Brain fog, cognitive impairment, inability to concentrate35
Muscle aches, tremors35
Cymbalta withdrawal symptoms occur in the majority of users who try to quit and about half of those report their withdrawals as severe. Since these numbers are generally underestimated, a person may think their situation is unique when in fact it is more common than they’ve been led to believe.6
Antidepressants like Cymbalta, despite overwhelming evidence and patient testimonials, still get overlooked as being a source of many of the patient’s problems. In many cases, this can lead to misdiagnoses and missed opportunities for effective and meaningful treatment.
Do Your Symptoms Require Cymbalta?
Cymbalta use can cause serious side effects and debilitating withdrawal characteristics for certain persons. Unfortunately, these are the exact patients that tend to get abandoned in their very real suffering.
Alternative to Meds Center helping patients with antidepressant withdrawal for over 15 years. We have published evidence regarding our success. Our founding staff and many of those who have been drawn to this work have had similar struggles. We are peers in this process. Feel free to reach out to us and get the kind of support you need to get through this.
Watch this video of a woman who gained her life back after coming off of antidepressants and benzodiazepines that she had been taking as prescribed. When she started the program, she thought her life was over. Unable to work, depressed, and barely able to walk. Little did she know, her life was coming to a new beginning. She left medication-free, hiking up to 1½ hours per day, and re-entered her professional counseling career. She is successful and happy to this day.
15 Years Experience by Professionals Who Understand Your Journey.
Can Holistic Treatment Help With Cymbalta Withdrawal?
We have found certain methods can make the Cymbalta withdrawal process substantially more tolerable. We use a combination of inpatient tapering techniques, dietary modifications such as organic diet, counseling, and other daily support and encouragement from dedicated care managers, medical and nutritional lab testing, neurotransmitter rehabilitation protocols, IV therapies, and detoxification techniques to help alleviate a toxic body burden that may be contributing to neurochemical impairment.
Not only is it possible for the client to feel better very early in the process, but the person can relax and complete the withdrawal process limiting unnecessarily harsh Cymbalta withdrawal symptoms, worry, or strain. Our Cymbalta withdrawal program can help focus on the benefits of regaining mental health naturally.
Addiction is not a term often used concerning SNRI medications, yet there has been considerable research concerning patients developing tolerance and dependence on SNRIs, and suffering withdrawals when the drug is discontinued. Fava et al in 2018 reviewed 22 double-blind randomized controlled trials, numerous open trials, and 23 case reports on various types of second-generation antidepressants like Cymbalta. After reviewing these trials and numerous other research they found that withdrawal symptoms occurred after any SNRI drug was discontinued.36 In contrast, the FDA label for Cymbalta offers one lean sentence on the subject, that recommends gradual discontinuation when possible, rather than abrupt cessation. No other guidelines are given. 2,5
Wilson et al in the research published in Therapeutic Advances in Pharmacology Journal 30 take a much stronger stance on the subject and in particular point to the extreme withdrawals of newer antidepressants such as Cymbalta, described as comparable to benzodiazepine withdrawals. In this review, the authors comment on various methods that have been proposed over time, such as reducing by some percentage per week or per month, converting to a liquid form for more precise tapering, switching to a drug with a longer half-life, and the NIH (who appear to have never seen the phenomena in any patients) that continues to discount the need to address withdrawals at all “because antidepressants are not habit-forming.” 30
For nearly 2 decades, the staff at Alternative to Meds Center have dedicated themselves to assisting others to free themselves from the unwanted burden of addiction and dependence on pharmaceutical drugs. With careful preparation, the use of lab testing, nutritional, psychosocial, and other support, our center has enjoyed a remarkable success rate for our clients eliminating original symptoms while also recovering from SNRI adverse effects and withdrawal phenomena.
Planning Your Cymbalta Withdrawal
Please use the data here freely in coordination with your primary caregivers, to assist in your information-gathering phase, which is essential to successfully plan your Cymbalta withdrawal treatment. When given a residential level of support with experienced staffing, for most people it is possible to stop taking Cymbalta with a minimum of discomfort. For all of those who have come through our program, the consensus is that their recovery was worth the investment.
Concerns About Cymbalta Withdrawal
The concerns about Cymbalta withdrawal, and the drug in general, cover a wide range of topics, which we will aim to address below. We will discuss symptoms and side effects of trying to get off Cymbalta, plus the drug’s mechanism of action upon the brain and body, and interactions with other substances that one should be aware of. Also, the information below covers Cymbalta’s side effects, pregnancy-specific data, and more.
