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Nancy Schimelpfening

Effexor XR and Hives

By July 31, 2009

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A member of our forum asked the following question about Effexor XR and hives:  "My daughter had been taking Effexor XR (75 mg) for several months when she began to develop hives all over her body. Her doctors are fairly certain it is the Effexor and she has been off it for nearly a month but the hives have been continuing. Have any others experienced this problem and how long did it take for the hives to go away after discontinuing the medication? If anyone could provide some information on this it would be a great help because we don't know if we should just sit tight for awhile or be looking at other possibilities. This is tough for a 15 year old girl who has fought some depression episodes, only to end up with itching and blotching all over her body. Thanks to all who can provide some information."

Do you have any helpful information to share with those who may be experiencing hives as a side effect of Effexor?  Have you experienced hives with any other other antidepressants?  Share your comments below.

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May 25, 2006 at 10:11 pm
(1) Kathy says:

It is my understanding that Effexor is NOT recommended for children or teenagers?

June 22, 2006 at 3:05 pm
(2) Jane says:

I take Effexor XR and had the Hives for 7 months now. I only have them on my legs…but the Dr.’s do not know why I have them. We tried Cortisone and other creams but nothing takes them away. I will have good and bad weeks with the Hives. My Dr. said they could last up to a year.
I am frustrated too!

June 26, 2006 at 8:38 pm
(3) kathy johnston says:

I am sorry to hear about the hives. I have been on Effexor XR for 5 years and have just started to get hives. Something that I have never had. They started out on the left for arm and now are on my forhead and small spots on my right hand. I hadnt connected them to the effexor. Please email me if you find anything that works. Thank you Kathy

July 9, 2006 at 11:49 pm
(4) Michelle says:

I had really awful hives. I prayed it wasn’t because of the effexor, but after three trips to the emergency department, several trips to the doctors office, and several rounds of antihistamines and steroids, my doctors recommended i stop taking it. i’ve just finished a course of prednisone and i’ve stopped taking the effexor; it’s been about a week and the hives haven’t resurfaced.

now i’m going through the awful withdrawal symptoms…it’s better than the hives though. They’re so stressful, particularly in the summer.

July 22, 2006 at 3:17 am
(5) Betsy says:

I’ve been taking a teeny amount of Effexor XR for two years, only 37.5 mg. For two years, I’ve had hives all over my body; I never had them before and attributed them to stress and moving to a new climate. (Though I always had stress, and had moved to that climate 5 years earlier.) My prescribing doctor never reacted when I mentioned the hives, and my GP tried absolutely everything: Allegra, Zyrtec, Claritin, and a host of blood tests to see what I might be allergic to (nothing.) Last month I changed psychiatrists and the new one raised my dose to 75 mg; my hives doubled in severity as well, and I FINALLY made the connection. I am tapering off the Effexor now, and my hives are all but gone. None of these doctors have any idea about the more unusal side effects or about the creepy brain shivers you get during withdrawal. My other side effects include the normal dry mouth and nightmares, but also sweating, insomnia, bladder control issues, and heavy periods that resulted in severe anemia – another condition that baffled all the doctors. Effexor kind of sucks – but it’s not the drug’s fault that I have these problems; it’s the doctors’ fault for not paying enough attention to people’s complaints.

July 27, 2006 at 12:19 pm
(6) Tracy says:

I have been taking Effexor XR for about a year now. I currently take 150mg per day. Recently (within the last 2-3 months) I have had terrible hives. I notice most outbreaks in the morning after I have been warm under the covers of my bed. I generally get them on my lower body but have had them at times all over my body. I am so glad to finally find out this is something that others have experienced as I was going crazy trying to figure out what was happening. I have never had any allergies prior and this stuff is so itchy it can literally make you nuts! I have an appointment to discuss w/ my doctor.

August 30, 2006 at 4:05 am
(7) peg says:

I’v taken effexor for 1 year, have been fighting hives for the last 2 months. I was on 37.5 time release. I now take the time release apart, and count out the little white dots, and take half of them a day. I am doing ok, and now not withdrawing to bad. I had terrible anxiety after a total hysterectomy. This is my third round of predisone in 2 months, and will be on it for 6 weeks. I’m going to go natural, they say 5HTP is wonderful, if that is spelled right. Also taking great vitamins. Someone told me take fast dissolving vit.C 6-8 times a day, when you get them. My hives started on my arms, and then went to inside of my legs, stomach, and then my back. They turned black and blue when healing. I’m praying for all of you on effexor, getting off, and trying to get these hives cleared up. peg

September 18, 2006 at 12:43 am
(8) Kasie says:

I was on Effexor XR for close to 5 months when I began getting hives. I could not figure out what they were from until I started searching the net. I found this post and called the doc the next day. She recommended going off of the Effexor for 24 hours to see what happened…the hives dissappeared. But, since you can’t just go off of Effexor cold turkey, I had to start it again and wean off slowly. I’ve been off of it completely now for one week and the hives are worse than ever. So, I’m not sure what to do now? Hopefully the doc will have some answers for me tomorrow. Benedryl isn’t helping anymore! AARGH! Good luck to you all.

March 9, 2011 at 5:16 pm
(9) fran says:

Hi…..I had a huge breakout of hives about 7 yrs ago and was not on effexor XR …..my dermatologist put me on hydroxizine at bedtime and allegra during the day……we did not know what caused the hives…..but the medication cleared it up …….I was cleaning at a Bed and Breakfast for aabout two years when I broke out …….after a while I also quit working there subsequent with moving to another state…as time went on I weaned myself slowly of the hydroxizine as I noticed I felt more doppy in the morning….figuring maybe I didn’t need as much of the medication…..so as time went on I no longer needed the medication…………..I believe over time my body was overloaded with inhaling and working around cleaning products which had then over time was flushed out of my body……which now brings me to a new episode of hives……..I started taking effexor in November and recently have been getting some hive breakouts and upper swollen lip …….could be the effexor this time…..don’t know ….but I just started today taking hydroxizine and allegra again…..

October 4, 2006 at 8:24 am
(10) Carolyne says:

I have been on effexcor XR 75 mg since March. Since september I have began to get these hives every morning and they are gone by lunch time. It’s been a month but my doctor claimed it was an allergy to something i am eating….I have never had allegies ever. Glad to have came accross this forum. Can anyone tell me if the hives leave once you are off? and how much time did it take?

October 4, 2006 at 8:26 am
(11) c says:


October 12, 2006 at 10:28 am
(12) Adele says:

I am so glad to see I am not the only one suffering from the horrible itchy hives. Like everyone else I didn’t know about any withdrawl issues with Effexor if I had I would never have gone on it. I went into my doctor over a month ago because I was waking up every morning with horrible itchy hives that would settle down as the day went on. She told me I must have an allergy and to take some claritan. She never mentioned it could be from the Effexor.
I weaned myself of a couple of weeks ago again not knowing about the severe withdrawal symptoms. I was taking 75mg once per day and just started taking them every second day for a week or so then cold turkey. I couldn’t explain the weird shocking feelings to my husband. My eyes felt strange and I was nausiated and light headed – not a good thing when you are alone with a small baby all day. The hives have gotten much worse and nothing helps with the itch.
Though I am really uncomfortable now there is no way I am going to go back to my doctor so she can try and wean me off. I’ll just suck it up and suffer through this as I don’t want it in my body for one more day.
Good luck to all of you who are suffering too.

October 19, 2006 at 8:02 am
(13) Carolyne says:

I am starting to wean myself off as well. I was at 75 mg a day and now at 37.5. Next week I start alternating days. I am a bit discouraged that you still have the hives. How long have you been off them? My doctor as well doesn’t think it’s the meds, she suggested that I increase them…I was stongly against that. I woke up this morning and I am covered. Not only do we have to deal with the withdrawl symptoms but these hives. I find it weird that we all get them through the night and then they go away? Keep intouch with me by e-mail beausoleilca@inac.gc.ca, let me know how you are doing. Maybe we can find a cure!!!

October 21, 2006 at 10:39 pm
(14) Heather says:

Wow, I thought I was the only one going crazy with these hives! I started taking effexor in January and developed my first set of hives in July and have had them daily ever since. Clariton worked only for the first month, now I am taking Reactine. Unfortunately it no longer works either and I have been told to double up on the dosage. I have hives on my stomach, my sides, my arms and my legs and mine get worse during the night as well. I am scheduled to see my regular doctor next week and am going to request going off effexor seeing as how I am now thinking that it is what is causing the hives. I had an allergy test this week and am not allergic to anything. My allergy doctor said that 2% of people taking effexor develop hives. I guess that’s us! It is discouraging to read that the hives continue even after the effexor stops. I am wondering why it takes so long for them to go away after weaning off effexor. All the best to all of you…I hope the itching finally stops! I’ll check back, so if anyone finds out any new info, please post.

July 22, 2011 at 1:42 am
(15) Andrea says:

Oh my goodness I have been on effexor for a couple years. I think I get hives when I don’t need an anti-depressant, and that the drug is causing too much serotonin and thus triggering hives. Yesterday I got the worse case of hives ever, all over my body; I was also feeling a bit high, and over-stimulated. I am getting off too.

October 29, 2006 at 3:44 pm
(16) Cindy says:

I have been on effexor for about 5 months and started getting a rash on my hands and ankles withing the last two weeks. My hands are so sore I can barely use them. This sucks! I’m trying to quit cold turkey, but am going through heavy duty withdrawal symptoms. How long do the withdrawal symptoms last? How long does it take for the effexor to get out of your body? Sounds like the hives and rash continues, but what about the withdrawal symptoms? I would’ve never gone on effexor if I knew what I know now. The doctors just push this med on anyone without explaining the consequences. Again, this sucks!

October 30, 2006 at 10:42 am
(17) Carolyne says:

I know what your experiencing!! I also had sore bones from where I had the hives. There was days that I had a hard time to walk because of my knees, and then if I had hives on my wrist I had a hard time as well. One day my wrist hurt so bad I couldn’t even drive! I also began as a rash and then became these hives I had all over. I would get them when I went to bed and would wake up scratching my hands, feet and legs until I began to bleed. But I do have good news!!
It’s my forth day without taking effexcor. Yes I am experiencing the withdrawal effects, but it’s not as bad as I had believed. I do get the occasional brain shivers but I can handle it. I weaned myself off in two weeks. As soon as I started the 37.5mg I can see the difference. I still have the odd hive but I am not covered with them, and my face no longer looks like a balloon.I don’t know what is worst the panic attacks or the hives! but the hives do get better ladies! I was told it take about a month for the effexor to be completely gone from your body.
I do agree it’s funny how doctors just prescribe these medication that totally mess you up physically and well and mentally. I still cannot believe my doctor thought we should increase the dosage to 150mg instead of trying to figure out what was causing the hives. I am glad I put my foot down and said no!
Thanks god for the internet! At least I was able to sum up my own conclusion of this medication!
I am glad to be coming off these…It makes me wonder how good this medication was for my body if it can make my brain shiver? what is that all about???
Well all to say ladies the hives do get better! They will soon start to disappear!
I will write another blog next week to let you know how it’s going!
Hang in there!!

October 31, 2006 at 6:59 pm
(18) Cindy says:

Thanks for everyone’s input, it really helps knowing there are others who understand what I’m going through. It’s hard to describe “brain shivers” unless you have experienced them yourself. This is my fifth day with no effexor. I had been on 75 mg. for a little over 5 months. The only reason I decided to stop taking it was because of this embarrasing and ugly rash. Then after reading on the internet about all of the other symptoms, I decided to quit cold turkey. If it is making this rash on my outside, what is it doing on my inside? The withdrawals are almost unbearable, but I don’t ever want to go through this again so I refuse to take even the slightest amount of effexor. I want this crap out of my body! Yesterday was the worst. I still have a rash on my hands, ankles, and bottoms of my feet. I’m sweating profusely, I have disturbing brain shivers, I’m nauseous, have WEIRD dreams- I feel like a junkie needing another fix! And to think the doctor said it wasn’t addictive… do they seriously believe that??!! Yesterday I got some Omega 3 and B-complex and am drinking a bottle of Xango (mangosteen supplement) a day. Also I’m drinking a lot of water. I will write again regarding my progress. If anyone knows of anything else that speeds up the detoxifying process, let me know. Also, how come it’s all women that are given effexor? Some quick fix doctors give “crazy” women to turn them into zombies?? Really, it makes me sick how quickly doctors prescribe drugs without knowing or caring about the consequences. God bless all of us.

November 1, 2006 at 12:29 pm
(19) Carolyne says:

Day six with no effexor in system….and bad bad bad hives today! I have taken two reactin and they have done nothing! I pray these go away soon! They we’re going away but suddenly I have them all over today! God help me! Not only do we have to deal with the brain zaps but my hives are coming back with a vengence…

November 1, 2006 at 1:30 pm
(20) Adele says:

Hello again,

I wrote a few weeks back about the awful hives and unfortunately have nothing positive to report. I have been to emergency twice now and have been on 2 rounds of prednasone which seems to help a bit after a couple of days. I am now going to see an allergist this week as my doctor thinks I’m allergic to something. I don’t think they will find anything, I think it is the effexor. I wish I knew how long I had to tolerate these hives, it’s now been over a month. Nothing works, I’ve tried benedryl, claritin, reactin. The only thing that offers me some relief is a prescription cortisone cream called Sarin – ask you doctor for it, it helps with the itch! I guess the only good news would be I don’t have any more withdrawl symptons, they took about 3 weeks to go.
Take care everyone.

November 2, 2006 at 8:11 pm
(21) Cindy says:

One week with no effexor – my hives seem to be a little better, they are drying up and now my hands look like an 80 year old womans. I still have the brain shivers, but not as frequently. I still am sweating a lot, but I’m not as nauseous as I was. All in all I think I’m better. Still taking Omega 3, B-complex and Xango. Maybe something is helping. My husband suggested I go to the gym and sit in the sauna and drink lots of water with lemons in it – to sweat it out of me. I’ll try anything at this point. I feel optimistic. Let me know how you are all doing – we’ll get through this!

November 7, 2006 at 9:24 am
(22) Carolyne says:

I got my test back from an allergist yesterday and basically I am allergic to everything I eat. Wheat, Flour, Beef, Suger, Eggs and Dairy. I have never had allergies in my life, and no one else has them in my family. She still thinks it’s connected with the effexor…she thinks it so hard on my system that my body can no longer tollarate certain foods. Now I have to readjust my life…I hate these pills, I can’t beleive how much damage it has done to my body. Never again!!! I will never allow a doctor to force me to take anti-depressants.
Hope you are all doing better

November 9, 2006 at 10:56 pm
(23) Adele says:

I have now been to the allergist last week and he says I am not allergic to anything. That very night my hives were as bad as ever and my lip swoll up. Since then I have been on prednizone again and I am using cortisone cream for the itch (it really helps). The hives are horrible and are all over me, the worst part is this morning I woke up with my whole face swollen particularly my eyes. I have now been off Effexor for about 6 weeks. Has anyone else had facial swelling. I’m now been referred to a specialist as they are saying they think I have an autoimmune disorder? Wondering if this could be a result of the Effexor.
take care everyone

November 14, 2006 at 4:26 am
(24) Carrie says:

I have hives, facial swelling, etc. Been on Effexor xl 150 mgs. for a couple of months. I’m just as frustrated as everyone else here!

November 15, 2006 at 7:50 am
(25) Carolyne says:

Yeah I am still getting the hives. I have ditched the thory that I am allergic to these foods since it hasn’t hcanged a thing. My PD still beleives these are stress hives so I am really trying to un-stress myself. I think I am starting to believe her…On Sunday I did nothign but relax all day and I had no hives. If I take a relaxing bath the hives go away…I just have a hard beleiving that stress can make my face and lips swell up. I just want this to go away…

November 15, 2006 at 9:32 pm
(26) Heather says:

I am back again to fill you in on the latest. Since the last time I wrote I have been to emergency three times. My double dose of Reactine was not working so I ended up in emerg on a Friday night becasue the hives were unbearable! One of them was actually 10-15 cm (I just had to measure!) At emerg they gave me Benadryl and Ranitidine (IV). When the hives started going down I was sent home. By Sunday I was back because the hives were worsening again. This time, in addition to the Benadryl and Ranitidine they gave me predisone (IV). I was sent home with instructions to wean off the effexor in ten days (seeing as how so far all other allergy tests were negative and this was the only other substance in my body), given a prescription for Hydroxyzine- another kind of antihistamine, and prescribed predisone for 4 days. After filling in my family doctor, she suggested going off the Effexor in 5 days to speed up the process, although she still seems reluctant to believe that Effexor is the cause. She asked me if possibly something was biting me in bed at night. NOT LIKELY! Anyways, I have been off the Effexor for a total of nine days now. I was getting brain shivers, but they seem to be going away. I had nausea a few times, but not too bad. Yesterday I woke up with you guessed it…hives, but took my Hydroxyzine and headed off to work as usual. At 9:00 my botttom lip started to swell and by 10:00 the swelling spread to my top lip. By the time I got to emerg the swelling had gone into my cheek and eyes. It looked like a case of Bad Botox! They gave me Benadryl, Ranitidine, and more steriods (IV) and had me stay overnight to monitor the swelling so that it did not spread to my throat. An internist-specialist of internal medicine, not a beginning doctor, was called in to run more blood tests seeing as how all the doctors were puzzled and have tried all the options they know of. So far all teats are negative, I am not surprised after reading your experiences. However, he is doing more specific bloodwork and I see him in a week. In the meantime I am now taking 3 days of prednisone, ranitidine, cyproheptadine-another type of antihistimine, and cromolyn. I will write again after my appt with the specialist if he provides any answers. I am left wondering after I read these postings how doctors have yet linked effexor to hives. After all so many of us have had similar experiences. Until we chat again, God Bless and may the hives stay away! I too was having freaky dreams and my family and friends say I am moody. Oh well, I cant wait to feel myself again! Take care.

November 21, 2011 at 6:00 pm
(27) Judy says:

I too started getting hives that itched so bad that I would bleed. My were sporatic, but lately I have been getting them more. Then yesterday the reaction was so bad I ended up in anaphylactic shock. The allergist has found nothing and I am the only one who even thought to look at the hives and Effexor.f I go to my internist and allergist tomorrow and you had better believe that I am bringing some of these comments with me.

I will now have to carry an epi-pen with me for the rest of my life. It is pretty scary as I almost died.

Keep with it an hope you all figure it out! If you ever feel that you can’t breathe make sure you call 911. I would be dead had I hot done so.


November 16, 2006 at 1:51 pm
(28) Carolyne says:

Hey Girls,

I found all these other links to people that are suffering the same way we are. I refuse to think we all have some kind of allergies. There are too many cases of people to develop hives on effexor for it to simply be a coincidence. Anyways read these links…The last one is interesting…she says the hives stoped with zyrtec pills.






November 19, 2006 at 11:31 pm
(29) Cindy says:

Three weeks with no effexor and I thought these hives would have been gone by now. It hasn’t even gotten better! I’ve put all sorts of creams and lotions, but nothing has helped. It’s worse at night. Like others, I have never had any allergies before either. What is up with this? Thanks for the other links to other websites regarding this. I still get an occasional brain shiver, but only about 5 to 10 a day, and not nearly as extreme. I really do not want to take any other medicine to counteract the effexor. I’m really trying to go the natural route. Thanks and God bless.

November 24, 2006 at 8:41 pm
(30) Adele says:

Hello everyone,

I feel so bad for everyone when I read all the comments. It has been almost 3 months now that I’ve been off Effexor and dealing with the hives. They are absolutely unbearable. So far I have tried the allergist, a dermatologist (who has me on 3 antihistamines – still not helping)and have recently been going to the chiropractor and acupunturist, who said he was sure he could help. He just told me today he is giving up and I should go back to the doctor and perhaps go on some more drugs since he thinks my body is going downhill fast. The hives are everywhere almost all of the time and are now on my face. All of them are saying one thing in common though that I have an autoimmune disorder, basically my immune system has gone hysterical and nothing can calm it down (I totally believe from the drug). I am now going cranial sacral therapy to relax, it’s great. I am now just trying to figure out how to live this way until my body decides to get back to normal which apparantley will takes months/sometimes years. I wish you all a speedy recovery from these horrible things. Take care!

November 27, 2006 at 10:23 am
(31) Carolyne says:

Hello Ladies,

I finally have some good news to relay. I have had no hives since last wednesday. Last Monday I went to see another allergist who said the same thing, my immune system is unbalanced and that the hives could last another 6 months. He told me I had to stop focusing on them (a lot easier said then done). He said I am not dying and that I need to stop crying about it. I literally wanted to punch him in the face,,,,because how does he know what I am feeling. He gave me cortisone pills for 5 days since my whole body was swollen and he prescribed me reactine 20mg per day and 25 mg of atarax. I left there and tried what he said, tried no to obsess with it and took the pills as prescribed. On Tuesday I woke up and was covered like usual, face swollen, eyes swollen, hives everywhere…then took the reactine in the morning and the atarax at night. On Friday i decided not to take anything and I had nothing. Not one single hive…I have only taken one reactine on staurday night because I was starting to be itchy but that it. I think the hives are finally gone. Don’t know how or why but I am sure the medication helped and maybe just changing my attitude about it. I hope you can all find so relief….but ask your doctor about cortizone, atarax and 20mg of reactine. It’s also been 32 days since I have taken my last effexor pill, maybe it’s finally out of my system.

November 29, 2006 at 12:04 am
(32) Carrie says:

Here’s my story:

I was on Lexapro for about 9 months. I couldn’t stay awake during the day so the Dr. said Wellbutrin would be a good thing for me. The first week I was sick with stomach aches and headaches and diarrhea. The second week I had hives—for the first time ever in my life! They were so bad that my feet had deep welts in them and I could hardly walk. My hands had red roundish painful spots in the center of my palms. I had hives all down the back of my legs and on my abdomen.

The Dr. said this was an allergic reaction to the drug and I had to quit immediately. To prevent a relapse…he gave me another drug to take first thing the next day. Can you guess? Effexor XR. The hives continued for another week and then the lips started swelling. Dr. gave me steroid pills (5 day regimen). Hive cleared up in 2 days!!

Meanwhile I felt great! I took the Effexor for 3 months and then it seemed like it just stopped working (anxiety symptoms came back). Dr. increased my dose from 75 to 150mgs/day. Felt great again for another month.

Then…woke up one morning with HIVES!!! Major and worse than last time. Dr. told me to quit taking Effexor immediately. Said to not take anything till we figured out what the problems were. I was concerned about the terrible “withdrawals”. He said there are not any. But he gave me Atarax which is for itching and Anxiety (how the two are connected I have no idea). At this point I was not willing to take anything. I wanted everything out of my system!

Next morning, while on the floor of my bedroom closet–sobbing–feeling helpless and miserable for no apparent reason (withdrawals??), my husband called the DR. and he said to take the Atarax. I did. Within 10 minutes I fell 100% better! I still had hives but they were fading..but most importantly the Atarax (which is a histamine) really changed my mood, lifted my depression and I was up and about ready to decorate for Christmas.

I suffered the withdrawals from the Effexor for about 3 long excruciating days and could not have done it without the help of the Atarax. As of today, Nov 27th, I still have the hives. They are very frustrating. Tonight my top lip is swollen. I haven’t had the Effexor in 2 weeks. I will update you guys if they get better soon. This is going to be a stressful Christmas dealing with these things!

One thing I highly recommend, is if you had to quit the Effexor and need help. ask your Dr. about Atarax. It was a life saver for me and really helps with the hives.

Good luck to you all and God Bless!


December 4, 2006 at 1:07 pm
(33) Cindy says:

Well, it’s been 6 weeks since I’ve been off the effexor and I still have hives… they seem to be getting worse. Mine are on my hands and the bottoms of my feet, which is unbearable. I called in sick from work today, because I work in a warehouse and couldn’t take walking on a concrete floor for 8 hours. I work with gloves on, which seems to help. I tell people I’m allergic to cardboard… I feel uncomfortable telling them it’s the effects from the anti-depressant I was on! I haven’t heard from anyone who has completely gotten rid of the hives. I would like to know if I have to live with this for 6 months, a year, the rest of my life?? Is everyone’s hives like little blisters under your skin? Definately internally coming out, and not caused from something external. I, unlike most of you, have not returned to the doctor. I rarely go to the doctor and now when I finally go, she prescribes this crap that messes my whole system up. Good luck and please post any positive news… I could use it!! :)

December 11, 2006 at 9:52 pm
(34) Megan says:

I was on Effexor RX for several months last spring before I started breaking out into hives in May 2005. I went to my regular physician and was sent to an allergist. Because I was still taking Effexor I had to take a blood test rather than a scratch test, antidepressants make it hard for the tests to work and show anything. At that time I was told I had a slight reaction to peanuts but everything else looked good. I gradually went off of the Effexor to reduce the awful withdrawal side effects and then went back for scratch tests because the hives were still very bad and I had an episode of my upper lip and my eye lids swelling. One day I woke up and couldn’t open my eyes because of the swelling. Another day my lip began to get bigger and bigger, I looked like Donald Duck. I reacted to 8 different foods in the scratch test and was told the best thing is to avoid all of them, then gradually add each food back into my diet to see which ones cause the hives.
I have been off of antidepressants, birth control, and all other drugs since around June/July. I believe that Effexor changed my body’s reactions to foods.
I just started adding the allergen foods back into my diet. Thus far, it seems my hives are gone but my skin still feels a little more sensitive and I have noticed increased acne along with the hives, unlike the hives, the acne has not subsided. I will not take another antidepressant and am now much more catious about any prescription drug.

