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Dealing with emergency venlafaxine (Efexor) withdrawal


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Hi all,

I've had to stop taking all my meds (venlafaxine 150mg & quetiapine 100mg) without any taper, as after more than a year of taking them happily I suddenly started getting allergic reactions to them of rapidly increasing severity, & my doc was worried that if I didn't stop them all RIGHT NOW I'd go into full-on anaphylaxis & die. Yes, this is really weird & rare, I seem to specialise in bizarre meds reactions.

I'm getting unpleasant discontinuation symptoms - brain zaps, my arms and legs keep seeming to change length, it's hard to walk, talk coherently, or stay conscious (blacked out a few times). I've been crying uncontrollably on and off, getting psychotic symptoms (voices, weird beliefs) which I can barely stay on top of, and am only just about managing to stay out of hospital. This is the first time since I was 14 that I have been on no psych meds, I'm now 27.

There is no way I can take venlafaxine ever again, so I can't slowly taper off it. I've got access to a fair number of old prescriptions of various ADs & APs, but I think it might be a bad idea to try a DIY cross-taper, just in case it causes anaphylaxis.

Is there anything that might help? Please?

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I think you need to be hospital, if the withdrawal is that sudden and destructive, and you're at risk of anaphylaxis. Your withdrawal symptoms sound like they need medical attention. I have no idea why your doctor would assume you could tough through it at home.

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i've been there and i'm so sorry :(

i agree that hospital is the best idea - i've never been crazier in my life than two days cold turkey from effexor/venlafaxine

ask if you are able to take prozac while withdrawing, that's usually the protocol i think unless that might trip your allergies, too.

i wish you the best in recovering.

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Doctor who told me to stop taking everything is not a psychiatrist, GP & he talked to immunologist at the hospital. Can't see psychiatrist 'till next week. Not allowed to cross-taper with fluoxetine or any other SSRI. Can't finish a sentence without crying, but went to A&E & did not get admitted to hospital. Asked for a referral to the 'crisis team' but they have not contacted me for 3 days. dunno what to do but i need to make my brain stop. electric zaps all over, and i think that might mean i made the earthquake happen.

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I also went cold turkey off of Effexor (because of my mother) and it was pretty awful. Your withdrawal symptoms seem pretty dangerous and you really need to be monitored. I think you should call your pdoc and describe what's going on and see what they suggest. Keep calling your GP, the crisis team...someone, until they help you, this is really important.

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The hospital can make sure you're medically safe. It's not a psych ward, locked up, you're a danger to yourself, thing. It's about making sure that you stay ok throughout this withdrawal process and are there to receive help if you end up needing it. It's the safest thing to do.

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Yes, there are probably some meds that can ease your withdrawal symptoms. Ahem.

However, considering that you are discontinuing due to life threatening reactions, you have NO Business doctoring yourself!! You don't know what might make you worse or die.

If your pdoc has a night line call him

If not, and you feel in danger physically or mentally go to A&E/ER at the hospital.

Otherwise, you have to brave it out till morning when you can see your pdoc.

.

Hope you feel better soon .

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GP out of hours sent me to A&E. A&E sent me home with more zopiclone. Can't see my own psychiatrist till Wednesday.

walking round makes the earth wobble & that killed all the people in new zealand, but none of them can stop me.

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fuck. can't sleep. the zopiclone a few days ago was four times my normal dose & that only put me out for five hours. since then managed an hour's nap twice, both with nightmares so bad i wake up crying & shaking & hard to work out what's real.

supposed to be on my own in the house but can hear someone moving round downstairs & they are going to kill me, so i can't phone for help or go anywhere.

can't stop shivering, can't work out if i am too hot or too cold, & so tired my eyes & ears are going all wonky, seeing weird coloured floaty patterns & too many little noises.

