09.24.2015

Quitting Cymbalta? What you need to know before you take that last pill

Note: “Quitting Cymbalta” is Part 1 in an ongoing series on Cymbalta’s withdrawal symptoms. Part 2 includes an interview with Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman, PC, one of the law firms representing hundreds of patients who have been affected by Cymbalta’s withdrawal symptoms. Part 3 is a timeline of the lawsuits and summarizes the cases that have been heard so far and their outcomes.

As always, I’ll post any news related to the lawsuits in my fibromyalgia news updates. To make things easy, I’ve created a page dedicated to the lawsuits where you’ll find all of FedUpwithFatigue’s Cymbalta posts, links to national media stories and other useful information. I’ll be covering these lawsuits as they unfold. Please consider subscribing (there are forms at the top of the page and the bottom of this post) to receive the latest updates.

This article contains an affiliate link. 

Update 10/25/16: The Cymbalta lawsuits have been settled. Click here for details. 

Quitting Cymbalta? What you need to know before you take that last pill

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been sharing links in my fibromyalgia news posts on the recent Cymbalta lawsuits. In case you haven’t heard, more than 200 patients are suing Eli Lilly & Company, claiming the drugmaker didn’t fully disclose the severity of Cymbalta’s withdrawal symptoms. The plaintiffs in the cases say they experienced headaches, dizziness, nausea, nightmares, anxiety, mania, suicidal ideation, brain zaps (which feel like a lightning bolt going off inside the head) and other symptoms after they stopped taking Cymbalta.

Since learning about the lawsuits, I’ve also read several Facebook posts from fellow fibromites that usually go something like this: “I just stopped taking Cymbalta, and I’m feeling [fill in the blank with a troubling symptom]….”

Shockingly, a lot of these people say their doctors told them to “just stop taking the Cymbalta.” If their doctors happened to tell them to wean off, most were instructed to do so over a week or two.

Apparently, there are a lot of doctors out there who are pretty clueless about Cymbalta’s withdrawal symptoms. And if the doctors aren’t informed, how are we, the patients, supposed to be?

I’ve seen so many of these “I just stopped taking Cymbalta …” situations lately that I decided I wanted to do a post on Cymbalta’s withdrawal symptoms. My hope is that Cymbalta users will read this and use caution when and if they ever decide to stop taking it.

I want to preface the data below by saying I am not anti-Cymbalta in any way. I know it’s helped many, many people with fibromyalgia. Out of the three drugs currently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat fibromyalgia, Cymbalta is actually the most effective. And it’s also the most affordable fibro drug because there’s a generic version.

I know Cymbalta is a godsend for some fibromyalgia patients, but others, like Cherie McEwen and Lori Peterson, have had difficulties coming off of it.

Cherie shares, “When it went to the point of not taking it at all, I felt like a true junkie. I had the cold sweats, I had the hot sweats, I had the brain zaps. I went through four months of that in varying degrees every day. It took me close to two years to stop feeling things. I thought this is never going to end.” 

And Lori says, “I reduced the dosage of Cymbalta, and then stopped. … After a couple days, I could not sit up. If I tried to sit up, my head was spinning so bad that I would just fall over. I needed help getting to the bathroom and back. I laid on the couch for one week, not able to stand by myself.” 

Cherie and Lori aren’t alone in their experiences.

As early as 2005, research indicated a high rate of what medical professionals call “adverse events” when patients stopped taking Cymbalta. This Eli Lilly study found that 44 percent of patients involved in several short-term trials had “adverse events” when they suddenly stopped taking duloxetine (the generic name for Cymbalta). The most common withdrawal symptoms cited were dizziness, nausea, headache, paresthesia (tingling/numbness, usually in the limbs), vomiting, irritability and nightmares. About 10 percent of these patients had “severe” withdrawal symptoms.

A longer and larger Eli Lilly trial involving 1,279 patients found that 51 percent of patients experienced withdrawal symptoms.

Given the results of these studies, you’d think that doctors would be aware of Cymbalta’s withdrawal symptoms, so they can inform their patients, right?

Not really. And there’s a good reason for this.

If you pull up the physicians’ prescribing guide for Cymbalta on Eli Lilly’s website, and read the section entitled “discontinuation of treatment with Cymbalta,” here’s what it says: “Following abrupt or tapered discontinuation in adult placebo-controlled clinical trials, the following symptoms occurred at 1 percent or greater and at a significantly higher rate in Cymbalta-treated patients compared to those discontinuing from placebo: dizziness, headache, nausea, diarrhea, paresthesia, irritability, vomiting, insomnia, anxiety, hyperhidrosis and fatigue.”

Did you catch the discrepancy?

The Eli Lilly studies say these symptoms happen in 44-51 percent of patients, but Cymbalta’s prescribing guide says they occur in “1 percent or greater” of patients. Well, Eli Lilly is TECHNICALLY correct when it says “1 percent or greater,” but if the company was being transparent, shouldn’t it have included the 44-51 percent figures in its prescribing guide?

Shouldn’t doctors be made aware that 44-51 percent of their Cymbalta patients are going to feel like crap if they suddenly stop taking it? Wouldn’t you want YOUR DOCTOR to know that, so that he could warn you and wean you off of the medication slowly to minimize those bad symptoms?

That argument is part of the ongoing Cymbalta lawsuits. The plaintiffs claim Eli Lilly has deliberately withheld information about Cymbalta’s high rate of withdrawal symptoms, jeopardizing patient health.

This isn’t the first time that claim has been made. In 2012, the nonprofit Institute for Safe Medication Practices was critical of Eli Lilly and the FDA (see page 11), essentially saying both parties were lax in educating physicians and patients on what can happen when patients stop Cymbalta suddenly or don’t wean off at a slow enough rate.

“Lilly’s response may well be limited because neither the company nor the government has adequately studied how to discontinue patients comfortably and safely, or how to manage those patients in which withdrawal symptoms are severe or persistent,” reads the Institute’s quarterly report.

In other words, they haven’t told doctors how to wean patients off Cymbalta the correct way because they haven’t done the research to figure out what the correct way is in the first place!

