Side Effexor Withdrawal

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June 17, 2020 | 20 Comments


  1. Interesting post. I just want to add just in case it might help anyone, when I was on mirtazapine and when I was withdrawing from it I used to get the odd boil appear on my face. It used to start with itching and I also had itchy skin all over my body but the boils only appeared on my face.

    Well I tried every cream going I even tried an over the counter facial cream from boots (recommended by pharmacist) I think the name was something like “freedom” but it gave me terrible acne so I stopped using it. I was then told by another pharmacist that the same cream had had the same affect on her skin too and she advised me to stop using it.

    Anyway to cut a long story short I then came across teatree oil and witch hazel night gel treatment. I used this with E45 moisturising lotion and it improved my skin beyond belief. I still had the odd boil try to appear but teetree oil and E54 moisturising lotion reduced it significantly until I was well over my withdrawral which I would say was about a year and a half after stopping the medication.

    I no longer get itchy facial boils and my skin is no longer dry and itchy. I now know this was down to mirtazapine.

    If it helps try to use something like E45 or Diprobase for dry crawly itchy skin if withdrawing from any medication you feel could be causing your skin problems.

  2. There have been several comments by email. This from James Moore who ran a very influential Let’s Talk Withdrawal podcast and who now has links to Mad in America.

    Thank you for sharing this all too familiar predicament. I don’t have enough experience to add anything particularly helpful, but I view this situation as essentially boiling down to one of two approaches. Neither will be easy and this poor person may have to come to terms with living a somewhat compromised life. Something I am personally struggling to accept myself.

    The first is to manage symptoms while maintaining on the Effexor at the lowest effective dosage, though whether this can be done for life is anyone’s guess. The second is an incredibly slow and gentle taper using a liquid form (if available). This also is a complete unknown. As this person has already been sensitised by a fairly rapid taper, any follow up taper needs to be agonisingly slow. Then, of course, there is the complication of the other drugs to address.

    The first objective in any treatment plan I would recommend is stabilisation before changes are attempted very slowly and gradually.

    I would be very interested in what the experts you have approached recommend and I hope this person manages to find a way forward that reduces their distress while also being something they can live with.

    With best wishes as always


    • I have been on venlafaxine modified release for over 2 years 75 mg. I contacted my doctor about coming off it and she said as it was a modified release I could go to 37.5 mg for 2 weeks then stop completely. 1 week in I feel nauseous and tearful with long earful periods at night and fatigue in the day. Is this period of only 2 weeks too quick or I can you indeed come off the MR Venlafaxine this quickly?? Has anyone else got experience of coming off the MR Venlafaxine??

      • Two weeks in your case self-evidently is a lot too quick. Any kind of venlafaxine can be desperately difficult to get off.


  3. This comment is from Stevie Lewis who has played a big part in the raising the issues in Wales and in liaising with Marion Brown and colleagues in Scotland to present patient centred evidence to government and regulators.

    My heart sank when I read the story you sent through. How many times have we seen the same thing?

    “I was given an AD for a mild problem. I was on it a long time at various doses. Whilst on it or in withdrawal I developed deeply unpleasant symptoms no-one can explain. When I went to ‘an expert’ for help they gave me even more drugs and now I’m worse”. Sooooo predictable.

    I’ve just seen James’ reply to you and there’s not much for me to add. This poor woman wants to know what to do now, today, to feel better. My input is really an overview:

    – get all the chemicals out of your system slowly and steadily.

    – accept you are going to be ill for an indeterminate amount of time. I had to live with and through the terror, the phobias, the extreme jerking to get to the other side of it, there was no alternative.

    – believe your nervous system (and whatever other bodily systems have been compromised) will heal once it is left to its own devices, and most if not all mystery and/or unpleasant symptoms will go

    This means avoiding “taking” anything – most pleas for help usually are framed around “what can I take today to make me feel better” and the answer has to be – nothing.

    That’s your body. As for your mind, you have to learn to befriend the fear that you might never get better, as anyone with chronic illness does.

    This is a long game, which no-one wants to hear.

    Best wishes


  4. How important it is when withdrawing from a drug that the person drawing up the plan knows what they are doing. In so many cases the presenting person is not believed when they describe symptoms they have never had before. Then what happens is usually the signing off of other prescriptions and before you know it, the original drug is lost and confused amongst the mix.

    This situation can often times become extremely difficult to unravel.
    What started off as a withdrawal from one drug has now morphed and it will be almost impossible for someone to sort this out. Especially the initial prescribing doctor.

