A bottle of generic delayed-release Duloxetine (Cymbalta) 30 mg

We have received so many complaints about duloxetine side effects that we have lost count. Far more disturbing are the number of people who tell us how hard it is to discontinue this drug.

Decades ago doctors might have told patients taking a drug like Cymbalta that if they experienced anxiety, irritability or strange sensations after stopping the drug, it was probably their underlying psychological problem returning. Now we know it is withdrawal from the medicine.

The History of Cymbalta:

Cymbalta was originally approved by the FDA in 2004 for the treatment of major depression. It is officially an SNRI-type antidepressant. In doctorspeak that means it is a serotonin-norepinehprine reuptake inhibitor and is somewhat similar to other antidepressants such as Effexor (venlafaxine) and Pristiq (desvenlafaxine).

The FDA also approved Cymbalta to treat nerve pain associated with diabetes in 2004. In 2007 the drug got a green light for anxiety and in 2008 the FDA agreed that it could ease the discomfort associated with fibromyalgia. It was also approved to treat musculoskeletal pain associated with arthritis and lower back pain in 2010.

In other words, here was a drug that could relieve your blues and your aches and pains. And the drug company that makes Cymbalta (Lilly) has been aggressively marketing it as a good way to deal with chronic low back pain and osteoarthritis. Perhaps you have seen the commercials on TV promoting the pain relieving power of the drug with the slogan “Cymbalta can help.” It sounds almost too good to be true.

Ah…and there is the rub. Although there is a long list of serious side effects mentioned during the commercial, the video images seem quite reassuring and trump the scary message the FDA requires for this medication. So, let’s set the record straight. Here, without visual interference, are a list of potential complications associated with this medication.

Cymbalta (Duloxetine) Side Effects

  • Nausea, stomach pain, constipation, diarrhea, decreased appetite, vomiting
  • Dry mouth
  • Insomnia, anxiety, tremor
  • Dizziness, fatigue, sleepiness
  • Sweating, hot flashes
  • Blurred vision
  • Headache
  • Sexual dysfunction, lowered libido, erection difficulties, lack of orgasm
  • Liver damage
  • Serious skin reactions, rash, hives (requires immediate MD assistance!)
  • Glaucoma
  • Irregular heart rhythms
  • Bleeding problems
  • Blood pressure problems
  • Interaction with other drugs (leading to serotonin syndrome among other reactions)
  • Pneumonia
  • Seizures
  • Depressed mood, suicidal thoughts and behavior, suicide

Such a long list of side effects makes your eyes glaze over after the top 3 or 4. That is why we have included stories from real people so you can better understand what these complications feel like.

Stopping Cymbalta:

Even though such side effects are scary, there is another problem with Cymbalta. When people try to stop taking this drug they frequently report unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. An organization (QuarterWatch) that monitors the FDA’s database of serious adverse drug events has noted that:

“We observed a signal for serious drug withdrawal symptoms associated with duloxetine (CYMBALTA), a widely used antidepressant that is also approved to treat arthritis and back pain, anxiety, and fibromyalgia. In the first quarter of 2012 the FDA received 48 case reports of drug withdrawal identifying duloxetine as the suspect drug. They described a wide spectrum of withdrawal effects that began when the patients stopped the drug, including blackouts, suicidal thoughts, tremor, and nausea. Several cases involved hospitalization.

Probing deeper into the scientific record for duloxetine we found that withdrawal symptoms were reported in 44-50% of patients abruptly discontinuing duloxetine at the end of clinical studies for depression, and more than half of this total did not resolve within a week or two. In addition, we identified a serious breakdown at both the FDA and the manufacturer, Eli Lilly and Company, in providing adequate warnings and instructions about how to manage this common adverse effect.”

Doctors have taken to calling this “discontinuation syndrome.” These clinical words do not do justice to what it is like to stop antidepressants like Cymbalta, Effexor (venlafaxine), Paxil (paroxetine), Pristiq (desvenlafaxine) or Zoloft (sertraline) suddenly.

Sudden Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Brain “Zaps” (electric shock-like senstations in the brain)
  • Dizziness, light-headedness, vertigo, feeling faint
  • Headaches
  • Anxiety, irritability, hostility
  • Nausea, diarrhea, digestive upset
  • Tremor, hands shaking, nerve tingles, strange sensations
  • Fatigue, tiredness, lack of energy
  • Visual disturbances

Again, a list of symptoms does not do this problem justice. Below you will read some stories from people who have posted their comments to this website. We would love to hear your story, positive or negative. Share your experience with Cymbalta or any other antidepressant below.

Should you wish to learn more about dealing with depression through some other strategies, we offer our Guide to Dealing with Depression. You will also find a whole chapter on prescribing mistakes doctors make when treating depression and fibromyalgia in our book, Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them.

Cymbalta Withdrawal Stories from Readers

– D.G. shares a tragic story:

“My lovely, young daughter-in law, who was about to celebrate her 29th birthday, was prescribed Cymbalta, Klonopin, and Ambien and has committed suicide.

“She told her physician and her therapist that she’d had thoughts of suicide but no one took her seriously. She suffered from depression, as well as an eating disorder, and had very low body weight. She also used alcohol.

“Please remind your readers of the potentially disastrous effects these chemicals can cause when taken carelessly or in combination with alcohol.”

This from РP.J.:

“I have been on Prozac over the last 20 years off and on and it finally stopped working. The last time I took it about 2 years ago I was taking the generic from Barr – the blue and white capsule. I was feeling as if I were in the deepest dark hole there ever was.

