

        Hi, how did you wean down, I went from 150 to 75-37.5 and am now taking half a capsule for a week to see if I can get rid of this flapping in my head, nausea not so bad serc sorts that out.

    • Some food for thought. First, I’ve read that withdrawal effects can last for months. Of course it’s not as severe a few months in. Probably the first month is the hardest.

      But second, when you’re going through the withdrawal, that’s some very real pain. It can cause YOU to have a psychotic break. I know from your current perspective this all seems impossible. You’re strong, you’re feeling decent. But when you’re in the heat of very real emotions and your serotonin and norepinephrine are suddenly all over the place, it’s a different story. It’s more a matter of “IF I make it through this.” And if you don’t? You could end up killing yourself or even others. It’s not to be taken lightly.

      Check out Ann Blake Tracy. Although she doesn’t seem to have any scientific backing, she has talked to many people and helped them come off of SSRIs and she’s testified before Congress. She made me realize how damn dangerous it is to come off of anti-depressants cold turkey and that side effects could come months later!

      Her analogy is that you should look at it as coming down a mountain. Slow steps. One at a time.

  74. Wendy,
    Hi, I am currently on a good medication programme but unfotunately need to remove my venlor. I am taking wellbutrin and truvaline and lamectin as well and so you can see this is a very difficult one for me.
    I have had to come off of Stilnox about six months ago and that took me a good long while about 4 or 5 months and then that had to be replaced by truvaline or I cant sleep. Nobody told me venlor was this addictive, I am going on day two without any and I am ready to bite through my own being. I feel as though my whole face does not belong to me and it makes me sore right down to my soul because I realised that I am a drug addict thanks to medication I need to keep me sane. I guess I wanted to find out I thought that with being on wellbutrin I would be okay tappering the venlor off – But I am sitting here wishing I was home to pop a venlor and end my suffering.

    I will have to call my Dr in the am I think I will see how the evening goes, but I am not sure this is going to be an easy road as the previous withdrawel from a benzo was a nightmare.
    Feeling so alone.

  75. So Wendy, I’m very curious how you feel now. It’s been 2 years off of Effexor! Congrats! Do you still feel good?

  76. Angelia Borges says:

    Hi, I was told to wean down from 50mg to 75mg then to 37.5mg which I have done over a month, the I was told to take one every second day and stop, don’t see how this works as venlor/Effexor only last 1 full day, so I divided my pill again in two, so am taking +- 19mg for the past two days, I thought today I would see if I could go without it, and only now at 8.54pm am I starting to have fluttering in my head, would love to see if I can make it without it, but vertigo is setting in lol, and I can see by the conversations above that it just wont work and I will have to keep tapering off, I am away on holiday at the moment and when I go home I will go ask my Dr for Prozac and wean off that way from the Effexor/venlor, my question is, how long should one stay on the Prozac or how quickly can one come off it, as I don’t want to get addicted to that either. I seriously thing Effexor/ Venlor should be banned on the market, it is an awful tablet to come off.

  77. Angelia Borges says:

    I am now down to 25 beads of venlor, and feel good, no more nausea, and very little giddiness, I do believe if I keep doing this I will conquer this drug without bridging, slowly is the key to getting off, so 25 beads for a few days till I feel good again and then will drop to 12 beads and then taper the last 13 beads to 12.11.10,9 and so on every day till I am totally off.

  78. Well this seems fantasic, but how do you wean yourself off 300mg?
    I’ve been on it for about 10 years, and at one point got down to 150mg, but my irritation and ocd went crazy so i went back to taking 300mg.

    I am trying to get pregnant and all of my dr’s dont like the effexor, but dont tell me to stop because they know of the effects of trying to stop. Maybe i will get some prozac and xanax to try to switch over. I feel like Effexor works, but the side effects are not exactly helping my marriage :-/

    Anybody have any suggestions?

    • I’ve gone from 300mg a day to 75 mg a day in 10 days with no withdrawals. It will be reducing below 75 and especially 37.5 which will need to be done very slowly to avoid withdrawals. You can do it. I’ve gotten off Effexor before a couple times with no problems. Just don’t rush. Good luck!

