Living with Chronic Pain & Mental Illness: Switching from Sertraline with Effexor!?

(Update of the last blog posted on April 12, 2017)

Topics: New meds & Update on my wellbeing..


Since my last post, I’ve been… better Emotionally. Psychologically…i dunno. Physically.. ok… I will get on it more below. (If you want to skip this lil intro and get onto my experience with Effexor and Zoloft.. Scroll down to after the brief sum/description of SSRIs & SSNRIs.)

My psychiatrist thinks is that I ended up getting a serotonin imbalance from too much Sertraline/Zoloft. So with that imbalance, I’ve been feeling numb(??) and dissociating a lot. I mean I did feel guilt for not experiencing migraines or headaches and felt empty because of them but I wasn’t feeling much at all. I guess this is what people meant by getting numb by antidepressants… but that just mean it’s not the right dosage or meds for you. So stop that stigma that this meds are crazy meds….

But as a reminder for those just reading my blog, I take serotonin-based antidepressants for my chronic migraines and the stress related to it. But while getting treated, I was diagnosed with little General Anxiety Disorder, big Social Anxiety Disorder, and Major Depressive Disorder.

But yes back on point, what I meant emotionally better is that I was able to feel emotions and moods but not at it’s highest or even barely meeting the middle(??) It was just like a dull feeling. I can find things sad or funny/happy but I wouldn’t be able to feel that enthusiastic about it. Like laughing and smiling ends fast. As for tears… I couldn’t. My eyes feels like it wants to fill up with them but I didn’t feel much to…. if that makes sense.

As for psychologically/mentally, moods been awesome than before. I’ve been in dissociation spells where most of the time, I was just out of it. I forget mid-sentence or before. It just feels like dream-like state. I just felt mentally tired as usual but physically I was ok-ish. I didn’t have bad thoughts luckily. But due to my unemployment circumstances and anxiety… I’ve been mainly just feeling like a worthless and useless person on earth. So…that’s normal.

Now that’s what I found before this new meds added in my treatment. Which is Effexor but I’m taking the generic brand as usual to save money. It’s different from Sertraline/Zoloft which is an SSRI, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. That means it increases one of the chemicals(aka serotonin) in your brain that treat (keeps you from having) depression, panic disorders and/or anxiety. Meanwhile Effexor is an SSNRI, a serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, meaning it increases both the chemicals in the brain to treat depression and anxiety.




First of all, the infamous trio; Norepinephrine, Serotonin, and Dopamine — neurotransmitters that belong to a group of compounds known as the monoamines — play a role in mood regulation.

Brief Analysis of Norepinephrine for the “N” of SSNRIs

Besides being a Hormone and Neurotransmitter like Zoloft/Sertraline…

The general function of Norepinephrine is to mobilize the brain and body for action. Norepinephrine is a stress hormone and neurotransmitter that helps the body respond to danger and stressful situations. Your level of norepinephrine can be too low which leads to depression and ADHD, or too high which contributes to anxiety.

Norepinephrine release is lowest during sleep, rises during wakefulness, and reaches much higher levels during situations of stress or danger, in the so-called fight-or-flight response. In the brain, norepinephrine increases arousal and alertness, promotes vigilance, enhances formation and retrieval of memory, and focuses attention.

However it also increases restlessness and anxiety. In the rest of the body, norepinephrine increases heart rate and blood pressure, triggers the release of glucose from energy stores, increases blood flow to skeletal muscle, reduces blood flow to the gastrointestinal system, and inhibits voiding of the bladder and gastrointestinal motility.

Outside the brain, norepinephrine is used as a neurotransmitter by sympathetic ganglia located near the spinal cord or in the abdomen, and it is also released directly into the bloodstream by the adrenal glands. Regardless of how and where it is released, norepinephrine acts on target cells by binding to and activating noradrenergic receptors located on the cell surface.

Source & other Source


Brief Analysis of Serotonin for the 2nd “S” of SSNRIs

Also known as 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT).