Any SNRI type of antidepressant can produce unexpected adverse effects. Sometimes, as in the case of Cymbalta, many of these AEs only came to light after the drug was placed on the market for consumers.7 Anyone considering taking such a drug is well advised to research the matter thoroughly so that the best-informed decisions can be made. Many feel as if the discontinuation syndrome associated with Cymbalta withdrawal has been understated by manufacturer Eli Lilly, which has resulted in many lawsuits.8 We find the challenges of this particular drug to be quite steep. Withdrawing from an SNRI like Cymbalta is thought to impact both serotonin and norepinephrine neurochemistry, as the drug classification itself suggests. There is more that is unknown than known about the neurochemical effects of SNRIs. Additionally, tapering generally involves opening the capsules and dividing up the beads, which can be frustrating at a minimum.
If you are currently taking Cymbalta or a similar SNRI medication, are suffering from Cymbalta addiction, dependence, or considering Cymbalta withdrawal, please remember the FDA warning against abruptly stopping Cymbalta.2,5 Stopping Cymbalta all at once is definitely a health risk — with one exception, in the case of Serotonin Syndrome, which is described in more detail in the Cymbalta Side Effects section of this article.
At ATMC I was always supported. The staff was great at providing opportunities for me to work towards stability. What helped me here was always keeping a positive outlook and the constant encouragement and reminders to keep faith in myself.
What is Cymbalta (duloxetine) Used For?
The SNRI antidepressant Cymbalta (duloxetine) is most widely used to treat depression, anxiety disorders, and certain types of pain. Following is a timeline showing when the FDA approval for these uses came into effect: Some of the uses of Cymbalta are “off-label” which are not all listed here. SNRIs in general have developed a very long list of these.
Please note that even in off-label use, Cymbalta withdrawal should never be abrupt.
In August of 2004, Cymbalta was approved for treating depression, and a month later the FDA added approval for treating diabetes-related peripheral neuropathy.9
In 2006, the drug gained approval to be prescribed for the treatment of GAD, or general anxiety disorder.9
In 2008, the FDA granted approval for prescribing Cymbalta in managing symptoms relating to Fibromyalgia, a medical condition that causes widespread pain throughout the entire body, rather than pain localized to a specific area or body part.9
In 2010, the FDA expanded its approval for Cymbalta to be prescribed in the treatment of CMP, or chronic musculoskeletal pain, for example, chronic back pain.9
An SNRI is sometimes prescribed for conditions that lay outside the above list, generally called “off-label” prescribing. Often, where a certain condition has not yet been successfully treated or managed with a particular medication, trials are done to explore other medications that may be of some help. When enough positive results have been documented, such off-label use can eventually become FDA-approved. Switching antidepressants should be done with care because of the Cymbalta withdrawal syndrome being activated.
Some off-label uses for Cymbalta (duloxetine) in the USA include:
Urinary incontinence in females, i.e., after pelvic surgery.3
Chemotherapy-induced neuropathy, i.e., after breast cancer treatment.10
Cymbalta Alternative Names and Slang
Duloxetine is the generic name for the brand or trade name Cymbalta. Other trade names include Yentreve, and the drug is sold in the EU as Xeristar and Ariclaim.
Care should be taken not to confuse Cymbalta or its generic name, duloxetine with “SALA” drugs, meaning drug names that sound alike or look alike. To avoid mistaking one drug for another, drug manufacturers often use specific colors, add markings, or use other distinctive features to help minimize this risk.
For example, the Institute for Safe Medication Practices 4 lists Symbyax as a drug that is often confused with Cymbalta (duloxetine). Symbyax is an SSRI drug that compounds two drugs:
An SSRI called fluoxetine, and
An antipsychotic drug called olanzapine
These similarities make Symbyax a drug that might be confused with Cymbalta, but are, in fact, much different from each other in how and when they would be prescribed, despite their similar-sounding names.
Cymbalta Side Effects
In addition to Cymbalta withdrawal symptoms, the drug does come with a number of side effects. Cymbalta (duloxetine) primarily targets the serotonin and norepinephrine neurotransmitters, and to a lesser extent, dopamine.11 Cymbalta has a blocking effect so that these naturally occurring neurotransmitters are restrained from following their normal pathway. Instead of being reabsorbed, they become suspended. The resulting build-up can result in a wide variety of effects such as mood-brightening or feelings of euphoria that speak to its popularity in the treatment of depression and pain relief.
These effects are temporary because after the neurotransmitters have been suspended or pooled, it is possible that the brain and nervous system adapt in ways that diminish the effect of the drug, called Cymbalta tachyphylaxis.12 Tachyphylaxis is a weakened pharmacological response to repeated doses of medication. Certain humanized rat and mice studies indicate that antidepressants like Cymbalta can actually diminish brain serotonin.13 The drug itself does not create new stores of these naturally produced chemicals, it only manipulates the ones that are there and likely affects the chemical states in the brain by what is called neuroplasticity.15
The result of drug-induced neuroplasticity is not completely understood but might explain why some people have to wait weeks to get an effect from Cymbalta.16 Initially perceived benefit can often be overshadowed by other troubling side effects that begin to appear after weeks or months.