    This situation is unfortunately what most doctors do, not knowing enough about each drug and can land the patient in a perilous position with a very difficult way out.

    This patient’s life has become so miserable and become a much worse situation than it should be.

    A very long slow taper is ideal.
    If the patient becomes uncomfortable and distressed at various points, then they should revert to the previous level and stay on that for a month or two until they feel happy to reduce a tiny bit more.

    So many doctors have different ideas, but, if the patient is distressed, then clearly a plan needs to be drawn up which doesn’t involve random and often times reckless additional drugs, leaving everyone confused as to the right way forward.

    Reducing from 40 mg Paroxetine involved reducing with tablets and liquid over a year and even with this plan, a steely determination is necessary to ride through what can be months and even years of adjustments and most importantly, at this point, to try not to be cajoled, by the doctor, in to starting right back at the beginning or to take thoughtless additions, and this can be the hardest part of the merry-go-round of Complex Withdrawal.

    • I would add that, as simple as it may sound, trying to remain calm is also important. By this, I mean all who are concerned with the patient’s care. The person in withdrawal is obviously dealing with feelings and sensations that are overwhelming; having family or friends who can take things in their stride without an element of panic or bewilderment can be of great support to the sufferer. Having a ‘professional’ who is also calm and taking everything in his stride brings the whole situation together so that progress is possible.
      We saw the other side of matters too – a professional who was overwhelmed and failed to listen to family, created a raft of problems whereby the patient ( without a hint of getting support to withdraw) was ready to give up his life due to no hope of recovery.
      Thankfully, we were shown a better way. Not an ‘easy way’, just better!

  5. I wonder if getting in touch with someone who has found ways of dealing with pain would provide different ways of dealing with the immediate need of “something to make me feel better today”? I know of a young person (through Twitter) who has been quite successful in dealing with her own physical pain and mental anguish. Could ask permission to share her details if it would be useful. This would be together with all James and Stevie suggest of course.

  6. When I was prescribed more medicines and told to go through more futile procedures especially after I went to hell and back, I decided to turn by back on Western Medicine completely and I have never looked back.
    I knew that if I did not listen to my instincts, I would not be here writing on RXISK today.
    Victims of misdiagnosis, overmedication, life threatening procedures can go through unnecessary toxicity, cardiomyopathy, heart arrhythmia, coma, and sudden death.
    A lot of medicines and unnecessary procedures is similar to ‘A jab in the dark’ medicine and if you get severely harmed, no one cares! ~ You are on your own!

    The patient who is prescribed medication or unnecessary procedures, should understand without any ambiguity, the indications for use and the risks, side effects, adverse reactions and warnings associated with the medication(s) and procedures.
    Patients should not have to go on a witch hunt for information regarding what medicines they are prescribed. Even if they had the MIMS bible, I am sure that a lot of the information would not be in there!
    Patients should not feel guilty for questioning what they are being prescribed and Clinicians should inform their patients of all the rxisks regarding procedures not just a selected few. If patients are well informed they may be spared a lot of unnecessary suffering.
    If a health clinician fails to warn patients of all these things, they have failed in their ‘duty to care!’
    The family should be able to question all health care professionals because through the gathering of vital information patients and loved ones can make better informed decisions.
    The cure is worse than the disease and you should never give anyone consent to do anything to your beautiful body without knowing all the perilous implications.

    My heart goes out to so many people who have put all their faith and trust in the system, only to be duped many times over.
    This is so unethical and morally degrading to the human/animal species. When profits are more important than people, we have to question how did medicine become so delinquent and pervasive. CB

    “The market for truth is very small. Comfortis in great demand.” Harold Foster

  7. Simon ‘exploitative’ Wessely.

    Selling your grandmother for a song …

    Great Comments on this Blog …

    ‘Perhaps a study ought to be conducted into the number of times Sir Simon Wessely has been involved in positing some kind of psychiatric condition which avoids the British state from recognising medical damage or having to pay out benefits. A knighthood is small recompense for his services – he should be an Earl or a Duke.’

    To repeat what I wrote then, the powers that be (AF, SW etc) are scared silly of the people. Their reactions scream guilt. They scream that if we ever found out what they had done to us, we would rise up and they would be in trouble.  Just to be clear, I am not advocating anyone rise up, I am describing the body language of the Bishops and Cardinals of medicine.

