The People's Perspective on Medicine

Trouble Stopping Antidepressant

Q. I have just been through detox hell after stopping the antidepressant Cymbalta. After a week of dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, sweats, chills, itching, disorientation, mood swings and headaches, I am angry! My doctor did not tell me that this might happen.

I had been on the drug for about a year and was weaned off it by gradually dropping the dosage. I expected some emotional repercussions, but I didn’t expect to be unable to function for over a week, a prisoner in my own home.

I would have assumed I was dying of a strange flu, but I found accounts of similar withdrawal problems on the Internet. My doctor was out of town and his fill-in confirmed that these were typical symptoms of stopping Cymbalta.

I just don’t understand why I wasn’t warned. Why hadn’t I had been told up front, before starting the drug, about the possibility of severe withdrawal?

Is it up to the consumer to read every line of the insert to determine the safety of a medicine before taking it?

It terrifies me to think about other patients going off this drug with no idea of what may happen to them! The withdrawal hell should be explained so the patient can know what to expect and prepare himself for the possibilities.

A. It often comes as a rude shock when patients discover that stopping antidepressant medications can cause distressing withdrawal symptoms. We have heard from folks who stopped Effexor, Paxil or Zoloft who felt disoriented and dizzy. Many report distressing shock-like sensations in their heads.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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I weaned myself off of Celexa after reading a book on how to do it (why it should take a whole book is an interesting but necessary evil). I followed the recommended tapering plan and did not have a lot of the physical symptoms that many people have including brain zaps, gastrointestinal issues, etc. What I do have, however, is extreme depression. Much worse than the depressive reaction I was experiencing when my doctor suggested that I begin the Celexa. I am crying uncontrollably or laughing hysterically and most of the time find it hard to even function. I am often thinking of suicide. I can stand back and see this for what it is–withdrawal from this very powerful drug. But that does not help with every day living. I don’t know how I am going to continue to manage these symptoms if this continues. I have been off the drug completely for two months with no let up in the depression.

In doing research I have found that apparently some people’s brain chemistry is permanently altered. I do hope this is not the case for me or I do not see that continuing in this life will be an option for me. I cannot stand the way I feel and I am very angry that no one told me that this could happen. And I do not want to go back on this drug (as recommended by family and friends who are sick of my symptoms).

I don’t think I even needed to take this drug in the first place. I was going through some difficulties in my marriage and was experiencing a lot of the symptoms that people in this situation experience such as fear and sadness. Maybe we should just feel our feelings even if they are unpleasant. It has to be better than permanent brain damage from a drug that uninformed physicians hand out like candy. Prescribing guidelines need to be much more strict and the problems with the drugs need to be much more visible.

When I began discussing my withdrawal problems with friends I was astounded to find that most of them were also taking these drugs for everything from “obsessing too much” to “counteracting side effects of other drugs.” Seriously?????? Maybe we need to stop thinking a pill will solve every problem. From my vantage point pills and medications in general are causing many more problems than they are solving. From the opioid crisis, to overuse of antibiotics, to now over-prescribing of psych meds we are definitely “addict nation.”

I am the accidental addict.

I’m six months post taper from Cymbalta. Still living the nightmare. Severe nerve pain in my spine, ribs, hips and legs. Cymbalta caused neuropathy pain and never helped with depression. Eli Lilly should be ashamed but they’re not. They have ruined my life. I’m fighting this everyday. I became manic, hurt myself. Brain zaaaps continual. No motivation about absolutely nothing. When will this end?

I was on Cymbalta for about 3 yrs. Went thru withdrawl HELL as I see most everyone who has taken this drug has. I have been off of this @$#! for about 2 yrs now. Still have brain sparks once in a while. What I would like to know is if anyone that has been off of this drug for awhile has noticed personality changes. Lack of motivation, interests that they had before this drug and now don’t care less.
I used to love hotrods and building cars and tinkering and now have no interest at all in building one. Loved to hunt and fish, now just don’t seem to get “excited” about anything anymore. I sure hope my interests and excitement come back someday.

I had been on Cymbalta for several months and went off due to weight gain. I was on Lyrica prior and had no withdrawal symptoms, lyrica while I was on it made me retain fluids in legs and feet so that is why I went of it and my nuerolgist put me on 60 mg cymbalta but after several months and 13 lbs, I wanted off of it. I was taken off by going to 30 mg a day for 7 days. Then when I started on the 4th day of being off the 30mg alot of pain, depression and being cold and headaches and nausea.
No one tells you about withdrawals and the symptoms. I have never gone through anything like this in my life and it is devastating. People should be warned ahead of time about ANY medication they are put on. I was put on it as I have pain similar to MS and Fibromyalgia. But Dr can’t really ID what I have. I have had pain since a car accident in 2009 and it started nerve pain in my body and hands and feet. Please warn anyone to get info before starting a medication. To be told ALL the facts.

Several years ago, a doctor I had put me on Effexor. I took it for six months and had no improvement. I decided to quit taking it. Within the first 24 hours, I had the worst headache I have ever had in my life! I took ibuprofen and tried other painkillers, but nothing worked.
I talked to my husband and we finally started asking, is there anything different than 2 days ago? Realized that I had quit taking Effexor. Went and got one. Took it and within 30 minutes the headache was gone.
Long story short: it took me 3 1/2 months to wean myself off of Effexor. This was in 2003 and NO ONE at that time (except the pharmaceutical companies), had any idea about “discontinuation” symptoms. And, the titration off the drug has to be very gradual. I would empty a little of the powder out of the capsules each week until I was completely off of the medication.

After experimenting with different anti-depressants for a few years…I told my doctor I had enough and wanted to clean my system. He weaned me from Cymbalta…I went from 60 mg to 30 mg for two weeks, then stopped cold turkey. My last pill was 3 days ago…I am very dizzy and started vomiting last night. I am glad I am not alone and hope this doesn’t last too long.

