Cymbalta (duloxetine) is a popular antidepressant used to treat various conditions, including major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, neuropathy, and fibromyalgia.
Although Cymbalta is not considered to cause addiction, Cymbalta patients are likely to encounter withdrawal symptoms, referred to as “discontinuation syndrome,” when they quit using it. These symptoms vary in form and intensity. Some people will encounter them for a few weeks, while others will experience them for several months. For this reason, patients should not stop using Cymbalta abruptly or without medical direction.
Common Cymbalta Withdrawal Symptoms
Withdrawal symptoms associated with Cymbalta can be anywhere from mild to severe, and that Cymbalta Discontinuation Syndrome is a well-documented condition with a history of controversy. According to the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), in 2017, there were 888 reports of adverse effects related to Cymbalta cessation, the highest number for any antidepressant that binds to serotonin receptors. A recent study from 2015 on generic duloxetine also revealed that 44 percent of users experience some withdrawal symptoms.
Following a 2009 investigation, the FDA determined that the withdrawal symptoms associated with duloxetine were much more severe than its manufacturer (Eli Lilly) had suggested on their product label and through advertising. Also, a 2012 class-action lawsuit was filed against the company driven amidst claims of several individuals who reported that the intensity of the withdrawal effects they had encountered from discontinued use of the Cymbalta had been misrepresented.
The Cymbalta label states the following symptoms may be experienced when the use of Cymbalta is discontinued.
Cymbalta users have also reported less common withdrawal symptoms, including nightmares and vertigo. Several individuals have reported suffering from painful headaches that feel similar to electric shocks that transmit along the spinal cord to the skull base, often accompanied by dizziness and nausea.
Finally, Cymbalta also comes with a black box warning regarding suicidal thoughts’ potential, as this label is required for all SSRI and SNRI antidepressants. Some patients using duloxetine have reported increased suicidal ideations during withdrawal, and these medications are more likely to cause such thoughts in children, teens, and young adults.
Cymbalta Withdrawal Duration of Symptoms
It is impossible to establish a precise timeline for withdrawal symptoms, as they may vary considerably depending on the patient’s circumstances. Some individuals will encounter moderate symptoms for several weeks, while others will continue to experience more intense symptoms that can persist for months following cessation.
A popular method to prevent withdrawal symptoms is through the use of a tapering or weaning schedule. During this approach, the person gradually reduces their dose under the close direction of a physician. Most of the time, tapering off from Cymbalta will require a month or longer. Many patients report feeling better within four weeks of quitting entirely, and even those for whom it takes somewhat longer will eventually begin to experience a significant improvement.
Managing Cymbalta Withdrawal Symptoms
As noted, one of the best ways to manage Cymbalta withdrawal is by gradually reducing one’s dose under the direction of a doctor. Withdrawal symptoms may still manifest, but they will likely be less intense than they would otherwise be if the medication were discontinued suddenly.
Some doctors have reported improved outcomes after prescribing Prozac (fluoxetine) to patients for several weeks. In doing so, the weaning time can be reduced, and the overall process may be smoother and more comfortable for the individual.
Getting Treatment for Drug Dependence
Duloxetine is not commonly believed to be chemically addictive, despite its high potential for withdrawal symptoms. Persons wishing to withdraw from antidepressants should make sure that any recovery program they are considering can help with this process. Also, the program should be able to effectively address any mental health concerns that might benefit from the use of such medication, including depression or anxiety.
Although Cymbalta is not strongly associated with physiological dependence, any psychoactive substance can lead to psychological dependence. People seeking to stop using Cymbalta for whatever reason may benefit from services that help people identify the underlying factors behind their substance dependence and compulsive need to use.
Just Believe Detox and Just Believe Recovery centers offer integrated substance abuse treatment programs in partial hospitalization and residential formats. Our programs include evidence-based services, such as behavioral therapy, health and wellness programs, aftercare planning, and more.