The People's Perspective on Medicine

Stopping Paroxetine or Cymbalta (Duloxetine) Is Challenging

The drugs paroxetine (Paxil) or Cymbalta (duloxetine) can be difficult to get off of because of the dramatic withdrawal symptoms they may cause.

Q. I have attempted to stop taking Paxil. The sickness and body reactions experienced after 3 days were horrible, however. I cannot afford to take that much time off work and I had no idea how long the effects would last. When I explained it to my doctor he said “Don’t worry, it’s ok for you to stay on the medication indefinetly.” HELP!

Q. I am frustrated by the lack of warning about what will happen when you try to discontinue Cymbalta. When I tried to stop, I only lasted 5 weeks after being sooo sick out of my mind. I was reduced to an emotional wreck.

It is WITHDRAWAL! I used to praise the working of this drug, until I was forced by financial difficulties and insurance confusion to have to end my medication.

In the ensuing horror of “discontinuation syndrome,” I almost lost my job and my mind.

Absolutely nobody warned me what could happen. I am back on Cymbalta, but I no longer feel the benefits of this drug relating to my depression. I wake up wishing I were dead and go to sleep praying that I don’t wake up. I live in utter fear that from month to month I won’t be able to come up with all the copays, deductibles, share of costs, denials and whatever other words relate to we-don’t-pay-anything health insurance.

I feel hooked and dependent on this drug.

A. We are outraged that drug companies, doctors and the FDA do not adequately warn patients about the possibility of withdrawal when they stop certain antidepressant medications. We have heard from many people that discontinuing drugs like citalopram (Celexa), desvenlafaxine (Pristiq), duloxetine (Cymbalta), escitalopram (Lexapro), paroxetine (Paxil), sertraline (Zoloft) and venlafaxine (Effexor) can cause some very unpleasant symptoms. They can include:

  • 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

Doctors sometimes call this “discontinuation syndrome.” That just doesn’t do this problem justice. And when the FDA or the drug company suggests that you should talk to your doctor they are just covering their derrieres. There are very few studies providing physicians clear guidelines about how to help patients discontinue antidepressant medications. As a result, many doctors are flying by the seat of their pants. They make up a “gradual withdrawal” program. It may work for some but not for others.

Here is an example of just such a home-made withdrawal program:

“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 and become isolated and “numb.” I am a writer and photographer and 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.

“It’s been three weeks since I’ve taken 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.”

Eden

We wish we could tell you that there was a sure-fire formula to phase off antidepressants so that there would be no symptoms. Each person is different and likely will require a tailored approach. A compounding pharmacist can create a series of lowered doses over a long period of time, but this will require assistance from a prescribing physician.

In the meantime, we welcome people to share their own stories. You can read more about different approaches here and here and here.

You can also learn more about withdrawal from antidepressants and nondrug approaches in our Guide to Dealing With Depression. We also have a section about mistakes doctors make when treating people with depression in our book, Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them. And we have lots of alternative approaches in our book, Best Choices From The People’s Pharmacy.

Please share your own story below. We hope someday to be able to offer people some clear guidelines to successful withdrawal from a variety of drugs, including acid-suppressing proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) like omeprazole (Prilosec), lansoprazole (Prevacid) and esomeprazole (Nexium). We would also like to know how people have successfully discontinued drugs like alprazolam or lorazepam. Maybe someday the FDA will require drug manufacturers to alert physicians and patients to withdrawal problems and successful strategies for discontinuing such drugs.

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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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After a stroke then a major car accident and two months later the sudden death of my son my body started screaming at me in pain. Migraines and body pain like I’d never experienced long term before. I was constantly depressed and often thought of suicide. I was sent to specialists after specialist and test after test to be told it could be fibromyalgia to top off everything else. I was put on Duloxetine along with other medications. After several years on duloxetine my new pharmacy had some problems getting it ordered and I was without it for 2 1/2 months. The withdrawals were horrendous. In the first few weeks I decided to wean myself from duloxetine since I couldn’t get it but little did I know how it would change my life. I had so many painstaking days but the worst was the crippling of my ability to walk as if my knees locked and I can’t bend them to walk as I did before. My legs hurt daily while on the medication but this surpassed the pain and crippled me. It’s been five months now and I feel better without the duloxetine but now have to deal with new and other painful problems. I’ve researched duloxetine and found out what I experienced was called duloxetine withdrawal syndrome.

I can’t afford a $150 doctor’s appointment to refill a $4 Paxil prescription. Weaning myself off. Very horrible symptoms. Brain zaps, brain fog, sweating, shortness of breath, nausea, diarrhea, psoriasis on my elbows, leg pains, numbness in my feet, and anxiety while driving. I have a drink in the evening to take the edge off. I know this will end eventually. I try to keep busy outside which does help since I am retired. Also taking care of a husband with dementia. Good luck to those who have to work.

I am scared for my sanity at he very thought of weaning myself off of Duloxetine. I am on 60 mg daily, and I am convinced that this drug is not the answer to my anxiety disorder. I will be speaking with my therapist this week and letting her know that I wish to titrate off this drug. I am going down the functional medicine path to a better lifestyle, better eating, and exercise to get myself off all meds.