I totally agree with the original post. I have the exact symptoms and it’s been a week. I only took Cymbalta for 2 months, but the side effects from stopping it is horrible. My doctor didn’t, nor did anyone else tell me about any side effects and I did read the insert, but a lot of the time the side effects of meds don’t effect me, so I figured no problem.
From reading other posts on here and on other sites, it seems to effect every person the same way. I would never had taken it for my neck pain if I would have known the side effects effect everyone. 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 and I would so discourage anyone from taking it. 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.

Hate the drug. I had a breakdown a couple months ago having to deal with my physical disabilities and a doctor who was working for the ‘dark side’. Long story short, I was on Cymbalta 60mg for 2 months. Since day 1 I had to deal with frequent and explosive diarrhea no matter what I ate to ‘plug it up’. After 6 weeks of this I consulted my Dr who sent me to an internal medicine specialist as I was experiencing the above plus dizziness, blurred vision, even deeper social withdrawal, more pronounced sleeping disorder, etc.
The internal med Dr did a CBC and determined my Vit D levels were VERY low, and now I take a 50,000 iu Vit D once a week. I was also given a prescription for medication ‘for my stomach’ that never got filled since it was discontinued. He agreed that these symptoms were from the Cymbalta, so he stopped the dosage. So it’s been 2 weeks since I stopped taking it cold turkey.
Now I feel even worse. I feel like I’m having hundreds of mini panic attacks a day (or trans-ischemic attacks). It didn’t help with my RA pain or my chronic depression or anxiety, not I get to deal with those things along with the detox off this crap. I don’t know which set of symptoms I prefer, take the pill and destroy my liver, or stay off it and languish in horrid side effects.
And people wonder why I argue with doctors… the risk/benefit thing works different for them. Our risk, their financial benefit. The last time I stopped taking my meds (blood thinner) my doctor wrote into my record that I was ‘non-compliant’ because I would not follow his advice… like I’m stupid or something.
In my country we call this Pharmicide. Don’t trust doctors as far as you can throw them. 99% are big pharma puppets.

I went to the Internet to see if there was any info about discontinuing cymbalta. I have been delighted and appalled by the messages my fellow sufferers have left. Had I known this drug would be so potent, so totally AWFUL to get off, I never would have started it. My doc thought it would help my RA pain (it did not).
I felt like I was walking thru quick sand on 60 mg., and started having heart palpitations and mini anxiety attacks. I know there are some side effects when coming off any SSRI, and THOUGHT I was taking it slow enough, but still suffered with all the symptoms you have all shared. My doc was NO help… they can write the prescription but don’t know much about the process of withdrawing. I am pissed and sick and tired of the disregard shown us by the medical community. Thanks to all of you for your help, words of kindness, and encouragement.

I’m going through the hell of stopping Cymbalta right now,and I’m apalled at the lack of information that they are willing to give about the WITHDRAWAL of the drug.

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, become isolated and “numb”. I am a writer and photographer… 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.
I’m three weeks since having 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.

Thanks to this site, I am not crazy. I forgot my Cymbalta at home when I left for a business trip I was on 90mg/day and the sudden stop was horrible. I was aware that I was experiencing a withdrawal but never going through one before I was completely unprepared. after 5 days I found my self in a full panic attack and physical meltdown in the Dr. office.
He got me a new script for 20mg and I have been at that level for 2 months. I feel much better than when I was at the 90mg I still have almost all of the side effects listed here, but they are not as strong. I am trying to decide how to get off this drug completely and there just doesn’t seem to be a good way to do it. I never would have taken this had I been made aware that you can’t get off of it. If you read this far… you now know that you are not alone.

Hello, I have been diagnosed with Lupus and was taking Cymbalta for depression. I was taking 120 mg for approx. a year and went through the entire slow reduction period which lasted approx. 4 months. I am currently on day 5 (pill-free) and still feel very disoriented.
Like a previous post stated I feel like I am going to pass out – each time I turn my head to the side or roll my eyes, I get very dizzy. I have diarrhea, nausea and memory loss. This has been a terrible experience and I have tried before and failed and continued Cymbalta, but not this time. I take numerous meds and I want to stop and I am starting with the med that causes numerous side effects without making that much of a difference with my depression.
I fully understand that some times you just have to live with the side effects if the drug works, but that is not the case with Cymbalta. I am keeping a daily journal and I will post weekly on how the withdrawal is going. So far, it SUCKS! I too, like many other sufferers, would like to know how long this is going to last.
I do want to say ‘Thank You’ for everyone’s post. Some made me cry, some laugh, but I can relate to all. Good luck and I wish everyone the best!

My husband decided to stop his Cymbalta and is experiencing the withdrawal symptoms. He initially thought it was his Vertigo acting up. He has been grouchy and disengaged since stopping this drug. He is also experiencing a personality transformation that is like Jeckel and Hyde. It is very hard to watch someone go through this.
I think the key is to wean off, do not stop it cold turkey. Gradually reduce dosage over a period of time. There has to be a better way of stopping this that you do not go through the terrible side effects. It isn’t good for either the patient or the family environment.

I have been on cymbalta for 3 1/2 years. From time to time I will forget to take it and the side effects make me feel awful. Up until now, it has worked well at controlling the chest pain I have with “fibromyalgia”. I have gained 30 pounds and now my hair is starting to fall out. I desperately want to stop taking the drug. When I have tried in the past, I have had panic attacks. It is almost like I am forced to stay on it.

I have been off Cymbalta for only 4 days. Dr stopped it cold turkey and switched me to new med called Viibryd. Having all the same withdrawal symptoms as you, dizziness is particularly bad every time I move my head. Did the symptoms ever get better? Very worried!!