  79. I want off effexor so bad. I take 37.5 twice a day. And trying to stop and I get so sick and dizzy. What do I do? Please help

    • wendy nielsen says:

      Hi Richele,
      Please read my post. There is a ton of great information about how to wean with Prozac. Please talk to your doctor.

  80. Thank you for this article! I am going to start the Prozac bridge tomorrow. I am currently taking 450mg of Effexor (high dose i know!) daily for pmdd. I no longer find joy in anything and I went from being social and outgoing to losing the desire to do anything. I went from having an amazing career in pharmaceuticals as a CFO in my mid 20’s to having to step down because I could not finish anything or not get stuck on stupid. I am now 27 and I own my company but I just do not care about anything. I have an amazing boyfriend but I haven’t had a sex drive since starting the Effexor almost 2 years ago. I complain about the drug makes me feel to my doctor the dose just gets upped and at first it felt like it was working but sometimes I can’t remember if I had taken the dose or not. The worst is when I have to go to the pharmacy and I know I need to go but I just can’t make myself. I feel so pathetic. This article is so helpful right now. Thanks again!

  81. And now you are stuck on Prozac instead?

    The chances of this working are not going to be universal. Effexor does a lot more than serotonin, Prozac is a true SSRI. Anyone ever get totally NORMAL after stopping ALL antidepressants? That is the goal, is it not?

  82. When I wanted to stop Effexor XR (and I asked for a different, similar medication) my GP gave me a RX for Prozac. The first day I took both pills.The next day on forward it’s been all Prozac, no more Effexor at all. I didn’t have the electrical impulses like I did from total Effexor withdrawal, but I had mild heart palpitations for a few days. My dr & I made the right choice for me.

  83. Billy Roberts says:

    Trying to get off this horrible drug right now. I am down to 37.5 mg. once every other day. That wasn’t working, so back to 37.5 every day. I’ve never heard of the Prozac bridge. I’ll definitely ask my doctor about this. Thank you so much for sharing this.

  84. Wow,,,a site with recent postings and people going through the same Hell as me! Getting off Effexor seems to be a long process of trial and error. (I’m taking the generic Venlafaxine xr) You all have my deepest respect. I did ok on 75mg and a Benzo for several years but am paying a huge price now. My biggest thing is crippling anxiety 24/7. Tight chest, heart pounding exhausting…Have lost all hope in doctors. I have been doing a lot of studying about depression but don’t feel much closer to any solution or relief. I will ask my psychiatrist about the bridge method of switching ADs. I currently feel much worse than before I was on the medication. Please everyone! keep posting and tell us what works for you. I know everyone is different with their problems and successes but we can help each other beat this.

  85. Thanks so much for this post! So helpful. I’m trying to come off Effexor XR after being on 225mg per day for 8 years (since age 18). Now down to 150mg per day. I am trying to reduce by half a 37.5 capsule every two weeks. I was doing the every other day thing (i.e. 150mg one day then 187.5mg second) but this is not a great way to go, and don’t see how it can be as you are giving yourself a different dose every day? Anyway I am now going to split 37.5 capsule contents roughly in half each day when I start my next reduction in a few days. The worst is finding about a week after I have reduced again, I start feeling exhausted with terrible headaches and a foggy, dizzy feeling in my head. It’s hard to concentrate and takes about all I have to get through my day at work. This seems to last about a week although eases gradually over that time. Has anyone else had this experience of the withdrawal symtoms having a delayed response? I’m starting to think I should extend each reduction period to three weeks instead of two. Any suggestions?

    • Yes Abby, from what I have read and I have read plenty, there are many people experiencing what you are going through-me included. If you remember that it takes several weeks for anti-depressant meds of this type to work fully it is no wonder it takes time to come off it. Everyone is different in how they react to withdrawal. If you search “how to taper off venlafaxine or Effexor you will see what methods others are using. The consensus seems to be to go as slow as you can. Some people are tapering by removing so many beads out of a capsule. Somewhere around 5 to 10 percent and gradually increasing this amount removed every 2 weeks or so depending on how you are doing. There seems to be a little disagreement on which way is best. I’m no expert so I can’t recommend anything to you except to tell you to let your doc know what you want to do. Have a good support network. Friend, partner, councilor whatever. Don’t do this alone in case you feel really low one day. The fact that these meds only come in half or double doses tells me no one in the industry really thought about how we are supposed to taper off this drug. Good luck to you and please post an update when you are up to it.

