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Effexor Tapering

Last Updated on September 28, 2022 by Diane Ridaeus

Alternative to Meds Editorial Team
Medically Reviewed by Dr Samuel Lee MD

There is an ever-growing need for qualified rehab professionals who offer Effexor tapering, weaning, and titration. Within the purview of mental health treatment, there is a deep need to more thoroughly evaluate a person’s life situation before prescribing antidepressant medications.13

There are many factors — other than a medication deficiency — that can cause depression: impaired hormonal states, nutrient deficiencies, adrenal fatigue, lack of exercise, failed life aspirations, and more.14

Does Your Diagnosis
Require Effexor?

tapering off effexor
Alternative to Meds has been primarily invested in medication withdrawal for nearly 2 decades now. Using holistic, orthomolecular, and environmental Medicine, we have published evidence decisively showing that well over 77% of clients at the center suffer from fewer symptoms and feel better than they ever did while still medicated. Guiding our clients on a path to better health and what we call natural mental health is our primary goal.
Many people find it hard to believe that we find success with people “as bad off as they consider they are” and seem to think that others had a much easier time of it than them. Make no mistake, we are not some drug rehab trying to teach a person how they can just live with the symptoms. Far from that. We are driving into the genetic and physiological underpinnings of these situations. Watch this video to see a woman that was very debilitated by antidepressants and benzodiazepines, finally finding her life back like a miracle.
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Effexor Tapering Complications

The immediate-release version of Effexor was discontinued after 1997. The generic version, venlafaxine, is available in both time-release and immediate-release forms. One of the reasons given for discontinuing the immediate-acting Effexor and replacing it with the timed-release version, Effexor XR, was to lessen the amount of nausea that Effexor reportedly inflicted upon a very significant percentage of users.10 effexor tapering complicationsThe time-release Effexor tapering process becomes a more complex process. It is more complicated because when you cut the pill exterior, it loses the time-released attribute.

Along with the nausea issue, a five-fold increase in suicidality rates motivated the FDA to require an update to the black box warning, stipulating that any version of Effexor should not be prescribed to those under the age of 25.20

These and other issues that will be outlined further below may lead to the decision of getting off Effexor treatment and opting for a more natural approach to improving mental health that doesn’t involve antidepressant medications and their associated tapering complications.

Is Effexor Overprescribed?

Antidepressants have been around for quite a long time — around the same time as television. The industry is a billion-dollar money maker and profits continue to grow every year.11 Currently, the statistics on the use of antidepressants are alarming, with over 13% of the population over the age of 18 taking these pills.12 As Thomas Insel, the former director of the CDC stated in a 2011 article (PDF) published by NIMH, “Although depression and anxiety disorders are the primary indications for prescribing antidepressants, doctors have prescribed these medications, generally, “off-label,” to treat chronic pain, menstrual symptoms, low energy, and other maladies, with or without accompanying depressive or anxiety symptoms.”1

Some have posed the question that if antidepressants are designed to treat mental illness, why are 80% of all antidepressants prescribed by practitioners who are not themselves mental health therapists or psychiatrists,15 and why are they prescribed for so many “off-label” reasons?16 Further, why aren’t Effexor alternatives explored first?

There is also a controversy concerning whether antidepressants actually work better than placebos.17 There are conflicting studies that have attempted to answer these questions, but without coming to any clear conclusions.18 These and other questions definitely need answering, but for right now perhaps the focus should rest on how to recover. That is of prime importance.

