Drugs Q & A

Does The Wet Finger Method For Effexor Withdrawal Work?

Effexor is a brand of venlafaxine,  an antidepressant medication that works in the brain. It is approved for the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder (social phobia).

Wyeth Pharmaceuticals scientist first synthesized venlafaxine HCI in the early 1980s. It was soon discovered to be an effective treatment of depression. In 1994, the company promoted the brand-name Effexor and the generic form venlafaxine HCI after approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

What Is The Most Important Information I Should Know About Effexor?

Do not stop taking Effexor, even when you feel better. With input from you, your health care provider will assess how long you will need to take the medicine.

Missing doses of Effexor may increase your risk for relapse in your symptoms.

Stopping Effexor abruptly may result in one or more of the following withdrawal symptoms: irritability, nausea, feeling dizzy, vomiting, nightmares, headache, and/or paresthesias (prickling, tingling sensation on the skin).

Depression is also a part of bipolar illness. People with bipolar disorder who take antidepressants may be at risk for “switching” from depression into mania. Symptoms of mania include “high” or irritable mood, very high self-esteem, decreased need for sleep, pressure to keep talking, racing thoughts, being easily distracted, frequently involved in activities with a large risk for bad consequences (for example, excessive buying sprees).

Medical attention should be sought if serotonin syndrome is suspected. Please refer to serious side effects for signs/symptoms.

Effexor Withdrawal

Antidepressant discontinuation syndrome is a well-known and accepted syndrome that can occur in people who abruptly discontinue Effexor , within a matter of hours of missing a dose, some people begin to experience symptoms of Effexor withdrawal. Because of this, healthcare providers often recommend starting on the medication by building up from a low dose and decreasing the dosage when weaning from the drug. Still, symptoms of withdrawal can occur even if the medication is slowly tapered off.

What is the wet finger method for effexor withdrawal?

The “Wet Finger Method” is one of the many Effexor withdrawal Protocols adopted to ease the side effects of withdrawal from the medication.  Basically, it involves emptying  the capsule contents into a saucer, bowl – lick your finger, dab some of the content, and take what you think would be an appropriate weaning amount.  Anecdotal reports  describe the process as follows:  

Step 1: Start with 3 days taking three wet fingers off the top of the capsule. If no side effects, continue to next step.

Step 2: Next step is 5 days taking five wet fingers off the top of the capsule. If no side effects, continue to next step.

Step 3:  Last step is 5 days taking seven wet fingers off the top. If no side effects continue to next step. Get off of Effexor completely. Hopefully with minimal side effects.

The Second is the “Bead Counting Method”  this method involves counting  capsules to determine how many are in each respective dose and  removing 5 or six every 3- 4 days or so.

Does the wet finger method for effexor withdrawal work?

There are no scientific studies to back up anecdotal evidence which claims that the wet finger method works for Effexor withdrawal. In fact, using Effexor in that manner is inappropriate and increases the risk of side effects and accidental overdose by children and pets. Some of the side effects of antidepressant abuse include impaired coordination, increased sense of confusion, fainting, dizziness and convulsions among others. Taking too much of an antidepressant can also cause serotonin syndrome, which can be life-threatening if undetected or untreated.

What helps with effexor withdrawal?

If you are thinking about stopping your Effexor therapy, talk to your doctor to discuss the risks and benefits of discontinuing treatment. Never stop “cold turkey.” In many cases, the best way to stop taking most antidepressants is to slowly cut back your dose under the guidance of your doctor. This is called tapering. Tapering helps your brain adjust to the chemical changes and can help prevent discontinuation symptoms. Your doctor will tell you how to lower your dose over a couple of days. Never try to do this on your own.

Sometimes, doctors can prescribe medicines to help with discontinuation symptoms such as nausea or insomnia. They also may advise switching from a short- to a long-acting antidepressant to ease the transition off of a medicine for depression.

Discontinuation symptoms usually go away within a few weeks. But if you have extremely severe withdrawal symptoms, your doctor may recommend other medicines to relieve them.

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