Was in A&E again night before last, they were supposed to be sending someone from the intensive home treatment team round (basically hospital at home stuff), but they never turned up. three a&e visits in less than a week would be stupid, and don't think i can think straight enough to get myself there again/

oh well, i suppose i'll just have to sit it out. not going to hurt myself. want to be ok and go to job interview next week and get my leif back.

will cope with this, because i have to. but fuck it is scary.

sorry typing is crap today.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Know this is an older thread but I thought I was the only one that tripped out really bad coming off Effexor. I had it happen once when my nurse practioner quit the practice and I had a hard time getting past the office people who didn't understand I was addicted to it so that I could see someone to write the scrip on the spot. I went two weeks without it and nearly checked myself into the hospital a few times. I was going to say I was suicidal just to get in. I love my Effexor and it's about the only thing that has worked for me for both the Fibro pain and my depression. However, because of the intense withdrawals, I would not recommend it to anyone unless it was a last ditch effort like my case was.

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  • 4 months later...

Just to let people know - had a shit time for a fortnight, I only stayed out of hospital because the general hospital couldn't cope with my level of psychosis & the psych hospital couldn't cope with how physically ill I was.

The weird 'allergic reaction' manifested as urticaria, dermographia, petechiae, skin itching like nettle rash, raised red patches that moved round esp in response to pressure and just on their own, and changed so fast you could see them moving, skin peeling like vv bad sunburn, severe joint pain - I usually run marathons, but could not stand up for more than about a minute, could not bend my legs enough to get in and out of a bath, skin swelling to the point that one of my eyes swelled shut & my throat was swelling.

Most symptoms started to go about two days after my last dose of the meds. My skin was still very itchy for about two months afterwards, then suddenly stopped itching over a weekend.

Symptoms were helped by very high doses of antihistamines - fexofenadine - normal dose is 120mg, I was taking 5 to 10 times that - also tried cetrizine but that had no effect at any dose. The allergy docs wanted me to be on steroids to suppress the immune reaction, but p-docs blocked this as they'd worsen my mental state with even more mania & psychosis.

A few months later, I re-introduced both venlafaxine and then quetiapine. To everyone's surprise, I did not react badly to either. I've now been back on the same meds for about two months without incident.

Neither the allergy doctor, psychiatrist, or general practitioner can come up with any explanations. We have spent a lot of time trying to work out other things I could have been reacting to, but I was at home all the time, eating the same food, using the same washing powder, all that. I'm very much a creature of habit, and we could not find any environmental triggers.

Does anyone have any guesses what might have been going on, please? Even if it's daft?

It was a very scary experience, and my voices keep on telling me that they were controlling it and all sorts of weird shit. I am trying not to believe them, but I don't have any other ideas!

Thanks for all your support when I was very scared a few months back,

Duck.

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Sounds pretty squarely like allergies. The allergic system with all its hormones and chemical modulators can't (yet) be described with precision. It comes and goes.

One way to lessen the chances of reactions to meds is to start at low dosage and increase slowly.

Glad you survived! a.m.

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Allergic reaction to venlafaxine, particularly with skin rash, is a well-documented side effect, though, as you say, relatively rare, so if I understand you correctly, you're looking not so much for a reason why you had the reaction, but rather why you haven't reacted subsequently. Though it could be that some God-alone-knows second factor that might never recur played a role in the initial reaction, now that your body is sensitized, you cannot rule out the possibility that at some point you may react to the venlafaxine alone. It sounds like your safest best at this point is to assume that you will have another reaction at some point in the future, and get your doctors to establish a protocol for you that will ensure that you never have to endure another visit to Hell like this again, whether it be a small supply of known safe meds to pull you through the withdrawal, or at least a letter from your pdoc you can keep on hand explaining the situation should you have to go to the A&E again. Anyone who suffers from severe bee sting or peanut allergies keeps an epi-pen near at hand; you should have some similar plan in place so you can take quick action. I'm glad the ordeal is behind you, and hope your doctors can help you prepare to manage smoothly if it ever happens again.

I have had to drop my Effexor cold twice, from a high dosage (450mg), and I sympathize very much indeed. Nausea and brain shocks can set in for me after a single missed dose, though it usually takes two to three before things really head south. I have heard the withdrawal syndrome equated to coming down off heroin, though never having taken heroin, I can't (mercifully) attest to that. I came across the following masterpiece of understatement on a FactSheet for venlafaxine: "Do not stop using venlafaxine suddenly, or you could have unpleasant symptoms."

I do know that as vile as Effexor can be, it's also my strongest defense against depression. It's kind of like having a Dalek as a bodyguard...

Cerberus

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