Wow, so glad I googled this. My doctor put me on Cymbalta close to 2 months ago, starting me at 30mg. After a week of some diarrhea, some abnormal sweating and more headaches in the front behind the eyes, I began to get past the side-effects.
I doubled my dosage, taking 2 30MG pills a day until I ran out. My doctor called in a prescription for 30 days of 60MG pills. When I ran out, I called my doctor to ask for another refill. An office worker denied me and said I had to come in for a check-up before they would refill my meds.
I have already missed a lot of time from work going to doctor’s visits and finally thought I’d found a medication that seemed to help my depression, mood swings and Fibro pain. After 4 days of stopping the drug cold turkey, I am finding a lot of the symptoms described by others: dizziness, turn my head to the side and it feels like my eyes have to catch up to the direction I’m trying to look, “brain zaps” (feels like mini seizures or mini blackouts that only last a split second but are scary nonetheless).
I played softball last night and what an adventure that was…. trying to catch a fly ball to 2nd was nuts… nobody has a clue how difficult it was just to stay on my feet aside from playing softball! I’ve had some weird dreams and very restless sleep. At times I’ve felt nauseous, but no headaches. After reading the comments here, I’ve decided not to go back on Cymbalta…. I’m not sure the advantages outweighed the disadvantages. Seems like once you’re on it, you better stay there… same goes when you get off it… better stay there.
My only concern is how long these withdrawals will last; like another poster said, I’m afraid this has done long term damage. If anyone has gone through this and can share whether there were any long term effects or the duration of withdrawals, would be a blessing to many.

I have weaned off of Cymbalta and am experiencing w/drawal hell others have mentioned. Some things that help me keep going are: supplements- B complex, D; healthy, frequent eating (small amounts), getting outside in fresh air, amino acid L- Glutamine, 1tsp apple cider vinegar in cold water &honey, yoga and meditation. It’s still awful, and I may end up going back on, so I can come off more gradually.
One question- do the side effects end- ever? I think I’m experiencing every single one mentioned. Luckily, I work in the schools and am off for the summer. I don’t believe I could get through one day right now.

I’m about a week into ditching Cymbalta after being on it for about 2 months. I ceased it altogether with no tapering off and no advice from my GP. I know that is a very stupid thing to do but I have had enough of being medicated. A year ago I was put on Luvox, then Pristiq, then Cipramil and now Cymbalta. I honestly feel worse when I take this medication, so I’m quitting ADs for good. And the weird thing is, despite the dizziness, feelings of vertigo and uncoordination I actually feel better about life than I have in 12 months.

I was so pissed off when i realized i was going into withdrawal from a medication that was supposed to help me… The Dr never told me of the withdrawal and that makes me mad… I was on cymbalta for 2 months and when I found out of withdrawal I stopped taking it immediately…. I have been off it for almost 3 weeks and still wake up dizzier than hell… sweats …. can’t sleep…. and I puke every time I eat anything… I will NEVER trust another Dr again….

Comment to Barb’s reply (July 19, 2007 6:05 PM). I totally understand what you are talking about. I am also taking Paxil and about a year ago I tried to stop it. I had the exact same symptoms that you mention and my doctor said EXACTLY the same that yours: “Don’t worry, it’s OK for you to stay on the medication indefinitely.”, which to me is a very rude joke.
Now, under my parents supervision, who happen to be medical doctors, I am stopping Paxil. Every week, I am taking a smaller dosage and I expect to totally stop taking this medicine in three weeks. So far, so good, except that I more easily feel like crying.

I was on Cymbalta for about 3 years and wanted to stop about 1 year ago. I weaned off gradually and did everything as instructed. I am still dizzy to this day. I have had blood test – nothing. A complete hearing and ear tests – nothing. I never had this before…. its like stepping off a boat and trying to get my sea legs. I cry or get angry w/ no reason. I am told I have Vertigo… really Vertigo out of no where. No trauma, no disease just weaning off Cymbalta…. Crazy

I took cymbalta for 5 years for severe depression. It worked the first 2 years, but then it just stopped working and was giving me horrible headaches I had never had in my life prior to the medication. I decided to start weaning slowly. I´ve been weaning slowly for 6 months by doing very small drops and still I´ve had a long list of emotional and physical symptoms.
A lot of them are new to me, I never had them before taking cymbalta. I see that your post are from last year or previous years. I would like to know how you are doing, and how long did it take you to overcome withdrawal symptoms?? For the ones that took cymbalta for Depression I would like to know if you are taking any other antidepressant now.

I was taking Cymbalta for my chronic fatigue pain. I’ve been laid off and am in day 3 of cold turkey. It’s good to know I’m not crazy about the withdrawal!! My husband was ready to move out! NOW – does anyone know know any natural health alternatives for my incredible muscular and joint pain?

I have been taking Cymbalta for about 3 years due to some major personal problems and joint pain. I have decided that I am better now; my personal situation has stabilized but the withdrawal is more difficult then I thought. I got through it about 6 months ago, the physical symptoms of brain shunts, sweats, etc, by tapering to 30 MG every other day for 2 weeks then stopping.
I found that I could not stop crying about little things so I decided my situation was still to difficult (deaths and divorce) so I started it again. Now I am tapering off again after 6 additional months. I do not like the brain shunts and sweats, my biggest symptoms, so I am breaking open the caps and splitting the 30 MG and taking it every other day.
It seems to help although I know that my dosage is not consistent with the time release. But I know that it is less than 30 MG. I will continue this for 2 weeks then quit. It is easier than quitting after the full 30 MG every other day. It is a little more of a tapering down. I have been crying a little more but I guess this is just usual and I need to get used to it. I also am having feelings of joy that were missing when I was taking 60 MG of Cymbalta. I will not take any more anti-depressants unless I am VERY VERY Depressed, many not even then.

