How to Stop Taking Effexor

Two Parts:Tapering Your DosesRelieving Withdrawal Symptoms

Effexor and Effexor XR are the brand names in the United States for Venlafaxine, an antidepressant pill that is used to treat millions of people. Effexor is prescribed by doctors to treat depression, anxiety disorders, as well as panic disorder.[1] Because Effexor is prescribed, it is important to follow your doctor’s instructions for taking it. This includes the time you and your doctor decide it is best to stop taking the drug. By gradually tapering your doses and relieving any withdrawal symptoms you may have, you can stop taking Effexor.

Part 1
Tapering Your Doses

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    See your doctor. No matter what you do, you should always consult your doctor if you feel you should stop taking Effexor. While you might feel better or even need to discontinue the pills because of pregnancy or another condition, going off Effexor cold turkey can have serious consequences. Talking to your doctor can help you make an informed decision about alternative treatments or quitting Effexor altogether.[2]
    • Avoid stopping or tapering off Effexor until you speak to your doctor. Continue to follow the instructions your doctor gave you when he or she prescribed the medication.
    • Tell your doctor the reasons why you want stop Effexor. Make sure you are completely honest about your reasons so that your doctor can consider the best treatment options for you. You may have a wide variety of reasons why you want to go off Effexor from feeling better to pregnancy or breastfeeding and other drug interactions.[3]
    • Make sure to listen to your doctor’s suggestions. Ask questions if you have them, including the benefits and risks to stopping the drug as well as if there are alternatives to the doctor’s suggestions. You can always get a second medical opinion if need be.
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    Give yourself time. No matter how long you’ve been taking Effexor, give yourself plenty of time to stop the drug. Although it’s tempting to just stop altogether, this can cause difficult and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and may make you feel worse. Depending on your dosage, you’ll need to give yourself anywhere from one week to several months to stop taking Effexor. Based on your condition and dosage, your doctor can help you formulate a rough estimate of the time you’ll need to stop taking Effexor.[4]
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    Plan your taper. You’ll need to reduce your dosage of Effexor slowly. There are no hard and fast rules of how best to plan your taper other than to individualize it to yourself. This means that you how much you reduce your doses and the at which interval you do so can vary greatly depending on factors such as how you feel and withdrawal symptoms.[5] Consult your doctor about your taper plan to see if it is feasible for you.
    • Take 1-2 weeks to taper off Effexor if you’ve only taken the medication for less than 8 weeks. However, if you’ve been on Effexor for 6-8 months, you should wait at least one week in between dose reductions. For those people on Effexor for maintenance, taper much more gradually. For example, don’t reduce the dose by more than ¼ every 4-6 weeks.[6]
    • Write your plan on a sheet of paper or in a notebook where you write other things such as your mood or problems you encounter. For example, you can write a plan that says, “Starting dose: 300mg; 1st reduction: 225mg; 2nd dose reduction: 150mg; 3rd dose reduction: 75mg; 4th dose reduction: 37.5mg.”[7]
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    Split your pills. Once you’ve spoken with your doctor and have a plan, you’ll need to make sure that your dose is proper to your plan. You can either have your doctor prescribe you a specifically dosed pill, have the pharmacist split your pills, or even split the pills yourself with a commercially available pill splitter.[8]
    • Get a pill splitter from your local pharmacy or medical supply store. Ask a pharmacist or staff if the product will suit your needs for splitting your pills.
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    Monitor yourself. As you taper off Effexor, it’s important to monitor your mood and physical symptoms as you reduce doses. You may even want to make a weekly assessment of how you feel. This can alert you to possible problems or if you should more gradually go off of the drug.[9]
    • Keep a weekly diary as a part of your plan. Note your doses and how you’re feeling. If you’re feeling good and have few withdrawal symptoms, you can continue to taper off according to your schedule. Remember to not accelerate your plan so that you prevent possible withdrawal symptoms.[10]
    • Consider keeping a “mood calendar” for each day of the week. You can rate how your mood is on a scale from 1-10 daily in order to identify problems or recognize patterns in your symptoms with dose reductions.[11]
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    Stop the taper if necessary. If your symptoms get worse or you experience severe withdrawal, consider stopping the taper. You can always add back half your dose or all of it until you feel better again. At that point, you can continue reducing your doses at a smaller rate.[12]
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    Stay in touch with your doctor. Throughout the process of tapering off your Effexor, it’s important to keep your doctor informed about your progress. Let your doctor know if you have setbacks or experience withdrawal. Your doctor may suggest a new plan or alternative treatments to deal any setbacks you may experience when stopping Effexor.[13]

