Quitting the antidepressant Cymbalta may result in severe withdrawal symptoms. This condition, known as Cymbalta Discontinuation Syndrome, has been characterized by people who have been through it as “a nightmare,” “horrific,” and like “going through hell.” This article discusses the various symptoms associated with Cymbalta Discontinuation Syndrome.
What’s the Problem?
In 2008, Cymbalta became the second antidepressant approved to treat fibromyalgia. At the time, the medical community was excited to have another drug available that could potentially reduce pain for patients suffering from the condition. Unfortunately, few people could have anticipated the misery that occurs when Cymbalta users attempt to quit taking the drug.
Cymbalta Warning: Discontinuing Antidepressant May Result in Severe Withdrawal
Neither physicians nor patients expected the severity of Cymbalta withdrawal symptoms. In fact, the condition is bad enough to have its own name – Cymbalta Discontinuation Syndrome. According to an FDA advisory committee, “Much anecdotal evidence has accumulated documenting the injury, distress and life management impacts caused by discontinuation of Cymbalta. The effects of discontinuation can be severe and extend for weeks or even months.”
Signs and symptoms of Cymbalta discontinuation syndrome may include:
- “Brain Zaps” (electric shock sensations)
- Suicidal Thoughts
- Excessive Sweating
- Involuntary Crying or Laughing
- Mood Swings
- Limb Pain
The Cymbalta Prescribing Information states: “A gradual reduction in the dose rather than abrupt cessation is recommended whenever possible. If intolerable symptoms occur following a decrease in the dose or upon discontinuation of treatment, then resuming the previously prescribed dose may be considered. Subsequently, the physician may continue decreasing the dose but at a more gradual rate.”
While gradually stepping down the dosage of Cymbalta sounds reasonable in theory, there is one glaring dilemma with this approach. The drug is only available in 20, 30 and 60 mg dosages. Furthermore, Cymbalta comes in capsule form, not as a tablet that can be cut in half. Adding insult to injury, the prescribing information warns that Cymbalta “… should not be chewed or crushed, nor should the capsule be opened and its contents sprinkled on food or mixed with liquids.” So although Eli Lilly recommends gradually reducing the dosage of Cymbalta, it’s virtually impossible to actually do it.
What Can You Do?
If you take Cymbalta and want to quit, consult with your physician about developing a discontinuation plan. Make sure your doctor is aware of the severity of potential withdrawal symptoms, and discuss options for treating symptoms that may occur. Some doctors have tried switching patients to other antidepressants that are easier to discontinue, and then treating other symptoms with appropriate medications throughout the withdrawal process.