I Did It: How to Stop Taking Effexor

Armed with my research and a doctor’s willingness to listen, I was able to successfully stop taking Effexor!

You might want to read about the Effexor-Prozac Bridge here first.

You may or may not remember that I wrote a lengthly post about my addiction to Effexor XR and how I’ve tried for years to wean myself from the anti-depressant but had never been able to get below 37.5 mg per day. I tried taking the 37.5 mg dosage every other day – as suggested by my oncologist – but I would always feel horrible. Withdrawals from this drug are nasty. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I didn’t really need to take the drug any longer as I was initially using it to help manage hot flashes when I started chemotherapy back in 2008. My oncologist’s advice after I told her I couldn’t follow the every-other-day regimen? She said “just stay on it.” What? Not good enough. I hit Google for answers.

prozac-bridgeWhat I found was that I am certainly not in the minority. Hoards of people are taking a very expensive drug every single day because there isn’t an easy to stop taking Effexor. And then I found out about the Prozac Bridge. Basically, you swap Prozac for the Effexor XR. Sounds easy, right? And you know what, it was! With a little bit of patience I was able to stop taking Effexor and have been completely off the drug for about a week now.

In less than TWO WEEKS I was able to stop taking Effexor!  It can be done.

At a recent appointment, I simply told my doctor (not the oncologist, but my family doctor) that I wanted to stop taking Effexor. I told her I didn’t have a need for the drug anymore and asked if she had heard about Prozac bridging. Thank God she knew what I was referring to and whole heartedly agreed to put me on Prozac. Her best advice? Open the Effexor capsule and take 3/4 of the granules if you start feeling those crappy withdrawals.

So this is what I did to stop taking Effexor (This information is not to replace any advice your personal doctor has given you):

  • Day one – I replaced 1 37.5 mg capsule of Effexor XR with 1 10 mg capsule of Prozac.

quitting-effexorThe 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 her advice – TAKE THE EFFEXOR!  I broke open one Effexor capsule, poured out and counted the granules (there’s about 35 in each pill)

  • Day two –  I took 1 10 mg of Prozac and 26 Effexor XR granules.  I continued that ratio for another two days.
  • Days five and six – I took 1 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!

effexor-with-applesauceIt 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!

This experience with Effexor XR and withdrawal regimen is totally my own.  Please do not replace this information as professional medical advice.  Please talk to your doctor.

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Comments

  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).

  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”.

  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!

  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…… :)
    Maggie

    • 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!!
      Patty

  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.

    -Liv

  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.

  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!

  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.

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  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 [...]

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