Effexor Withdrawal FIX

by Mark Ivar Myhre on October 13, 2006

MUST READ!!! Effexor withdraw FIX!

This post comes from the effexor comments section at effexor comments by Yoshi2All
On Thu Oct 12 09:36:36 2006

times of absolute euphoria/irritarion).
>> I also have severe cronic pain in the knee, which at first I was prescribed vioxx (until recalled). Then later moved to opiates –> vicoden, then norco’s, next was percacet and finally when that stopped working they moved me to oxycontin & fentenyl patches all while taking effexor. I started the pain meds 2 years ago.
>> I have also been on effexorXR for 6 or so years, I was taking 375mg EffexorXR (MAX DOSAGE), told I would be on it for life because of my condition.

MY STORY
First time I took effexorXR 37.5mg , I became extremely manic (the euphoric/irritable feeling you alternate through when your bipolar) and got slapped with a 51/50 (3 day ‘visit’) which then became a 52/50 (7 day ‘visit’). When all was said and done I was in for almost a MONTH of my life. Needless to say I was in a mental hospital for a long while all due to an ignorant general practicioner.

Of course they stopped the effexorXR and well, what goes up must also come down… it was the worst depression I have ever felt in my life (in fact I tried to kill my self two times IN THE HOSPITAL) — if you’ve ever been you’d realize how hard this is, being as they pretty much remove anything that could be used to kill yourself, down to your shoe laces. They then reintroduced (WTF??) the effexorXR and just added another drug as a mood stabilizer. They started me on Depakote, and when I started gaining weight they switched me to Lithium, then Serozone (a black boxed drug due to its instant death risk!!!! — yet it still can be prescibed), well finally I ended up with Lamictal (an anti-seizure drug) and it freaking worked, I was finally stable.



