Effexor withdrawal in slow motion

Yesterday I felt a bit better than usual and as is my way on my “good” days I usually call a friend to see if they are available for an hour or two for a lunch or a hot drink. My friend agreed but did not sound well. We scheduled a time to meet.

About an hour later she called on the verge of tears telling me she had mistook when she had an appointment and we’d have to meet later if this was okay. She complained of her brain not working and feeling very funny. I made some sort of remark like, gee you sound like me.

Later when we did get together as she approached me at our meeting place she looked heavy — her energy was plodding and her face exhuasted and drained. I’d never seen her like that. I became concerned. What’s going on, I asked. “I don’t know, I don’t know,” she said, confused and a little despairing. She got up to go get a beverage and as she literally shuffled away she also stumbled. I absolutely didn’t know what to make of it. She came back and sat next me and a few minutes later out of her mouth came, “I’m withdrawing from Effexor.” I exclaimed, “Becky! That’s what’s wrong with you, let me help you!” She responded incredulous with, “No, there are lots of things going on.” I said, “I don’t care what is going on what you are experiencing is withdrawal.”

I proceeded to get the specifics. She had made a cut of 30% ten days ago. She’s still on 75 mg. She has been very sick. She’s not as sick as she could be thank god. No electrical zaps, apparently no horrible nausea, but foggy head, and spaciness, and unsteady on her feat and emotional—all there.

I was mystified. This is a woman who knows what I’ve been through and how I spend my days. This is an educated, intelligent woman who actually works in mental health, but is not involved in drugging people, but nonetheless has experience with people on meds and again she has experience with ME. I did my best to give her advice, but she seemed to resist it. Stubborn to do it her way. I suppose I seem a different animal because I was on seven drugs. But I don’t understand why she’s resistant when she knows how I spend my days and that I’m involved in ALL drug withdrawal. I told her specifically about Effexor withdrawal and how she can do it relatively painlessly—as I did—by opening capsules and counting pellets. She seemed only half willing to listen, so I did not tell her the vast majority of things I could have told her to help her. I do think she left with a couple of tips that may makes things a little easier and I pray she doesn’t hurt herself inadvertently.

In any case later that night as I spoke with my husband I got extremely frustrated. “If my best friend in my new home town doesn’t even come to me when this is all I do and know about what does that mean??” I felt angry and hurt. My husband helped me see what might be happening. She, like most people, simply doesn’t believe that something that is given to hundreds of thousands of people can be dangerous. She has been on antidepressants before and got off of them relatively painlessly. Her husband is on antidepressants. They’ve been a mainstay of her life for years. It is the norm to imagine what our doctors give us is safe. She in fact, while I was giving her tips repeated her doctors recommendation to come off 37.5 mg at a time. I emphatically cautioned against this. Anyway it may be true that she is just caught up in the bullshit like everyone else, but it still hurts really bad because it seems she completely disregards what has become my life. If I can’t help someone I love in my real life what the heck am I doing?

If people are in such deep denial that even when one of their best friends is doing what I’m doing and they still don’t get it, what does that mean?

15 thoughts on “Effexor withdrawal in slow motion

  1. you just need to go back on the 37.5 and cut out about 2 or 3 pellets a day or slower….(open the capsule…doctors don’t know this)

    If you do that you will be fine. No need for hospital…

    look at about page for dietary support.


  2. Under a doctor’s care (RN – P.K.H.N.P) I was slowly stopping Effexor 150 MG. It was not slow enought. At 37.5 MG everything seemed ok for which I took for 2 weeks. Now I am not taking anything and full of anxienty, depression, afraid to go to sleepy because I am shacky. It’s been 2 days since I have slept.

    Think it would be better for someone to withdrawal at a hospital or stay over at a friends instead of on their own, home alone.


  3. I know you hate recommending medication, but advise her (if you haven’t already) to go on Prozac temporarily to help make the withdrawal easier. Somehow, fluoxetine is able to offset many of the side effects of venlafaxine. I hope she’s willing to heed that.


  4. As soon as I read the title “Effexor Withdrawal…” I knew I had to read this post. I have been on Effexor twice, and the first time I did quit cold turkey – the second time I was ready and cut myself off gradually. No one around me seemed to believe that I was experiencing withdrawal, which made things more difficult for me. I have now been completely without Effexor this second time for about a month, and I still feel kind of “weird” – most noticably, my memory is shot.

    Like Doe said, I would have welcomed advice when I was going through this, but maybe your friend is too proud to admit she could use some assistance yet. At any rate, I think this is a wonderful blog you have here and look forward to reading more from you. All the best!



  5. she’s a good friend and frankly I’m sure she’ll come to me if she needs me…I was just working out the issue in my mind when I wrote this.

