Effexor: Insomnia & Night Sweats + Withdrawal & Brain Zaps: Peoples Pharmacy

Paragraph two reads:  “After cutting my dose in
I have had brain zaps (impossible to explain) and
pressure in my ears.”


Q:I have been taking Effexor XR for two
years. At first I was pleased that it relieved the anxiety, depression and
excessive worrying I had been suffering. Then I began experiencing insomnia and

night sweats and decided to taper off this antidepressant.

After cutting
my dose in half, I have had brain zaps (impossible to explain) and pressure in
my ears.

Answer: Many people find that antidepressants such as Effexor
(venlafaxine), Cymbalta (duloxetine), Lexapro (escitalopram), Paxil (paroxetine)
and Zoloft (sertraline) are helpful for depression. But there can be a dark

Stopping this type of drug can lead to withdrawal symptoms such as
dizziness, headaches, insomnia, anxiety, sweating, visual disturbances and
difficulty concentrating. Many people complain of shocklike sensations in their
head (brainzaps” or “shivers”).

 2,179 total views

Effexor/SSRI Withdrawal: Brain Zaps: Peoples Pharmacy

Paragraph two reads:  “After cutting my dose in half, I have had brain zaps (impossible to explain) and pressure in my ears.”


Q:I have been taking Effexor XR for two years. At first I was pleased that it relieved the anxiety, depression and excessive worrying I had been suffering. Then I began experiencing insomnia and night sweats and decided to taper off this antidepressant.

After cutting my dose in half, I have had brain zaps (impossible to explain) and pressure in my ears.

Answer: Many people find that antidepressants such as Effexor (venlafaxine), Cymbalta (duloxetine), Lexapro (escitalopram), Paxil (paroxetine) and Zoloft (sertraline) are helpful for depression. But there can be a dark side.

Stopping this type of drug can lead to withdrawal symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, insomnia, anxiety, sweating, visual disturbances and difficulty concentrating. Many people complain of shocklike sensations in their head (brainzaps” or “shivers”).

 2,026 total views

Effexor Prescribed for PMS

“PMS compared to this would be heavenly!”

I am 45 yr old mother of 4, working full time. I was prescribed Prozac 12 yrs ago , then was changed to Effexor 7 yrs ago and have not been able to stop. The withdrawal’s are too overwhelming and debilitating. Even the slightest reduction 1/8th, starts the withdrawal symptoms. I experience extreme crying spells, horrifying panic attacks, which has sent me to the emergency room, sweating and burning followed by shivering cold spells. I can’t sleep, work or even function . I was prescribed this drug to help with PMS. PMS compared to this would be heavenly! The drug companies need to be held responsible for their actions. I believe their greed became more important than the reason these drugs were developed, to help people. I am a Christian and firmly believe God’s Word, we shall reap what we sow. I would ask other believer’s to join me and pray that these drug companies would reap what they have sown. Destruction. I have not yet gone through ‘the eye of the needle’ withdrawal and freedom but I am believing god to go thru and I will follow. Our country messed up big time. Hopefully god will be merciful and get up through this!

Liz powers


 1,423 total views

Effexor Withdrawal Syndrome Hell

“I want my doctor to go on Effexor for a few months. Then I want him withdrawn.”


My physician prescribed Effexor because it was what he had the most samples of. I suffer from genetic depression. All members of my family have it. I have been on SSRI’s since the early 80’s. I hated Effexor from the start. I didn’t realize I had some of the physical problems associated with taking it, but I knew it was hurting my mind. I tried over and over to get off of it ,but within a day I would be so weepy and dizzy, my thoughts stuck in endless circles of failure and regrets. I thought I was a hopeless depressive and quickly resumed the drug. I didn’t know those were withdrawal symptoms.

Two weeks and one day ago I stopped Effexor. I knew that what it was doing to my head wasn’t proper. I investigated natural means of increasing my serotonin levels and felt confident I could handle my depression without pharmaceuticals. Then I entered Hell.

Within 18 hours I was a total wreck, sobbing, dizzy, disconnected, sick. There are only flashes of the past 2 weeks. The unbearable brightness of day, the agony of any noise, the trippy feeling that didn’t leave.