Well back to the hospital… For some reason the phsyciatrist felt that effexorXR was the right drug for me, just that I needed a mood stabilizer to cancel out the mania. He was actually the best phsyciatrist I have ever had and I have gone through a TON (he was the one that prescribed me Lamictal on my second hospital visit *snicker* I’ll get to that later). He told me effexorXR works by increasing Seretonin and Norepinephrine — which I had heard before, however HE ALSO TOLD ME IT HAS AN EFFECT ON DOPAMINE. I had never heard this before, and even read the drug info I got with my prescription, no mention of in there either. Being a pre-med student I asked him why he thought it affected dopamine levels. This is when he explained Wellbutrin and how it works at getting people off of cigarette/alcohol. It seams Effexor & Wellbutrin are somewhat similar in that they both effect seratonin & dopamine, however effexor ALSO increases Norepinephrine. (BTW, I have found numerous studies that say dopamine levels are increased in the brain when taking effexor) Here is the clincher, he told me he ONLY prescibes EffexorXR to BIPOLAR patients, why you ask… simple. He told me, most likely I would be on a life-long regiment and would not need to come off of effexor (being as there is no ‘cure’ for it yet). So, he continues telling me that he will not prescibe Effexor, Paxil or Celexa to just moderately depressed ppl because HIS OWN patients have experience severe PHYSICAL WITHDRAWS from those drugs — but most of all effexor. He told me that wouldn’t matter since I was bipolar and would most likely be on for a life sentence (that in its self was a depressing realization). Well, the main problem for me was that he was an inpatient doctor only and I couln’t get him for out-patient phsyciatrist. Little did I know I was losing the only doc with any sence when it comes to these drugs.
>> A drug that effects the THREE MAIN nerotransmitters in your brain — a miracle drug, right? Maybe, a miracle drug if your on it but not if your trying to come off. Unbenounced to me, I had a break in my medical coverage and ran-out of effexor, cold-turkey!! 300mg to 0mg in ONE DAY — this is where my SECOND visit to that same hospital comes in. I had every symptom you guys had, hot flashes, suicidal thoughts, severe vomitting (dry heaving) inability to eat or sleep, I couldn’t hold a thought in my head, and I had severe pains that would shoot down my arms and legs. Sound familar, well if you came off too quickly I am sure you also felt those affects. Well, my withdraw led to a SEIZURE, I ended up in emergency ward, then was tranferred back to the Phsyciatric Hospital I was at before. This was a godsend because I get to see the only phsyciatrist I ever met that knows or gives a damn about his patients (this is when I was switched to Lamictal — the anti-seizure AND mood stabilizer). Well, I got my pills, my old doc back, and a fat bill due to lack of coverage, however the knowledge I leared in those three days was worth any price (see WHAT HE TOLD ME… below for his advice on withdrawing from EffexorXR).
Well, after the experience I had from withdrawing cold-turkey I decided to just stay on — it seemed easier and safer. After four years, I started taking prescription pain meds (opiates). I started with a low dose, then moved up and up and up. Needless to say, not only was I addicted to effexor, but now I addicted to pain meds (oxycontin). The amounts of pain medications I used daily was equivilant to a mild HEROIN addiction. I knew I needed to get off, but I thought for sure the withdraw would be WORSE than effexor. After a couple of months on opiates I noticed that I had to increase to 375mg effexor (the maximum dose per FDA). I was a drugged up basketcase of Antidepressants and Depressants and mood stabilizers. OMG, I didn’t even know who I was, nothing was fun, nothing was exciting, my life was best described as ‘blah’. My liver enzymes increased and I knew I would have to quit using at least one drug. So, thinking it was the worst one of them all I decided to stop the pain meds, once again cold turkey.
I was scared shitless – all I could think about was “this was going to be worse than effexor withdraw”. Boy was I WRONG, it was a cake walk compaired to the withdraw from effexor. The detox off of opiates took only three days, and the whole time I kept the same dose of effexor and lamictal. I also used a few of the drugs that I discuss below that can help with any withdraw especially SSRI withdraw. However, I noticed that I didn’t have the severe depression accosiated with opiate/heroin withdraw. Great! My effexor was working, thank god!, because I new I couldn’t go any higher on my dose. Well, on the third day of detox (the peak) I noticed I was getting extremely shaky, my eyes started to dialate, and I started having severe hot flashes and couldn’t sleep (even on sleep aids). The fourth day my symptoms were getting worse, but I felt okay — I felt like I was free from the opiates but something else was wrong. My symptoms were a-typical of opiate withdraw, but I changed NOTHING ELSE in my anti-depressant regiment. The fifth day is when everything went to shit, I felt like I was going to die –> my heart rate was easily over 90 without even have moved in 4 days, my BP was through the roof, my chest felt hard (as if I had eaten three Thanksgiving dinners right in a row) My hands were clammy, tingling. Every sence was hightened to the worst degree, smells were so strong and so horrid, lights were bright as shit and had rays and circles around them, I had racing but incomplete thoughts and severe short term memory loss. NOT ONE OF THESE SYMPTOMS COULD BE ATTRIBUTED TO OPIATE WITHDRAW. So wtf was happening to me??? Yah!, another trip to the hospital. I was diagnosed with a drug OVERDOSE, how?, why?, I was STOPPING a drug NOT OVERDOSING on one. Well, I was diagnosed with “Serotonin Syndrom”, not fatal, but the anxiety I had made me feel as if it was or at least I wanted it to be. Nothing made sense, I was told that I took too much effexor. However, I seperate my pills, by day, in a labled pill holder. There was NO way I doubled my pills. The doctors theory, as far as they could tell I doubled my dose, told me I would be fine, told me to take my ‘normal’ (the asses stressed the word normal) dose, and just wait it all out and it will pass. I knew no different so I did as they said and the next morning I reluctantly took the dose for that day (I took 300mg instead of the normal 375mg) because I was still feeling the same from the night/day before. Well, the great thing about EffexorXR is that it continually builds in your system… it doesn’t have the five hour half life of the original effexor. As the day progressed my symptoms got WORSE, I had perminent goose flesh, lips turned purple, you could only see my pupils in my eyes they were the size of rocks, couldn’t eat but started to dry-heave for an hour straight before my spouse called 911 (yah! more hospital/more bills). I don’t remember anything past the puking, but the following is what I was told. The ambulance took me to the hospital, they injected me with a drug that blocks opiates from binding to opiate receptors. Luckily, I had detoxed for six days before so I didn’t have the reaction you normally get when you get injected with the drug. I was unconcious, and they thought I overdosed on opiates (which I hadn’t touched for SIX days). WRONG! I HAD OVERDOSED ON EFFEXORXR, Yes, on effexor. I seizured (froze up – tense muscle – stiff as a board) even though I was taking Lamictal a specific anti-seizure medication. My stomach was pumped, but effexorXR releases slowly in the intestines, plus there was nothing left after the hour long puke session before. When I woke, they told me to stop taking effexor immediatly, and that I basically took too much too fast. I could only think, “how is this possible, its the SAME dose I have been taking for the last SIX years — then it hit me, they were making me go cold turkey on effexor.” Needless to say I freaked out remebering what happened the last time I quit, I started yelling at the doctor, and the fuckers shot something in my IV and it pretty much knocked me out. Well, the next day I felt like I did the very first day I took effexor — manic/irritable/insomnia etc. After that I had no side effects, no effexor withdraw, nothing, it was like I had never taken the drug before, yet only a day and a half before I was on 375mg.
So the question is asked what happened during my opiate withdraw. To the best of my knowledge, the use of continuous opiates for two years depleted most of the nerotransmitters in my brain. Thus, the high doses of effexor were doing little to nothing because they had nothing to work with. After seeing my phsyciatrist he put me on a low dose of Wellbutrin and that works great still to this day.