December 30, 2006 at 2:24 pm
(35) Terry says:

And I thought I was the only person with this problem!
I took Effexor for 3 months and developed a rash, 4 months after my last dose. It started out as “hives” (according to my MD) but progressively turned into large raised masses, swelling on my face and it would itch somethign aweful. I went to a dermatologist, allergist, acupuncture and a holistic doctor – who recommended I take Swedish Bitters to have the rash subside – and it worked! After taking a gulp my rash would calm down within 30 minutes and the itch would go away. But for no rhyme or reason it would come back every day for over a year.

While skimming through an article on allergies, I read about celiac disease (allergic to gluten) and an off shoot of it called dermatitis herpetiformis (DH) which is a severe itchy, blistering manifestation of celiac disease. I stopped eating glutten a year and a half ago and have not had an outbreak since.

Recently I did try a chocolate chip cookie with no ill effects. My doctor said I may have built my auto-immune system back up and could try introducing gluten products (bread, pasta) back into my diet, I’m fearful of doing this only because the rash came on so suddenly and was devastating.
Prior to Effexor, I never had any allergies.

January 4, 2007 at 10:40 am
(36) Brian says:

Well, this just sucks! I have been on Effexor XR for about 2 years now. 150mg’s. A few months ago, I started getting itchy red hives under my armpits at night and around my waistline. Then, just as suddenly as they appeared, they disappeared. Now they have come back. It started out just happening in the evenings but now I have them in the mornings too. Also, some lip swelling occasionally. I am seeing the doctor tomorrow. I take effexor because of extreme anxiety. I am so afraid of having to get off the med! It has worked pretty well, at least I can enjoy life again. Too bad for these damn hives!!! I am not looking forward to what is coming!!! Good luck to you all!

January 7, 2007 at 12:41 am
(37) Heather says:

Some positive news…I have been off Effexor for 2 months now and guess what? NO MORE HIVES! I am, however, working now on losing the weight that I gained during my last 3 months taking the drug. I am positive, after all of the allergy and blood tests, emergency visits, and even doctor’s doubt, that all of my symptoms… from hives to coughing to swollen lips and face…were all due to the Effexor. For those of you still taking it, perhaps try something else…there should be other options out there for you. However, the best medicine of all is trusitng in the Lord. God Bless, Heather

January 21, 2007 at 9:15 pm
(38) Erin says:

I feel delighted and at the same time angry to have stumbled across these posts. I’m going through the same thing right now, I’m into my seventh week of horrible horrible hives. I went on Effexor last April (75mg) and I felt really good., I had always been very anxious and depressed and it helped me a lot. But then it seemed to stop working, so in August I got an increase to 150mg. In late November I began breaking out in scattered hives, usually on my legs. They would come in patches, itch, but then a Benadryl or a Claritin would make them go away, The outbreaks grew more and more persistent and less respondant to medication. I also began to have the facial swelling, hand and feet swelling and swelling around the eyes. This was accompanied by a feeling of burning and tightness in the throat and chest. I went to the ER twice and was given prednisone, but as soon as I tapered off it started again. I have come up negative on dozens of allergy tests, auto-immune testing, and thyroid tests. The option we are looking into now is H.Pyrloi and I should get the results back this week.

I wanted to get off Effexor XR for some time now, but thought while I was going through this stressful period, it would be bad to go through the additional withdrawal. However, tomorrow I plan to see my doctor and ask to be taken off or tapered down immediately and take atarax for awhile. After which, I have decided to go meds free for my depression and try alternative forms of healing including nutrition, counseling and acupuncture, which has always helped me with everything except the hives. (No wonder, when I keep putting 150mgs of Effexor in my mouth daily!)

I thank you all for expressing your views, without which I would be clueless. I assumed (as did anyone treating me) that since the symptoms developed a long time after I began taking Effexor, there was no connection. Now I see this delay is normal in a lot of people.

Thanks for giving me some hope. God bless you all on your journey to heal, and please update.

January 23, 2007 at 12:37 pm
(39) Carolyne says:

Hey Laides,

Just thought that I would give you ladies an update. I started the hives back on September 14,2006. It is now Jan 23,07 and I am still getting them a bit. Nothing like it was in November and December. I still get the Odd lips and eye swollen and the odd hives here and there but at least now it bearable. If I have a fever they go out of control, if I take Tylenol or Advil for a headache they get out of control. But things are a lot better, and at least now I can sleep and go to work.
I am really truly upset that there seems to be more of us that pop up on this site everyday. The doctors don’t believe us that these two things are connected! There should be something we can do? Either write a letter to the company stating that there needs to be more research done, or make a complaint with the government, or a class action suit. There has to be something we can do about this. We should all be compensated for the tons a anti-histamine medication we have had to buy, the days we couldn’t go to work, the amount of times we ended up in the hospital when all along it was this pills. Anyone have any thought on what we can do?

January 23, 2007 at 1:33 pm
(40) Carolyne Beausoleil says:
January 23, 2007 at 1:47 pm
(41) Carolyne says:
January 28, 2007 at 11:42 am
(42) Erin says:

Unfortunately, from a legal standpoint there’s not a lot to do. (I’m in the legal profession, and trust me, I’ve looked into it!) Many people are allergic to medications, and technically Wyeth did tell you to see your doctor if you have hives, so they’ll claim everyone was on notice.

I think the real problem in our case is that the reaction was delayed. Unfortunately their butts are covered there too, because apparantly some people just have this type IV delayed hypersensitivity that many people on this forum seem to have.

So, the only rela option is getting off of the medication and hoping the hives go away. I’ve been off for almost a week now, and although I can see some reduction, the hives are jsut as pesky as ever. The trouble, according to my GP (not the person who prescribed me the drug), is that it stores itself in several organs and may take a while to clear out, and this differ from person to person. My psych told me two weeks, but that this may be optimistic, since it’s really how long it’s in the brain, not anywhere else. And of course, after the trauma it’s gone though, the immune system is totally out of whack and will take a while to get back on course.

So, I got off the medication immediately and he started me on Lexapro. I’ve had no horrible withdrawal symptoms (thank God! I tried to quit once cold turkey, and it was pretty awful). We’ve discussed options, but I think I what to gradually get off that and all other meds as well. Needless to say, my faith is shaken! I also feel that the one good thing that’s come out of this drama is that I’m so much more conscious of my body and its health issues. Maybe by controlling some of these issues more closely, I can deal with my anxiety more holistically.

So, our hands may be tied legally, but this doesn’t stop anyone from letting others know about this problem–particularly since many doctors don’t recognize Effexor as the possible cause until many months of horrible pain and itching have gone by. Write to other forums (this sadly, was the first on-target one I’ve seen. Even crazymeds.org doesn’t ahve anything about this problem. So we need to get the information out there, particularly since besides the immediate allergic reaction, Wyeth doesn’t list hives as a “side effect”. That crap needs to stop.

I think someone mentioned 2% of people having this problem. While the percentage may seem negligent, considering the amount of people on this drug (and the money they’re raking in), this is a rather sizeable amount of people. We need to help to make sure they’re given the proper info!

Good luck to all on healing, I’d like to hear updates. :)


January 30, 2007 at 8:49 am
(43) Carolyne says:

Hi Erin,

Thanks for your post. I really appriciate getting feed back in reagrds to legal action. I actually did a little more investigation and came across some interesting things.


It indiactes that the company had been sued and they came accross that Toxic buildup of chemicals from dying muscle cells which I think is interesting. When I saw a holistic doctor this is what she had told me, that I had a build up of toxics in my system which was making me have these hives.
I also found this site which I thought was interesting:
Have a look at the 5th post in regards to effexor…Scary.

Not to discourage you Erin but I tool my Last pill of Effexor October 19,2006 and I too had wished it would be gone from my system within two weeks however It is now about 3 1/2 and these little crazy hives are still a huge problem. There are still days that my face, lips, eyes swell up. The hives are sometime so bad I cannot walk, sit, drive, sleep….ahhh very frustrating. I was just hoping this would be far and gone now…I am getting frustrated, depressed, anxious from these hives. I feel humiliated to come to work, to be intimate with my spouse. I have had it.

January 30, 2007 at 8:50 am
(44) Carolyne says:

Hi Erin,

Thanks for your post. I really appriciate getting feed back in reagrds to legal action. I actually did a little more investigation and came across some interesting things.


It indiactes that the company had been sued and they came accross that Toxic buildup of chemicals from dying muscle cells which I think is interesting. When I saw a holistic doctor this is what she had told me, that I had a build up of toxics in my system which was making me have these hives.
I also found this site which I thought was interesting:

Have a look at the 5th post in regards to effexor…Scary.

Not to discourage you Erin but I tool my Last pill of Effexor October 19,2006 and I too had wished it would be gone from my system within two weeks however It is now about 3 1/2 and these little crazy hives are still a huge problem. There are still days that my face, lips, eyes swell up. The hives are sometime so bad I cannot walk, sit, drive, sleep….ahhh very frustrating. I was just hoping this would be far and gone now…I am getting frustrated, depressed, anxious from these hives. I feel humiliated to come to work, to be intimate with my spouse. I have had it.

January 30, 2007 at 9:56 pm
(45) Erin says:

Hi there,

I totally sumpathize with what you’re going through. My boyfriend and I are in different countries right now and never get to see each other, and I was visiting right when the hives were at their worst! (Throat swelling shout, red, swoolen, sore and itching everywhere). I’m bitter about the more than two months I’ve been going through this. It has become first on my priorities. The only good thing I can find is that it’s made me want to take better care of my body and never EVER let anyone prescribe me a drug against my better intuitions.

My acupuncturist said the same thing…well, not exactly, just that all the problems I am having come from a liver that is overworked and can no longer handle the chemicals, so it produces too much heat in the body. A nutritionist friend suggested I try a liver flush, so I’m going to do that this weekend. Otherwise I’m trying to detox as much as possible which is hard when you depend on a large number of antihistamines to get you through the day (no way I’m going back on prednisone, I felt like my body was being eaten by that drug). I ahve noticed I am slowly cutting back and the hives are reducing, but the whole process is really gradual and like you, I feel frustrated at the wait. I guess I’m jsut trying to do everything I can to speed up the process.

I’ll let you know how it goes, check in with me so I can see how you’re doing as well.

I always had a rather low opinion of drugs that were foisted upon doctors…the pharm industry just has too much to gain. While I sympathize with the fact that drugs cost millions of dollars to make, I still find that it’s no excuse for drugs being handed out like candy, or aggressive marketing. For example, another friend who goes to school with me was also given Effexor, as were other people who went to that office. For her it had no effect and the doctor’s response was just to up it. At one point she was taking almost 500mg a day. That’s jsut ridiculous! She weaned herself off of it and never went back to the clinic. We often wonder if the docs from that clinic were getting bonus steak dinners from the pharm reps. I know that when I was working in a hospital I saw this a lot. Talk about a conflict of interest! :)

Anyway, enough ranting. I think our bodies are in meltdown, and we need to do what’s best to build them back to strength. I think the stronger and cleaner we lives, the quicker that healing will be (or so I tell myself, I’ll let you know how I really feel in a week :) ).

Take care of yourself Carolyne and everyone else!


February 6, 2007 at 2:36 pm
(46) jmk says:

A friend just e-mailed me this link. I’d looked at all the official precautions and warnings (direction insert stuff) about Effexor’s side effects and hives were not noted. Apparently, a very small % of people experience “mania” as a withdrawal symptom, myself included. I wound up in the hospital last week because my heart went nutty from cold-turkeying off the Effexor… which I had done on the suspicion that it caused the hives that started two weeks ago. I just came from my doctor’s office. We’re monitoring my heart rate and ramping me off the Effexor. Effexor stays in your system for 4-5weeks though so the hives may be around a bit longer. That said and even though I wouldn’t wish this on anyone, I’m so glad to not be alone in this! I, personally, am going to report these adverse effect (both the hives and withdrawal symptoms) to the pharmaceutical company. By law, they have to track and report adverse effect complaints… and after a certain point change their labeling to indicate any new trends. (Thank goodness for the FDA.)

February 6, 2007 at 9:56 pm
(47) jmk says:

I just thought I’d post a link Wyeth pharmaceutical’s contact information. They have a site at EffexorXR.com but that’s marketing.

http://tinyurl.com/3bh8yx will take you to Wyeth phone numbers. I’ll be calling this Friday to report the hives.

I am not anti-Effexor. I’m greatful for the relief it gave me, but I do feel that the ~whole~ picture needs to be presented. That hives could develop after months on the drug should be in the Warnings.

February 7, 2007 at 10:06 pm
(48) Erin says:

I don’t thyink it’s a small number who experience mania as a withdrawal syndrome.

I’m still itching two and a half week after getting off this drug with only very slight improvement. I’m doing a liver flush tomorrow, and will let you all know if that helps. I’m so darn tired of being itchy, it just makes me so irritable and the antihistamines ahve made me swell up so much I can no longer get in my clothes. I will NEVER use another Wyeth drug. Argh!

February 8, 2007 at 5:49 pm
(49) Cindy says:

I hate to say this, but it has been over 3 months now with no effexor and I STILL have hives. It got a lot worse and only within the last week seems to be a little better. I’ve tried the liver flushes, the detoxifying, etc. and I’m convinced this thing just takes its own sweet time. Time heals all, right?? I hope so anyway. The drug companies don’t want us to get better or they’d be out of business! So the last thing I am going to do is take another drug to ease the effects of the first drug. I think the best thing is to go the natural route whenever possible and continue to detoxify and flush this crap out of our systems. I appreciate everyone’s opinions, input and suggestions. God bless all of us!

February 8, 2007 at 5:57 pm
(50) Cindy says:

…one more thing, as far as the withdrawal symptoms and mania – I have never experienced anything like the withdrawal symptoms I had after stopping the effexor cold turkey. It was horrible! and I agree that it is NOT a small number of people who experience mania.

February 9, 2007 at 12:13 pm
(51) Erin says:

Hi all,

Just wanted to check in. I did my liver flush and it reduced my hives about 60%. (I’m not an optimistic person, you can count on my numbers being real). What’s interesting to me is that the hives that do reamin don’t itch and I don’t have any spots on my hands and feet anymore (those were the worst!). This is also the first morning I haven’t woken up totally swollen. So I definitely plan on repeating this in two weeks, since you’re not “cured” (according to them) until you stop passing so many gallstones. This was a last resort for me, namely because I think people who drink Epsom salts are insane, especially after drinking them myself, but it was more effective than all the drugs I had to take!

In the mean time living as healthy as possible and detoxing. Even if it’s placebo, I feel better all around.

Good luck to all of you as we continue to get better! And get the word out!

February 12, 2007 at 11:20 am
(52) jmk says:

Quick update: I just got off the phone w/Wythe. I’d left them a msg at the toll-free # on their direction insert on Friday. They took a bunch of information down because they are required to report any adverse effect.

If you get a chance, report the mania and hives to them. Effexor takes weeks to exit the system so it woulda been nice if we had all figured out what was causing the hives sooner. People at work call me Spot now. (Ya gotta laugh or you’ll cry, you know?)

My hives are improving though. I’ve been completely off the Effexor for 5 days and the mania…. Well, I’m shifting to jittery rather than hyper, but I still have to continually slow myself down.

I’m, also, dizzy and nauseated now. That’s fun.

I wouldn’t wish this on anyone, but knowing I’m not “imagining” it & that others are pushing-through as well helps. God bless us, everyone!

February 13, 2007 at 9:48 am
(53) Carolyne says:

Hey Erin,

Can you give me more information on the liver flush? I am willing to try anything. I had to call in sick yeterday, the hives we’re ath their worst yesterday, and for the first time I got them all over my scalp. Feels live my head was hit by a bat a few times…I agree hives on your feet and hards are the worst! When will these things go away!

Aslo JMK, can you give me the number to call? I will also call them and make a complaint. The more the better!

February 14, 2007 at 9:26 am
(54) Carolyne says:

ahhhh the hives are so bad today….I just want to cry. When…when will they go away….

February 16, 2007 at 12:00 am
(55) Erin says:

Oh poor Carolyne,

I’m so sorry to hear about the hives getting worse. Strangely mine did the same thing about two days after I did the flush. They got worse out of nowhere, I was crying and clawing at myself and even went to the ER where they just pumped me up with antihistamines. So, I tossed the Lexapro my doc had given me to get off the Effexor without withdrawal symptoms. I was only taking 5mgs anyway-and three and a half weeks is more than enough to be done with withdrawal.

After that decision….no more hives! The last antihistamine I took was 3 days ago and they haven’t come back. I’m also juice fasting right now, so I’m wondering if it finally helped speed it out of my system. So, maybe if you’re taaking something else you might need to get off of it. Apparantly Effexor has made me intolerant to everything.

Here’s the address for the liver flush…but be warned one time will relieve it but you’ll have to keep repeating it every two weeks until the problem is cured. Still, I’m a believer.


I’ll check back to see how you’re doing.

Good luck and FEEL BETTER!

February 21, 2007 at 8:39 am
(56) Carolyne says:

Hi Erin,

Well last Wednesday was the last day they we’re really bad. They seem to have subsided. I haven’t taken any antihistamine in about 4 days, and I only have little ones on my arms but I can totally Handle them. I just don’t know what makes them go out of control like that…wish I knew.

Hope all of you are doing better as well.

March 13, 2007 at 9:42 am
(57) Carolyne says:

Any updates from you ladies? How are the hives doing? any get rid if them finally?

March 16, 2007 at 12:03 pm
(58) Erin says:

Mine ahve actually gotten worse over the past week (I ahve an exam in about an hour I’ve been nervous about). However, before that I didn’t have any. They started in really bad after a friend brought over fast food fried chicken…so definitely something to add to the list of triggers. :) I’m seeing an allergist next week.

I had to start taking Lexapro again yesterday, the anxiety is just getting to be too much at the moment. I haven’t noticed the hives getting worse (actually today they’re better than they’ve been. So hopefully I’m not having a reaction to that too!

I jsut think Effexor had meesed up my system to th point where it seems like I’m sensitive to anything…even lotions if they’re not 100% almond oil or something. Agh!

March 16, 2007 at 8:05 pm
(59) Cindy says:

It has now been 4 1/2 months since I got off of the effexor – My hives are still pretty bad, mainly on my feet and hands. They get so dry, they crack and then really hurt. I’m hoping that if I get some sunshine it will help now that it’s warming up (I’m in San Diego). It is embarrasing to wear sandals though. I find that when I’m stressed out they get worse and I start scratching which of course makes them worse. I have just been trying to eat healthy and drink lots of water. I also sleep with neosporin on my hands and feet with socks and gloves (sexy!). I agree that this effexor has messed our systems up and now we are sensitive to everything- Thanks for the updates, I always like to hear how everyone is doing.

March 21, 2007 at 4:54 pm
(60) Erin says:

The hives are so bad right now, it’s unbreable! I decided it was the lexapro too so stopped that 4 days ago. Meanwhile I am completely covered and the antihistamines I have have stopped working. The worst is that they don’t only burn now they itch and sting and my hands and feet are completly swollen. I’m doing anothe rliver flush since this helped last time but I am hopping mad about this stupid drug and what it’s done to me. Can’t wait to see what the allerigst on Friday says.

March 25, 2007 at 10:11 am
(61) Erin says:

Hi all-

I’ve hit an all time low, I’m so depressed, but I am unable to take any kind of anti-depressant. Anytime I try the hives just flare up worse than ever and I ahve to stop. Last week I was so low I decided to take a low does of the lexapro I ahve left and within hours I was covered from feet to scalp and my throat was closing. I have no way of treating my depression, and I’m so low right now I don’t even wat to leave the house (as if being covered was not enough of a reason). I feel unable to do any work at all, which is bad when you’re a law student and grades are everything. I’ve recently found even conversations with people I love unbearable. I recognize the signs, I know I’m crashing and it’s just getting worse but I can no longer choose between that and waking up with the sensation of having hot acid poured all over my body, of looking at a disfigured and bumpy body and of not fitting in my clothes and watching with dispair as one by one I develop resistance to each antihistamine, leaving nothing to fight it with.

What made things worse is I found out that after waiting weeks to see an allergist, I found out I got referred to the wrong kind of doctor! Unbelievable! No one felt like correcting the mistake. So now I have to wait another week and without any antihistamines it’s jsut getting worse. The doctor on-call at the university jsut told me to “take some benadryl and go to bed”. I have never shouted at a doctor in my life, but she got called a few select names. Does insensitivity get handed out with medical degrees? No wonder people are more into self-medicating when our doctors are for the most part dogmatic and unsympathetic oafs.

I’m sorry guys, I’m jsut so down. I really don’t know how much more of this I can take. There was a reason I was taking the medication after all. This is a silly analogy, but frankly I feel just like Charley in Flowers for Algernon. My depression right now is so much worse than it ever was before Effexor.

March 28, 2007 at 12:39 pm
(62) Carolyne says:

Hi Erin,

I am so sorry to hear about your situation. I know how you feel and I agree with the hot acid being poured on your body. Are you in the states? In Canada there is this anti-histamine that I have been using called reactine 20 mg. It doesn’t make them go away but it does relieve some of the pain.
I am almost near my 6 month mark and I can tell that my body is starting to kill this FUCKIN HIVES!!! sorry for swearing, but It has been the worst 6 months of my life. I totally understand that it’s making your depression worst, because I was freaking out like you and the only thing that made me feel somewhat okay was that I had you girls to lean on when I was freaking out. I am glad I have and had you guys, kinda helps that I wasn’t going through this on my own. I am so angry that our doctors put this into our system. Look Erin all I can suggest it take baths in baking soda, try getting your hand on Reactine. Benadryl does not work, and never has. I also stopped eating anything acid, lemon, lime, tomatoes, orange juice, vinegar, chocolate, pizza, alcohol, no other meds except anti-histamine. Even Advil will make me blow up. I am eating really plain foods and I am doing a lot better. I am taking reactine as soon as I can start feeling something and they seem dissipate.

Hang in there Erin, it will pass I promise. We are all here for you!!

March 29, 2007 at 3:23 pm
(63) Sparky says:

I had the same reaction to Effexor both times I tried it. Nothing worked to get rid of the hives, and the massive quantities of prednisone made me gain a ton of weight.

Good luck!

Finally my allergist was convinced to try me on cyclosporine (brand name Neoral). I’m pretty large so we started at 150 mg, for about 3-4 months, tapering off. It essentially shuts down your immune system. It’s used for organ transplant recipients to avoid rejection. But it did the trick: no recurrence of the hives….until I started taking Effexor again four years later. Boom! Hives back. Another round of cyclosporine, and they’re gone. No more Effexor for me. The allergist says he doesn’t think that’s what triggered it but the timing is suspicious to say the least.

Good luck!

March 29, 2007 at 3:26 pm
(64) Sparky says:

I should mention that my hives did not go away when I stopped taking Effexor either time. I think it disrupts the immune system somehow, and only shutting it off and rebooting it, to borrow a computer analogy, really works.

April 9, 2007 at 6:05 am
(65) Stefanie says:

I can’t tell you how glad I am that I’ve found this forum! For the past month I’ve had hives the size of pie plates all over my body. My lips and eyes swell up and I have developed a horrible rash all over my body. I’ve never had any allergies and this whole thing scared the heck out of me. I’m going to the doc today and will ween off the effexor. I may get my panic attacks back, but at this point I’m not sure which is worse!!! Can anyone tell me how long the withdrawl symptoms last? It sounds downright frightening. I HATE EFFEXOR and hope that it comes off the market. I had NO idea that so many people have this same problem with the hives. The drug is EVIL!

April 10, 2007 at 12:52 pm
(66) Carolyne says:

Hi Stefanie,

I really didn’t find it all that bad coming off the Eddexor. Besides the Brain zaps, (which you can totally handle) I didn’t get too many side effects….oh and maybe lots of crying. Not sure if the crying was because I was coming off of it or because the hives we’re driving me into a depression! Next month will be six months since I last took an effexor pill. I was told by the allergist and a nurse that it takes six months for the medication to leave your system, no matter how many detox and flushes you do to your system. I do beleive this craziness is coming to an end. The hives come less often and when they do it’s only little ones that I can totally tolarate. The only thing that sucks is all the scabs I have from scratching myself till I bled. I wouldn’t worry so much coming off the pills, it’s the hives that will be really hard. As for the panic attacks, I have been panic free since last march, and even coming off them before I should I have, the attacks have not returned. I wish you the best of luck! and we’re here for you if you need and help!

