Drug and Alcohol

Effexor Withdrawal: Withdrawal Symptoms, Venlafaxine Side Effects, and Treatment

Effexor withdrawal can happen if a person suddenly stops taking this antidepressant. Learn more about Effexor withdrawal in our blog.

What is Effexor Withdrawal Like?

Table of contents

Written by

Brian MooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

Jeremy ArztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

September 8, 2023

The Edge Treatment Center

Venlafaxine is a commonly used antidepressant of the serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake receptor class that causes major adverse reactions in at least 5% of instances.

Severe withdrawal symptoms can emerge within hours of stopping or reducing the regular dosage. They can impair movement and coordination skills to the point that individuals should be expressly advised to stick to a rigorous drug regimen or not drive a vehicle. The latest clinical information about withdrawal effects is offered, which may suggest noradrenergic function occurrences regardless of dosage.

How Does Effexor Withdrawal Happen?

If you quit taking Effexor prematurely, you will experience Effexor withdrawal, a typical kind of antidepressant termination episode. Symptoms usually develop eight to twelve hours after missing a dosage and can last a maximum of two weeks. For instance, you might feel queasy, disoriented, aggressive, confused, agitated, or disturbed.

Additional symptoms may include "brain tickles," migraines, and other minor annoyances.

Effexor Withdrawal: Antidepressant Discontinuation Syndrome

Antidepressant discontinuation syndrome is a commonly recognized complication that can develop in persons who suddenly cease using an antidepressant. It starts within moments of skipping an Effexor dose (Venlafaxine). As a result, while discontinuing a prescription, medical professionals normally reduce the quantity progressively. However, symptoms of withdrawal can still arise.

Some folks say they get "head chills" or "brain buzzes" when they don't take their Effexor on time. People frequently report these symptoms as a transient, recurrent electrifying shock-like experience that is limited to the mind or brain. Others have reported that the tingling extends to other regions of the body. For example, moving your eyes can cause the experience, which is frequently accompanied by nausea, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), dizziness, or breathlessness.

Effexor Withdrawal: What Is Venlafaxine and What Is It Used For?

Venlafaxine, or Effexor, is an antidepressant drug. It is licensed to treat major depression, widespread anxiety disorder, and specific phobias.

Symptoms of Depression

Psychological symptoms usually involve:

  • Depressed mood: feelings of sadness, emptiness, or tears

  • Feelings of worthlessness, remorse, hopelessness, and helplessness

  • Lack of enjoyment or enthusiasm in your routine

  • Sleep more or less frequently than average

  • Changes in eating habits

  • Lethargic, trouble focusing, or suicidal tendencies.

  • Motor coordination tension, also known as "nervousness."

  • Motor and intellectual impairment or hallucinations

  • Depressive ideas or actions

Symptoms of General Anxiety Disorder

When an individual endures extreme nervousness and bouts of anxiety or panic attacks for almost half a year, they might suffer from a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Some of the signs and symptoms might include:

  • Restlessness

  • Lethargy or feeling low most of the time

  • Muscle spasms

  • Sleeplessness or disturbance in sleep

  • Agitation or irritation

  • Lack of concentration

  • Getting easily triggered

  • Nausea or drowsiness

When an individual undergoes sudden incidents of extreme terror or gets alarmed frequently, they might have a panic disorder. This psychological tension might have physical signs, including high palpitations or sudden chest pain, breathlessness, drowsiness, and vomiting. Overthinking what is going to happen soon is also one of the signs of panic disorder.

Signs of Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorder is another phobia or a state of condition where an individual constantly feels the need to be alone and social interactions seem draining for the sufferers. This can induce constant irritative behavior. Signs can involve:

  • Redness of cheeks

  • Stammering

  • Tremors or shaking

  • Goosebumps

  • Dizziness

  • Extreme perspiration

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How Does Effexor Help Treat Depression & Anxiety?

Effexor or Venlafaxine assists with the dangerous causes of the conditions mentioned above. It may also be helpful when authorized "off-label" for:

  • PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)

  • ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)

  • Severe headaches

  • Trauma flashbacks

  • Certain neurological conditions

The term "off-label" refers to the fact that the Food and Drug Administration has not recognized it for this ailment. Any "off-label" medication recommended by your psychological health physician should be justified. However, they should be upfront about the limitations of the studies surrounding that medicine and whether there are any additional possibilities.