WHAT HE TOLD ME….

Alchohol (Tequila, Rum, etc), barbituates (Sleep Aids), benzodiazapines (Kolonipin, Xanax – thought not to be addictive until recently), Opiates (Vicodin, Oxycontin), and Nicotine (Cigarettes) are the ONLY widely accepted substances that are PHYSICALLY ADDICTIVE, however he said that, at least in his experience, MOST anti-depressants have proven to be PHYSICALLY addictive. Curious, I asked him what makes an anti-depressant addictive. He told me that the one major thing that alcohol, barbituates, benzo’s & opiates have in common is that they affect levels of dopamine and endorphins in the brain. So what was the missing link that makes an anti-depressant so addictive.

Remeber back when I said effexorXR affects serotonin & norepinephrine, well unknown to many it also had an affect on DOPAMINE. This is one of the main theories as to why Wellbutrin works so well at getting people off of cigarrettes or alcohol. He also said he has had success with switching people to Wellbutrin BEFORE discontinuing or reducing effexorXR. Comming off of wellbutrin is infinately easier than effexor.

Now for the norepinephrine withdraws (sweating, hot-flashed, high blood pressure, heart rate, inability to eat, etc, etc. Norepinephrine is almost chemically identical to epinephrine the “fight or flight” instant stress response nerotransmitter. This is what makes most people jittery, anxious, hot, etc. when they start effexor and is most likely what causes the ‘zaps’ as many of you have called them (during withdraw). He said it is important to introduce an anti-anxiety drug to help calm nerves. This is where Kolonopin (a very addictive benzodiazapine) fits in, most of you have mentioned that it has worked wonders to get you through the withdraw. However, benzo’s are, in and of themselves, extremely addictive so the doc recommends Busbar (busbarone). Very similar in affect without the addictive side effects — although a higher dose may be necessary to get you through. Some people (like me) also found that they could not sleep during the withdraw making it that much worse because minutes go by so slow. Sleep aids are also addictive so the doc’s alternative to that was Seroquil — an amazing sleep aid drug which also helps with the racing or forgetful thoughts. Flexoril is also an option if you are having muscle cramping, jitters, or other muscle related side effects.
Alright so this leaves us with Serotonin. Serotonin is an interesting nerotransmitter as it is both produced in your brain as well as ingest from food. This is the feel-good nerotransmitter, this is what cures the original depression. So, in theory, if you are no longer depressed when you come off of a SSRI (selective seratonin reuptake inhibitor — effexor is a SNRI because it affect both seretonin and norepinephrine reuptake). However, reality is much, much different — I personally don’t believe how happy you are you will still experience the ‘down’ or ‘blue’ feeling you get when reducing or eliminating ANY SSRI. Because you can ingest serotonin, I would recommend eating an abundance of fruits, such as pineapples, bananas, and plums, and various nuts (stay away from peanuts – as they are high in fungus, and your liver needs all the detox it can get). The doc said Wellbutrin should also help with the depression and is much easier to come off of. However, there are other options as well. After three days or so, you can also try homeopathic products for depression such as St. John’s Wort, SAM-E, or Primoria (my favorite). Do NOT take any of these concurently with effexor, wait at least three days!!!




***Special Note: The street drug ‘E’ or ‘ecstacy’ is though to target serotonin. MDMA reacts will the brain cells containing serotonin and releases MASSIVE amounts of serotonin giving the “absolute euphoria” described by users of ‘ecstacy’. Most individuals become depressed in the days/weeks following using the drug. Other side effects experienced by this increase of serotonin are dialated pupils, hot/cold flashes, dehydration/dry-mouth, Clammy or over sensitive hands/feet, etc. I don’t know if its just me, but the side-effects of ecstacy (although more severe) were similar to the side-effects I got from EffexorXR. Ecstacy is not considered physically addictive at this time.

all the best,

Mark

Mark Ivar Myhre
The Emotional Healing Coach
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{ 1 comment }

Jack March 14, 2012 at 10:18 pm

Effexor is a great drug for aspergers and high functioning autism. It’s also show to help those with autism and self injurious behavior, as it elevates seronotin, norepinephrine and a a low affinty for dopamine. That said, because autism and self injurious behaivor is such a complex condition to treat, it seems reasonable to try a LOW dose of effexor for autism self injury.

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