“My doctor put me on Cymbalta from which I had a lot of side effects such as palpitations, feeling constant dread, panic attacks, sweats, lightheadedness and general feeling of not being well.

“She added Abilify which put me over the edge. I was in the worst depression I have ever been in. Finally after living like this for several months, I asked to be put back on Prozac. I was taking the generic from Sandoz. When the prescription ran out I ended up on the big blue and white capsules from Barr.

“Over the last couple of weeks it has been constant crying spells, arguing with everyone and feeling pretty low. I talked to my doctor and she wrote the prescription for Sandoz only generic. The blue and white capsules are like taking a placebo. My doctor said she had had other patients who complained of the same thing and she had to write prescriptions for a certain generic or name brand.”

– R.P. says:

“I took Cymbalta for 3 days and thought I’d go nuts. I’m off it now and refuse to try any other drug like this. My main complaint was extreme hot flashes that estrogen wouldn’t help. I thought I’d be given Prozac, but was given Cymbalta instead. It was a rough 3 days and I stopped it last night. I am extremely tired yet cannot sleep at night. I think I was sweating even worse and my legs started feeling like I had Lyme disease again. And to be honest, within those 3 days of taking it, I didn’t contemplate suicide, but I had this crappy attitude of “who would care?”

– Nancy relates how hard it was to get off Cymbalta:

“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. I had to find this out on my own from reading and as soon as I weaned off that – about a month, the tinnitus that had occurred decreased almost completely. No doctor told me this.”

— J.K. shares a parent perspective:

“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.”

– P.C. Tells what it is like to switch around from one drug to another:

“I just turned 52 today. I went on a very low dose of Zoloft about 8 years ago to treat generalized anxiety disorder. It really did help for a long time. I recently have been pretty depressed (however I can cover it up really well) and my psychiatrist switched me to Effexor which was terrible for me. Now I’m trying Cymbalta which has not done anything either except make me feel more anxious and headachy and weird.”

“I am a registered nurse and I do not understand what the long term effects of these meds are and I am concerned. I really want to get off and see what I can do naturally for myself.”

– K.T. tells what it is like to try to stop Cymbalta:

“Getting off Cymbalta is challenging but not impossible. I, too, experienced the light-headedness, dizziness, and “brain zaps.” I described it as being able to “hear my eyes move.” It sounded like the light sabers on Star Wars. Very strange and disconcerting.

“The key is to do it 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 will probably be no help at all. 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. Be patient. I am completely off now and feeling GOOD.”

– Karen’s story:

“I was prescribed Cymbalta ‘off-label’ to manage fibromyalgia pain When I stopped taking it because it wasn’t delivering on the promised effect of reducing my pain, I became so horribly depressed that I required hospitalization as I had become SUICIDAL!

“I will NEVER take another anti-depressant for an off-label purpose….such as Elavil/amitriptyline as a “sleep aid” which is very commonly prescribed.

“I believe it should be criminal to prescribe ANY drug for a purpose other than the one it was approved to treat.”

– R.H. and Erectile Dysfunction:

“I’m a 76 year old man, my libido was very low. Taking Cymbalta for peripheral neuropathy added ED as a side affect of the drug. I had a testosterone blood test; it was 1/3 what the minimum should be. So I’m taking Androgel to raise testosterone levels and it is magic. I have great libido now and am working on minimizing the Cymbalta pills. In the meantime I have been prescribed Cialis for the ED. Each pill solves the sex problem for a couple of days.”

– M.O. on stopping Cymbalta:

“I have the exact symptoms as everyone else and it’s been a week. I only took Cymbalta for 2 months, but the side effects from stopping it are horrible. My doctor didn’t, nor did anyone else tell me, about any side effects and I did read the insert. Most of the time the listed side effects of meds don’t bother me, so I figured no problem.

“From reading other posts on this website and on other sites, the drug seems to affect every person the same way. I would never have taken it for my neck pain if I had known about the likelihood of side effects. 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. 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.”

Please add your own experience below in the comment section.

Revised 1/28/16

Join Over 120,000 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. Nancy
    Cypress, California 90630
    Reply

    Duloxetine is very hard to get off of due to multiple withdrawal symptoms. I was on 20mg for one year and then my doctor put me on an additional 20 mg totaling 40mg.

    After only 2 months on the doubled dose I felt like I was numb and I felt this was no way to live. I stopped the additional 20mg cold turkey when I didn’t know there were side affects. For 3-weeks I had horrible body aches and a headache. I thought I had MS or Fibromyalgia. It was horrible.

    Then one day it stopped considerably. I read online to taper. My doctor denied there were “any” side affects. I counted the beads inside the capsules and found there were about 120 beads. I started taking five beads out a week calculating each bead to be about .067 mg. That didn’t work because I had muscle aches and headaches, fatigue, irritability, and I couldn’t sleep even though I was so tired.

    Now I have evolved to taking 1-bead away every two weeks. My muscle aches in my arms, wrists, upper back and shoulders have persisted and I have headaches intermittently, I still wake up from the pain every 2-3 hours so I never really get into REM sleep. To describe the pain it feels like my muscles are swollen and the fascia that surrounds my muscles is about to burst.

