Q. Getting off Cymbalta is challenging but not impossible. I experienced light-headedness, dizziness, and “brain zaps.” These felt like being able to hear my eyes move. It sounded like the light sabers on Star Wars–very strange and disconcerting.
The key is to reduce the dosage very, very slowly. Take the capsules apart and begin by removing 5 or 10 of the tiny balls inside. Do this for a week or so, then slowly increase the amount you remove each week or two as you can tolerate it.
Your doctor may not be of any help. Mine wasn’t. He instructed me to wean off over a two to three week period and I almost lost my mind. I did it myself over about a YEAR or more.

A. We appreciate your detailed description of how you got off Cymbalta (duloxetine). The FDA does not require manufacturers of antidepressants such as citalopram, duloxetine, paroxetine, sertraline or venlafaxine to provide detailed instructions on gradual withdrawal. We think this is a serious oversight since “discontinuation syndrome” is common and challenging.

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  1. LS
    Reply

    I am sure by the time you read this, you will have completed your cymbalta withdrawal.
    At least I hope so. My experience: I went from 60mg a day to two days at 30mg then stopped. This was too fast. I spent four days in misery. Ask your m.d. for a plan to wean off. If I had to do it over, I would have taken about two weeks to progressively cut my dosage.

  2. cherry
    Reply

    I was on 60 for a year, I cut down to 30 for 2 weeks, then today I am taking none. The zaps are nowhere near as bad as when I stopped 60 cold turkey. If I move my eyes from left to right, I feel a slight, very very slight dizziness. Yet I am also on mct oil and another oil that has many B vitamin in them and a herb solution called “chill pill” for my ADD, maybe these helped with not feeling withdrawal?

  3. Lynn
    Reply

    I have recently gone from 60 mg Cymbalta to 30 mg with advice from my family physician. She had me taper off by taking 60 mg, next day 30 mg, back and forth for 2-3 weeks. After 3 weeks, switching to 30 mg a day. I did have some side effects (feeling anxious, nervous, irritable) for about a week. My DR did say that I should not take pills apart to lessen dosage. I am now going to try to go off the 30mg by taking one every other day for 2 weeks, then every third day for 2 weeks, every 4th day, etc.
    Slow process but hopefully worth it to be drug free and have a clear mind.

  4. Shadelle F.
    Reply

    How do you taper off of Cymbalta 30 mg? My doctor said to take it every other day for 1 week then the next week every 2 days then the next week every 3 days and then so on until I am done. I really have a bad feeling about doing it this way. I think that I should take apart the capsule and lessen the dosage of the beads. Is my way better?

  5. fbl
    Reply

    RR, a few other things you might try along with what I recommended above are vitamin D3 and SAMe.
    The poster above, AP, in the Pacific Northwest should definitely get her D3 level checked. Life Extension Foundation offers tests so if your Dr. won’t request it, one can do it him/herself. My family Dr. wants my level at 100 (because of my cancer history). It is not always easy getting there. Every body is different and mine did NOT respond to sunlight and it has taken huge doses to get my number up. No, not there yet, but getting closer.
    SAMe is something new I have tried to help with getting to sleep quicker. Yes I have been using melatonin and it has improved the quality of my sleep but the SAMe seems to bring the sandman faster.
    One other quick note. DO NOT use D2. It is NOT assimilated well. Use only D3.

  6. RR
    Reply

    I am so happy to have stumbled upon this site. I have been on Cymbalta for over a year but plan to taper off. This may not go so well. I’ve started before, thinking I could just jump down from 120 daily to 60. Wow. Not so easy. Can’t believe the strength of the side effects. I’ve never experienced withdrawal like this when weening off a medication (Paxil, Lexapro, Pristique). Yes, dizziness, headache, irritability, and a motion-sick feeling. YUCK
    The positive side of Cymbalta, for me, has been not feeling like I was taking anything or under the influence of a drug. Aside from that, I noticed that I started having occasional sweat-flashes (not menopause related, although I am 48) and have been waking up around 3:30am and then tossing and turning the rest of the night. I didn’t realize those may be side effects of Cymbalta until I read through the comments above and saw many similarities with my own experiences.
    So, I live overseas and plan to return home for 7 weeks beginning in a couple of days. I go to get a 7-week refill and can’t unless I see a doctor and mine happens to be on vacation! So, the pharmacist gives me the allowable one month refill (which contains 60 pills). Needless to say, my tapering will begin tonight. Just going to run out to get some B Complex vitamins, some magnesium & potassium supplements, and digestive enzymes. Thank you for all of the great advice! Wish me luck!

