What is Cymbalta (Duloxetine)?
Cymbalta (duloxetine) is an FDA-approved drug for the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD).1 It also treats generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), diabetic neuropathy, long-term muscle pain, and fibromyalgia.2
Cymbalta works as a serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI).3 It helps to regulate mood by increasing serotonin and norepinephrine activity in the brain.
Because the medication does not produce a high when taken in large quantities, misuse of Cymbalta is uncommon. However, a person can suffer adverse withdrawal symptoms if they stop using.
When prescribed by a physician, Cymbalta is taken orally 1 to 2 times a day with or without food. Your physician may start you at a lower dose and increase gradually. To get the most benefit out of Cymbalta, follow your doctor's directions carefully.
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Side Effects & Risks of Cymbalta
Duloxetine, the active ingredient in Cymbalta, may induce specific side effects in some people. However, in most cases, they generally do not need medical care. As your body adjusts to the medication, these side effects may go away throughout treatment.
Common side effects include:
- Decreased appetite
- Trouble sleeping
- Dry mouth
- Runny nose
- Increased sweating
- Stomach pain
- Blurry vision
- Abnormal heartbeat
- Decreased sex drive
- Frequent urination
- Chronic musculoskeletal pain
This is not a complete list of Cymbalta’s side effects. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, other frequent severe symptoms include changes in urine, vomiting, heartburn, and stomach discomfort.4 Additional side effects include chronic muscle pain or cramps, changes in sexual desire, and uncontrolled shaking.
If you're also taking aspirin, NSAIDs (like Advil), or blood thinners, Cymbalta may cause an increased risk of bleeding or bruising. This kind of bleeding may be life-threatening.
As the body adapts to Cymbalta, these symptoms may disappear.
Nausea, for example, usually goes away after a week or two. However, if you have any worrisome symptoms, you should consult your doctor for professional medical advice.
How Addictive is Cymbalta? (+ Symptoms)
Cymbalta is generally thought to be non-addictive, although it may lead to physical dependence. People who have a history of severe depression or are on one or more antidepressant medications are more likely to misuse Cymbalta.
Whether you're taking Cymbalta to prevent uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms or to experience the pleasurable effects, watch the amount you take to avoid overdoses.
Symptoms of Cymbalta dependence include:
- Slurred speech
- Faking symptoms to obtain a prescription
- Changes in physical appearance
- Financial challenges
- Reduced appetite
- Taking the drug together with alcohol to enhance the effects
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What Happens if You Stop Taking Cymbalta Abruptly?
Those who attempt to decrease their dosage or stop using Cymbalta often suffer from unpleasant withdrawal symptoms also referred to as discontinuation-emergent adverse events (DEAEs) that may last weeks or even months.
The intensity of Cymbalta withdrawal symptoms has led some people to continue taking the drug despite their desire to stop. As a result, it creates a cycle of dependency in which users develop a tolerance to the drug and need to take more and more of it to achieve the desired effects.
Cymbalta Withdrawal Symptoms (Common & Severe)
Your brain must adapt to decreased amounts of serotonin and norepinephrine after you stop taking Cymbalta. In this case, the brain may take days or weeks to adjust to its new normal.
These adjustments may produce symptoms such as:
- Pins and needles
Severe effects of Cymbalta withdrawal include:
- Suicidal thoughts (increasing the risk of dangerous behavior)
- Electric shock like sensations known as brain zaps
- Mood swings that suddenly transform irritation into rage
- Muscle spasms or tremors
How Long After Stopping Cymbalta Do Withdrawal Symptoms Start?
Symptoms of duloxetine withdrawal typically appear within two to four days of stopping use and can last up to a few weeks. According to research, most reported withdrawal symptoms of Cymbalta are often mild to moderate.5
The likelihood of having Cymbalta withdrawal symptoms while using serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) like duloxetine or venlafaxine varies based on the:
- Amount of time a patient has been on the drug
- The dosage they are taking
- Their medical history
Due to the way duloxetine interacts with serotonin and norepinephrine receptors in the brain, patients who have been taking it for at least four weeks are at risk of suffering withdrawal symptoms.