I have been on Cymbalta for about 3 months now and all of a sudden I have debilitating lethargy. I can’t stay awake. I feel like I’m floating, can’t think straight and all around feel terrible. I also cannot sleep. The first 3 weeks were awesome… and then I noticed a slight difference, my doctor increased me to 60 mgs. I went back down on my own because I felt like I do now. I don’t really want to take these drugs and am concerned about what my Dr. will tell me. I am thinking of just trying to go off them myself and not tell her.

I took my first dose of Cymbalta yesterday. After reading everyone’s comments, it will also be my last. I am really disappointed my doctor did not tell me the withdrawal would be this bad. I asked her specifically if it was addictive and what would the withdrawal be.
Her answer was no and there is no withdrawal. This just goes to show you doctors don’t really know the effects of a drug. They know what the manufactured tells them and they like the perks pharm companies give them for pushing their product. I am really glad I read these reviews. Thank you.

I have been on Cymbalta for a year now. I had considered stopping the medication but now after reading all these posts, I am afraid to stop. I have the dizziness if I don’t take the meds. for one day but I cannot imagine going through all that I have read if I just stop. I live by myself and no one to help me through this.

I started taking Cymbalta for joint pain. It was a relief to the nerve pain, but not joints. Now 2 yrs later, I’ve gained 60 lbs., am no happier and have had all the effects everyone describes w/o decreasing the dosage. So I bought gel capsules and split the 60s to roughly half and am taking about 30/day for the next 2 weeks, then I’ll go to every other day. I’m very pissed that I had no warning of what this would do to me but am resolved to get it out of my life. Goodbye to the nausea, dry heaves, dizziness, insomnia, heart palpitations, sweats, etc.

I have been on Cymbalta for about 7 years now. I stupidly forgot to take it for the past two nights and today I am lightheaded and dizzy. I usually take it after dinner so I remember to take it, but I dined out and then forgot to take it. I didn’t realize I would start feeling withdrawal symptoms so soon; but when I just returned home from a noon movie I took my cymbalta and hope I get back on track with feeling well soon.
Years ago when I started it I was in the throws of a deep clinical depression and it was a godsend. Now I don’t want to experience what may happen if I go off it entirely. But I am going to discuss a course of action with my doctor next appointment just in case with our crappy economy something should happen to my insurance.

I have been on Cymbalta for a year and a half now. About five days ago, I ran out of the drug and just persevered due to my savings account on my medical insurance being finished. The dizziness, diahorea, weepiness, feelings of despair etc. were so bad that I went to the pharmacy this morning to get my meds, only to be told that the prescription was finished and that I had to get a new one. I begged the pharmacist to give me just one tablet to get me through the day and that in the afternoon I would go to my doctor for a script.
The man refused outright and told me it was a schedule 5 drug (South African terminology) even though he could see I had been taking the drug for over a year. I could not believe the cruelty of the system and that this was allowed to happen. After reading this site and the withdrawal effects of this drug, I am horrified.
The only question that has not been answered on this site for me is, how long does it take for these withdrawal symptoms to disappear and if it is going to be as long as one person mentioned (7 months) I would imagine one is then tied to this drug forever unless you are strong enough to endure this agony for that long.
There is no good way to predict how long the withdrawal process will take for any given individual. Some people appear to get through this process fairly easily, within a few days or weeks. Others may find that it takes somewhat longer. We would always encourage a physician to supervise this process and gradually taper a patient. If symptoms recur, it should be possible to titrate up the dose to ease the discomfort and then begin the withdrawal again gradually.

Cymbalta, I was on this medication for two years it was prescribed for depression. It did work…. However, stopping this medication is ill advised as a medical health care provider I slowly titrated myself off of this medication over a two month period of time, from 60mg bid to 60mg q am & 30 hs to 30 and 30 then to 30 daily then session of the medication, I experienced acute withdrawal symptoms for two weeks. The symptoms: anxiety, suicidal ideation, insomnia, uncontrollable shaking of the extremities… This is a dual focused SSRI and does work initially with depression, the after effects do outweigh the benefits. please think twice about alternatives before using this medication!

Thank you for this site. I was on Effexor XL for 1 year then my dr. switched me to Wellbutrin while weaning me off the Effexor XL. After completely stopping the Effexor I got extremely sick (headaches, extreme dizziness and upset stomach). I stopped taking the Wellbutrin 3 days after completely stopping the Effexor XL but am still dealing with the dizziness. This is day 3 with no antidepressants. I really wish the dr.s would inform us about this.

Started out on effexor for back pain, and when that didn’t work, was switched to cymbalta… Well, back pain hasn’t gone away, but I felt horrible. I felt emotionless, a void of a human being, so I decided against my drs wishes to stop taking the meds… Well now I feel like I am dying–such bad headaches, feel like puking but can’t, can’t sleep but am sooo tired, and oh the dizziness. Good times. Thanks, cymbalta!!! And to think my drs thought this was better than my back pain.

I have gained weight with cymbalta, as well as any other antidepressant I have been on–any advice for herbs to handle depression? Also on Lamictal because the Dr. thought I had rages–wonder if it has been Cymbalta all along?

I have been on Cymbalta for about eight months, for depression. It seemed to be my miracle drug as far as the depression symtoms, but I have gained several pounds and have experienced some hair loss. No one (doctor, enclosed literature, pharmacist) told me these were possible side-effects. But all this was nothing compared to what happened when I actually forgot to have it refilled (I take several meds) and had been off it for about five days when I realized what I had done.
But during the last three days of that five, I felt like I was in hell! Confusion, flu-like symptoms, nightmares, and (the worst) audio and visual hullucinations. I actually began to think I was experiencing a HAUNTING! Now, I’m afraid of what would happen if, for any reason, I couldn’t get this drug. Couldn’t we be forwarned about this horrible drug?!

