Tapering off Effexor

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Heather97615
New Member


Date Joined Mar 2006
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 3/22/2006 6:07 PM (GMT -7)   
I'm new to this site. I just turned 23 years old, and I don't know who I am, not really. I can't remember life before antidepressants. I do remember that doctor visit when I was fifteen and asked to take something because I thought I was depressed--the doctor asked me if I'd been feeling sad a lot, and I said yes, and that was that. Without further discussion, I was written a prescription for Prozac. I can't remember the way I felt before taking it. All I know is that on it, I tried to kill myself (Nov. 8, 1999). I knew I never would have done that had I not been taking the drug, so I asked to go off it. My doctor wouldn't let me stop taking it without taking something else, so I tried Zoloft. I didn't like how it made me feel, so then I changed doctors and changed drugs again. This was around 4 years ago. I started taking Effexor and Wellbutrin. When I started taking the Effexor, all I remember is that I was CONSTANTLY yawning and grinding my teeth. It was awful, but made a little manageable by the Xanax I was prescribed while starting the Effexor. I was gradually upped to the dose of 150mg Effexor. I've wanted to stop taking antidepressants for years now. I honestly don't believe I ever had Depression. After my suicide attempt I was diagnosed with Major Depression, but I truly believe all the symptoms I felt were caused by a reaction I had to the Prozac. I don't know what to do now. I just want to be normal! I want to live my life without having to take a pill every morning first thing when I get up. Throughout the years of taking Effexor, I noticed that whenever I missed a day of it, I was unusually irritable, and I would even start getting dizzy. I've tried twice now to stop taking it, both times by tapering off. I do fine when I'm reduced from 150 to 75 mg. I have almost no symptoms during that transition. But a week ago, I had a dr. appointment and she put me on the 37.5 for 4 months. I don't know if I'm going to make it that long. Ever since I've been taking the Effexor, I've lost interest in things I used to love. I don't feel emotion like I used to. I get really angry a lot of the time, and I'm hostile towards my parents and friends ALL the time. I have being that way, but I really don't know how to stop acting like that. I feel like everything anyone says to me is an attack on me personally. Even compliments are perceived as attacks. I guess that's paranoia. Anyway all these things are worse since I've started taking the 37.5. I've been crying much more than ever before, I've had an upset stomach for the past week (including vomiting a couple days ago--I almost never get so sick that I throw up). My head has been throbbing, with intense pressure around the area of my eyes. I can't seem to focus on anything except how ill I feel. The "head zaps" as I call them have returned. I first experienced them the first time I tried to quit Effexor. That time, I tapered down from 75 to 37.5 and then down to nothing after 2 weeks of 37.5. I didn't even make it the whole day without taking Effexor. I couldn't turn my head in any direction without the sensation that my brain was being electrocuted. The zaps were really short, but occurred all the time, every few seconds, and were more intense when I was moving. After a few hours of being awake, I just lay on the couch and cried. I could barely move. Then I took some Effexor, and within a few hours, I felt "fine." Now, I'm feeling the same things again. The smallest upset in my routine sends me into a fury or a crying fit. Today, my water was turned off because the water company has been sending my bill to the wrong address. I cried when I called them on the phone. I'm feeling so alone. I am going to college, and I'm a terrible failure at it. Since the antidepressants, my grades have plummeted, and my weight has skyrocketed. Since the dosage adjustments on my Effexor, I've put on at least 30 pounds. Anyway, I go to Georgia Southern University, and I live alone in a 1 bedroom apartment (well, with my 2 cats--I guess that's not totally alone). My parents are only two hours away, but I feel lost here. I care about nothing. I sometimes feel this irrational fear that I'm not going to survive. Today, I knew my water would be turned back on before nightfall, but I was terrified that I'd be without water forever. It was crazy. I don't want to feel crazy. I've also been really lethargic. Moving makes me so fatigued. I'm in a constant daze. A trance-like state, even. I went to class today but barely remember going there. I don't know what to do. I know if I go see my doctor, she'll just put me back on a higher dosage of Effexor, but I don't want to take it anymore! So I feel like I can't go back to my doctor. I just want to stop taking it! I don't think my doctor even believes that these things I feel when I stop taking Effexor are real. I asked her once about withdrawal from Effexor, and she said she'd never heard of any withdrawal from it. When I first started taking it and told her about my yawning, she laughed. It's not her fault. She's not a psychiatrist; she's an internist. Doctors are apparently not educated well about the effects of antidepressants. That or they're compensated somehow for how many antidepressants prescriptions they write. I wish someone had told me about all these terrible effects of this terrible drug. I'm really just using this site to vent, I guess. I don't really know what I'm writing for. I can't concentrate, and my head hurts, and I just want to close my eyes and go to sleep. Since dropping down to 37.5 I've been sleeping a lot. I already was sleeping 10 to 12 hours, but now I'm sleeping like 14, and all I want to do is sleep all the time. I have been having terrible, vivid dreams that seem totally real, but when I wake up I don't remember anything about them except that they were nightmares. I awaken feeling frightened, terrified even. The college thing: I don't care about going to class, and I fear I'm going to fail. I can't motivate myself to do anything. If anyone has any advice, please share it with me. I just want to feel like I used to before the drugs (even though I can't remember a time without the drugs--but I know however bad I thought I felt then, couldn't compare to how I feel now).