April 11, 2007 at 11:27 am
(67) Stefanie says:

Thanks so much! I’m lucky that I have a wonderful doctor – he put me on .25mg of Zoloft to take with my Effexor while tapering off and so far I haven’t had one withdrawl!

Excuse the long post below, but I think it may help everyone A LOT!

As far as I the hives. I completely understand now what is going on. We ALL have just had an allergic reaction which can happen with any medication.

When this happens the immune system goes into a hightened state (hives, rash, swelling).

Since our system is in a hightened state (will last 6mths – one year) our bodies will see any chemical as the enemy, and yep – more hives!

This is what my doc has instructed me to do:

1. A VERY low level of steroids for 3-6 months (5mg) use an anti-histimine (non-drosy)

2. Cut out all chemicals & triggers from your diet including, any vitamins, candy, sodas, frozen meals, nuts, junk food (cheetos, chips, etc.) wheat, salad kits (they are rinshed with chemicals!). Cut out all topical chemicals (makeup, lotions, body washes etc.)

The benefits besides lessening hives:
1. Will lose weight
2. Will feel healthier
3. Will end up with a much healthier live long way of thinking.

You’re probably thinking well, then what am I gonna eat and use?

1. For face, body, shampoo etc. use Cetaphil. All those nice smelling shampoos & body washes are nice but look at the list of chemicals – HOLY MOLY!

2. Toothpaste – baking soda toothpaste

3. Foods – Fresh veggies, fruit, meat from the deli counter etc. Go to your local farmers market or go to Wholefoods Grocery – they have many chemical free sections. You can also ask one of their employees for help in what to buy.

4. Makeup – Fristly, using the low level steroids will keep your skin clear so no need for foundation. Look for natural lipsticks, glosses, eyeliner.

5. No more sodas – water water water! Don’t get any flavored waters (nutraswee in these etc.) Just buy your plain old bottled waters.

6. Detergents. There are plenty of natural washing machine detergents on the market or just wash your clothes in water (detergents don’t work for clothes anyway except making them smell nice…try it you won’t even notice the difference)

7. If you must have some junk food, make cookies and cakes yourself from scratch but it’s always best to limit any egg, sugar stuff.

This is all basic good living stuff but the best part is that it will give us something to focus on instead of feelling sorry for ourselves. Just make it a priority in your life.

Hope all this helps!

April 11, 2007 at 8:17 pm
(68) Erin says:

Stef and Carolyne-

Thank you so much for the posts. I’ve jsut accepted that I’ll have to be taking a lot of drugs until this is out of my system. Meanwhile, I’m switching back to Lexapro, I’m having anxiety attacks all over the place and the emotional backlash is really messy. My doc actually put me BACK ON EFFEXOR (I know, I know) but after a heavy dose it hasn’t worked at all, so I think I’ll ask for the Lexapro (much cheaper too, which is good news since my insurance company decided to tell me today that it won’t be paying for any of my ER visits, etc because these are all “allergy treatments”. Yeah, I really needed that additional stress).

I’m still lower than low, but the hives are gone. The regimen I’m currently on is :
30mg prednisone (tapering down to 20mg starting tomorrow)

So far, 2 weeks without hives, but then I started with like a crazy high dose of prednisone (80mg).

I really hope this gets under control before exam period. I’m so tired of the fretting, crying and prednisone madness (and weight gain). Thanks for all of your support and advice!


April 12, 2007 at 11:34 am
(69) Sparky says:

In my case, the hives were still going strong well over a year after I stopped taking Effexor; at least in my case it wasn’t just an allergic reaction, but the Effexor did something to my whole immune system. As I mentioned above, the only thing that worked was shutting it down completely with cyclosporine. Your response may be different.


April 15, 2007 at 7:00 pm
(70) Amanda says:

I was on Effexor for about a year when all of a sudden I got these horrible hives. I have never been allergic to anything before and I started researching the effects of Effexor and found that this was a very common side effect. I stopped cold turkey, I didn’t care what the doctors said. Well, it probably would’ve been better to ween myself off of it, because the withdrawal symptoms were unbearable! The brain shivers were the weirdest thing- I really felt like a mental patient from the 1940′s going through a lobotomy! Anyway, I totally can relate to everyone’s comments, but I have to say, what are you thinking when you say you are “thankful” for your doctor??? Are you kidding me? Who put you on effexor in the first place?? Did he tell you what the possible side effects would be? Did he tell you it was addictive? Did he tell you your immune system would be compromised for the rest of your life? It has been over 6 months since I have been off the effexor and I still have hives. They are finally getting a little better, but I have terrible scars. There was a reason why we all went on effexor in the first place and I think in our vulnerable state, the doctors take advantage of us and push whatever drug is the latest one they receive from the drug companies.
I f-ing hate all these pompous ass doctors. I will try to go the natural route whenever possible. I am glad I found this forum in order to vent. Sorry to sound so negative, but I am pissed off! I wish everyone the best and will pray that we all come out of this healthy and strong.

May 11, 2007 at 11:56 am
(71) Beth says:

I had severe hives 15 days in a row. My Dr said that there was no way any of my medications were causing the hives. I became sick with the stomach flu earlier this week and stopped taking the Effexor. My hives were immediately less severe and completely gone after two days of not taking Effexor.

A friend of mine has suffered from hives sporadically since she has been on Effexor. She always thought that it was the cause. I have been taking Effexor for 2 years and didn’t have any hives until recently. I 100% believe that it is the cause and will not take it again. I’m glad I came across this website – I will be sharing it with my Dr.

June 1, 2007 at 9:28 pm
(72) Rose says:

I’m so glad I found this forum; I’ve been searching the internet for any information about effexor and hives. I’ve had hives for over a month now; at first I thought I was allergic to something, and my doctor was skeptical about the hives’ being caused by the effexor, but now I’m 99% sure it’s withdrawal from the effexor, since I started getting the hives around the same time I started to wean off of it. I’m so angry that my doctor didn’t warn me about this, and that she made me feel stupid for even suggesting effexor as a cause. I can’t wait until I’m done with this awful drug; I really wish I had just never started taking it. I haven’t really had any other withdrawal symptoms (knock wood!) but these hives are awful and so annoying, especially in the summer. I will never take another drug like this again.

June 30, 2007 at 3:32 pm
(73) Ron says:

I was perscribed Effexor XR by my family doctor in May of 2007 for anxiety. I’m a 46 year old male and having never been on any type of anxiety medication before, I was concerned with how I would function – since I’m an outside sales representative – driving in my car and meeting with clients on a day to day basis. He said – “No Problem” you’ll just feel less stress and handed me a nice two-week Effexor XR free sample starter pack of pills that in the course of two weeks began with 37.5 MG and wound up at the 75 MG dosage per day. In the first two weeks I was aware that I was experiencing sporadic confusion/vertigo at times. I did not relate the symptoms immediately to the Effexor XR and thought that I was perhaps coming down with something. When I was finished with the two week trial pills, I called the doctor to fill a perscription.
I picked up my perscription and he had increased the dosage to 150 MG/day – which he stated was the “normal” dosage goal. I tried to get into a routine of taking the pill every night but I didn’t aways remember so I would take it the next morning. I certainly didn’t see any problem with that as I was never told how important it was that I wasn’t “late” or I didn’t Skip a pill.

Near the time I was to “call in” a refill for the first time, I realized that I would be out of town and may run out of my perscription for two days. I then decided to take the last two pills over four days until I could get it refilled when I got back home.

This is when it became terribly clear to me that the odd symptoms I was experiencing while taking the effexor on a regular basis became even worse when I tried to make two day’s worth – last for four days!

In retrospect, my side effects and negative reactions to this scary medication was occuring if I was on-time or even worse if I was 8 hours late on taking my daily pill. I was getting headaches, Itchy & blurred vision, vertigo so bad that I was affraid to drive – I would turn my head to look at oncoming traffic and would suffer confusion as to what I was seeing and whether it was safe to pull out. I made a mental note that I now felt “unsafe” behind the wheel. I began to feel that in some instances, I would experience what I would describe as a “senior moment” when I was in the middle of a thought process. I was unable to sleep, I had several bizarre dreams – some of which caused me to scream out loud and wake up in the middle of my scream.

I went online and found out that I wasn’t alone and so many of you out there were in the same boat. It made me feel better to know that I could be sure that Effexor XR was the reason for most if not all of my “new” negative experiences, but more pissed off that the doctor didn’t warn me of anything possible symptoms I should be aware of to ensure I was doing well on this medication.
I decided to go Cold Turkey when my first refill was gone. After two or three days I could barely focus, itchy all over and having dizzy spells that occurred almost every time I got up to walk or take a leak in the middle of the night.

DAY 7 without Effexor XR:
What I didn’t know was the worst was yet to come. 7 days without Effexor was pretty scary. While at work in the middle of the day, I suddenly realized that my tongue was swelling. In a matter of 15 minutes, I was unable to form words as my tongue didn’t fit in my mouth correctly. I took two benedryl tablets and drove myself to the Emergency Medical Center – thinking I was having an adverse reaction to a caesar salad I had eaten only moments before. It was then I realized that in the same amount of time it took to get a swollen tongue and cheeks, I had gotten a severe case of Hives all over my arms, armpits and groin.

I told the emergency room doctor that I had gone cold turkey off effexor for a total of 7 days and I was sure that this reation was related.
*************** She said “NO…you stopped taking Effexor seven days ago” and that I was experiencing some type of food alergy /reaction and the hives had nothing to do with Effexor XR. Since I had done some research myself, but hadn’t yet found this site regarding the relationship between hives & Effexor, I wasn’t sure myself.

The Benedryl started to kick in and I could feel my tongue was not as swollen as it was before I got to the Emergency Center and decided to go home with a perscription for PREDNISONE for the sweling of my tongue, cheeks and eyes as well as a perscription for Zithromax to fix my swollen glands and sore throat that had been plagued me on an off for 10 or so days.
DAY 8 without Effexor:
I saw my GP today and showed him my hives that occupy at least 75% of my body including my face, neck, chest groin,Thighs,Butt, and scalp. Some patches are the size of a placemat.
When I asked him if he had other patients that had experienced these issues he said “yes….some do”. He then went on to say that I should have called him…and if I wanted I could try something else. I said I’d prefer to detox for a month or so before I try anything – I will never go to this doctor again.
In conclusion, I would say that Wyeth should be ashamed of themselves for not coming “clean” as to the severity of what many of us have experienced using their drug. I think that the use of a “Free trial Pack” of Effexor XR s that instantly gets the dosage up to 75MG / day in two weeks with a doctor thinking that 150MGs should be our “target dosage” (without the opportunity to evaluate the drug’s effectiveness at the smallest dosage possible)is CRIMINAL – especially when I read that some of you out there are at 37.5 MG / for years. I also believe that many of MDs out there are not aware of these Effexor-related symptoms – causing more pain and suffering for patients like us who have to go to the emergency room and still not get an accurate diagnosis.

I hope my info may be of use to those of you searching for answers. I would recomend that we continue to identify every abnormal side effect or negative experience concerning Effexor XR to help those who get symptoms not mentioned on this and other web forums yet.
Best of luck & God Bless.

June 30, 2007 at 3:58 pm
(74) Ron says:

Here is one other withdrawel sympom I Believe is directly-connected to Effexor XR – that I forgot to mention. I have experienced and right now am experiencing instantaneous chest pain that feels like a sword through the center of my sternum – passing through to the center of my back. This I have determined to be related to my stomach and not of my heart. Today is the second time since I went Cold Turkey 8 days ago that this pain has occurred and it seems to be a small but severe pinpoint of pain in the middle of my stomach. It has lasted approximatey 4 to 6 minutes and then slowly tapers off. It feels similar to a severe gas pain in my intestine but it is very high up in my digestive tract if that is the case. I can feel it as well in the front of my spine that faces my sternum. I have never had this before. Has this happened to anyone out there that has taken Effexor?

Thanks in advance and God Bless.

July 17, 2007 at 9:31 pm
(75) Nichole says:

I started taking Effexor XR about 6 months ago. I started with the trial pack and then was upped to 75mg daily then to 75mg twice a day. I never remembered to take the second dose, so I was really taking 75mg daily. About a month or so ago I started having really bad times at work and my EAP person suggested that I find a way to remember to take the second dose of Effexor. I started getting weird hives which I attributed to nerves and hating my job. I went to my doctor and he prescribed the 150mg pill of Effexor so that I would not forget to take the second dose. Since then I have been waking up in the morning with terrible hives all over my body. They are hideous from morning until late afternoon then they start disappearing. Then I go to bed and they are back the next day. I have several hives that have crusted over and look hideous. Thankfully they are in places that no ordinary person is going to look. But I certainly don’t look sexy in lingerie. I have always had sensitive skin and don’t use soap, perfume, ect. I have been racking my brain trying to figure out what is causing these stupid hives. I went to my dermatologist this morning, he took one look at me and said get to an allergist!!! I then made an appointment GP (who is an idiot)because I have stupid insurance that causes me to need referrals. (The derm saw me for free as a favor). I came home looked up Effexor & hives on the internet found this site and told my doc to take me off the freaking Effexor. I am now going to be weaning off. I got a shot of steroids a 7 day dose pack of methylprednisolone and Atarax. I pray that I will get some relief. In the meantime I started a bowel cleanse this morning too. And after a month on it I will begin a total body cleanse. Wish me luck.

Nichole, RN

August 31, 2007 at 8:35 am
(76) Caitlin says:

I never thought that my hives were because of effexor, because when they started we had just given my dog some flea medication (Hartz–the use SO many chemicals!!!) so we thought it was a reaction to that.
I beleive that was in June or July?
It’s almost september now and I STILL have them.
My dermatologist gave me Zyrtec (I think that’s it) for a month, and they were pretty much GONE for one glorious month!!
It’s the first day off the anti-histamine and they’re back as they always were. Big, red, wheals all over my legs!!
I can’t just keep taking medicine every day like that to stop the hives (it didn’t work as well as it should have, even while I was taking it)

I also had a bruising reaction while I was on Effexor. At first I thought it was Effexor + Excedrin, but now I’ve stopped taking effexor and I have bruises… had to stop taking Excedrin a while ago so I’m pretty sure it’s just Effexor.

I’m on Wellbutrin now but am very worried about the hives!!

I just got over a rotten bout of excema, and still have terrible patches ALL over my scalp.
So the hives just make me feel terrible!! Like a leper.

I remember my boyfriend and I went to Dorney Park (part waterpark) recently, and while we were in line people were staring at my legs and someone asked me if I had psiriosis.

As if THAT weren’t bad enough, I was taking Effexor to stop my OCD, because I was pitting my legs with cuts and now have TONS of scars!!!

I feel horrible about it all.
Don’t know what’s causing it, and I really don’t know how to treat it.
In college, not medical school :\

At least I know I’m not alone. :(

October 6, 2007 at 2:02 pm
(77) Lia says:

I started on Effexor in February and in August I started noticing my hives which got progressively worse. Now they are pretty much with me all day and all over my body. Sometimes they make my face and lips swell. I had a similar reaction 6 months into taking Prozac about 12 years ago. my psychiatrist is reluctant to attribute my hives to Effexor and the doctors/allergists are equally non-committal. I am making the executive decision to take myself off the Effexor slowly (tapering) and I will let you know how it goes. I am glad to read that there are others who experience similar reactions and please keep writing about your experiences. These drugs are more dangerous than doctors think and the whole compromised immune system is just plain scary. I will update you on what I learn.

October 13, 2007 at 8:10 pm
(78) Amanda Stillie says:

I’ve been on Effexor for almost 3 years now and I was on 75 as my highest.. I had hives from head to toe and problems breathing. When I told the psych she said that we should try doubling my dose to see what happens!!?!?!! Needless to say I never went back to her. I have been tapering down slowly for a year now but the hives are still in full force. I’m almost off and I can’t wait!

October 17, 2007 at 5:25 am
(79) Ermine says:

It’s 3 in the morning and I can’t sleep. I don’t have the hives at the moment (and sometimes it really is moment by moment). I woke up at 2 with a couple of warning patches on my wrists and palms. I quick slathered on some Lanacaine and shoved my hands in the ice dispenser. That usually quiets it if I haven’t scratched in my sleep. I, too, was on Effexor and have been off of it for about a month. I am taking lexapro instead and am worried that lexapro causes the hives too. Of course, it could be having back surgery last week and all those meds! Or maybe I just think myself into the hives! In any case, I feel like Job in the Bible. What did I ever do to deserve daily hives? What did any of us ever do? I am trying to accept them, but then, I can usually control them with a combo of 1. use lanacaine ointment. cortisone stuff doesn’t work. 2. put ice in ziplock bags and keep it on the bad patches as long as you can stand it. 3. Take benadryl. 4. To sleep, take Tylenol p.m. which has benadryl. 5. Turn the air conditioner way down until it’s really cool. 6. If possible, don’t wear any clothes for a while. 7. Take a tranquilizer-I use klonapin 8. Try to find a passion and distract yourself. I play the violin and work crossword puzzles and call my friends on the telephone.

Hope this helps fellow hivees.

November 30, 2007 at 11:32 pm
(80) melissa says:

I can not beleive what I am reading. I am really upset right now. My 16 year old daughter is on Effexor and started getting hives about 6 months ago and has been on it for about a year- they upped her does 6 months ago and so when I took her in to the doctor and mentioned could it be from Effexor the doc said “no – not a side effect” so now I took her to a specialist because she wakes up with them everymorning all over her body- size of dinner plates, he skin is hot and she sometimes has a swollen bottom lip. So the specialist also says “no – effexor does not cause this” now I am really pissed off, I have her on 3 meds for hives (no known cause it what the doc’s all said) and the Effexor- sure wish I would have found this before I put her on but I am calling her doc Monday and telling them – I want her off of it. thanks to all of you for posting!

December 19, 2007 at 6:21 pm
(81) tammy says:

Glad to find this info. I have been taking risperdal and effecor for about 7 months and I am itching to death. I knew it was the effexor, but did not realize it would start so long after taking it. I have severe anxiety and I have just started the road to go off effexor. This is AWFUL! Who would have thought that the itching would have started after so many months of using….go figure.

December 22, 2007 at 10:37 am
(82) Kathy A says:

I got hives 2 days after my last dose of Effexor. The FDA does not list hives as a side or withdrawal effect so it is up to us to report it to the FDA. Doctors I have talked to don’t believe me and it is so frustrating. 2 weeks have passed and the hives are gone. It HAD to be that since nothing else in my life as changed. Here is the form to report side effects. Please, let’s all do this.

January 7, 2008 at 9:42 pm
(83) Deyrah says:

Wow. I started Effexor in late Aug 2007 and the day after Thanksgiving I broke out in hives. I’ve also been taking Mirtazapine (generic version of Remeron – for depression). My doc took me off Mirtazapine 1st, but after a week with no improvement on the hives, I was put back on it and told to start ramping down off the Effexor. Today is my 6th day off Effexor (still on MZ) and I still have hives! I’m on Singulair, which worked for a week and a half, but lo’ and behold, they came back. (Oh yeah, I’m also taking Clarinix, which doesn’t really seem to be helping). I searched the internet for Hive relief products and came across Lacitrex (pills and spray)… haven’t tried it yet… reluctant to do so while on Singulair, but there are lots of stories of relief from it. They say it’s all natural. Has anyone tried this? I’ll be planning some trips to the allergist and dermatologist soon. Otherwise, I keep calamine lotion near by and a cold compress or “blue ice” and slap it on when they really start to itch and burn. It gives me some relief, even if for just a few seconds. Another product I’ve come across for detox is DrNatura for Colon cleansing. Anyone ever tried this? Good Luck Ladies! I’m glad there are others out there who understand. Thanks so Much for your Postings!

January 17, 2008 at 5:13 pm
(84) Lorri says:

I took Cymbalta for 9 months and then broke out in hives. After visiting the dermatologist and allergist. I stopped for three months and then tried again. After two weeks broke out again. Switched to Effexor and in two weeks broke out again. I have now switched to Lexapro. But my skin is starting to itch and next comes the hives. I think it must have something to do with the seretonin levels.

January 22, 2008 at 6:30 am
(85) Jodi says:

I started taking Effexor XR somewhere in April. It’s now January. I’ve had hives for months but they were on my legs and I thought I had some pretty desperate mosquitoes. Then the real hives started after the mosquitoes died off and I thought I had bed bugs. I treated my bed and surrounding areas and slept in my son’s bed. I woke up in the middle of the night with a fat lip. I knew then it was an allergy. I am beyond terrified of going back to my personal hell that caused me to take the risk and go on Effexor in the first place. I have General Anxiety Disorder and it is horrific to live with. What am I supposed to do now? How do I go from being able to hold a job, being able to love my son, having friends, living normally, back to insanity?? I’m not sure if the hives are worse than being insane. I’m sitting here with my lower lip swollen again and my body itching and I’m still not sure which is worse. I know that hives are only bad for me, nobody else has to put up with them. But my insanity affects everybody. My son has GAD as well. I’m so scared for him. There are things about GAD that can’t be controlled by behavior therapy. I can’t go back to just existing!

February 1, 2008 at 12:13 am
(86) Jodi says:

A short update. There is hope! At least for those with GAD. It turns out as I go down on Effexor, that I am feeling no effects with withdrawls OR with anxiety! Apparently my GAD was mostly environmental and with the triggers taken care of, it’s gone! The hives come and go but are mostly treatable with the zyrtec. I’m still taking two pills a day (37.5) but it’s my goal to go off completely and see if I’m human under the anxiety after all. Try to keep a positive outlook, everybody. There’s answers out there!

February 3, 2008 at 4:13 pm
(87) Itchy_Puffball says:

I am so sorry that everyone here is suffering or has suffered from chronic hives. I had taken Effexor back in 2005 and developed severe hives all over (mostly back and legs) as well as swelling of my face (edema) and ankles. Oh my gosh, I remember my ankles itching like crazy!!! No obvious hives either…just burning itch! My face would be swollen in the a.m. mostly. My eyelids would be swollen. My upper lip would swell out so far, that I didn’t want to go out in public. Just awful…Of course, no one knew what was causing it and I was told it would stop in about a year. Well, after about 10 months it did calm down considerably where I was only erupting under times of stress. I didn’t continue the Effexor….I think I only took it for a total of about 3 months (quit cold turkey) I have to add though, even after almost 3 years, my face still swells and I feel the sensation of hives about to erupt, although they don’t actually surface. My face turns quite red though.
I truly believe that Effexor caused great damage to my physical well-being and there will likely be many more cases of Effexor causing chronic urticaria (hives).
It is an awful state to be in, (drove me mad mosts nights – night being the worst for them) and the frustration of doctor’s just brushing it off as though it’s a common allergy to cats or something.
My heart goes out to all of you that are suffering from this side-effect.

February 22, 2008 at 11:45 pm
(88) 10months on effexor says:

I started taking effexor Xr for menopausal symptoms and ‘raging’ moods last April. It worked great at first and the night sweats, etc. and emotional swings disappeared. I’d noticed a general lack of energy and tiredness after about 5 months occuring, and soon after night sweats and hot flashes were back worse than ever. I didn’t initially think the effexor wasn’t working , but rather that I had reached a new stage in menopause (i.e., the ‘real deal’). Then I started having swelling/arthritic symptoms. First, my hip-which I thought was bursitis out of the blue-it cleared, then the right knee swelled and recovered, then the left knee and surrounding area…then the hives and now, what appears to be blotches of broken blood vessels on my arms and hand. I called my gyn dr a few days earlier, and was told I would need to wean off the 75mg dose over the course of weeks. I can only hope the hives, swelling, blotches go away and there are no longer term effects. But I felt less alone reading that it was not an active imagination linking the symptoms with effexor. The swelling/arthritis symptoms have been so bad I feel like I’m 90 instead of 50-I pray that the withdrawal is not as bad as described and that we all can find a better alternative to the symptoms that bought us to using effexor and other drugs to begin with. Just wanted anyone with the same symptoms to know they are not alone-

February 24, 2008 at 1:40 pm
(89) DocsDontListen says:

I have been asking, even begging, my doctor to help me get off effexor for years (went on in 1999 for post partum stress and anxiety-not depression). The side effects of lethargy, lost sex drive, weight gain, and lack of motivation have been too much for my family to bear. There must be a better answer. My son is now 9 and I’ve tried to step down on my own a couple of times. I’ve asked for help with withdrawl symptoms but was told I just had to work through them. Every time I’d get about 2-3 weeks without the drug, I’d get very depressed and experience disturbing moods. I never had these symptoms prior to effexor. The doctor would say that proves I need even more effexor and should not go off it ever again.
Then in 2006 the ‘rash’ began. It started on my legs. Medical treatments included: two rounds of antibiotics; 107 allergy tests that all came out negative; every moisturizer and steriod cream on the market; and 3 months of prednisone treatments. Eventually, it just faded away. All was quiet in most of 2007. Until November when the palms of my hands began to itch so badly they hurt. I didn’t mention it to my doctor until January 2nd when the itch spread to my head/face and I realized it was hives. I then made the connection to the leg rash of 2006 because it felt exactly the same (even though it looked different than the first ‘rash’).
I immediately asked for prednisone instead of going through all the ridiculous tests again. I began researching this on my own and discovered the effexor connection. I suggested it to my doctor twice and he brushed it off. “You can’t become allergic to something you’ve been taking for years.” Then one day, the hives went down my throat and I ended up in the ER for an emergency epinephrine shot. That was it!! I changed doctors that day. I didn’t give the new doc the whole story. Just told her what medications I was on and showed her a picture of my hives. She immediately identified them as effexor hives. She is now carefully managing my withdrawl. It is still very difficult, but she is transitioning me to prozac. The hives are still there, but vary in severity. I’ve been told they could continue for months. But at least I am finally doing something about it. Effexor seemed like the right solution back in 1999, but long term use was the wrong choice for me. Side effects and withdrawl symptoms are definitely not worth the benefit. In hind sight, other meds could have given me the same benefit.