I am in the midst of weaning off duloxetine. I bought a scale for gram weight and 1″ empty gelatin capsules online. Had been on 60 mg for about 5 years, and it really wasn’t working. I cut the dosage in half to 30 mg for one month. Then 15 mg for one month. Then a 15 mg capsule every other day for about 2 weeks. Now cold turkey. Still some withdrawal issues: Anger (however righteous) and crying – but feel like my emotions are returning to normal. Some dizziness and inability to focus. I also developed a meditation and yoga practice which, quite frankly, is helping much more than this dastardly drug. I can see the end in sight. And my sex drive is back. I feel 30 years younger in that regard. So, yoga three days a week and meditation every day. I’m doing 10 to 15 minutes of meditation. And if I feel out of sorts and depressed, I’ll sit and meditate for 10 minutes. My Dr. was no help. His response was, “you’ll be on this the rest of your life.” No thanks, Doc.

I am trying to get off Cymbalta. I was told to reduce the dosage from 60 mg to 30 mg. It’s been 10 days since I started this reduced dosage, and I am experiencing severe insomnia. I am awake all night and all the next day. I get bad headaches and I’m very tired with no energy. I don’t know if this is normal or not since the PA didn’t tell me about side effects. After 2 weeks of taking 30 mg I’m supposed to discontinue taking Cymbalta and start taking Fazema. I hope that I can sleep then. My life is terrible now since I can’t sleep, and I’m too tired to drive or do much of anything. The reason I was taking the drug was to relieve nerve pain, and I’m not really sure if it did any good since I’m also taking Lyrica. When these anti-depressants are prescribed patients should be informed about the difficulties that occur with withdrawal.

I was put on 5mg of Paxil last month for what we thought was anxiety. I took it for six days, and decided to stop. It is now day 6 since I stopped it, and last night I woke up shaking and feeling extremely nervous, with a bad headache. Is this a side effect of withdrawal, or something else?

I’m wanting my creativity, my sexual identity as a woman and my life back.
60 mgs for 6 years, I’ve had enough. Weaning (ha!) from 60 mg daily to 60 mg every 2nd day, every third day, every fourth day . . . I trust I’m stronger

I’ve been on Paxil and Trazadone for a few years and has helped me with my depression and anxiety. This past year I went off them due to no money for co-payment. It was fine for the first week then I had anxiety, moody, nauseous and felt weird, kind of out in space. I went a month before I got back on them. It was hell.

Doctors should warn patients and ease them off gradually.

I was on 20 mg of Paxil daily for 14 years. During that time I tried to wean off 3 times, but the withdrawal symptoms were so terrible, I just gave up and went back on it. Then I read that Paxil was offered in liquid form and this can be used for weaning slowly and I was all over it! (None of my doctors knew this info). I weaned .5 mg every 4 days — yes 160 days. Even at that slow rate of decrease, I spent 5 months in a perpetual state of slight dizziness, but I was able to push through it until the end. Paxil was perfect for me and addressed many of the issues I had been dealing with. Withdrawal made it a prison though. There’s no way to crack a 10mg pill into 20 pieces — the liquid is the only way to do it in small enough increments so the side effects do not overwhelm.

I was on paxil for 3 years. Unfortunately i went to prison. After i got out i only had a 2 week supply of paxil and my insurance had been canceled while locked up so i had no way to pay for a doctor visit. December 2 2016 was my last dose of paxil. By the 5th i was feeling so sick i couldn’t sleep at all and eventually started hallucinating. I really thought i was going to die.

By the beginning of February, I got into a free mental health clinic to get put back on it because the head zaps would not go away. I couldn’t handle it any more. It had been 2 months. I take 40mg a day. I want to try something else that will not cause head zaps if u don’t take it. Sincerely Katrina W.

I had been on Paxil for a decade for treatment of severe PMDD. Well, I had a hysterectomy Oct 15th last year and the PMDD is gone. In conjunction with my psych and MD we decided it may be best to come off of the drug. It was tapered over the span of a month, and at the end, on the third day of NO PAXIL… I stayed to lose it BAD. Hallucinating visual and auditory, vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, trembling, insomnia, brain zaps, zapping in my gut, extreme confusion, crying constantly, neuro rage, I MUTILATED myself!!!

Had a flat out grand mal seizure, ended up in the psych ward for three days, long enough to barely be able to come home. It lasted almost three weeks. It almost ruined my marriage. And that’s just what I experienced with withdrawal. A WHOLE OTHER chapter of what I experienced on it! This drug had nearly ruined my life. Want to add, I gained 70 pounds on this drug. I’m now completely detoxed from Paxil. I am a totally different person. The person I had forgotten I am.

Discontinued Zoloft about a year ago because I was feeling numb, spacial and just plain awkward. Later I was prescribed paroxetine and needed testosterone meds. Talk about feeling better but the added testosterone made me more hyper-sexual as time went on. Personally, it bothered me. I was content to know that my testosterone level was okay after a year on it and thus the med was unnecessary. A few months later, I decided to weaned myself from paroxetine slowly because I was again feeling numb, spacial and awkward. I suffered mind buzz mainly and a little weeping during some movies but now as in now, I do not feel spacial, numb or awkward. I sense if I’m heading into a new life direction. Maybe my personality is adjusting or I am settling down into a new self. Maybe it is underlying anxiety about being off paroxetine. Not sure. Lara

I’ve been on Cymbalta 90 mg and Seroquel 300 mg nightly for about three years now, for Bipolar II, and MDD, with voices. I have to say, I’ve never been this effective – the drugs have helped me significantly. However, the benefits come at a price. Weight gain, yes; brain zaps, yes; liver damage, yes; sweats, hot flashes, chills, yes; itching of scalp and back, yes. That’s a typical day for me, while being on it… Coming off is another story because I take it to address fibromyalgia, so I have to do something about the physical pain of my depression.