  7. K W
    Reply

    I’ve been on Cymbalta 30mg for about 3 and a half months. I think I may be pregnant and want to stop taking this drug. Do I need to taper off since I have been on a low dose for a short period of time?

  8. Ash
    Reply

    I would recommend you go back to the 15 and ween slowly off from there. I was on 60mg for 6 YEARS! 3 days ago I took the last cymbalta I will ever take. I did what you are doing, pulling them apart and only taking small doses. The last couple days sucked big time, but today I feel a bit better. I think the brain zaps might be gone! A B complex vitamin might help you not feel so horrid. My doctor also gave me a script for Xanax to help with the anxiety, it’s not something you take for long but it has been a life saver. I went from crying on the floor in the fetal position to being about to function fairly well. You’re on the right track, don’t give up, but don’t rush yourself.

  9. BBJ
    Reply

    If I had known how hard it would be to get off Cymbalta, I never would have taken it. I don’t even remember how many years I’ve been on it–at least 3. I started taking it for fybromyalgia at 60 mg. After a time when my pain increased (for reasons I’ll never figure out) my doctor increased the dose to 120 mg. This time last year, I was getting worse–pain, brain fog, depression, extreme exhaustion. I did not want to take additional meds. It was costing around $200 a month in copays alone for the 6 prescriptions I was taking. Trazodone 150mg, Naproxen 500mg, Topamax were fairly easy to stop with a step down plan that I carefully wrote out. I tackled only one drug at a time. This started June 2013. I was off all but Cymbalta 120mg by January 2014.
    It is now almost June 2014 and the Cymbalta is still in control. I tried quitting after taking the 60mg capsule every 3 days. WRONG!!! Horrible depression! To the point of feeling like the whole world wasn’t worth living in and those who love me could do nothing right. At the end of the day, I finally decided I’d better take another dose.
    This is when I started researching what others have done to get off Cymbalta. I learned to pour out about half the beads in the caps to give me about a 30mg dose. It started off a little shaky, but better. After 3 weeks at 30mg, I decided to pour out about half the beads again. And 2 weeks later I stopped taking it. It’s not going so well. I swear I can feel the inside of my skull! I’ve been very angry–the least little thing sends me into a rage! The ringing in my ears (which I’ve had for a long time) is literally deafening! Constant headache. Zaps! Can’t regulate a sleep cycle–either up 24 hours or out cold for 18! Flat out can’t function. I’ve been off for 7 days and am absolutely miserable! Perhaps I’ll go back to about 15mg and decrease gradually over the next month.
    Is it beneficial to take another SSRI to ween off Cymbalta? At this point I’m willing to try almost anything.

  10. AMS
    Reply

    I’ve been on 60mg Cymbalta for 6 years. I am currently trying to ween off, but I’m having a really hard time. I dropped down to 30 and I can’t stop crying, I feel like I’m loosing it. Then there’s the brain fuzz that doesn’t quit, the loss of balance, that constant motion sick feeling. I will have to back it up and try a different way. I cannot wait to be off of this medicine! Am I so emotionally screwy from the WD or is this how I’m going to be off meds?!?! I’m so scared. I’m 27 and I’ve been on some kind of anti depressant for 12 years. I have to know what I’m really like! I think I will be ok, but I feel like getting there is impossible.