March 10, 2008 at 3:10 am
(90) jim says:

i have hives too! why!!!!! legs, arms, chest..im 1 28 yr old male..any info?

March 14, 2008 at 2:46 pm
(91) Greg says:

A lot of us call them BRAIN ZAPS! Just what it feels like.

March 19, 2008 at 11:14 am
(92) Sparky says:

Those of you not having any luck in getting rid of these hives, ask your dr. to consider cyclosporine treatment. I had Effexor hives for 2 years (still going strong more than a year after I stopped taking it), and the only thing other than massive amounts of steroids that helped was cyclosporine. It did the trick beautifully and no recurrence after nearly five years.

May 28, 2008 at 11:51 am
(93) Katie says:

I like many here thought that I was the only one dealing with this. Nearly two years ago I was put in Effexor XR, starting in February of this year I started breaking out in hives. I have dealt with hives before due to an allergy, but that was nothing compared to what I am going through now. I am in a servere itch all day and now all night long. Nothing treats it at all as I have been to my GP a million times (he’s useless) and my allergy specialist. I have had all the testing done in the world and, nothing. They said it was likely stress or an autoimmune condition, nope.

I was already forced to complete high school over two years due to neurological conditions and to deal with these chronic daily hives as well, a pain.

I have tried all allergy based medications (Benadryl, etc.) all precription based allergy meds, and no luck. I have tried all creams, no luck. I changed my diet, everything. Again no luck.

I don’t care if I get one area covered in hives, but my whole body and that itch, kill me.

As soon as I wake up in the morning I am covered in hives and all night I am itchy, then in the morning more hives.

Everyday, all day, nothing helps. I am going off the Effexor to see what happens although I am daunted by the withdrawal symptoms, but it’s worth getting off this horrible medication anyway.

June 8, 2008 at 11:56 am
(94) Marion says:

Just commenting to add to the numbers…I’ve been on effexor for 6 months and two months ago developed hives. Finding this site has been the most positive thing to have happened. I’m weaning myself off the Effexor – so far 75 mg every two days, Going to a Chinese herbalist tomorrow and starting the liver cleanse asap!

June 15, 2008 at 1:09 am
(95) Lindsay says:

Does anyone here have hives that run in their family? I have had hives for almost 4 months now. My sister gets hives too, but she has never been on Effexor.

June 17, 2008 at 7:26 am
(96) Bernie says:

I was quite pleased to read that I was not the only one getting the hive symptoms. I have been on Effexor for over 4 years and never had any problems. About 6 months ago started experiencing these hives and they got worse. The dermatologist, like all of these other doctors, attributed this to food allergies. He had me on a multitude of drugs, which is usually their way of handling any problem, which have given no lasting results.

There are too many similar cases for this to be coincidental.

I would recommend that you all e-mail this site to your doctors as they are the ones that need to read these testimonials.

June 17, 2008 at 6:29 pm
(97) Amanda says:

I started effexor xr,150 mg a day, i was fine, feeling good, I went to see my doctor because I felt as if they were not working as well as they had in the past, being on them for almost a year… my doc upped my dose from 150 to 225mg!!!!! two weeks later I have THE WORST HIVES EVER!!! some days are better than others, but they are everywhere… and i mean EVERYWHERE, its nic knowing im not theonly one going through this, and that I AM NOT CRAZY!!!i went into the urgent care 4 times for it, and they pretty much laughed me off and said it was idopathic, meaning no cause, well i have it pretty set in my mind that its from the effexor and i am going to start weaning off it. all these comments helped so much… thanks to everyone and hope everyone is doing ok.

July 8, 2008 at 9:21 am
(98) carol says:

Just went to the ER. As soon as the doctor saw my swollen face, she asked what I was taking. I didn’t even get the word Venalefaxine out and she said, oh ‘Effexor’. It causes the body to produce histamines once it comes in contact with a histamine. Rather than producing anti-histamines it does just the opposite in some people. Time to get off of it.

July 13, 2008 at 11:38 am
(99) Jennie says:

I’ve taken Effexor for over a year and as of the last few months, I started breaking out in hives on my arms, the back of my neck, the lower part of my scalp,and my legs have broken out with hives as well. My doctor prescribe ointments and creams-nothing helped. Then my doctor referred me to a dermentologist who said it could be the Effexor.
Since my husband lost his job I had to make a decision to quit the Effexor since I no longer have coverage. I took my last pill on Wednesday, now its Sunday and I feel really horrible-sick to my stomach a lot, my eyes bother me, and I’ve been really light headed. I’m wondering how much longer do I have to deal with this. If anybody can shed some light on this please let me know. Thanks!

July 14, 2008 at 10:19 am
(100) sandy55 says:

For Ron post #71 yes sternum pain plus…I am new to this site have been searching effexor sites for a year now. Was on it 8 years you would not beleive me if I told you all the doctors I have seen that didn’t have a clue effexor has a varied and nasty list of side effects. I would never have suspected the hives were from effexor. I have seen two dematologist a nurologist two gi specialist in the last four years NOT ONE OF THESE DOCTORS SAID HEY GET OFF EFFEXOR… I have lost everything I owned don’t be like me quit it now before it is too late.
I quit 8 months ago beleive I have forever damaged my body I took effexor for 8 years. Doctors are unaware during this time and of no help. The symtoms are varied and change over time so it is very confusing….what a tricky little drug. I have lost 8 years of my life and it isn’t over yet. Withdrawal will take a year from what I have learned online.
site to check to educate yourself:
start here and there are plenty more.
What scares the crap out of me is the doctors are so far behind by the time they catch up so many more people will be injured some dead sad very sad.

July 14, 2008 at 10:49 am
(101) sandy55 says:

PS this is after 8 years taking effexor and I hope it doesn’t happen to any of you. I have no feelings in any of my sex organs they are dead not exactly numb I have sensation but no sexual type feeling this has been ongoing for three years gave it up sex two years ago as it was pointless from my perspective. Gave up the boyfriend too as no reason he shouldn’t have a sex life I was too sick to think straight anymore and had no energy for him. I am so use to going to doctors and being told they can’t treat me or they order more test and find nothing that makes sense Frustratd beyond beleif.
This site is the first where I found a connection with the hive which started about a year into treatment. For me I had a huge lump under the sink on the calf of my left leg swelling eyes and hives. They have come and gone ever since. I have bought enough antihisimines to feed a small country. It is so odd to find the only validation there has been on the internet. Now that is messed up.
I am curious how your doctors know that it is muscle breaking down that is causing you symptoms ???? What test showed that how does it relate to the immune dysfunction? I have had an mri that showed plaques in the white matter of my brain effexor don’t know don’t chance it get off this drug tell everyone you know not to take it. Good luck to you all. Peace Sandy

July 17, 2008 at 1:00 am
(102) Jodi says:

Ok, so I have tested my hormone levels and done blood work. The results aren’t back yet. Looks like Effexor did one good thing, it rewrote my mind so that I don’t have GAD anymore. I suspected it was doing that. I’m glad it did. I just wish I didn’t have hives for it. My tongue has started swelling and my throat shutting on occasion. The hives have gotten to their all time worst. My doctor put me on a cocktail of drugs and taken me off any spices, eggs, tomatoes, soy. Basically I eat fruit, veggies and unflavored meat. (I cheat and eat garlic) I also am not using sugar, salt, and almost eliminated fat from my diet. I took out breads, but I have left Special K red berries for breakfast and milk products. I read the labels to make sure it doesn’t have any of that stuff in it. The thought here is that yes, Effexor started it, but what it did was mess something up in our physiologies to cause us to have a continuing problem long after Effexor has exited our bodies. So the deal is, find what it screwed up, and fix THAT. The other thing is, I called Wyeth. They admitted on the phone that hives occurred in clinical trials, but stopped when they stopped taking the drug. I bet those trials didn’t last a year. We seem to be showing up with serious problems about a year in to it. It took a year for me to figure out that I didn’t have bug bites. What all of you need to do is call Wyeth and tell them your story. They refuse to do anything about it until they hear from a certain number of people. You HAVE to speak up! Give them a call. Google Wyeth and call them. If all of you do it, we stand a chance of Wyeth finding a cure.

July 17, 2008 at 1:07 am
(103) Jodi says:

That pain, if it is what I am having is actually the sphincter between your stomach and esophagus. It’s being ulcered by acid. It comes and goes and eventually comes more frequently. I thought I was having a heart attack because it was so painful and somewhat to the left. My arm and hand even went a little cooler. Heart attacks in women can be disguised as acid reflux so I had a detailed heart exam done. I came out negative for anything wrong. I started eating Tums like candy and it controls it. I also sip milk. My doctor has me on Tagamet to help with the hives which also controls acid. It helps most of the time. When you feel that pain, try downing a couple Tums and see if it stops. If it alleviates it right away but comes back again, you probably have an ulcer. It will take a week or so to heal and then it will be easier to treat. Anybody having this problem, test it out and see if it helps. Chances are, you are having a very nasty acid attack. It’s extremely painful, doesn’t seem to always come and go with being hungry or even eating, hurts all the way through to the back and sometimes it’s so painful it radiates around in the ribcage. If I could really describe it to a T, it’s like when I got a slushy from Sonic and drank a huge gulp. It hit the same place and hurt just like that.

July 17, 2008 at 9:31 am
(104) julie remington says:

Wow, I have been looking for something like this for over 6 years. I moved to florida from mass. and came to take care of my mother who is a total b___ch. I thought my hives were from either my mother and the stress of looking after her or something in florida. Actually over the 6 years I have probably thought of everything. I didn’t consider the Effexor too seriously because I had taken it for years before the hives appeared. Wow, what hell it is to itch and not be able to stop it or even get relief for a second. I have been to countless doctors of all kinds and decided they didn’t know anything and weren’t even trying. I tried every topical ointment and cream in the entire drug store. Well, I don’t need to go on . . . you know. My doctor reluctantly told me to go down 1/3 of my perscription for 6 weeks then another 1/3. She would see me then. What have your doctors suggested? Do they seem to be knowledgeable about detoxing from this stuff?

Thanks for being there!!!!!!!!

July 17, 2008 at 12:00 pm
(105) Brian says:

Hello everyone

Like most of you I have been victimized by this drug which offered short term comfort but long term problems. I had been on Effexor for over 5 years when the hives started about 6 months ago. I went to see a dermatologist who filled me with all sort of anti histamines which did nothing to alleviate the problem in the long term.

Here is what I did:
1) I printed out all of the testimonials from this site and handed them to my doctor and the dermatologist and told them they should visit similar sites and start doing more research on this affliction before they continue doping people with useless medications
2) I stopped all unnecessary medications i.e. anti histamines
3) I started to wean off the Effexor:
a. I had been on 75 mg XR (slow acting) for over 5 years, here is how I did it
b. Went to 37 mg for 30 days – these were the capsule types
i. The hives were still happening during this period
c. Opened the capsules and started counting the pellets
i. I did not come up with this idea but rather found it on a few sites where people used this method and found it to be quite valuable
ii. There are about 253 pellets in each 75 mg capsule
iii. I divided them in half for the starting point at 37.5 mg
1. about 126 pellets
iv. I would take 3 pellets away every day
v. It will take over 40 + days to wean off
vi. The withdrawal effects were minimal
vii. The recommend solutions from the doctors I spoke to are too dramatic – at least from my perspective
1. They tell you to start with one day on and then one day off for 30 days. Then one on and two off for another 30 days but I tried this and found that the up and down of the drug effect was too dramatic
4) Also I started a liver cleansing program which will last about 30 days
a. There are a variety of liver cleaning programs. You can visit a health store and see which one best fits with your needs
5) Hives:
a. I am still getting the hives but they are less prominent. I expect that it will take some time to stop

I wish you all the best of luck with this process. As I mentioned to one specific doctor – have you ever taken this drug? The obvious answer was no. I then told him he should try it and see how well he does getting off the drug using the withdrawal process he was recommending. They don’t know. How sad to think that these drugs are being prescribed to millions of people and we, as non medical people, are having to use a discussion forum to get us through these tough times.

All the best


e-mail: habswin4@hotmail.com

July 22, 2008 at 2:25 am
(106) Kaz says:

I am weaning off Effexor (taking 1 less white dot a day)and thankfully have not had hives. But I have had lots of different sorts of allergic symptoms – itchy eyes which after rubbing, the skin has dried right out and become red and painful due to the dryness, swollen lips which also dried out and peeled, sinus allergy to name a few. I have drunk Goji juice for the whole time I have been on Effexor and went off it in May because I couldn’t afford it. My allergy symptoms got so bad that I went back on it – bugger the costs!!! Goji builds up the immune system and from reading most of what ‘suffers’ have written here, it seems as tho Effexor depletes the immune system. I think that drinking Goji could be why I have not suffered with hives, even tho I have suffered various problematic allergy stuff. FYI I drink the Freelife Goji but Goji juice and now that I am back on it, my symptoms are definitely less severe.

August 1, 2008 at 12:38 am
(107) Tasha says:

I’d like to add to the comments. I developed hives after increasing my dosage to 225mg from 150. I too got horrendous hives over half my body and had to wear long sleeves at work. My doctor took me back down slowly to 75 and switched me to 20mg of Celexa. After a week the hives are much less prominent but still there. I also take apo-hydroxyzine as an anti histimane at night which helps a TON (knocks you out cold until you get used to it though) Celexa is very similar to Effexor so might be an alternative to just quitting meds altogether. I know I’m not ready for that!

August 18, 2008 at 5:35 pm
(108) Carolynne says:

WELL LADIES!!!! I feel for all of you, I was on Effexor 225mg twice daily dosage and almost lost my mind, I have suffered from depression for 8years now, and in response to the lady who has brain tremors, I get them too, especially after being off your pills for a few days, is all of this really necessary? I have been switched over to citalopram, cipralex, 10mg a day, strange hey? oh, and ps, I AM COVERED IN HIVES!

August 18, 2008 at 9:52 pm
(109) Casey says:

I was on the generic form of Effexor (Venlafaxine) for about a year. After about 8 months the hives started. After going to the urgent care I was given Allegra for the hives. This helped for a short time, but then the hives continued and were terrible! Just by chance I was taking my self off of the Effexor arund this time, I felt that it was making me sick, those withdrawal symptoms just about drove me crazy. But after about a month the symptoms subsided. About a month after I was off the Effexor I started taking Welbutrin, which I hoped would also help those hives to go away. That didn’t happen. I’ve been on Welbutrin for about 3 months now, still with daily hives (and still taking the Allegra, which helps the itching a little but not the hives). I stumbled across this site today while searching for anything I could find to help me with these incredibly irritating (to say the least) hives. I’m headed to the doc asap to get the steroid that so many of you have mentioned. I hope it works! The hives are worse than the depression that made me go on the Effexor in the first place! Biggest mistake ever. I wish I would have known.

September 25, 2008 at 6:31 am
(110) jodi says:

Ok ladies. Here’s what’s been going on in my life lately. I was finally able to get my allergy testing done, but it’s blood serum so it will take a few weeks to get results. But something interesting that I ran across. My ex sis in law has SLE. For those that don’t know, SLE is where the immune system goes out of whack and starts attacking the body tissues instead of pathogens. Now, what her doctor did was put her on 3000UI of vitamin D. I was like…huh? So I did some digging. First, I found out that Vit D is a form of steroidal. Also, it stops the over production of cells (cancer). And a whole myriad of things. So, out of curiosity, I started taking 3000UI of vit D. After about 3-4 days I suddenly have started dropping the weight that the drugs being used to treat the hives put on (7.5 lbs in one night) my mood is elevated and positive, life looks possible and it MIGHT be helping to control the hives. Too early to tell. At least this way, if you don’t get rid of the hives, you will at least feel good about it lol. Anyway, 3000UI is a starter amount. You maintain on 2000UI. Also, when you take Vit D you also have to take magnesium and calcium. At walmart they have a supplement that is magnesium, calcium, and zinc. If you don’t know, zinc is used to fight infection so it’s not a bad deal. The other thing is, you may still get muscle jerks, I’m not sure because the deal is that (for me) I’m holding a LOT of water. Potassium gets leached out when you lose the water. It’s the mode of transportation. So I started taking 400mg of potassium and it stopped it. As for getting off the effexor to start with, atarax is the only way I could do it with that last pill. I couldn’t go past 3 days without going insane. The room would spin, I wouldn’t know what was real and what wasn’t, I got the shakes, it was NUTS. BUT, I also found that my hives didn’t like atarax much so I had to use it fast to get off effexor (like for a week) and get off ASAP. So, here are two sites that give more info about the benefits of vit d. I think it would behoove all of you to take a look. Might be worth your while. http://www.1-vitamind.com/ http://www.slate.com/id/2105560/

November 1, 2008 at 10:22 am
(111) Poeta says:

I was on Effexor Xr for 10 months. This is my journey to live my life again without the pills. I am not a doctor, so realize this is just my story, but I thought it could bring light to some people. http://lifewithoutpills.blogspot.com/

November 16, 2008 at 2:05 pm
(112) Cindy says:

I feel I’ve been blessed to find this site.
I to have terrible itching and hives. I felt like I’m the only one who is going thru this terrible insanity! I was just put on Effexor XR – 150mg daily around two months ago. The last two weeks have been a total nightmare. The itching becomes so intense that I actually take the skin right off and then the swelling of white hives takes its place. My hands swell so bad that then that starts making me itch all over again. I usually have them on my hands, wrist, upper arms, legs and knees. I am so thankful it has not gone to my face and pray it doesn’t. I would look like a Zombie. My family can’t believe that I am going through this. They keep saying “Stop itching, its probably just in your head!”. Wish it was…..I am definitly calling my doctor tomarrow and getting off this med and trying something else or just getting off it completely. You all have been such a great help and relief to me. I thought I was going to lose my mind.

December 9, 2008 at 9:34 pm
(113) Kristen says:

I am SO GLAD to have some information on other people who have been SUFFERING from hives. I began taking Effexor in March 2008. Two months ago, I began to itch on my belly. (the HIVES) Figuring it was chiggers from being in the country on my parent’s farm, I shrugged the itchiness away, and washed my sheets 3 times that first week. After determining it wasn’t chiggers, I thought that I MUST be allergic to something, even though I have NEVER IN MY LIFE had an allergy to anything – food, or ANYTHING. I had started using a new shampoo around the time I began itching, so I stopped using it. No relief. By this time, I was going CRAZY because as we all know, the itching and the swelling from these hives is UNBEARABLE. I could not figure out what was wrong with me. A week and a half later, my sister-in-law did some online research, and found this website of other sufferers. I put it all together, and realized I am suffering from hives from Effexor. I stopped taking Effexor about a month ago, and immediately stopped cold turkey, but my doctor immediately replaced it with Lexapro. The hives have not gone away, and some days are worse for me than when I was actually taking the Effexor. Currently I am taking Zyrtec every other day. If I do not take it every other day, I begin to break out immediately the next morning. My hives are now not just itchy and swollen, they are painful, like a bruise. I keep wanting to get off the Zyrtec, but everytime I skip that dose, I immediately regret it. I’m wondering how long I will have to contine taking medicine for this side effect from a medicine I am NO LONGER TAKING!? It is sheer craziness.
Like many of you, my doctor also told me that it was not likely Effexor was causing my hives (“It could be stress related, and LOTS of things cause hives!” he said). HOWEVER, he did say that he was not comfortable enough with that thought to let me continue taking it. I also have gained 15 pounds between March of this year, and about a month ago when I was last weighed. I am a petite person, and I weighed 113 lbs in March. At my doctors visit to get my hives looked at about a month and a half ago, I weighed 129 lbs. I haven’t weighed that much since I was pregnant with my kids. I am also blaming the Effexor for this.

The Lexapro does not seem to be working EVEN CLOSE to how well the Effexor worked for me. It makes me sad because I was feeling “normal” on the Effexor XR (besides the hives that developed). Perhaps I am still getting used to the Lexapro, but I’m about to go back to my doctor to see what else can be done.

Good luck to everyone… Thank you all for posting your testimonies about this! I was SO GLAD to find other testimonies of people like myself who have this problem. Let’s hope it all ends soon!

December 15, 2008 at 9:33 am
(114) Jodi says:

Ok, I had my results come back, I’m allergic to nothing…big surprise. But, I was talking to a friend of mine who is a nurse. She said to me “I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before, the liver holds medications for a very long time and every time it secretes something the medication piggy backs and resecretes.” So anytime the liver sends something out for ANYthing else, including menstrual cycle related, sugar related anything at ALL, it’s sending out another dosage of Effexor also. This is why an earlier person said the liver cleanse did so much to help. It also explains why it spontaneously stops for no apparent reason, AND meds don’t work. My hives seemed to suddenly stop recently. So I did some testing and sure enough, I stopped responding to foods that before were a problem. I still respond to wheat, but not chemicals like in chinese food and breaded foods. I had started taking large amounts of Iron and Vite E in an effort to change my early gray back to black. I noticed my hair was graying a lot faster than it should. I have early gray, but not like this. (another bit of proof that my liver is involved?) My hair started turning black again and suddenly my hives lessened. Put it all together and I’m doing tests on myself to see what’s what. I’m going to try a liver cleanse myself and see what happens. I did notice that my hives had gone from always being present to only being present when I’m on my period. My period started this month (3 weeks late) with no hive activity. Finally, after being on my period for 4 days I’m starting to show some activity, but it’s VERY mild. My lips have minor swelling, my skin itches-no hives, my eyes have minor swelling, as well as my cheeks look a little chipmunkish. Anyway, just a thought, do some liver cleansing and bolstering and see what happens. I do know Effexor affects the liver and of course the liver hangs on to anything that comes through it, making it one of the nastiest organs in the body. Give the liver something to help heal it and clean it out and I bet we’ll all see some serious improvement!

January 10, 2009 at 10:39 pm
(115) Diane says:

Hi. I was on Effexor XR for about 6 months when I developed horrible hives every day. They became progressively worse, so badly that it affected my esophogus and I had trouble breathng. My doctor suggested Zyrtec. The hives continued to get worse so I went to an allergist, who did various tests, including a thyroid test. Everything came back negative – he prescribed an Epi-pen and 2 Zyrtec a day, which helped witht he constant pain in my chest. After a couple months of these crazy hives, my doctor said let’s see if it could be the Effexor, even tho she and the allergist didn’t think it could be. After one month off the Effexor, the hives finally stopped. I made a switch to Cymbalta, which seemed to prevent the withdrawal problems people have mentioned – extra edgy and impatient but that improved after a month on the cymbalta. I pass this along because it was reading this site which made me think it might be the Effexor despite the research which indicated otherwise. Good luck everyone.

January 13, 2009 at 3:13 am
(116) anna56100 says:

this info is great im on effexor a long time now for bpd.. i am in bets with my skin but i always did have problems …but lately its really bad.. i skin pick its part of my illness, but is it hives i have ? its all over my boby and my doctor put me on an antiebotic to clear it up its not working.. so it may be the effexor?

January 29, 2009 at 9:47 pm
(117) Kerri says:

Hi there
I took 75 mg of Effexor XR for a little over 2 years. Never had a problem with hives while I took them, but I weaned myself of in December 08 and since December 14th, I have had terrible hives. They come and go, they are not always in the same spots, they are so itchy it is terrible.
I have been taking 2 Benadryl before I go to bed, otherwise I wake up at 3-4am and want to scratch my skin off.