Effexor Withdrawal: Key Facts You Should Know About Venlafaxine

Even if you feel better, do not avoid taking Venlafaxine. Your medical professional will determine how much time you will be required to take the medication based on your feedback. Missed venlafaxine tablets may raise your likelihood of a recurrence of your problems.

In addition, if you stop taking Venlafaxine suddenly, you may experience one or a combination of the following symptoms of withdrawal: agitation, vomiting, dizziness, diarrhea, hallucinations, and migraines.

Depression also serves as a symptom of bipolar disorder. Antidepressant medications may put many people experiencing bipolar disorder at risk of "flipping" from despair to hyperactivity. Manic episodes include a "high" or irritated mood, extremely high self-esteem, a reduced need for rest, the temptation to continue talking, obsessive thoughts, getting sidetracked, and constantly engaging in tasks with an increased risk of adverse outcomes (irrational purchase could be an example). If serotonin syndrome is suspected, get immediate treatment. 

Venlafaxine and pregnancy complications- Inform your general practitioner if you want to get pregnant to manage your drugs effectively. Individuals with Major Depressive Disorders (MDD) who want to get conceived must make difficult choices. Venlafaxine side effects in women pose dangers to both the mother and her fetus. Talking about the risks and advantages of therapy alongside your physician and caretakers is critical. There is a chance that the baby will be born before being fully formed in women who use psychotropic medications from week 13 until the conclusion of their gestation period. Nursing should be performed with caution because Venlafaxine does enter into breast milk.

Effexor Withdrawal Symptoms and Indications 

A neurochemical shift occurs in the brain's reward circuit when the consumption of a drug such as Venlafaxine ceases abruptly. The indications of abstaining from Effexor, especially when the mind is readjusting to the changes, might not be easy to comprehend.

Effexor withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Flu-like symptoms such as lethargy and nausea

  • Migraine

  • Vomiting and dizziness

  • Difficulty in breathing

  • Sweating profusely

  • Elevated blood pressure

  • Drowsiness

  • Diarrhea

  • Sensory imbalance

Psychological symptoms of Effexor withdrawal might include:

  • Insomnia

  • Panic attacks

  • Trouble concentrating

  • Schizophrenia

  • Chronic sleep disorder

  • Sudden muscle weakness

  • Dementia

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Effexor Withdrawal Symptoms Timeline

The duration of Effexor discontinuation can vary. Symptoms can appear as soon as twelve hours after the final dose and usually disappear between one to two weeks. Since Effexor does have a four-hour half-life, it is eliminated from the body within a single day. Antidepressants having longer half-lives remain in the body for extended periods, perhaps reducing the development and intensity of ADHD.

Factors Influencing Effexor Withdrawal

ADS commonly affects roughly 20% of patients who discontinue antidepressant medication unexpectedly. Effexor, on the other hand, might have a significantly higher ADS periodicity rate— up to 34%. Unfortunately, there is presently no way to forecast the incidence or intensity of ADS.

In addition, stronger Effexor levels have not been demonstrated to indicate ADS progression in investigations. However, several studies have discovered that persons who ease off Effexor are substantially less likely to develop ADS, their effects are weaker, and they recover faster than people who quit taking Effexor suddenly.

How to Treat Effexor Withdrawal Symptoms

Venlafaxine discontinuation symptoms occur fast, so if you skip a dosage and feel physical symptoms, consume it as quickly as you recall. If your next planned dose is already approaching, omit your skipped tablet and adhere to your timetable. You can lessen your withdrawal effects by returning to your regular dose regimen as promptly as feasible. While symptoms usually subside after several weeks, there are techniques to making Effexor separation more bearable throughout that period. Consider the following steps:

Talk with Your Doctor

They are your greatest advocate for avoiding and dealing with side effects. Address the pros and hazards of discontinuing Effexor and collaborate to determine whether to discontinue the medication gradually.

