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How to get off Cymbalta


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#1 togo32

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Posted 28 August 2009 - 10:53 AM

I guess a lot of people find themselves on here because they don't know what to expect when getting off a drug. Having been on numerous SSRIs/SNRIs/Benzos/stimulants, I've experienced the wonderful joy of withdrawal over and over again. Some worse than others but one thing that remains constant is that eventually the drug does exit your system.

To give you a bit a background, I'll give a brief overview of the drugs I've been on. It started off with symptoms of anxiety. That led to taking benzodiazepines such as lorazapam when I felt anxiety coming on. Problem with benzos is that you don't really want to be on them for an extended period of time. I was sent to a specialist for ADD who ran a series of tests. The tests are somewhat flawed and can easily diagnose you as ADD when you really aren't. That was the case for me. I was put on Strattera, Ritalin, Adderall,Dexedrine, Concerta,nortriptiline and wellbutrin. Stimulants have nasty side effects especially when that's not what you need. Next on the list was SSRIs. I was on Paxil, Celexa and Cipralex. Celexa and Cipralex being essentially the same thing had some nasty side effects. Anti-depressants are supposed to make you feel better, not worse. Then I eventually made the move to SNRIs. First off was Effexor. When it came to anxiety, I had none while on Effexor. However, I could only be described as a bastard from hell on it. The gf described me as a very angry individual on it. And I'm doubtful it was dosage related seeing as I did everything from 37.5mg all the way to 300mg. Then came full circle to another benzo; clonazapam. Clonazapam kept my anxiety in check. But I was left with side effects and a rapid tolerance to the drug. The last thing you want is to be hooked on benzos. You think Cymbalta is hard to get off; try getting off long term usage of a benzo. Due to a "miscommunication" between me and my doctor, I was put on Depakote. Not a fun drug to be on when you're not suffering from mania. Which brings me to now... another attempt at an SNRI; Cymbalta.

Doctors have a hard time diagnosing their patients. This can be due to many different factors. Unfortunately, this usually leads to a cocktail of drugs you must go through before you find the right one. Sadly, I have had to go through a pleathora of drugs and have yet to find one that works for me. That being said, it has made me somewhat of an expert when it comes to withdrawing from medication.

Cymbalta has unfortunately brought back the same symptoms as Effexor. Therefore I decided to take myself off of it. The reason for getting off a drug is irrelevant. What's most important is getting off of it. Which is what leads most of us to sites like this. Most of us want to know what the best approach is, what to expect, ask questions such as "is this normal?".

I'm not a doctor. Therefore I can't explain the chemistry of the brain. One thing is certain though, all these drugs alter the chemistry of the brain. As you start taking medication, your brain gets adjusted to the foreign substance. Eventually, your brain rewires itself to the changes. Reality becomes the way you feel when on a drug. Which is why withdrawal is such an awful feeling. Think about it; your brain suddenly has to rewire itself yet again. Withdrawal is your body's way of telling you that something is missing. Just as it usually takes time to adjust to taking a drug, your body must also adjust to not having a drug in your system.

One of the first questions people ask is how to get off a drug. Should I taper off or go cold turkey. That one is a hard question to answer because numerous factors play a roll. Personally, I have always taken the band-aid approach and gone cold turkey. I have done this with every single drug I've been on. Don't get me wrong; it hasn't been easy. But the idea of waiting 6 months to a year to get off a drug just doesn't sit well with me. I read a lot of medical information on drugs and weigh the pros and cons. Because I can tolerate cold turkey doesn't mean you should do the same. In some cases, your system can go into severe shock. Tapering off is usually the recommended method. One of the reasons I hate tapering off is that the end result is the same... even if you taper off, you will most likely get withdrawal symptoms. It boils down to how severe those symptoms can get. If you can tolerate the harshness of cold turkey, then it might be worth a try. If the intensity is too much, you can usually take Cymbalta again and you'll start feeling the way you did prior to discontinuation.