January 31, 2009 at 8:30 pm
(118) cherry says:

I have been off effexor since August of 2006. Since then I have had all kinds of problems. My latest and the reason I am leaving a comment is to see if anyone else has had these challenges. Light headedness, slight dizziness, foggy head, difficulty in concentrating and in the last 5 months ringing in the ears.
I was on effexor for 8 years and then it stopped working and the option was to increase the dosage or try something else. I decided to go off of anti depressents and attack the neurotransmitters from a more organic approach. It has been a painful 2 years, with each layer of problems solved a new layer erupts. I have been under a naturopathics care, a counselor a psychiatric nurse and an acupuncturist. If there is anyone out there who has been off the drug for the same period of time and is still dealing with physical problems, could you respond to this email?
THank you

February 21, 2009 at 10:20 am
(119) Vera says:


I have also been on EFfexor 75mg since August 2006.. and started noticing hives on February 9th. They were getting progressively worse by the day… initially on my knees and elbows, and later my buttocks, backs of legs, stomach, breasts… it was everywhere! Just as people have described here, it was hive-like, red, itchy and worse upon waking in the morning.

It started on a Monday and by Thursday I had found this forum and figured out the likely cause. On Friday Feb 13th I stopped taking it altogether. The withdrawals were bad the first 3-4 days, but now they are pretty much gone. The rash is MUCH less severe. Where it had covered the majority of my body for a couple of days, now that I stopped the medication it’s mostly localized to my elbows and knees again off/on.

Benadryl helps relieve it temporarily but it’s always coming back. From other people’s responses it sounds like I may be dealing with this for 6 months to come… I guess I can take benadryl for 6 months…
I plan on trying some of the other suggestions here too, ie. omega 3, B12, etc.

Anyway I’m off the Effexor, feeling ok so far, maybe a little more anxious but nothing I hadn’t been able to deal with before going on the medication. I plan on staying off antidepressants/anxiolytics for now because of the cross-reactivity.

Thanks guys for posting on here… I would have never known what was causing it if it weren’t for you!

March 6, 2009 at 2:53 am
(120) Jodi says:

So, after doing liver flushing for weeks and it helping at first, now the hives have overcome and punched through, as rampant as ever. I can’t get a doctor to listen about cyclosporine or anything resembling it. I have gained about 40lbs over the past year and continually hold water. Today I had a swollen upper lip for no apparent reason. It does seem to localize around my period so I started birth control today. I have hormone issues anyway, so we will see if controlling my hormones will help. I’m so frustrated. The hives have taken over and have pretty much ruined me. I have zero desire to be seen, to date, to be around people. I can’t stand being touched because it sets off itching. Eating just make everything worse. Maybe I should fast for a while. I could use a little anorexia time. Maybe I can lose these pounds the steroids put on me. Now, if only I didn’t get migraines whenever I refuse to eat at certain times of the day. *sigh* I’m open to ideas. I’ve done a full body tissue cleanse, liver cleanse, and everything organic I can find. Doctors stopped having any opinion long ago. They refuse to hear that one of their precious medicines has a side effect. And here I am…almost 2 am…unable to sleep because I now snore with all the swelling around my neck and a stinking third chin! And my muscles jerk as soon as I start to drift off. I’m so tired!!!!!!! I take sleeping pills, but they are wiping me out. AGH!!

March 9, 2009 at 11:22 pm
(121) Margaret says:

Hi I’m Margaret,

I was on Lexapro for approx 7 months and had no hives but since I started weaning myself off the hives began. I have been completely off the Lexapro for 2 weeks and still experiencing them. Has anyone else experienced this with Lexapro. I was admitted to hospital on the week end with an anaphylaxis reaction. I have never experienced hives before and have no known alergies.

March 12, 2009 at 1:52 pm
(122) Ringo says:

Hello everyone,

I have been off effexor now for 10 months. Was on it for 6 months to help with anxiety/depression but had to stop because of the hives. I have been following this board for several months and have noticed one thing. Most people who posted months or years ago have not posted in a long time, to me, this means that their hives have left, i hope!!

I used to get fat lips but havent had that in several months. Although, I still have hives on my upper body usually everyday. I take reactin to help with the itching every couple days and it seems to help. There are days when i don’t notice them at all and others when it really gets to me.

I am a university student and I know that alcohol for sure makes them worse. I am a student however and do it sometimes anyway when im out with my friends because I dont let the hives control my life.

Although I still have the hives, all I can do is hope and believe that they will one day go away. They seem to be getting slowly better but i’m not 100% sure. I wish some1 would just post on here and say, “i dont have them anymore as a result of time passing by.” I am gonna try a liver cleanse as it seems to help people, even if only temporary.

My advise to people would be to tell you that you are not alone. When I see my the hives on my body in my morning I say thankyou because they remind me that everyone needs help sometime their life. Try to stay positive…and when you have a bad day, just tell yourself its a bad day and it will pass…nothing lasts forever. We all end up at the same ending point in our lives, they only difference is whether we choose to turn left or right at the crossroads.



March 12, 2009 at 11:13 pm
(123) jodi says:

My mom came across something that was interesting to me. It’s not exact, but it runs really close. I was wondering…what if we have a predisposition in our genetic make-up to have one of these two illnesses? I noticed that several people have been avoiding gluten and it has been successful. Maybe this is why? I’m going to have myself tested for these two things and see what comes up.


That second one is particularly interesting. Pay attention to the line that says, “The usual allergy treatments are useless.”

March 15, 2009 at 12:18 am
(124) jod says:

I tried to post before but it didn’t come up for some reason. Anyway, I have been doing some research on celiac disease. The symptoms are very similar to what I am dealing with. Edema of the face and hands, pitted edema, hives, (recently my hives have been shaped like horseshoes) gastric upset, among other things. And there was a previous poster that went on a gluten free diet for two years and after the two years she had a cookie and no allergic response. Oh yeah, people with celiac show up alleric to nothing…sound familiar? I am going to go on a gluten free diet as soon as I get home from spring break and see what happens. Wish me luck!

April 2, 2009 at 1:06 am
(125) Jodi says:

Two weeks gluten free. I must admit, it sucks. But…I also don’t have horseshoe shaped hives anymore. The swelling has gone down. At this point, what I deal with is around my cycle. When it’s gearing up I hive. When it’s gearing down I hive. The rest of the time it’s gone. Seems like a liver cleanse and gluten free eating is the key.

May 2, 2009 at 7:36 pm
(126) jodi says:

These hives are very definitely related to gluten. I go off gluten for a couple of weeks, eat bread and nothing happens. Then I eat bread a few days in a row and bam…back to the beginning again. Hives and facial swelling, hand swelling etc. The irony is…Effexor is used to treat Celiac!

May 7, 2009 at 4:13 am
(127) Truth says:


I began Venlafaxine (generic effexor) in December, 2008. The hives began in March, 2009. I had never been allergic to anything in my life, but in March I broke out head to toe in itchy hives. I felt for the first few days that my body would fight them. For example, they would be present at night and then gone in the morning. Unfortunately, I believe something in my body went over that ‘tipping point’ and the hives never went away after those first initial hopeful days.

I diagnosed myself with help from this forum after the first doctor I saw at the onset of the hives recommended getting rid of my dryer sheets and sent me on my way with no further testing, nothing. Finally, about 5 weeks later, the allegist I saw confirmed that approximately 3-4% of the people who take this drug have a similar reaction; however, usually not as severe as he saw in my case.

With help from my psychiatrist (who had heard of in rare cases venlafaxine causing a “rash”) I got off of a 300mg daily dose in about a week. He recommended that I take longer to taper off, but I didn’t want to prolong the agony. Hydroxizine was KEY during this time. It helped with the anxiety and I was told also acted as a powerful antihistamine. It is strongly sedative however. Because of the allergic reaction and hives IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT YOU GET OFF THIS MED ASAP. It was the worst month of my adult life. Between the brain zaps, anger, crying, nightmares, confusion and even incontinence, I could barely function. I was blessed to have a support system around me. Suicide could have been an alternative, and I strongly believe that this medication and the side effects from withdrawal increase the likelihood of suicide for those of us with chronic and severe depression.

Six plus weeks have gone by. Finishing up my third treatment of prednisone as well taking as zyrtec, ranitadine and hydroxyzine daily. The hives always start right after the prednisone ends. It is awful and I haven’t been able to work because of the side effects of the drugs and my mental state.

I started seeing a naturopathic doctor this week and want to be hopeful, but have not achieved any noticeable changes for the better yet. We are doing liver cleansing as well as B12 shots, B complex #6, huge doses of magnesium, as well as a high daily dose of quercetin to assist with the inflammation.

I am fearful that I will never be the same after taking this drug, but I have to stay positive and focus on healing, even if I’m not seeing or feeling it yet.

If this continues, I will be following up on the cyclosporine treatment, even though it is very toxic. This is no way to live and I would rather take my chances with a toxic treatment that has worked for some than struggle with the weight gain, anger, sadness and drugged life from my current medications including several sedating antihistamines and the prednisone.

I have had allergy testing done recently and am not allergic to gluten or any other food. This is purely venlafaxine (effexor) at it’s best that has put my body in a constant state of inflammation and histamine production.

I hope the makers and promoters of this drug are held accountable for all the damage it has done to people.

Good luck to all and sending healing thoughts your way to all that are experiencing this or love someone who is. Hang in there! I will!

May 12, 2009 at 3:27 am
(128) Sandy says:

I have been reading your chat line and it has been a great help so here is my feed back.
I have been on Efexor 7 months – I got the hives after 5 months – In retrospect they were little bumps on my scalp for 5 months – went into the sun and they started – all over my body – changing position daily. Went to doctor skin specialist – they convinced me that my chances of getting rid of the Urticaria were very low if I went off the Efexor – also said Cortisone would give temporary relief maybe and return with venom – which could be worse. All these statements were validified by your chat. I have tried so many creams – taken anti-histamines. Looked at my diet -had blood test for food allergies – all clear- The cream that I got most relief from is a health food Naturopath line called Chickweed gel. Find swimming in a Salt water pool – fantastic – or Dead Sea Salts in bath.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbs also good – I have had several days hive free – and the others not so many only 2 or 3 areas – not raised – will let you know of any more progress.

May 14, 2009 at 11:10 am
(129) Gail says:

Have been on Effexor XR for a year, but in November my doc switched me to the generic version. That’s when the HIVES started. I don’t know why I didn’t link the two events, but after reading all the posts here, it’s very clear.

The hives have been daily on entire body…with occasional upper lip, face, hand and feet swelling. Migrating arthritis has also been an issue (allergy doc says that’s when the hives get stuck in your joints). Allergy doc said it’s probably autoimmune and to expect it to last 1 to 3 years before it clears up. I’m on a combo of three meds (antihistamine, an asthma med, and one for acid reflux) Allergy doc said the combo will eventually get the mast cells to stop releasing histamine and causing the hives, but it will take a long time. Lately the hives are so bad he prescribed atarax – which knocks me on my butt. This is no way to live.

I’m going to taper off the Effexor to see if that helps. Thank you to all the posters for making me realize I’m not alone in this!

May 20, 2009 at 2:24 am
(130) nicole says:

omg. i, too can’t believe so many people have hives with effexor! I’ve taken it for over 5 yrs and am SO grateful for its help w my depression, but can finally make the connection with the awful itchy hives i get every few months. they cover my entire body, are much worse if i scratch, and last 1-2 weeks. Neither anti-histamines nor cortizone cream seem to help. i get some relief from luke-warm oatmeal baths and calomine lotion, but not much. THIS SUCKS! discontinuing the effexor doesn’t sound fun either.
thanks everyone for sharing your experiences and at least offering comfort in knowing I’m not in this alone.

May 20, 2009 at 9:44 am
(131) Gail says:

Just a followup. Since my hives started around the time that I changed to the generic version of Effexor, my Doc has changed the Rx back to the brand name version. It’s been several days, and I was hoping for a dramatic fast change in the hives, but that did not happen…at least not yet. I would say that they are less severe, but it’s hard to tell since the severity fluxuates anyway.

I’m hoping that the generic is the problem and not just a coincidence.

I have had hives on every imaginable area of my body. The worst part for me has been the angioedema – when the hives are below the skin and cause swelling. in addition to covering my entire face, back, arms, legs and abdomen… the swelling has been in my palms, my lips, knees, toes… but the most painful has been the bottom of my feet and my biceps. Just when you think you’ve seen it all with these darn things….

My allergist says that he has several patients with the same issue and it takes 1 to 3 years for the hives to go away. The doc even had them for a year himself. He’s a well respected doc and his only advice for us all is to “be patient… they will go away as suddenly as they appeared… but not quickly”

May 28, 2009 at 11:36 pm
(132) lab says:

WOW! I am so amazed to find this post. I started taking Lexapro about three years ago and within a few months began having terrible hives…i would swell head to toe and had several visits to the local emergency room. I had 2 allergists on my case and went through every test known to man and nevr once did anyone say stop taking the lexapro. they just said oh well must be stress. well i decided to stop my lexapro anyway and tried zoloft the hives continued. I went back on my lexapro assuming it wasn’t the culprit. I moved to a different state with a completely different climate, the hives continued. After ending up in the emergency room again I sought out a new allergist…he heard the word lexapro turned and got his physians desk reference and turned to lexapro and showed me the first side effect….HIVES! UGH! I suffered for 2 years unnecessarily took tons of medications I couldn’t believe it! so I stopped the lexapro but being concerned about being off antidepressants I found a new psychiatrist explained my history of allergy and that I needed to try a different class of antidepressant per my allergist. Ok he says and prescribes 2 new ones…back to the emergency room I go…and back to the allergist who sighs and said he put you back on the only drug worse for hives than lexapro…so I decided to discontinue all of my medications. my allergist explained not to get discouraged as it can take up to a year for your body to completely rid itself of something its reacting too…he was right it took me about 6-8 months to truly stop seeing hives! I still ocassionally get itchy red rashes but no more swollen lips, hands, feet, and eyes and no more head to toe hot, itchy hives….I wish I would have found this message board sooner!! best of luck to everyone experiencing this…its not fun!

May 29, 2009 at 1:39 am
(133) Jodi says:

Ok, so I’ve been doing a gluten free thing (off and on) for about a couple of months now. Before I give you guys some updates I want to stress to you that I was tested inside and out for allergies to EVERYTHING. It cost $1300 for the testing alone. I also was tested for every autoimmune system disorder. Another couple of thousand dollars spent. (luckily, I have good insurance) I am NEGATIVE for everything. Gluten included. Now some results. I am currently on 3-4 generic claritan a day, I have no hives almost daily. Hives only break out to some extent around my period. They are in no way unbearable and are mostly unnoticeable. I have the occasional fat lip…but this is after I cheat on my gluten free diet. Not an easy diet to live on!! I have also been taking lasiks with potassium. At night I take magnesium to stop tremors. Potassium as well as being female, leaches magnesium out of the system. I have lost about 10lbs of the 30lbs of water I have been holding and am able to wear my ring again (I stopped wearing it for fear I’d have to get it cut off due to swelling). I have been able to become more active again. I am hoping that this will not turn out to be a permanent thing to have to avoid gluten, but in the meantime, it’s well worth it for the relief. I still get “tickles” all over my body as I start to fall asleep, but I eventually fall asleep anyway. I also have occasional acne that coincides with my period and other hives. It clears up fairly quickly.
The gluten free diet is a difficult one to follow, but this site is one made by a friend of mine at church and it has a lot of recipes and ideas on how to make it easier. She and her son both have to eat this way. We may or may not have Celiac, but we benefit from the diet.
I must strongly reiterate that we WILL NOT come up allergic to ANYTHING. There is a good possibility that this will wear itself out so long as we eat the GF diet and stop barraging our bodies with something it’s objecting to. Also, gluten free is NOT the only answer. I found that I respond to other antidepressants, including Inositol, a B-Vite that acts as an antidepressant. You have to experiment with your meds and see which ones aren’t helping, and are actually harming. You won’t know what you hive with if you don’t check them. Go off all of them and add back one by one every few days. Some of them take 4 days or more for your body to object to them. Also, go through this with foods as well. I found that I swell with pizza within 20 minutes. BBQ sauce takes about 10 min. Gluten is derived from rye, barley, and wheat. These things are in almost everything. I found very few cereals that I can eat. GM has come out with a gluten free line. Anything with oats in it is bad because the oats are processed in the same machines as the wheat without cleaning and the wheat powder is all over them. You have to get gluten free oats if you want to use them.
Within 3 days of being off gluten, I was more hive free than I had been in over a year. After 3 weeks, I can occasionally have bread and other gluten things so long as I only do it once or twice. It’s my hope that after 6 mo-a year that it will have worn itself out. So long as the immune system thinks it’s under attack, it will continue to fight back. You have to stop firing what it doesn’t like at it for it to calm down and forget that it doesn’t like it. Good luck to you all!

May 29, 2009 at 1:46 pm
(134) Kristen says:

I’ve been on Effexor for about 5 months now. I’m one of the lucky people who haven’t had any obvious adverse effects, however I have still decided to taper off of it, or to a lower dosage. I was taking 150 mg.

Anyway, I wanted to put my story on here as a caution to anyone experiencing hives or any other rash while on Effexor. Be careful if taking BENADRYL or any other medicine containing DIPHENHYDRAMINE. My doctor had me on it for poison ivy and I went thru hell before figuring out the connection. The same drug is in over the counter sleep aids.

I’m not a doctor, but from what I’ve read it seems that the two drugs are broken down by the same enzyme. So you end up have both leave your system slower = overdose. I didn’t take the benadryl at regular intervals, just when the itching was bad, or to help me sleep, so in effect I believe that for a couple weeks I was going thru alternating episodes of both overdose and withdrawal. I felt like I was dying and had no idea what was wrong. Finally thru research I figured it was adrenal exhaustion, due to extreme stress I have been going thru. I had multiple tests done ($$$) to try to confirm this.

I later learned that both Effexor withdrawal or overdose can mess with the adrenal glands. So I was on the right track.

The only reason that I was able to figure all this out is that I have now decided to stop the effexor. I went cold turkey just to see if I could handle it (stupid I know). My withdrawal symptoms were exactly the same as the symptoms I had experienced weeks earlier while on both drugs.

There are many other forums on the web discussing this matter, the possibility that diphenhydramine could cause serotonin syndrome because it, like Effexor, inhibits reuptake of serotonin, as well as heart problems or anything else related to Effexor overdose.

Just use caution and make sure you check all medicines (even over the counter) with your PHARMACIST.

Write down everything!!! This helped me tremendously as I tried to find the pattern in my symptoms.

I hope that my month of hell can help even one person!

June 5, 2009 at 6:48 pm
(135) jodi says:

I did notice, myself, that I kept hiving even when I was behaving on my diet. It dawned on me that I take sleep pills every night and when I sleep without them, I don’t hive. I’m a natural insomniac. I stopped taking them and get less sleep, but also fewer hives. I didn’t understand that about it being a serotonin inhibitor but that makes sense. Thanks for letting us know.

June 13, 2009 at 4:57 am
(136) Lynette says:

Hi I have been taking cymbalta for 2 years 60mg this did not help my depression so now on cymbalta and effexor xr 300mg. First thing that has ever helped my depression. However, I also have raised spots on my body top back of legs, bottom, arms and shoulders. Sometimes face. My sking has also become more sensitive I find I itch alot which is very irritating sometimes anti histamine helps. Unfortunately I also have a habit of picking these spots which makes them look even more unsightly!

June 15, 2009 at 12:17 am
(137) jodi says:

I just wanted to check back in and let you all know my hives are officially gone. What I did: I went off effexor, tested foods and medicines to see which ones caused a reaction (usually within 20 min. Strange things like BBQ sauce and Chinese set me off), liver cleanse, gluten free diet, and last, time. Time probably had more to do with it (it’s been 15 months since I last took effexor), but I don’t think any of the other things hurt. I would caution against using more than a liver cleanse. I used also a full body cleanse and caused myself other horrendous problems. I have been eating normally for about a week without any problems. I currently stay away from any antidepressants, sleeping pills with the drug in it that starts with di- something, and any other drugs that I reacted to. I may, in the future, be able to use some drug. Right now, I’m not pushing it. I did the gluten free off and on for about 3 months. I would be good and stay on it for about 2-3 weeks and then fudge and eat normal for about 3-4 days before hives would reappear. I am still retaining water, but I think that walking will help with that. I haven’t been really active since this all started. Good luck to you all!

June 28, 2009 at 2:56 pm
(138) Snoopy22 says:

How many times have we said, “If I knew then what I know now…” I stumbled upon this message forum yesterday. I’ve been taking Effexor (generic) for about three years now for treatment of depression following a series of tragic life events. A year ago I broke out in hives. Went to the ER, got pumped with epi and benadryl. Hives never went away. Primary care doc told me to take Zyrtec. No relief–well relieved the itching, but not the hives. Went to allergist and was tested. Nothing out of ordinary. Was being followed by psychiatric nurse practitioner for depression/meds. Dermatologist prescribed Allegra, and doxepin–in addition to Zyrtec. Also tried Xyzal. Went to yoga classes. Nothing I have tried has rid me of these hives. After “Googling” Effexor I learned that hives may be a side effect, so I asked my doc if I can stop the Effexor, as my life has calmed down somewhat. He agreed to stepping me back. Hardhead that I am, I decided to just stop. BIG mistake. The withdrawal from this stuff is UGLY. After stumbling upon these posts to this message board, I can see why you need to step down gradually. I’m already 6 days into cold turkey. My point is, I’m glad to know I’m not alone, and I do plan to print these posts and show my doctors. Perhaps I’ll write to the drig company as well. Thanks,

July 8, 2009 at 4:11 pm
(139) robbie says:

Why couldn’t I remember that Effexor caused me so much trouble before my GP put me back on them after previously stopping Prozac???? Grrrr. I have also been diagnosed with a daytime sleepines disorder (not convinced of ir by the way), so I had to go off efx b4 starting new ‘keep me awake drug’.. Once again these stupid people (me) tried cold turkey to start new drug.. New drug was bad and I felt awful so start efx again. dumb, dumb.. Now hives are at their worst, had to get out of bed before my throat closed altogether.. I’m living on Telfast (180mg a/h)which is supposed to last 24 hours. It only lasts about 14hr. I just took two, but being under a warm doona/blanket brings them out each night/early morning.. So, back to gp today to ask for prednisone to get me through it. My psychiatrist told me about 5 years ago that I probably developed an allergy to efx after an accidental overdose and starting the drug again (hmmm, like he hadn’t heard of these problems b4). Anyway, my GP had a hard times believing me about the hives etc.. But I will definately be giving her this whole forum, like 3 years of it, lol.. Ought to be something in these pages which might make her wake up hey..
Anyway, good luck to everyone who has just started to realise that the efx is their problem, it’s a nightmare. I’m not looking forward to the withdrawals again, I am a single mum with 3 young children and no support here, doh.. I’ve been gluten free also, but have been very bad lately, especially with porrige for breakfast, will try and be stronger. Good luck and my prayers are with everyone. xx

July 23, 2009 at 2:56 pm
(140) Linda says:

I have been on Effexor XR three times–

in 1998, at a low dose (37.5 mg), it didn’t work at all for my depression, and I weaned myself off (no side effects)…

in 2008, my doctor convinced me to try it again for depression/anxiety, at a higher dose of 150 mg. It worked. It was a real life-saver for me. I went away on a trip after being on it for nine months and forgot my pills–I was ready to go off the Effexor but didn’t mean to do it cold turkey. I had a little bit of a headache, otherwise no side effects…

in June 2009, I decided to put myself back on Effexor (I still had pills left over from the previous year), as I was experiencing some depression. I started on a 75 mg dose for a week without incident. The morning I raised my dosage back to 150 mg, I broke out in terrible hives, all over. The coincidence was not lost on me. I took 75 mg the next day, in a half-hearted attempt to wean myself off, but then just stopped. The hives and itching were unbearable.

Six weeks later, I continue to get hives, made worse by heat and wherever my clothes rub against me.

I don’t know if it was going off the Effexor “cold turkey” last year that made my immune system hyper-sensitive this time, but it is clear that I can no longer tolerate Effexor. Benadryl does help me, but knocks me out. Am going to try Vit D3 in high doses. And time.

August 2, 2009 at 10:09 am
(141) snegoviksukablyat says:

im new on this forum….

August 4, 2009 at 6:51 pm
(142) Sara Leith says:

I took Effexor XR, given to me by a workers comp doctor. He told me it had been approved to use to treat pain in people. Learned too late from FDA this was not true. I broke out in sores all over my legs, arms and butt. 18 months later they still have not all healed. Does anyone know of an attorney that will sue the makers of Effexor XR. Also, all information indicates drug should never be taken by children or young people.

August 5, 2009 at 3:15 pm
(143) Gordo says:

All the entries seem to be from women. As a man I have not experienced hives. But itching is a periodic event. Also, I do experience bumps in my scalp that appear more related to ‘zits’. I also experienced a sudden loss of muscle tone about 3 years ago.

I have been on Effexor/venlafaxine for many years and am concerned if there is a buildup of stored Effexor, particularly in the liver as supposed.

Effexor has been the only medication that has fully handled my experience of long term depression. However, I would be tearing down the walls at the drug company if I experienced such horrible side effects and making sure the medical community not only noticed but did something proactive to counter same.