    “No, Dr. Wessely, that’s not what it means”

    Time for Wendy, Simon, Dinesh and others to Man Up? They can’t say this is news. Successive presidents of the British Psychiatric College have been told about this problem for over 20 years since Charles Medawar first wrote to them.  They are in great part personally responsible for ongoing injuries from disbelief to thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of people.

    Great Comments on this Blog …

    • Oh, to be a fly-on-the-wall …

      Chapter 10

      Path to Publication

      Children of the Cure

      Simon Wessely

      Less than an hour left – your chance to put questions to @fgodlee and Howard Bauchner @JAMA_current – retractions, preprints, coverage, scandals, top papers, peer review, open access, future of journals …whatever. #rsmlive

      – retractions, preprints, coverage, scandals, top papers, peer review, open access, future of journals

      Restoring Study 329
      Missing Data, Lost Lives and Antidepressants

      It has become the most famous clinical trial ever,
      that has two publications in the academic literature –

      9 Rounds, with the BMJ

      • I have often wondered with Simon Wessely having so much power and influence within psychiatry, and with the Royal College of Psychiatry’s campaign to get more and more of us on antidepressants, how many cases of life ruining PSSD, protracted withdrawal where people suffer sometimes very badly for many years, and occasionally for decades, and deaths from SSRI’s via akathisia, Simon Wesseley is either directly, or indirectly responsible for.

        I genuinely believe if the truth was known, he is a man responsible for a lot of human suffering, including deaths, and that he likely has a lot of blood on his hands.

  8. Effexor
    After its acquisition of Wyeth, Pfizer assumed responsibility for Effexor liability including lawsuits filed due to medical injury. Pfizer has faced multiple lawsuits after Effexor was used during pregnancy and may have caused birth defects. The company may also have faced lawsuits for other side effects or medical injuries.
    Related Pages
    In 2007, Effexor’s manufacturer, Wyeth was given a warning by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding misleading advertising which had minimized the risks of Effexor and overstated the effectiveness. Wyeth was acquired by Pfizer in 2009 and now manufactures Effexor XR and similar medications

    Everyday HealthDrugsSSNRI AntidepressantsVenlafaxineReviews

    1918 people have reviewed this drug Here’s a few – the majority had an horrific experience on it –

    Posted 0 months ago (6/13/2020)
    Rated Venlafaxine for Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)Report
    I have anxiety associated with advanced Parkinson’s Disease (stage 4). Along with the anxiety I also have pain from PD rigidity and dystonia. The side effects trying to get started on the drug are vicious. I experienced nausea, dizziness, insomnia, my tremors were worsened and headaches. This was at the 37.5 mg starting dose for the XR version of the drug – I can’t imagine what a higher dose would do. As a result of the PD I am down to 40 kg body weight – maybe someone twice my size could tolerate it. I definitely do not recommend this drug.

    Posted 1 months ago (6/4/2020)
    Rated Venlafaxine for AnxietyReport
    My GP prescribed this to me and it was my first antidepressant I’ve ever been on. I have no idea what she was thinking but she prescribed me 75mg to start. I didn’t think to say anything as I was naive and didn’t know much about them. Worst decision I’ve ever made. The nausea and diarrhea and also stomach cramps plus much more are horrific. Do not take this.

    Posted 1 months ago (5/31/2020)
    Rated Venlafaxine for DepressionReport
    Prescribed 37.5mg of Venlafaxine about 5/6 weeks ago. Quickly discovered I can’t take it during the day, as it makes me nauseous. So I started to take it at night which was working fine. Soon notice if I forgot a day, I’d end up in agony by 2pm the next day. Throbbing headache, stomach pains, extremely nauseous, diarrhoea, light headed.. All of which were so bad, I am left unable to stand up right or eat/drink. I have now decided that, as someone who is forgetful and may miss a day here & there, that this drug is NOT worth it. I’m currently bed bound due to not having my dose last night (ran out), and I’m calling it quits. I’ve tried more antidepressants than I can remember and I’m now at the point where I want to give up. The side effects aren’t worth it. The only drug I’ve ever had zero side effects from was Sertraline (200mg daily), and only stopped taking it as I found my overall mood wasn’t improving. I’m ending my journey with antidepressants after trying Venlafaxine. I can’t physically take it anymore. It’s ruining my physically & mental well-being.