    My sweet husband gives me a little massage at night with essential oils, I take Ibprophen or Tylenol, I use Icy Hot roll on and nothing really works for very long so far. I feel like crying from the pain a lot of the time and I catch myself and just think of the positives by keeping trying busy as my fatigue will handle to try and take my mind off of it. However, my nights are miserable because the pain wakes me up about every 1-2 hours. I do not look forward to the nights to recharge because I can never recharge.

    I am down to 59 beads which is about 10mg of Duloxitine daily. I expected to feel better by now and there are times that I feel there is no light at the end of the tunnel. My doctor’s remedy was to get back on the drug at the 20mg strength and I don’t want to be on this terrible drug. I think this is a bad drug (and 3-pharmacists have confirmed that to me) and I can’t wait to be off of it. In the meantime my quality of life has decreased greatly.

    I have always been an outgoing active happy person but I now prefer to be home and look at errands as a something to just get over with and I used to enjoy the chance to be out and about. I force myself to the gym in the mornings each day, but I admit I can’t go sometimes due to the pain and fatigue. I am drinking 96 oz of water spread out during the day, I just went to an acupuncturist seeking help, I eat good healthy food, and I still feel horrible most of my day. When I look in the mirror I don’t see that girl I have known all my life as happy and healthy. I do see a tired and exhausted person looking back at me. It’s all about what’s in my eyes and demeanor. I would welcome advice from anyone who has been where I am in the process of getting off Duloxitine to see if I can do something else to help the withdrawal. I truly want my life back because living like this is no way to live. I actually HAVE contacted the company and they do not have any suggestions from helping me. – Nancy W, Orange County , California.

  2. Margie
    Mississippi
    Reply

    My doctor prescribed cymbalta a couple of years ago for my depression. He increased it to 60mg when it wasn’t working! I still feel like it wasn’t working but after reading all these comments I think the drug made matters worse instead of better! I want to sleep all the time, I can’t remember things, I have no energy, I feel like my life is useless! I have almost ruined my business because I can’t seem to function on a daily basis! My marriage has almost ended because of my lack of caring about my life! I haven’t had a pill in several days and now I am scared to get script refilled! I am so dizzy, fatigued, etc and let’s not talk about the sweating! I feel like I am going crazy! The white noises are constant. Should I refill my script and slowly wean myself or just stop cold turkey? I need help!

  3. Jillian
    Reply

    I took Cymbalta for 7 years, for agoraphobia & PMDD. My psychiatrist started me too high initially. I stayed on 20mgs for years. I eventually weened off of it but it took me to agree to a lifestyle change & rebuild my mindset. No anti depressant is a miracle drug. Cymbalta helped when I needed it. You’d be surprised how much of your depression and anxiety is managed by your conscienceness alone, and not just medication. I was. Yes, the side effects of coming off of it are as listed. Especially brain zaps. But I was able to work through them with courage and strength knowing the side effects would be temporary.

  4. Shell
    Derbyshire
    Reply

    Found you when trying to discover how long these weird feelings were going to last after stopping duloxetine. I have cut down gradually as suggested by GP. Cleared a few days of appointments as the leaflet said the withdrawal symptoms would last two or three days. Not so!

    I am 6days now and no sign of them even easing. Have contacted GP today to get some help. Same symptoms as others have described. Nausea, dizziness, headache, funny noises in head. Also finding myself bursting into tears for no apparent reason. I feel relieved that this is not just me, but I’m panicking at how long I am going to feel so lousy. I have a life to get on with. I dare not drive. Even walking round the house is unpleasant. I have never experienced anything like this coming off other drugs.

  5. Carrie
    California
    Reply

    I was prescribed Cymbalta just over a year ago, in August, 2015. I have long term chronic pain from severe arthritis in my feet, and among other life challenges, such a very distressing medical condition with my daughter, I felt I may benefit from an anti depressant.

    I saw a very popular and respected psychiatrist and he recommended cymbalta due to its purported benefit for pain also. Big mistake. Had I had any doubts about him I would have thoroughly researched this med before starting it. It certainly did not help with my mood or my pain, but after being on it for a couple months to make sure I was giving it time, I then saw another doctor who put the fear of God into me about stopping it. He said the withdrawal is so bad he would no longer prescribe it, period.

    I was not in an emotional position to deal with stopping it, but six weeks ago and with new Kaiser insurance, I told my new doctor I felt it was doing no good. He reassured me it would just take cutting down the 60 mg to 30 for a month, then stop it. I extended that by alternating days taking it for a week, thinking that might help.

    It may have but its hard to tell, because I’m in misery. This is day 6 after my last capsule and the best description is emotionally, it’s akin to a complete lack of happiness. Despair, and life altering fatigue and lack of motivation. Physically, I feel nauseated, and have had extreme bouts of painful vomiting. Dizziness, brain fog, headaches and an overall unwell feeling. I cannot stress strongly enough, that for those of us who would develop this syndrome, as I know everyone is different, this medication is poison.

    The problem is, no one knows why some would develop the syndrome and others won’t. In their own trials, up to 54% of people developed this. It seems to me the risk is not worth allowing duloxetine to stay on the market. I hope I can make it through this, because I’m serious when I say this is having a hugely negative impact on my life and family, when they need me to be present and high functioning. I am far from it. I urge people considering this poison to decline it.