I am in the process of weaning myself off Cymbalta and am having trouble even though I am working gradually. The literature I have been able to find says not to break open the capsules or take part of one, so that has been part of the problem with gradual removal (whole capsules only). I wonder if this is actually true, or if the drug maker just wants to circumvent customer experimentation. Does anyone know if this matters?
I took 60 mg daily for three years, and my doctor said to take myself off it, I should take 60 one day and 30 the next for two weeks, then go to “30/30”, then to “30/skip” for two weeks, but I have had to stay at each of these stages 4-6 weeks.
Even at this rate, I have one week (the first week of each new decrease) of chronic depression and anxiety which includes one day of suicidal thoughts, followed by a few weeks of up and down mood problems.
What gets me through it is remembering that it is the drug, and that it is temporary, and that if I just sleep it off, relax and don’t expect myself to do anything, it will pass, and I can move to the next reduction. I cannot imagine what would have happened to me if I had stopped cold or even if I had believed the doctor’s advice to move in robotic two week intervals.
I am trying to get up courage this week to jump to nothing. Just one more step.
About ten years ago I took myself off Zoloft the same way, and did NOT have this extreme detox experience. I was actually able to go down comfortably in the two week intervals. The Cymbalta has been much, much worse (more addictive) than the Zoloft.
Beware, this following paragraph is pure speculation! I *think* I feel bad the day I take the larger dose and better the day I have the decreased dose (but am not positive), and I think this could be due to the delayed reaction or half life of the medicine. In other words, perhaps the day I take the larger dose, my system is short from a lower dose the day before, etc.) I only reduce to the next level when the alternating daily roller coaster stage levels out and I am pretty steady day to day.

I took Cymbalta for a year. I stopped taking it 3 weeks ago, and my headaches are horrible still. I feel like my brain hurts. It’s so weird. I talked to my doctor before I quit, and he told me something very confusing. He told me that I had to take it for another year because they found out that it kills your brain cells. I was surprised that after he said that he wanted me to continue taking it, plus my liver enzymes went double the level while I was on cymbalta. I am supposed to go get my blood work soon again to check on my liver.

I was put on Cymbalta to stop hot flashes from menopause. When I switched doctors, she was angry for me being put on an anti-depressent for hot flashes and put me on a hormone suppliment instead. I am now trying to stop taking the Cymbalta. The dosage was reduced for several months. Then it was every other day for months. Now I have not taken any for over two weeks and my life is a living hell. I cannot turn around without falling over from dizzyness. I cannot go up or down stairs without falling. Running and exercise is out of the question. I have other withdrawal problems too, but this is ridiculous. No one told me that this would happen. My God, what if a disaster hit and we had no meds. There would be no way a person could function without their daily dose. How much longer will these dizzy spells continue? Is there anything I can do to stop them?

I too have gone off cymbalta. Has anyone found a way to help with the nausea and dizziness? Also I am burping like crazy and I never had this problem before.

burned over 55% of body 3 years ago. on cymbalta 2 years. fatigue, itching, yellowness,cannot sleep,cannot sleep at night,63 years,am trying to quit cymbalta cold turkey, someone—help, sorry,i am no typist

I am going through the same thing. I had been on Celexa two times previously, whenever they give my Prednisone for my allergies I have terrible panic attacks, anxiety and thoughts of suicide. This time my doctor wanted me to stay on them until the time changed, which was 13 months. She told me since I was only on 20 mg just to stop. I knew better from the past. I tapered to a quarter of a pill for four days, half for four days, a quarter for 8 days. I’m now dizzy, suffering from nausea, having vivid nightmares, insomnia, chills hot flashes, rapid heartbeat, twitches, feel brain “twitches”, I am emotional, had mild headaches, fatigue and muscle aches. All I can say is never again! Third time was my braking point. I’m going to try some herbs, increase my massages, start meditating and trying some amino acids. I feel for all of you! We’ll make it through!

Hi…thank you to everyone who has posted here. the only reason I am is because I too feel that people need to know how bad it is to come off of Cymbalta.
I just came across this website after trying to find out what the heck is wrong with me. I took my last Cymbalta a week and a half ago after being withdrawn “slowly” from it over a period of time. For this entire time I have felt so dizzy, sick to my stomach and MEAN!! Good lord I am mean!
I called my doc asking what the heck was wrong with me and I told him I feel like I haven’t had enough caffeine to make it through my day, as well as being so dizzy I can barely stand up or function. he told me to take Excederin Migraine and make sure I do have a lot of caffeine. The Excederin did help some but I still can’t get myself out of the bathroom long enough to take care of my 2 year old twins.
I was orginally put on Cymbalta for Post Partum Depression and anxiety over raising twins…who wouldn’t have that?? Now I have to be honest I am a little scared, I keep yelling at my angels and when I’m not yelling at them I am in the bathroom and there is no one watching them or I am on the sofa because I am to dizzy to deal with them. i don’t know what i am going to do if this keeps up, but it is nice to know I am not alone. I just hope to God this gets better…I don’t think it can get much worse.

I started taking Cymbalta 20 mg 2 months ago for severe neuropathy from diabetes and hemachromatosis. It was a miracle for about 3 weeks, then I started getting headaches (which I rarely ever had before), nausea, sweating. dizziness when I turned my head,and confusion which led to forgetfulness. I am stopping the drug today. Thank you all for sharing what to expect. I will be a little more prepared. God Bless you all and help you through these terrible withdrawals. Peace

Have been on Effexor XR 75mg for about one and half years already… almost 3 days in a week I feel very tired… I may not even sleep thoughtout those 3 days, I feel like lying down the whole day. Anyone else get that too?

I’ve been off cymbalta for 7 days now (not by choice, got on an airplane for a 2-week trip, and forgot to pack my meds). I thought I could get through it, but I have terrible brain zaps, diarrhea, and I feel disoriented for much of the day. I am afraid I am going to pass out. Every time I turn my head to the side, I get an intense dizzy feeling. Like nothing I’ve experienced in my whole life! I was only on the drug for about 4 months before this, and now I am definitely not going to get back on it when I return to the states. Anything that still makes me feel this s*%tty 7 days after stopping it is terrifying. I’ll try to remember to post here over the next few days. I don’t see any comments about how long this withdrawal lasts. I fear that it will never go away!

