Q. I have just been through detox hell after stopping the antidepressant Cymbalta. After a week of dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, sweats, chills, itching, disorientation, mood swings and headaches, I am angry! My doctor did not tell me that this might happen.

I had been on the drug for about a year and was weaned off it by gradually dropping the dosage. I expected some emotional repercussions, but I didn’t expect to be unable to function for over a week, a prisoner in my own home.

I would have assumed I was dying of a strange flu, but I found accounts of similar withdrawal problems on the Internet. My doctor was out of town and his fill-in confirmed that these were typical symptoms of stopping Cymbalta.

I just don’t understand why I wasn’t warned. Why hadn’t I had been told up front, before starting the drug, about the possibility of severe withdrawal?

Is it up to the consumer to read every line of the insert to determine the safety of a medicine before taking it?

It terrifies me to think about other patients going off this drug with no idea of what may happen to them! The withdrawal hell should be explained so the patient can know what to expect and prepare himself for the possibilities.

A. It often comes as a rude shock when patients discover that stopping antidepressant medications can cause distressing withdrawal symptoms. We have heard from folks who stopped Effexor, Paxil or Zoloft who felt disoriented and dizzy. Many report distressing shock-like sensations in their heads.

We are sending you our Guides to Antidepressant Pros and Cons and Psychological Side Effects that discuss these problems in greater detail and offer some withdrawal strategies.

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  1. Ellen
    Palm City, FL

    I weaned myself off of Celexa after reading a book on how to do it (why it should take a whole book is an interesting but necessary evil). I followed the recommended tapering plan and did not have a lot of the physical symptoms that many people have including brain zaps, gastrointestinal issues, etc. What I do have, however, is extreme depression. Much worse than the depressive reaction I was experiencing when my doctor suggested that I begin the Celexa. I am crying uncontrollably or laughing hysterically and most of the time find it hard to even function. I am often thinking of suicide. I can stand back and see this for what it is–withdrawal from this very powerful drug. But that does not help with every day living. I don’t know how I am going to continue to manage these symptoms if this continues. I have been off the drug completely for two months with no let up in the depression.

    In doing research I have found that apparently some people’s brain chemistry is permanently altered. I do hope this is not the case for me or I do not see that continuing in this life will be an option for me. I cannot stand the way I feel and I am very angry that no one told me that this could happen. And I do not want to go back on this drug (as recommended by family and friends who are sick of my symptoms).

    I don’t think I even needed to take this drug in the first place. I was going through some difficulties in my marriage and was experiencing a lot of the symptoms that people in this situation experience such as fear and sadness. Maybe we should just feel our feelings even if they are unpleasant. It has to be better than permanent brain damage from a drug that uninformed physicians hand out like candy. Prescribing guidelines need to be much more strict and the problems with the drugs need to be much more visible.

    When I began discussing my withdrawal problems with friends I was astounded to find that most of them were also taking these drugs for everything from “obsessing too much” to “counteracting side effects of other drugs.” Seriously?????? Maybe we need to stop thinking a pill will solve every problem. From my vantage point pills and medications in general are causing many more problems than they are solving. From the opioid crisis, to overuse of antibiotics, to now over-prescribing of psych meds we are definitely “addict nation.”

    I am the accidental addict.

  2. Denise S.

    I’m six months post taper from Cymbalta. Still living the nightmare. Severe nerve pain in my spine, ribs, hips and legs. Cymbalta caused neuropathy pain and never helped with depression. Eli Lilly should be ashamed but they’re not. They have ruined my life. I’m fighting this everyday. I became manic, hurt myself. Brain zaaaps continual. No motivation about absolutely nothing. When will this end?

  3. Tracy

    I was on Cymbalta for about 3 yrs. Went thru withdrawl HELL as I see most everyone who has taken this drug has. I have been off of this @$#! for about 2 yrs now. Still have brain sparks once in a while. What I would like to know is if anyone that has been off of this drug for awhile has noticed personality changes. Lack of motivation, interests that they had before this drug and now don’t care less.
    I used to love hotrods and building cars and tinkering and now have no interest at all in building one. Loved to hunt and fish, now just don’t seem to get “excited” about anything anymore. I sure hope my interests and excitement come back someday.

