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Effexor side effects withdrawals

Posted by Kitty on December 18, 2001, at 11:47:54

Thank you, thank you, thank you! Suddenly I don't feel quite so crazy any more. I have to say that before I found this chat on Effexor, I really thought I might need to check myself in somewhere!

I have taken Prozac off and on for situational depression (read stress here) for about 10 years. I have generally had good results with it. This last time, I started taking it in May of 2001 for depression brought on by stress. In October my doctor decided to take me off of Prozac and put me on Effexor as Prozac was no longer working.

After tapering off of Prozac with no real side effects and spending a week drug free before beginning the Effexor, I started the Effexor (redundant, huh?).

I began to have headaches within two days of taking 37.5 mg of the Effexor. After taking this dosage for a week, my doctor raised the dosage to 75 mg. The headaches increased in severity especially about 30 minutes after I took the pill or if I was over an hour late taking the pill. Also about this time, I began having such horrible nightmares that I quit sleeping. I'm not talking about your run of the mill nightmares here. I'm talking about the "I've got to get up and run around the house to turn on all of the lights and check on the children nightmares." They were incredibly detailed and I describe them as "Knowing the evil of Man" dreams.

I also began to have small seizures in my sleep. I have a seizure disorder that is associated with stress & hormones, so I know what seizures are. These, were different in that I had them nightly; I had several a night (3 - 8 that I was aware of); I bit my mouth and tongue during them (new for me in seizures); I was aware of them; and I was not able to come out of them when I became aware of them.

After 4 weeks of being on the 75 mg dosage, I returned to the doctor and reported my sleeplessness, nightmares, seizures, headaches, etc. Much to my surprise, he raised my dosage to 150 mg and gave me Ambien to sleep. The headaches became migraines. The seizures and nightmares increased in severity. I began to sleep only about 1 to 2 hours a night. Besides the fact that I looked like a raccoon, I was having speech problems (slurring and tongue thickness) and linear thought problems during the day (became a zombie).

I ran out of medication on Sat. December 8th and did not refill the prescription. I also flushed the Ambien down the toilet. I also was not able to reach my doctor to discuss my decision to dump Effexor.

Sunday was spent in the dark with ice packs to combat the migraine. The nightmares were indescribable...I literally was afraid to go to sleep so I did a lot of reading for two days. By Tuesday, I was having Vertigo spells so bad when I turned my head that it felt like I had left my cheeks where they were before I turned my head. I began to vomit with the Vertigo and break out into cold sweats. On Wednesday morning, I blacked out while driving to work and ran over a curb (don't worry, I'm fine, the car's fine, and no one was hurt). I had to be driven home from work (much to my embarrassement) by 3:00 pm. Whenever I would lie down, my right arm would begin to tingle and buzz. I also was having what felt like electric buzzing in my cheeks and jaws.

I spent Thursday and Friday alternately vomiting, lying down, in frenzied activity, or highly agitated (read really, really mean here). I tried taking a dose of Antivert for the Vertigo, but it did nothing to help. The good news is that the headaches had stopped and most of the tension had left my shoulders. The nightmares were becoming less severe, but I began eating extraordinary amounts of food (Don't tell anyone, but I've gained 5 pounds in two weeks).

I tried to get in touch with the doctor on Friday to find out what to do for the dizziness and could not reach anyone. By Sunday, I was no longer having nightmares, headaches, or seizures. The Vertigo is very slight, only happening mildly one or two times a day now.

So, I've shared my hell with all of you. The only thing I can offer is I guess that tapering off would have been better, though the side effects from taking the medicine were awful, too. The withdrawals do get better with time, but I would have never thought that I'd ever see an end to the pain last Wednesday! I'm happy to report that as of now, the depression has disappeared. I guess the hell of not sleeping, being dizzy, having seizures, etc. won out over the poor-pitiful-me party.

Again, thank you (and thank you to Dr. Bob for running this thing) for making me realize that I'm not really a freak when it comes to taking Effexor! I am trying to manage the depression with yoga, massage (life's rough, huh?), and aerobic exercise.




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