In studies on pregnant women, SSRIs were found to have decreased efficacy due to the increased rate of drug metabolism during pregnancy, which has also left questions about safety for the child that need more definite answers.14 Cymbalta withdrawal symptoms may overlap some drug side effects. There are hundreds of reported Cymbalta side effects but here we will focus on the most common ones (1%-10% or higher) and a number of less common reactions that would signal a high health risk and potentially require swift medical intervention, should they occur.
Cymbalta Side Effects Include:
Suicidal behavior, suicidal ideation, especially in those under the age of 25 5
Gastrointestinal hemorrhage, or other areas of internal bleeding 19
Skin reactions including Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (extremely serious reaction of the eyes, skin, and mucous membranes caused by certain medications, signaled by fever and flu-like symptoms, followed by discoloration and rash/eruptions/skin ulcers which can become septic, the skin then blisters and falls off, requires medical intervention done best in a burn unit or ICU, and is fatal in approximately 5 to 10% of cases.) 5
Pruritis (severe and unrelenting itchiness) 17
Hyperhidrosis (extreme, excessive sweating) 18
Spiking blood pressure 21
Heart palpitations 17
Decreased appetite 17
Weight loss 18
Weight gain (less common) 22
Worsened depression sup>23
Mood swings 24
Hyponatremia (abnormally low sodium level, can result in seizure, coma, spasms, mental confusion, muscle weakness, inability to speak clearly, vomiting, swelling of the body, etc.) 17
Insomnia, abnormal dreams, sleep disorders 5
Emotional blunting (reduction or total absence of normal emotional responses) 18
Mental confusion, inability to focus or think clearly 25
Akathisia (a relentless internal sensation of discomfort involving a compulsion to rock, pace, march, shift the feet, or otherwise stay in constant motion) 27
Mania or the lesser hypomania (an abnormally intense episode of racing thoughts, hyperactivity, euphoria, decreased need for sleep, disorganized behavior, elevated self-esteem, grandiosity, etc.) 5
Darkened urine (may be a sign of liver or other organ dysfunction and should be medically assessed without delay.) 17
Abdominal pain 17
Unusual bruising or tenderness in the upper abdominal area may be a sign of internal bleeding and requires medical attention. 25
Serotonin Syndrome (a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when too much serotonin is in the body which can result in seizure, coma, heart palpitations, and other symptoms and requires immediate medical intervention.) 5
Cymbalta Discontinuation Syndrome 5
Controlled Narrow-Angle Glaucoma 5
This is an astonishing list of possible Cymbalta side effects to consider. Considering our success rates at transitioning people off of Cymbalta and managing symptoms effectively without these side effects, we feel that safer lifestyle interventions, as opposed to invasive medications, should be one of the first-lines of treatment for the majority of patients, certainly not the last.
Inpatient Clinic for Cymbalta Withdrawal
Because of the potentially overwhelming difficulties of coming off a drug like Cymbalta (duloxetine), it can be wise to choose treatment of a mild nature, to ensure a safe and comfortable withdrawal experience. Cymbalta addiction or dependency can be overcome. Residential treatment is often the best choice to significantly reduce any discomforts that otherwise may make Cymbalta withdrawal near to impossible to accomplish without step-by-step help.
Initial lab tests can be utilized in order to get a snapshot of existing neurochemical anomalies and deficits, as well as possible nutritional deficiencies and extant toxic body burden. Then, each of these areas can be addressed using a combination of protocols that work to safely and gently restore nutritive values, remove toxins, and stabilize a person’s neurochemistry.
By supporting natural rebalancing of neurochemistry, not only is it possible for the client to feel better very early in the process, but an array of adjunctive therapies allow the person to relax and complete the withdrawal process without unnecessarily harsh adverse effects, worry, or strain. When a client is ready for exercise, Equine-assisted therapy, or personal counseling, these and other opportunities on our services overview page can provide an enriched therapeutic experience.
We invite you to call us At Alternative to Meds Center for any information you would like for you or your loved one’s recovery. We are specialists in providing safer, gentler ways to overcome dependency and achieve successful and comfortable Cymbalta withdrawal.
Diane is an avid supporter and researcher of natural mental health strategies. Diane received her medical writing and science communication certification through Stanford University and has published over 3 million words on the topics of holistic health, addiction, recovery, and alternative medicine. She has proudly worked with the Alternative to Meds Center since its inception and is grateful for the opportunity to help the founding members develop this world-class center that has helped so many thousands regain natural mental health.
Medical Disclaimer: Nothing on this Website is intended to be taken as medical advice. The information provided on the website is intended to encourage, not replace, direct patient-health professional relationships. Always consult with your doctor before altering your medications. Adding nutritional supplements may alter the effect of medication. Any medication changes should be done only after proper evaluation and under medical supervision.