The physicians’ prescribing guide does say that “a gradual reduction in the dose rather than abrupt cessation is recommended whenever possible,” but it doesn’t give specifics on the best way to wean someone off of Cymbalta. For that, physicians are basically left to figure it out on their own.

After identifying this lack of critical information, the Institute does recommend several journal articles and books to assist in the weaning process.

“Psychiatrist Joseph Glenmullen provides a step-by-step guide in his book, ‘The Antidepressant Solution.’ His tapering regime is tailored to the drug dose and the severity and persistence of the side effects. For duloxetine, tapering would typically last eight to 30 weeks, but could last even longer in severe cases,” reads the Institute’s report.

Baum, Hedlund, Aristei, Goldman PC, one of the law firms representing the patients who are suing Eli Lilly, is also trying to do its part by including a webpage of links with information on Cymbalta withdrawal.

The design and dosages of Cymbalta’s capsules make it challenging for patients to wean. Capsules come in 20mg, 30mg and 60mg strengths, meaning patients sometimes have to cut their doses in half while weaning. I’ve heard countless patients say the 50 percent jump is just too much of a reduction at one time.

So, some patients are quitting Cymbalta by dumping the contents of the capsules and then COUNTING out the tiny balls every day in an effort to slowly reduce their dosage over time. I can only imagine who tedious and time-consuming this is, but it seems to be the best way some patients have found to reduce their withdrawal symptoms.

Here’s the part of the post where I would usually tell my readers to “talk with your doctor.”

But I think in this case, I have to add a caveat: Educate yourself first before you talk to your doctor. There are just too many doctors out there who are clueless about Cymbalta’s withdrawal symptoms … too many who tell their patients to “just stop taking the Cymbalta,” or who wean their patients off too quickly – both of which can have harmful results.

Sadly, I think this is going to be another of those situations where we, as patients, may end up knowing more about this issue than our doctors do.

Something needs to change. Doctors and patients need to have clear instructions on the proper way to stop Cymbalta to minimize withdrawal symptoms as much as possible. I’m hoping the Cymbalta lawsuits will help to make that happen.

Have you experienced Cymbalta withdrawal? Feel free to share your experience in the comments below.

You might also like …

What you need to know about the Cymbalta withdrawal lawsuits – This is a special page that I’ve dedicated to the lawsuits. It includes links to all of FedUpwithFatigue’s Cymbalta posts, news stories, support groups, attorney information and much more!

Thousands of former Cymbalta users are suing Eli Lilly & Company, claiming the drugmaker didn’t fully disclose the severity and frequency of the drug’s withdrawal symptoms. Find out what you need to know about the lawsuits here.

Cymbalta’s withdrawal symptoms prompt lawsuits – A good overview of Cymbalta’s withdrawal symptoms and the lawsuits.

Thousands of Cymbalta users are suing drugmaker Eli Lilly, claiming the company wasn't forthcoming about the frequency or severity of the drug's withdrawal symptoms. | Fed Up with Fatigue

Update 10/25/16: The Cymbalta lawsuits have been settled. Click here for details. 

Comments

  1. Kendra says

    I took Cymbalta for 2 weeks after being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. It made me feel like garbage. It was way worse than any of the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Since I had only taken it for 2 weeks I decided to just stop, hoping the short duration of of treatment would mean my withdrawal symptoms would be nominal. I feel blessed because, while present, my symptoms are not as severe as some of you. 😢 The symptom that is the most difficult right now is the brain zaps. I hate it! It happens hundreds of times a day. Extreme fatigue, muscle weakness, and shortness of breath are challenging too. My children don’t understand why I’ve become so sickly. It’s a strain on the whole family. I pray for a short duration of this nightmare.

  2. I have been on Cymbalta for about a year-and-a-half for chronic pain due to fibromyalgia as well as depression and anxiety. I also take three other medications to try and mannage my symptoms which include migraines. I have participated in one sleep study which the doctor says the results may have been skewed due to all of my medications. He would like to have me do another sleep test but after I get off of all of my medications and be completely medication free for 6 weeks!. I am now recently off of the Cymbalta and weaning off of the others as well. I am in the midst of some very uncomfortable side effects . physical and emotional including- hot flashes, chills, shakes and tremors, increased moodiness and crying easily, panic attacks, an odd sensation of skin sensitivity, intestinal pain and diarrhea, and just an overall sense of sickness in my body like the feeling you get before you feel a flu coming on.
    A psychiatrist set my tapering schedule , which is on the shorter side, To get done before my next sleep study.
    I’m hoping I will be able to cope with these side effects and make it through this very challenging time.
    Even when I am on my medications I still struggle with daily pain and depression and anxiety. I’ve been on an antidepressant since I was 16 starting with Zoloft. It will be interesting to see how I am without any medications in my system.
    Thank you for taking the time to read this and I appreciate any feedback & support.

    • Donna Gregory/FedUpwithFatigue.com says

      I am not a medical professional but personally I would not try to push through the withdrawal symptoms you’re having b/c you may be damaging your body. You likely need to go back on Cymbalta and wean off more gradually w/ the help of your doctor. I would suggest joining the Cymbalta Hurts Worse group on Facebook. They have a weaning protocol to help you.

    • Kim C Kaiser says

      I agree with Donna Gregory , be careful and please check out the CHW page on Facebook. I have experienced some horrific withdrawl side effects from tapering off of Cymbalta,and that is with my doctor’s guidance. The side effects can increase as time goes on without the Cymbalta, it’s not one of those drugs that you can rush to get off and yay after a week of no drugs you feel better. I had the withdrawl side effects about 2 weeks later and they only got worse. One thing, the Cymbalta did affect my sleep pattern, since tapering, I am sleeping better. I have 60mgs to go before I am done completely. This s a journey , one that take time and patience, and lots of support. 🙂 Hang in there.

