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Stopping Antidepressant Makes Brain Shiver

Q. I was put on Cymbalta to stop hot flashes from menopause. When I switched doctors, my new physician was angry that I had been put on an antidepressant for hot flashes and put me on hormones instead.

I am now trying to stop taking Cymbalta. The dosage was reduced for several months. Then I took a pill every other day for months. I have not taken any for over two weeks and my life is a living hell.

I cannot turn around without falling over from dizziness. I cannot go up or down stairs without falling. Running or exercising is out of the question. No one told me that this would happen. How much longer will these dizzy spells continue? Is there anything I can do to stop them?

A. Cymbalta is not the only antidepressant that can cause trouble upon discontinuation. Doctors don’t always warn patients about the possibility of withdrawal symptoms (dizziness, difficulty concentrating, sweating, anxiety, insomnia or electric shock-like sensations) when they prescribe such medicines.

Another reader related this:

“I am experiencing the ‘brain shivers’ of Effexor withdrawal. I reduced the dosage from 75 mg to 37.5 mg and had been on that dose for a month. I have been off for about a week and I have constant brain shivers. Is there anything that can help lessen these odd side effects?”

We don’t know of any good way to diminish the uncomfortable side effects resulting from withdrawal except to take it even more slowly.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.”.
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