Recently my psych doc recommended I come down from 90 mg to 0 mg in a week. I was told to ‘expect breakdowns.’ We supplemented with a new drug called Fetzima which incidentally did nothing for my fibromyalgia pain. Nor did it address my anxiety/depression as I came off the Cymbalta. I went to the gym feeling OK, but left in tears as my anxiety started growing. I tried to cope by taking Klonopin, but instead, I bounced into mania and came home with a St. Bernard (no joke). My husband, a veteran with PTSD, didn’t respond well when I went manic, and I ended up in the ER with paranoia and anxiety attacks. Fortunately the ER doc knew what to do.

The next day, I saw another psychiatrist who said I had done in a week what he would have suggested would take a month. Now I’m back on the same dosage as before, with the stipulation that if I try to go off of it again, I have go to into the hospital. This scares me. My doctors are not concerned that I am on a medication that takes hospitalization to discontinue, my liver is suffering, and I can’t lose weight. And the numbness is very awkward. To alleviate the sleepiness, I’m always using caffeine. I seem fine, I think, until I draw blood somewhere with my fingernails. I don’t even feel it until it’s done. Doesn’t go over well socially…

Besides my liver, which has turned into pate, what worries me at this point is my sleep. Earlier this year, I started using a bi-pap machine, and a fitness tracker. Last night I got 5 1/2 hours of deep sleep, uninterrupted. Am I asleep or unconscious? Our medical system doesn’t pay attention to you until you’re too far gone, in my opinion. The only things that have really helped me is exercise and going off sugar, drinking water and focusing on decreasing inflammation, but I still have to take fat burners and Adipex to even hope to lose weight. It’s all I can do to just maintain because the sugar cravings are pretty intense.

Sorry this is so long. I hope this helps someone in some way. I’ve learned lately that in order to change, you have to first deconstruct. And, a crossroads is a good place to be, because you have a choice. Good travels.

I thought I was doing the right thing coming off poroxatine, I reduced the medication for a few weeks and then stopped it all together, I have felt so ill, very tired nauseous, snappy distant dizzy, every days got worse and now I really don’t know what to do, I’m so stressed out it’s harder than it was 2 years ago when I started taking the medication it’s the worst thing I have ever done, and wish I never started on it.

This is the worse drug ever to get off of! I have noticed that even if you have to change “brands” of cymbalta you can get seriously ill withdrawl symptoms. I hate this drug. I don’t have the stamina to get off it as I have tried before and was so sick I barely wanted to go on. I tell everyone never to get on it. It is so seriously disabling.

I was on alprazolem for 7 years and want to share how I easily came off of it with no withdrawal symptoms whatsoever due to my doctor’ recommendation because I was severely dependent on it, so much that when I ran out, after just 3 days of being off of it, I was in such severe nerve pain that I had to go to the ER. The reason I didn’t have 3 refills like I thought was that my Neuro who prescribed it for me retired in October but I had a very hard time getting a doctor to see me and be willing to continue to prescribe it. My pharmacy refilled 2 months of my refills in Nov & Dec. even though she retired in Oct., but when it came to Jan., they no longer honored it (with no prior warning) because by then my Neuro had been eliminated from the approved list of prescribing physicians because she was no longer in practice.

To make a long story short, and having a hard time finding a doctor who was willing to subscribe it, I ended up having to get my primary doctor to refill it for me on day 3 and was so thankful for once I took just 1 .5mg pill, the extreme pain went away! I tapered alprazolem extremely slowly as stated below and though it took me 6 months, I had no withdrawal symptoms at all and have been off of Alprazolem now for 2 months and so far the only side effect I have right now is my anxiety and am trying to learn to control it by relaxing and prayer.

Here’s how I slowly tapered off of it and I was extremely dependent on it for 7 years ending up taking a max of .5mg twice a day. By tapering my morning dosage down first really seemed to help not interfere with not being able to go to sleep since I suffer from insomnia, one of the many symptoms of Fibromyalgia. I am proof that if you go by this schedule, and stick to it religiously, you will be able to stop it as well without the horrible side effects!

First month: reduced dosage from .5mg twice daily to .25mg in AM and .5mg in PM.
Second month: reduced morning dosage to .25mg and continued same PM dosage.
Third month: reduced morning dosage to .125mg and continued same PM dosage.
Fourth month: stopped morning dosage completely; same evening dosage.
Fifth month: reduced evening dosage down to .25mg.
Sixth month: reduced evening dosage down to .125mg.
Seventh month: stopped evening dosage and completely off of med.

Adding a post-script: yes, my depression has included many major depressive bouts over the years, and ending up in a fetal position on more than one occasion, suicidal thoughts, falling into that deep dark hole, etc…………
I’m not going to allow the “cure” kill me….. so many of you may want to consider combining allopathic with licensed naturopathic physicians. You will learn so much about how all aspects of your body, balancing out minerals, etc. impacts your mental health.
Thank you.