      • Hi Frank – I am currently down to 1.5 x 37.5 mg capsule – it was hard work but have done it! Literally took my first 10mg of prozac today to start bridging (with the 1.5 x 37.5mg effexor). Planning to stay on same amount effexor for next couple of days then reduce to 37.5 mg with the prozac. Will try to keep you updated. One of my friends has just done the Effexor prozac bridge from 37.5 mg and says she feels amazing. She is currently weaning off prozac (completely off effexor now) and is down to 5mg prozac every 2nd day. I’m looking forward to feeling better as the last few months have been rather horrible!

  86. Bryce Adams says:

    Hey all.
    So I have been on effexor 150mg for about 4 years now, being diagnosed with major clinical dep and grade a bi polar. Due to recent financial events, I wasnt able to afford the drug, but also thought it was time to come off it. I stopped taking them on saturday ( Australian time) and the first day was fine, no symptoms at all. Second day was terrible, had the nausea, vomiting, inability to eat, intense brain zaps and headaches, vivid dreams and night sweats.

    I tried to tough it out the next day but couldnt handle it so I seeked online resources and the like to see if I could reduce the symptoms, most notably for me, the brain zaps. I read that omega 3, or fish oil, and vitamin b-12 and vitamin c are quite helpful in reducing symptoms and getting the brain back to a “normal”, functioning state, I.e replacing serotonin and so forth.

    I am currently on night 4 off going cold turkey and feeling quite optimistic atm. The fish oil and b-12 are certainly doing some sort of benefit. I am still getting the zaps and nausea, but not as intense as rhe second day of withdrawal.

    I certainly wouldnt recommend going cold turkey, unless you are willing to stick it out and remain positive. Im estimating it may take up to or more then a week for the zaps and nausea to go away. I understand this could pose a problem for people who are working, but being currently unemployed I felt as though I should give it a go.

    This is just my documentation of my experience of going cold turkey. Others may experience greater symptoms, or experience them for a more brief period of time.

    Remain strong. If you really feel, like me, that you dont need to be on this drug, then get off it. Id recommend seeking medical advice, aslong as its relevant to you. This drugs destroys your brain.
    Also keep hydrated and try to relax and get good amounts of sleep. If you feel anxious, down or even suicidal, then distract the brain, go for a walk, go see friends, watch your fav show, anything to remove the negative thoughts from your head.

    I will post another comment in a week to let people know, if anyone cares, of my progress and symptoms

  87. You are totally right Wendy…..I had been on 300 mg of Efexxor for 10 years and gradually, working with my MD, decided I needed less. So over 4 years reduced to 75mg, which dose I’ve been at for 5 years. I had tried independently to reduce with a number of different methods, none of which worked and gave me tremendous side effects.
    Using the Prozac bridge is a comparative SNAP!!!!! I highly recommend it…..I simply reduced my Efexxor dosage, reducing grains by 10 every two days and added the 10mg Prozac once per day. I have literally only had a couple mild headaches in the process and have beat this monster drug. Prozac is not difficult to come off of, so this is the way to go.

  88. I used this same “bridge” method as suggested by my doctor. I was having a routine physical and my doctor asked me what medicines do you take…my reply was 37.5mg of Effexor and I can’t get off of it. She told me that she was just at a Medical group seminar of sorts and this was the discussion and Prozac was found to be an effective way to get off. It was so easy and withdraw free. I did it back in September 2008. Tried for over 6 years and to get off of the 37.5mg that I was down to….it was horrific!!!!

  89. Whenever you take that kind of medication it is necessary to consult a doctor. http://alliantpharma.com/Xanax

  90. Tiago LSim says:

    Last Wednesday I had an appointment with my psychiatrist and, as I was trying to taper off Venlafaxine, I suggested the Prozac Bridge that I read here.

    He then suggested Escitalopram instead (generic name for Lexapro or Cipralex), which, in his opinion, was a better medication. It had something to do with Prozac being an older med and Escitalopram an improved one, as he tried to explain it to me.

    Since my first attempt to quit Venlafaxine failed completely, I said I’d try his method (I used to take 150mg daily for 2 years, and in October/2014 tapered down to 75mg for a month and then down to 37,5mg for a week – that’s when things got outta control and I freaked out and started taking venlafaxine again, not without having a ton of weird symptoms: mental confusion, excessive sleepiness and heavy apathy, among others).