The problem with blogs is you cannot get a clear picture of the per centage of people affected. It is 100% of the group, but those interested may only be a small per centage of those taking the drug.

No matter. The symptoms are severe and persistant. Warnings, set down as intended disclaimers of liability may be overridden by that severity, certainly after the company is repeatedly put on notice with documentation. So, let them have it!

Write to Congress, the FDA.

From the blog, there may be something in the female process that creates an increased potential for severe side effects. This is definitely an avenue to be closely explored; like communicate with the drug dealer and the FDA to see if the hives reaction is exclusively from women.

Keep the faith and stand up for yourself! Hooray for us.

August 6, 2009 at 4:05 pm
(144) Carla says:

Well I took Effexor for 3 years. I’m weaning myself off of them. You really need to take this process slow. It can take up to 6 months for some meds to completlly get out of your body. I now take a half of a 37.5 and have the rash and the brain shivers. Next week i will take only a fourth of a pill for a while, just a little a day will help you function so much better. I have been threw this process before, and it takes a while. I can’t wait till all this is over and done, but i know i have to be patience. also if you go slow weaning your self off, the rash is not near as bad, it’s there, but just not as bad. Good luck and i will be praying for you all!

August 9, 2009 at 8:44 pm
(145) Teri says:

Hi, I was just reading the posts from everyone. I’ve been on Effexor XR for quite a few years, having stopped taking it a few times. About a year ago I had to get back on it. I have never had any side effects before, not even hives…even before I didn’t have major withdrawals. I tried to find a different, cheaper anti-depressant and my doctor put me on Welbutrin, which in my opinion is the devil. I was on it for a week, depression was worst, I walked around in a daze, even my eyes were sensitive to the lights. I also started with panic attacks and tremors. My doctor immediately took me off of it and I had to get back on Effexor XR. I had to start taking 150mg. I really have nothing negative against the drug, and am sorry to hear about everyone’s bad experiences, it’s definitely made me think twice about wanting to take it. Due to finance issues, I’ve had to stop taking it and have been off of it for 4 days now. I’ve developed the shakes, nausea, headaches, trouble sleeping, extremely emotional, and completely out of it. Kinda like taking it for the first time…really weird. Also, nightmares and weird dreams. I was curious if anyone has taken Atarax that’s been on Effexor XR, and if it helps???

August 9, 2009 at 8:53 pm
(146) Teri says:

Me again..I’ve been doing some research on Atarax, and after reading these posts, those of you who have developed hives, you may want to ask your doctor to try and put you on Atarax which is used for anxiety and allergies..it is considered as an antihistamine. May solve two problems at once. Just a thought :)

August 15, 2009 at 9:41 am
(147) Ann says:

I just found this site. I have been on Lexapro for several years, paxil before that, Tofranil before that. I have been suffering from hives and angioedema for a couple of years. I have been to doctor after doctor and not one said it could be Lexapro. The older antidepressants have antihistamine properties. I am now on doxepin which has helped more than anything. I went off Lexapro once for a week to see if it was the culprit and nothing happened. I am not on my second day not using and the doxipen is helping me sleep and helping with all the swelling and hives. I need something or I will have horrible panic attacks. So this is what i will use from now on. Thank you all for posting it helped me alot to confirm this is my cause.

August 24, 2009 at 2:45 pm
(148) Cynthia Murphy says:

I have been on an increased dosage of effexor 150 mg for almost 2 years. My physician increased the dosage when I complained I was having hot sweats because I was taken off of estrogen because of cancer risks which kept away my menopausal symptoms! I had a serious car accident prior to taking the increased dosage of effexor so I thought and my alergist thought it was a trigger for the horrible hives I have been suffering from. I am so glad I looked on the internet and found this website!! I told my alergist I am taking efexor for depression but he did not seem concerned that it was causing the hives!! I am taking all kinds of medications for the hives and none of them work very well. I have been in a living and itching hell for almost 2 years. Now I am taking pretnazone on and off and I have gained quite a bit of weight! I have made an appointment to get taken off effexor!! Hopefully I can take something for the depression that won’t break me out in hives!!!


September 1, 2009 at 9:03 pm
(149) Alice says:

My daughter was prescribed Effexor today. I went immediately to the internet and saw all these posts. Thank you all for sharing your stories and warning others. I have sent her the info and, hopefully, she will take your advise and stay away from it. I hope you get relief very soon! God bless.

September 3, 2009 at 9:52 am
(150) Coach says:

I have the same issues as Gordo. Very annoying, and I think I’ll try weaning myself off. Though, it seems I won’t know if Effexor XR was the culprit, because many of you seem to keep the symptoms even after discontinuing the drug. Hmmm…decisions, decisions, decisions…

October 3, 2009 at 11:37 am
(151) Nancy says:

So glad I found the link to your posts. Amazing. I have been using 150 mg effexor for ~3 years. suddenly this summer, I started developing itchy hives. Have eliminateded all other meds (ibuprophen and a steriod nasal spray) and have remained on my dosage + zolpidem at night to sleep (a horrible drug). My hives have gotten more frequent and worse. I have successfully suppressed with benedryl, but have just read another posters caution about taking it with effexor. I had feared that I was becoming hyper-thyroid again – as the first indication of it was hives (cured over 30 years ago tho). I’m going through menopause now. I think that the effexor does something to heighten my bodys sensitivity. Things I have never been alleric to now seem to bother me. A beautiful home made cake, with the best ingredients gave me hives and a severe asthma-like episode. Per some of the posts above, I’m going to wean myself off, try the Atarax as I do it and try to find something else (besides benedryl) to deal with the immediate hives/itchyness while I wait for the dr appointment. Of course I’m on the crappiest insurance plan ever!!!

Thanks for sharing your experiences in this post. they are all very insightful.

October 12, 2009 at 8:05 pm
(152) Sandy says:

Has anyone come off of effexor xr completely and feel normal?

October 19, 2009 at 6:00 pm
(153) Sheri says:

It has been about 1 year since I first broke out in Hives. I officially went off Effexor Dec 08 and Lamictal and Lorazapam in Jan 09. I tried to wean myself off the Effexor, but the hives that I had were so intense that I decided to stop altogether. The withdrawl I had was intense. It was really bad for about two weeks. I had crazy dreams, lightheadedness, chills, body aches, swelling and I cried all the time. That lasted a couple weeks. The hives continued so I stopped the lamictal and lorazapam. The withdrawl from those resulted in some crazy mood swings. I said some terrible things to my poor husband. I was in a really bad frame of mind. I would say it took about 6 months to feel normal (the way I felt prior to taking any of the drugs). My hair stopped falling out and my acne also went away. It is now Oct and my hives are fairly light, but still continue. I take hydroxine and famotine to help control them. My hope is that with all this time they are finally going away. My heart goes out to anyone suffering this horrible condition. I feel like I have lost a year of my life to this situation. This thread has helped me not to feel so lonely.

October 20, 2009 at 8:50 pm
(154) Nancy says:

Hi, just checking back to see if there arne any new posts about duration of hives after quitting effexor. I did quit since my last post. Went to see my dr, and she was a total beyatch about the problem. Useless – she’s a gp and she’s the one who originally gave me the perscription. She said ‘so, if you think it gives you hives, just stop taking it.’ Didn’t seem to want to acknowledge that effexor could be at the bottom of it all. Sure hope my thyroid isn’t out of wack from taking it – I have read other blog comments where folks are complaining about how effexor screwed up their thyroid.

Took 50% dosage for 1 week and had just begun the next 50% split when I just couldn’t take it any more. So it was cold turkey for me. How did it feel? ‘flu-like symptoms’ says it all. Wooly headed, chills, loose bowel movements, vivid dreams, etc. Hives subsided some, but not entirely. I get relief from them via benedryl, the only med I am taking now. Worst widdrawal was from the ambien. I haven’t had more than 2 hrs/night for the past week.

I almost entirely eliminated wheat and gluten from my diet – seems to be easiest to control by making my own food. Tonight I ate some dinner at a local restaurant and found that by the end of the meal, my lips and mouth began to swell and itchy welts formed around my bra line, pants waist, armpits, etc. My throat didn’t close, but it’s very sore at the moment. BBQ sauce was on the pork chops, and I see from an earlier post by Jodi that BBQ sauce adversely affected her as well. I’m really discouraged by all this. I wish someone who was complaining last year would check back in and tell us how long it took for their system to calm down.

October 21, 2009 at 10:59 am
(155) Sheri says:

Hi Nancy,

I just read your thread. I believe that it takes around 1-2 years for the hives to stop. Jodi’s last comment was that her hives had stopped and it had taken around 15 months. My Dr. has had a hard time accepting that the Effexor is responisble for this situation, but she has had one other patient develop hives and hair loss. She told me her patients hives went away after quitting Effexor. Mine have not! You might try seeing a Naturalpath. I did and she wasn’t suprised by my situation at all. I received alot of support from her. She gave me nutrition advice and put me on supplements that got my thyroid on track and helped my hives. It is very expensive though and I had to stop because I don’t have insurance and I couldn’t afford to keep it up.

October 23, 2009 at 11:44 am
(156) Nancy says:

Sheri, thank you so much for your post. Coincidentally, I started doing Yoga at the same time all this happened. My yoga person is helping me find the right person to work with on this! She resolved many issues of her own with dietary change, supliments, etc. I also plan on seeing an Endocrinologist to test my thyroid function as that was an issue for me in the past and I fear that something was triggered by the effexor that won’t be shut off immediately. As I recall, the drug they gave me then relieved me of the hives, rapid heart beat and etc almost immediately and 6 months after the thyroid went back to normal, I got off of the drug. I have to find the right Dr to work with though, as they all seem to be in denial about the side effects of effexor. Also, I’m taking a hard look at the information on Gluten-free-reality blogspot per an earlier post from Jodi and reading ‘Your Drug May Be Your Problem.’

Thanks again for your post!!!

November 4, 2009 at 1:38 pm
(157) Janelle says:

I have been on Effexor for five years with no symptoms until this year. I made a few visits to my Doctor when severe itching and hives nearly drove me out of mind. A couple of rounds of Prednisone and different types of creams(which was no relief at all) made me research a little further and then I finally made the connection that it could be the Effexor, my doctor has advised me to wean myself off of them. Hopefully this does the trick!!

November 7, 2009 at 4:34 am
(158) Kellie says:

I’ve been on Effexor for 7-8 yrs. I started getting hives a little over a yr. ago. I was COVERED after about a month, my family dr. sent me to an allergist & he couldn’t believe how bad they were. He put me on Xyzal & it works great. I just went on vacation & lost my pills (woe is me, the dizziness was awful!), so I was off Effexor & Xyzal both for 5 days. My BFF is a dr. & suggested I hold off on starting the Xyzal to see if the Effexor could be causing the hives. Lo & behold, here they come. Dr’s. need to know of this side effect!!!

November 9, 2009 at 7:15 pm
(159) Nancy says:

Just reporting back – hives still occuring, but less and they don’t last as long. I can knock them down with 1/2 a benedryl – which is the only thing that works. Have continued swollen joints and discomfort in lower back. Tried to do a liver cleans but no gallstones produced. very careful of ingredients and don’t go out to eat much. The effexor withdrawal was rought first 2 weeks, brain zaps and felt like my head was in a giant cotton ball. it’s currently much better and I can sleep normally, the weirdest dreams are gone. My sleep pattern is not normal – very sleepy early, wake up at 3, fall back at 4-5 and then over sleep. I need to be up at 7. interestingly, my anxiety is less than when on the 150mg/day of effexor. After a year of catching every flu that came by, I now have a cold flu that my husband caught and brought home. All in all, I’m pretty tied and not feeling well and am hoping to get better as the weeks go by.

November 12, 2009 at 9:52 pm
(160) ralph hancock says:

i been on effexor xr for 3year 37.5
i been itching now for 6mo
i going to stop takeing it .
it like liveing in hell itching all day long
what can i do to stop it the itching help!

November 13, 2009 at 2:54 pm
(161) ralph hancock says:

today i am trying ALOE VERA IS A

November 22, 2009 at 9:25 pm
(162) Rhydaywhehaws says:


December 14, 2009 at 7:40 pm
(163) Sara Leith says:

a workers comp doctor gave me the drug effexor XR for several years, telling me it had been approved to use to treat pain in people. I woke up one morning in February 2008 with horrible sores over most of my body. I went to my primary care physician, a dermatologist and an allergist and they couldn’t figure out what it was. When I went to the workers comp doctor for a regular visit, he informed me, the Effexor XR had caused the nerve endings in my body to explode. He told me, he had three other patients the Effexor XR did the same thing to. Today, December 14, 2009 all the sores still HAVE NOT healed. Good Luck.

December 15, 2009 at 11:55 pm
(164) Truth says:


My hives began in March 2009. I posted earlier about my status on what drugs helped/didn’t help, so I’m back with an update.

Just had my 6 month Cyclosporine anniversary. For those of you who may not be aware of this drug, it is a chemo-therapeutic medication that suppress the immune system. It is most often used for people who have had organ transplants so their body does’t reject the organ.

It has been the only thing that has worked after several antihistamine and steroid combinations. The side-effects are horrible. I have sever acne, hair growth (especially my face), and gum swelling/bleeding. The drug will also damage kidney and liver over time. However, if I stop the drug, the hives and edema come back strong within a few days.

Just saw a specialist last week and hoping that she will have some new treatment options that don’t include chemo. The hives/angioedema are better, but there are high costs to pay with your health.

I’ll keep posting and I am thankful to others who have as well. Just to know that the hives/edema gets better in time, even if it takes 1-3 years gives me hope.

Take care.

December 15, 2009 at 11:58 pm
(165) Truth says:


My hives began in March 2009. I posted earlier about my status on what drugs helped/didn’t help, so I’m back with an update.

Just had my 6 month Cyclosporine anniversary. For those of you who may not be aware of this drug, it is a chemo-therapeutic medication that suppress the immune system. It is most often used for people who have had organ transplants so their body does’t reject the organ.

It has been the only thing that has worked after several antihistamine and steroid combinations. The side-effects are horrible. I have sever acne, hair growth (especially my face), and gum swelling/bleeding. The drug will also damage kidney and liver over time. However, the hives and edema come back strong if I quit taking it.

Just saw a specialist last week and hoping that she will have some new treatment options that don’t include chemo. The hives/angioedema are better, but there are high costs to pay with your health.

I’ll keep posting and I am thankful to others who have as well. Just to know that the hives/edema gets better in time, even if it takes 1-3 years gives me hope.

Take care.

December 22, 2009 at 8:05 am
(166) Annette says:

Hi everyone – I’ve been on Effexor XR 75 mg. for about 10 years now. I did develop the hives after being on it for a couple of years, but they aren’t constant. They come and go. What I have found, that I thought others might want to know is that just like Effexor makes your skin more sensitive to the sun, I think it makes you more sensitive to certain foods and chemicals. The reason I say this is because it seams, in my experience, certain foods can trigger the hive. For me it is red grape juice and mangos that are the worst. Every time I eat them I break out. If I avoid them I am much better off. Certain hair sprays, if I get them on my skin, can trigger them too. At first I had not idea, but over time have noticed a pattern. It could be helpful to keep a log. When you break out, write down what foods you had eaten that day and the day before and see if a pattern emerges like it did for me. Maybe it is different for other people, but I thought others might want to know what I have found in my experience with Effexor.
I wish you all the best.

December 22, 2009 at 10:20 pm
(167) Nancy says:

Hi – just reporting back about my progress and I’m very happy to tell anyone interested that the severe hives, deep tissue swelling and joint pain has abated. I still get slight itchy tingling and some swelling if I eat too much bread/pasta or chocolate. I had bought some nice supplements, but stopped taking them because they caused a reaction… I will now try to start them again. I suffered a lot over thanksgiving time, but this past 2 weeks, all has been much better. I know I’m not back to normal tho – I don’t think the bile production is correct as I still get greasy bowel movements after eating greasy or oily food and salad (roughage) gives me terrible lower bowel pain and gas. Lovely huh? Well, at least the worst is over. This experience has made me very suspicious of all pharmaceuticals and their manufacturers.

December 24, 2009 at 9:55 pm
(168) briar says:

Wow…. now I was looking at postings about why I could be having hives on my hands in the morning. I took effexor for about a week when I was 25 and Im now 30 and still have hives on my hands with no food allergies or anything! I wonder if this is because of that short stint from taking that med. Taking benedryl right before bed helps a little but its not perfect and Ive taken to liking wintertime because its not as bad… Hugs for everyone with this issue because its down right maddening!

January 2, 2010 at 1:28 pm
(169) Darlanete says:

[b]Moral dilemna![/b]

Wazzup! Been just reading for a while and just decided to write!

So something has been bugging me for a while now . Here’s what happened After classes I took the bus, I was hungry so I dropped into this place for a snack and picked this sandwitch from the menu and then went off to eat it in a corner when it suddenly occured to me they didn’t charge me!

Yeah evidently they were super busy and distracted because there was this manager/investor type looking around everywhere and talking to them. So I was just about to go up to the counter and say I hadn’t paid but then I realized if I did that the owner guy might get mad at the employees. So I just left. What should I have done do you think?

January 3, 2010 at 4:40 am
(170) kelly says:

i was on effexor last yr. tried to cut it down, following dr’s instructions – ended up feeling like i was on speed for a week hiding in my room (lost 8kilos) then spent the next 2 weeks hallucinating and tried to kill myself before being admitted to a psyciatric ward for 2 weeks. NEVER TAKE THIS – IT IS VERY BAD.

January 9, 2010 at 11:07 am
(171) Laurie says:

My daughter was put on effexor(-she is 16) in Aug for anxiety and panic attacks.In November she started getting hives and extreme itch.We tried everything and made several trips to her doctor.Not once did either doctors she saw mention the effexor was to blame.Nothing would help only lessen the symptoms slightly.She was on Singular Zantac and 8 benydryl a day just to keep it somewhat contained.She had swelling on her face and ankles and was getting scabs from scratching.We were both very frustrated.
Now she is weaning off the effexor and we saw an allergist 2 days ago.He prescribed Reactine and one Benydryl at night.At first I was sceptical because she had tried Reactine before but he seemed really postive this would work.The only difference was he has her take 20 mg in the a.m. and 20 mg at night (40 mg a day)Even though it has only been 2 days I cannot believe how much better she is already.The hives have been gone and the swelling in her face went down.
This is the first time in 3 months she has felt so good-no itching or hives!.She is to do this for a month then hopefully the effexor will be out of her system and things will return to normal.I am keeping my fingers crossed.

January 19, 2010 at 7:00 pm
(172) Heather says:

I have taken Effexor xr for about 2 1/2 years. I have the worst hives and eczema on my hands. Never knew there may be a connection. I have recently stopped the effexor. And am taking wellbutrin. The brain shivers are certainly weird and the nausea is pretty bad it is almost like I am out of my own body but I have read so many bad things about effexor that I am glad I quit it and I can get over the rest.

January 29, 2010 at 10:15 am
(173) Truth says:


Back with my third update. It is January 29, 2010 and I have been off the Cyclosporine (immune-suppressant chemotherapeutic medication) for two and a half weeks without the hives/angioedema returning. Although I am grateful every hive free day, I’m scared to even say it out loud or type it for fear that they may come back.

So, for those of you wondering, my hives/edema began in March, 2009 and took ten and a half months to go away. I didn’t respond to various combinations of anti-histamines. The only thing that truly helped was the Cyclosporine. The side effects of that drug are very bad and it can cause long-term damage as well as increase the likelihood of certain types of cancer like lymphoma. Educate yourself prior to taking it and be aware of the side effects.

Keep the faith. I know how hard it can be and how easy it is to sink into depression because at times it seems like it will never get better. It will. The human body has incredible ways of repairing itself, it just takes time.

I also have been off any type of anti-depressant since March, 2009 and instead have focused on meditation cds, light exercise and eating more whole and less processed foods. In addition, I take magnesium, B6 & vitamin D supplements daily.

Wishing you all peace and a healthy recovery.

February 1, 2010 at 1:54 am
(174) Kathy T in CA says:

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU to everyone o fyou who has shared your story here. I am SO sorry for the trauma you have been through. Thank you for your vulnerability in sharing and for caring to warn us all. Some family members suffer from depression – I will tell them and everyone I know to stay away from Effexor.

May God be with you, heal you all, and comfort you deeply.

with care,

February 1, 2010 at 4:14 am
(175) Alexis says:

I started taking antidepressants when I was 18 years old. I tried lexapro, cymbalta, paxil, celexa etc. You name it, my doctor had me try it. Eventually my doctor decided it was time to try effexor. I was taking 300 mg of effexor a day. I wasn’t anxious any longer nor was I depressed. I actually felt good for a change other than some queasy days. After being on effexor for about a year I started getting naseaus every day and throwing up about every other day. My doctor decided to switch me to pristiq. 1 day after switching to pristiq I broke out in to hives on my legs. I thought they were bug bites or a heat rash at first. I called my doctor thought and he put me back on 300 mg effexor but the hives didn’t go away. My doctor weened me off of the effexor about 2 weeks ago. My hives are the same. I went to the emergency room last week because my lips were swollen and I couldn’t make a fist because my joints were swollen and sore. They had to cut a ring off of my finger because my fingers were so swollen. I have type 1 diabetes, I can’t take the steroids that help aleve the swelling of hives because it makes my blood sugars uncontrolably high which in turn ruins my kidneys, liver, eyes everything. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. I fear that the effexor has actually damaged my already damaged body. I wish I would have known about these effects. It’s very depressing to be allergic to your anti depressants. I’ve had hives for over 1 month now, I take 1 zyrtec and 2 benadryl right now. I have to go see an allergist, dermatologist, and most importantly my endocronologist. Its sounding like it’s going to be a long swollen, itchy road. Don’t take effexor.

February 11, 2010 at 9:51 am
(176) Laurie says:

I thought I would give an update on my daughter’s condition.Unfortunately after two weeks on the 40 mg of Reactine per day her hives have returned.I was hoping they would be completely gone.She gets occasional ankle swelling and today had a swollen eye.She has hives on her arms most days and her back and neck at times.The itching comes and goes.She has been off Effexor for a month now(she weaned off very slowly even though it was still an emotional rollercoaster).Today we see the alllergist again.At least her hives are better that they were-she for the most part can handle the spots by wearing long sleeves and the itch isn’t near as bad as it used to be.I just hope they don’t continue to worsen.The swollen eye today is an inconvience but at least she still went to school.It has been 4 months now since they(the hives) started.One thing I should mention is that she had a lot of bloodwork done and her ANA came up positive.This is a test for lupus.I hope she dosen’t end up with an autoimmune disorder now because of the Effexor!There is a drug-induced lupus and a systemic type.Right now her test is a low titre so I am keeping my fingers crossed it doesn’t increase.She was on Effexor a total of 5 months including the one month she weaned off but it took 3 months before the hives started which is probably why her GP didn’t make the connection.I am so glad I found this site.I’ll keep you posted.Good luck everyone.

February 14, 2010 at 5:21 pm
(177) Cathif says:

I cannot believe how many forums and how much information is out there about Effexor withdrawal. I just decided a few days ago to go cold turkey. STUPID ! I was familiar with the brain zaps, as I went off Paxil a few years ago. I’ve been on 75mg of Effexor for about 3 years due to anxiety. I cannot believe my family doctor of 20 years prescribed this. Through the east coast snowstorm, I haven’t talked to him yet. I went 2 1/2 days without my meds – called the doctor and they said, take one every other day for a week, then every three days for a week and then stop. NO mention of withdrawal symptons.

After reading on the internet for about 2 hours, I called them back the next day and insisted on ordering me some 37.5 mg dosage so that I could taper off. I can’t afford the Road Back program – so am trying some barley, fish oil, Vitamin E, B6, etc. Also trying the Benadryl.
I can handle the brain zaps, dizziness, even the terrible pain in my chest.
But the HIVES – are horrible. It really does feel like little bugs are crawling on my skin or in my scalp. Thank God, not on my face.

I have to return to work in a couple of days from the snow and President’s weekend. Am a little irritated and snappy with my husband and kids – but asked my husband to be patient. Will try for 37.5 mg or even back and forth with the 75 and 37.5 for a week if I have to.

Bottom line is that these symptons are so scary that I feel like I have to get off this medicine. I quit smoking 20 years ago after smoking for 10 years and this is WORSE !

Wyeth Labs is in PA close to where I live. I want to go and picket their plants and say – Who makes a drug like this?

February 16, 2010 at 2:26 pm
(178) donnaA says:

Has anyone ever explored the real cause of Hives.
I read where it is caused by the body being
very acidic and hives results as the body trys to rid itself of toxin.

February 18, 2010 at 3:00 pm
(179) Mark says:

The older comments seem to have disappeared, so I will relate my story and give an update.