I hurt all over, I vomited, I became unbearably hot with sweat pouring out of me, and then shaking cold. Just today I found a fleece nightgown and a sweat suit near the bed. I wore these clothes under blankets when the weather was in the 90’s with equal humidity. At times just holding my head up was nearly impossible. This was a sickness that changed me forever.

I went in as one person and came out a different one. The serendipitous and cavalier way in which this drug was prescribed enrages me. The boards kept me going through the worst of my withdrawal and gave me the information I needed in order to continue. The drug companies are using us all as guinea pigs. One thought dominated as I wept and ached and suffered, I want my doctor to go on Effexor for a few months. Then I want him withdrawn.

“janiceash” janice@gargoylefolk.com



This is Survivor Story number 19.

Total number of stories in current database is 48

 1,575 total views

The Tunnel of Horrors-An Account of My Effexor Withdrawal

“This is a diary I kept of my Effexor withdrawl over a year ago. I finally feel ready to share it with people. The experience was agony, agony, wholesale agony.”


This is a diary I kept of my Effexor withdrawal over a year ago. I finally feel ready to share it with people. The experience was agony, agony, and wholesale agony. While I was on the drug, I felt so sleepy all the time I was almost non-functioning, was constipated, and had wildly violent hypnologic jerks as I was falling asleep. It was the fatigue that made me begin cutting back, and when the savage withdrawal symptoms appeared, I knew the drug was evil and I had to get off of it immediately. I never fully recovered from the effects of the drug and am still struggling with its implications, which I describe at the end.

Wednesday, 12/13/00 Evening

I had decided to try cutting back on my dose to see if I could restore any of my energy while not compromising the therapeutic effect of the Effexor. I was only taking 75 mg. a day anyway; I wasn’t even sure what effect, if any, such a small dose was having, besides helping me sleep. It was making me sleep too much; all I ever wanted to do was sleep; that was my problem. My energy level was so low I couldn’t even get out and exercise any more, and I was gaining weight. Every day I had to take a long nap, often as long as three hours. I had become a caffeine addict in an attempt to counteract the sedative effect of the drug, yet still slept excessively. So this night I cut my pill in half and took a 37.5 mg. dose.

Thursday, 12/14//00

I began to have withdrawal effects, even though I had only cut back on, not stopped, my dose. I felt somewhat nauseated and experienced the electric shocks in my head. This seemed really ominous, a sign that this substance was really poisonous. There was clearly something WRONG with this medication, and I decided to go off it cold turkey.

Friday, 12/15/00

The withdrawal horror began this day. I was repulsively nauseated, had increasingly frequent and violent electric shocks in the head, felt bouts of dizziness, felt overall sick, in pain, and drained. I slept a lot. I also became alarmingly bloated. My breasts became enormous and incredibly tender. They felt like they were going to explode. Also my anus was, inexplicably, incredibly sore. What was there that didn’t hurt? Jim wanted me to stay with him as long as the withdrawal lasted so that he could “keep an eye on” me. He felt it was unsafe for me to be alone because this withdrawal was turning out to be so volatile. The one positive sign was that I immediately began to have normal bowel movements. The Effexor had always given me mild constipation and strange, hard, ball-like stools that were hard to pass.

Saturday, 12/17/00

The withdrawal symptoms became even more violent today. I had dry heaves, especially in the morning. The electric shocks were truly horrible, sometimes causing me to lose my balance momentarily and/or my vision to blur. The smell of Jim’s body and clothing was repulsive to me. I couldn’t concentrate sufficiently to read. So assaulting was this withdrawal it completely drained me. I slept a lot and when I was awake wished I was asleep because the pain was so horrible. I also decided to give up coffee today because as long as I was suffering this much I might as well rid myself of all addictions at once, rather than save some pain for later on. This was all so horrible Jim suggested I go back on the Effexor and try this again another time, but I replied that there was no way I was going to go through this again. It had to be now, no matter how awful. At Mass Jim situated me near the hallway so that if I needed to run to the bathroom with dry heaves I could. I did.