The second most commonly asked question is what to expect. Again... another hard to answer question. There are some common withdrawal symptoms most people will encounter. Such as the wonderful brain zaps, every movement of your head felt intensified, insomnia, vertigo, nausea. These are normal. And for the most part, you can expect to have these for 1-3 weeks. Currently, I'm on day 6 of withdrawing from Cymbalta. It's easy to feel like giving up and thinking you're going crazy. It will pass. Which is why getting off these drugs is best when you're on vacation from work or have a lot of spare time. I don't have that luxury. I work as an IT instructor and must teach classes around the world. let's just say acting normal is hard when withdrawing. So if you can, be on vacation or something to disrupt your life as little as possible. It's almost a certainty you will feel like absolute crap for the first week or two. There is no easy way around this. Withdrawal is a fact of life. I always find it amusing when people complain that their doctor didn't mention withdrawal symptoms. I figure, if I'm going to ingest something that's going to change my mood and brain chemistry, I'll also take some time to research what I'm getting into. The fact remains, withdrawal will most likely occur. Bitching and complaining won't make it go away. Once you get past this fact, you can proceed and move on with getting off the drug.

Having a support system can be useful. Going through it alone is not fun and keeping it bottled in is no better. Some people are ashamed to let others know they are on anti-depressants. Well, what's worse; people thinking you're ready for the nuthouse or understanding that you're going through something? This is an individual choice. Which is why going on "vacation" is a good option. If you don't want people to know, don't be around them.

I'm not sure how useful this post will be to people. if there's one thing you get out of it it's this; your withdrawal symptoms are most likely normal and will eventually pass. There is no magic number. Anyone who's successfully gotten off a drug will usually tell you it gets worse before it gets better. Expect to feel like crap for a while. As they often say, "good things come to those who wait". Patience is key. If you expect to be feeling 100% after a few days, you're living in a fantasy world. Just know that almost everyone must go through this crappy feeling. Kind of like a right of passage ;)

Side note: In case you think of taking something like Pristiq, know that it is a newer version of Effexor. Whenever a patent expires, the original company works on a "reformulated" version of the original drug. Pristiq is no different. Just like Cipralex is a newer version of Celexa and Lunesta is a newer version of immovane. If you'd had bad experiences with Effexor, Pristiq will most likely be a lot of the same old.

#2 MaureenV

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    Am trying to get off Cymbalta 30mg and wondering about brain zaps.

Posted 28 August 2009 - 10:45 PM

Hiya,


Thanks - I found your information very useful. As someone who's had to take significant amounts of drugs since they were 13, I wouldn't be alive without them, so have mixed feelings about drug companies.

I hadn't been depressed for 20 years until last year (and even previously it was not for long), and taking Lexapro turned my life around. I changed to Cymbalta a few months ago because the nightmares on Lexapro were seriously affecting my sleep. Because I was fine changing to 30mg Cymbalta, and had too many side effects with going up to 60mg (due to pre-existing conditions) I figured I might try to wean off and see how I go. I was o.k. going from 60mg (which I had only been taking every 36 hours anyway) to 30mg daily, but found problems when I went to 30mg every 1 1/2 days. I discovered this site when I went to one every second day and realized all the stuff I'd been feeling (manic one minute, angry the next, brain zaps) was withdrawal, not just the 'me' underneath, so on advice here emptied half the capsules and took that every day instead and all the side effect disappeared.

I've since suffered depression, but as I don't know if that's a withdrawal depression or underlying depression that still needs treating. That's the reason I'm staying on the 15mg per day for the forseeable future, because if it's a side effect of withdrawal it will eventually go away, and if it doesn't I presumably need to go back up to 30mg, on which I felt great, knowing that next time I wean off it will be down to a miniscule amount per day before I stop completely.

Thanks again for your info..

regards, Maureen.