Effexor Discontinuation Syndrome

effexor discontinuation syndromeDrug advertising took a giant leap into broad media exposure in the early 80s when drug manufacturers were allowed to place direct-to-consumer ads for prescription medicine on television. Soaring sales statistics from then to now reveal how effective these ad campaigns have been for the profits, but not necessarily for positive influences on consumer health.19 Since then we have seen an emergence of softer, more benign terminology, such as replacing the word addiction with dependence, or substance use disorder, and substituting the phrase “discontinuation syndrome” for withdrawals.7 Physicians are directed by regulators to actually inform their patients about the side effects and possible addictive quality of these substances, but such measures have clearly not brought the epidemics of prescription drug addiction under control.8 We note that patients who come to us for help typically report no such efforts were made to inform them about how to go about stopping the drug, nor any discussion had occurred about discontinuation syndrome in the doctor’s office. In fact, the majority feel that had they known what was ahead for them, they would have decided on an alternative plan for treatment, one that didn’t involve heavy drugs like Effexor XR. The truly unfortunate lack of training on the part of prescribing doctors on how to help their patients who wish to begin tapering Effexor or similar drugs has left both patients and prescribers floundering. 7,9,25

A significant percentage of our clients come to us referred by prescribers who realized they were not equipped to assist their patients in coming off their medication. We are here to help.

Effexor Tapering Guidelines

Ask your medical practitioner to prescribe the lowest dose pills so that it makes the titration easier. In the case of Effexor, the lowest dosage is 37.5 mg. You would be advised to have a prescriber go over the tapering plan and how to properly cut the pills.

Effexor Tapering Guidelines Include:
  • effexor tapering guidelinesExcept in the case of serotonin syndrome or other medical emergencies, gradual tapering is best.2
  • Have the smallest dose of pills prescribed to you.
  • A reduction of 10-25% is a good starting point, adjusted as needed for personal sensitivity.
  • Expect withdrawal symptoms to emerge around the drug’s half-life range. In this case, the elimination half-life is 5±2 hours 19
  • Adjust further cuts according to what is easily tolerated. A 10-25% cut may be too fast or too slow, and this may change during the taper in general. Be flexible and alert to these adjustments that can help make the process more doable for you.
  • After a reduction, allow time to settle out at that level, before attempting further adjustments.
  • You might expect to stay at each taper step for a week or two, exceptions as noted above.
  • The final cuts are sometimes the most problematic so you may need to slow down on the final reductions.
  • If this withdrawal is beyond your ability to endure, your prescriber may consider using Prozac as a bridge due to its longer half-life.

Individuals can experience different onset times for withdrawal symptoms but generally would be expected within the first day. Withdrawal adverse effects can last days or weeks or sometimes longer.19 Where a protracted withdrawal is happening, we can help at Alternative to Meds Center, or if that is not possible, we recommend at the very least to get yourself under the care of a professional who can recognize and address whatever nutritional deficiencies or other physiological challenges need to be resolved to bring such withdrawal complications under control.

Important Things to Know About Stopping Effexor

help getting off effexorEach person’s body is unique, with a wide range of varying responses to stopping Effexor. Some antidepressants such as SSRIs are designed to primarily target or influence the amount of serotonin in the system.4 Other antidepressant drugs primarily target adrenal hormones, by heightening or dampening the excitatory effects of adrenergic receptors along the CNS pathways.5 Still other forms of antidepressant drugs will affect another neurochemical, dopamine.6 Dopamine is known as the “reward” chemical because it stimulates the pleasure centers, enhances response at the reward centers, and also affects mood, laughter, and other types of emotional response mechanisms.

Effexor is an SNRI type of antidepressant. The acronym stands for serotonin, norepinephrine, reuptake inhibitor. Effexor is a drug belonging to a very small group of antidepressants that have been designed to affect not only serotonergic and norepinephrine receptors, but also the adrenaline and dopamine receptors, in varying degrees.20 These natural chemicals and their respective receptors throughout the central nervous system, individually or collectively monitor and regulate and influence many functions in the body.3

