I have been on Effexor for nearly 6 years and my Doctors ‘never' tried to help me get off them - even when I begged. They just give a stock standard response. I should never have been put on them - but it was a quick fix for the Doctor rather than giving me the psychological counselling I needed.
I feel more depressed on Effexor than off it. I feel like I walk through a fog all day, I have problems sleeping, I am always tired, no sex drive, light headiness, bloating, sore eyes, tinnitus, migraines etc. My vertigo and tinnitus were so bad I was tested for Meniere's disease. I also lacked emotion for any occasion (happiness or sadness - I became numb).
My Liver enzymes were really high and I was told this was probably because I was overweight (as I do not drink alcohol). Mind you, I have gained 55 kilos' (120 pounds) since being on Effexor and I don't really eat that much. It could be that ever since being put on Effexor my energy levels depleted rapidly and I never went a day without napping. I had no more energy to exercise everyday like I use to.
Because of the horrible symptoms and lack of support from my doctor; I tried to come off them by myself and experienced the worse withdrawals. I fainted as I could not even hold my head up. I found it hard to communicate or think. It was like the most horrible attack of vertigo I have ever experienced. I felt terrible, and to top it off I felt nauseated. It was so bad I collapsed in the bathroom one day and woke up with 4 broken toes and a now damaged lumbar sector. So I quickly went back on full dose.
Years later I walked into the room of a new Doctor and I feel blessed. He is the first Doctor to even suggest a new Mental Health Care Plan designed to help people come off anti-depressants. Now with my Doctor and Psychologist I am being slowly weaned off Effexor. I went home and cried because this was the first time a Doctor seemed to ‘listen' to me and help me do what I wanted.
It is hard each time I go down a dose or routine (i.e. alternating days) but it is so worth it. Just from being on lesser dose I feel so much clearer, happier and have more of a sexual appetite. I can't wait until I am off them completely (goal of by Christmas this year). I can't wait to see what a normal sex drive feels like, and to be my happy self again. My partner won't recognise the new me. I already have more energy and am not too tired to go to the gym or spend time outdoors. The withdrawals are not as bad when decreasing doses slowly and gradually - the first few days are tough but it gets easier.
Being placed on those med's was the worst thing. I wish I never were on them. I have encouraged all my family and friends to say no to anti-depressants and to work with psychologists or counsellors to get through the hard times. So much of my reading has shown that regular exercise and eating clean actually boosts your natural serotonin levels.
The Doctors and scientists can say whatever they like in their articles and papers - but unless you are a person who has actually been on and tried to come off Effexor - you will never know how damaging it really is. Most of our symptoms cannot be seen or show up in blood tests - so the medical world just doesn't see it as a ‘real' side effect (because there is no supporting scientific data).
Any chemicals will damage our physical and mental body over time - try not to stay on medication for long and value your natural bodies instead. Trust that you CAN survive without Effexor - because YOU CAN...