I started taking Effexor in early March of 2001. In mid-August, 2001, I developed a horrific case of hives, huge itchy nasty welts everywhere except my face. I saw doctors, allergists, etc. and they couldn’t find anything that caused it. I stopped taking the Effexor in early 2003. The hives continued so I didn’t link the two together at that point. Nothing worked; massive amounts of steroids helped the itching but I gained an enormous amount of weight and you just can’t keep taking steroids. In late fall of 2003, my allergist suggested trying Cyclosporin, which is used for transplant patients; it essentially shuts down the immune system. An Italian researcher had reported good results using that in a study (I forget his name) on chronic urticaria. We did that regimen for about 12 weeks. Within 2 weeks, the hives were totally gone. I sloped off of the Cyclosporin and the hives did not return.

I took Effexor again in 2005, but within 3 days the hives had returned with a vengeance. I immediately quit the Effexor and the hives didn’t go away. I went back to the allergist and did the Cyclosporin routine again. The hives immediately went away, and I went off the Cyclosporin and to this day they have not returned. Knock on wood.

The allergist insisted it could not be the Effexor causing the hives, but I’m never touching that crap again. So there’s something to try for those who have had no luck at all getting rid of these hives. It has worked for me beautifully.

February 20, 2010 at 10:32 pm
(180) Amanda says:

So glad I have found this site. I have been experiencing the same allergic reaction to effexor. It has been six months, and I was the one that finally figured it out, not my doctor. The hives are so itchy and painful. It feels like your skin is crawling. The dr.’s have pumped my body full of prednisone and it was the effexor all along. I have been off only a few days. My hives are not healed but they are not getting any worse either.

February 23, 2010 at 6:39 pm
(181) Cathif says:

Just an update from a week ago. I am down to 37.5 mg of Effexor every day. I have a rough week at work, so will wait until weekend to try Effexor every other day. Talked to my doctor for the first time tonight. When I expressed my concern over the symptoms of withdrawal – brain zaps, diarrhea, nightmares, indigestion with chest pain, and the hives. He said “I don’t think your symptoms are from the Effexor. You should only be having flu like symptoms. These are NOT symptoms of going off Effexor.” I told him that I have been researching it and these are ALL symptoms of Effexor withdrawal. How can I know more than the doctor who prescribed it?
He said, Why do you want to go off the Effexor?
I told him first, my life is simpler and I don’t have as much anxiety and second, I’m so scared from these symptoms, I want off this stuff!
Someone needs to educate the medical community about this drug!

February 26, 2010 at 2:15 pm
(182) Alexis says:

Chronic urticaria lasts more than six weeks, may come and go for months or years and disappear on its own and is more common in middle-aged women. The trigger is identified only about 20 percent of the time. Chronic Hives. Unfortunately it seems even though all of us have been on effexor and have these long lasting nasty hives, if you stopped the effexor it has a half life (how long it stays in your system) of a month, maybe it caused my/our hives I don’t know but I went to an allergist and it just doesn’t seem too promising or hopeful. Non-allergic urticaria is when an allergic source cannot be found; is more prevelant than allergic urticaria; and is caused by many things, including cold temperatures, food dyes and additives, medication, exercise, anxiety, constricting clothing, the sun etc. I’ve had hives everyday for over two months I havne’t touchched effexor or anything like that for over a month. My doctor put my on steroids which helped for a short period of time but nothing makes them fully go away. I take 1 zyrtec and prescription allegra, it helps the itching. I hope there’s some light at the end of this tunnel.

March 4, 2010 at 3:52 pm
(183) Leigh says:

Hi everyone,

I am glad to have found this site. I was on effexor for a little less than a year. I stopped taking it cold turkey the beginning of January. I experienced no immediate withdrawal effects so my doctor said it was fine I went off of it like that. A few weeks ago I have developed what I can describe in no other way than a hypersensitivity to everything. I am allergic to foods I never was before (confirmed by an allergy test) and also break out very badly after working out. My doctors have dismissed any idea of it being linked to effexor but I really think it has in some way influenced this.

March 15, 2010 at 7:51 pm
(184) Bonnie says:

I have been on 37.5 mg effexor xr for about a year. It works well for me. but I developed hives over my bodies, legs and arms after taking it for a few months. The hives are getting unbearable now and I have to take allergy medicine to help me. I am thinking about tapering it off. I have read a lot of horrible stories about getting off effexor. Anyone has any good ideas?

March 16, 2010 at 11:04 pm
(185) matthew says:

I’m fairly sure your daughters hives are a b12 side effect…the effexor blocked the vitamin and threw of her levals and she adjusted now b12 is high……..small ampunt of people sensative to b 1 2 experience hives……look up b12 side effects……I’ve stopped high dose zantac after 2 years and my food gives me hives. I believe ite because I’m absorbing four times the b12…..good luck I don’t know what to do to lower b 12 but whatch what I eat……mb

April 19, 2010 at 10:24 am
(186) Kendall says:

I have been on Effexor for about four months now, and my doctor has kept altering my dose. About three weeks ago, I had gone to Las Vegas, and began not taking my pills like I should have (I was perscribed two in the morning, one at night). I would take one here, one there, two here, two there, and didn’t really feel any side effects so I didn’t think much of it. The day I came from home Las Vegas I noticed a small clump of welts/hives on my breast. I didn’t think much of it because they didn’t itch, and I took some benedryl. The next morning I woke up with a few more on my side and figured, since I’m allergic to soo much, I came in contact with something and took another benedryl. Yet, both times the benedryl didn’t work. That night I was on my laptop, and when I closed it, my stomach itched. It was then that I felt a ton (and I mean, a ton…) of hives. I got up to look in the light and I was broken out from right below my breast, to my pelvis, some on my hips, and thighs. They were spreading before my eyes, it was crazy. I woke my mom up, hoped in a cool shower, and tried to wait it out. But, I couldn’t. I went to the hosptial, and they gave me a few shots, perscribed me a few meds, and I went on my way. They told me to change my laundry soap. All the while, I was still not taking my effexor like I should, but didn’t correlate the two. I ended up being broken out in hives for two weeks straight. They mostly stayed on my abs, but at the end, I litterally had them, from Head to Toe, including my face. After three hosptial visits, I went to my primary care physician who did extensive research and said that the hives were a result of WITHDRAWL. It wasn’t until then I told her how inconsistantly I had been taking the effexor. She put me on long ween of prenisone (after giving me a direct shot of it..). Within an hour, the hives (which i had for weeks straight) were gone. I am taking my effexor like perscribed, I have finished the prenisone and feel great. I just wish I could get off of the effexor, but now the fear of the hives has me staying on it for longer than I really wanted.

April 28, 2010 at 5:19 pm
(187) Nikita says:

I am so surprised to know so many people have the symptoms I do. I have been on effexor for about 6 years. I’ve had hives now for over six weeks! It is SOOOO uncomfortable and painful. It affects me mostly at nights and appears all over my body. I thought it was allergies at first, but no anti histamine at all helps. I’m now using prescribed lotion & soap (cetaphil& oilatum) because the doctors said I may have developed an allergy to what I was using before or they may have been too strong. I’ve run so many tests and about to do more. I’ve ruled out diabetes and thyroid and am abou to check for lupus and others. But i started to think last night, if this is an allergy, then it must be something I’m using everyday. I’ve stopped using the soap and lotion and have stayed away from certan foods. Could it be effexor? I first wondered if they were expired or there was a problem with that particular batch of pills. Can someone help me? Has anyone been able to link effexor with these hives? Please. It gives me sleepless nights. Also I’ve noticed facial swelling for all the 6 weeks in areas like my nose, lips, eyes. Sometimes I think I look like a ghost. Sometimes I think I won’t survive it. It’s all over & spreading more and more. Even in my scalp.

April 28, 2010 at 5:20 pm
(188) Nikita says:

Plus, Nothing works for me. Not even the strongest steroids!

June 2, 2010 at 2:14 pm
(189) Wycieczki says:

I’ve been visiting your blog for a while now and I always find a gem in your new posts. Thanks for sharing.

June 4, 2010 at 12:36 am
(190) Trinigirl says:

I’m so glad I found this forum. I have been taking Effexor for 5 months for postpartum depression. A few weeks ago I developed hives all over my body. It got so bad that my lips swelled and I had to go to emergency. They gave me prednisone for 7 days. It took the hives away but as soon as I stopped the hives returned. I’ve never been allergic to anything in my life. I am certain it is the Effexor, especially because I found this forum and read that so many people are going thru what I am right now. I am currently weaning off and not experiencing the terrible side effects that everyone speaks of. So that is a positive thing! I am keeping my fingers crossed that the hives disappear. Will keep you posted.

June 12, 2010 at 1:02 pm
(191) Kendall says:

Trinigirl- I’m also tapering off of the effexor and it’s not bad as some articles have made it out to be! So so so happy. I posted a while back that I had the hives, but they had gone away for two weeks..but guess what?! they are back, and with a vengeance. So, i’m trying to get off the meds. I just want my life back.

June 13, 2010 at 5:11 pm
(192) Kendall says:

If anyone has documeted evidence (dr. records/pictures/etc.) of the HELL we have been through, I am going to see if I can find an attorney who feels there is a case against the drug administration. if you are interested in more information, or feel you have beneficial information, please email me at Ksnyder619@yahoo.com. Additonally, this is the video that got me started thinking this way, its crazy:


June 17, 2010 at 8:07 pm
(193) Gary says:

I have been on varying doses of Effexor XR for many, many years. Within the last few weeks I developed the itchy hives, mainly on my legs. After investigating other sites, I believe mine might be from the Splenda in the brand of juice I started drinking a few weeks ago. I’m quitting anything Splenda for awhile and see what happens. Unsuccessfully tried Effexor withdraw before, and will leave that for l option as a last resort. Good luck to all and will post later with Splenda results.

June 23, 2010 at 1:28 am
(194) Nancy says:

I had the same itchy hives with black and blue marks surrounding it, and have been on Effexor for 4 years. I had these hives everywhere. My doctor gave me the drug Gabapentin and almost all the hives and black and blue spots went away. I still get a few, but hopefully that will soon subside. This drug effects the nerves and it is also an antidepressent which helps with the withdrawal. Hope this helps some people.

July 16, 2010 at 9:58 am
(195) Pam says:

Maybe it the capsule, not the effexor itself.
Those are made out of many possibly different
products. I would call Pfizer an ask what exactly the capsules are made of. Maybe all you need to do is empty the drug into applesauce, if the drug helps you ?

August 3, 2010 at 4:53 am
(196) Jenna says:

Firstly I have to say that I am so grateful for this blog and all your comments. I was a Prozac taker/user for about 20 yrs and it clearly wasn’t really working anymore (although hard to say after that length of time). I tried Cipralex (Citalopram aka Lexapro) which I didn’t think did anything at all, so was put on Effexor. My sister has taken this for years without any complaint (that I knew of) so I went for it, and it did work for the depression. I went up to 225 mg on the XR. But… a couple of weeks ago I woke up itching my calf and it spread to my arms and then to my stomach and ‘nether regions’ (nice!). I had some bumps but not too bad. I had some Prozac left and have gone off the Effexor based on what I have read online. I asked my sister if she’d had the itching issue and she said she did at one time but not anymore. She has tried to go off it (after 8 yrs) and said there was no way. I just can’t stand the itching so I am taking 40 mg of Prozac and ditching the Effexor. Have tried Lanacane (no help), Benedryl (not much help) and Cortisone cream (not much help either). I don’t have the hives though. I just itch and it’s driving me crazy- like it’s all I think about and I can’t sleep for just lying there scratching myself raw. Also I found that Effexor was making me edgy and nauseous (don’t drink with this drug!). It is powerful stuff and I agree with all of you that say Drs. don’t explain what side effects may arise. I think the truth is they don’t really know for sure and aren’t even all that concrete on how some of these drugs operate in the first place.
At first I didn’t think this could have been the Effexor because the itching was not a side effect that arose right away. So yes, I do agree with whomever said that it is a nerve issue which leads to a concern now is that there is some permanent damage to long term users (not so much me- but who knows) much like a cancer patient who has undergone chemo.

August 18, 2010 at 4:18 pm
(197) Meg says:

I just finished completely weaning myself off Effexor — what a nightmare — and now have hives all over. I can see that I’m not alone, and that’s great and supportive, but what I’d really like is to get rid of these hives! Can anyone tell me exactly what Effexor has done to my immune system? Any articles on that been written? I’d love to tackle this homeopathically, but I’m not pulling up anything much on google but benadryl, prednisone (wasn’t it enough that the Effexor caused a 20 lb weight gain — now I have to go on a steroid???) and that chemotherapy drug…

Discouraged and itchy,


August 20, 2010 at 10:08 am
(198) Nancy says:

I have a theory about what is causing the hives.I believe Effexor triggers an autoimmune response.My daughter had hives a couple months after starting Effexor and suffered terribly.The only thing that finally helped was 40mg of Reactine (20 mg twice a day)prescribed by an allergist.She had weaned off the Effexor after linking it to the hives even though her GP was not convinced.She was only on it for 5 months in total but it caused her ANA (Anti-Nuclear Antibody) test to be positive.It showed up as a drug-induced (speckled pattern on her blood cells) which still comes up as a weak titre positive months later.
The good news is that finally she is hive free and no longer takes any meds! After a couple months of Reactine daily,then taking it as needed for occasional hives -it has now been 4 months she has been free of hives.So there is hope!In total she suffered with extreme hives for 6 months.Luckily we finally got in to an allergist that was able to help. I really do believe Effexor messes up your immune system.There is a definite link with a positive ANA and hives.

September 5, 2010 at 1:10 am
(199) t says:

OMG i thought I was going nuts theyre all over my body and Im on a very low dose I started it 5 months ago and I love that its helped me with depression but the hives wake me up at night and my skin burns! Not to mention I have to pee all the fricking time at night when I take it. I missed 3 days worth and could barely walk I was so dizzy!

September 5, 2010 at 3:59 am
(200) Truth says:

This will be my fourth post here. My nightmare started in March, 2009 and lasted through January, 2010. Between the discontinuation effects from going cold turkey off 300mg a day and horrible hives and edema, it was honestly the worst time in my life.
The only thing that helped was Cyclosporine, and that had its own set of nasty side effects. However, after several months of taking it I was hive free about 10 months after I stopped effexor.
Still hive free 8 months later and am so grateful that my immune system recovered.
Thinking healing thoughts for everyone suffering. It is an absolute shame that such a dangerous drug is still on the market.
Take good care.

October 5, 2010 at 5:41 am
(201) Sher says:

I have been on Effexor XR 300mg a day for 10 years without a problem. I was switched to the generic form by insurance request. I developed the horrible red itchy bumps which continued to spread. The itch, pain was unbearable! I even had it on the bottoms of my feet, palms, inside my mouth, everywhere but face so far. Which it can spread to as well. I was given different allergy meds and creams to no avail. I had blood work and 2 skin biopsy. It is called Lichen Planus. I’m now on Predisone, a strong steroid cream and starting ultraviolet light therapy. Normal process is 18 months to heal! Not only that, it can come back anytime! Dr. has requested brand name only now. I will continue working with my doctors and finding out more about this. Is it the filler in the generic? Is it something that just appears for no reason brand name or generic? Should I wean off? Talk about a nightmare! I hope to get this under control.

October 9, 2010 at 2:03 am
(202) Lindsey says:

My oncologist (I had breast cancer in 2004) put me on Effexor XR 75mg for hot flashes 2 years ago. It was amazing how well it worked and I have been sailing through menopause. In April I started have severe hives. Like others on the post, I went to an immunologist to test for allergies (none) and have continued working with him while seeing my GP and an endocrinologist. All these doctors for over 6 months did not question the Effexor. Three trips to the ER for hives and facial swelling, multiple drugs including Xyzal, Zantac, Zyrtec, Atarax, Pepcid, and the last plaquenil used for Malaria. The idea was to suppress my immune system so the hives would go away. NONE of these drugs got rid of the hives. Only Prednesone has done that, but the side effects of it shutting down my adrenal glands makes me want to limit its use. Today I have hives on 60-70% of my body and scalp. Three days ago I went to an acupuncturist seeking relief. Turns out he was a pharmacist for 25 years and saw what some of the drugs were doing to people and left to study Chinese medicine and acupuncture. Within 3 minutes of being with him, he said “oh, you’re on Effexor? I’ll bet $100 that is why you have hives.” My oncologist said he has many women on Effexor and has never heard of anyone with hives. He is weaning me off over the next 6 weeks. This has been six months of hell living with the constant itching and heat from the hives. Just so you all know, I have found some relief with the acupuncture, and he said he can help even more with the withdrawal symptoms should I have them. Isn’t it ironic that my oncologist said he doesn’t believe in Eastern medicine, yet it was an Eastern medicine doctor who diagnosed the symptoms and brought the only relief I’ve had from a drug prescribed by a modern Western doctor!

October 15, 2010 at 4:06 pm
(203) Kendall says:

This is probably my fourth or fifth post on this blog. What an ordeal. I took my last effexor on June 20th (my birthday! yay, happy birthday to me..lol), and hoped to get relief from the horrible hives that we all seem to be experiencing. I also got a Kenalog shot that same day from my doctor. The kenalog shot got rid of my hives within a few days, and I stayed hive free for about three months. In September they started coming back and I thought I was stressed with school, and trying to transfer to a university (I FINALLY had my life back..). I tried to cut back the stress and didn’t see much relief with the hives. They continued to get worse, and on tuesday I went to urgent care to get a another steroid shot, which was completely unresponsive in my system. They recommended I see an allergist. I complied- as I’m doing a Breast Cancer walk on Sunday and I want to feel good!

Here is what happened at the allergist.
She said, “I want you to know that these hives, have NOTHING to do with the effexor”. It took everything in my ability to not burst out, “Bulls**t!”. I wanted to say, “there is a blog with x amount of us who have ALL gone through the same, excruciating thing.” Anyways, she said it is just my body, and my antihistimines reacting to something that isn’t even present. She has put me on a round of Allegra in the Morning with a Zantac, along with Zertec and Zantac at night. She said if I don’t see relief in a week, to call her and she’ll be giving me more medication to take. Has anyone tried this? Any luck? She said that she had seen a worse cases of Chronic Hives and she believed there was luck for me yet (thanks..lol).

Sometimes it’s just nice to vent to some of us who “get it”. If anyone has done the Allegra/Zantac, Zertec/Zantac thing, shoot me an e-mail. I’d be curious to see how it worked out for you. Kendall.Snyder86@yahoo.com

October 17, 2010 at 5:28 pm
(204) Jason says:

Wow, I was actually afraid nobody else was having the same problems as me.
I have been on Effexor XR 75mg for several months now and I get pimples/hives all on my shoulders and my arms and now even parts of my face.
I used to have clear skin and even though I try to use different cleansers, nothing works.
I want to get off these meds because having my face looking like I am back in Jr.Highschool again is just making me more depressed.
I want to stop taking this stuff but I am afraid of the withdrawl symptoms.
I wonder if Dramamine could help reduce the symptoms?
I used to take Lexapro and I had no problems whatsoever.

October 18, 2010 at 1:57 am
(205) bob says:

effexor for me was pure POISON, i wouldn’t want my worst enemy to take this stuff….YUCK

December 2, 2010 at 7:29 pm
(206) Michelle says:

I have itching with Effexor also. In my case I find that certain things such as cola and being in the sun makes the itching worse. I also find that if I use head and shoulders (original formula “Classic Clean”) as a body wash on a daily basis that I am almost normal. My arms specifically itch from the bend at my elbow and upward to my shoulders. As long as I keep up this regime I am fine. I first thought I would go crazy from itching. Hope this helps. Good luck.

December 9, 2010 at 7:16 pm
(207) Cash Advance Loan Guy says:

Is it really that bad for you? I was thinking about using some, but after reading the comments here I’m uncertain.

December 13, 2010 at 12:44 pm
(208) Cynthea says:

What an eye opener. Have taken effexor for several years and have been battling hives on my lower legs for over 18 months.
Steroids will clear them up briefly, but they come right back and I hate the side effects. My skin seems to get thinner and any little touch leaves purple marks. Not much better than the hives! I will talk to my doctor about tapering off the effexor, this has got to stop! Thanks everyone for the great information

December 15, 2010 at 8:11 am
(209) DENISE says:

I also experienced hives on and off for a short period of time and I am an adult. I am taking 225 mg/per day. It did stop; however, I did not know what it was from. Thank you for shedding light on this side-effect. Bring it up to your doc if it continues.

January 18, 2011 at 10:35 pm
(210) Jessica says:

I have been taking Effexor XR in various doses for about 8 years now. In the past 6 months, I have had serious breakouts with hives and also some facial swelling. I have also been having loose stools, gas and some cramping. I have seen an allergist, immunologist and GI specialist and no one can figure out what is wrong. According to the tests, I have no allergies. I also had an endoscopy and colonoscopy done and the biopsy results were negative for celiac disease, which I was thinking could possibly be my problem. I have cut out the gluten anyway for about 6 weeks and am feeling a little better, but not completely. I was thinking maybe I had early celiac or just gluten sensitivity. Many of my symptoms and other chronic issues seemed to fit celiac disease. The hives are still there in small patches, especially if I miss my meds. I am taking allegra, hydroxyzine and zantac for the hives. I also take effexor XR for anxiety and prilosec for GERD and Barrett’s esophagus. Levbid prescribed for IBS-like problems.

My mom just discovered today online that there are people who have shared their stories of having effects of effexor show up even after taking it for several years with no problems. I am wondering if my body is just “tired of it.” I am having trouble finding much info about it. Effexor has been like a miracle drug for my anxiety and I hate to have to go off of it. And I know that the withdrawal is hell…been there, done that. Also, my psychiatrist thinks my hives and bowel problems are from anxiety/IBS, which I don’t believe is true. I have not been any more stressed/anxious in the past few months. I don’t think she’ll like the idea of changing my anxiety meds or going off them completley.

Has anyone had experience with developing hives with effexor after long term use? I did have to switch to the generic (per insurance company) when it came out in July, but I began getting hives in May.

March 30, 2011 at 1:34 am
(211) Tania says:


As a long term user of Effexor I can through experience I can say that (1) Effexor does cause brusing (2) hives. About 8 years ago I started suffering from sereve leg bruising – what start out as a small itchy spot, got itchy and the large red mark would then become a bruise, I would have 2 or 3 over my legs all the time. Blood tests showed nothing wrong and a visit to my anxiety specialist (where by chance one just happened to appear)was diagnosed as my bodies reaction to the Effexor after long term use. I had my medication changed to Aropax (same family) and the bruising stopped.
(b) Some four years ago due to medical reasons I again started taking Effexor. For the past three weeks I have been experiencing a similar problemonly in this instance I just start to itch and after scratching am aware that underneath the itchy spot there is a definate lump. Yes I am sure Effexor is not once again agreeing with me so tomorrow its off to the Doctor.

Please know you are not alone and there are alot of people who go through all sorts of sysmptons assosiated with Effexor – . All the best, Tania.

April 7, 2011 at 11:53 pm
(212) Helen says:

I started on Effexor about a year ago and started getting hives about 2 months ago. After several appointments with an excellent dermatologist his professional opinion was that the hives and rash were caused by the Effexor. I immediately stopped the Effexor and went back on Zoloft. It’s been 2 weeks off the Effexor with no relief in sight. My doc put my on a low dose of prednisone for a month and several antihistimines. I want to know any information on how long it took users to get relief after stopping the Effexor.

May 13, 2011 at 9:48 pm
(213) Alison says:

Effexor caused extreme allergic reactions which also caused inflamation not only all over my body but my brain.

A professor or immunology and a professor of pharmacology at a leading teaching hospital here concluded that I was histamine intolerant and the drugs were causing the allergic reaction and deterioriation in my mental state. To be fair to effexor they have also ruled out all anti-depressants for the same reason.

Whilst other doctors have rolled their eyes and told me that I would not get better if I did not take the medication the fact is that an allergic reaction is an allergic reaction. After I came off the drug I was no longer pink with rashes and uticaria and mentally better. I am grateful for their advice everyday.

May 22, 2011 at 7:38 pm
(214) Dora W says:

I too have been experiencing hives that I believe are from Effexor XR – mostly on my chest, neck and face. I also experience extreme night sweats, almost every night I wake up and my night clothes and sheets are soaked with sweat – I have to get up and change my clothes and sometimes the sheets! The Effexor XR has really helped my depression but the side effects are getting to be too much! I was up to 225 mg – today I only took 150 mgs…I guess I need to finally tell my doctor.

May 23, 2011 at 9:30 am
(215) Sandy says:

I’ve recently developed these hives on my arms, legs, and hands. Sometimes they pop up on my neck. I thought it was bedbugs at first, then I started reading about various mite bites and how they effect people. I have been on Effexor for about a year and just before Christmas increased to 150 mg. The medication made me feel better so I didn’t want to think that something that was helping me would all the sudden start causing such a horrible side effect. I am so miserable that even the positive help I did have with the medication is completely cancelled out. I have weaned down to 75 mg but still getting new hives. I was afraid to go off cold turkey because of the side effects. My doctor appt. got pushed back and now I don’t go in until June 13th. Corizone helps for a second but that is all, Benadryl helps so I can sleep at night but then I’m groggy in the morning. Just with a reduced dose in my medication I’m snapping at everyone and really just angry all the time. I hate this but I am glad I found this information. The fact that I’m not the only one makes me feel like I’m not crazy! So I guess there is no hope for the hives just going away while on the medication.