Sunday, 12/17/00

More of the same. Brutal withdrawal. A headache was added. I was totally incapacitated. It just went on.

Monday, 12/18/00

Jim and I went to the grocery store and I was so dizzy I nearly fell over several times. I had to go out to the car and wait for him.

Tuesday, 12/19/00

I woke up this day with a screeching, splitting horror headache. I took a lot of Ibuprofen and hoped for the best. It didn’t help much. Despite Jim’s protests, I went back to Pittsburg. The drive was very difficult. I almost fell asleep behind the wheel a few times, I was so exhausted. The withdrawal just continued. In the evening I felt it begin to let up just a little bit. Just a little, little bit. I got on the Internet, typed in “Effexor withdrawal” and discovered all the web sites, learned about what I was going through. It was helpful to know that others had experienced what I was going through and found it thoroughly UNACCEPTABLE! The medical establishment was wrong to allow this substance to be prescribed! I also discovered that my determination to “white knuckle” it, rather than go back on and try to eliminate it gradually was pretty brave.

Wednesday, 12/20/00

I woke up this day with even more piercing of a screeching, splitting, horror headache. Took lots of Ibuprofen, which didn’t help much. Yet, I began to feel a little better still. Not so many electric shocks. Not such profound nausea. There were waves of badness, but also periods of betterness. The bad dreams set in at this point, as some of the Internet community mentioned happened to them. In the evening the symptoms worsened again, like the way a cold worsens at night. I had some trouble sleeping at one point in the night.

Thursday, 12/21/00

Today, for the first time, I began to feel substantially better. The Light at the end of the tunnel of horrors came into view. The piercing headache was gone. Instead I felt that sort of congested, tight feeling in the head that feeling like your nerves and blood vessels are all congested and squeezed. The bloating and breast tenderness remained, as did the fatigue, but I didn’t need a nap today. There were still occasional electric shocks in the head, but they were infrequent and not so severe. Occasional, very mild waves of nausea, but nothing that bad. I still felt sick, but so much better than before. I was happy that there would eventually be an end to all this. It was only the next day, though, that I realized that had, on this day, entered into stage three of the withdrawal drama: the demented rage phase. I got an e-mail from my brother, then responded with one of my own which, I only realized later, was an insane rant. It was a tornado of inexplicable wrath. Later that evening, I called Jim, whom I was not mad at (yet) to rant at him about how furious I was with my siblings. I wouldn’t have even known that this was a withdrawal symptom had I not read about it first on the Internet. I would have thought it was a sign that my mental illness was returning!

Friday, 12/22/00

Today I actually realized that I was in the demented rage phase. The night before I even dreamed that I was enraged; Steve was the last person I spoke to before going to sleep and I dreamed that I was walking beside him as he made his way to Church and was screaming at him and hitting him. Jim called a few minutes after I woke up and everything he said made me so irritated and confused I just felt like exploding at him. I decided to cancel our plan that I come out and stay with him the weekend. I had to remove myself from the population until this phase had passed. The physical symptoms were letting up; the electric shocks, though still occurring, were infrequent and relatively mild. I felt tired and fragile, a bit headachy, but the only real nausea I felt was for a few moments now and then throughout the day. I even rode my bicycle to Mass, the first exercise I’ve gotten since the ordeal began. A lot of my energy to do this came from my wild, flailing rage. I took a two-hour nap. In the evening I felt some lightheadedness. I went on a food binge that lasted all afternoon, evening and night until half past midnight. I got a call from Jim about 10 p.m. and ended up getting into a quarrel with him, hollering at him and then crying uncontrollably. Had several large bowel movements throughout the day.