    After reading about Escitalopram on the internet I decided to go cold turkey, since my body didn’t readapt to Venlafaxine and I didn’t want to get hooked to another med after what I’ve experienced with Venlafaxine. I think I’ve suffered enough, and going cold turkey right now was my best option. I feel like depression has hit me again, but I hope I’ll improve in a few weeks.

    For anyone trying to quit Venlafaxine, I recommend reducing the dose in smaller steps, even taking the little balls out of the pill if necessary.

  91. Ive been on Effexor for 11 years and then gave out on me. Its been almost 2 months off of E and still feel horrible. Would it still be a good idea to try Prozac??? Ive been on wellbutrin and seroquel with NO success .

  92. I have been on Effexor for almost 9 years for hot flashes. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006, my doctors immediately took me off of all other estrogen-related meds. I have tried to go off a few times always going back to my original dose of 37.5. I have never taken more than 37.5. My doctor told me the dose does not matter; it is still so hard to get off of this. I really trust and like my Dr. but I am surprised that she put me on this drug to begin with. I would have withstood the hoot flashes, but the cancer diagnosis and everything else before me, I did not question. Hard lesson learned…ask questions, and as many have said, do your research.
    I have been taking Effexor every four days and could not seem to get past the 5th day, but last week I did! I have been off Effexor for 14 days now with some side effects, but nothing like I had before when I tried. And guess what..I did not plan to go off. It just happened! When I realized that I had gone without for five days, not four days, I continued. Side effects: a bit emotional, a bit loud, easily bothered, and some back pain. The first two describe me in good times! I hope that this is it.

    • I would never trade one drug for another. Just saying. Prozac??? I am glad that it worked for you.

      17 days… few effects

  93. I have been on effexor 75g for just over 18 months, after having breast cancer. I went on effexor because apparently it is the only antidepressant that doesn’t affect the efficacy of Tamoxifen. I want to come off it so will try the bead counting method and I hope it works okay for me.
    What is a brain zap??? Thanks.

    • wendy nielsen says:

      I had forgotten that Effexor is the only anti-depressant that doesn’t affect the efficacy of Tamox. You can try weaning by eliminating one Effexor granule per day (it’s a pain, but I know many who have) or you can ask your doctor about using Prozac to bridge the two drugs. Please keep me posted.
      Also, a brain zap feels just like it sounds. A sharp pain in the brain. It’s not great.

  94. Hi guys,

    I have been on Effexor for 7 years. My daily dose is 150 Mg. One month ago, I started to taper my dose- I cut 75 Mg in about 2 and 1/2 weeks. I have been taking 75 Mg now for about 2 weeks.

    About 4 or 5 days ago, I started to feel terrible- massive mood swings, anxiety, and generally bad feelings. It has been like this everyday for the last few days. I thought about going back onto the full 150 Mg for a while, and then trying a slower taper. Or, should I just grit my teeth and bear these bad feelings- does anyone have an idea of how long they should last?

    Any advice offered is appreciated greatly :)

  95. I have been on and off anti-depressants for several years – when I wasn’t on them it was because I stopped taking them on my own. I would suffer through the headaches for a few days and then it was over and done and I was good to go…until this time. I was started on Prozac again and my dosage was increased rather quickly. I was started at 10mg and was up to 60mg within 2 weeks. That worked for a while. When the depression plateaued I was switched to Effexor XR. I am now up to 225mg every day. Do you ever just wake up and something inside of you says “that’s it. I am taking back control of my life. I am not going to be on these meds for the rest of my life.” ??? I did. It was after my week-long vacation to Mexico. maybe it was the way of living I witnessed…there was a slower pace of time, people were happy and it was beautiful. I knew right then that I wanted that kind of life. I got home from vacation and stopped taking the Effexor. I have been dealing with the “out of body” feeling…almost like I am drunk. My hands feel numb all the time. My eyes constantly move back and forth so quick that I sometimes have to close them to get the world to stop spinning on me. The brain zaps….those suck beyond words. And they hit when you least expect it. I am going to talk to my doctor about the Prozac bridge today because I don’t know if I can go through these withdrawal symptoms for much longer before I give in and start taking the Effexor again. And that is not something I want to do. Crossing my fingers for this because I am done taking meds.