    • Suzanne says

      I was on Cymbalta for about 10 years when I decided to come off. I was an absolute train wreck going onto them so I knew coming off would probably be worse. I did a lot of desktop research on sites like this and got a very clear picture that hell indeed was waiting for me should I go down this path. My critical moment was when I decided I was going to withdraw my way and on my terms. This meant telling my dr the way it was going to be. I was on 60mg and it has taken me just over 2 years to now be down to 1mg every three days. We have Compounding Pharmacies in Australia who can make up bespoke dosages via dr prescription meaning I didn’t withdraw on the normal dosages. This has been KEY, invaluable & would highly recommend you demand this from your dr when withdrawing. The journey overall has been good – I get bad symptoms for a few days about 2 weeks after I’ve adjusted my dose (which I do when I’m ready) but I know it’s coming so sort of brace myself and those around me. But now it’s getting really hard as I come to the end of my journey. Anger is an issue and fatigue is absolutely killing me however I definitely haven’t had the sever symptoms I read about here and on other sites. Taking it extremely slowly I believe is the best way to go. Hope my story helps. I know reading about you all and others helps me to know I’m not alone and to give me hope and faith that I’ll be on the other side soon. Take care all.

  3. Well… I’ve been on a slew of antidepressants and always read up on them before withdrawing (with psychiatrist help) but each forum I find on Cymbalta really worries me. I’ve been on duloxetine for about a year (60mg) and just switched to a new doctor that is taking me off it in two weeks. She told me to cut the dose in half immediately. It’s been three days since I started taking 30mg capsules and I’m completely on edge and looking for any sign of side effects. I’m also a college student and am absolutely terrified of being bedridden or experiencing any other side effects once school starts again- I’ve been on a variety of different medications for undiagnosed mood disorder, depression, anxiety for about 5 years now and unfortunately have had some very bad side effects that make me feel like living death and keep me from school, and I don’t know what to do in this case- I absolutely do not have the ability to take time off of school or work if I experience severe withdrawals and already experience intrusive suicidal ideation on a regular basis (yes, I am receiving regular CBT to cope). I don’t know what to do if this happens to me- I cannot take a break from life but risk failing classes, losing a scholarship that pays for over half of my college, losing my job and my GPA that I have worked so hard to maintain, and completely compromising my mental health if these side effects hit me as hard as they have affected many users.

  4. Michele Lappi says

    I was on Cymbalta for several years when I started experiencing the suicidal ideation and other dude affects . I read about the weaning off, the people opening capsules and removing 3 balls. I knew I would not be able to do it. I went cold turkey. Can’t hurt or feel any worse than I do. Not necessarily for everyone , but for me , it was easier to suffer through withdrawals and get it over with. My son was also on it, trying to stop it. He was doing the slow way. I asked “ can you feel any worse?” And he agreed. We both suffered through it together and so glad we did. I did the same thing with Lyric. Good luck. ❤️

    • HI Michele; I have been on Cymbaita for 16 years. tried everything from cutting back to just stopping. always went back on it. I see it has been a year ago when you posted that you stopped. How long did it take and are you still doing OK?

    • virginia meyer says

      i took ot for 4 yrs 60 mgs twice a day. dr took me of cold turkey how long are the withdraws for.

  5. Thank you, this was a very educational article. I reduced my dose but I can’t seem to get completely off of it. Every time I stop taking the lowest dose I feel nauseous and dizzy. I’m glad to hear I’m not alone in this.

    • Donna Gregory/FedUpwithFatigue.com says

      If you’re on Facebook, you might want to check out the Cymbalta Hurts Worse group. They have a protocol that is helping people get off of Cymbalta. It involves opening the capsules and gradually reducing the number of beads taken. People have successfully been able to get off of Cymbalta this way.

      • Susan Timewell-Jeffs says

        That’s exactly how I had to start Cymbalta. I opened the capsules and measured 5mg into empty capsules I had bought. After I got up to my dose of 60mg for Fibro, I soon started noticing that by the end of the day I would experience dizziness, brain zaps etc. I told my doctor and she figured it was wearing off too early. Now I’m on 90 mg. I’m seriously worried about going off it if I ever do.

  6. My doctor literally just told me to stop taking cymbalta one night and switch to another antidepressant the next night. The day after I stopped taking cymbalta I was so dizzy I couldn’t function. I kept repeatedly getting these weird sensations too and it felt like my brain was being shocked in a way constantly. I was so fed up with feeling this way after only 2 days of stopping the medication that I finally googled “withdrawal effects of cymbalta”. When I googled this, I kept reading patient reviews where people were experiencing the same things I was (the extreme dizziness and shock sensations). I took cymbalta that night again (because I figured I better wean off of it slowly) and it’s like somebody magically waived a wand at me and made my dizziness go away. I still can’t believe that my doctor told me “it’s ok to just stop taking cymbalta because there surprisingly isn’t any real withdrawal effects of it”. I’m really confused why she would say this; this makes me not very confident in my doctor.

  7. Marilyn Pena says

    Was taking Cymbalta exactly 1 month couldn’t hane the violent vomitting and dizziness so I stopped. I couldn’t even keep water or food in me longer than a few hours for water it was much less time. Immediately following the 1st missed dose (I intentionally quit) I have had violent, deadly dreams which were bad and hard to handle. Not until this evening has it become the worst. I woke up with my heart feeling like It would explode screaming and yelling for my son’s principal to assist me in locating my son as he had been kidnapped in my dreams missing for days I was desperate for help. Although I woke up n he was fine my emotions could not calm down. I cried for nearly 2 hours tonight. It’s now 6am I am terrified to go back to sleep. Called my husband who is out of town to calm down. He now feels like he has to leave his job to come home n be with me in case I have a heart attack in my sleep. Calling my Dr in a few hours. I’m terrified of how much worse these dreams will get. Afraid to sleep. Was taking this drug for fibromyalgia.