Functions monitored by neurotransmitters include:
  • Emotions, mood
  • Social behavior, response
  • Sleep
  • Appetite
  • Fight or flight mechanisms of the stress response, i.e., adrenalin released causing panic/anxiety
  • Memory
  • Sexual function
  • Sensation of touch
  • Sensation of taste
  • Sensation of smell
  • Vision
  • Hearing
  • Motor functions, i.e., mobility of legs, muscles, joints, etc.
  • Digestion
  • The ability of the blood to coagulate
  • Bone density
  • Ability to sense pleasure, desire, wanting, etc.
  • Sodium levels
  • Potassium levels
  • Activation or dampening of reward centers
  • Blood flow, circulatory response
  • Respiration, breathing
  • Heart rate
  • Intestine functions
  • Urinary and elimination functions
  • Body temperature, the sensation of cold, heat
  • Sweating
  • Release of glucose
  • Blood pressure
  • Alertness or lack of responsiveness to stimuli
  • Brain fog or clarity of thought
  • Dilation or contraction of air passages including lungs
  • Dilation or contraction of vascular cells, blood vessels, veins, etc.

In fact, there are very few if any areas in the body that these hormones and neurochemicals do not interact with or coordinate, control, stimulate, dampen, or influence, and therefore are key in regards to how a body operates and functions properly. This can help to explain why stopping Effexor or any agent that has the capacity to upset or alter these important neurochemicals can be so difficult to manage without proper guidance and help. Virtually every area of the body can be potentially affected in some way until normalization can occur after getting off Effexor. Based on our studies, it is possible to address and improve mental health more naturally in tandem with Effexor tapering protocols and aftercare.

Effexor Titration

If you have suffered from a lack of results and even from compromised health and worsened condition after taking antidepressant medications, Effexor titration may be something that you are considering. But for those who have been considering antidepressant tapering, it has possibly already become clear to you that learning much more about how to titrate Effexor, etc., will be necessary in order to be successful in the attempt to regain health in more natural and drug-free ways. One of the challenges of titrating Effexor is that the short half-life of this medication makes it more difficult than many other antidepressants.20

After taking Effexor XR for some weeks or months, or even years, the body and CNS will have self-engineered various ways to adapt to the presence of the drug.7 This process of the body’s “learned” adaptation is likely a key part of how Effexor addiction or dependence gets laid in. The body begins to change how these neurochemicals are produced, processed, distributed, and how they interact with other chemicals, other nutrients, the environment, etc. Conversely, when stopping Effexor these elements of body neurochemistry will begin to be affected again, and without proper preparation, could be thrown into additional confusion, as the body attempts to normalize the various functions that these chemicals regulate.

Getting off Effexor Safely and Comfortably

getting off effexor comfortablyThis is why it is important to follow FDA guidelines and not engage in abrupt withdrawal from Effexor but to seek and utilize competent help and guidance that will provide an avenue for a slower, safer, and much more comfortable Effexor tapering treatment.2 Many patients trying to get off Effexor at home are deeply surprised at how challenging it can be. Programs delivered at Alternative to Meds Center have been designed to make Effexor tapering treatment a much more humane and tolerable experience. We invite you to contact the center for more specific details on what these steps entail.

Getting off Effexor or other prescription drugs at Alternative to Meds involves a wide range of nutrient-based and other holistic treatments. These are designed to provide comfort and gentle health benefits. This makes trying to get off Effexor as gradual, safe and as tolerable as possible. After withdrawal from Effexor is complete, other treatments are also provided that accelerate the normalizing of neurochemistry. These are reported by our outcome studies to improve energy, sleep patterns, mood, etc., and the client can receive the health-optimizing benefits of life coaching, neurotoxin removal, and effective medical guidance.