  96. Hello. I have been on 150 mg of effexor xr for about 12 years now. 2.5 weeks ago i dropped to 75 mg for 2 weeks. 4 days ago was my first day without. Day later I threw up. 3rd day I was at er with an iv. Today talked to nurse. She gave me prozac. How long do you think till I feel good enough to get out of house?

  97. Thank you Wendy for this blog! Just wanted to share an update with my progress:
    Was originally on 225 mg per day, came off over 7 months using Prozac bridge toward the end. Completely off Effexor and Prozac now for 7 weeks. Still get very tired, a bit emotional and nauseous – but determined to stay off! I do not EVER want to go back on Effexor, especially considering how awful it has been coming off. Lots of really great times as well, I just find that I seem to swing between emotional states a bit more easily. But I also think this is something you have to learn to deal with – it’s just life! It’s important to remember that normal people go through emotional highs and lows, and also get tired and feel like crap sometimes – I kind of tend to “over think” my symptoms a bit sometimes, worried that I shouldn’t have come off. Want to send lots of encouragement to those others out there struggling with depression and Effexor.

  98. I have only been on Effexor ER for about seven months. Will I have the same type of withdrawal symptoms if I slowly take one grain out a day for a while?

  99. Wendy I wanted to let you know how thankful I was to find your blog! My daughter died in a car accident in 1999 and I started taking Effexor XR at that time. I have tried for years to stop taking them. I have been on the lowest dose of 37.5 for a couple years. I had been removing some granuales from the capsules and tried that for weeks and I still became so emotionally unstable! I didn’t seem to have the flu like symptoms, but was an emotional mess. About a month ago I did the Prozac Bridge. However, my doctor only gave me 14 Prozac pills! So I really had to push the weaning process. I ended up removing granuales from the Effexor XR a little more every couple days. And also taking the Prozac for two days and then off a day. My tapering of the granuales went something like: remove 10% for two days, remove 25% for two days, remove 40% for 2 days, remove 65% for two days, remove 80% for a day, remove 90% for a day, and then stopped! And then also during that time I would take the Prozac but also would take a day off, but never on the day I was lowering my Effexor XR dose. When I was done with the Effexor XR I had about 3 Prozac left, so I skipped 2 days and then took a Prozac, skip 3 days and take a Prozac, skipped 5 days and then took my last Prozac. I did find that I had terrible mood swings when I took that last Prozac! I mean it was BAD! So now I am on nothing and it has been 8 days. I do find I am having some mood swings, when I say that I am talking about anger issues. Stupid things will make me furious!! I know I am being ridiculous, but it’s like I can’t help it. I have found going for a long walk helps when that happens.But I am really wondering if you or anyone else experienced that? If so, how long did that last? My family is going through some very stressfull times right now, but there never seemed to be a good time to do this. And I had come so far and finally was able to get the Prozac To start the bridge, so I just HAD to do it. I was very determined! But I feel so bad that I am having these really hard to control mood swings and really want them to stop soon. Hoping it doesn’t last too much longer! But I want to encourage anyone out there that think they can’t get off Effexor XR. This bridge thing works. You are NOT on the Prozac for long. And I am not sure how it works, I just know it worked for me and several others. Don’t give up!

  100. Wendy, I am so happy I ran across your post after doing some research. I am one of the many trying to get off of Effexor, so that my husband and I can start trying to get pregnant. I will be speaking to my doctor tomorrow about the Prozac bridge. And hopefully sooner than later I’ll be able to not take anything. Thanks for opening up about your experience, it has helped so many of us!

  101. Tracie Warren says:

    This blog is as awesome as Effexor is from the pits of hell. Thank you so very much for sharing.