  6. Sara
    Texas
    Reply

    I was only on Cymbalta (60mg) for anxiety for 4 days and you could not pay me enough to start taking it again. I thought my nervous system was pretty much attacking itself. The second day I was on it that night I felt like someone dumped ice in my veins and then started sweating. The third day I still had the same feeling but add a spliting headache. I went to the doctor on the 4th day and had an MRI done because my head felt like something terrible was going on in there. Everything ended up ok but there is definitely something in this medication that I can’t handle. I stopped taking it and it has taken 4 more days to actually start feeling like a functioning person again without the brain zaps and shocks down my body. The only thing that helped me stay sane was reading that I was not the only person who has had these feelings on this medicine on this page. I hope this helps someone else not feel like they are alone in this.

  7. Brenda
    Arizona
    Reply

    My son has had a low grade depression and ADD, but within the last year, his doc decided he was bipolar and put on Cymbalta. As a nurse, I asked what test the doc performed to dx to the bipolar, and there was none done. So, my son needed a refill recently and his doc won’t call him back and did not send a script to the pharmacy.

    THIS DRUG MANUFACTURER AND THE MDS PRESCRIBING THIS MED ABSOLUTELY SHOULD BE HELD LIABLE FOR MAKING SURE EACH PATIENT TOTALLY UNDERSTANDS THEY WILL BE GOING THROUGH A HERION LIKE WITHDRAWL WHEN THEY STOP THE DRUG. THERE SHOULD BE A FORM SIGNED ACKNOWLEDGING THE DRUG IS BEING PRESCRIBED BASED ON PATIENT ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF THE POSSIBLE WITHDRAWL SYMPTOMS THEY WILL LIKELY HAVE..

    This drug is being prescribed way too freely for the seriousness of the withdrawal symptoms. My son went through hell, could have lost his job (he would have anywhere else, but he is really good at what he does) lost way too much weight, couldn’t drive, serious agitation, shaking, vertigo, inability to reason and a lot more.

    As a mother I went through living hell as we are in different parts of the country and trying to locate the help was near impossible The medical system so well known to CA sent some police out to his home 6 days after this to make sure he was ok. But never once did the doc call him back..

    As a nurse, I am appalled that this drug is allowed to be on the market. I am appalled at this system and their doc for being responsible that my son went throught this withdrawl .Thank God my son knew to call friends to take him to the emergency room. Had he not, he could have been dead the next day, his symptoms were that severe. The government has laws regarding consumer’s informed decision. There was never informed consent in the acceptence of this drug for most patients . This is wrong, very, very wrong!

    • Carrie
      California
      Reply

      Brenda, how is your son doing now? What a horrible thing for him and you to endure. I’m on day six post tapering off this poison and am very unstable. Many horrible symptoms I just listed about. I’m
      Just hanging on to hope I will feel better sooner than later, because this is hell.

  8. Erin
    Baltimore, MD
    Reply

    I have been on Cymbalta for over a year, and I decided to stop because it has caused serious bruising all over my body. Just leaning my arm on the edge of a table will cause horrible bruises to appear within hours. Also, I cannot handle the excessive sweating around my hairline! It’s like I have my personal rain cloud. Just putting my makeup on or doing dishes is enough to make me drenched. And I just want to sleep all the time.

    So, I am in the middle of withdrawal right now. My rheumatologist told me that since I’m only taking 30mg now, after I stepped myself down from 90mg due to the side effects – which did not decrease them, to just take one pill every other day for a week and stop. I knew that I couldn’t handle that because I have run out of my meds before! So this week I only skipped two pills including last night and I am miserable! Brain zaps, irritability, inflamed tastebuds, headaches, shakiness, horrible nausea which is causing so much reflux that it’s aspirating into my lungs and inducing asthma! Thank you for the advice about breaking open the capsules and stepping down slowly! Doctors in this country are not trained properly at all. Shame on the medical “education” society.

  9. Diane
    Illinois
    Reply

    I have taken Duloxetine 20 mg 1x per day for the last 3 days for peripheral neuopathy prescribed by my neurologist. I had to call off work today because I feel dizzy, nauseous, lightheaded, chills & sweats, AND dry mouth and trouble swallowing. Yesterday, loose stools, and generally not feeling like myself. I was reluctant to start this medication, as I really hate taking prescription drugs. Yesterday I was completely useless and was in bed ALL day. After reading these comments, I have decided to stop this medication NOW. The foot pain and ostheoarthritis pain in my knees have subsided even during this short duration, but the other side effects are not worth it. Any thoughts?

  10. gm
    illinois
    Reply

    I am a 45 year old mother taking cymbalta. I was prescribed it to treat severe constant multiple sclerosis nerve pain that had developed over the course of a year. I have been taking cymbalta for a little over a year now. The drug almost immediately stopped the nerve pain completely, but the side effects have been somewhat difficult to deal with. When I started, on 30 mgs daily building to 60 mg daily, I turned into a “zombie”, sleeping 16 hours a day, completely disconnected from my family and the world in general. I pulled back gradually to 30 mg every other day, and side effects aren’t nearly as bad, but still quite bothersome. I wonder if the pain might be easier than the medication side effects. My advice is to research any and all medication, even if it just means thoroughly questioning your health care provider about side effects.