My questions are how long do withdrawal symptoms last on average, has anyone else had the allergic skin reaction?

I have been dealing with severe rash on face and neck which have been progressively worse over last 2 years-most recently occasional hives thrown into the mix. I’ve had it with anti-depressants! My primary care doctor and “shrink” are clueless regarding how all my symptoms are intertwined with my overall medical history! It took a friend of mine (not a doctor of any kind) doing some kinesiology muscle testing, to point out the connection of the rashes and the meds.

My psycho-pharmacologist never stressed many of the interactions and especially potential liver damage for the “cocktail” I’ve been on for the last several years. I’ve been on one or more SSRI’s almost 30 years! While they have been extremely helpful over the years – the toxicity to my entire body has not been worth it, now that I am dealing with physical symptoms that are intolerable (but, you have to grin and bear it) at times!

I’ve always either reduced or changed to a new anti-depressant gradually under the guidance of my psycho-pharmacologist (M.D.)…..When I emailed him explaining my rashes, hives, etc. in an email recently and requested his guidance for gradual reduction, he told me to contact my PCP, because he is on vacation for a few weeks.

Sooooo, that’s it, I’ve had enough! I’m taking responsibility for my own my mental and physical health. My depression has been a life-long, and a common familial issue for many reasons.

I’ve decided to let my Naturopathic physician (who is also an M.D.-but does not practice allopathic medicine) guide me through this. I stopped Cymbalta (generic version) on Tuesday of this week – continuing on my Wellbutrin (generic) and the addition of Standard Process brand St. John’s Wort.

I am so happy to have found this site.

I’ve been on Cymbalta for the past 6 years for depression. My new insurance would not pay for my meds without a prior auth. I’ve been waiting for a month for my Dr. to handle the paperwork. I’ve been so sick. Headaches, sweating thoughts of killing myself, hostility,crying, not sleeping, feeling of everyone around me is gonna die, can’t think clearly, the runs, chest hurting, wheezing, and so much more !!!!! I finally got my thoughts right for me to look up rx discount today. I’ll be getting my meds tomorrow. Thank God!!!!!!!!!!

I came off cymbolta last tuesday of Nov. Oh My God! I don’t mind pain but this is sick.
The nausea, runs, stomach pain. Headache. Well at least I don’t have thoughts of suicide. One min. cold the next hot feverish. Some times light hurts my eyes. Gas, burping, farting.

Moment of wanting to just break down and cry for no reason at all. Chills. I am having a bad moment now I just want to go to bed and stay there until it all passes and God I hope this passes soon. Shortness of breath. Please tell me it will end soon. Joanne L.

Cymbalta for lower back pain and DDD. Thank you.

Hi all, I just wanted to post freeze dried ginger in the jar from the produce section of the super market is helping my stomach and the spins! I am chewing a small piece every 30 mins. Ginger ale helped me also. Best wishes!

I am taking 120 mg of The generic form of cymbalta..I accidentally forgot my medicine and haven’t taken for 5 days due to being away from my home. I will be back home tomorrow.. I have had diarrhea, shakes, leg and feet cramps that wake me from a sound sleep! ! I would like to start to begin weening myself off as soon as possible!! Any suggestions? I can again take my medicine tomorrow night because I will be back home. PLEASE please suggestions..THANK YOU.

I am taking 120 mg of the generic form of cymbalta… I accidentally forgot my medicine and haven’t taken it for 5 days due to being away from my home. I will be back home tomorrow. .I have had diarrhea, shakes legs and feet cramps that wake me from a sound sleep! ! I would like to start to begin weening myself off as soon as possible!! Any suggestions? I can again take my medicine tomorrow night because I will be back home. PLEASE please suggestions.. thank you!

My doctor had me reduce my dosage by 30 mg every 2 weeks until I was down to 30 mg per night. After 2 weeks at 30 mg per night I was told to take that every other night for a week. Then every 3 nights for another week, and then none at all. I am happy to report that I had no withdrawal symptoms at all. I realize that this may not work for everyone but it did for me, twice. I had stopped the first time because of the cost of the cymbalta not because of any side effects from it. Good luck to you. I would recommend that you discuss this approach with your doctor prior to trying it. If you have been without your meds for 5 days already you may want to take a lower dosage when you restart them and then reduce from that dosage.

I ran out of Cymbalta 60mg about 3 or 4 weeks ago after taking it for years. I moved to a new town and I didn’t call my doctor to get it refilled. I’m so tired of living on antidepressants I just wanted to reshape my life and stop the ‘drug’ dependency. Maybe I should have considered decreasing the dosage instead of cold turkey, but I made an impulsive move.
As of today I am still miserable, but I have not experienced the horrors that some have described. I’ve got insomnia, I feel tired and shaky from the moment I wake until I go to bed and lie there all night counting sheep, meditating, thinking of all I’ve got to do tomorrow, tossing, turning, etc. And now after reading this I’ve learned the word for another side effect I’m experiencing called “brain zaps.” I always feel like I’m going to burst into tears over anything or nothing and I’m very irritable. I’m hoping someone will be able to give me an idea how long this will last. I want to feel better so bad.

