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Cymbalta Withdrawal Symptoms, (Duloxetine) Side Effects, Treatment Help

Cymbalta Withdrawal Symptoms, (Duloxetine) Side Effects, Treatment Help

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Last Updated on March 2, 2021 by Carol Gillette

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Alternative to Meds Editorial Team
Written by Diane Ridaeus Published Feb 13, 2021
Medically Reviewed by Dr John Motl MD

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?


getting off 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.

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Can Holistic Treatment Help With Cymbalta Withdrawal?

holistic cymbalta withdrawalWe 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.

We encourage you to view our articles that cover Cymbalta tapering methods, and alternatives to Cymbalta that truly address the withdrawal process and shifting to natural alternatives.

Cymbalta Withdrawal Symptoms

Cymbalta withdrawals can include:

  • Seizure 29
  • Suicidal thoughts 33
  • Akathisia 35
  • Dizziness, nausea, vomiting, headache 28
  • Paresthesia, electric-shock sensations, prickling skin sensations 28,30,31
  • Irritability 28
  • Nightmares 28
  • Anxiety 31
  • Panic attacks 33
  • Parkinsonism and other movement disorders 32
  • Withdrawal-induced mania 34
  • Sexual dysfunction 35
  • Brain fog, cognitive impairment, inability to concentrate 35
  • Muscle aches, tremors 35

Planning Your Cymbalta Withdrawal

Please use the data here freely in coordination with your primary caregivers, to assist you in the 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, we can definitively say that their recovery was worth the investment.

Concerns About Cymbalta Withdrawal

Cymbalta Warning: Cymbalta withdrawal and poorly planned withdrawal from similar drugs can be risky if done too fast, or without adequate guidance and support. Consumers, physicians, and caregivers are advised to choose taper methods informed by the many serious potential consequences when attempting to stop taking Cymbalta or any SNRI drug too abruptly.

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.

snri adverse effectsAn SNRI type of antidepressant can often produce unexpected adverse effects. Sometimes, and in the case of Cymbalta, many of these known detriments come to light after the drug is placed on the market for consumers.7 Anyone considering taking such a drug is well advised to research the matter thoroughly so that the most optimally 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 impacts both the serotonin and norepinephrine neurochemistry. 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 strong 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.

Testimonial
Cymbalta Withdrawal
Success

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.

-Jackie

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

cymbalta side effectsIn 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.13,14 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 this drug-induced neuroplasticity might explain why some people have to wait weeks to get an effect from Cymbalta16 and evolve into more long-term negative Cymbalta side effects where an initially perceived benefit can often be overshadowed by other troubling side effects that begin to appear after weeks or months. Cymbalta withdrawal symptoms may overlap some drug side effects. There are hundreds of reported Cymbalta side effects but we will focus on the most common ones here (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
    • Seizures 5
    • Gastrointestinal hemorrhage, or other areas of internal bleeding 19
    • Pain in the upper right abdomen area 17
    • Blurred vision, dilated pupils 18
    • Back or neck pain, muscle spasms (dystonia) 20
    • Anorgasmia, premature ejaculation, decreased libido, erectile dysfunction 17
    • 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
    • Fatigue 17
    • Vertigo 17
    • Decreased appetite 17
    • Weight loss 18
    • Weight gain (less common) 22
    • Worsened depression sup>23
    • Anxiety 18
    • 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
    • Panic attacks 26
    • Irritability, hostility, aggressive, impulsive behaviors 26
    • 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
    • Dizziness 17
    • Tremors 18
    • Vomiting 18
    • 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
    • Hepatotoxicity 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 lifestyle interventions should be often one of the first-lines of treatment, 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.

inpatient care for cymbalta withdrawalInitial 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 a natural 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 provide an enriched therapeutic experience.

At Alternative to Meds Center, we are specialists in providing safer, gentler ways to overcome dependency and achieve safe Cymbalta withdrawal, as well as safe and comfortable withdrawal from this and other prescription drugs.


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3. Schlenker B, Gratzke C, Reich O, Schorsch I, Seitz M, Stief CG “Preliminary Results on the Off-Label Use of Duloxetine for the Treatment of Stress Incontinence After Radical Prostatectomy or Cystectomy” PubMed [INTERNET] 2006 Jun [cited 2020 Jul 25]

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This content has been reviewed and approved by a licensed physician.

Dr. John Motl, M.D.

Dr. Motl is currently certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in Psychiatry, and Board eligible in Neurology and licensed in the state of Arizona.  He holds a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in biology and minors in chemistry and philosophy. He graduated from Creighton University School of Medicine with a Doctor of Medicine.  Dr. Motl has studied Medical Acupuncture at the Colorado School of Traditional Chinese Medicine and at U.C.L.A.

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