  8. Kandice says

    This article was an answer to my prayers! I am crying as I read this. For the past month, I have been numb in my limbs, having vision changes, vomiting, and tingling all over my body. I have been to the hospital, had multiple MRI’s, a spinal tap, and a lot of blood work done. I have been told that doctors thought I had MS, which is a terrifying diagnosis for a new mother, but all of the testing has come back negative. Tonight I cried to my husband and told him that I feel like everyone thinks I’m crazy because I’m having these crazy symptoms, but all the medical testing says I’m fine. A little over a month ago I had my cymbalta dosage changed from 60mg to 30mg. That dosage still seemed high and I then discontinued taking it. Not one doctor, out of the multiple I have seen over the past few weeks, have said anything about cymbalta possibly causing this. THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for posting this. I know without a doubt in my mind that this is the cause of my symptoms.

    • Beth Altmann says

      Just wondering how your doing ? I stopped taking cymbalta about 6-8 months ago. I tapered off after trying to just stop, I counted the beads and I seemed ok, I began having horrible pain in the nerves of my legs , knees and back. Numbness and tingling. Eyes so blurry and inflamed. Memory loss , speech inpaieed. I feel terror and weird. Went to nuerologist and they want to send my to Mayo Clinic. I looked this up and found so many things that are the same , does it get better ? Is my brain permanently damaged ? The nerve pain is round the clock, hot hot baths and socks filled with rice that I microwave that I put under my knees. It feels like surgery without anesthesia.

  9. Lisa O says

    We need to sue them again and again and again, every time there is a new group of us trapped on this drug. I didn’t know any of this when I started my taper. For 18 days I had rash, vomiting, mood swings between rage and despair, constipation, dizzyness that was so bad I staggered and fell over, nightmares, insomnia where I slept 3 hours per night,brain zaps, constant migraine triggered by the drug, night sweats, muscle pain, fatigue, chills, and I saw things in my peripheral vision that weren’t there when I turned to look. After 18 days I was either going to kill myself or go back on Cymbalta. This was on a taper! I had called my doc 7 days in to say this isn’t working—I need help, and he said take Benadryl and Aleve. I was already doing that! So I went back on Cymbalta. That was 6 days ago. Every day is a little better but I still have nausea off and on, terrible fatigue—so bad it’s as if I’ve had a long illness. The worst is the headache. Even taking my migraine pill, it just won’t go away. It feels like my eyeballs are jiggling. I don’t know what I am going to do. This was supposed to help my chronic pain but I actually think it has made it worse. I have been on this for at least 5 years. I am trying not to worry about it right now and just focus on getting better. I have read some people take months to recover and I am scared. What if I am permanently damaged? And is my anxiety really mine or is it this pill? My body is not mine anymore.

  10. I have been on cymbalta (the generic version of it) for several years. I am 57 years old and have suffered from ostioarthritis as well as fibro for the past 15 years already. Over the years I tried pretty much everything Drs and people suggested, in hopes of finding some relief. I started on 30 mg dosage of cymbalta and over time as pain increases now I am on a 90 mg dosage. I do believe being on cymbalta has helped to significantly reduce my pain and help me functiion and accomplish basic daitly duties and activities. After reading the posts here from so many people it scares me to continue taking this med and it scares me to quit taking it!! My big question is:
    What effective substitute have people found, that they might recommend trying, as a replacement for cymbalta. I would seriously be open and interested in trying a holistic solution rather than prescription pills.
    To understand I will have to go off my cymbalta very gradually, allowing a LOT of time to for complete withdrawal to be accomplished. …But then what?!?!?!

    • You need to find a doctor that will prescribe small doses made by a compounding pharmacy. It is expensive but worth it. I have 5 mg 2.5 mg and 1.25 mg made up. I am weaning for my 3rd time off Cymbalta. Silly me for starting up again and again. I started on 20 mg.and after 6 weeks I am down to 12.5 mg. In two days I will go down to 11.25 mg. This will take a long time and I am starting to want to speed the process up. It is worth the research to find a doctor to help. Call your local compounding pharmacy and see if they can recomend a doctor for you. Good luck.

      • Stephanie Bourne says

        I wanted to reply to this because I’ve never heard of a compounding pharmacy and want to try it out. I’ve been on Cymbalta for 3 years now and have been weaning off of it for probably the past year because I went from 60 to a lower dose to the lowest dose possible which is 20, then I read other forums when experiencing the most excruciating brain zaps as people call them and mood swings and complete anger and bouts of depression. It feels like my brain is on fire is what I tell people. I read about a lot of people opening up the capsules and taking the beads out. I counted 80 beads so they are .25mg each. I take 1 bead out every 3-4 days and then really felt the effects and now am up to counting 17 beads out, so I’m at 16.75mg right now. I read about someone taking 4 beads out at a time so doing 1mg down each week, but that scares me. I feel like this is going to be a year process or longer, and my mom just keeps saying be patient. The brain zaps are not worth weaning off any faster for me

  11. Has anyone had issues with going from Cymbalta to the generic? I did 2 years ago and decided to go back to the brand name. Now my insurance isn’t covering it anymore and I just started on generic. I’m tired, cranky, dizzy, etc. What has your experience been? My pharmacist says it’s the exact same. So why am I having these issues?

    • Yes, I had a terrible reaction to the generic version. It felt like I had quit altogether, I felt like I was packed in concrete. I have a lot of allergies, so my Dr. talked to their Eli Lilly rep, somehow it worked out that I was reported allergic and I am allowed to take the non generic version….thank goodness. Sorry you had problems. I was told by the pharmacist Iit was the same too. But it isn’t.

  12. I have stopped taking cymbalta 2 days now, and i am dizzy sometimes but very jumpy.. I have been on them 2 years and 4 months ago i went to my doctor and asked him to take me off them but he said my mood was deteriorating so he up’d my dosage from 60 to 90mg.. i asked him about it again and he said no, so ive taken it into my own hands to come off them.. i have read up about them on different blogs but this page seems to be most helpful.. i know the withdrawl will get worse but i just hope it wont be for long till i fell normal again just like before i was ever put on them.. any advise or do’s and donts?

    • Donna Gregory/FedUpwithFatigue.com says

      Hi Anthony, I would recommend that you join the Cymbalta Hurts Worse group on Facebook. They have a protocol that people have been using to successfully get off of Cymbalta while minimizing withdrawals. I wish you well!