#3 nursedeborah

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    I am reallly trying to get off Cymbalta, and not having, well I am having nightmares even with the decreased does, and clanging in my head.

    I just found this site, and I really need help, I can't do this, I fear I willl never get off this brutal medication.

    Deboreah Wesson

Posted 29 August 2009 - 07:18 AM

That's what we need, people like you!
Keep up the good work!


Debbie

#4 SadSarah

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    I am looking for people with the same experiences I am having. I need to know more about this medication and the withdrawl so I know I am not the only one having a horrific experience.

Posted 03 September 2009 - 07:18 AM

Maureen,

Correct me if I'm wrong.....So you open the capsule and split it in half? That seems like it would be okay, however, I thought Cymbalta is a time-release capsule? So how do you know how to split it up? Could this be affecting the way the medication should be working? Just wondering =)

#5 nursedeborah

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    I am reallly trying to get off Cymbalta, and not having, well I am having nightmares even with the decreased does, and clanging in my head.

    I just found this site, and I really need help, I can't do this, I fear I willl never get off this brutal medication.

    Deboreah Wesson

Posted 03 September 2009 - 08:35 AM

No not at all. It allows you to decrease at you own comfortable time table,not one that some
doc whoknows nothing about this drug or the withdrawls!!!

Mine just told to to go back to my normal dose, but after what had happened to me, and I found this place, and other who had open the caps.

I started by just dumping out a little bit, and counting that as 50 mg, then went to 45 mg.
I really screwed up, and dumpede out more with out realizing it, so I am down to about like 25 -30mg. It I don't start to feel better I will just add a few mor, and stay at that dose for awhile. You don't have to hurry to get off this crap.

Do it the way that works for you, and what you comfortable with..

If you need more help I am here awlays, just a bit fogggy, and nuts, but can still help otu.

Love,
Debbie

#6 MaureenV

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    Am trying to get off Cymbalta 30mg and wondering about brain zaps.

Posted 03 September 2009 - 11:12 PM

Maureen,

Correct me if I'm wrong.....So you open the capsule and split it in half? That seems like it would be okay, however, I thought Cymbalta is a time-release capsule? So how do you know how to split it up? Could this be affecting the way the medication should be working? Just wondering =)



Sorry Sarah, just saw this.


Much as I'm ETERNALLY grateful to this site given what I've found out here, not to mention the support, I find it confusing how there are so many different places to post. I've only just worked out how to just go to new posts. :)

You're right - they're time release, and I don't know what would happen if you just took the 'beads' without a gelatin capsule to take it to the correct part of your body before beginning to release - I would never, ever be game to try that!

When I realized my mistake with 30mg every second day, I started to open the capsule, dump half, put the cap back on and then take it.

I've since found some cheap paracetamol in two part capsules ($2 for 24!) which I am completely emptying.

As I also still had some 60mg capsules, and was really depressed on the 15mg, I'm now emptying three paracetamol, dividing the 60mg Cymbalta into the three caps; by holding them up to the light I make sure they're as even as possible. The reason I don't use the now empty 6mg capsule for this is because it's a different size, and it would be difficult to tell if the amounts were even. We don't seem to have 20mg capsules in Australia, so this is my version. I appreciate there may be some very minor variations in the dose, but over the three days it would total 60mg, and I'm not getting any withdrawal effects.

I'm keeping the empty 60mg capsules, and when I have three empties (after 9 days obviously), then I can use those empties to do the divvying.

Hope that helps, regards, Maureen.

#7 Junior

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Posted 03 September 2009 - 11:47 PM

Togo 33.. can I just ask.. what is the nature of your anxiety? And.. have you ever had therapy for it?

#8 cactus

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    my psychiatrist want's me to take Cymbalta. I filled the script yesterday but I'm terrified to take it because every SSRI/SNRI I've ever taken has given me horrendous withdrawals. I have just come off 10mg of Edronax, which is quite a high dose, cold turkey with no side effects what so ever. It's the 1st AD I've ever taken in almost 20 years that has no bad withdrawals at all, and is medically noted for this and that is why I agreed to take it.