    Posted 1 months ago (5/17/2020)
    Rated Venlafaxine for MigraineReport
    I had an intractable hemiplegic migraine which was drug resistant – responded in 12 hours to this drug after 4 months – amazing response

    Posted 1 months ago (5/15/2020)
    Rated Venlafaxine for Postpartum depressionReport
    The side effects are absolutely horrible if you are a little late taking your dose. Turns out that the “side effects” are withdrawal symptoms. Due to this I asked my doctor to come off of this drug. I have been being “zapped” (feels like I’m being electrocuted briefly) then immediately experience vertigo and a sharp headache until my next “zap” which can occur every few minutes until you take you next dose and it kicks in… I am gradually coming off but the withdrawal is more intense and frequent trying to come off of it. I would never recommend drug to anyone. Also I still had PP anxiety while on this drug so it didn’t help me much to begin with. Ask for an alternative if your doctor recommends this drug.

    Rated Venlafaxine for Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS; CFIDS; M.E.Report (On same site – I don’t know if the group took off)
    all of those that have experienced VENLOR/ VENLAFAXlNE – need all negative reviews, please can you make contact: we want to get a group going and this will help us all tremendously. Let’s get chatting. We could form a group on Facebook however want to start here to see response 🙂

  9. I help Admin a Facebook withdrawal group just for those tapering venlafaxine. We have 6,200 members, with a constant stream of people wanting to join. There are many others struggling in different ways with this medication, such as side effects etc, who we have to turn away due to lack of knowledge, manpower and time (40% of people are turned away!).

    What is described in this article is common. Long term use, often off label for pain and menopause symptoms. Fast tapers using the standard doses which fail in the vast majority of cases and if they don’t fail, they suffer withdrawal after stopping the medication rather than during the taper. Symptoms can be severe. Those we catch in time usually reinstate and taper much more slowly, and usually successfully (using the well documented 10% of the previous dose per month or what is comfortable for them). But even some cannot get of this medication due to the severity of the withdrawal symptoms, even tapering at 5% of the previous months dose or less.

    It is so disheartening to read an article like this where someone is subjected to a prescription cascade because of misdiagnosed withdrawal. This happens too much and must stop. Facebook groups take up so many of these cases. There are tens of thousands of people being helped to taper off various psychiatric medications, mainly ADs. Its a travesty.
    Ed White

    • John Read

      Experts fear people will end up on antidepressants they don’t need… via

      John Read, a professor of clinical psychology at the University of East London, adds: ‘Being scared at the moment is normal. It is a social problem, not a mental health one. We fear we are about to see a big rise in prescribed medication. Already in the U.S., there has been a 30 per cent increase in drug prescriptions for depression and anxiety since the start of the coronavirus outbreak.’

      Tidal wave of mental woes? 

      Meanwhile, are we really about to suffer a ‘tsunami’ of depressive, anxious mental illnesses, as the Royal College of Psychiatrists sensationally predicts?

      ‘end up on prescription pills they don’t need (possibly causing crippling side-effects and withdrawal problems)’

      Will drug firms cash in on our Covid anxiety? Experts fear vast numbers of people will end up on antidepressants they don’t need

      PUBLISHED: 22:07, 22 June 2020 | UPDATED: 22:21, 22 June 2020

      As if the Covid-19 pandemic wasn’t enough, unprecedented numbers of people are suffering emotional fallout from isolation, money worries and fear of coronavirus infection, leaving Britain facing a tidal wave of anxiety and depression.

      That’s the stark warning from the Royal College of Psychiatrists, with the organisation’s president, Professor Wendy Burn, declaring: ‘Our fear is that lockdown is storing up problems which could lead to a tsunami of referrals.’

      The Royal College of Psychiatrists predicts that many of those affected will be people who have never before been diagnosed with depression or anxiety. 

      Dr Read said he found the paper’s intent ‘disturbing’.
      ‘We are already concerned about a further increase in unnecessary antidepressant prescribing during the pandemic,’ he says. 

      ‘The bizarre notion of using drugs to prevent depressive reactions happening could push prescribing rates through the roof. This is very worrying when we already have one in six adults taking antidepressants.

      ‘The paper also makes no mention of problems withdrawing from antidepressants.’

      Last October, Dr Read co-authored a review of evidence, in the journal Addictive Behaviors, which found that 56 per cent of those who attempt to come off antidepressants suffer withdrawal effects.

