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. no name

    I have ME/CFS for the last 18 years. Ever since I started to take Cymbalta, I started to experience catalepsy, especially when I tried to reduce the dosage of Cymbalta or forgot to take it. Of course I didn’t know what it was first but I kept visiting specialists after specialists and finally found it was called catalepsy. Later on, I started to have eye lid dystonia. I was also diagnosed as having cerebrospinal fluid leaks, which seem to coexist with some ME/CFS people. I am not sure if the catalepsy is happening do to the inflammation of the brain (ME/CFS), or side effect of Cymbalta, or symptom of cerebrospinal fluid leaks.

  2. Sally
    Southern California

    Hello from 2015, September. I applaud anyone who try’s to quit Prilosec. From everything I have read it is difficult to quit.

    I have been having strange symptoms since 2014. Swollen glands, terrible congestion, headaches, etc. I put 2 humidifiers in the and sleep or spend the day at home with a breath right strip on my nose. When the edema came and I couldn’t see my ankles that was the deal breaker, oh and the horrid constipation and then diarrhea.

    I searched all over the Internet looking at various medications and supplements I am on and lo and behold found it was the omeprazole causing all these strange diseases. I was shocked as I have taken Prilosec for a few years. I am grateful to find a thread with others who struggle to get off it.

    I have just decided today I need to stop and I am trying to figure out how, I take the extended release capsules so cutting down in small increments won’t work. I also saw where diet plays a role. Low carb high protein? Gosh I’m a toast person.daily. As I still have some type of gastritis.

    If anyone has been success getting off P please share it with us. I am thinking instead of cold turkey maybe cut to 20mg in the morning instead of 40. It might help?

  3. HappyDose
    San Francisco, CA

    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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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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