About two months ago, I had a severe episode of depression that was so unlike any I ever had before, that it frightened me. I got completely freaked out. It made me wonder if maybe my mind had two separate parts because it seemed to me that my mind was acting independently of my rational self. My daydreams were so vivid that I was practically hallucinating (but not). Like I said, I got really freaked out and made a determination to see a doctor and demand anti-depressant medication.
The thing is, it wasn’t a depressive episode; it was a grief episode.
I had drama going on in Israel. The lady who is taking care of my cats wrote that she couldn’t keep them anymore. I needed to send a thousand dollars immediately. It sounded like blackmail to me because I didn’t have the money and I couldn’t get it. My two cats are my final ties to home… and, of course, I love the cats. I felt like I was losing Israel all over again – and I had visions, fears, and expectations that the only solution would be to open the door and throw the cats into the street to fend for themselves. It was a nightmare for me and re-awoke Complicated Grief. You know, I meant to write this post about Effexor and not about cats. I guess I should just get to the Effexor part.
Effexor: I used my ObamaCare to get an office visit with a doctor. I randomly chose her off of a list because she specializes in Internal Medicine. I needed her to write me a legal prescription for Xanax because I was going to be subjected to a pre-employment drug test. I wrote about that here: xxx. In 20 words or less, I couldn’t find work because I take Xanax occasionally. I take the Xanax because I need it. I need it because I have panic attacks. Every time I took my medication, I put myself out of work for another 30 days because Xanax is a controlled substance. (I had a prescription from Israel, which is not valid in the US. Plus, I lost the box when I was in the homeless shelter. I only managed to save the actual pills because I hid them in my socks.) I wasn’t taking the Xanax illegally but I couldn’t prove it.
I asked the doctor (who never met me before) to refill my Xanax and to give me an anti-depressant. I think it’s funny… it makes me laugh… that she could tell just by watching me that I seriously do need medication to suppress my anxiety! I thought I was being coooool. Nope. Of course, going to the doctor’s office to meet a stranger and attempt to persuade them to give me controlled substances (i.e. drugs) was plenty anxiety-producing for me.
The doctor chose Effexor for me because she said it does not cause weight gain. This is true. I lost my appetite and became slightly nauseous all the time, which made me not want to eat. If I had stayed on Effexor, I would have lost weight. But first things first.
The pharmacy packaging came with NINE pages of information about Effexor (Venlafaxine).
Page One: WARNINGS. Children and teens who take this drug may be at a greater risk of having thoughts or actions of suicide. Adults may also be at risk. Watch people who take this drug closely.
Avoid driving and doing other tasks or actions that call for you to be alert until you see how this drug affects you. Have your blood pressure checked often. Have your eye pressure checked. This drug may raise the chance of a broken bone. This drug mat raise the chance of bleeding. Sometimes, bleeding can be life-threatening.
Page Two: an entire page of symptoms that may be related to a bad side effect or an allergic reaction.
Page Four: a repeat of page one warnings plus even more severe potential reactions.
In bold print: Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms, or call 911 if an emergency, especially if they are new, worse, or worry you:
Next, call 911 for a life-threatening condition called Serotonin Syndrome: agitation, hallucinations, coma, muscle twitching, racing heartbeat, sweating or fever, vomiting or diarrhea, muscle rigidity
Page Five: continued list of ultra-severe side effects that warrant calling 911: hypomanic episodes, low sodium levels in the blood, seizures or convulsions, shortness of breath…
Page Six: In bold print: Do not stop taking venlafaxine tablets without first talking to your healthcare provider. Stopping too quickly may cause serious symptoms including:
Do not take venlafaxine with MAOI.
Page Seven: an entire page of drugs that interact badly with venlafaxine, including migraine meds (which I take).
Page Eight: repeat of dosing instructions and a new set of possible side effects: constant crying, enlarged pupils, increased cholesterol…
Page Nine: All caps and bold: CALL YOUR DOCTOR FOR MEDICAL ADVICE ABOUT SIDE EFFECTS. YOU MAY REPORT SIDE EFFECTS TO THE FDA AT 1-800-FDA-1088.
However, the final information in the final paragraph of page nine… stated that the pills in my possession had been manufactured in Israel – by Teva Pharmaceuticals in Jerusalem, no less. I happen to know that Teva Pharmaceuticals is Number One in all the world for integrity of product. (For example, I would personally never eat a generic pill that was manufactured in China because it is unlikely to contain much of the labeled medication.)
The former head of the Chinese drug and food safety agency, for instance, was recently sentenced to death for taking bribes from companies he regulated, and two major Indian companies received warning letters from the FDA in the past two years over serious infractions involving drug quality control.
So, yes. I took the Effexor because it had been manufactured in Israel.
½ pill for 4 days
then 1 whole pill for 4 days
then 2 whole pills each day for a starting dose of 150mg per day.
I made it 6 days before I quit.
It made me sweat like a man. Water was pouring from my lymph nodes: my feet, my crotch, my underarms, even my neck. And I smelled like a goat. It was embarrassing. I worried about standing too close to my coworkers and about being downwind from the fan. Plus, I was soaking wet. I worried about ringworm and vaginitis (which was on the list of possible side effects).
Finally I went online to Google Search the drug. I should have done that before I put any of those pills in my mouth. What I found was hundreds of testimonials by average people saying that they regret using venlafaxine because it was so difficult to get off of. The withdrawal was seriously heinous, painful, and long. Well, I was looking for a drug that has less withdrawal suffering than Xanax, not more! Some people wrote that Effexor helped them very much with their depression and mood, but they still regretted taking it because of the withdrawal.
And 11% of users who quit did it because of the sweating. That was me.
Because my first attempt at taking an anti-depressant went so poorly, I am not sure if I will try any other drugs. My mom suggested Zoloft, but I want plain old 1970’s Valium. I feel that old-fashioned Valium would handle both my anxiety and my mood in one drug family… and I hear they make you happy all the time (just like a Stepford Wife). Unfortunately, no doctor is going to give me Valium – and I don’t even know why. In the meantime, I’m taking 0.25mg Xanax every day. I did not want to do that. I did not want my brain to get re-accustomed to Xanax and I do not have panic every day – but I do have bitchiness every day and I am starting a new job in two weeks, full-time with a complete benefits package. (Yeah me!) Post to follow.
This was a really long post about 5 doses of Effexor, but Effexor is a serious drug. Don’t do like me. Research it before you start eating it.
“Anti-Depressant Fail: Effexor 75mg (Venlafaxine).” is copyright © 2015 by Poorkitteh. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
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