  4. Mary

    I had been on Cymbalta for several months and went off due to weight gain. I was on Lyrica prior and had no withdrawal symptoms, lyrica while I was on it made me retain fluids in legs and feet so that is why I went of it and my nuerolgist put me on 60 mg cymbalta but after several months and 13 lbs, I wanted off of it. I was taken off by going to 30 mg a day for 7 days. Then when I started on the 4th day of being off the 30mg alot of pain, depression and being cold and headaches and nausea.
    No one tells you about withdrawals and the symptoms. I have never gone through anything like this in my life and it is devastating. People should be warned ahead of time about ANY medication they are put on. I was put on it as I have pain similar to MS and Fibromyalgia. But Dr can’t really ID what I have. I have had pain since a car accident in 2009 and it started nerve pain in my body and hands and feet. Please warn anyone to get info before starting a medication. To be told ALL the facts.

  5. DMH

    Several years ago, a doctor I had put me on Effexor. I took it for six months and had no improvement. I decided to quit taking it. Within the first 24 hours, I had the worst headache I have ever had in my life! I took ibuprofen and tried other painkillers, but nothing worked.
    I talked to my husband and we finally started asking, is there anything different than 2 days ago? Realized that I had quit taking Effexor. Went and got one. Took it and within 30 minutes the headache was gone.
    Long story short: it took me 3 1/2 months to wean myself off of Effexor. This was in 2003 and NO ONE at that time (except the pharmaceutical companies), had any idea about “discontinuation” symptoms. And, the titration off the drug has to be very gradual. I would empty a little of the powder out of the capsules each week until I was completely off of the medication.

  6. AB

    After experimenting with different anti-depressants for a few years…I told my doctor I had enough and wanted to clean my system. He weaned me from Cymbalta…I went from 60 mg to 30 mg for two weeks, then stopped cold turkey. My last pill was 3 days ago…I am very dizzy and started vomiting last night. I am glad I am not alone and hope this doesn’t last too long.

  7. MO

    I totally agree with the original post. I have the exact symptoms and it’s been a week. I only took Cymbalta for 2 months, but the side effects from stopping it is horrible. My doctor didn’t, nor did anyone else tell me about any side effects and I did read the insert, but a lot of the time the side effects of meds don’t effect me, so I figured no problem.
    From reading other posts on here and on other sites, it seems to effect every person the same way. I would never had taken it for my neck pain if I would have known the side effects effect everyone. The worst part for me is the dizziness, the brain zings and the sudden burst of tears for no reason. I would never take this drug again and I would so discourage anyone from taking it. I think the FDA needs to do longer studies on all drugs and be honest with their findings and that doctors should be honest and tell their patients what really happens when you take Cymbalta.

  8. RK

    Hate the drug. I had a breakdown a couple months ago having to deal with my physical disabilities and a doctor who was working for the ‘dark side’. Long story short, I was on Cymbalta 60mg for 2 months. Since day 1 I had to deal with frequent and explosive diarrhea no matter what I ate to ‘plug it up’. After 6 weeks of this I consulted my Dr who sent me to an internal medicine specialist as I was experiencing the above plus dizziness, blurred vision, even deeper social withdrawal, more pronounced sleeping disorder, etc.
    The internal med Dr did a CBC and determined my Vit D levels were VERY low, and now I take a 50,000 iu Vit D once a week. I was also given a prescription for medication ‘for my stomach’ that never got filled since it was discontinued. He agreed that these symptoms were from the Cymbalta, so he stopped the dosage. So it’s been 2 weeks since I stopped taking it cold turkey.
    Now I feel even worse. I feel like I’m having hundreds of mini panic attacks a day (or trans-ischemic attacks). It didn’t help with my RA pain or my chronic depression or anxiety, not I get to deal with those things along with the detox off this crap. I don’t know which set of symptoms I prefer, take the pill and destroy my liver, or stay off it and languish in horrid side effects.
    And people wonder why I argue with doctors… the risk/benefit thing works different for them. Our risk, their financial benefit. The last time I stopped taking my meds (blood thinner) my doctor wrote into my record that I was ‘non-compliant’ because I would not follow his advice… like I’m stupid or something.
    In my country we call this Pharmicide. Don’t trust doctors as far as you can throw them. 99% are big pharma puppets.

