roller coaster ride

Q. Due to a change in my insurance, I wasn’t able to refill my prescription for the depression drug Cymbalta. Saturday was my last dose and by Monday I felt like I was losing my mind.

Today was the worst physical and emotional roller coaster ride I have ever been on. I have gone from wanting to scream and throw things to crying in a matter of minutes. My head is spinning and I have a creeping crawling feeling going up the back of my neck when I feel an outburst coming. Sometimes without warning I suddenly just start sweating. This is absolute craziness! Do you have any advice for getting through this?

A. Duloxetine (Cymbalta) is prescribed for lots of different problems: anxiety, depression, fibromyalgia and muscle or nerve pain. Before starting on this medication patients should be warned that stopping suddenly can be a challenge.

Sweating, nausea, dizziness, irritability and electric shock-like sensations (brain zaps) have all been reported as withdrawal symptoms when stopping Cymbalta. They can last for several weeks, but they eventually disappear. You might ask your doctor whether switching to fluoxetine (Prozac) and withdrawing slowly from that drug would be an option.

We are sending you our Guide to Dealing with Depression, which discusses withdrawal and provides many non-drug alternatives for depression.

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  1. pumpkin
    hamburg, N.J,

    I have been on cymbalta 30mg for about 2 yrs, now dr wants me to trytramadol 50mg for my spinal stenosis. now taking Hydrcodin but that makes me itch. have read of terrible side effects for tramadol. scared to try it, help

  2. Betty
    Miami, Fl

    I was started on Cymbalta while being treated with epi-dural for spinal stenosis, had Polymyalgia, couldn’t stop crying. It was a wonderful drug, stopped the crying episodes, felt great. Had surgery for TMJ, all lower left side teeth, crown, bridges replaced, night guard prescribed.

    Shortly afterward had shingles, Cymbalta helped tremendously. Eventually had back surgery, bladder surgery, still on Cymbalta. After five years lowered drug, doing okay til my Neice sent me bottle higher dose, didn’t want to waste, took lower dose one day, higher dose next for two months.

    Couple days after back on lower dose, body decided to punish me, extremely lightheaded, dizzy, nauseous, difficulty walking, thought something wrong with my head, hearing, visiting ENT, could not find anything wrong with hearing, etc. because of nausea, didn’t take anything by mouth, “big mistake,” symptoms became worse.

    Talking to my sister, she said can’t go off that drug, immediately took lower dose, three days later, symptoms stopped. Started weaning myself off, took several months to finally go off completely, was never informed by Doctor that prescribed Cymbalta!

    Don’t know if taking Cymbalta caused any of current symptoms, moving mouth, tongue, excess salivation, (unconsciously,) lips, mouth burning, speech difficulty, due to increased saliva, lips starting to feel crevices, leaking saliva. Have visited all the specialist, Dentist, Oral surgeon, Neurologist, Perodinist, new primary Doctor. Latest recommended stop night guard, (it did help stop burning) vitamins, antioxidants. Learning to remember, lips touch, teeth apart, (from Oral surgeon) not comfortable stopping vitamins, antioxidants, doesn’t seem much different, now in speaking difficult stage. Not sure if Cymbalta had anything to do with this, but Google suggest otherwise! Wonder if anyone else has any of these symptoms?

  3. Deanna

    I wonder if doctors ever think of recommending a non drug remedy as the first choice for mild depression. Years ago I read about DLPhenelalinine as treatment for mild depression. One day my Mom, over 80 at the time, started sobbing for no apparent reason and couldn’t stop for hours. I bought some DLPhenelalinine and convinced her to try it with amazing results. It may be coincidental, but she took it for a few days and never had a sobbing episode again.

  4. Bob
    Plano, TX

    My late cousin, who suffered from dementia, was on Cymbalta for years. On at least three separate occasions, it was stopped “cold turkey” as a result of being admitted to a hospital or rehab facility and not having it included with the meds she was already on. (A spreadsheet with her meds was always given to the ER.) The results were predictable.

    I eventually discovered the errors but not before she suffered greatly from the omission. Word to the wise: Ask/demand a list of the patient’s meds after they have been admitted and when they are discharged. If they are going into a rehab facility or nursing home for recovery, review the list again.

  5. Marjorie

    The real question here is why an insurance company is playing doctor? I hear this so often when an insurance won’t cover one drug but suggests you should use another? This is crazy!!! I just went through this and so has my son.

  6. Maggie
    Raleigh NC

    I am a 64 yr old white female. For decades, I have been prescribed different antidepressants. Paxil was prescribed by a psychiatrist in the early ’90’s. It was responsible for permanently affecting my sexual response. There was never a problem with my response until Paxil. I talked to the doctor about this unwanted side effect who prescribed Paxil and he took me off it immediately.

