I was diagnosed with major depression mid 2009 due to a traumatic event. I was prescribed antidepressants and only after trying all other natural alternatives, I started on 60mg Cymbalta (daily). I suffered pretty much every side effect – insomnia, strange intense dreams, brain zaps and feeling sluggish etc. Please note - even with these side effects, the antidepressants got me through the worst of my depression, they gave me the boost that I so badly needed.
Fast forward two years and I felt I was ready to wean down to 30mg in the goal of eventually stopping altogether. My main concern was how my body would react, from past experience - if I missed/forgot to take a tablet, the next day was terrible – very dizzy/vertigo feeling, nausea, headaches and worst of all, the foggy confused feeling that I couldn’t shake.
To prepare myself – I researched other people’s experiences and what helped them. I dropped to 30mg without much trouble (some dizziness, brain zaps & feeling foggy) - from there I tried: missing a tablet every second day – no go – far too intense and after a week of feeling awful, I was back to a daily dose.
I then tried: missing a tablet once a week – this was easier but after about two weeks, I decided that it was making me more emotionally tired and stressed out – I needed something more gentle and slow – something I could ease into, without my body/brain going into shock.
I found a few references to people successfully weaning off by using a low dose of Prozac in conjunction with a small dose of the Cymbalta. I approached my Dr. who was not very understanding on why I couldn’t just wean off as she had suggested (as above), long story short – she finally gave me a prescription for 10mg Prozac, and below is my successful story of how I eventually became Cymbalta free!!!
Please note that in Qld Australia – the lowest dose of Cymbalta is the 30mg in capsule form – I had to use the ‘bead counting’ method – where I had to open and remove a certain amount of beads from capsule, close capsule and store them in bulk ready to be taken. I put them in a weekly tablet container labelled with the estimated mg amount e.g. 27mg / 15mg etc.
This is an estimate, every person will react differently – you should adjust to what you feel comfortable on:
2 weeks : 27mg Cymbalta + 10mg Prozac (daily) = felt a little off but nothing extreme
2 weeks : 20mg Cymbalta + 10mg Prozac (daily) = felt a little off but nothing extreme
4 weeks : 15mg Cymbalta + 10mg Prozac (daily) = started feeling the dizziness a bit more, decided to stay on same dose a little longer – until my body adjusted and I felt ready to move to next drop
2 weeks : 10 beads Cymbalta + 10mg Prozac (daily) = felt better, still a little dizzy, emotions were a bit over the place – but I also found out I was 5 weeks pregnant – I decided it was best for me and bub to continue on my weaning schedule but made a personal choice to speed up process
2 weeks : 10 beads (not mg) Cymbalta + NO Prozac = had my ups and downs but bearable
2 weeks : 5 beads (not mg) Cymbalta + NO Prozac = felt ready to take the plunge, I was only experiencing a bit of fuzziness, but brain zaps had totally stopped, dizziness was almost gone and I was feeling like this was it – I was so close to being free!
5 weeks and counting : NO Cymbalta + NO Prozac = feeling GREAT! Dizziness & brain zaps are no longer – it’s almost an anticlimax as I was expecting to feel terrible.
The lessons I learnt: Everyone is different, what works for one person, may not work for another.
- If you have dropped a dose and are feeling really bad – go back to previous dose and try again when you are feeling more comfortable
- You can go down a bead at a time if that is what works for you – the slower you wean off, the easier it is on your body and mind
- You need to have a good support team (family/friends) to talk you through the hard times when giving up seems the easier option
- Listen to your body – if you are feeling out of control - slow down weaning process - if you feel ill, your heart is racing – might be the dose of Prozac and Cymbalta is too high and you need to lower dose or see your Dr.
- None of this is fun – but I found doing it this way compared to the other options – was bearable and something I had control over
Good luck to everyone trying to get off of these tablets – you can do this!!