After reading all the postings, I decided to quit taking my cymbalta cold turkey cause it didn’t sound like it mattered much if you weaned off or just quit. I have been on it for a year and a half. I am on day five. I am weepy but knowing that others have experienced this makes it a little easier. I am a little light-headed, kind of like a caffeine buzz. I have been taking Omega 3 and Tonilin CLA because I read this helps. So far it hasn’t been too bad. I suspect it will get worse before it gets better, but after gaining 35 pounds and feeling depressed all of the time, I figured it is worth a try.
I was put on Cymbalta because I was experiencing joint pain and starting to gain a little weight.This was supposed to help me lose weight, but instead I started to rapidly pack on the pounds. My doctor told me I would only be on the cymbalta for eight months, but kept renewing my prescription. I am also on trazodone but never had problems with it. I hope I don’t experience all the withdrawal symptoms I have heard about, but knowing about them makes it easier to manage them if they appear. Thanks to all for the info.


I have been on Effexor XR for less than a yr. I have discovered that if I run out, I feel nauseous and light-headed and have bad headaches. I called the pharmacy on monday to refill my prescription since my last pill would be taken on Thursday and I needed dr. authorization to refill, so I wanted to give them a few days to take care of it since drs office said to have pharmacy call them when I ran out. I went yesterday to pick it up from the pharmacy, and my dr still had not okayed it yet. So I have not had any since Thursday morning.
I am sick to my stomach, have diarrhea, throwing up, light-headed and bad headaches. Drs office is closed, so have to go at least 1 more day. This is crazy. Drs know we need these pills, yet they let the prescriptions run out without refilling. I literally feel like I have the flu and can’t hold anything down, so I understand all everyone is going through. I hate to think what will happen when I have to come off them for good after reading all these messages and what I have already been through.

Although I have not read all the comments, I can relate to WITHDRAWAL HELL! I have taken CYMBALTA for a couple years and found that if I missed a dose my head would have the sensation of water running from ear to ear — on a very rough course. This would happen about 30 hours after having taken the last pill. I didn’t intentionally forget to take the meds, but when I did forget I KNEW IT because of the “water in the head” sensation.
I asked my rheumatologist if I could stop taking this medication and substitute something else if needed. I was already taking WELLBUTRIN SR 150mg, so my dosage was increased to twice a day, one in the AM and once in the PM. I have been weaning myself off CYMBALTA for about 3 weeks, going from 60mg one day to 30mg the next and alternating like that for about 10 days. Then I took 30mg daily for about 6 days, then 30mg every other day. I took my last 30mg CYMBALTA on Thu 1/24/08 and I have experienced dizziness, nausea and the horrible sensation of water rushing through my head. (This is doubly intensified when speaking on the phone.) In addition to feeling nauseous, I have THROWN UP twice. I’m hungry, but then when the food is in front of me I lose my appetite. I don’t even WANT to prepare anything to eat. I can stand to lose a few pounds, but medically this is a poor way to do it.
I searched and found no information regarding what to expect when trying to stop CYMBALTA. My newest rheumatologist had NO KNOWLEDGE OF THESE SYMPTOMS when I discussed them with him. I think it’s outrageous that he doesn’t know what to expect when a patient is weaning off a drug. Sounds like there are QUITE A FEW DRUGS that create these problems! Maybe it’s time they publish WITHDRAWAL expections on the little print out given when the RX is picked up (hint hint). I am going to ride this out and make sure I get educated before adding another drug to my system. Maybe BUD (me) will re-post when all the disgusting symptoms are gone.

I haven’t been able to take my Effexor XR pill for 3 days since I ran out, and of course the pharmacy gave me the wrong prescription when my dad went to pick them up for me so I’m still out. I’m pretty sure I’m having withdrawals already–I’m extremely dizzy, exhausted, and I keep hearing noises in my head. I’m afraid I’m going to fall down or pass out–it’s starting to really scare me. Can anyone tell me if it’s all right that I take 20mgs of Lexapro while I don’t have my pills? I don’t know when I will have them back. Lexapro is an old medicine I had taken before Effexor, and I still have some left over. Please help!!

I stopped taking Cymbalta about a month ago and am just now feeling some of the withdrawal effects: anxiety, crying at the drop of a pin, and difficulty concentrating, to name a few. I was originally prescribed Cymbalta for migraines and mild anxiety (i.e., when my kids get sick, I worry). Not only did the Cymbalta not get rid of the migraines, but it also stopped working for the anxiety. I was on this medication for about a year, and in that year, I also gained 25 pounds, lost a lot of hair, and was sleepy almost all day. I too would like to know if there is a light at the end of this tunnel, and if so, how long will it take to get there?

Finding this site right now, at this time, was a religious experience. I, too, have all the above withdrawal symptoms. I am suicidal, my fibromyalgia is insanely painful. I sit at work with the trash can next to me in case I throw up, and I’m supposed to function, be a mom to 3 little kids and talk to people.
I asked my dr. to increase my pamelor at night – to 50 mg., knowing that withdrawl from Cymbalta would suck. But after I remembered that going off Pamelor is going to be worse. Nightmares, hallucinations and all of the above. I think I’ll just stay on the night one forever. I can’t go thru this withdrawal crap again. I’m also taking 1 Atavan to cope with the anxiety and panic that seem to be my best buddies, lately. That helps with the nausea from Cymbalta hell. I have gained 45 pounds in 3 years. My face, hands and feet are swollen – dr. thinks it may be the Cymbalta. Is there anything natural/herbal we can take to help with this?