Posted 04 September 2009 - 02:15 PM

Wow, this is great info for me. I have suffered from severe depression/anxiety etc.. for years and have tried loads of different medications.

Anyhow I'll cut straight to the chase. I was prescribed Cymbalta yesterday by my psychiatrist. Basically I'm too terrified to take it and after reading your posts I'm having MAJOR second thoughts. My depression is cyclic and I can go a couple of years without having to take an AD. I have been on Edronax (Reboxetine) for 4 months but it has ended up making me very irritable and has blown my insomnia out of control. 2 good things about it though are it stops invasive/intrusive thoughts dead in the water, like after 2-3 days and has NO or very little withdrawal, which has been medically documented and the only reason I agreed to take it.

The main reason I'm posting this is because of a few things people have said in this thread. Especially pertaining to withdrawal. I had the exact same problems with all other SSRI/SNRI's, Efexor XR, what a horrid experience that was and yes I went back for more. I tried to come off it both ways described in this thread. Cold turkey and opening the capsules and taking out a few extra granules every day. Once I finished the slow taper compared to cold turkey, guess what! Same result, equally as bad with brain zaps, electric shocks, jolts, numb arms and legs, tingling lips, fast head movements are not a good idea and nothing helped. I was so sick for 2 weeks then very shabby for 2 more. It was hell on earth. Same thing happened coming off 300mg of Luvox, 200mg of Zoloft and 40mg of Cipramil (citalopram). I couldn't tolerate Prozac or Aropax (paroxetine) at all.

There is one thing I have heard of since I last took a SSRI/SNRI which I have never tried but in theory it make sense. Prozac has a very long half life, it stays in your system for days, so switching to a low dose of Prozac, like 10mg at the end of your taper apparently really helps the final process. The idea is after your last dose of whatever you're taking, pop a prozac when you feel the withdrawals coming on, which supposedly keeps it at bay for days. I've read on other boards that it only takes 2-4 doses over 2 weeks and makes the entire process much easier. Good luck to each and every one of you. I totally understand what you're going through, but you'll get there. I won't lie, it's a very bumpy ride, put your seat belts on!! Peace and best wishes C

#9 nursedeborah

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    I am reallly trying to get off Cymbalta, and not having, well I am having nightmares even with the decreased does, and clanging in my head.

    I just found this site, and I really need help, I can't do this, I fear I willl never get off this brutal medication.

    Deboreah Wesson

Posted 05 September 2009 - 05:55 AM

I will keep doing my very slow taper off Cymbalta without going on anything else if I can make it, and with all the support I am getting her, I know I can.

It still is very hard at times, but today seems brighter. Iwas even able to do some moving yesterday!! It did me good kept my mind off withdrawls, and was great exercise.

Thanks for the infor, if I can't do it, I might think about it?????

Debbie

#10 penathey

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    I went cold turkey from Cymbalta recently (a big mistake) and want to discuss the withdrawal timetable. Thank you.

Posted 05 September 2009 - 12:35 PM

Here is my Cymbalta withdrawl saga, which is not strictly confined to Cymbalta, but may demonstrate just how cavalierly these kinds of medications (and others) are prescribed, with disastrous effects. Please don't consider going cold turkey from Cymbalta.

Back in December, I was on 60 mg morning plus 30 mg evening of Cymbalta. It was given to me for depression and also to help with diabetic peripheral neuropathy in two toes, as well as general aches and pains of being in my early 60s. Lyrica was also briefly foisted upon me to help with the neuropathy and "fibromyalgia," which is a "bucket diagnosis" that I refuse to accept...if your muscles and bones ache that badly, there is something wrong that someday will come to light as an immunological and/or infective agent that doctors have currently given up trying to find.