While many people experience withdrawal symptoms after they stop taking Cymbalta, many patients are unaware of this until their doctor tells them. This is unlike medications that induce clear physical dependencies, such as central nervous system stimulants or opiate pain relievers such as oxycodone or morphine.
If you've been taking Cymbalta for more than four weeks, you'll need to gradually lower your dosage with the help of a healthcare expert to avoid or minimize withdrawal symptoms, commonly known as Cymbalta discontinuation syndrome.
How Long Do Cymbalta Withdrawal Symptoms Last?
As stated earlier, Cymbalta withdrawal symptoms can last up to a week. This is based on a study investigating the symptoms following abrupt discontinuation of Cymbalta medical treatment in patients with major depressive disorder (MDD).6
The study found that 44.3 percent of the patients experienced withdrawal symptoms within two to four days and lasted a week. However, some patients still experienced withdrawal symptoms for weeks.
Most short-term withdrawal adverse effects may persist up to 6 weeks, but the drug's half-life can affect this. Although data on these instances are scarce, chronic withdrawal problems may produce symptoms that linger for months.
How Dangerous is Cymbalta Withdrawal?
The withdrawal symptoms of Cymbalta may be unpleasant, but the good news is that they will rarely cause any adverse health effects. However, if you have stopped taking this drug and are experiencing unusual or worsening symptoms such as suicidal thoughts, reach out to your doctor.
Knowing how to minimize and manage the symptoms of Cymbalta withdrawal may help a person in addiction recovery to prevent a relapse.
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Is it Safe to Withdraw From Cymbalta Alone?
You may experience severe withdrawal symptoms if you stop using Cymbalta. As a result, Cymbalta should never be discontinued or tapered down without first consulting a doctor.
If you suffer adverse effects as a result of the withdrawal process, keep in mind that they are just a transient reaction to a change in your brain chemistry.
Seeking medical and social assistance, using over-the-counter medicines to relieve symptoms, and being honest about how you're feeling may go a long way in ensuring a successful recovery. Your doctor can always adjust your taper if your withdrawal symptoms become too much to bear.
Detox & Treatment Options for Cymbalta Addiction
Although it's difficult to predict how long Cymbalta withdrawal symptoms may last, a medical detox program is the safest way to quit using the drug.
An expert doctor will be able to give you appropriate Cymbalta therapy and progressive tapering, as well as detox medications tailored to your specific needs.
Despite the fact that a Cymbalta detox program can successfully and safely wean a person off the medication, the patient may choose to continue therapy with a rehab program.
Since Cymbalta is not categorized as an addictive prescription drug, many individuals who misuse it also use other substances such as prescription medications or alcohol.
Using Cymbalta, alcohol, or other addictive drugs to deal with life's stresses is a behavioral issue that requires counseling and professional treatment. A successful addiction treatment and counseling program, whether inpatient or outpatient, can address the underlying problems that lead to substance misuse behaviors.
Inpatient Vs. Outpatient Cymbalta Addiction Therapy
Enrolling in a treatment program also allows individuals to stay in a secure and sober environment for a longer period. This promotes physical and mental recovery and increases the chances of forming healthy habits and behaviors.
A typical rehab program for managing Cymbalta addiction may include the following:
- Chemical dependency education
- Relapse prevention strategies
- Individual and group therapy
- Life skills development
- 12-Step Program work
A person recovering from Cymbalta misuse or polysubstance addiction may participate in either a residential or outpatient treatment program.
The residential Cymbalta rehab program is an inpatient program that offers gender-specific addiction therapy, sober living spaces, and a structured daily schedule to individuals suffering from addiction. Patients in Cymbalta rehab reside on-site for the length of their therapy.
On the other hand, an outpatient Cymbalta rehab program offers recovery support and behavioral therapy in a less structured setting. In this case, patients attend a series of group sessions and are allowed to live at home, work, and go to school while undergoing therapy.