I have stopped Cymbalta as well. Thanks to everyone who has taken time to post. I feel like utter crap, not mention a great number of the issues mentioned by posters. I am taking some modicum of comfort in the fact that all the symptoms I’m experiencing are due to the cessation. Any advice will be greatly appreciated. Thanks again.

As with the case study mentioned above, due to hi copays @ yrs’ end, I was forced to stop Cymbalta until after 1-1-14, when Medicare would cover more of the cost. At some point in ’14, the generic form will be available. I have noticed as of late, a terrible case of “the blues.”
I attributed it to coming to terms with the death of my mother just before Thanksgiving last year. I was still numb & in shock last Christmas, but as the holidays are approaching this year, I’ve been terribly weepy. Then, I remembered that I haven’t had my Cymbalta in over a week. I take it for diabetic neuropathy only. I’ve also noticed prickly sensations in my hands/fingers. A location I had never had before taking Cymbalta.
Had it not been for financial reasons, I wouldn’t have stopped taking it, since it has made a huge difference in the control of my neuropathy. I’ve noticed not only the hand/finger tingling & weeping, but brain lapses & visual changes, including blocks in the center of my visual fields. Will be talking to my pharmacist to dispense just enough to get me to January 2nd.

I have been on cymbalta 60 mg for 8 years now and about a month ago I lost my insurance so I’m having to quit on my own. I started just taking one pill every other day to get off it completely. Here lately I have been getting bad headaches, shaking, dizzy spells, shortness of breath, nausea, bad cough, very moody, tired, loss of interest in sex, can’t concentrate on anything, forget everything.. I don’t know what to do. I’m married and have 4 kids. I’m a stay at home mom and I’m going insane! Please help. What should I do before I drive my family away???

It is two weeks since I stopped Cymbalta after only a two week reduction from 60 mfg to 30 mg to zero and I am hear to tell you I feel like I have a bad case of the flu PLUS the brain zaps. I really appreciate this site and knowing others who have gone through this. I hope this doesn’t last much longer. I want my life back. I am super sensitive to light, noise and movement also and wonder if anyone else experienced that.
Doctor says what I’m going through is normal, hang in there. He refuses to prescribe Prozac as others have suggested. I don’t know what to do. He’s sending me to a neurologist because I told him about the brain zaps. He has no clue what I’m going through or why. (All he has to do is look at sites like this!). Thanks for letting me vent.

Hello my name is crufflergal and I quit Cymbalta completely 8 days ago. 10 days prior to that I was taking my scheduled 30 mg from everyday to every other day. Then I stopped taking it completely. It has given me the most horrific withdrawal symptoms for the past 8 days! I have had severe waves of nausea that have lasted for hours on end and nothing helps, incredible projectile vomiting that was so severe I actually started laughing after one of the episodes because it came out of nowhere. I was feeling okay and had been sitting on the sofa and got up to let my dogs out. I thankfully decided to go outside with them. Well I had just enough time to make it to the edge of the concrete patio where it meets with the lawn and BAM I got super sick. It was so violent and fast I didnt have time to even bend over. I still missed my clothes. That is the time I laughed. The same thing happened day before yesterday I got up to go change clothes and right in the middle of changing, it hit me so fast I couldnt even make it to my bedroom door and got sick in my empty laundry basket! I have also had nothing but constant brain zaps, jerking that has lasted the last several days, temors.
Day before yesterday I literally heard what I could only describe as wild animal guteral growling and both my dogs were outside. Fortunately that only lasted 1 day. I would have freaked out big time but I found Peoples Pharmacy and read about possible withdrawal symptoms. Knowing that I could possibly hear things reassured me it was just part of the process. I have also lost 9 pounds in the past 8 days due to being unable to keep anything down except for my protein shakes and vitamins. Solid food is still out of the question. Just seeing it makes me nauseated right now. Last night I had a nightmare of sometime and woke myself up in the middle of shouting at the top of my lungs Help! Help! Fortunately I was ok and I didnt wake up any other family members.
This morning I had the jerks and tremors hard enough I was unable to respond to a text on my phone. They seemed to have diminished the past 2 hours. I just attempted to eat some food and have been overcome with nausea and I cant stay awake. I just woke up for the 3rd time while trying to type this! Regardless of the tremors, jerks, and nausea-the rest of me is feeling better and healthier. I believe that I am now over the worst of the withdrawals. I hope this information has been helpful. Please dont try this while alone. I would highly recommend staying in contact with a friend or family member or having someone stay with the person who is wanting to get off this medication. And please let your Dr know what is going on too. My Dr had no idea Cymbalta would have any withdrawal effects!
I was taking it for my neuropathy for my amputated leg. And I had been on this drug since 2002. It did help significantly up until the end of last couple of years. I tried several other times to get off this medication but couldnt deal with these withdrawal effects and went back on it. This time I am determined more than ever. And the kicker of all of this is that my neuropathy is much better being OFF this medication than when I was taking it!! It makes me wonder how much money I could have saved over the years had I been strong enough to quit before. I will NEVER go on this medication again or anything in the same family ever again.
I took back my body this March of this year I have been 100% determined to get off as many drugs as I can. This is the 6th medication I have been able to get off of that I no longer needed. I also shared with my family that since being off Cymbalta I feel much more calmer and at peace if this is a good description for you. I had no idea it could cause aggitation or aggressive feelings. I think I was on the anti anxiety meds to treat the long term effects of being on Cymbalta! Bottom line, I would go through this again if it meant I would be free of this drug and all of its side effects. I dont want to go off label ever again with a medication. From now on I will stick with meds that were designed for the specific thing I might be experiencing. Good luck to all. I hope this info has been helpful for those who have stopped by.