      • Debbie Fine says

        Drug companies & insurance run the medical industry. I’m super sensitive to Medication and sometimes the drugs make you feel worse. The gym is out of the question and I hurt my back doing yoga, which is bad for osteoporosis. Acupuncture helps me the most.

    • Vicki VanSipe says

      My last 60 mg pill of Cymbalta was 6 days ago. I feel like I am losing my mind! Brain zaps, crying, raging, nausea, fatigue, insomnia, headache, feeling feverish, tingling fingers, hot and cold sweats, sensitivity to light and sounds. This is absolutely ridiculous! Wondering if I should split my pills and start counting the white balls inside to ween. Not sure how much longer I can do this!

      • Donna Gregory/FedUpwithFatigue.com says

        If I was in your situation, I would resume taking Cymbalta at your previous dose for a few days to end the withdrawal symptoms and then after you’re stabilized, try to wean off much more slowly (by opening the pills and counting the balls). This process generally takes weeks/months –
        not days. Definitely consult your physician about this – doctors need to know this is happening to their patients! Based on prior patient stories, your doctor may or may not be familiar w/ Cymbalta Discontinuation Syndrome and how to wean you properly. If you need additional support in this, there is a Facebook group called Cymbalta Hurts Worse. They have a protocol for quitting Cymbalta. https://www.facebook.com/groups/Cymbaltahurtsworse/

      • Hello, I was in your situation a few years ago. I was on 60mg/day. When I wanted to go off of Cymbalta due to weight gain, I had terrible withdrawal symptoms. No other medication that I have ever been on has had the withdrawal symptoms that Cymbalta had. To ease the withdrawal symptoms, I started taking my same dosage again, then broke the capsules open and took the beads out and took less and less of a dosage . I swore that I would not go back on it, but returned to taking Cymbalta again as it worked best for me. I only take 30 mg/day now.

    • Angelika Tetzlaff says

      There are some great suggestions of supplements that really do help. When I weaned I went to a compounding pharmacist who made a ‘Suspension’ which is the beads from the caps floating in a gel like solution and then you can extract in decreasing amounts 15 ml for a few weeks…10ml for a few more…5 they every other day…http://mentalhealthdaily.com/2015/03/19/10-best-supplements-for-antidepressant-withdrawal/

    • I tried to wean off cymbalta and the brain zaps I had gave me a reality check. I gained about 25 lbs after being on cymbalta for 3 years. So I wanted out!! My doctor talked about weaning me from 60mg once a day to 30mg once a day. So after that I was literally opening the caps taking a few granules out each day. Tapering, its called, well I was out with friends one day and as we were walking; I felt as if my brain was burning suddenly. I couldn’t relate at the time to the cymbalta. Next time it happened, I was at a family event. I realized then what was happening. I now tell anyone and everyone DO NOT TAKE CYMBALTA! ! No matter who prescribes it. You will regret it for sure. I am currently trying again but under my new doctor who suggest that I do it VERY slowly this time. I took it for nerve pain in my neck and arms. I deeply regret ever taking one pill. I check forums often for better ways to totally quit. Sounds like an addict.

  13. Oh, wow! I had no idea! Cymbalta was one of 11 prescription drugs I quit taking cold-turkey in July 2010. I can’t help but wonder if the severity of my withdrawal symptoms was because of this one. In 2011 I got back on it but this time it made me suicidal. Absolutely crazy!

  14. SeekingtheOldSusan says

    I am a 49 year old female working full time and going to nursing school. I have been on 60mg Cymbalta for 6 months and Effexor 5 years before that. I stopped taking the Cymbalta 4 days ago. So far I am having headaches, body aches and pains, and the occasional urge to cry at little things. I have been taking anti depression meds for anxiety/depression since I lost my husband 6 years ago. I want off of it. I’m scared I’m going to have further withdrawal like I have had in the past with the brain zaps, getting super anxiety, crying easily, and having “temper tantrums”. I can get frustrated easily and well, I’m an ugly crier too, so there’s that. I want off this medication since it really causes me to not be able to have orgasms. I have a fiance now and it takes so long for me to reach that point that I just give up and just enjoy what I can. I miss feeling sexually satisfied. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

    • Donna Gregory/FedUpwithFatigue.com says

      Hey Susan, I’m so sorry you’re experiencing withdrawals. I would encourage you to reach out to your doctor for help in going through this. Also, I would encourage you to join the Cymbalta Hurts Worse group on Facebook. The members there have been using a protocol to get off of Cymbalta that minimizes the withdrawals. There’s a way to wean so that you don’t have to feel what you’re feeling.

  15. I came off this horrible drug 11 months ago and I am still feeling all the side effects. It has been hell and it started two days after I stopped. My doctor took me from 120 to 60 in a week! Then 60 to 0 in a week. I think it is the worst thing I’ve ever been through. I wouldn’t suggest anyone take this drug!

    • I am presently going through the same situation… 120mg cymbalta daily for 2.5 years then down to 60 mg for a week to nothing… While starting a new medication to balance out the withdrawal… But because of the anxiety and mood swings I am now on a leave for 4 weeks and on clonazepam to reduce the anxiety/panic attacks that are now taking over aspect of my daily living.
      I had no idea that this would shape who I am… I just want to feel like myself again

  16. Nicole says

    I take cymbalta for a variety of reasons: Fibromyalgia and other chronic pain, depression and anxiety. I tried several times to get off Cymbalta because I can’t really afford it. Because I take such a high dose, 120 mg, even the generic comes to $40 per month. The first few times I went off for a couple of weeks and was so depressed all I did was cry and fantasize about suicide. I couldn’t get out of bed. Last summer I was forced to be off for about a month. I should note that I also had situational depression at the time. But this time I got to such a dark place I actually attempted suicide. I was very close to succeeding and am left with some permanent damage. I didn’t exactly put it together at the time that a big part of it was withdrawal.

