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Re: Anyone had success on Effexor XR?

Posted by tulip on December 10, 2004, at 12:57:57

In reply to Anyone had success on Effexor XR? , posted by jp on October 24, 1999, at 14:59:14

Hello to everyone and please bear with me as this may be a lengthy submission. I have been following this thread since first being described this medication 4 months ago and would like to say how appreciative I am to everyone who has shared their advice and experiences here. Without this thread ‘true’ information is hard to come by and myself , like others, would have thought I was alone in the misery this drug caused. I would like to say first off though to all the people who have found success with this drug and cannot understand our dilemma that people are different and react differently to medications. Congratulations that you found success but others truly have found hell. I don’t take everything I read here as ‘fact’ about the med’s it’s just what different people have experienced. But I have been able to read between the lines and compare my own personal observations and therefore not only learn general things but also ease my mind that I’m not crazy or that I’m not the only one not finding this to be the ‘symptom-free wonder drug’ MY particular doctor deemed it to be. The most important thing that we are all trying to get across is that there is MUCH room for error with this drug. Someone has to take responsibility and to be honest I don’t know enough to know who. I would like to blame my (now dismissed) doctor but then again how much are they told by the companies? But he’s not off the hook either…..doctors are there to tell us what we need or else we would write our own prescriptions right? The time MUST be spent by them to talk to their patients and truly be familiar with any drugs they think might help the individual. The individual! Not the general public. They must also listen to us carefully when we express our displeasure at a drug they have prescribed. I’m appalled that I hear so many stories of doctors telling us that these symptoms we are experiencing with effexor are all in our heads or a stomach flu etc etc. God I’d love to slip my doctor these pills for a month or so!
O.k. I’ll get to my point. I wanted to briefly detail my experience in case it brings light to anyone else currently starting or stopping this medication. I found sooo many little tidbits of advice while reading this that I wanted to share back. I was prescribed effexor 4 months ago after suffering a full blown ‘panic attack’. My first! I had always suffered mild waves of depression over the years but had chosen to avoid the medication route until that attack. ( They are horrific for anyone who has never experienced them.) I went to a new doctor who after listening to my account of the attack immediately suggested effexor xr and ativan. I was astute enough to ask about both and how long I would be expected to take them. He said effexor was used to treat ‘mild’ anxiety and depression and that the treatment would only be 5 or 6 months of taking these.
HA! What a quack!
The ativan I was supposed to take twice a day knocked me on my ass immediately (I’m 5’8 and 105 lbs). Sure that would help the panic as I was almost comatose. I stopped taking those immediately after the first and started taking them as needed. (was still feeling on-set of attacks at that point). The effexor I took that morning and was a mess by the evening. My doctor for-warned me of nothing! Sure the info that comes with it gives general things to expect but we all know that that comes with most med’s and the doctor normally tells you that these side effects would be minimal. Not with Effexor! I was shaking like a leaf, sweating, stuttering, having weird yawning feelings, tenseness in my whole body, especially my jaw. The feelings of an impending ‘attack’ were coming in waves. I felt so out of it I didn’t even want my fiance around me. I felt lost in my own skin. I decided that this was just the beginning and that I should give it a chance to go away….it didn’t. I got so lethargic and hopeless. (I personally never experienced it working at all …not even briefly) When I went back to the doctor he doubled the dose to 75mg and said to give it a couple weeks. I ended up quitting my job as I could barely function around people at all and started to turn into a recluse. (I’m normally extremely social) I truly thought I was going crazy…my mind was racing and racing with sometimes foreign, disturbing thoughts. I would have ‘attacks’ every time I left the house. I was sleeping up to 12 hours a day if I was left to. I lost 5 lbs immediately and would wake up choking and nauseous in my sleep. I also started having trouble sleeping as I was getting terrible leg cramps, night sweats and severe restlessness in my legs throughout the night. (none of this I would have ever dreamed to be a product of the med’s…I just thought I was falling apart on my own until reading this thread). After almost 3 months of this I confronted my doctor (who I might add never once monitored my progress or checked my BP) I pleaded with him to reconsider another med and he said I was being difficult and ‘inventing’ these symptoms as a product of my stress. I’m not a stupid girl (even for 24) and trust my gut immensely so I told him that I thought what he was doing was borderline malpractice and that he should be ashamed of himself for not listening to my concerns and addressing them. He (in a rage) demanded I leave his office and I said I would gladly.(truly though I was terrified and in tears about what to do next. I had gone to him BECAUSE I was scared!) Our lawyers have been in contact since.
Which brings me to 3 days ago. I quit cold turkey! I’ve lived on my own since 16 and never has my life spun so out of control as it has over the last 4 months. I would read this thread and cry at the horrific stories and fears of others in my boat. I felt like I was stuck and too terrified to try to get off these drugs but things has already spun so far out of control what was the worse that could happen? I was already still off work so I just decided to not take the pill one night. (to people taking these still….I found it made me less sleepy if taken in the night). By morning I was already in a mess. (not even 12 hrs since last dose). I had awoke soaked in sweat in the night and terrorized by vivid nightmares such as my teeth all crumbling in my mouth. ( I think I was clenching my jaw in my sleep). When I tried to get out of bed a wave of dizziness hit me so hard I had to sit back down. I was so shocked that it really was as intense as people had portrayed withdrawal to be.(I thought it was probably exaggerated a little or mostly just with people who were on high doses.) The next fun thing was immediate cramps thru my stomach. It felt worse than any stomach flu I had EVER gone thru. I ran back and forth to the bathroom about 7 times that day. And there is no relief I might add…..the cramps continue even if there is nothing in your stomach. Next came the shocks. I had heard about them but wasn’t sure what people were describing. Now I know! It feels like when you get a little shock from the toaster or a plug except it felt like it was emanating from my center. They didn’t’ stop either! I have to say though that even though they are a very alien feeling they were the easiest to deal with so far. They don’t hurt but I do cry out from time to time when they are extra strong. They have stayed with me over the last 3 days. Sometimes they come more or less often. Thank you so much to the person(s) who mentioned that Benadryl helps because it really did. For some reason it lessened the shocks and made me feel much less dizzy. Here I am on day three and doing alright. It sucks that the withdrawal seems to get more symptoms every day but I’ve come up with other ways to combat it. Another lady suggested b-12 isotonix and I have been taking that and anti-diaherrea pills.(to be fair and accurate I should also mention I smoke marijuana daily and I think that may have helped with the shocks and nervousness as well….but please don’t take that as a recommendation!) For me at least…I’m tentatively gaining hope. I have pills at the ready in case I cave but unless it truly becomes hell I won’t touch another. I’m still dizzy and my sight definitely is blurry (took me almost 15 min’s for my eyes to focus this morning) but ironically I feel more happy and awake than I have in 4 months even with shocks and all. I’m even going to venture to work for a couple hours tonight (though that seems a little soon as I’ve been ‘doing fine’ only in private.) We’ll see what happens. The important thing is that the scariest part is over…..the ‘unknown’. I’m already in the middle of ‘withdrawal’ and it doesn’t look half as scary as imagining myself on these drugs years later. I’m sorry to those of you on high dosages as I can imagine your battle will be all that much harder but if you want this for you …if you want your mind back…..fight!
I hope I haven’t annoyed anyone rambling. I intend to keep posting (much shorter) updates if anyone is interested. I also wanted to extend an invitation to anyone with questions or comments to contact me. Hey…if I can help! Anyone who’d like to give me some help/advice would also be appreciated!
Good luck all……




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