Hmmm I wonder where my original post went that I posted last week? I am day 7 of stopping Cymbalta. 2 days ago for the 1st half of the day I was hearing what I can only describe as wild animal gutteral growling sounds. We have 2 small dogs and they were outside while this was going on. Plus, I dont think they have the capability to make the kind of sounds I was hearing.
Yesterday the brain zaps and jerks kicked in. The upswing on this is that I have severe insomnia due to a head head injury I got from a vehicle accident. I have been sleeping like a baby at night for 7-9 hours each night that I have been off this medication.
I have had severe waves of nausea with projectile vomiting that was so bad I actually started laughing afterwards because it was so ridiculous! I was taking Cymbalta for naueopathy. I also lost my leg above the knee in the accident and due to the 29 surgeries I had on my leg-I developed severe neuropathy.
Cymbalta DID work all these past 10 yrs but hasnt worked at all this year. I tried quitting several other times but the withdrawals were so severe I went back on it. This time I am pushing through. I feel so much better already-like the inside of my body and head are happier now. And what is fantastic is that my neuropathy has been better than ever before OFF Cymbalta. I feel more sharper and alert. My family is noticing the difference too which makes me very happy. And I have lost 9 pounds since getting off Cymbalta and still losing! Its all good and worth these crummy withdrawals. Just knowing I will be off this drug also makes it all worthwhile. I hope this feedback has been helpful for the folks who stop by.

I was prescribed cymbalta after been on Prozac for year.
I suffer from depression and chronic back pain also migraine…. However I found the migraine’s worse and also had background headaches and cravings for sweets. I decided to come off cymbalta and boy oh boy was I not prepared. I did wean myself off gradually -that was only two weeks ago and I’m still feeling very rough-very low mood-I’m fighting with my shadow.
I just want to be left alone as I feel no one could possibly understand what its like withdrawing from this drug. If I go to my GP I know he will prescribe similar and I never ever want to go though this again. Forgot to mention I’m on 5htp since yesterday and I think is helping but early to tell.
I found this forum very helpful as its comforting to know that I’m not alone in going through this-thank you one and all!
Catherine

Derrick, because the dosage, 20mg, is the smallest, you then needed to work on days taken, rather than amount taken. To explain: You go from 20mg every day to 20mg 6 days a week, a week later 5 days a week, and so on. Yes, long and maybe still difficult, yet the only way to slowly wean off. Give your a body a chance to adjust in an easier fashion than what is happening now.
If you continue a waiting game there is no telling how long it will be. So many factors: how much was your original dose and how long you were taking it being some. How sensitive your body is/was is another. See what I mean?
This is the way I weaned myself of the PPIs, with nary a time of heartburn then nor since. It has been almost three years since my last protonix.
Good luck to you,
Helen

Let me preface my comment by saying that I intend to return and write a more thorough comment. I was actually just searching the web for information on this nightmare I’ve been going through for at least ten days now, which I believe is Cymbalta or SSRI Discontinuation Syndrome. Specifically, I’m trying to get an idea of how much longer I’m going to be going through this. Just sitting and working on my laptop to find this out makes me feel so nauseous and like I have motion sickness that, although I feel elated to have found this forum, I’ll return to comment.
So, my apologies for not reading the comments, and if the answer is blaring at me in a number of the comments. I know each person is different, and all these antidepressant type medications affect each person uniquely, but since Cymbalta doesn’t offer a lower dosage than 20mg, there must be a lot of other people who have gone through this. If I my last 20mg dosage was on Monday, August 12th, and my nightmare began about three days later, Thursday, the 15th; shouldn’t it be ending soon–today being Thursday, the 22nd?
I know there’s no clear cut answer to my question. I think I’m hoping to find that someone went through this and can say that the worst is over and all these symptoms should come to an end in the next day or two.
Thank you.

I’m so pleased to hear about your success! It’s inspiring to hear that one can be free of these medications. Thank you!

I to went off cymbalta by coincidence, one of my children lost a bottle of 30mg, I was prescribed 90mg, I also had a bottle of 60mg, it was a good time while it lasted and then when my child lost a bottle, I lost interest in drinking my pills because I had lost 1 bottle, thanks to my child’s mischief, I accidentally went cold turkey, after a week of no meds. I to started getting brain zaps and while driving on the road with my 5 kids and wife I blacked out 2 times going 60mph.
The blackouts lasted only split seconds but it scared me bad, that same day I developed a severe headache, and went to the ER, they gave me a morphine injection, little did I know about the discontinue syndrome, my doctor did not know that it might have been from cymbalta, never again, never again.
I went cold turkey just from an accidental misplace of 1 bottle, I’m glad I found this site, it just opened my eyes even more, I am still prescribed cymbalta but I will never take it ever, ever, ever, I now take vitamins, folic acid, biotin, b3, b6, b12, ginger root, green tea extract, milk thistle, and magnesium, and I am now a new man with new and improved energy, thanks to my child, I love her so much, it was meant to be.