I had to stop taking Cymbalta because of 2 liver enzymes that went off the chart. I’m glad I didn’t have the withdrawals some of you poor folks had.

I am glad to have found this info. I was only on Cymbalta for 2.5 months. It helped with depression, but I was intermittently nauseous, found I was getting more headaches than normal, and my face was breaking out (which it does not normally do).
I reduced the dosage, according to my doctor’s instructions, but after 5 days when I told him that my headaches were getting worse, he said to stop it. I was okay for 2 days, and then it all started. Lightheadedness, nausea — where I can’t even function — sweats, mood swings, crying, headaches. I have felt like I was going to die.
What do I do? Stay off of it and ride this out (and when will it end?) or go back on a low dose and stay there indefinitely? I wish I had never ever tried this. In fact, I went off Prozac onto this drug because I “heard” you would not gain weight on it and I ended up gaining 7 lbs.! Please someone tell me that they have made it through the withdrawal and they have their life back. I need to hear this!

Oh boy, am I happy to find this site. I have been on Zoloft for over three years. I have a very, very patient partner. The med helped some, in the beginning, but we found it changes you. I was severely depressed, what” they” call clinically depressed. I had hurt myself badly in an accident–it wreaked havoc on my whole life.
I went and saw my doc. He precribed some weird stuff, and what he didn’t prescribe the friendly shrink did. I was so out of it, we went out for dinner, and I passed out in the soup!
This shi.. went on for about a month (which I do not remember). They finally stopped jerking me around and put me on the miracle drug of the century… Needless to say, I have been “kicking” it for awhile. This is my second serious attempt, five days no drugs!!!
Okay, thanks you guys for validating my “side effects.” I thought I was off the deep end, again!!

I have been on Cymbalta for 8 months. After the first 2 months my doctor upped the dose to help with the migraines I was getting (which I found out were due to an allergy). I never bothered lowering my dose, and I just got laid off from my job, and I can’t afford it, so I took one every other day for 2 weeks and now I’m out.
My boyfriend is worried about me because I have been crying at almost anything lately… and I have been having such bad migraines I get so sick to the stomach I start crying again and want to die. I don’t know what to do. I can’t afford to pay for Cymbalta without insurance… and I can’t be sick like this for God knows how long!!!!! I wish doctors would tell us how hard it would be to get off it. They only tell you the benefits.

THANK GOD you guys wrote!!! I have been through soooooo much hell lately and this was just one of them! I have been promising my kids every day that I would be here at the end of the day just to get through the day.
I am dizzy and naseated, off balance, soooooo suicidal, crying constantly…. it’s unbearable.
Thank you ALL for writing… you probably saved my life knowing that I wasn’t crazy or alone.
My husband killed himself Nov 27, 2006… at the same time this year I ran out of Cymbalta, have no insurance and just suddenly stopped taking it.
I have been losing it for sure!
Maybe this will help me get from A to B.

I have been taking Cymbalta for about one year now. At first it was a great help with depression and body pains. I will say that it helped when other meds did not.
But… you will pay for this, the problems for me when taking Cymbalta were 1–it was hard for me to think 2–screws up my sex life 3–made me feel up sometimes and down at other times 4–dizzy, sweating, lack of coordination, dry mouth (you need to carry a bottle of water with you) 5–I became more quiet and distant 6–anxiety was worse not better.
Trying to get off Cymbalta is very hard. I felt like I wanted to die mostly because I was so depressed and felt like I had the flu (it can be like getting off oxycontin or heroin- -trust me on this one!). Slowly decreasing the dose does help, but if you’re like me you will go thru hell.
I had to stop taking Cymbalta because my insurance was terminated when I lost my job and had to pay for Cymbalta on my own, and it is very costly. SO IS THIS MEDICATION WORTH ALL THE PROBLEMS AND SIDE EFFECTS? MAYBE IF YOU ARE SEVERLY DEPRESSED ONLY!! Not for pain or anxiety problems–it is not worth it, and also most doctors are not up on the pros and cons of antidepressants, so be careful because these drugs can have a major effect on your mind and body. Sometimes we just need a helping hand and to believe in ourself that things will get better if we stay strong. Good luck.

I used cymbalta for about a month. Now I have a lot of sweats–I feel like I’m walking in water. My hands and feet are sweaty all the time. I do not know if this medication is related to all those symptoms that I have but I feel awful.

I did not know that stopping Cymbalta would reduce me to half dead, dizzy, insomniac. Also, the butterflies in my stomach at 4:00 AM. This stuff is LEGAL??? “First one’s free” then they got you forever! Who ever ok’ed this drug should be arrested!!

I have been on Cymbalta for about a month now. I have gained some weight and my hair has been falling out for weeks!!! I get handfuls of hair in my shower drain, handfuls in the sink when I comb my hair, and all day I notice hair all over my shirt. My hair is so thin now that I have to wrap my ponytail holder one extra time around my hair. I stopped Cymbalta on my own all together because I don’t want to be bald. I have been off Cymbalta for four days now and I feel like I’m going to die. I have headaches, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. I also forgot to mention that while taking Cymbalta, my face would not stop breaking out and I never usually break out.

I recently was given a trial pack of Effexor by my Doctor in order to help me deal with depression after having been bullied for 2 years at work. I told the doctor that I didn’t want to take an anti-depressant but wanted to see if time away from the problem would help me heal. My doctor told me that Effexor was not an anti-depressant but a new kind of medication that would just help with my ‘mood’.
When I got home I read the pack (not much info on that) and then got on the internet to find out what it was. Now I am terrified that I cannot trust my doctor but if I go to another doctor my insurance claim might be rejected.
After reading the experiences of so many other people I know what a lucky escape I have had. I still feel depressed but I have also learned that the symptoms are manageable if I don’t go to to the place which caused the problem. Now all I need is a new job!!