Quitting Effexor Holistically at Alternative to Meds Center

holistic effexor taperingAt Alternative to Meds Center, the goal is not merely to guide each client on how to quit Effexor or other drugs, but to learn methods that are most likely to promote natural mental health. Thus, there is no need to rely on artificially numbing or dampening unwanted symptoms. Nutrients play no small part in healing and normalizing the neurochemistry after Effexor cessation. As covered well in orthomolecular medicine research, nutrients are the building blocks that are needed for the construction of robust neurochemistry and the distribution of adequate natural neurotransmitters in a healthy body. Alternative to Meds Center is the only orthomolecular facility of its kind in the United States. Nutrition is best delivered in the form of digestible, nutrient-dense, organic, unprocessed foods.22,23 Prescribed supplements are also vital and provided according to nutritional testing as needed. Fermented foods along with probiotics daily also support the microbiome, and that helps restore the gut-brain axis for optimum body and CNS function.21

Many therapies are offered to assist the person as the taper progresses, including psychological counseling and protocols for physical comfort and relaxation as well.

Contact Alternative to Meds Center for much more information on how our Effexor tapering protocols work. We have helped thousands of clients to become free of the pain and suffering and unpredictable results of prescription drugs. Find out how it is possible to achieve natural mental health as an exciting and fundamental benefit of a successful Effexor tapering treatment program, delivered in our warm, welcoming, and compassionate residential setting.

1. Insel, T., “Antidepressants: a complicated picture” (PDF) National Institute of Mental Health [published online 2011 Dec] [cited 2022 July 1]

2. FDA Effexor drug label [approval 1997 ] [cited 2022 July 1]

3. Sheffler ZM, Reddy V, Pillarisetty LS. Physiology, Neurotransmitters. [Updated 2021 May 9]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: [cited 2022 July 1]

4. Sangkuhl K, Klein T, Altman R, “Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) Pathway.” Pharmacogenet.Genomics. 2009 Nov; 19(11): 907 – 909 PMID 19741567 [cited 2022 July 1]

5. Moret C, Briley M. The importance of norepinephrine in depressionNeuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2011;7(Suppl 1):9-13. doi:10.2147/NDT.S19619 [cited 2022 July 1]

6. Lavergne F, Jay T, “A New Strategy for Antidepressant Prescription.” Frontiers in Neuroscience PMID21151361 [2010 Nov 19] [cited 2022 July 1]

7. Howland RH. Potential adverse effects of discontinuing psychotropic drugs: part 2: antidepressant drugs. J Psychosoc Nurs Ment Health Serv. 2010 Jul;48(7):9-12. doi: 10.3928/02793695-20100527-98. Epub 2010 Jun 22. PMID: 20608581. [cited 2022 July 1]

8. Informed Consent AMA Principles of Medical Ethics: I, II, V, VIII [cited 2022 July 1]

9. Warner CH, Bobo W, Warner C, Reid S, Rachal J. Antidepressant discontinuation syndrome. Am Fam Physician. 2006 Aug 1;74(3):449-56. PMID: 16913164. [cited 2022 July 1]

10. Olver JS, Burrows GD, Norman TR. “The treatment of depression with different formulations of venlafaxine: a comparative analysis.” Hum Psychopharmacol. 2004 Jan;19(1):9-16. doi: 10.1002/hup.551. PMID: 14716706. [cited 2022 July 1]

11. Kunzel T, Sumant O, “Antidepressant Drigs Market Overview” from Allied Market Research [online] Jan 2018 [cited 2022 July 1]

12. Brody D, Gu Q, “Antidepressant Use Among Young Adults 2015 – 2018.” CDC Report, Products – Data Briefs – Number 377 [September 2020] [cited 2022 July 1]

13. Smith B, “Inappropriate prescribing.” APA June 2012 Vol 43 No.6 [print version Page 36] [cited 2022 July 1]

14. Schimelpfening N, Block D, “11 Ways to Treat Depression Without Medication,” Very Well Mind [online} Sept. 17 2020 [cited 2022 July 1]

15. Barkel-Oteo A, “Collaborative Care for Depression in Primary Care: How Psychiatry Could ‘Troubleshoot’ Current Treatments and Practices.” Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine June 2013 [online] 2013 Jun 13, PMID 23766735 [cited 2022 July 1]