I have never posted on one of these websites but I have used information from others on forums to get advise on stopping cymbalta and I wanted to share my story since I am doing very well. I was on Cymbalta 60mg every day for approx 1 year for post pardum depression. I have always had a long history of depression and I have sought on and off prescription treatment for it. I had taken cymbalta in the past also. I found out I was pregnant with my second child and needed to get off of cymbalta quickly. I initially was going to ween off but I missed 3 days worth of doses and I decided to come off cold turkey. This is difficult- lots of brain zaps, exhaustion, mental cloudiness, short term memory, flu like symptoms… it was horrible. I personally feel if your provider doesn’t know what ‘brain zaps’ are- you need to find a different provider who understands serotonin discontinuation syndrome. I felt trapped in my own mind.
I went to my primary care MD (who has had a history of depression herself) and she put me on prozac 20mg everyday. Within 2 days I felt like myself and my head and mind felt clear. Personally, this is the only way I feel is the way to go when stopping cymbalta. Discuss with your Dr. that you would like to taper off cymbalata to prozac. it erases the side effects of cymbalta discontinuation. I discontinued the prozac cold turkey 2 months after i started it. The only effects slight withdrawal from prozac- small brain zaps… (nothing compared to cymbalta brain zaps) and a little dizziness.
My mood and thinking was really not altered when I discontinued prozac cold turkey. I have been off for a month and a half and feel great. I personally feel Cymbalta is a very dangerous drug and withdrawal is a medical emergency. I have been a registered nurse for 10 years and would never suggest anyone to take this. I wish you the best!

I suffered from anxiety and depression for perhaps 2-3 years before I went to a doctor for “treatment.” A friend had told me that she took Paxil and it was a life saver. I told my doc I wanted to go on Paxil. After talking to me maybe 5 minutes, she gave me a prescription for Paxil.
When I arrived at the pharmacy to pick up my prescription for Paxil, the pharmacist told me that Paxil was one of the more addictive (she used that word) drugs on the market, and that I should not take it unless I wanted to be dependent on it for the rest of my life. I didn’t buy Paxil that day.
The doctor was angry with me for not filling this prescription (she’s no longer my doc, BTW). That was in 2007. Today I am so thankful to that pharmacist for telling me about the dangers of this drug. I am no longer depressed/anxious because little by little I changed my life to make me happier–got out of debt, got out of a bad marriage.
I believe that each of us know what the REAL PROBLEMS are in our lives and we should seek to change those, even if it takes some years to do it, and in the course of working toward change we will overcome the anxiety and sadness we feel because we are truly in charge of our lives.

A caveat before taking Elavil… when I started it, my Dr. did not inform me that it can cause weight gain (due to craving sweets). I gained FIFTY pounds before I got control of the cravings. Be careful. It took me years to lose the weight.

Wow, amazing to read others whose drug withdrawal experience reflected my own. I suffered while withdrawing from Serax (a relative of Xanax). It was nightmarish, delibitating, and extreme, and affected me so completely that I’ve never fully recovered — even though it happened ten years ago. My symptoms duplicate those described by everyone else, including rapid weight loss, brain “zaps” so frequent and strong I couldn’t sleep, heart arrythmia, dizziness, and seizures. I found no help from doctors at the time, except, finally, one who said I had been “mistreated” and helped me gradually chop miniscule bits from that one tiny pill remaining until I was free of it. The whole process lasted over six months. I view my experience as a prolonged visit to hell. I’m still not fully myself. I’m plagued by periodic brain “zaps” and my stress tolerance is compromised. I feel as though something essential has permanently affected my brain chemistry, and that I will never again be fully whole.

In agreement with Helen M. 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 ween 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.

WOW! Peoples Pharmacy is so helpful. I recently was prescribed zoloft to help with the effects of menopaus. Because I really do not take any meds (other than an occasional aspirin), I was hesitant to take the zoloft. Now I am so glad I didn’t! Thanks for all the info and all your comments. Sounds like the side affects of menopause are much easier to deal with than having to withdraw from these other meds.

Figure I’d post this in case it helps anyone….
A while back I had to stop taking Pristiq due to the side effects not being worth the benefits. I first had to go from 100mg to 50mg. Doc said I could either drop immediately from 100 to 50, or I could alternate between 100 and 50 for several days before just sticking to 50. I decided to go for the immediate drop since it supposedly worked for some patients, and because I thought going up and down in the dosage would send me on an emotional roller coaster or withdrawl roller coaster.
Ugh, was that painful. I think the first day of 50 was okay, but by the second day I was in terrible shape. I can’t remember the details, but the worst part of it was the almost debilitating nausea. A friend later that day brought over ginger candies (made with real ginger). It made a huge difference. Each candy only worked for half an hour, but I had plenty of candies. By the third day I was back to being mostly good.
Then came time to take me from 50mg to 0mg. This time I figured I’d try the one day 50, next day 0, third day 50, and so on for a week (or was it two?) before sticking with 0mg. I was really scared this time because of how bad the earlier drop went and how I’d have none of the drug in my system some days (it had a shorter half life compared to other such drugs). Well, my initial fears of the withdrawl roller coaster were completely wrong. It all went smoothly. Made me wish I used the alternating method for the first drop. Live and learn.