  17. stephanie says

    I have been on Cymbalta for almost 10 years. I had post partum depression/clinical depression/anxiety and lost my mother. I was on it not long after it was out. Today I had my doc call in the 30 mg (I am on 60) I want to get away from this- after awhile you go numb-not just from what happens in your life- but I believe this med has a LOT to do with it. there are no emotions. so fingers crossed- when I begin to alternate that my brain will NOT flip out. I’ve had brain zaps before from migraines and blood pressure- so I know those are looming. nice to know I will not be alone in this.

  18. carmen reynolds says

    Brain Zaps, Thats a great way to describe it. I’ve tried to explain it to my husband and didn’t know how. It is the weirdest feeling. Though Fibro gives you many weird feelings I think this is the worst. I’m scared I will have a stroke or aneurysm. This is the only med that has helped but if I forget a few days or forget to refill it’s pure hell.

    • Carmen, I too have had trouble explaining”brain zaps”. Unfortunately when I run out, it’s usually because I have to get a new prescription and while my Dr. Would fill it without a problem, getting through the Receptionists and Nurses who insist that I have to come in , well if I don’t have the money for both coming in and the meds, they just let me go without and don’t even notify my Dr. It’s pure Hell for sure!

  19. Kay Kelly says

    Thank you, thank you, for letting me know that I am not crazy! And for confirming the lack of info available to doctors. My internist put me on 30 mg duloxetine in Sept ’14. The first 6 months were great — decreased joint pain and soreness, plus an uptick in just plain feeling better. By Jan ’16 several things started to happen: much increased sweating, increased frequency and level of fibro episodes, and insomnia. In June ’16 I told my internist that I wanted off the drug immediately and queried what withdrawal might be like. His recommendation was to double the dose, but if I wouldn’t do that, then I could just stop the drug because I was taking such a small dose. Well…. I did stop it and spent the worst 6 weeks imaginable dealing with increased pain, horrid nightmares, suicidal thoughts, paranoia, nonstop crying, panic attacks, sweating, hot and cold chills, extreme headaches, becoming bedridden for almost a week, and literally unable to remember much of that time period. I am much better now, but still very angry and disappointed at the poor info given to me. I have given written testimony to my doc and he has very honestly admitted that he had no idea about the consequences of taking Cymbalta/duloxetine, no matter how small the dose. If I had better notes on my withdrawal symptoms I would join the lawsuit.

    • Donna Gregory/FedUpwithFatigue.com says

      I’m so sorry you had to go through that. Unfortunately as you can tell from the other comments, your experience is not rare. I wish physicians were better educated about the issue w/ withdrawals.

  20. Pam O'Grady says

    I’ve been taking Cymbalta (now duloxetine ) for 10 years. It really works for me –I only take 60mg and 75mg of Lyrica two times a day for Fibro. I truly think it has kept me feeling good most of the time. Of course I’ve had flare ups but usually do to stress. The worse pain I have is due to no cartilage in either of my shoulders–it goes down both arms and into my hands–helped along by arthritis 🙁 I would like to know if there are reasons I should ditch the duloxetine or stay on it? What are the bad things it’s doing to me–of course my MD is clueless so no point in asking him. I would like to hear from you. As an afterthought– I was experiencing lighting strike pain in the side of my head–doc. didn’t know said maybe I had an inner ear problem–the strikes are almost gone now–but scary none the less.

    • Donna Gregory/FedUpwithFatigue.com says

      Hi Pam, I’m not a medical professional, so I cannot comment on what effect, if any, Cymbalta is having on your body. I do know that Cymbalta is helpful for many people w/ fibro, and when issues do arise, they seem to occur when people are trying to stop Cymbalta. The “lightning strike” you refer to is probably what’s called a brain zap. Those seem to be one of Cymbalta’s side effects, both in people who are currently taking it and people are trying to stop taking it.

      • Linda Hall says

        I take Cymbalta and have complained of the “brain zap” for several years. I reference to a bug zapper affect. My Neurologist just looks at me as if I am crazy. Well now I know I’m not…not that I like the fact it is happening to others…but at least I know I’m not crazy!

        • Donna Gregory/FedUpwithFatigue.com says

          No, you’re not crazy. The brain zaps have been reported in patients who are currently taking Cymbalta and those who are withdrawing from it.

  21. Hi I was also on Cymbalta for 8 years for Fibromyalgia I was taking 90mg at first then I went down to 60mg I got very dizzy. nausea very irritable and doing a lot of crying. I continued taking the 60mg. up until September of 2015. I had come of them very slow over 4 months and I still had withdrawal’s doing it that slow. I have taking a lot of different prescription med’s nothing worked for me for my chronic pain and fatigue.

  22. Leslie granger says

    I was on the duloxetine and I seriously thought I was gonna die I had tremors I was hallucinating seen my heater vent on my kitchen wall turn sideways n than I was always sick feeling n than headaches nonstop dizzy spells that were from hell and nausea I literally went and bought a pregnancy test bc I thought I was pregnant and I didn’t dare eat anything was too sick I lost like three pounds bc of that one week of the duloxetine n I’m not complaining about the weight bc that’s no big deal just wished it was a better way so never again will I take the duloxetine especially when I was hallucinating I sat down on my kitchen floor and my 5 year old daughter says mommy are you okay scary thought

  23. I took cymbalta several years ago after several orthopedic surgeries. It was so expensive, I got off of it as soon as I was able. Then I was diagnosed with Fibro and chronic fatigue syndrome. I took the generic. I was in bed for almost 3 1/2 years. I literally had to crawl to the bathroom or use a walker. Last year I started taking supplements and energy products especially for fibro patients. It took several months of taking them but finally I was able to get up and out. Which helped me to lose 60 lbs of weight put on while immobile. I asked my Dr about getting off the cymbalta. He said to do it gradually. So over 30 days I gradually took it less. Every other day, to every three days, to every four days, until my pills were gone. The only side effect, and it could possibly be something else, is a dull headache. I rarely ever have a headache. But my Dr.was very adamant about GRADUALLY stopping. I still have chronic pain and fatigue and a lot of sleepless nights but not as severe as before. I’m gradually getting off all prescription meds, if possible. I’ve had no problems with them but too many people are having problems later because of them, or dying.