  9. Patti L.

    I went to the Internet to see if there was any info about discontinuing cymbalta. I have been delighted and appalled by the messages my fellow sufferers have left. Had I known this drug would be so potent, so totally AWFUL to get off, I never would have started it. My doc thought it would help my RA pain (it did not).
    I felt like I was walking thru quick sand on 60 mg., and started having heart palpitations and mini anxiety attacks. I know there are some side effects when coming off any SSRI, and THOUGHT I was taking it slow enough, but still suffered with all the symptoms you have all shared. My doc was NO help… they can write the prescription but don’t know much about the process of withdrawing. I am pissed and sick and tired of the disregard shown us by the medical community. Thanks to all of you for your help, words of kindness, and encouragement.

  10. LG

    I’m going through the hell of stopping Cymbalta right now,and I’m apalled at the lack of information that they are willing to give about the WITHDRAWAL of the drug.

  11. Eden

    As a counselor myself…I am appalled at the lack of info on Cymbalta withdrawal. I took it after the death of our infant son. It did help at first …but I also started gaining weight, become isolated and “numb”. I am a writer and photographer… I completely lost my ability to create. My migraines worsened.
    After decreasing my dose from 60 to 30 mg, I experienced severe night sweats, anxiety and feeling like my throat was closing up, nausea and extreme irritability. After educating myself on the best way to withdraw, I had to talk my doctor into this regimen. I weaned from 30 to 20 mg for two weeks. Then I added 10 mg of Prozac in the AM for two weeks along with cymbalta. Then I started carefully pulling apart my capsules and pouring 1/3 out, 1/2 and then 2/3 out over the next 3 weeks all while still taking 10 mg prozac. I then took just the prozac for a week and then one more week of prozac every other day.
    I’m three weeks since having any cymbalta. No major withdrawals… some minor throat tightening and sweats. Definitely irritable but managing. My creativity is back… as is my passion for life. Good luck to all.

  12. randy

    Thanks to this site, I am not crazy. I forgot my Cymbalta at home when I left for a business trip I was on 90mg/day and the sudden stop was horrible. I was aware that I was experiencing a withdrawal but never going through one before I was completely unprepared. after 5 days I found my self in a full panic attack and physical meltdown in the Dr. office.
    He got me a new script for 20mg and I have been at that level for 2 months. I feel much better than when I was at the 90mg I still have almost all of the side effects listed here, but they are not as strong. I am trying to decide how to get off this drug completely and there just doesn’t seem to be a good way to do it. I never would have taken this had I been made aware that you can’t get off of it. If you read this far… you now know that you are not alone.

  13. Tracey

    Hello, I have been diagnosed with Lupus and was taking Cymbalta for depression. I was taking 120 mg for approx. a year and went through the entire slow reduction period which lasted approx. 4 months. I am currently on day 5 (pill-free) and still feel very disoriented.
    Like a previous post stated I feel like I am going to pass out – each time I turn my head to the side or roll my eyes, I get very dizzy. I have diarrhea, nausea and memory loss. This has been a terrible experience and I have tried before and failed and continued Cymbalta, but not this time. I take numerous meds and I want to stop and I am starting with the med that causes numerous side effects without making that much of a difference with my depression.
    I fully understand that some times you just have to live with the side effects if the drug works, but that is not the case with Cymbalta. I am keeping a daily journal and I will post weekly on how the withdrawal is going. So far, it SUCKS! I too, like many other sufferers, would like to know how long this is going to last.
    I do want to say ‘Thank You’ for everyone’s post. Some made me cry, some laugh, but I can relate to all. Good luck and I wish everyone the best!

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