June 10, 2011 at 7:56 am
(216) Oxyhives review says:

The information discussed above about hives treatment is completely true. You can try out several medications for hives treatment but the best would be to go for Oxyhives which is an effective homeopathic spray to cure hives. Oxyhives review will tell you more about this helpful product.

June 21, 2011 at 11:35 am
(217) Pam says:

My 20 year old daughter was prescribed Effexor and took it for 6 months. She began to break out in hives around the 5th month. It was awful as she was in her sophomore year of college. The hives she experienced were vicious. The first allergist I took her to never suggested it could be the Effexor & put her on antihistamines & prednisone just to get her through the semester. I then found a wonderful drug allergy specialist (allergist) in Atlanta, Dr. Timothy Sullivan. His first action was to blood test her for an “immune” response & that was positive. He put her on Cyclosporine which is a powerful immunosuppresant & within 2 days she was clear. She tapered down on the Cyclosporine over a 3 month period of time & has been clear ever since.

Effexor must trigger some sort of immune response-stopping that was the only hope & help. Please do your research on this-some people just shouldn’t take Effexor. When she was on it she experienced dizziness, sweating, vertigo, blurry vision & then hives. See a drug allergy specialist that is willing to try cyclosporine & test your immune system.

July 14, 2011 at 8:42 pm
(218) gillian says:

Am absolutely horrified by what I have read about Effexor and hives. After 7 years of this drug and tapering off these last two years, I am dealing with a terrible and stubborn case of “idyopathic urticaria, angiodema and puritis which is simply put as hives, swellings and itching. My allergist has put me on every kind of anihistamine, and now prednizone. Am now weaning off the Effexor and am glad it is at a low (25 mg) dose of the generic as it may be easier to get off completely.
Please know that I wish all of you some comfort and hope as I am wishing myself!

August 10, 2011 at 11:15 am
(219) Sharon says:

I have been diagnosed with the same thing, except they are calling in Urticaria Vasculitis. All of this started with the hives from Effexor, its my understanding that this is going to get worse.
I started getting hives first, head to toe, now where I itched the hives the most (arms) I have small capillaries bursting under the skin.
I can’t get any doctor to confirm it was the effexor that caused this.
From everything I have looked at it looks like drug induced Lupus.
I am so worn out from this, its been 3 years now. I have been off of the effexor for a 2 1/2 to three years now.

July 19, 2011 at 8:27 pm
(220) lynn says:

My brother had horrible hives for about 10 months. He tried everything and nothing worked. I felt bad for him so I started doing research on the web and found an article somewhere that said the immune system gets out of wack and one of the best ways to repair it is with vitamins, Vitamin D in particular. I think he started with a fairly high dose around 4,000 units and his hives were improved significantly within one day and he was completely off all antihistimines within two or three days. They are totally gone and he is so relieved. Check with a health food store or doctor about dosage. I think Costco sells Vitamin D that comes in 4000 unit pills. I hope this information helps others!!! Lynn

August 13, 2011 at 11:02 pm
(221) Kendall says:

As an “avid” poster on this blog, i ABSOLUTELY agree with the Vitamin D. I have been hive free for many months now ::knock on wood:: but I did find that laying in the sun did help me. Acutally, I wanted to start tanning again (in a bed) but was apprehensive about the hives. I started getting a small outbreak the day before i started a tanning session and thought, “oh hell, if i’m gonna look horrendous with hives, atleast i can be tan while doing it…”. Ironically, I started tanning, an they were gone within a few hours. I do not believe I have had an outbreak since. Good luck in your endeavors.

July 25, 2011 at 10:38 am
(222) Chad says:

I was really suprised and worried when I developed hives all over my lower body, arms and throat. I seam to get them 30 to 40 min after taking my dose of effexor. I am very relieved to read this article! I am going to schedual a appointment ASAP with my doctor.

August 1, 2011 at 2:18 pm
(223) Colleen says:

oh my gosh, so glad I found this page. I started effexor about 7 months ago, but started developing hives about a month ago when my doc uped my dose to 225 mg. The hives are terrible, I have had eye swelling, lip swelling, everything. My doc tried lowering the dose, but no luck, still had the hives, so he tapered me more a couple days then had me stop. It is now day 4 with no effexor, have had uncontrollable crying, brain zaps, and still have the hives. Ugh.

August 29, 2011 at 8:42 am
(224) kitty says:

Does anyone know how long withdrawal hangs on if you wean yourself off of 150 mgs of effexor?

September 10, 2011 at 10:36 am
(225) Jasmine says:

Thank god I have found this page. I was on 75mg of this drug and it worked wonderfully, but my dr told me the dose was too low for my lifestyle and increased to to 150mg. On the 2nd day of this dose unbearable hives appeared. My dr on holidays couldnt be contacted. My hives were so bad on the 2nd day I had tightness of chest had ended up at the hospital. They still wanted me to go back to 75mg but I have refused the hives are worse than the anxiety. I now look forward to withdrawls and wonder how long I can stay in my job as a theatre waitress if this continues. I was sent home tonight cos they appreared on my face- I looked like Freddy Kruger. The emergency drs wouldnt believe it was from this drug and thought I was crazy. Good luck to all I am now sitting here with a trout pout I look like those crazy actresses who put too much collegen in their lips. x

September 26, 2011 at 12:34 pm
(226) NoisyLeche says:

I took myself of 150mg XR at the end of July, took a week off of work to detox. Overall after a while I have been doing ok. The problem is the non-stop itching, wakes me out of a sound sleep, hot water burns me, I even tried wiping my body down with bleach. Nothing helps, I can’t believe it isn’t gone yet! I am going to try the Claratin and see.

My Husband think this crap damaged my nerve endings, someone really needs to get a class action going for the withdrawal problems. It has been awful.

November 7, 2011 at 2:30 pm
(227) Teresa says:

I have been on Effexor for a year….. My eyebrows, nose, lips and ears itch soooo bad. Feels like hair tickling my face. Not to mention my hands, legs and feet! No visable rash….. Anyone else have this happen? I feel like I am going crazy!!!

November 28, 2011 at 6:23 pm
(228) Sarah says:


My problem began exactly like that. My palate would itch at the back of my throat, my nose drove me crazy as though invisible hairs were brushing against it and irritating it. I also had no visible rash. Then my legs started to itch like crazy and I thought it was ingrown hairs from shaving. I scratched until I developed scar tissue. My eyes would sometimes get irritated and itchy, which I thought was allergies, and I’d have to lie down with a wet facecloth over them. This seems to reoccur whenever I am tired or stressed, with tiny welts on the side of them. Then I moved from Northern Canada to Southern United States and within a month, hives emerged. I really hope you are not in the beginning phases of whatever it is I have. You know who is a good person to talk to? A pharmacist. They have the complete drug monograph and could probably tell you if the “itchies” are a regular side effect. Maybe it’s some weird stimulation of facial nerves occurring. Anyway, take care & feel better.

November 28, 2011 at 6:15 pm
(229) Sarah says:

I’ve been on 75mg effexor for over 5 years to treat anxiety & depression. The SSRIs did not work for me (luvox, zoloft, paxil, prozac). Effexor was the only antidepressant that targeted norepinephrine and serotonin. However, I did not have any hives until I from a cold climate to a hot one. Suddenly heat, pressure and alcohol intake caused itchy welts to appear. They generally congregate around an area of pressure, such as the elastic band of an undergarment or pair of socks, and spread. I’ve had a swollen lip 3 times now, once lasting the entire night. My scalp and hands itch unrelentingly. I saw a dermatologist who diagnosed me with dermographism. Effexor is the only medication I take, but she seemed to think that the problem was an idiopathic immune response that would eventually burn itself out. She recommended I take zyrtec/reactine once a day until the hives disappeared, and then for 2 weeks after. I did this for 45 days. At first the hives went away, but my body seemed to build up a tolerance to zyrtec. Now I only take allegra when the hives are out of control. I find zero relief with atarax/hydroxyzine, although the doctor only gave me 10mg. I have triamcinolone cream, a corticosteroid, and that helps relieve the itch somewhat–especially on my hands. I am reluctant to quit effexor since it works so well. I am wondering if pristiq, a newly released analog of effexor that is more specific in its target of norepinephrine (thus reducing side effects) would be better. I was also reading an H2 receptor antagonist may help, like cimetidine. Has anyone tried cimetidine/tagamet? Anyone switch from effexor to pristique? Would appreciate your feedback.

January 18, 2012 at 9:36 am
(230) ritalin says:

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March 13, 2012 at 10:26 pm
(231) Laura says:

I don’t know if anyone still reads this, but I am so glad I found this forum. I’ve had hives for over a month and a half. I’ve missed a lot of time from work going to urgent care and doctor’s appointments, including an allergy test that revealed I’m allergic to nothing. Then I started thinking about my meds. My dosage of Effexor was increased from 150 mg to 225 mg in November. Two months later, the hives started. It’s driving me crazy. I am going to get off this medication as soon as possible. Thank you all for sharing, and I hope this information is of use to others.

March 23, 2012 at 1:34 pm
(232) Trudy says:

I too have a rash while taking the generic brand of efflexor. I went to the dermatologist and he gave me some cream or salve to put on the rash. It is almost cleared up now. I am now in the process of weening off the efflexor and hope the rash goes away completely. Will keep you informed.

May 9, 2012 at 2:25 pm
(233) Barbara Herrington says:

I, too, after a number of years of being on 75 mg of Effexor for early morning panic attack have recently been experiencing serious itching incidents that go on for half an hour or more. It usually starts in the early morning–say 3 to 3:30 am–and can be anywhere, my back, trunk, legs, arms, hands. It calls for extreme scratching (a clothes brush works well) and often antihistimine cream. I’ve scratched til I bled. Last night I took a Benadryl and was able to go back to sleep. The surface is sometimes raised white dots and sometimes nothing. It seems to be getting worse as time goes on and happening on the drive home from work (arms and hands) and before bed. Too bad–other than killing my libido, the venlafaxine has been working well.

June 14, 2012 at 9:40 pm
(234) julie says:

I have been up all night itching – it’s driving me mad. I have been on effexor for about 10 years. I reduced my dose from 150mg to 75 mg about a month ago and did not get any severe withdrawal symtons until 5 days ago. I am itching all over my body. I have a rash on my arms, legs and torso.. I am seeing the doctor tomorrow but I dont know what to do for the best. I m taking an antihistamine but this is having no effect. I am certainly not increasing my dose of effexor again. When will it go away? Julie

June 26, 2012 at 10:20 pm
(235) Lynn says:

I was started on Effexor about 6 weeks ago for hot flashes. It initially worked well but when the hot flashes started increasing I doubled my dose. 2 weeks after doubling the dose I developed hives. Since it is the only medication that I take I thought it would be worth stopping to see if the hives would go away. I am black and blue from all the scratching and the hives persist. I have been off the Effexor for 3 days now. Will keep you all posted.

July 3, 2012 at 9:49 am
(236) JulioGulde71 says:

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July 12, 2012 at 10:20 am
(237) Effexorcism says:

You should never take Effexor every other day as part of a tapering program. This is because Effexor has such a short half life. Taking it every other day could very well make things worse. I just finished tapering off Effexor a few months ago. I was on Effexor for 7 years. I started to get a rash on my hands and arms before I began to taper. I have been completely off Effexor for 2 months now and I still have this rash. The doctors are not able to tell me what may be causing it. It is very frustrating. I suffered severe withdrawal symptoms even tapering off Effexor. I feel I was uninformed of the dangers of anti-depressants such as Effexor. I have been on just about all the anti-depressants you can think of and Effexor was the worse. I recommend a book called “The Anti-Depressant Solution” by Joseph Glenmullen, M.D. It is a step-by-step guide to safely overcoming anti-depressant withdrawal, dependence and addiction. It answered a lot of my questions regarding anti-depressants.

August 17, 2012 at 10:23 am
(238) evans says:

I stoped taking effexor xr last September and started back in Jan. 2012, spent time in the sun this year more than summers in the past, now i have the hives for about 6 weeks. Haven’t taken an effexor since Monday morning and i still have the hives, it’s awfull is there anything i can take or do to calm them down?

September 22, 2012 at 8:36 am
(239) sara says:

First of all sorry my english!! I have being taking effexor for a year and three month ego I start develove hives in different part of my body, different times a moment, then my face, lips and front head star swolling terrible, and groing area between my leg very asleep. I am getting ready to read all the comments, I could not wait to finish to read all the comment to tell you get your daugther off the medication, I am from peru, a third word country my grandma use to say there is not such a thing of depresion, dont put to much thougt in to it . surround of good friend, exercise and eat healthy, and by very close to your doughter. jesus protect your litlle girl.

September 30, 2012 at 8:45 am
(240) Laurie Y. says:

I have been taking Effexor for 3 months 10mg/day and have been getting hives the entire time! I ran out of meds exactly 1 week ago and haven’t gotten refill from lack of insurance. I am itching sooo much less and hives barely pop up. Never taking Effexor ever again!

October 4, 2012 at 12:35 pm
(241) Kathy says:

I also appreciate all the personal information people have shared about their experience as the feeling of being alone in my own experience was becoming as difficult to bear as the hives. My story is very similar to yours. I thought I’d share in case it helps.

The hives started for me in July, which I thought was due to the unusual and extreme heat this past summer. Then I went to Latin America for about a month for work and the hives started spreading. They seemed to come out at night mostly and where ever my clothes were touching my skin. When I got back to the states, I started seeing several doctors at my medical clinic. They didn’t know what it was but deduced that it was some sort of hives. I asked about my stress level, but that has been fairly stable relative to my moments of deeper depression. They gave me Zyrtec and Zantac and did a blood test (the test showed nothing). They also requested an appointment with the dermatologist, which I got for three months in the future since I was a new patient. The two drugs helped for about two weeks and then started not working. In that time I started figuring out w/o doctors that I need to eliminate Effexor as a cause of the hives. My lips had been swelling but would go down within an hour or two. One night they puffed up and then lasted through the night and were worse in the morning. So I went back to the medical clinic and a different doctor gave me prednisone (which worked well). While I was waiting to get the prednisone filled I started asking the pharmacist questions as I was now on four meds and feeling dizzy and sleepy and so foggy. The pharmacist was wonderful and volunteered the information that the pharmacy had changed manufacturers about the time my hives started. So I went back to the medical clinic wanting to see the psychiatrist to talk about effexor and swtich back to the old brand I had been on before the hives started. The earliest appointment was two weeks in the future. The hives got worse. At this point it was all over my body and I felt like I was poisoning myself every time I took the Effexor–I didn’t want to get off of it without my psychiatrist’s supervision. One week into feeling so sick I didn’t leave my house, I went to my psycholoy appointment, which is in the same medical clinic. I broke down in her office not realizing how much this all has been emotionally affecting me. She told me I seemed really foggy and so she got me in to see a doctor to give me a prescription for my old brand of Effexor. This didn’t work so when I saw the psychiatrist the next week at my scheduled appointment, he took me off Effexor that day without gradual withdraw. He put me back on an anti-depressant that had worked for me in the past and warned me about the possibilities of a rough few days of withdraw. I did have several really bad days where I slept a lot and couldn’t drive for the dizziness. Through the withdraw period I had stopped taking the prednisone, Zyrtec, Zantac to see if the Effexor was what was causing the hives. But the hives started coming back more widespread and itchy than before. I made the decision for myself to finish off the prednisone and Zyrtec (just a few days) and then see if the hives would go away post-Effexor withdraw. The hives slowly came back until yesterday when I was having trouble breathing and then hives moved around my eyes. Last night was the worst breakout and was burning and itchy and from my scalp to the bottom of my feet. I went back to the medical clinic to find out if I should go to the hospital. Since I wasnt wheezing, they decided to put me back on Prednisone, Zyrtec, and an inhaler. I’m to go back and see the same doctor (thank goodness!) next week. I’ll also see my psychiatrist. Once again the pharmacists were wonderful and tried to give me more information about how long the Effexor is supposed to take to leave my system (apparently it should about gone now).

Having said all this, my knowledge of the situation and my intuition says it is the effexor. I told the doctor about these 200+ comments on this website alone are of people who have been dealing with this and so many medical people aren’t aware of it or struggle to understand it. So even though I’ve stopped taking the effexor, it seems from others that I may continue to suffer from the hives.

My question is this: If people have been self-reporting since at least 2006 (6 years ago), why aren’t our psychiatrists more aware of this potential side effect and know how to deal with it?

Sara de Peru, hablas el ingles muy bien. Cuidate.

November 16, 2012 at 3:38 pm
(242) Bonnie says:

If anyone of you are having hives while taking effexor , it is because of the medication. I have the same experience. Once I am off the drug, the hives are gone.

November 24, 2012 at 4:04 pm
(243) Greg says:

In 2006 my wife tried Effexor XR for anxiety/depression. While it worked very well for those, she got the hives described here and had to stop taking it. The hives continued for a couple of months but tapered off over about six months or so. She has gone this long without meds but we both believe she benefitted from them. Obviously she won’t be going back on Effexor. Was anyone able to find a drug to take instead, that worked for them without bringing the hives back?

January 16, 2013 at 2:21 am
(244) karen says:

I have been on Effexor for a few months and just increased it by 37.5 mg. A few days later I had a red blistery rash on my chest. I also had a bad cold and had taken a few different cold remedies. \the doctor at the walk in clinic said it was an allergic reaction to one of the cold medicines. My rash looks like Heat Rash… has anyone else had something similar?

February 3, 2013 at 8:16 am
(245) judy says:

hi, everyone out there wanting to know about effexor side effects.
well i advise anyone taking this drug to ”BEWARE”
this is a long story in short – having many years on zoloft without much ‘happy sucess” i went to my doctor completely shaking and crying uncontrolably she gave me effexor starting at 37mg – october 2012 and slowely increasing- by christmas day 2012 dosage of 225mg i was a complete different person, these were ”magic’ i had never felt normal like this in years AND WITH NO SIDE EFFECTS .
half way thru january 2013 i noticed i needed more fibre and fruit in my diet and seemed to get slightly bound up.
i ended up in hospital with severe constipation and the rash appeared
then a week later having gone down to 150mg the rash got so itchy it drove me crazy, im still slightly constipated, and now my lips have swollen up , i was shit scared that i would wake up in the middle of the night unable to breath – -, that was the last straw no more tablets for me this last 2 weeks have been ”HELL” HELL”
everyone reacts to tablets differently this is just what happened to me.

March 14, 2013 at 8:00 am
(246) sean says:


Yes! Me too! Have only been taking Effexor 37.5 for 6-7 weeks and was feeling itchy from day 0ne but shrugged it off. Now I’m covered in hives. So guess I will just stop taking it :( Really felt some relief from my demons with the Effexor and now back to Buspar LOL

April 28, 2013 at 8:50 pm
(247) Marla says:

I’ve been on Effexor XR 75 mg for several years. I had a terrible tension headache, called my Dr. and said medicine was no longer working. He suggested that I take 150 mg. rather than switch medicine. I did and 3wks. Later hives. I’m now backing off the medicine but hives are getting worse and on a second round of prednisone. It was great when it worked but in hindsight, I should have backed off. Glad I found this site to know that I am not alone.

June 7, 2013 at 8:16 pm
(248) Sherry says:

I took Effexor 1 time-I MEAN 1 pill. That night I ended up in the ambulance, was given an epi, and put on steroid pack #1. After the pack was done, I broke into bumps and hives. I am now on my 2nd steroid pack-just finished it and still have itchy hands and feet. I am going to try the vitamin D, the liver flush, and pray it does go out of my system. I know it was from that one dose that I am suffering. This website helps me to confirm my belief.

August 3, 2013 at 7:29 am
(249) Tindffyc says:

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What I Skipped You’ll notice that I didn’t mention any of the items. Because frankly, we’ve

August 27, 2013 at 10:01 pm
(250) Karen says:

I starting taking Effexor on March 1, 2013. At the end of May, 2013, my upper lip swelled so bad at work that it was four times it’s normal size. Went to the emergency room, they said I was having an allergic reaction, probably to a medication. I’ve never been allergic to anything in my life. The hives started soon after. This has been going on for three months now. Saw my own MD recently, she ordered boatload of blood tests, all of which came back negative. I have now concluded that it is the Effexor, and I am weaning off of it. I am particularly disappointed in my doctor, not having mentioned all these symptoms could be a result of the Effexor. I made the decision on my own that I wanted off of it. Hopefully these outrageous symptoms will eventually cease. In the meantime, I intend to go the homeopathic route and try to get my body well again by cleansing, juicing, vitamins, whatever it takes. Effexor is a horrible medication; tell everyone you know!

November 24, 2013 at 5:08 am
(251) Tash says:

Thank God I found this blog ! I recently got bumped up to 225mg Effexor. I am completely covered in hives for about a month now…spent 2 days in hospital because I was going into anaphylaxis (sp) every 2-3 hours. They changed my blood pressure med because they didn’t know what was wrong. I am taking benedryl daily and have had 4 trips to the emerg in the last few weeks….once it looks like I am going to keep breathing , they release me ( I guess that is what emerg is for..technically) Everything is swollen, Ive gained 30 lbs in 2 months, I don’t have a fever but feel like im on fire ! This drug has made me feel like a numb toxic waste dump. Im dropping to 150 mg every second day (on day 4)…brain zaps are bad, ….but I laughed really hard today…and I watched a touching video on you tube and had a tear roll down my face….I FELT SOMETHING !!!! Im going to an organic grocery store from now on, Im going to meditate, going to try 5-HTP, bought myself some herbal tea. I am determined for my life to be healthy and happy ! …and as I am writing this my tongue is too big for my mouth…back to the damn hospital. I have a allergist apt in 2 days….I will post results when I know. Thanks all so much for sharing your stories…Its helped more than you will ever know !

November 27, 2013 at 6:32 am
(252) Tash says:

Hi all…continuing on from Nov 24…just got released from hospital due to anaphylaxis & hives. Dr’s took me off cold turkey…so I am not feeling functional. Brain fog and zaps are harsh. I missed the allergist apt, cause I was in the hospital…so that will finally happen tomorrow….even if it turns out im not allergic, im not going back. I went and got organic and gluten free food today, that’s supposed to help. I have a prescription for Ativan for emergency’s.. I will post with allergy results when I know.

December 24, 2013 at 6:59 pm
(253) Tom says:

Hello everyone. First, let me say I am so sorry for all who suffer due to the hives. I, too, believe Effexor has most likely caused my long term hives. An allergist said I’m not allergic to anything he tested for. A surgeon said my thyroid….via blood work….is not the cause. My general practitioner said he can not find the solution after 3 rounds of steroids that worked slightly, but lost the fight. Hives kept coming back at the end of each steroid treatment. A dermatologist is baffled after several treatment efforts as to why the hives will not go away. I used Effexor for 5 months, and the hive started….mild at first…then progressively worse. We changed from 75mg to 37.5, but the hives continued. I had to return to 75mg, before I made the Effexor / hives possible connection. I stopped Effexor, but now hives continue…now 7 months of agony. I’ll continue to read this blog for some hope and possible help, and work with doctors to find a fix. In the meantime, has anyone heard of, or considered a law suit against the maker of Effexor? I would certainly love to know of one because I’m mad as hell about having to live like this with no end in sight. God bless everyone, and best of luck for some relief.

January 6, 2014 at 11:17 am
(254) Anne Lawrence says:

Don’t they test these medications before putting them on the market? I mean, these things should be listed as side effects, right? That makes the most sense to me.

January 26, 2014 at 8:24 am
(255) Angie Abbott says:

I came to the web looking for answers as I’ve had severe itching for the past 48 hours. I had been on 150mg of Effexor XR for about the past 5 years for a combination of PTSD, anxiety attacks and PND. Effexor literally saved my life and along with professional counselling from a clinical psychologist, Effexor has given me back my life. In saying that though, in conjunction with my drs advice, I started weaning off them about a month ago. The side effects have been pretty bad but one of the worst I have just developed on day 5 of nil effexor is extreme itching. I can’t see any rash or hives and at first I thought little bugs must have been biting me but it had just occurred to me that it might be a side effect of the withdrawal. I call it the worst side effect as it stops me from sleeping at all which is a bad thing for me and can result in depression fairly quickly. So tonight I’m going to try Polaramine tablets which my daughter ENT specialist recommends I use for her sinus allergies and her skin allergies. Fingers crossed I can get a good nights sleep.

April 10, 2014 at 8:17 pm
(256) anita says:

I have been taking effexor for only 9 days. 75mg once a day. I noticed the hives after day 4. They only seem 2 get worse with each day.

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