  11. SC
    Reply

    My doctor was very much aware of the side effects to be expected with stopping Duloxetine. After I stretched out the timing of my final 5 pills (going 2-4 hours longer between doses) she is having me go back on 20 mg daily of fluoxetine and then taper off the fluoxetine over the course of a month. I would have continued stretching out Duloxetine doses first BUT I did not want to pay for a new prescription ($180 generic!). So far so good – brain zaps, yes, some dizziness, but I can still function after 5 days on 20 mg fluoxetine and no Duloxetine. Wonder if that glass of wine at bedtime also helps…

  12. AP
    Reply

    Hello fbl,
    Your story is inspirational and very helpful to me. I live in the Pacific Northwest so would like to wait until winter passes to attempt getting off Cymbalta again. The last time was a couple of
    years ago, during winter and too soon after the divorce I didn’t choose. The Lord has brought me to a much better place, but I’ll try to cooperate with His healing rather than going ahead of Him. I’ll also take less beads out of the capsules as to allow for a slower process.
    Many thanks-
    AP

  13. anonymous
    Reply

    I had to go cold turkey off of cymbalta because my doc sent my prescription refill to the wrong pharmacy so I thought she didn’t refill it. The only issue I had was nightmares. I will be getting off of it again due to tremendous weight gain.

  14. fbl
    Reply

    djg, please see my comments above before you finish reading this post.
    I will go into a LOT more personal detail here because you sound really desperate. I rarely share the following info but maybe some others also need to hear it.
    During my first marriage I suffered severe depression and was given some meds that made me worse to the point of suicide. I survived the attempt and left my husband. Several months later I went back to college. I worked part time and schooled full time and vice versa. I changed my major to psychology because I wanted to understand why I got to where I was.
    The professor of my Psychopharmacology class talked a lot about recent research (1970) on the importance of vitamins and minerals on the psyche. That was the start of my recovery. Unfortunately big Pharma took over medicine and education shortly thereafter and the knowledge was lost or covered up.
    That was over 40 years ago and through some of life’s worst crises I have done well and have had NO depression. Yes, that includes miscarriages, a disabling fall in 1988, a traumatic auto accident with injuries in 2006, a stroke, heart attack, heart surgery and cervical cancer.
    Yes, even a few Drs. were amazed that I have had no depression and even asked me how I managed. The above info is how I have “cured” myself from depression forever. I take digestive enzymes with every meal and do a challenge test every few years to make sure I am getting what I need (Betaine HCL etc.). Breaking fingernails is also a cue. I take a B50 complex 2X a day and use a sub-lingual B 12 spray mid-day. I take several minerals over and above what is in my multiple vitamin. Heavy on the magnesium of course.
    Keeping active both physically and socially is also important. When I could not exercise because of my physical condition my hubby (2nd marriage of 40+ years) bought me a Rebounder with a security bar. I hung on with both hands and could only bounce gently, but it was better than nothing. I’d been a runner for almost 20 years before my fall.
    Getting out of yourself and contributing your time and talents also helps. I wound up home schooling my nephew and then many other children as well as mentoring home school families (Robinson Curriculum). I volunteered with a Medicare counseling program for many years until the car accident. I have a MA in Guidance & Counseling as well as professional designations in insurance and financial planning.
    All this was done from home and often from my bed. All that is required is a phone and a computer. And patience too of course which the Lord has blessed me with for the past 40 years or so.
    Every body is different and you have to play around with your supplements to see what works for you. Some brands will make a huge difference as well, try different ones. Life is one big experiment. If I had not discovered that little secret I probably wouldn’t be here now.
    I’ve had a wonderful and rewarding life and am happy. What more could one ask for? My son keeps telling me I should write a book. Yes, I did have a son after many miscarriages. Again here is one more blessing God has given me. We found out that I have Mosaic Turner’s Syndrome. Almost 1/3 of my chromosomes are single X and I’m missing one whole chromosome. My son is my miracle child. Yes, he has been tested and his chromosomes are normal. Another blessing!
    Do not let depression affect your life! Do NOT go cold turkey off your meds. Get on the supplements and then gradually reduce your meds. Doing a good cleansing program near the end of the meds would probably be a good idea as well to clean out your liver, kidneys and colon.

  15. djg
    Reply

    I have been taking cymbalta for about 6 months after years of prozac and many other antidepressant trials. Have been unable to sleep for more than 2 hours at a time, constantly moving and changing positions, exhausted all the time. Also unable to afford it after 2 years of breast reconstruction surgeries following breast cancer and being fired as an RN for not having enough hours in to qualify for FMLA. So quitting cold turkey and going back to leftover prozac. Wish me luck fellow depressed people! Life’s a bitch and then all the people you love die before you.

