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How I Got Off Effexor XR

Posted by Jenka on May 29, 2002, at 12:29:54

I successfully weaned myself off Effexor XR this past winter and spring. A gradual approach is the way to go. Some background: I was hospitalized for 10 days with severe depression in May, 2001. I started taking Effexor XR then. By June, 2001, I was up to 112 mgs.--a dose that seemed to work for me. I continued at 112 mgs. for six months feeling normal with no symptoms of depression. In late December, I decided to see if I could go off Effexor. My psychiatrist had been supplying me with 37.5 and 75 mg. Effexor capsules. Starting in early January, I weaned myself off Effexor by doing gradual dose reductions. I dropped from 112 mgs. to 96, to 75, to 56, to 37.5, to 19, to 12, to 6, to 3 and then off completely by late March. You can come up with fractional doses of Effexor by doing splits with the 37.5 mg. capsules. Most of my capsules contained about 90 tiny white Effexor beadlets. Doing splits with the 37.5 capsules was easy. I used dark paper, a knife, and shallow glass custard dishes to divvy the beadlets into equal portions.

The only physical symptoms I noticed during my reduction sequence that I thought might be attributable to Effexor withdrawal were mild headache, lethargy, and some lightheadedness. Aspirin easily counteracted these symptoms. In terms of positive benefits of going off Effexor, I noticed that by March I was able to get by on less sleep. During the six months of my full dosage of 112 mgs., I was typically getting 8 to 9 hours of sleep during a 24 hour period. By March I was down to 6 or 7 hours and during the day I began to feel more alert and energized. Since I began going off the medication in January, I haven't experienced any symptoms of depression. My mood, motivation, ability to complete tasks, and interact positively with others have seemed normal to me. I've been functioning fine during the past two months of being Effexor-free. Now I just need to work on taking off the 12 pounds I've gained since I began taking Effexor in May of 2001.

If I had it to do over again, knowing what I know now, I'd make a few changes. Primarily, I'd be more systematic about scheduling dose reductions. As I mentioned, the withdrawal symptoms that I felt were associated with lowering my Effexor dosage were minimal. Once someone got a fix on what their own symptom set appeared to be, a plan like this might work well: after dropping to a reduced dosage of Effexor, wait until you have at least a full 24 hour period symptom-free. Then continue at that new lowered dosage, assuming no new symptoms occur, for seven more days before attempting the next drop. I believe I stayed at 75 mgs and 37.5 mgs. too long this winter before attempting the next reduction. If I had followed a more systematic approach, I think I could have moved from 112 mgs. down to zero in two months instead of three. All in all though, I'm satisfied with how free of discomfort the entire procedure ended up being.

Hope this helps those of you who are contemplating going off Effexor. Best of luck!





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