Then I discovered that I wasn't actually diabetic...for five years, I had been given all kinds of oral medication and was told that I was a Type 2 diabetic, but it dawned upon me (and not upon my endocrinologist) that my hemoglobin A1C tests had always been consistently awfully low (less than 4) for a diabetic. So, against medical advice, I tapered off of the diabetic medications, watching my daily blood sugar readings all the while and seeing them absolutely unchanged as I withdrew and began to feel better and better by the day. Then I went to a different doctor and got a glucose challenge test to confirm that I am indeed not diabetic.

I digress on this to show how well-meaning but careless doctors can cause people a great deal of grief and have them on a lot of dangerous medications that they don't need (google metformin, actos, and byetta if you want to see some horrifying side effects--two of mine were depression and B12 deficiency and anemia from the metformin).

So now that I knew that the toe tingling wasn't from diabetes and now that I felt much less depression due to blood sugar lowering medications, I decided I could do without the Cymbalta, too. But stupid me, I just went cold turkey on it. For the next two months, I was nauseated, had achey muscles and joints, heart palpitations, stuffy nose, insomnia, and headaches.

I think the withdrawal also knocked my immune system down, so that I got a herpes virus infection in the dry socket of a cracked molar that had been pulled. The herpes migrated into my spinal cord and I had horrific (10 on a scale of 10) pain in my jaw, tongue, palate, ear, scalp, throat, and neck, as well as my upper and middle back.

I went to two neurologists who just barely hid their chuckles while telling me I should be seeing a psychiatrist and taking antidepressants. The third neurologist diagnosed my herpes infection correctly and gave me massive doses of antiviral and antibiotic medications. The infection cleared up within 10 days and the inflammation in the nerves subsided over another week. Just goes to show that we the patients are most often better diagnosticians than most doctors. Do your research and then go see a doctor. I am truly tired of being humiliated, insulted, ignored, rushed, misdiagnosed, etc, etc by doctors who listen and touch and give enough of a rat's patoot to engage their thinking machines.

Many Cymbalta withdrawal effects are well known and discussed in these forums and elsewhere, but I truly believe that withdrawal from Cymbalta gave my immune system a hard kick in the gut. I haven't seen any mention of that effect and hope that my story will help anyone who thinks about going cold turkey to reconsider and to taper very very slowly. Just about every health food store in America sells empty gelatin capsules that will hold your declining doses of little balls.

#11 nursedeborah

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    I am reallly trying to get off Cymbalta, and not having, well I am having nightmares even with the decreased does, and clanging in my head.

    I just found this site, and I really need help, I can't do this, I fear I willl never get off this brutal medication.

    Deboreah Wesson

Posted 07 September 2009 - 06:10 AM

What a powerful story, and I so understand about being misdiagnoised!

Have you seen all the withdralws symptoms? It sure would do you good to take a look at them. My friend and I looked at alll of them again last night to get them in my head again!!!

Some of the things you talked about especially the herpes,well look it up, AMAZING!!!

http://prozactruth.com/cymbalta.htm

Tapering down ever so slow,and it's stilll a bitch, day 19!
Debbie

#12 zombie

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Posted 22 April 2011 - 12:11 PM

[quote name='Lyn Huntington' date='22 April 2011 - 01:39 AM'

Great !!! In the US, we have a grocery store chain that focuses on organically grown food... and also carry "commercially" grown. They have a sizable sub-set of thier shoppers who are VEGANs ... a sub-set of Vegetarians. In their Health & Beauty isle, the LARGER of their stores...they have 4 stores near me. The first did not have the empty capsules but and employee sent me to another nearby. If you are in the US and have a Whole Foods nearby, call to find out if they carry them. Theirs are made from VEGETABLE gelatin and that is why they carry them. I wanted to start weaning ASAP so I drove. When ANYONE is starting Cymbalta and other nasty drugs that need weaning off... should consider buying online so they have them when they sre aredy to reduce.



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