  16. MV
    Reply

    I have the same questions and Jafy. It’s been 2 weeks and no one has answered. If you can answer Jafy’s questions regarding the Cymbalta withdrawal, please reply. Thank you

  17. jafy
    Reply

    I have been on Cymbalta for about 3 years. I switched after Welbutrin stopped working despite increasing dosages.I am 37 year old female of 155 lbs and I take 120mg once a day. I have found Cymbalta to work very well for debilitating depression and the associated aches and pains and have not had trouble with it sending me in to mania. This time is longer and I’m feeling pretty strange….
    I have been sick to my stomach off and on for about a month. Finally, last Friday my guts went Chernobyl (I have diverticulitis) and I quit eating and taking pills except for the needed antibiotics, enzymes, probiotics and pain killers prescribed for my gut.. Haven’t had a dose of Cymbalta for about a week. I have been having all the normal withdrawal signs that usually remind me if I accidentally skip a dose: mood swings including weeping fits, headache, neck and back pain, edginess, irritability, and fatigue/lethargy. I also have been having symptoms I am not sure whether to attribute to the withdrawal or the infection: annoying inability to sleep due to sweats, tingles and skin crawling feeling, sticky sweats and hot flashes. dd to that today audible eye movements (weird swishy sound when you look around) have had these before following ear and sinus infections but I’m no antibiotics so that must not be the case. When I goggled it guess what came up? Antidepressant withdrawal… who knew? I searched for it specifically relating to Cymbalta and here I am.
    My husband wants to have children and I have agreed to try. I can not and will not subject a fetus or nursing baby to nonessential pharmaceuticals so I will need to go off. After reading on various websites how terrible withdrawal is and how long it lasts I’m a bit freaked out. I think I might start phasing down now since it sounds like it is going to take quite awhile and I would like to conceive before 40.
    Question: When you tapered down about how much did you taper per week (considering each little granule is about a mg) and how long did you stay at one dose before tapering again. Did you use any other medicines, herbs, supplements, diets to ease transition? Did you go on another AD instead? If so what and is it easier to discontinue?
    People’s Pharmacy response: The symptoms you describe such as night sweats, skin tingles and hearing your eyes move are all things that others have reported as withdrawal symptoms from SSRIs or SNRIs such as Cymbalta. We suggest that you use your own reactions to figure out how fast to withdraw: if you have symptoms, slow down on your dose reduction. It is probably quite individual. Many people can do this over the course of six weeks, but some need to move even more slowly.

  18. CR
    Reply

    I have been on Cymbalta 6 mos and want to get off. I am down to 30 mg, but insurance is not paying anymore so I can’t afford it. I would like to do it cold turkey as you did. Is it worth it to go thru what I assume I will go thru and how long did it take for you to feel better again?

  19. SB
    Reply

    My GOD, but I feel very badly for all of those who 1) did not have the same positive effects w/o any appreciable negative effects and 2) had such a difficult time transitioning to no use of this drug. I am not trying to counter any of the experiences noted here, come across as a super-human, or otherwise offend anyone, so please don’t take my own experiences the wrong way. I just feel compelled to add my own thoughts.
    Skipping the details of my experiences leading up to taking this medication, except to state I transitioned from too much Wellbutrin a few years after two back surgeries, to this medication, it absolutely changed my life for the better, both mentally and physically, and I only ran across this page because I was forced to cut from 2 x 60 mg a day to nothing two weeks ago, and I am looking for more inexpensive methods to refill until I am working again.
    I have suffered expectantly, including increased pain in various ways, ‘brain-snaps’ and full-body shock-waves. But the worst part for me, as the already unemployed husband of a wonderful lady who has suffered far to much as the result of a debilitating, disability-qualifying and career-ending head-injury, due to a 60 mph head-on car collision she was not at fault for, were the efforts to hold back and hide the bouts of emotionally-challenging, childlike (in the feelings and appearance), body-racking crying fits that would overcome me at odd times while I was trying to get things done after the short-sale was complete, while moving furniture and fixing up the problems with this rental I managed to land in the 11th hour. They mostly reduced after a few days, but is not far from being felt more often than I wish.
    My wife has had similarly beneficial results from her use of Cymbalta and has been a driving reason for my search for assistance in refills with little cash and no insurance. I may have run across a few methods that will help, after already using the one-time 30-day freebie and hope to be working again soon. I suspect that my use of vit-B may have helped in the resulting forced withdrawal, but ultimately it’s not just the effects on my personality from the increased pain that I’d prefer to not deal with, but my mental state and attitude that I am working on the most diligently during this time, as I do not want to negatively affect my wife as I used to in the past, the results of a different reasons, but mostly being a child who was mentally abused by a demonic step-father, as well as sexually abused by him and my own real mother, under the control then, and to this day, by this non-man.
    I wish you all the best in doing what is best for you in your own lives.

