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.