Q. I have narcolepsy with cataplexy. Cataplexy is sudden loss of muscle tone brought on by strong emotion, such as fear, anger or excitement. In my case, it is triggered by laughter. I can go a long time without an attack and then have several in a single week.

For several years I have been taking Cymbalta to control the cataplexy. When I have tried to stop, I started having frequent attacks, collapsing on the floor.

Is there a way to discontinue Cymbalta without side effects? All my pharmacist says is that it is a difficult drug to stop taking.

A. To avoid unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when stopping Cymbalta (duloxetine), it is necessary to reduce the dose extremely gradually. Some people open the capsules and remove a tiny bit of the medication to reduce the dose slowly enough.

A doctor might be able to substitute a low dose of a long-acting SSRI antidepressant such as fluoxetine to ease withdrawal, but extreme care is required. Combining these two antidepressants could trigger a dangerous interaction called serotonin syndrome.

Join Over 75,000 Subscribers at The People's Pharmacy

Each week we send two free email newsletters with breaking health news, prescription drug information, home remedies and a preview of our award-winning radio show. Join our mailing list and get the information you need to make confident choices about your health.

  1. HappyDose
    San Francisco, CA
    Reply

    Hey, Terry! I searched whole day and yours were one of only few threads mentioning Cataplexy during cymbalta withdrawal period.

    This week is my 2nd week off the drug. I’ve been experiencing horrible Cataplexy since 1st day I skipped it. I dont know if I have narcolepsy or not, but I do know I lose muscle control when i have big emotional change such as laugh, excitement, anger. Before taking the drug, I had mild symptoms. And since I knew what would be the trigger, I had been very cautious to prevent it happening. Now, I suffer Cataplexy almost all the time. My body shakes, my head keeps dropping and I had once collapsed when climbing up stairs and bumped my head to the wall.

    Your post was dated 2014. It’s been one year now. I don’t know if you would see my comments. If you do, could you please share your experiences with me? I feel like I live in hell now.

  2. N
    MO
    Reply

    I don’t know how soon the withdrawal would start. I did not stop Cymbalta, my pharmacy ran out and it was on back order. It is suppose to be in this Monday. That means I’ve been without the drug you shouldn’t suddenly stop for 5 days. I am having headaches, dizziness, hands shaking and am hearing my eyes move like other people.

    I have had this before, but didn’t think it was from any drug. I had crystals in my ears that can cause some of the same symptoms like the dizziness hearing your eyes move… went to an ENT Dr. For that. You would think a pharmacy would have someone that knows the people that didn’t get their meds that day shouldn’t have to wait that long and got their meds some other way. I AM NOT HAPPY!! Thanks for listening.

  3. nb
    Reply

    I have been on Cymbalta for over a year. Then my Insurance provider put me on the generic brand. I was a zombie so I started taking it at night. I have been so sluggish. I am working to ease off. On the days I don’t take the antidepressant, I take SAM-e. I feel so much more alive and am more ambitious. Once off the generic I will never take Cymbalta or the generic again.

What Do You Think?

We invite you to share your thoughts with others, but remember that our comment section is a public forum. Please do not use your full first and last name if you want to keep details of your medical history anonymous. A first name and last initial or a pseudonym is acceptable. Advice from other commenters on this website is not a substitute for medical attention. Do not stop any medicine without checking with the prescriber. Stopping medication suddenly could result in serious harm. We expect comments to be civil in tone and language. By commenting, you agree to abide by our commenting policy and website terms & conditions. Comments that do not follow these policies will not be posted.