    I do not recall having a bad time coming off Paxil but the doctor started me on another drug right away. I have been on many anti depressant drugs over the years. Many have been ineffectual but Paxil stands out in my mind for doing something in my brain that has to do with sexual response. I described it to the doctor as “turning off a switch” that has NEVER been turned back on. It changed my life in that regard, forever.

    For the last 5 years, I have been on Welbutrin XL 300 mg once a day. The generic versions of Welbutrin , however, are NOT the same. I take name-brand only Welbutrin. Q: If generics are “the same as” name brand drugs, why does my body react differently to a generic version of some drugs?

  7. Ariel

    I had to see a psychologist who had to gradually taper me off of Cymbalta. I was having side effects from the Cymbalta. He said that a lot of people were having the same problem with even more side effects trying to get off of this Cymbalta. He said that some people could never get off of this Cymbalta because of the problems with it. Luckily I was able to get to stop taking it.

  8. JLS

    I took Cymbalta for over a year. I didn’t like the way it made me feel and did not feel it addressed any symptoms like mood elevation, sadness, and just a general feeling of not caring about much of anything. At the time, I was working in a medical community. I sought their advice on the best way to wean myself off. The advice was to begin taking the once a day dose every other day for 2 weeks then 1/2 dose every other day for a week. I remember taking the 1/2 dose every 2-3 days for an additional week so I would have less side effects. I still had some discomfort, anxiety and minimal shortness of breath but I was able to handle it. I just felt like this was a dangerous drug for me and wanted the safest way to stop.

  9. StevenCee

    Cymbalta is a very nasty drug, and I’m appalled that so few doctors seem to divulge just how horrible coming off can be. I have ADD, and have been using Adderall for a number of years, and so had to do quick office visits with a doctor, to keep my Rx written. Well, one doctor felt I was a bit “anxious” too, and decided I should add something more, to deal with this anxiety he believed me to have.
    I normally don’t just take whatever a doctor says, recommends, prescribes, etc, without first doing the research, as I’ve been more accurate about my own care than most doctors, for they base their decisions on so short a time with you, knowing little to nothing of your past history. Well, I took this Cymbalta stuff for at the most ten days, and realized it was not something I wanted to be taking. I forgot what about it’s effects turned me off, but I decided that was it. Well, little did I know that even in that short a time of taking it, I would be knocked on my butt for days! I felt like I had food poisoning, and a hangover, at the same time!!
    It was awful, I couldn’t walk around without feeling nauseous and very dizzy, had to basically sit, not move my head very quickly, and just be in slow-motion mode, until the effects eventually wore off. I’m just fortunate I didn’t have to work during those three or four day of hell, cause I would not have been able to. When I felt better enough to get to googling, I discovered entire websites devoted to people who have Cymbalta horror stories! And my case was lightweight compared to most, and with only 10 days of usage, it shouldn’t even have been as bad as it was…
    Just Google Cymbalta & users, or side effects, withdrawal, etc, and you’ll see enough to convince you to never even consider taking it.

  10. CJ

    I was prescribed Duloxatine which didn’t seem to be helping much after taking it for awhile. So I decided to read up on the effects of tapering off this medication. The side effects were not very encouraging and rather scary. However, I was going to make a very slow attempt on decreasing my dosage. So I started tapering off this medication very, very slowly. First for a week or two I took this medication every other day. Then I took it every third day for a week or two followed by one pill every fourth day. I did this until I was taking one pill a week. That was two weeks ago. I have not taken any Duloxatine since and am feeling pretty good with no terrible side effects.

  11. npw

    I have been taking Paxil for years. I have tried to get off of it many times under a doctors supervision with no success slowing reducing the dose etc. Withdrawal symptoms have been awful and I was never successful so I feel like I will be on it no matter what until I die.
    Did nobody realize how addictive these drugs were when they became so popular??? What about the FDA and the drug companies did they warn anybody???? The withdrawal is so much worse than whatever it was I started taking them for. I think I would need to check into an addiction center in order to stop taking them. Did Doctors not know???

  12. ariel

    I definitely can relate to this!! I did not feel right on Cymbalta. Stopped taking it and many side effects. I had to see a psychologist to WEEN me off the med. He told me that many people were having the problems getting off it. It took a while reducing the dose little by little .

  13. nb

    My Insurance co sent the generic Cymbalta. It was cheaper but made me a Zombie. I talked to my doctor who prescribed another drug. I think it is doin it’s job but I will slowly reduce the amount to try to stop need. This with my doctors help.

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