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Effexor Withdrawal

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Antidepressants have long been used to treat the symptoms of different conditions. One of the most common uses for them is to manage and ease the symptoms of depression. Other applications have been for anxiety and panic disorder. Whichever antidepressant you are taking, it is essential to know how withdrawal from it will affect you and how to manage the symptoms. Keep reading to find out more.

What Is Effexor?

Effexor is a type of serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) used to treat depression, anxiety, and panic disorder. Its generic name is venlafaxine.

It works to increase and regulate the levels of brain chemicals norepinephrine and serotonin. Lower doses of Effexor prevent the reuptake of serotonin, meaning it leaves more serotonin in the system. Higher doses of the drug prevent both serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake.

These two hormones work together to control your sense of well-being. Norepinephrine is a stress hormone that affects the part of the brain that pertains to attention and response, as well as control the fight-or-flight response (when working with epinephrine). Serotonin helps control several important brain processes, including mood, emotions, sleep, anxiety, and memory.

While these functions are necessary for human functionality, it is just as necessary to regulate them when they are not working properly. This is where antidepressants come in. It is also important to know what happens when someone stops taking Effexor or their regular dose is reduced.

The symptoms of withdrawal produced by antidepressants can be adverse and difficult if not medically monitored. Symptoms can start within hours of the last dose.

Effexor Withdrawal Symptoms

Effexor has a half-life of three to seven hours. People who suddenly stop taking it will experience discontinuation or withdrawal symptoms within a few hours. Withdrawal symptoms can be severe and distressing, but they will dissipate within a few weeks.

The antidepressant withdrawal symptoms below are also indicative of Effexor:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression and mood swings
  • Dizziness and balance problems, possibly vertigo
  • Electric shock sensations
  • Fatigue
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Headache
  • Loss of coordination
  • Muscle spasms
  • Nausea
  • Nightmares
  • Tremors
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Vomiting

Though not as common, the withdrawal symptoms below are rate:

  • Serotonin syndrome (agitation, high body temperature, sweating, diarrhea, increased reflexes, tremor, dilated pupils)
  • Mental impairment
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Mania
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Lockjaw

It is always best to work with your doctor to taper the dose until weaned off it. As noted on WebMD, “About one in five people who take an antidepressant for six or more weeks may experience discontinuation symptoms if they suddenly stop taking the medicine.”

An intense craving for your drug of choice will be one of the more apparent symptoms you must deal with. When you couple that with uncomfortable feelings of withdrawal, it becomes a much more difficult task to stop using without medical help.

Opioids are not inherently dangerous when you compare them to other depressants, but that does not mean they should be overlooked. Due to these difficulties, many people who forgo this process alone will relapse. If you commit yourself to medical detox, you give yourself a much higher chance of succeeding. 

Why Should I Detox?

It is never a good idea to stop taking antidepressants cold turkey or all of a sudden. A sudden change in brain chemistry can cause someone to become extremely depressed or suicidal. If the brain becomes tolerant of the drug, it can compel someone to take more of the drug, which is dangerous.

Medical detox is the first step in addiction treatment. It is beneficial for people who want to stop taking drugs. Medical and support staff are available around the clock to help an individual wean off the drug safely. Detox helps people overcome the symptoms comfortably in a safe environment. Emotional issues can be daunting to manage on your own, and more so when other drugs or alcohol are at play.

What Is the Next Treatment Step?

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states that staying in treatment for an adequate period is critical to a lasting and successful recovery. Research has shown that an individual needs at least three months (90 days) of treatment, which starts with detox, to achieve long-term sobriety. When wanting to end antidepressant use, such as Effexor, it is paramount to have all the support possible, medically and psychologically.

Sources

WebMd. Stopping Antidepressants. Is It Withdrawal? (Retrieved October 2019) from https://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/withdrawal-from-antidepressants#1

National Institute on Drug Abuse. Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction: What Science Says. 8. Medical Detoxification. February 2016. from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/teaching-packets/understanding-drug-abuse-addiction/section-iii/7-medical-detoxification

National Institute on Drug Abuse.Principles of Drug Addiction: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition) January 2018. from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/principles-effective-treatment

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