    • Reg
      OR
      Reply

      Well I could not get my prescription filled. So I am once again on cold turkey. I am staying to my self at work..I tear up easy and feel dreadful. I have been off only 3 days so lets see how I goes. Ive gone longer. It has given me dry mouth and a lot of other side effects I think its why I have high blood pressure which ruined my eyesight. I had 2020 now I cant read or see a tv with out glasses….I have a trip coming up to take the grandkids to see great grand parents and I hope I can make it. It really doesnt help my depression I think some only think it does because of the withdrawal sadness. I just really don’t care anymore. With or without cymbalta my depression kept me in bed during the day during daylight I can sleep all day. But feel great at night. So whats that about? I’m just done with drugs……I have to find a way to live for myself cause noone else cares..Husband does his thing, kids are grown and we don’t need my income so whats it for…. I just sit by like my great aunts and just sits on the front porch all day and they seemed to do just fine and live to be in their 90’s. Yep I am a mess right now but by next week I hope to be better. My $200 per hour doc just writes me scripts and sends me on my way. They don’t care about me its about making money. If I go through a general doc they are in and out in less than 5 minutes now how can they really do me justice!

      • Carynda
        Md
        Reply

        Your words could have been written by me. Right now I’m on day three of not taking generic Cymbalta. I’m dizzy and confused and have a headache. My kids are in their 20s so don’t need me and I’m totally ignored by my husband who happens to be a doctor so he’s no help with this. I haven’t even told him. I just want to feel better and after ten years of Cymbalta I feel worse than ever.

  11. Spencer
    Idaho Falls
    Reply

    I was prescribed duloxetine for arthritis/lower back pain. I was on the drug for 2 months. Things seemed fine as far as my mind goes. I did realize that since I had been taking duloxetine, that when I would eat spicy food, go out in the heat/work out, that I would get incredibly uncomfortable tingles/stabbing sensations under my skin on my hands and under arms. It is one of the worst feelings. It would also cause me to brake out with a rash on my underarms, which would disappear almost as fast as they appeared. I ran out of the medication and was unable to make it to the pharmacy for about 5 days due to my work schedule. I figured I’d stop taking the medication anyways because of the skin rash/pain that I was having. After a few days I started noticing the brain zaps, feeling like I was on the verge of passing out every time I got up and moved around. My head feels like a fish bowl. It’s been 10 days since I last took the medication and it is at it’s worst as far as withdrawals go. I am also still experiencing the side effects of the skin pain/rash and it is also at it’s worst. I am getting worried that the side effects will be permanent. If so, then my life is ruined. I can no longer go out on a nice summer day, I can’t eat spicy foods whatsoever (even tomato sauce will induce the skin issues). I can no longer work out or do any type of vigorous activities which is extremely worrisome since my job requires me to carry guns and heavy equipment, and I have to be able to pass physical assessments in order to keep my job. I am meeting with my rheumatologist in a week and I hope he has some answers and good news for me.

    • Carrie
      California
      Reply

      Spencer, are you feeling better? I’m
      On day 6 post cymbalta and I can relate to your fear of permanence. I hope you are better?

  12. Jen
    Reply

    I took Cymbalta 30 mg/day for 2 years. Before taking the medicine, I had bad anxiety from my dizziness. The dizziness had stayed for 6 months. I wasn’t able to walk or anything. Had no social life. My anxiety got worse and worse everyday. My legs felt jelly and I couldn’t stand up by myself.

    One of my doctors told me to see a psychiatrist. Back then I didn’t think it was from mental illness. After talked with my psychiatrist, I started taking Cymbalta. The result was amazing my legs gradually felt better. I could finally walk normally and my dizziness went away. 1 year after that, my Dr told me to stop taking it, so I tried but failed every time I tried. Like 4 or 5 times attempts all failed.

    All kinds of weird feelings, brain zaps, dizziness, and nausea bothered me.. it was horrible. I opened a capsule and took off half of little particles inside of it for 6 months. From 1 months ago I took off 3/4 of the capsule.. really realky bad withdrawal symptoms came to me after. All suicidal thoughts and not sure what it is and hard to describe but something keeps making me to hurt myself so badly. It’s been 3 weeks after completely cut off the medicine but still my anxiety and suicidal thoughts bother me so much.

    Is anybody who had the same experience with me??

    • Jen
      Reply

      Want to make the point: I have never hurt myself so far. But the thoughts are here with me even though I don’t want to think that way. I can’t help it.

      • Carrie
        California
        Reply

        Jen, I can relate. I have not hurt myself either but know you mean. The despair is in describable. Everything is a struggle. Are you feeling any better now?

  13. Greg
    Louisiana
    Reply

    I took one 30mg tablet in the morning for 2 days for nerve pain. It’s awful. I feel exhausted, but can not sleep. My anxiety is off the charts. Feels like my organs were vibrating inside my body, dry mouth, cold sweats, vision problems, hands shaking… It’s hard for me to believe that this happened in only 2 days, especially since the Dr. said it was a low dose. There is no way that I can continue to take this medicine. I hope I get this stuff out of my system quickly.

  14. Dee
    FL
    Reply

    I have been on antidepressants for 14 years. About 8years ago I was changed from Lexapro to Cymbta due to neuropathy pain. In the last 3 years I would have bouts of sweating, depression and headaches. In the last 6-9 minths I have suffered from excessive head sweating, depression, low back pain and rashes. Went to the doctor last week, he took me off Cymbalta and it will be a week tomorrow. I am sick with nausea, headaches, indigestion and irritability. This is difficult.

    • Dee
      Little Rock
      Reply

      I have been on cymbalta for a year. I am now going through withdrawals because of the side effects. Terrible muscle spasms. But the withdrawal symptoms are horrible. Brain zaps and the vomiting every time I eat.
      It has only been about 5 days. I hope it passes soon. I’m not feeling depressed but my feelings are everywhere. I laugh and cry. But it is kind of nice to feel anything theses days. It’s been so long since I had.
      I’m hoping these withdrawals aren’t fatal.