Saturday, 12/23/00

I didn’t sleep at all the previous night, nor did I feel tired at all this day. If anything, I was wired, to the point of being shaky sometimes. The electric shocks in the head continued, actually more frequently today than the day before, and more often my vision went slanted for a second as they happened. My intestines were tied up in crampy knots. To clean myself out, I began the Master Cleanser Fast (lemon juice, cayenne pepper and maple syrup in hot water; laxative herb tea; etc.). Like the day before, I had enormous bowel movements once every four or five hours. It’s like seventeen years worth of stuff backed up in there suddenly started coming out. In the evening I realized that attempting to fast on Christmas was a dorky idea, and decided to begin it the day after Christmas instead. The good thing is that in all this mania, I had a major creative breakthrough. That moment I always wait so long for, when all the disparate elements swimming through my mind that have no hub to pull them all together in an artful, purposeful way suddenly find it, and they coalesce, and it all makes sense, happened all at once in the early hours of the morning. The flash of enlightenment this time?

It’s a play!

I’ve been trying to see it cinematically (brainwashed on a lifetime of movies and TV), that’s why it couldn’t find itself. It’s a play, and with that understanding, it all makes sense. Scenes, people, dialogue are appearing where dark, blank spots were just yesterday

Sunday, 2/24/00

The night before this day, I slept twelve hours straight through. The electric shocks increased again, but they weren’t so strong as to really bother me. Some short bouts of nausea. I felt groggy and a little headachy all day.

Monday, 2/25/00, Christmas Day

Because of staying up for midnight Mass in Oakland with Jim, then not getting back to Colma until 2:30 a.m. and intending to go to 7:00 a.m. Mass back out in Pittsburg, which is about an hour drive, I just stayed awake the entire night again. There were a few, mild electric shocks, and I was a bit weak, but otherwise I felt remarkably well. Even Meghan remarked on how well I seemed. However, my feet were so swollen I could scarcely fit them into my dressy pumps, which normally fit very comfortably. Wearing them was agony and walking in them was a joke, but I grit my teeth and endured it. Jim’s bodily smell and breath smell I still found utterly offensive. It’s very hard to be near him at all. In the evening the electric shocks became more frequent but they weren’t particularly a discomfort. More of an interior audible experience.

Tuesday, 2/26/00

I felt even better today, almost back to normal. Better than normal actually, because I’m not weighed down by the fatigue the Effexor used to create, nor did I have to take a nap today. I slept well, overslept actually, and fully made up for the missed sleep of the night before. It used to be that I couldn’t sleep at all without a sedative or the Effexor. Today I started the Master Cleansing Fast, and other than a few bouts of mild nausea associated with an empty stomach (another withdrawal symptom, increased nausea when my stomach became empty), it went fine. I wasn’t even hungry (perhaps an effect of the maple syrup in the lemon-water drink). I was still immensely bloated, though; no change there. My breasts were still the size of dirigibles and shockingly tender.

Wednesday, 12/27 and Thursday, 12/28

My breasts were still so enormous and tender they felt like they were going to explode. Jim remarked that when he put his arm around me, I felt harder but not in a muscular way, rather like the bloat was filling me up, straining against me. Other than that I felt great. I had more energy than I’d had in ages and slept BETTER than when I was on the Effexor! I didn’t need to take a nap either of these two days. Halleluiah.

Friday, 12/29 through Monday, 1/1/ 01

Still tremendously bloated with a few mild electric shocks in the evenings. On Friday I became too famished and went off the fast. Began my period on Sunday. I generally felt pretty good, slept very well indeed, but became a bit impatient and crabby on Monday and a little depressed Monday evening.

Friday, 1/4/01

By this day the bloat was gone, flushed out along with the normal drop of water weight I get when my period finishes. At this point I was experiencing maybe one electric shock some time in each evening.

Tuesday, 1/8/01

Almost completely better. Still maybe one electric shock in the evening some time.

Saturday, 1/20/01

Checking in here after almost two weeks, I have no electric shocks and none of the other symptoms, except that though I’m exercising almost every day now – jogging or hour-long walks – and not eating more, my weight is climbing. Going off the drug seems to have confused my metabolism in some way. It’s like when I went off smoking many years ago and gained weight despite increasing my exercise. That weight came off by itself back then after about four months; I’m hoping that will be the case here.