The majority of individuals who need medical therapy for Cymbalta withdrawal do not require the rigorous treatment provided by a medical professional in a residential rehab facility.
However, for someone who misuses several medications, including Cymbalta, or has a history of substance addiction issues, an outpatient treatment program may be very beneficial.
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What supplements help with Cymbalta withdrawal? ›
Even after the withdrawals have disappeared, it's very common for patients to continue experiencing irregular serotonin levels after taking an SSRI. That's why many HCPs and researchers have started to support the use of Vitamin B12 for depression and antidepressant withdrawals.How long does it take to stop withdrawing from Cymbalta? ›
How Long Do Cymbalta Withdrawal Symptoms Last? For most people, mild or moderate withdrawal symptoms may last up to three weeks. In some of the milder cases, patients have reported that the worst of their withdrawal symptoms resolved themselves within about a week.What is the best way to stop taking Cymbalta? ›
Taper schedule: The main way to manage Cymbalta discontinuation syndrome is by slowly tapering the dose with the help of your doctor. Generally, duloxetine tapers last around two weeks. The dose may be halved in the first week, and then halved again in the second week before discontinuing the drug.What medicine helps with antidepressant withdrawal? ›
One possible way to get relief is to take a dose of Prozac (fluoxetine) along with medications like Zoloft (sertraline) and Lexapro (escitalopram) that you are trying to taper. Your symptoms will likely go away within a few hours. And because of Prozac's long half-life, it will help smooth out the taper.What are natural remedies for antidepressant withdrawal? ›
When experiencing withdrawal symptoms or antidepressant discontinuation syndrome, increasing physical exercise or changing the diet to include more fresh food may help ease symptoms by making a person feel reinvigorated and less lethargic.What is a natural substitute for Cymbalta? ›
Supplements such as SAMe, St. John's Wort, 5-HTP, vitamin D, magnesium, saffron, and Omega-3 fatty acids, are some examples. Get tested for food allergies, and nutritional and hormonal deficiencies, which have been shown to cause symptoms like those for which antidepressants are prescribed.How do you stop brain zaps from Cymbalta withdrawal? ›
The best way to minimize or prevent brain zaps is to gradually taper off medications rather than stopping them abruptly. However, some evidence has found that tapering does not guarantee that a person will not experience brain zaps or other withdrawal symptoms. That said, it can make it easier to cope with the change.What happens to your body when you stop taking Cymbalta? ›
Symptoms of Cymbalta withdrawal can include insomnia, nightmares, sweating, anxiety, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, irritability, pain, burning, or numbness in the hands or feet, headache and shock-like symptoms in the head, and paresthesias (a prickling or tingling sensation on the skin).What does Cymbalta withdrawal feel like? ›
Cymbalta Side Effects & Withdrawal Symptoms. The most serious side effects caused by the antidepressant medication Cymbalta (duloxetine) include abdominal bleeding and liver injury. But stopping the drug suddenly may cause withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, agitation and suicidal thoughts.How long do Cymbalta withdrawal brain zaps last? ›
Even if you experience brain zaps after you stop taking antidepressants, the problem shouldn't last too long. While some patients have reported experiencing brain zaps for years, Dr. Barnett explained, "I would say [for] the vast majority of people, they typically resolve within a month."