Look Into Over-the-Counter Drugs

Discuss with your physician any over-the-counter medicines that can assist with Venlafaxine withdrawal symptoms, including herbal supplements, gastrointestinal remedies, and pain medications.

Consider Non-Drug Solutions

According to Harvard Medical School researchers, undergoing psychiatric treatment while quitting a prescription medicine can reduce your chance of relapsing. Also, treatment forms like transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) can be very helpful.

Seek Assistance

Consider enlisting the help of a trusted family member or friend and informing them of your plans as you engage alongside your physician to go off the medicine.

Maintain Follow-Ups

Maintaining contact with your medical physician while tapering off the medication and after you have stopped altogether is critical. Based on how you manage, you may be required to schedule monthly check-ins until your withdrawal symptoms have subsided and you notice no indications of recurrence.

Self-Care

Working out, eating healthily, getting enough rest, and conducting coping mechanisms are increasingly crucial during abstinence. In addition, such self-care activities can assist you in keeping a steady mood when you go off Effexor.

Medical Drug Detox

A clinically supervised cleansing is always beneficial as it reduces every possibility of relapsing though it is not always essential for Venlafaxine discontinuation. A treatment center could help you create a rigorous plan for your withdrawal and provide necessary behavioral therapies.

In addition, people who frequently consume Venlafaxine should participate in clinically supervised detoxification to recover from this addiction.

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What to Be Aware of During Effexor Withdrawal

Certain Venlafaxine withdrawal effects might cause dizziness, which would be risky while commuting or using heavy equipment. Although uncommon, discontinuing Effexor alone can lead to severe and alarming side effects. If you or someone you care about develops any of the symptoms listed, call an ambulance or seek medical treatment immediately:

  • Hallucinations

  • Suicidal thoughts

  • Schizophrenia

How to Reduce Effexor Withdrawal Symptoms

Once you opt to discontinue your medication, it may be enticing to throw away your pills. Rather, take your time and collaborate with your physician to gently reduce your medication over time. Several things will influence the way you accomplish this, including:

  • The length of time spent using Effexor

  • Your most recent dose (You'll be able to reduce more rapidly when you're taking a small dose.)

  • Knowledge of withdrawal effects

  • Overall well-being

Even if you taper off an antipsychotic slowly and deliberately, you may still experience withdrawal syndrome effects. In such circumstances, your physician might recommend Prozac, which has been shown to relieve side effects.

Alternatives for Effexor Withdrawal Treatments 

Cross-tapering could be an efficient method to avoid or reduce Venlafaxine ADS effects. This entails switching from more significant concentrations of Venlafaxine to an equivalent medication, usually fluoxetine.

However, if the procedure is poorly handled, serotonin syndrome increases. Therefore, before beginning a different drug that could suppress serotonin absorption, a "rinse" interval of approximately twenty hours for Venlafaxine needs to be finished.

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Ambulatory Care for Effexor Withdrawal Treatment

Outpatient treatment can help a patient undergoing venlafaxine withdrawal in a better manner. In addition, the facility can provide required cognitive therapy to cope with the mental symptoms. Psychological therapies may also be deemed extremely useful for individuals concerned about flare-ups of anxiety or depressive illnesses.

Effexor Withdrawal at Home

Several people who discontinue Venlafaxine abruptly do so at home. Unfortunately, this sudden cessation can raise the likelihood of multiple sclerosis. Always get professional help for drug detox.

Struggling with Depression And/Or Effexor Withdrawal? Talk with the Edge Treatment Center

If you are apprehensive about Effexor withdrawal and the related reactions, you should undertake a weaning program under the supervision of experts.

The Edge Treatment Center will provide you with a customized treatment plan. It is the nation's leading supplier of rehabilitation services, focused on the specialized treatment needed for diverse mental conditions.

Our institution provides additional flexibility in its treatment plans to ensure that each client receives tailored service that can lead to better and faster results and a normal life full of chances. Treatment alternatives include help for those whose withdrawal is directly related to substance misuse or other health concerns, with a combination of professional therapies and personal monitoring at each stage of recovery.

If you’d like to learn more about transcranial magnetic stimulation, our mental health programs, or our evidence-based treatment programs, reach out to The Edge Treatment Center today.

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