  24. Kristi says

    I run one of the largest RA support groups on Facebook. Fibromyalgia generally coincides with auotimmune diseases. I have been warning my members about Cymbalta ever since I started the group almost 4 years ago. I have never taken Cymbalta but am fully aware of the withdrawals that happen once stopping this medication. I have heard from people who cannot even get off of Cymbalta because the withdrawals are so severe. As a disabled RN, I try to warn people whenever a post is made about Cymbalta. These withdrawal symptoms absolutely amaze me when I chat with members about what they have gone through. It is truly sad how misleading these pharmaceutical companies lead you to believe things about medications. I look forward to your updates regarding the lawsuit!

  25. Teresa says

    I took my last cymbalta 9 days ago.I tapered off a long term 120mg dose.I cut from that to 60 ,mg and that was bearable.then after 2 -3 weeks went from 60 to 30mg.Again that was bearable.The next and final drop was to take 30mg every other day for a fortnight then stop.What an utterly dreadful experience this has been.Chills,sweats,nausea and awful joint pain.fatigue like nothing I’ve ever known.weepiness.hyper sensitive to noise.irritability.Throw in a flare up in IBS symptoms and trouble staying asleep and that is the misery that is Cymbalta.I have tapered off of prozac,seroxat and valium and also detoxed off of alcohol and they fade into insignificance.Why come off it? A positive change in my circumstances and a new supportive partner.a lack of sex drive and that plateau feeling where nothing seems to provoke any kind of reaction.I needed it at the time.It was pretty good for side effects.most sssri drugs made me sweat and put on weight.these didn’t.I am frightened.I feel ill and I feel sad and I feel anxious and vulnerable.how long will it last? my dr said there symptoms of discontinuation peak after four days then improve.not the case at all!! any advice to help ease the misery.I feel like going to bed and staying there indefinitely!

    • Donna Gregory/FedUpwithFatigue.com says

      I wish I had good news for you, but some people feel withdrawal symptoms for months. What you’re going through is classic Cymbalta withdrawal. I would recommend joining the Cymbalta Hurts Worse group on facebook for support and info on how to reduce your withdrawals. There are many there who have or are going through the same thing. I’m so sorry you’re having to experience this. Unfortunately many doctors do not know about Cymbalta withdrawal symptom and there isn’t a good way to wean off b/c of how Cymbalta’s capsules are manufactured. In order to wean slowly enough to minimize symptoms as much as possible, some people are opening the capsules and counting out the balls inside and then reducing the number of balls by just a few every few days. It’s the best way people have found to wean to minimize withdrawal symptoms. There’s more info on this method available through the Cymbalta Hurts Worse group, in case you want to resume the medication and try to wean more slowly.

    • Teresa, I went through the same thing you’re going through. If you can miss work, stay in bed, comfortable, dark and just get through it. That’s all you can do. I’m thinking you have a few days more to go and then you’re going to start feeling better. If you do think about suicide, call a friend, hug your dog (or cat) and tell yourself the feelings aren’t really you, but the Cymbalta leaving your body. Good luck.

    • Oh dear…..I too take 120mg. I’m going to slowly reduce my dose to 60mg once a day. I can not lose weight!! It’s got to be this med!

  26. My story varies slightly. I had to find a new MD when I moved to the city. My new insurance required the prescription to be 90 day supply for the cymbalta 60mg. Because I have Ehler/danlos syndrome, my new PCP wanted me to see the rheumatologist before writing a 90day Rx. So, between, getting the insurance company to understand, the PCP and the rheumatologist appointment, I was out of medication for a month!! I had the WORST withdrawal symptoms imaginable! I would sweat profusely, constant nausea, agitated and the worst insomnia! My boss actually took me aside and asked me if I was doing drugs!!! I had to explain the fiasco with my meds and the withdrawals I was experiencing. THEN, when I restarted, I puked the first 3 days I took it! Now I’m scared of the Cymbalta! 🙁

    • Donna Gregory/FedUpwithFatigue.com says

      I’m so sorry to hear that. It sounds like you went through quite an ordeal. I wish I could say that your story is unique, but since starting to cover the Cymbalta lawsuits on my site, I keep hearing similar stories over and over again. 🙁

  27. I am extra sensitive both when starting a medication and when stopping it. I have been on Cymbalta for almost three years. It was prescribed for depression, I did not have fibro then. I was diagnosed recently and I guess it is not helping me for fibro because of the amount of pain I am experiencing. About a year ago, I went from 120 to 90. That’s all, I wasn’t quitting and I remain on that dose today. I had serious withdrawal just lowering the dose. The worst symptoms were the head “zaps.” If I turned my head too fast, such as backing up in my car and I look back, It felt like my head turned by my brain did not. It would eventually catch up, but everything others here said happened just from a reduction. I’m scared to death to ever wean completely off.

    • I have heard similar stories from others who experienced withdrawals just from reducing dose. This has affected so many people. 🙁

  28. Just wanted to state that when I quit taking Cymbalta I had an episode of being really dizzy and come to find out my blood pressure had dropped to 70/40 and I ended up in the ER.

    • Sorry to hear that. I have heard from several Cymbalta patients who have had issues with dizziness when they quit.

      • Toni Finn says

        Cymbalta what can I say, the most horrific expierence of my life. Still a year after coming off it I suffer side effects. The side effects through withdrawals is beyond anything I have ever experienced. From close to taking my own life on many occasions to being paralyzed in the legs for 2 months to many more side effects. It is dangerous and I hope one day I can live without the pain it has left me with.

        • Donna Gregory/FedUpwithFatigue.com says

          Hi Toni, I’m so sorry to read about your experience. If you’ve read the other comments, then you know you are not alone. I wish your experience was unique, but it is not. I’ve had so many people share their horror stories w/ me since I started to cover the lawsuits on my site.

