My wife was prescribed Cymbalta approximately 9 weeks ago for chronic back pain, it took her about 5 weeks on 30mg for the initial side effects to subside. These included: fast heart beat/palpitations, feeling agitated, headaches, upset stomach, and probably a few others.
The back pain my wife was suffering from improved dramatically, so our GP decided she could go onto the normal (?) dosage of 60mg.
In addition to the side effects mentioned above, my wife also suffered from insomnia, night time muscle spasms, and night time heavy sweating. These side effects did not subside, however the lack of back pain convinced my wife to continue with Cymbalta.
Since she was a teenager, my wife has suffered from migraines which typically appear once a month unless triggered by something else such as lack of sleep or alcohol.
For the past couple of years she has relied on Rizatriptan to combat the effects of the migraine, our GP did mention that there was a rare possibility of serotonin syndrome occurring when both drugs are taken simultaneously.
Well the inevitable happened and my wife developed a migraine, she took the Rizatriptan and nothing happened - the migraine just got worse. As instructed, she took another Rizatriptan after two hours since the first one did not work.
That's when things took a turn for the worst, she became very weak, extremely nauseous, and had diarrhoea. After about two hours of this she started to feel a bit better and the following morning had recovered from the migraine.
Our GP decided that these symptoms combined with some of the others that lingered, AND a newly discovered high blood pressure all pointed to moderate serotonin syndrome.
She advised my wife to gradually stop taking Cymbalta, providing a plan to taper off the drug.
A few days later, my wife had another migraine (after reducing her dose of Cymbalta to 30mg) which didnt really go away when treated with Rizatriptan.
At this stage she was so desperate to get off Cymbalta she just stopped taking it. Bad idea - I had recently read about the horrendous withdrawal symptoms and advised against this course of action, however she could not be convinced.
It was on the third day of no Cymbalta that the withdrawal symptoms started - nausea, diarrhoea, sweating, nightmares, headaches which turned into migraines, constantly dizzy, forgetfulness, and manic behaviour.
At one stage she was so ill that a GP had to come around to our house to inject her with Tramadol and some kind and anti nausea drug. He stayed around for a while just to make sure the drugs helped and didn't do anything sinister. He also mentioned that coming off Cymbalta so abruptly is really a bad idea and if my wife didnt improve over the next couple of days she would need to be admitted to hospital.
He also prescribed Temazepam for the insomnia.
Fortunately the injections really helped, the following morning she awoke (yes she actually slept for a change) with a mild migraine that went with Rizatriptan.
Its now been a 8 days since she stopped and feels much better, still slightly dizzy but the headaches have gone, sleeping much better, occasional nightmares but not constant.
She missed 8 days of work so far, her boss has been very understanding and said not to worry.
My boss has also been very supportive which was fantastic since i have only worked for the company for 4 weeks!
I have written this account of our experience for a number of reasons:
1. I really don't recommend stopping this drug abruptly!
2. Cymbalta may have been effective in combating the back pain but the side effects made it unbearable.
3. Be wary taking Triptans with it.
4. If we had known about the withdrawals, even when the dosage is gradually reduced, my wife would not have taken it.
5. You will eventually recover.
I just hope she is over the worst of it now, i am very sorry for the people on this forum who are suffering from the withdrawal symptoms. Its a terrible drug and i dont understand why its still prescribed.