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Does discontinuation of Effexor XR cause headaches?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 1991
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I've been meaning off of egfexor xr 37.5mg. Could I be getting a headache from the days I don't take a dose?
Thu, 19 Apr 2018 in Medicines and Side Effects
Answered by Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh 5 hours later
Brief Answer:
Yes, headaches can be from discontinuation.

Detailed Answer:
Hello and welcome,

Yes, going off of an SSRI or SNRI can definitely cause headaches.

Did you and your doctor create a schedule for you to wean off of it? Because if you are getting headaches, you may need to slow down the rate of weaning off - i.e. a longer more gradual taper schedule. The longer you have been on a medication, and the higher the dose, the longer it can take wean off. In addition, some people are more sensitive to discontinuation symptoms, and for them a longer taper is also needed.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Does discontinuation of Effexor XR cause headaches? 19 minutes later
I'm on 37.5mg daily. suppose to go every other day for a week. Then every 2nd day
Answered by Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh 41 minutes later
Brief Answer:

Detailed Answer:
For some people, skipping a dose, with every other day dosing can cause withdrawal type symptoms.

You may need to go to another medication, such as fluoxetine (Prozac), which has a different "half life" (how long it takes for half of the medication to be eliminated from your body) to help with your discontinuation of the Effexor XR. Prozac has a very long half life, so there isn't so much in the way of on-off problems.

Here is information on discontinuation of SSRIs, including Effextor (venlafaxine) from "UpToDate" which is a summary of current research on specific topics, for physicians.

Please take a look at the last paragraph about venlafaxine:

"For patients who are treated with an antidepressant for at least several (eg, three to five) weeks, and are stopping the drug without switching to another antidepressant, the standard approach to minimize discontinuation symptoms is to progressively taper (reduce) the dose by a fixed amount or percent for at least two to four weeks. For patients who are treated with antidepressants for a briefer time period (eg, one to three) weeks, the drug can be tapered over one to two weeks, and for patients treated for seven days or less, the drug can be abruptly stopped. This standard approach is consistent with multiple treatment guidelines.

The specific duration of the taper depends primarily upon the clinical urgency and the drug’s elimination half-life. Abrupt discontinuation may be necessary in some clinical situations (eg, severe adverse side effect or unintended pregnancy). Drugs with a longer half-life (eg, ≥24 hours) can generally be tapered over two to three weeks, whereas drugs with shorter half-lives (eg, <24 hours) are tapered over four weeks if it is practical. For patients who suffer discontinuation symptoms despite a gradual taper, the duration of the taper is extended beyond four weeks, and depends upon the pace that the patient can tolerate.

Management of discontinuation symptoms depends upon their severity and time of onset:

●Mild discontinuation symptoms that occur despite a gradual taper are managed with reassurance and watchful waiting.
●If moderate to severe discontinuation symptoms occur during a two to four week taper, clinicians can decrease the pace and taper the drugs over 6 to 12 weeks.
●If moderate to severe symptoms arise after the drug is stopped, the antidepressant is restarted at the dose at which there were no symptoms, and the taper is recommenced at a pace slower than the initial taper.
●Alternatively, for patients who have difficulty tapering off of a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) (eg, paroxetine) or venlafaxine, it is reasonable to immediately switch to fluoxetine 10 to 20 mg per day; the fluoxetine can then be tapered off, typically without discontinuation effects.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Does discontinuation of Effexor XR cause headaches? 9 minutes later
Answered by Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh 13 minutes later
Brief Answer:
Your welcome

Detailed Answer:
Your welcome, and good luck with the process.

Best regards,
Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh, MD
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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