16. Skånland SS, Cieślar-Pobuda A. Off-label uses of drugs for depression. Eur J Pharmacol. 2019 Dec 15;865:172732. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2019.172732. Epub 2019 Oct 14. PMID: 31622593. [cited 2022 July 1]

17. Kirsch I, “Antidepressants and the Placebo Effect.” Z Psychol. 2014; 222(3): 128-134 PMID 25279271 [cited 2022 July 1]

18. Melander H, Ahlqvist-Rastad J, Meijer G, Beermann B. Evidence b(i)ased medicine–selective reporting from studies sponsored by pharmaceutical industry: review of studies in new drug applications. BMJ. 2003 May 31;326(7400):1171-3. doi: 10.1136/bmj.326.7400.1171. PMID: 12775615; PMCID: PMC156459. [cited 2022 July 1]

19. Greenslit N, Kaptchuk T, “Antidepressants and Advertising: Psychopharmaceuticals in Crisis.” Yale J Biol Med. 2012 Mar; 85(1); 2012 Mar PMC3313530 [online] 2012 Mar 29 PMID 22461754 [cited 2022 July 1]

20. FDA Drug Label Effexor XR (venlafaxine hydrochloride” Revised Jan 2017 [cited 2022 July 1]

21. Rybnikova E. Brain, antibiotics, and microbiota – how do they interplay?: An Editorial for ‘Antibiotics-induced modulation of large intestinal microbiota altered aromatic amino acid profile and expression of neurotransmitters in the hypothalamus of piglets’ on page 219. J Neurochem. 2018 Aug;146(3):208-210. doi: 10.1111/jnc.14341. Epub 2018 Jun 28. PMID: 29953619. [cited 2022 July 1]

22. Vigar V, Myers S, Oliver C, Arellano J, Robinson S, Leifert C. A Systematic Review of Organic Versus Conventional Food Consumption: Is There a Measurable Benefit on Human Health?.Nutrients. 2019;12(1):7. Published 2019 Dec 18. doi:10.3390/nu12010007 [cited 2022 July 1]

23. Mie A, et al., “Human health implications of organic food and organic agriculture: a comprehensive review.” Environmental Health [online] 2017 Oct 27] PMID 29073935 [cited 2022 July 1]

24. Off-label indications for antidepressants in primary care: descriptive study of prescriptions from an indication based electronic prescribing system, British Medical Journal, 2017 Feb 21 [cited 2022 July 1]

25. Sabljić V, Ružić K, Rakun R. Venlafaxine withdrawal syndrome. Psychiatr Danub. 2011 Mar;23(1):117-9. PMID: 21448114. [cited 2022 July 1]

Originally Published Oct 16, 2019 by Lyle Murphy Published Oct 16, 2019

This content has been reviewed and approved by a licensed physician.

Dr. Samuel Lee

Dr. Samuel Lee is a board-certified psychiatrist, specializing in a spiritually-based mental health discipline and integrative approaches. He graduated with an MD at Loma Linda University School of Medicine and did a residency in psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. He has also been an inpatient adult psychiatrist at Kaweah Delta Mental Health Hospital and the primary attending geriatric psychiatrist at the Auerbach Inpatient Psychiatric Jewish Home Hospital. In addition, he served as the general adult outpatient psychiatrist at Kaiser Permanente.  He is board-certified in psychiatry and neurology and has a B.A. Magna Cum Laude in Religion from Pacific Union College. His specialty is in natural healing techniques that promote the body’s innate ability to heal itself.

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Effexor Tapering
Medical Disclaimer:
Nothing on this Website is intended to be taken as medical advice. The information provided on the website is intended to encourage, not replace, direct patient-health professional relationships. Always consult with your doctor before altering your medications. Adding nutritional supplements may alter the effect of medication. Any medication changes should be done only after proper evaluation and under medical supervision.

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