Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Withdrawal Hell

OMG - I thought I was going crazy again. I've been tapering off my meds and thrilled that I was doing so well and very much looking forward to being med free and happy and healthy.

I've hit the lowest dose of Effexor XR and these past few days I thought I was becoming crazy all over again... anxious, shakey, nervous, flighty, weepy.... So I caved and called my doc. She said I wasn't having symptoms again - I was going through discontinuation syndrome. She said it was horrible and awful and normal. The discontinuation syndrome is actually worse at the lower doses. Yeah! I'm not going nuts!

This from Wyeth (Effexor makers)
Adverse events have followed the discontinuation of EFFEXOR XR, like those seen with the tricyclics and SSRIs. The most common events after discontinuation of EFFEXOR XR (at an incidence >3% and >2x that of placebo) were dizziness, dry mouth, insomnia, nausea, nervousness, and sweating. It has been suggested that these phenomena may be attributed to serotonergic mechanisms in certain patients.
Jeepers! Withdrawal symptoms are worse than the depression that caused the need for the med in the first place!
And from another website...
Cons: The absolute worst discontinuation syndrome of an antidepressant. Effexor (venlafaxine hydrochloride) is a medication people utterly loathe to have taken. It is not uncommon for someone to change doctors during or immediately after Effexor (venlafaxine hydrochloride) discontinuation.

Effexor's Not So Common Side Effects: Increased or lowered blood pressure, sweating, farting, anorexia, twitching, shock-like sensations.

But the most disturbing freaky rare side effect with Effexor (venlafaxine hydrochloride) is what Wyeth disingenuously calls "withdrawal syndrome," that once you acclimate to Effexor (venlafaxine hydrochloride) you are basically hooked for life. The discontinuation syndrome never goes away if you try to stop. For someone with unipolar depression that's a pain in the ass, but something you might be able to work around barring any really adverse side effects, but for someone who is bipolar you can be royally screwed because Effexor (venlafaxine hydrochloride) can really aggravate mania and especially rapid cycling.
And I can now attest to all of the above symptoms (well, except for the anorexia-like symptoms which I wish I had!)

I hate it but I'm so relieved to know what's going on.