    • Neeta
      England
      Reply

      I have just been put on it and advised to take one 60mg tablet in the evening. I did as instructed at 8pm I took my pill. Hell will freeze over before another one passes my lips. The foot and next pain eased quickly but unfortunately at 2 am I awoke with awful stomach pain soaked in sweat and feeling extremely sick and dizzy.

      It’s now 11:25am the next day I still feel light headed, really sick, and the neck and back pain are back. It’s like being on the outside looking in. This drug is not for me and after reading patients testimonies I will never pop another one maybe an initial lower dose would of been better but now reading up on the withdrawal symptoms nothing would convince me to take this toxin. Back to heat pads, physio and sheer determination sod drugs. If I wanted to feel this sick I would eat raw chicken. Self management from now on. Problem is, you never see the same Dr, so different views on treatmentering it’s do frustrating feel a bit like a guinea pig.

  15. amy
    NJ
    Reply

    Hi I have been on Cymbalta for 6 years for anxiety/depression. I developed severe body sweating, so my doctor said I could go off of it. I have been weaning myself off of it since July 1st. I am finally off of it, but I am constantly dizzy, irritable, I cry at the drop of a hat, and am super nauseous. It is a scary thing to be in this alone, but after reading all of these comments, I do feel better. Shame on the drug company for not providing a better drug; one patients can get off of with better results.

  16. Shirley
    Pennsylvania
    Reply

    I have been on 60 mg of cymbalta for 2 years. Prior to this, I was on Effexor for 6 years. I started to lose my hair soon after taking these medicines. I live in wigs, so I decided to go off Cymbalta to see if my hair grows back. I felt really good taking Cymbalta for depression and anxiety, but I wanted my hair back.

    Well, I did not think I would survive the withdrawal effects. Brain zaps were driving me crazy!!! Vertigo, dizziness, crying, arguing. I thought I was ready to lose my mind and husband. It has been 6 weeks since last dose. I am better, but still not there yet. I went down to 30 mg for a week then every other day for a week. I felt good with Cymbalta, but I will never go back on it!

  17. Teresa
    Boaz,AL
    Reply

    I have been on Cymbalta for about 8 months for fibromyalgia. I wanted to come off of it because of gaining 40 lbs. I had been off 8 days and couldn’t take it. My brain felt like a bug zapper. Every time I blinked it was like electricity running thru my brain. When I turned my head I felt as tho my brain wasn’t moving with my head. My whole body started shaking. I had severe anxiety, anger and frustration. I felt as tho I was going crazy. I gave in and took it. I am going to try to ween off. I pray I can. I never want to feel this way again. I would not recommend this drug to anyone!

  18. Mila
    California
    Reply

    Took Cymbalta for 3 years and it was great. I though I was cured so I decide to stop with my doctors help. Took one pill every other day for one week then skipped 2 days for another week and so on. Took me 4 months to really feel myself again. I had a lot Brain Zap and 8 months ago my symptoms came back and after trying other meds I went back to Cymbalta. This time it is not working at all. I’m getting itching, nausea like I’m pregnant and sometimes my head feels big and my body tingles sometimes. My dr is taking me off again. It is hard but you can make it.
    I took more than 15 types of meds in 27 years (some work ok but never perfect).

    I’m suffering from Panick Attacks for 27 years. Just keep trying and Im being positive for the results. Always a catch 22. Do not give up.

  19. Marlon
    Reply

    I am a nurse. Been nursing for a while now. I started Cymbalta about two to three years ago. I haven’t stopped the med but once until this week. My chief complaint has been extreme dizziness and I have to occasional breath deep and when I do I feel like I have to open my eyes big with a touch of anxiety with it. Dizziness was so bad one time I had to hold onto something or fall over. My concentration seems more poor, poor memory, and very sleepy. My first thought was I only stopped that one med temporarily and I decided to look up what possible side effects could be from stopping it. WOW!

    There has to be a better way!

  20. Sydney
    Oklahoma
    Reply

    I’ve been on Cymbalta for two years for severe depression, insomnia, and anxiety. The first three days were awful. I was throwing up and felt really dizzy and lightheaded. It took about two weeks for it to start helping me with my mood and six months for the insomnia but combined with therapy I was able to get back on my feet. I did occasionally have tingly feelings throughout my body but nothing that I couldn’t handle.

    About a year in, around April, I was switched to the generic, duloxetine, for two weeks and I had my first severe episodes in six months both going on and coming off the generic. I have always been able to function by keeping a schedule and during the first days around the switches I could barely leave the house or interact with people. My doctor, who has never been one to listen to the symptoms I give him, ensured me they were the exact same thing, but my mother is a nurse and could tell that I wasn’t making up the adverse effects.

    After another year of being on the Cymbalta I felt much healthier and had not had a bad episode since the switch. Eventually I went back on the duloxetine without many adverse effects from the switch due to the price difference (I’m a broke college kid). I functioned a lot better this time around and this last month my doctor and I agreed that I was ready to come off the antidepressants. This was all over the phone and mostly through a nurse since my family doctor is rarely in the office and didn’t think it was necessary to make a follow up appointment to talk things over. I was not told about any adverse effects but I knew that there must be some because of how it effects your hormone levels. I thought maybe the brain zaps and some mood issues but nothing I couldn’t handle. I began by cutting my dosage in half (to 30mgs).