Is it hard to stop Cymbalta? ›
However, Cymbalta withdrawal is known to be a difficult process, and while it does not affect every person who attempts to stop taking Cymbalta, many users will experience Cymbalta Discontinuation Syndrome.What happens if you stop taking duloxetine cold turkey? ›
Missing doses of duloxetine may increase your risk for relapse in your symptoms. Stopping duloxetine abruptly may result in one or more of the following withdrawal symptoms: irritability, nausea, feeling dizzy, vomiting, nightmares, headache, and/or paresthesias (prickling, tingling sensation on the skin).How long does it take to feel better after antidepressant withdrawal? ›
Withdrawal symptoms usually come on within 5 days of stopping the medicine and generally last 1 to 2 weeks. Some people have severe withdrawal symptoms that last for several months or more. See your doctor if you get severe withdrawal symptoms after you stop taking antidepressants.Does antidepressant withdrawal get better? ›
Discontinuation symptoms usually go away within a few weeks. But if you have extremely severe withdrawal symptoms, your doctor may recommend other medicines to relieve them.What vitamin is a natural antidepressant? ›
Vitamin B-3 and Vitamin B-9 can help people with depression because B vitamins help the brain manage moods. Vitamin D, melatonin and St. John's Wort are recommended for seasonal depression. Omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium and vitamin C may also help with depression.What food is a natural antidepressant? ›
They analyzed plant and animal foods separately. Among the top plant antidepressant foods are watercress, spinach, lettuces, fresh herbs, peppers, pumpkin, cauliflower, lemon and strawberry. Antidepressant animal foods include oysters, clams, mussels, crab, tuna, lobster, salmon, herring and snapper.Is there a better drug than Cymbalta? ›
A comparative study of escitalopram (Lexapro) and duloxetine (Cymbalta) found that escitalopram was superior to duloxetine for short-term treatment of depression. The researchers also concluded that escitalopram is as effective as and more tolerable than duloxetine for long-term treatment.Is Cymbalta better than gabapentin? ›
The results showed that, at the end of the study, duloxetine was significantly superior to gabapentin in terms of the incidence of adverse reactions (RR = 0.59, 95% CI: 0.45–0.79, P < 0.01), sleep interference score (SMD = −0.35, 95% CI: −0.63 to −0.08, P < 0.05), but no significant differences in VAS score (SMD = − ...What foods should be avoided when taking Cymbalta? ›
What foods to avoid while taking antidepressants? There are no known food interactions with Cymbalta. For the most part, you can continue your normal diet with no effect. However, monitor your alcohol and caffeine consumption.What does brain zap feel like? ›
You might also hear them referred to as “brain zaps,” “brain shocks,” “brain flips,” or “brain shivers.” They're often described as feeling like brief electric jolts to the head that sometimes radiate to other body parts. Others describe it as feeling like the brain is briefly shivering.
Can Cymbalta withdrawal cause electric shock? ›
A study into Cymbalta, an antidepressant, found the most common withdrawal symptoms included electric-shock sensations in the brain (sometimes called "brain zaps"), dizziness, headache, nausea, and paresthesia.Does Omega 3 help antidepressant withdrawal? ›
"During withdrawal from an antidepressant, one of the quickest ways to help the brain heal is to supplement high-quality omega-3s. One of the most effective treatments for the dreaded electrical shock sensations (a.k.a. “brain zaps”) is omega-3 fatty acids.How do I get rid of brain zaps from Cymbalta withdrawal? ›
There is no cure for brain zaps, and they usually go away over time. Once a person's body has adjusted to the change in antidepressant dosage, brain zaps and some other side effects may decrease.How do you get through antidepressant withdrawal? ›
Going off an antidepressant usually involves reducing your dose in increments, allowing two to six weeks between dose reductions. Your clinician can instruct you in tapering your dose and prescribe the appropriate dosage pills for making the change.What happens to your brain when you stop taking Cymbalta? ›
Cymbalta Discontinuation Syndrome / Symptoms Include "Brain Zaps", Extreme Mood Swings (anger, irritability), And Neurological Or Physical Problems.Should you go to hospital for antidepressant withdrawal? ›
Some people who experience withdrawal from antidepressants may also need psychological counseling. In rare instances, people may need to check into a hospital or clinic for assistance in managing severe symptoms.When do antidepressant withdrawals peak? ›
Initial symptoms appear in some individuals within 1-3 days following an abrupt discontinuation of the medication. The symptoms typically last 1-3 weeks and will typically peak within the first week. Symptoms can be relieved within 24 hours by restarting the antidepressant medication.