  10. thebmj carries a massive advert for Spravato today -it was flagged up in Rxisk a while ago
    Venaflaxine /Effexor used in trials is referred to below with other ADs
    On another planet If medical journals are advertising dodgy meds they should be considered partly culpable for the harms being caused

    SPRAVATO® (esketamine)
    A breakthrough for
    your treatment-resistant
    Major Depressive Disorder patients1
    SPRAVATO® is the first licensed antidepressant (AD) in 30 years that offers a new mode of action,
    thought to target a glutamate receptor*2-7

    Primary efficacy results for change in MADRS total score for 4-week clinical trials (ANCOVA BOCF)2

    § Nasally administered SPRAVATO® or placebo nasal spray; oral AD = a newly initiated AD (SNRI: duloxetine, venlafaxine extended release; SSRI: escitalopram, sertraline).
    || Difference (SPRAVATO® + oral AD minus placebo nasal spray+ oral AD) in LS mean change from baseline.2
    ¶ Median unbiased estimate (i.e., weighted combination of the LS means of the difference from placebo nasal spray+ oral AD), and 95% flexible Cl.2
    # Treatment group that was statistically significantly superior to placebo nasal spray+ oral AD.2

    What else would you like to learn about SPRAVATO®?
    Please click on an icon to select a topic you are interested in:
    Visit the SPRAVATO® Toolkit
    For videos, guidance documents, and more, to help you get your patients started on SPRAVATO®
    Contact an Account Manager
    Want to know more? Our representatives are available to take you through how SPRAVATO® could help your patients break free from treatment-resistant MDD (Would be interesting if someone di contact them to go through it! could help patients in a way they don’t expect).

    Adverse events should be reported. (A cynical end note)
    This medicinal product is subject to additional monitoring and it is therefore important to report any suspected adverse events related to this medicinal product. Reporting forms and information can be found at or search for MHRA Yellow Card in the Google Play or Apple App Store. Adverse events should also be reported to Janssen-Cilag Limited on 01494 567447 or at

    * Following the development and approval of the SSRI fluoxetine in 1987, approved treatments (including ‘atypical’ antidepressants such as mirtazapine, agomelatine, etc.) have either focused, or continued to have at least some effect on, the monoaminergic system.3–7

    ** As assessed by difference in MADRS total score, SPRAVATO® + oral AD demonstrated a 4.0 point superiority vs placebo nasal spray + oral AD at Day 28; p=0.02. 28.8

  11. There’s another wadge of warnings about Spravato on Johanna’s post Susanne

    “The scariest thing possible in a new-drug trial, I’ve heard some cynics say, is that people start dying – but the second scariest thing is that people start getting better.  Where’s your revenue stream then?  Spravato may do little or nothing for depressed people who have tried other treatments without success.  But as a guarantor of future profits, it may be just the “game changer” the drug companies have been yearning for.”

    Bait and Switch …

  12. It’s strange how the same person can sometimes experience both genital numbness and extreme itching.Two opposite extremes of sensation caused by the one drug.The reaction being to try sometimes extreme stimulation to activate the ‘deadened’ nerves and also seeking ways to deactivate the over active cause of itching. One cold ,one hot.

  13. I’ve been on Effexor Xr for over a year and a half now for PMDd. I have decided that I do not want to depend on this medication (even though it’s been helpful). The decision came when I missed a dose and became aware that the symptoms I was having were extreme! The dizziness, the headaches, and nausea was horrendous; and now any thought of missing a dose puts me in a panic. I have tried to be diligent on taking it every night as I do, but of course I am human and forget. I dont know what is worse this withdrawal feeling or the manic episodes i have with pmdd. Theres also gotta be other anti depressants that can help, until I find those I have decided to come off the Effexor xr with the guidance of my Dr. I was at 37.5 for a year and recently changed to 75mg, but now am back to 37.5 mg and I am feeling the worst symptoms.
    A history of my time on effexor also made me notice that my already disturbed sleep was even worse with effexor. I dont take any sleeping pills because that’s another thing I dont want to depend on. Anyway, other symptoms I’ve noticed is a brain fog, I definitely feel numb on the meds, at times I cannot compute a conversation, all I can hear is jibberish (like snoopy from the peanuts talk, is how I can explain it).
    Hopefully, I can flush this medication quickly and start a new form of antidepressant, or something more natural. If a medication makes you feel this bad when trying to come off it, it cannot be good.
    I’ve been taking omega 3s and a brain formula to help the tapering effect. Hopefully that eases the transition. Good luck to anyone on the same boat, it’s not pleasant hang in there!

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