    She took in a bit of info…like Doe said, she probably couldn’t even stay attentive.

    I didn’t push and she wasn’t 100% unreceptive…really this is about me, wishing I could help more.


  6. It has nothing to do with you. She’s just stubborn. As long as she supports you in your time of need, that should be enough for you to know that she cares.


  7. Maybe she was too much in the haze of w/d to be able to respond appropriately…I could barely think straight while in it’s grips…keep gently letting her know that if she needs your help, you’ll be there for her. Maybe when she keeps hitting the brick wall (which I certainly don’t wish upon anyone), she’ll be ready to accept help.

    Personally, I would have killed to have someone help me when I was going through it, especially someone who had personally been through it…but if she doesn’t want your help, know it’s not about you, it’s some issue within herself she’s wrestling with.


  8. I have had similar reactions. I tell people all the time that one must get off meds very, very slowly. Then I find out they went cold turkey.
    Jim S


  9. Through this blog, you’ve helped many thousands of people, including me.

    Had I followed the shrink’s incredibly stupid advice and gone cold turkey off Zyprexa – “you just stop taking them”, she said, “major tranqs unlike minor tranqs have no withdrawal symptoms”, she said – then I would either have been hospitalised, or else found dangling from the end of a rope.


  10. I appreciate everyone’s response, but really I’m okay—it was just frustrating. This is a dear friend so I care about her wellbeing and it was confusing to me that she didn’t seem want my help.

    I do trust though that at this point if she continues to have problems she most likely would feel that she could come to me.


  11. Oh boy Gianna, how frustrating.
    But I think that is they way people are. They think that they can figure things out themselves.

    The beauty of your blog is that people come to it because they want the help.
    People do have to be ready for it.

    And I think like your husband, Coco, Sara, and Jazz said, people just have a hard time believing something so legal and prescribed by doctors can be so bad…or that there doctor doesn’t know best.

    Yesterday someone emailed me to say they didn’t buy my way of doing things and that the psychiatrists would find a way to solve these problems……
    Well, I can’t force anyone to listen.

    I too have friends who are doing other things with there lives that I don’t agree with. The only thing you can do is listen…and WHEN or IF they ask advice…then you can give it.


  12. That must be so painful for you. I’m sorry. I think Sara has a good point-people just need to find their own way. Which is incredibly frustrating for those who have gone before them, and can make their journey so much easier.. if they would only listen. But, like spiritual matters, people often don’t want to be told the best path, they need to find it themselves. I’m guessing she really needs your support, but not in the form of advise. As hard as it is to watch someone suffer needlessly (especially someone you love). In short order she’ll figure out who to turn to. Certainly it’s not going to be the doctor who doesn’t have a clue what it’s like to withdraw from this nasty drug.


  13. I am really sorry you had this experience but you know, I have had it myself countless times. It is unbelievably discouraging. I don’t have the “credentials” about withdrawal that you do but geez, I lost my daughter and, like you, I’ve spent years educating myself. People just want to figure it out themselves. It’s so stupid but that’s the way it is. Occasionally as you did, you can get one or two little points across, but compared to the whole picture it’s ridiculous. For me it’s painful when I try to get someone not to go on in the first place. I rarely succeed there and then I get to watch the downslide that may not occur in the initial weeks but it surely comes later — and then the escalation to either a higher dose or more meds. It’s hard to fight those white jacketed professionals when you’re a stay at home woman. And I spent two years trying to convince my best friend that her daughter’s health problems had a lot to do with withdrawal and Ambien addiction. It was a nightmare and put a real strain on the relationship. Still I think what happened here is that the woman did not come seeking advice. You do have a lot of people turning to your blog that really are hungry for information so just try to think about them and all you can do with the others is tweak them. This lady may well be ready to “hear” you in very short order if she’s coming off Effexor. (And at least she’s trying to come off — think of it that way!!) It is still so important to keep trying to get the message out even if it doesn’t appear that people are listening. Eventually some critical point will be reached and a lot more people will “hear.” Take care. Don’t take it too hard. You are totally awesome with all you know and all you are trying to accomplish.


  14. Oh, Gianna, I’m sorry you feel so bad.
    I would second what your husband said, and remember that her reaction to your advice says more about where she’s coming from than it does about what you are doing with your life.

    I’m having a similar issue with my brother. He’s on a pretty good whack of Lexapro right now, and is considering coming off of it. I told him about my experiences and some that I’ve read about, and explained that he might want to taper down gradually. His response? “Oh, the doctor said I don’t need to do that.”

    I’m afraid that for a lot of people, doctor=god, and can do no wrong.

    Just for the record, what you’re doing here is awesome. You are changing lives. Just look at your comment threads when you need a boost, and remember that the people who post comments are probably only a small fraction of the people who are finding hope here.


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