    • Tracie Warren says:

      After I clicked post comment, I wanted to delete because I don’t think it sounds the way I wanted it to. So…..I am so glad to have come across your blog. It is AWESOME! Effexor is from the pits of hell!! I have been taking Venflaxine (Effexor150mg) for 14 yrs. And even though it worked great for years. (I started taking it after my hysterectomy for hot flashes and moods.) About a year ago (looking back now) I think it stop working to some degree. I started having panic attacks and for the last 30+ days I’ve been severely depressed. After er visits, cardiologists visits, dr visits I am now on pristiq 50mg. I was terrified not to wean off but my dr assured me it was the newer version and I would be fine. I am on day 2 of Pristiq with minimal side effects I’m thinking now I’m going from one demon to another! However, I HAVE to get out of this pit of despair so once I am fully back to myself I plan on trying the Prozac bridge. Again, thank you Wendy for your testimony. It’s an encouragement along with everyone else that has commented. Blessings to you all-Tracie

  102. Alexandra says:

    I am in the process of trying (very hard) to get off of Effexor XR. I’ve been on it for years. My husband and I would like to try to get pregnant in the upcoming future. Today I spoke with my doctor about the Prozac/Effexor bridge. He said he really likes that method and it seems to work well. The doctor put me on a Zoloft/Effexor bridge. (I’m guessing because Zoloft in the past has been used by pregnant woman) not really sure why. Anywho, has anyone had great results or terrible results with the Zoloft/Effexor bridge?

    Excited to one day be free from Effexor!

  103. Thanks so much, Wendy, for sharing this very helpful insight.

    After being on Paxil 10mg monotherapy for five years, and then switching to Effexor 75mg monotherapy for the last two years, I made the decision to wean myself off antidepressants once and for all.

    It had been a struggle to find some sense of “stability” after I was diagnosed with panic disorder at age 23 – but I came to a point where I wanted to be the one in control of my own brain chemistry. I used the Prozac bridging technique because even slowly weaning off Effexor 75mg was excruciating. Now, this method is certainly not for everyone, and it’s important to have at least some support – even if you decide to not work with your doctor.

    Here’s what I did – and after precisely two months, I’m pleased to say that I am stabilized off of antidepressants entirely. While the withdrawals I experienced were not pleasant, they were not nearly as severe as what many of the folks on this blog have written about. To those people – I seriously commend you for your strength.

    Day one: I took 5 little white pills out of the 75mg and stayed on 70mg for four days. This was when my brain registered the first initial shock, since 75mg was all I had known, and my body is very sensitive to medication changes. The most prominent symptoms were dizziness, confusion, lethargy, and just feeling “out of it,” along with headaches across the base of my head.

    I continued tapering down every four days (this is how long it took my body to somewhat stabilize on each dose without going too crazy, though if you can stomach five days, you might be better off) until I reached 45mg. Then, I started bridging with Prozac 10mg-20mg per day as follows:

    First two days: 45mg Effexor/10mg Prozac (BOOM. Within 20-30 minutes of taking the Prozac, I felt like a new person. It mitigated the void of chemically-produced serotonin in my brain and got me back to feeling like I used to. My concentration improved, my nausea subsided, and I no longer had raging headaches.)

    Next two days: 35mg Effexor/10mg Prozac (I was fine)

    Next two days: 25mg Effexor/20mg Prozac: Going down 20mg made need a higher dose of Prozac, which I would take in the afternoon when the blood concentration levels of Effexor started to decline (because of the drug’s short half life). At this point, I was really ready to be done.

    Following day: 20 mg Effexor/20mg Prozac (kept going)

    Following day: 10mg Effexor/10mg Prozac

    Final days: 5mg Effexor/10mg Prozac

    Then, I just stopped taking the Effexor. I continued on Prozac for about two more days to help mitigate the more severe withdrawals, and it made a huge difference. While it really did take me 8 weeks to taper off and feel like myself, the bridging technique helped me speed up the process without completely taxing my body. Because of Prozac’s significantly-longer half life, your body will wean itself off of it with very minimal discomfort (some headaches, light nausea, nothing life-changing).

    Hopefully this helps others who are going along this journey. You can do it!!