    Last month was awful. I had to rely heavily on coping mechanisms I learned in therapy to get through work hours and time with challenging members of my family. I had anxiety attacks and strong irritability (which doesn’t help when you have menopausal coworkers). Because of this my doctor told me to wait to take the next step of the weaning process. I still was not notified of any withdrawal effects and I was told to schedule an appointment if I felt it was “necessary”. I felt that that would be a waste of money so I decided to wait it out. It took about two week for the initial adverse effects to go away and my doctor agreed that it was a good idea to start taking the half doses every other day for two weeks.

    I’m almost through the first week and I’ve experienced 6 of 8 symptoms (no headaches or eye symptoms other than slight irritation). Tonight I was taking my cocker spaniels out before bed and I got hit with a wave of dizzyness so bad that the only thing keeping me standing was the pull on the leashes. This also happened a few days ago at work and I sat at the shared staff desk eating donut holes thinking that I could fix it by getting my blood sugar up. (It helped but then I felt sick from eating so many). After tonight’s episode I decided to do more research and ended up here. Hopefully It won’t take a full six months to ditch the pills, but at this point I’m thinking it may take more than just one more week. I agree that more testing should be done and I’m a little upset with my doctor for not preparing me for everything I’ve gone through this month.

  21. Lynn
    pgh
    Reply

    I started cymbalta 4 months ago and I’m really happy with the results. I take it for anxiety and bad knee pain. It helps tremendously. I can exercise now which I couldn’t do before and my attitude is much better. I do have some side affects. I take it at night..a few hours before bed…and sleep like a baby. It’s hard to get up in the morning so I give myself an extra half to get ready for work. Also.. I do notice my vision changing a little…but thats not so bad to deal with…I do take a nap some days and stillcan go to bed at my regular time. My knees don’t kill me like they use too..and I really do feel better emotionally and physically. Hopefully this won’t change.

  22. joy
    TX
    Reply

    I have been taking this medicine for around a year for depression. I started out taking 30mg, and now I am up to 90mg. This medicine has quit working for me and has started making me feel really weird. I sweat, have tremors, and I never can seem to think clearly. It also makes me itch until I have open sores on me. I have started trying to come off this medicine, and I am not having much luck. I am so irritable, and I feel like I am never going to be normal again. I have only been trying to come off of it for a week now, and the symptoms just seem to get worse. I can’t sleep. When I do, I have horrible night mares, and I can’t stand to associate with people. It is the most horrible feeling I have ever had in my life. I am to the point where I don’t know what to do.

  23. David J
    Williamsburg VA
    Reply

    I have been on the full range of popular antidepressants, as well as mood stabilizers, continuously over the last 35 years. Last year I spent my first 6 months off all prescription meds, but went back on them when intense anxiety and suicidal thoughts returned. But I’m here to share my harrowing story of withdrawal, as this is the topic of the article.

    I was on Effexor for 6 years. During the latter couple of years, I suffered from constantly daytime sleepiness, which a sleep specialist labelled “nonspecific hypersomnolence,”after I took a full series of sleep tests to determine the cause of the problem. It was so bad I decided, together with my psychiatrist, to take dexedrine and adderall to stay awake. I stopped the amphetamines several months later.

    Eventually the Effexor ceased to be effective, so I had to go off of it. I had no idea when I first tried to stop the Effexor that it would end up taking me a full 6 months to wean myself off of it. I had every one of the 8 withdrawal syndromes listed in the article. Chief among them were vertigo, nausea, irritability and depression.

    Once I was weaned off the Effexor, my daytime sleepiness subsided completely.

    I have nothing against effective psychiatric medications, but I will certainly never take Effexor again. However, I am concerned about the immediate future because I started taking Cymbalta for the first time one week ago. I knew that Cymbalta was related to Effexor and I expressed my concern about the withdrawal to the psychiatrist. Believe it or not, he tried to reassure me that it wouldn’t be a problem by saying “It’s not habit forming.”

    The Cymbalta gave me an immediate and significant improvement in mood, as well as a reduction of anxiety. Then I decided to do some research on the down sides and, sure enough, learned that withdrawal from Cymbalta can be just as bad as withdrawal from Effexor, or worse. I have debated about stopping. If I stop, I want to stop it soon, before it digs its claws into me any further.

    I’ve assessed the pros and cons of continuing Cymbalta from a number of perspectives. Last night I thought to myself, “I think it’s worth it to stay on the drug because I’ve been feeling a lot better in terms of my mood. If I go off it, I’ll become depressed again.” And I mean seriously depressed. But I think I will stop it.

    Here’s a fundamental question I asked myself that helped me to make the big decision to stop Cymbalta after just one week:

    If I were to stay on Cymbalta and one day need to go off of it (which I’ve eventually had to do with every other psychiatric medication I’ve ever tried), I will almost certainly experience the withdrawal symptoms I experienced when going off its “sister” drug, Effexor. These symptoms stretch out over several months and include depression.

    So I ask myself, What good is a medication, even if it works well initially, if in the end I will spend several months in discomfort and depression, all over again? Not to mention the fact that my underlying “illness” will most likely return in full force, as it has in the past, if I don’t start taking some other new medicine?

    Either I struggle with moderate depression for now, or I take Cymbalta, feel a little better (with various side effects like muscle contractions and teeth grinding), and postpone my depression until later?