I took Cymbalta for fibromyalgia & have just stopped taking it because of acute liver and GI pain- yes, pain! My liver poured bile into my gut and protested loudly! Cymbalta worked great on the fibromyalgia, but I had to stop.
I agree that doctors don’t always realize how prescription drugs can alter your life so we must continue to advocate for ourselves.I have now started Elavil to see if it helps- I forgot how bad I felt with the fibromyalgia so here’s hoping this too will work for a while anyway. Lyrica helped too but it made me gain weight.

I have weaned off several drugs over the course of many years. The first was gabapentin when it no longer was working. It is a good thing I had a knowing physician who explained the necessity of slowly weaning off most meds. I was taking 2400mg and we began by dropping 300mg each week or two, depending on how I felt. Then took the final 300 for a week, every day, every other day, Monday Wed and Friday, Monday and Thursday, just Monday and then done. Took some months, had no withdrawal.
I have done this with protonix, celexa, some supplements, and now opioids. My secret, if you will, is to go very slowly, adding back if necessary, staying at the same place until ready to lower meds again, take all the time you need to avoid bad withdrawal and accept some mild symptoms, if there is no other choice. Mild only, do not rush in your desire to be done with.
However, I did abruptly stop lipitor, not realizing I should have weaned down on this too. My biggest symptom was a sudden drop in morning blood glucose readings, about two weeks later. I did finally manage to figure out how to reduce insulin, by about a third, and did not realize until reading here recently that lipitor could drive glucose in the blood up and into diabetes.
If you are lucky, you might have a helpful medical professional; however, for the most part, you are on your own. Luckily there is a lot of information on the net, such as here, posted by people, like me, and the advice might be helpful to some. As I hope this is.

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.

Some years ago I decided to discontinue taking Effexor and Trazadone for several years. My doctor was absolutely no help other than to say just taper down. How to do that was left to me. It took me three months of agonizing misery. I was spacey, light headed, and felt like I was spiraling down into depression. I had the brain zaps and lost a lot of sleep. Family and friends observing this worried about me and even encouraged me to get back on the medication for myself though, I was very determined to beat it… stubborn and focused I was furious that my physician was not supportive and never warned me what I might go through. I was angry to find out just what these drugs had done to me. I DID make it on my own and I’ve never looked back.
Several years later I am happy to be free of such toxic chemicals. I have normal moods (not flat like I’d been). Just like other people, most days are happy and productive but it’s great to have some boring days and unhappy days sometimes too. In other words….. normal life.
There is hope out there and I am proof. It can be done!

Yes, going off Paxil can cause issues. I took it for pain. When I decided not to take it anymore I had a very savvy doctor and she weaned me off of it. I actually don’t remember how long it took it was awhile ago but I don’t recall it being more than a month or so. I definitely had the brain zaps, I looked up on the web withdrawal effects. For me the doctor had it right.
Prevacid took a whole lot longer though a lot of people do it in less time than me. I took nearly a year but I really just tapered off 6 days one off (hold that for 2-3 weeks), 5 days one off sometimes going back up a day if I felt it necessary. But I’m off them. I should be clear for me I never had GERD. The doctor put me on it for an ulcer when that cleared up I went off Prevacid and all of a sudden I had GERD. It turns out there was a study done I think in Denmark where around 300 perfectly healthy people were put on PPIs then taken off. About 40% of so developed GERD.
Good luck

One Cymbalta “discontinuation” effect not mentioned that I experienced was severe itching, particularly of my scalp as well as my back and legs. It persisted for several weeks. An OTC lotion called Sarna helped, and my pharmacy had its own brand, which was less expensive. I too weaned myself off gradually with little medical help or advice, and it wasn’t pleasant or easy.
I am very glad I did, because it turns out that I suffered serious liver damage. The warnings are there on the patient information, although (I think) downplayed. I had ascites– my abdomen swelled up with fluid, seemingly overnight, and I looked about 7 months pregnant! I was fortunate that a combination of diet (no alcohol, no red meat, severely restricted salt), diuretics, no NSAIDS, and an antibiotics were able to resolve the problem, and my liver enzymes are back to normal. But my liver still shows damage, and I will have to be careful the rest of my life!
The best advice I can give anyone is, first, get off it! but second, do it very slowly. Look for another doctor or health care practitioner if the one you’re using won’t help you or downplays the seriousness of the problem. And know that you are not alone or crazy if you are having a tough time. You WILL get through it and get better.

Weaning oneself off an anti-depressant is challenging. It must be done gradually to minimize discontinuation syndrome. And how it is done depends, among other things, on the half-life of the anti-depressant. If it has a long half-life (like Prozac the half life of which is several WEEKS), you can decrease by taking it three days and skipping one day, for several weeks, then two days and skipping one, then one day on and one day off, then one day on and two days off etc. With medicines with a shorter half life, you have to cut the daily dose very very gradually.
Another concern is if you feel well with the anti-depressant, it may be that you are feeling well BECAUSE you are taking it, and stopping will bring the depression back. And so if you decrease gradually, and you begin to feel depressed again, you can up the dose.
There is a problem that not all doctors or patients are aware of: after stopping an anti-depressant, it doesn’t always help if you start again. This can happen after the first time or after a subsequent time. Another reason to stop gradually.
Unfortunately, doctors aren’t trained to look at the long term effects of their prescriptions. This begins in med school and is then reiterated by the representatives of the drug companies, whose only goal is to get the doc to prescribe whatever they are pushing.

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