Does Effexor withdrawal cause itching? (+2 remedies)

In this article, we will discuss whether Effexor withdrawal causes itching as a withdrawal symptom. Effexor is a widely prescribed antidepressant and is considered physically non-addictive. Effexor (venlafaxine) is a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI).

Does Effexor withdrawal cause itching?

Yes, Effexor withdrawal may cause itching. Antidepressant discontinuation syndrome is a set of symptoms that can arise from stopping Effexor too soon. This syndrome typically results in uncomfortable but manageable side effects like itching.

Effexor withdrawal symptoms are comparable to those of quitting a controlled substance. You should never discontinue the use of Effexor without consulting your doctor first. Your doctor will taper off your dose slowly to minimise the occurrence of withdrawal symptoms like itching.

How does Effexor withdrawal cause itching?

Effexor alters the chemistry of the brain by raising the levels of serotonin and noradrenaline. These neurotransmitters modify mood, appetite, and sleep patterns. Over time, the body becomes accustomed to the increased amount of neurotransmitters in the brain caused by Effexor. 

Once the drug is discontinued, there is a chemical shift in the brain that causes uncomfortable psychological and physical adverse effects. One of such withdrawal symptoms is itching. This itching can also be related to paresthesis induced by Effexor withdrawal.

Paresthesia is a burning or prickling feeling that is most commonly felt in the hands, arms, legs, or feet but can also occur anywhere else in the body. The sensation is described as tingling, skin crawling, itching, and numbness (1).

How long will it take for the itching to go away?

The withdrawal symptoms usually start 8-12 hours after the discontinuation of Effexor. Similar to the effect of narcotics, withdrawal symptoms of Effexor usually go away after two weeks. However, sometimes chronic effects can occur, including

  • returned depression,
  • intestinal problems, and 
  • persistent discomfort.

What favours itching as a withdrawal symptom of Effexor?

Other factors and conditions can also cause itching while taking Effexor, including:

  • Eczema: dry, itchy and flaky skin.
  • Urticaria: it can occur due to an allergen and cause red itchy hives.
  • Psoriasis: flaky and crusty patches on the skin that cause itching.
  • Contact dermatitis: inflammation of the skin caused by an allergen.
  • Allergies and skin reactions: itching due to allergens can be caused by soap, shampoo, plants, other drugs, or sunburns.
  • Infections: chickenpox, ringworms, or yeast infections can cause itching.
  • Menopause: itching is also common when the female is undergoing menopause.
  • Pregnancy: a pregnant woman can experience itching but it usually goes after the birth.
  • Hygiene: without regular cleaning, dead skin accumulates on the surface which can cause skin irritation and itching.
  • Hormones: an imbalance of estrogen, and progesterone can cause itchy skin.

What are the other symptoms of Effexor withdrawal?

The patient might experience one of the many serious side effects while stopping the use of Effexor, including (2):

  • agitation and confusion,
  • impaired coordination and dizziness,
  • hypomania,
  • insomnia,
  • nausea and vomiting,
  • fatigue,
  • dry mouth,
  • sweating tremors, and
  • vitiligo.

Is itching an anxiety response?

Itching may be caused by an anxiety problem. During Effexor withdrawal, the patient might experience a relapse of depression and anxiety. If this occurs, the itching is not caused by Effexor withdrawal or skin condition, but rather as an adverse effect of depression.

A study found that skin disorders such as itching and flaky skin are common in people who are under stress, have psychological conditions, or are going through a major life event (3).

How to cope with Effexor-related withdrawal symptoms?

Missing a dose of Effexor can also give a feeling of withdrawal symptoms and cause itching. It is recommended to take the missed dose as soon as possible because otherwise, these symptoms can worsen quickly.

Effexor withdrawal symptoms usually fade away in a few weeks, but there are techniques to make it easier to handle the symptoms during this time.

  • OTC medication: ask for OTC medications to relieve or lessen the symptoms of Effexor withdrawal. The pharmacist might give hydrocortisone or other creams to relieve itching.
  • Consider psychotherapy: this will reduce the chance of having a relapse. Hence, it will decrease the occurrence of anxiety-induced itching.
  • Practice self-care: it is important to eat healthy, get regular sleep, exercise, and practice stress management to reduce the chances of relapse. 

What are the best remedies for itching?

  • Hydrocortisone cream: it inhibits inflammatory responses and reduces itchiness.
  • Antihistamine cream: topical creams are better than the oral form. Apply directly to the affected area.
  • Colloidal oatmeal: it is used in various soaps and lotions to reduce itchiness and prevent moisture loss.
  • Aloe vera gel and menthol: these natural products calm the skin.
  • Moisturiser: keep the skin hydrated.
  • Cold packs: apply cold pack to the affected area and avoid warm water.

Which other antidepressant withdrawal can cause itching?

  • Tricyclic antidepressants like amitryptiline,
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like paroxetine and sertraline.


I think the Effexor withdrawal process needs to be comprehended and handled in a way that is unique to the patient’s life in general and includes strategies for them to regain more connection and control over their life.

Usually, Effexor does not cause itching or skin rash. If the patient has to face even worse symptoms during the withdrawal, like itching, then the doctor should be prepared to handle those effects with a professional approach and mindset.

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Dhand A, Aminoff MJ. The neurology of itch. Brain. 2014 Feb 1;137(2):313-22.


Campagne DM. Venlafaxine and serious withdrawal symptoms: warning to drivers. Medscape general medicine. 2005;7(3):22.


Schut C, Mollanazar NK, Sethi M, Nattkemper LA, Valdes-Rodriguez R, Lovell MM, Calzaferri GL, Yosipovitch G. Psychological stress and skin symptoms in college students: results of a cross-sectional web-based questionnaire study. Acta dermato-venereologica. 2016;96(4):550-1.

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