Post Script 2/16/02

My weight has not returned to normal since I went off of the Effexor. It seems to have permanently deranged my metabolism and I have struggled incredibly to stop my weight from climbing. I’ve dieted and exercised, sometimes to the extreme, to little avail. Sometimes while falling asleep I hear/feel a strange “zapping” sound in my head. Sometimes I feel a burning sensation inside my cranium (a symptom too weird to be attributable to anything except the Effexor damage; my doctor had never even heard of it). It seems that Effexor either permanently damages your physiology, or else it accumulates in your cells and stays there, continuing to poison you.

Post-Script to “Tunnel of Horror” – 6/19/02

For the record, I am still experiencing lingering physiological problems from having taken the drug, with no apparent lessening. I wanted to add this post-script because there’s one thing I didn’t mention earlier because I was too ashamed. After taking the Effexor I developed, inexplicably, without precipitation, an eating disorder, specifically bingeing.

I’m mentioning it now because maybe other people are experiencing this too and haven’t related it to the drug, and/or are too ashamed to talk about it. I never had anything like this previously, and when a binge comes on it feels like a neurological short-circuiting in my brain and body. I lose all sense of reason, my mind functioning becomes tunnel-visioned, I lose a sense of reality and control.

This sounds suspiciously Effexoresque. Chronologically, the cause and effect relationship is pretty vivid. I’ve tried everything to cure it: counseling, hypnotherapy, acupuncture, O.A., the Geneen Roth method, every blood-sugar balancing, protein-boosting, sugar-addict-busting, blah blah diet out there, and prayed to every saint (including St. Maximilian, the patron saint of the eating disordered!) all to no avail. It causes me anguish I can hardly describe. It doesn’t seem to be psychologically-based at all.

Has anyone else experienced this phenomenon since being put on, or going off, the drug? I’d really appreciate hearing from anyone who has. Thanks.

Barbara Powell



This is Survivor Story number 41.
Total number of stories in current database is 48

 2,896 total views

Paxil-A Dangerous Prescription for PMS

“It shocked me that she would prescribe a medication with such severe withdrawal symptoms to be taken every two weeks on rotation.”


I am a registered nurse who has always been very leery of doctors since I work with them every day. I recently moved to a new state and needed to find a gynecologist. I always like to “test” my doctors on the first visit to see how quickly they will try to write me a prescription for something. This new doctor failed my “test” miserably. I have severe pms- heavy bleeding, cramps, and bad mood swings. Of course, I informed the doctor of this when she asked me about my periods. She immediately informed me that I had PMDD and needed to be on Paxil for it. She wanted me to take Paxil starting on day 14 of my cycle and then stop taking it on the first day of my period. She also told me that I needed to be on birth control pills despite the fact that I am overweight and smoke a pack of cigarettes a day. (Smoking is known to significantly increase the risk of blood clots, strokes and heart attacks while on the pill.)

Anyway…. I immediately got on the web when I got home to look up Paxil. I am an ICU nurse, and most of our patient’s are unconscious so they don’t usually get antidepressant meds, and I knew nothing about them. I was outraged at what I found out in less than one hour!!! It shocked me that she would prescribe a medication with such severe withdrawal symptoms to be taken every two weeks on rotation. Imagine the state I would have been in had I attempted that!!! I probably would have lost my nursing license for acting crazy or something.

The point I am trying to make here is that these doctors are either handing out these meds without knowing the side effects, or they do know the side effects and just do not care. (Kickbacks from drug reps perhaps?)

I have not yet had the chance to confront this doctor. I may not be able to confront her for fear of losing my job. (The town I live in has two main employers– a huge university medical center where I work, and a drug manufacturing plant.)

Not everyone is as lucky as I am to be wary of medications. Please people; let’s get out of the 1950’s. Doctors are not Gods, and they certainly do not always care about their patients. We do not have to do their bidding just because they supposedly know the secrets workings of our bodies. Trust me when I say this, I work with doctors fresh out of medical school. They are spoon fed by the nurses.

Please save yourselves the horror of overmedication. Never ever fill a prescription until you first research it on your own. And, do not do not do not use pharmacists or other doctors for your research. Who do you think pays pharmacy school and med school scholarship programs????— Drug companies, and other big medical businesses with a vested interest in new drugs being handed out to the blind masses like candy.

