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.

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  1. N

    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.

  2. nb

    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.

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