  104. I discovered the same thing by accident coming off Effexor. I was taking 150mg for 3 years and it stopped working so my Dr. and I decided to try Prozac. I weaning myself down to 15 or so pellets out of a 150mg capsule but couldn’t get any lower without having painful “head zaps”. My Dr, said it wouldn’t hurt to take the Prozac concurrently. After just one 10 mg Prozac I never had the zaps again and I tossed the rest of my Effexor down the toilet! (I was on Prozac for 6 months and had no withdrawals when I stopped)

  105. I am glad to have found this site. Here is my story: I started taking Vyvanse for ADD 2 1/2 years ago. I was caught between a rock and a hard place, because I desperately needed ADD medication for my symptoms that make functioning very difficult, but was apprehensive as I already struggled with anxiety. I found right away that if I limited caffeine intake, it helped with the “irritability” caused by the combination of the ADD med and caffeine. Vyvanse worked really well at first. I finally felt like I could think clearly and prioritize tasks etc. Unfortunately, I built up an early tolerance, so it has never helped as much as those first few weeks. After a few months of taking it, I noticed that the ADD medication was making me hyperfocus on the negative. For example, if I was having some issues with my husband, it was all I could think about. Anxiety was getting worse and worse. Alas, my doctor suggested adding Effexor, based on my symptoms. (Don’t you just love how docs solve issues from one med, by adding another?! What was I thinking?!) I am a researcher by nature, so believe it or not, I knew what I was getting into with this drug, but I still decided to take it. I had read a lot of comments of people saying that it was the ONLY drug that worked for them. My experience with Effexor became complicated by coinciding events. The first thing I noticed about Effexor is that when I would run (I was a distance runner), I overheated really easily. I’m not sure if this is a common side effect or not. The day that I increased my dose from 37.5 mg to 75 mg was the same day that my PCP talked me into getting the Tdap vaccine (big mistake). I had horrible flu like symptoms for over a week. I’m not sure if any of those symptoms were also caused by the increased Effexor dose? Fast forward one month, and I noticed a tiny tick on my hip 3 days after working in the yard. 10 days later, I had a host of symptoms, terrible stomach pain and loud gurglings, fever and bodyaches, severe fatigue, trouble swallowing, weight loss, flank pain etc. I went into doc, and found out that I had a low fever. I mentioned the tick bite, but really didn’t think my symptoms were related. I took a 10 day course of doxy, just in case. I con’t to have a low grade fever and horrible headaches (among other symptoms) until I was finally diagnosed with late stage lyme disease several months later. (10 day dose of Doxy was not enough!) After the first few cycles of high dose antibiotics, the fevers were gone and the daily headaches were greatly diminished. Fast forward to the present. I am having a hard time figuring out which of my symptoms are lyme related, and which might be med (Effexor) related. I am still experiencing a great deal of fatigue, lack of motivation – which is unlike me pre-Effexor, and pre-lyme diagnosis. I have decided to wean off of Effexor to see if it is what is causing my persistent fatigue. I have already been on a low does of 37.5mg for several months, as I felt like I got overheated too easily on the 75mg dose, so I don’t know if weaning will be easier for me due to that fact? I know that when I switched from 75 to 37.5mg (I think I eased in on an every other day plan), I didn’t experience any side effects, or none that I noticed, anyway. These are my doctor’s instructions to wean, and I wanted to see what Wendy (or others) think of the plan, or what you might advise me to change. I think that I should wean much more slowly than what doc is advising? Since the XR does not come in lower dosages than 37.5mg, she switched me to the non-extended release 25 mg tablets. I am to take 1/2 a tablet twice daily for a week. I have been taking 1/2 in am, 1/2 in pm. After the first week, 1/2 daily for one week, then 1/2 tablet every other day for one week, then STOP. Can anyone recommend a modified plan to this? I am fearful of mood disturbances, and other effects, on top of my lyme disease symptoms. Also, I had some genetic testing done at the advice of the doctor who is treating me for lyme disease, and I have the MTHFR gene mutation (A1298C) which is connected to issues with neurotransmitters ie. people with this gene mutation can be more prone to depression, anxiety, ADD etc. So far at the 25 mg dose, I am having a hard time distinguishing between withdrawal symptoms and virus symptoms. I am very achy, but I also just started with an upper respiratory virus that is going around my house – and also comes with achiness. So, I can’t be sure if the aches are from the virus, or may be from dropping my Effexor dosage. Thanks in advance for any input you can offer!


  1. […] How to Quit Taking the Anti-Depressant Effexor XR […]

  2. […] with depression the year after I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I wrote extensively about weaning from the anti-depressant Effexor XR and seriously consider somedays if I should still be on medication. Enjoy.  – Wendy   “I […]

  3. […] Updated: I finally quit Effexor.  Read here how I quit Effexor without the withdrawals! […]

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