I agree with the subject of Cymbalta and the lack of warning about what will happen when you try to discontinue this damn drug. And JA comment about the wording on the horrors of trying to stop use of this drug. I lasted 5 weeks of being sooo sick out of my mind. Reduced to an emotional wreck.
It must be some sort of legalese that they won’t call it what it is! It’s long, painful, unending, and 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. 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 hate and mistrust doctors and insurance companies. I feel hooked and dependent to this crap. If I could even find a street drug that would make getting off this Cymbalta at least bearable, I’m sure it would be cheaper and very much less hassle to get. And at this point I believe I could trust a street drug dealer a bit more than the current lies, lack of information or whatever makes dealing with these jerks the way it is.


I am happy taking Cymbalta but will soon have gastric bypass. I’m told Cymbalta cannot be crushed. Does anyone know of a liquid or tablet form that can be crushed?

I had been taking Paxil for 5 years, and have switched to Cymbalta as of one month ago. I weaned myself off of Paxil gradually as prescribed by my psychiatrist. Cymbalta is working well for depression and anxiety, but I am feeling VERY confused and am even seeing a neurologist soon for an MRI to see what’s going on. Is this common when going off of Paxil even after a month and being on Cymbalta?

Like many people, I started taking an SSRI (Paxil) because my doctor said it was a good medication. He never warned me about the discontinuation (withdrawal) effects. I’ve had most symptoms: flu like symptoms, dizziness, extreme fatigue, tingling, burning sensations, extreme anxiety… The list goes on.
Some of us experience extreme withdrawal and this isn’t uncommon. Also, this may last for several months. I still feel some after 7 months off. Of course, it isn’t as intense as the first couple months but it is still hard to deal with sometimes.
Something needs to be done to educate patients who put all their trust on a doctor who isn’t educated on SSRI discontinuation issues. (By the way, I think the pharmaceutical companies decided to call it ‘discontinuation’ instead of ‘withdrawal’ so that it doesn’t sound so bad.)

After 4 years of Cognitive Therapy and combination drug therapy for depression, my psychopharmacologist doctor helped me transition to a non-medicated state. I was taking Ritalin and Effexor. I had no problem discontinuing the Ritalin. The 300mg daily dosage of Effexor was VERY SLOWLY decreased by 25mg/two week increments until I was medication free. I honestly have to say that the only side effect I experienced were occasional “electric shock” sensations in my head. Those sensations were annoying because of their randomness, they were never disabling…I continued to work at my job throughout.
I agree with Mr. Hyman’s post that a very gradual weaning-off period may help significantly with uncomfortable and possibly disabling symptoms of anti-depressant medication discontinuation.

My friend’s buddy, a psychiatrist who does research and teaches at Harvard, told me that about half of those taking an anti-depressant experience ‘discontinuation syndrome’ when coming off it (I assume they reserve the term ‘withdrawal’ for drugs that are physically addictive). A while ago, I weaned myself off Zoloft by reducing the amount VERY VERY slowly. Sometimes, if the symptoms are too much, a well-trained psychiatrist will switch you to a drug in the same class (e.g. another SSRI) that has a longer half-life (such as Prozac) and wean you down slowly on that. Cymbalta affects both neuroprenephrine and serotonin; therefore, I don’t know how well that would work (although, during a recent return to medication, I recently switched from Cymbalta to Zoloft and didn’t feel anything negative so…).
These medications have a ‘price’ many of us have to pay during the adjustment period (side effects, which usually go away after about 6 weeks) and the weaning-off period (although many seem to think that almost all of these effects can be virtually eliminated with a LONG tapering-down period). One of the things that’s been done for those who have trouble tolerating the side effects during the adjustment period (when the patient is being brought up to a therapeutic dose) is to use a liquid form of the medication to very slowly move up on the dose (e.g. Lexapro comes in liquid form and allows the patient to increase by 1 mg [1ml]). I wonder if the same can be done during the weaning off period – e.g. switch to the liquid form of the medication (if it’s available) and wean off very slowly.
One other very important thing to consider: side effects (during the adjustment period) and ‘discontinuation syndrome’ effects (during the weaning-off period) may be reduced by better diet and exercise (30 minutes of daily exercise w/ veggies, fruits, and low processed foods and sugar).
Some more info: A knowledgeable psychiatrist told me that medications only do part of the job. Diet and exercise (see above) are needed, too. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy [CBT] (and, for disorders like OCD and panic, EX/RP) therapy is needed (along w/ mindfulness training).
It’s difficult to find someone who actually knows this stuff, however (many THINK they do but they don’t). I found the mindfulness training very helpful. Research has also been done on omega-3s for depression and bipolar treatment. Finally, there are some very significant studies proving the positive effects of ‘resonant breathing’ (done twice/day, 20 minutes each time) for disorders such as panic and depression (for example, one Harvard-graduate psychologist does this research at Robert Wood Johnson in NJ). It takes 90 days to have an effect but small studies are very promising.

I found similar unpleasant reactions when I tried to get off PAXIL. I reduced the dosage , went to every other day and still there are mind problems. Am also worried about long term effects !

I had a similar experience with a pain medication, Oxycontin. When I was being weaned from from it, I felt terrible, too. When I discussed this with my doctor, he told me these were withdrawal symptoms. It was easily remedied by altering the size of the reduction. That worked fine, and the rest of the time I had no further problems. When I got down to the very smallest dose available, I asked my doctor if I could take it every other day until I was totally off, and he agreed to my plan. I wonder if anti-depressants can be drawn down in the same way?
There needs to be education for patients who no longer need such drugs so they can avoid this kind of hell. I’d like to see doctors make better use of video tapes and/or CDs for this purpose. They wouldn’t even have to take the time to talk about it personally unless the patient has further questions.

AMEN! I have attempted to stop taking Paxil however the sickness and body reactions experienced after 3 days were horrible. I can not afford to take that much time off of 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!

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