How to deal with Venlafaxine (Effexor) withdrawal symptoms?
Venlafaxine, formerly sold as Effexor, is a prescription drug used to treat depression, anxiety, social phobia, and panic disorder.
In Singapore, Effexor XR and generic venlafaxine are available.
Venlafaxine belongs to the class of antidepressants called serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). SNRIs work by increasing the brain's levels of serotonin and norepinephrine, neurotransmitters that act together to improve mood and relieve pain.
Venlafaxine is used to treat:
- major depression
- generalised anxiety disorder
- social anxiety disorder
- post traumatic stress disorder
- panic disorder
- chronic pains
- and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
If a person were to stop taking venlafaxine suddenly, or reduce the dosage, withdrawal symptoms can occur, often within a matter of hours. This is because when decreasing or stopping an antidepressant, a neurochemical change takes place in the brain. As the brain readjusts to the new environment, symptoms of withdrawing from venlafaxine may manifest.
Venlafaxine withdrawal symptoms include:
• Anxiety, confusion, or agitation
• Flu-like symptoms (fatigue, muscle pain, nausea)
• Lack of coordination, vertigo or imbalance
• Nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting
• Insomnia or nightmares
• Dry mouth
• Brain zaps (electric-like shocks), abnormal sensory disturbances
• Increase in blood pressure
Many of these symptoms can cause severe disorientation, and are especially dangerous to people driving, operating machinery, or engaging in other risky tasks.
Talk to your doctor about any unusual side effects, and follow your doctor's instructions for tapering off or stopping your use of venlafaxine.
Effexor withdrawal symptoms develop quickly, so if you are experiencing withdrawal symptoms from missing a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is already close to the timing of your next scheduled dose, simply skip your missed dose and stick to your schedule. You can reduce your withdrawal symptoms by getting back on your prescribed dosing schedule as soon as possible.
Withdrawal symptoms become more intense before they begin to fade. Users start experiencing:
- and fever
Those who took antidepressants in higher doses for a longer time have more intense symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms typically persist for up to three weeks.
While symptoms will typically go away in a few weeks, there are ways to make Effexor withdrawal more tolerable during that time.
Here are a few steps to consider:
- First, discuss with your doctor before you decrease the medicine. It will be important to discuss the benefits and risks of stopping Effexor and work together to figure out how (and when) to slowly stop taking the drug.
- Second, your doctor can prescribe medications that can help ease Effexor withdrawal; for example, sleep aids, anti-nausea medications, and pain relievers.
- Third, practise relaxation methods like deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation techniques, mindfulness techniques, visualisation techniques that can help you ease the anxiety.
- Fourth, do have regular follow-ups with your attending doctor just in case you experience a relapse of anxiety or depressive disorder.
- Fifth, do consider the role of exercise, having sufficient hours of sleep and adequate rest.
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