  29. Janet L Lentz says

    I was on 90mg Cymbalta for fibromyalgia. This helped ease my pain very well. After being on this medication for quite some time I could no longer afford it. I tried to wean off but the Dr only said to go every other day and then every two days.
    When I no longer had the medication to take I began to experience terrible withdrawal. I became VERY depressed and had suicidal thoughts which I had never experienced before. It was very frightening for myself and my family. I was in bed nearly all the time due to increased pain and suicidal thoughts. My family tried to find a way to get me this medication but were not successful. The suicidal thoughts didn’t end for months. While the medication is great, the side effects are horrible!

    • I’m sorry to hear this. I keep hearing stories like this over and over. I’m glad you’ve finally been able to get off of it and are feeling better.

  30. I was on I think 150mg cymbalta (bear with me i now suffer poor memory)but deffo highest dose for many years I stopped taking them no weaning mine was given for depression .. for 2 weeks I have no recollection of days or nights I scarily remember such severe pain in my head .. I am told I was screaming in pain could not physically get out of bed hot sweats shivers nausea sick wanted to end my life ! the list is endless .. it was likened to being a heroin addict doing cold turkey !!! For months after I was often dizzy disorientated n sudden pain zapping in my brain n still get them zaps even now 5 yrs later !! .. I’ve now been diagnosed with ME/CFS & awaiting confirmation of fibro …. I would never of my life depended on it take that vile poison again because at some point it stops working and u have to stop taking them … let alone what the chemicals in there do to your liver kidneys n body full stop ..

    • I’m sorry that you went through that. Unfortunately, I keep hearing more and more stories like yours. The analogy to being a “heroin addict” is very, very common. I hope you’re doing better. Sending positive thoughts your way.

      • Imelda Marcos says

        I dated a heroine addict; he quit cold turkey. We lived together, I loved him immensely, though he did not, I understood later, love me back. He would wake up crying and shaking and talking of suicide. I would cook him breakfast and talk sense into him and then make him walk around the block. By mid-day, he was okay to go to school and drive and lead a normal life. He finished his degree with honors and was quickly recruited by a technology firm. Where it took him weeks to months to become human again, it took me months to years to feel I’d reached a safe place after all the different drugs my doctors gave me for fibro/cfs. Cymbalta wasn’t nearly as bad as neurontin (hoo-boy! check out Pfizer’s lawsuit), or depakote. On Cymbalta, I merely couldn’t shit, sleep, or have an orgasm Sure, I would get revved and hyper-focused, but I could hear conversations two rooms away in fits of paranoia, that’s all. When I tried to quit Cymbalta, I would wake up crying and shaking and thinking of dissolving into void. It felt like the back of my eye socket was twitching, detaching from my eyeball and floating freely in fluid. Because I am a woman, I wore a figurative mask during the day, sported sunglasses to work under the flicker of fluorescent lights, and reacted with reflexive politeness when any of my doctors dismissed my ailments as merely one hysterical, tittering woman’s fabricated complaint to get attention and make people feel sorry for her. “Just stop taking the medication”, they said. “I’m sorry”, I would reply, “this all must be my fault”. Yet, I learned open the capsule, take a razor blade and corral the little balls into half, and then quarter, amounts. Years later, the junk out of my system, I no longer feel emotionally disfigured, and I live a good life using no pain meds at all. I’m in more pain than ever but I’ll take that over the side effects of any of these drugs, any day. I’ve broken up with my doctors. I no longer feel anger towards them. They are cautionary tales in my life and have warned me never to wholly trusting anyone while selling yourself short. This all reminds me of my ex. The ex-boyfriend is many years gone, and I’m glad. I just hope he suffered as badly as I suffered from big-pharma drug withdrawal when he was quitting junk.

    • Julie Barrettsmith says

      I have been off Cymbalta for at least 5 years & I still to this day get brain zaps! It’s not nearly as often or severe but, I still get them. When I first started weaning off, I mentioned it to my doctor about the brain pains, he looked at me as if I was crazy & said he’s never heard of this kind of symptoms. I would not recommend this drug to anyone!

  31. wendy west says

    hello
    ild like to say first off i do not have fibromyalgia but i am taking cymbalta for manic depression. i feel it has been working ok. i say only ok because i have done a HUGH amount of me work that i think has helped me as much or maybe more then the drug. its hard to tell tbh. however i have been experiencing some insane periods in my life that does not seem to relate to either mania or depression. there are days when i experience almost phycotic anger. anything will cause me to explode, i dont sleep for days and i have blinding stabs of pain in my head. my stomach feels like something is eating its way out and when i am able to sleep i have extreamely disturbing dreams. like digging thro a pile of bloody dog parts trying to find my baby girl (my dog) i talked to my doctor about this and told him i just wanted to understand why it was happening. he told me i would probabilly never know. ;;
    just today i realized that it might be happening when i forget to take my pills for a day or two. i occationally do this. its one of my biggest trails with my disorder. today if the first day i have remembered to take my pills in 4 days. if i had not thought about the possiblity of withdrawal and read this blog i was planing on quitting my job tomorrow. i work in customer service and i was to the point i didnt trust myself not to blow up on a customer. now im afraid my doctor will just dismiss this concern cause i read about it on the internet. when you have a mental disorder many professionals tend to think of you as… perhaps not lacking in inteligence but that your thoughts and ideas are not to be trusted. can anyone give me some ideas on how to approach him with this? ild like to get on a different med since i do have an issue with taking them consistantly but i feel ill have an arguement in store for me

Trackbacks

  1. […] Quitting Cymbalta? What you need to know before you take that last pill […]

  2. […] representing hundreds of patients who have been affected by Cymbalta’s withdrawal symptoms. Part 1 of this series addressed Cymbalta’s withdrawal symptoms, why the lawsuits were brought and helpful […]

  3. […] taking Cymbalta for fibromyalgia, then you may want to click over to my new post, “Quitting Cymbalta? What You Need to Know Before You Take That Last Pill.” About half of patients who stop taking Cymbalta experience withdrawal symptoms, prompting […]

  4. […] Quitting Cymbalta? What you need to know before you take that last pill […]

  5. […] Quitting Cymbalta? What you need to know before you take that last pill […]

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