It is a monoamine neurotransmitter. Biochemically derived from tryptophan,[9] serotonin is primarily found in the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract), blood platelets, and the central nervous system. It is popularly thought to be a contributor to feelings of well-being and happiness; such as the regulation of mood, appetite, and sleep. Serotonin also has some cognitive functions, including memory and learning. Modulation of serotonin at synapses is thought to be a major action of several classes of pharmacological antidepressants.


(You can look onto my other blog posts for more as my diagnosis by my previous psychiatrist was lack of Serotonin.)



Carrying on to my additional prescription to my treatment of Anxiety, Migraines, Depression, and Panic Disorder.

Effexor was first prescribed as 35mg but now 75mg with a lower dose of Sertraline(Generic brand of Zoloft) which is now 125mg (formerly 150mg). We are taking it slow with it, easing me out of Sertraline so that I don’t have withdrawal symptoms.

What I am told by my psychiatrist is that it is stronger than Sertraline/Zoloft, still treats my migraines/headaches, and many has had good experience with it. So I decided to give it a go. Especially because perhaps Sertraline/Zoloft isn’t doing anything for me anymore… except making my dissociation spells, panic disorder, and anxiety disorder worse. And of recently…. numb.

When I got from the pharmacist, Effexor XR can make me lethargic, meaning sluggish and apathetic. And would can cause constipation and tiredness.

And from based off other’s experience with it, they’d either feel more alert/awake or very sleepy/tired.  Some took it in the morning and some at night, but their result varies.

My Experience with Effexor (since April 14th)

It is now May 9th, 2017. So it’s been about 26 days / 3 & a half weeks.

It’s probably too early so I will try to do a update every 3 months.

So far, my experience with Effexor and lower dose of Sertraline.

I am so sleepy all the time. More fatigued than before. I definitely had restless nights. But when I pass out, I definitely go in a deep sleep because I’d feel sluggish when I wake up even from a nap. I don’t get dissociation spells as much but still an annoyance when I do… although I’m wondering if there’s something wrong with me because I can’t seem to focus on one thing. I’d just get lost during conversations, long(or short) detailed information. I just can’t pay attention for too long. And to be honest, it hasn’t changed with effexor that much. Although I admit, I perhaps got my groove back. I can cry lol I was able to tear up and let out a few when I was sad. So good to say that, I feel again. My mood has been what I mentioned way above which is down because of my employment and financial problems but it’s good so far because no suicidal thoughts. For my panic attacks, it’s been less. Anxiety too. I just have an issue of leaving home or being outside…..and being in crowds or small/crowded places still makes me dizzy and mehh….

However first time in a while, I experienced 3 dull headaches(probably from the switch but I’m good now). I weirdly missed it. Been to empty up there lol I did experience a weird thing just before taking it. I felt like a electric current near my cerebral/spine area of my head. Felt so weird. It’s like a weird liquidy buzz feeling. My psyc. did ask me if I felt it the day I saw her, when we were talking about the serotonin imbalance. She said some people with Zoloft felt this when it got to too much. which is nice to know….in the beginning because that’s scary.. But thank god I’m switching to something else.

I just look forward in positive changes and hopefully my body get used to it soon, so I don’t feel so exhausted. I did get prescribed Neurotin as well for restlessness. But I haven’t tried or bought it. Maybe I’ll give it a try if my sleep doesn’t improve after a month.


Hope you guys found it helpful or enjoyed my little amateur take on it.

Feel free to tell me your experiences with Effexor or Zoloft. Or maybe what helps you with your panic attack or anxieties.


Author: fromkatanawithlove

I'm a medical mystery, always I'm documenting it😅😅 was really later in life when I discovered all my migraines and sudden weak immune system wasn't from poor eating. It was something I never expected... I was diagnosed with major depression and general and social anxiety. it was all messed up.. I hope those who visit my blog.. feel safe and connected too. I hope you know.. you're not alone. And to those you knows me... this blog is also for you to understand me better.

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