Sorry this was so long, but I had to get the word out to people.

A Registered Nurse


7/24/2001 2001

This is Survivor Story number 15.
Total number of stories in current database is 34

 1,476 total views

Withdrawal from Paxil

“Please get this message out…”


After trying several different antidepressants my doctor put me on Paxil. I stayed on it for about eight months but just didn’t like the way it made me feel. I felt like I wasn’t really living, just existing and I was extremely tired. I would fall asleep at nine at night and have trouble waking in the morning.

I decided to go off it VERY SLOWLY and without much help at all from my doctor. This is when my nightmare began. I experienced all kinds of symptoms- depression, uncontrolled bouts of crying, unable to get out of bed, dizziness, my head swimming and what I can only describe as brain attacks. I felt like I had some kind of brain damage . My doctor was completely unable to help me so I took Xanax to help counter the withdrawal symptoms. It helped a little. I even felt suicidal for the first time in my life. I thought I would never wake from this nightmare. Two months later I was still not completely off Paxil and the symptoms were still awful. I finally called a doctor in another state I had gone to in college and he told me there were several things I could have done to ease all this but since my dosage was now so small he told me to just stick it out and within about ten days of stopping completely I should start to feel better.

Well it took about another six weeks after stopping completely to feel normal again. Now another two months later I feel that I have recuperated from a serious illness. I can’t describe how wonderful it is to be off this drug completely. I am angry at my doctor for not telling me there are withdrawal symptoms from Paxil. None of the literature from the manufacturer mentions this. I would have never taken this drug had I known. The only thing that kept me going was reading the internet and knowing so many people were experiencing the same thing. PLEASE GET THE MESSAGE OUT TO PEOPLE THAT STOPPING IS POSSIBLE. There are so many others who just give up and stay on the drug to avoid the withdrawal symptoms.

Years 2000 and Prior

This is Survivor Story number 73.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

 1,245 total views

10/15/2000 – Attention: Legal action in Paxil withdrawal

Victims suffering withdrawal symptoms from Paxil are
encouraged to contact the attorneys who are currently
prosecuting a civil action suit (a wrongful death of a father
and his two children) against SmithKline Beecham, the
drug’s manufacturer. On August 18, 2000, three California
attorneys brought suit against SmithKline Beecham in Santa
Clara County Superior Court alleging that the drug maker has
kept hidden the addictive traits of Paxil in order to enhance the
drug’s worldwide sales, which now comes to approximately
$2 billion annually.

In the lawsuit it is alleged that SmithKline Beecham has
intentionally understated the drug’s addictive traits. (To say
the least!) And the plaintiffs in this suit have asked the court
to compel SmithKline Beecham to divulge all they know about
that hazard to the federal Food & Drug Administration. This is
being done with the intention that proper warning labels about
withdrawal might be included with Paxil prescriptions in the
future to warn new patients of this adverse effect.

Victims of Paxil withdrawal are encouraged to contact the
attorneys in order that statements can be obtained and
evidence put before the court that the alleged harm is very
real. Any of the three attorneys handling the case can be
contacted. They are as follows:

(1) Donald J. Farber, e-mail: (n3dgt@…)
(2) Vince D. Nguyen, e-mail: (lawvdn@…)
(3) Skip Murgatroyd e-mail (skip-tracy@…)

They will need a complete description of the victim’s problems
with Paxil, including particularly “whether or not the victim was
warned on the drug’s addictive characteristics when the drug
was initially prescribed.” (Most likely to be featured on the
television program “It’s a Miracle” if they were warned about
withdrawal when Paxil or any other SSRI was prescribed!)
And they will need to detail the circumstances surrounding
the victim’s discovery of the withdrawal problem.

The attorneys do emphasize that reporting the problem to
them will not result in damage awards to the reporting parties,
but that any success in the lawsuit they are currently pursuing
will ultimately hopefully result in warnings for all future Paxil
users – the warning you did not get.

Ann Blake-Tracy, Executive Director,
International Coalition for Drug Awareness

 1,846 total views