  20. nancyp143
    Reply

    It took me 18 months to get off Cymbalta, with no doctor’s help. I can hardly believe that doctors have no exit strategy for this dangerous drug – and Wellbutrin generic – I have tinnitus and it was totally exacerbated by Buproprioin – I had do find this out on my own from reading and as soon as I weaned off that – about a month, the tinnitus decreased almost completely. No doctor told me this.
    I now take Lexapro and will study this more, but I really have depression and need something.

  21. DaveD.
    Reply

    I am a huge fan of being Cymbaltla free. I took it for about 1 1/2 to help with my Fibromyalgia and it did help some but the side effects outweighed the usefulness. So about 6 months ago I tried to wean off but I was worse than being on it.
    Finally I had enough and went cold turkey. I don’t suggest it but I had to do something. It affected everything I did and although I felt less pain, I still had intense pain and I was in a stupor daily.
    I commend all those getting off of it. Talk with your Doctor, keep a log of symptoms and daily ups and downs. I have committed myself to heal naturally with intense research on herbs, vitamins and all that along with diet and proper nutrition, and so on… I am much better, more alive and still have to deal with the reality of my illness and endeavor to lead a quality of life the best way possible.

  22. fbl
    Reply

    One thing your poster should have done while reducing the dosage is to start taking a vitamin B complex two or three times daily. I’ve helped a number of people get off these drugs.
    Also some have found taking additional magnesium and potassium helpful during the withdrawal as well as after. Most also needed digestive enzymes.
    Just by adding the supplements the depression problem was resolved.

  23. JK
    Reply

    My daughter experienced severe side effects when trying to come off Cymbalta – she had nausea, vomiting, lost peripheral vision for 24-48 hours, had shaking, etc. This was while she was doing a clinical in a hospital for college. Had she known she would have stayed on it until after clinical. I called the manufacturer and they acted like there were no such side effects from withdrawal.
    She too took apart the capsules and it took awhile, but finally she is free from that drug. I think it is a crime that the manufacturers don’t publish more detailed information concerning withdrawal. They could even make money selling a one month or two month step down prescription so individuals aren’t taking the capsules apart themselves.

  24. Denise
    Reply

    It took me OVER TWO YEARS to wean off Paxil. Major depression is a real disease and should be treated. Unfortunately, a seriously depressed patient is in no place to research his/her options and must rely on a caring and knowledgeable friend or family member to look into various treatments.
    As long as we patients fill prescriptions for SSRIs manufacturers will continue to crank them out. Better drug options will be developed only when demand for current drugs dries up.

  25. DS
    Reply

    I was on Zoloft for eight months and when I started to gain weight (a pound a week), I decided to stop. Well, I got brain shivers and it was awful! So I went back on for a week and then started my weaning program. I started by taking a full dose every other day for about three weeks. Then I went to every two days for three weeks. At that point, I felt my brain could tolerate 3/4 of the dose every two days. So I did that for three weeks.
    At that point, I thought perhaps I’d be ok, but I wasn’t, I cut down to 1/2 dose every two days for three weeks. From that point, I had to practically “shave” the pills down and make sure I was giving myself those two week intervals. It took over three months to wean myself off. I wish someone would’ve told me that I may not get “addicted” to Zoloft, but my brain sure would.

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