Putter
Regular Member


Date Joined May 2005
Total Posts : 204
   Posted 3/22/2006 6:57 PM (GMT -7)   

Heather, I'm so sorry to hear how you are feeling. I can relate to so much of what you wrote, so please know that you are not alone - there is an entire herd of people here who understand where you've been. I've been on Effexor and had almost all of the same things that you did - including the yawning which also got a giggle out of my doctor when I told him (i had the brain zaps, dizziness, nausea, finger twitches, vivid dreams, crummy memory, etc).

I think that you nailed one problem square on the head - the fact that your doctor is an internist and not a pdoc. I would highly recommend that you make another appointment with your gp and bring with you a written account (print your post if you need) and indicate how awful you feel and that you need to speak with a psychiatrist. Student health can usually refer you to someone who is often excellent at dealing with young people Pdocs are more well trained in the complexities of antidepressant use and are better equipped to help you. A pdoc will better be able to evaluate the situation and help you estabilsh whether your upset is caused by the medication, or if there is something underlying that is amplified by the medication. A lot of the things that you wrote about, the paranoia and the upset over the water bill, could be related to the medication, but they can also be a condition of depression. The only reason that I say that is I was convinced that I was just a 'head case' and less of a person when I felt all those same things (at the same age as you). I dismissed depression for a long time in my own life and suffered a great deal as a result. Its important for you to know that this is a temporary situation and that you are not less of a person for feeling this way.

When I discontinued the effexor, I had lots of trouble too, but it did eventually go away. I've since learned that because Effexor has a short half life, it makes you ill very quickly when you stop, even at lower doses. I've also read that in the discontinuation process, there are options, that a pdoc would know about, that can involve using an ultra-low dose of another mild anti-depressant for a few days to get you over the inital hump of withdrawl. The idea, is that the other anti-d carries you through and helps your body meet at a temporary equilibrium before you totally eliminate the effexor - this allows your body a little more recovery time to stabilize itself before you are medication free. I think the trouble lies in the fact that your system has become accustomed to the effexor being present and when you take it away, it has to rebalance.

I'm sorry that this is a long post, it just that my heart breaks when I hear how awful you are feeling and its something that I wouldn't wish on anyone. Please keep writing and know that you are in my thoughts.

Take care,
Putter


els
Veteran Member


Date Joined Oct 2005
Total Posts : 4031
   Posted 3/22/2006 8:36 PM (GMT -7)   

Hi Heather,  I wanted to welcome you to Healing Well forum.  This is an excellent place to come for support, questions if you have them and a never ending place of knowledge.  I have learned so much since I have been here and have been privilege to meet some wonderful, kind and caring people. 

Your post touched me too and I sat here at my desk for a long time just remembering my periods of deep depression and experiences with it.  I really dont do that often, just reflect on how much my life has changed, the good and bad.  Like you  I have been on several antidepressants for most of my adult life, I am 32 now starting from when I was 19.  I also was on Prozac and it didn't work out so well for me as I reacted badly to it rather quickly. I now take Effexor XR at 225 mg and worry about the day when I may have to stop taking it for one reason or another.  All because of the side effects reported by so many people.  It is scary to go through.  However,  Putter has brought up some excellent points that I for one totally agree with.  One being that a Psychiatrist should be the one prescribing antidepressants or at least assess you and give a recommendation for your primary care doctor on your medication regime.  I do know that psychiatrists are expensive.  Which brings up the next point of trying to see if you can see someone with student health services at your school if you dont have insurance coverage.

You are not alone in this no matter how much it may feel that way, we are always here for...keep posting

Take care


~elisha
 


tambogal
New Member


Date Joined Mar 2006
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 3/23/2006 10:42 AM (GMT -7)   
I'm a newby to the forum but can relate to all the symptoms and side effects when it comes to anti-depressants.  I have been on everything it seems and have to stop and think what got me to the point of feeling like I needed to be on them.  I've had the "brain shivers" with other anti-depressants as well as with Effexor XR.  I think back to before I even started anti-depressants and have to say, I don't remember my life being all that bad!!  All I originally went in for were mood swings and then all of a sudden here I am, 10+ years later on anti-depressants.  I don't get it.  I am preparing to wean myself off of the Effexor XR (150mg) and hopefully get back to ME.  I want to remember me again and not this lazy, lethargic me, that these drugs have made me into.  I have visited several sites on Effexor and the one thing that seems common is that extended use of Effexor XR seems to give people either symptoms or the actual bi-polar disease.  Does anyone else have info or a similiar experience w/the bi-polar scenario??  Sorry so long....just want to be 'normal' again - if I can remember what that was like... confused

els
Veteran Member


Date Joined Oct 2005
Total Posts : 4031
   Posted 3/23/2006 5:59 PM (GMT -7)   

Hi tambogal,  I wanted to tell you welcome to healing well.  We are happy to have you and glad that you have posted.

I have never heard anything about extended use of effexor being linked to symptoms or causing bipolar disorder in patients.  I used to work in the mental health field until very recently and also worked closely with several psychiatrists who often would hold seminars on current medication issues that would impact our clients.  I have myself recently gone on effexor xr for depression and my doctor who discussed in length the pros and cons of the drug with me didnt say anything of the nature.  It will be interesting to see if anyone else has also hear or read this.

Take care and keep posting we would love to hear more from you....

   


~elisha
 

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