Part 2
Relieving Withdrawal Symptoms

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    Recognize symptoms of withdrawal. Venlafaxine has one of the highest rates of people experiencing withdrawal from Effexor.[14] You may or may not experience symptoms as you reduce your dosage, but it’s good to recognize what symptoms are typical of Effexor withdrawal. Ask your doctor about different ways you can ease any of the following symptoms:
    • Anxiety
    • Dizziness
    • Fatigue
    • Headaches
    • Vivid dreams
    • Insomnia
    • Stomach problems
    • Flu-like symptoms
    • Depression
    • Suicidal thoughts[15]
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    Get immediate help. If you experience continued depression or have suicidal thoughts while stopping Effexor, call your doctor or go to a local hospital as soon as possible. Doctors can help relieve these symptoms and may prevent you from harming yourself.
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    Seek support. As you come off of your Effexor, you will need as much support as possible. This can help you tackle withdrawal symptoms and other side effects you may experience.[16]
    • Continue to keep your doctor informed about your progress. You may even want to see a psychiatrist or psychologist as an alternative form of therapy to help you out while you’re stopping Effexor. This can minimize symptoms and may also give you new coping mechanisms.
    • Let your family and friends know that you’re stopping Effexor and may experience withdrawal symptoms. Let them know the ways in which they can help you.
    • Take some time off of work if necessary. Be honest with your boss about your condition. If you cannot take off any time, ask your boss ways you can contribute if you are experiencing withdrawal or recurrence of symptoms.
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    Stay active. Exercise helps produce serotonin and can have a powerful antidepressant effect. If you’re stopping Effexor, you may be able to compensate for medication by exercising regularly. This may also help manage withdrawal symptoms and keep you feeling good.[17]
    • Aim for a weekly total of 150 minutes of moderate activity, or about 30 minutes daily. Sports such as walking, running, swimming, or biking can boost your mood. Consider trying yoga or Pilates, which not only contribute to your weekly exercise total, but can also improve your mood and relax you.
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    Eat nutritious food. You can boost the effects of exercise and rest by eating a healthy diet. Have regular meals based around the five food groups, which can help keep your blood sugar at a stable level and keep you from feeling nauseous or having other stomach issues.[18]
    • Get foods from the five food groups. Choose a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins, and dairy.[19]
    • Consider eating more foods high in magnesium, which may control anxiety. Some examples of foods high in magnesium are: almonds, avocados, spinach, soybeans, black beans, salmon, halibut, oysters, peanuts, quinoa, and brown rice.[20]
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    Manage stress. If you are under a lot of stress, it’s important to manage it as much as you can. Stress can exacerbate withdrawal symptoms and may even cause anxiety.[21]
    • Avoid stressful situations whenever possible. If you can’t, get through stressful situations by taking deep breaths and excusing yourself occasionally to “use the bathroom” or “take a call.” Even a momentary break can help minimize stress.
    • Allow yourself to get a regular massages to relax yourself.
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    Rest as often as possible. You may experience a wide array of withdrawal symptoms when stopping Effexor. A part of keeping yourself feeling well and reducing stress is getting enough rest. This includes having a regular sleep schedule and allowing yourself to take naps to help yourself feel better.[22]
    • Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. You should get at least 7 hours of sleep every night. Keep your schedule during the weekends to help minimize your symptoms.[23]
    • Take naps of 20-30 minutes as needed. These can refresh you and may reduce withdrawal symptoms.


  • Avoid taking yourself off Effexor. Consult your physician before making any changes to your medication dosage. You should also not take any other medications while on Effexor before talking to your doctor first.
  • Keep taking Effexor even if you feel better. If you stop taking Effexor, you may start to feel bad again.

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Categories: Taking Pills and Medicine