    It’s probably better to try to cope now and end the Cymbalta. Maybe I’ll increase my Wellbutrin LOL! (Actually, Wellbutrin has been the best antidepressant for me for many years and has less withdrawal potential.)

    • Terry Graedon
      Reply

      David, be sure to discuss your decision with your psychiatrist.

  24. Lisa
    North Carolina
    Reply

    I was prescribed Cymbalta in February this year for depression but also told it would possibly help with the pain I suffer daily due to having Rheumatoid Arthritis. I remember thinking great something that will help me with not only my depression but maybe some of my daily pain also, I couldn’t wait to start taking it. What a HUGE mistake that was. I was started on 30mg once daily, and within a few weeks I could tell a dramatic difference with my depression, I felt so much better. In May my doctor increased the dosage to 60mg once daily and not long after big problems started. At first it was kinda hard to tell if the side effects were a direct result of the Cymbalta or possibly my RA meds. To make a long story short I’ll cut right to it. I was sweating CONSTANTLY, even when it wasn’t really hot I would be drenched, even the top of my head would be soaked. However my biggest shock was the fact that is had gained 20 pounds in 2 months! I’ve never gained weight like that before so fast or at all for that matter. I decided enough was enough and I stopped taking them cold turkey a little over a week ago. I knew nothing about withdrawals what so ever. I still feel horrible. I’ve had no energy just feeling tired all the time. Very moody, emotional and irritable. Unable to think clearly, feelings of dread and overall despair, feeling hopeless and paranoia. That’s just naming a few. Physically I’ve had headaches, tremors to where it feels my entire body is quivering and the overall feeling of not being well. To put it bluntly, feeling like total shit. I don’t know how long this is gonna last. I’ve heard it takes about 2 months for it to get out of your system. I feel for all of those going thru this and I wish you well.

  25. Eric
    Missouri
    Reply

    I have the brain zings that are nonstop it has become debilitating. I have taken it for 2 years and need to stop it is a horrible drug. Has anyone found anything that relieves this it has been going on for 10 days and seems to be getting worse.

    • Sam
      MAINE
      Reply

      I’ve found Tramadol works wonders with the brain zaps! I’m just starting to wean myself off Cymbalta but in the past when I have missed a dose I would take a 50 mg Tramadol and the zaps would deminish.

  26. DJH
    Ohio
    Reply

    I have been on cymbalta for several months – I asked my dr for it so I could take less pills being that it might help my depression and diabetic neuropathy. It didn’t seem to make a difference and in fact, made my depression worse so I asked to return to my former drug regimen. I wish I had read this post before starting or stopping the Cymbalta. My dr mentioned no possibility of withdrawal symptoms. I have started having dizziness, vertigo and worse this weird thing between my eyes and ears that I described to my husband as my ears hear my eyes blink shut and my eyes feeling the sensation. It’s kind of disconcerting. I decided to look Cymbalta withdrawal symptoms up this morning because that’s the only thing I’ve changed when I came across this site. I could hardly believe that moments after I told my husband about my eyes and ears having that sensation, I read K.T.’s description of it above!!!! It’s too late to wean and I have already started my old antidepressant so I hope this doesn’t last long. Also, I am extremely irritable.

  27. Lizet
    GUILDFORD and ST LEONARDS ON SEA
    Reply

    I am on Cymbalta for 3 years now. It was prescribed for the neoropathy pain in my feet. I take 2 X 60 mg per day.
    When I started on it, it relieved the pain in my feet so much, the side effects did not bother me.
    Now my body got used to it, my feet are back to its normal unhappiness and I am always tired, can’t sleep, sweat runs down me, when other people are cold and I get itches (normally on one part of my body) that is so bad, I scratch myself until I have an open wound!!!
    I am going to stop taking it.
    I will also use ALA that will hopefully help with the neoropathy pain. Is there anything else I can try for neoropathy and or coming off the Cymbalta?
    Thank you for your site and everybody that took the time to tell others about their problems.
    I will report back. Good luck to all of you and take care.
    Lizet

  28. Terry
    Ontario
    Reply

    This medication knocks me RIGHT OUT!!! I CANNOT stay awake after taking it. It was prescribed to help with severe migraines, and it does help with migraines. However, I experience headaches after taking it, and it knocks me completely out!

  29. tippy
    LA, CA
    Reply

    I have been on Cymbalta(40mg) for a week for Fibromyalgia . doctor said it will take 4 -6 weeks to get better from Fibromyalgia . I was refused to take any medicine before but this year FB get worse . So I try it . the pharmacist told me to took at evening because the medicine will cause me sleepy , but for me it cause me insomnia . I could not sleep at all . I have constipation , palpitation , feel like chest pain . I have not stopped the medicine yet . I got scared after I read all the experience of yours.

  30. Christie
    Oregon
    Reply

    I can’t remember how long I’ve been on Cymbalta for nerve related pain from neck and back injuries. My prescription refill got mixed up, causing missed dosage of four days. (60 mg 1x daily) The symptoms are really lousy; brain zaps, sleeplessness to exhaustion, diarrhea nearly uncontrollable, nausea, extreme headache, beginning the crying. I’ve read the various stories here and have realized other ongoing symptoms such as night sweats! I’m 63 and was done with all that quite a few years ago. Short term memory issues. I am going to figure out how to titrate off this drug. The experiences of you all are very helpful. Have any of you found natural supplements or herbal remedies to help in this process? I’m already on magnesium.

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.