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Cymbalta Withdrawal... It's Not Pretty


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#1 grapeape

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Posted 20 May 2007 - 01:37 AM

I've been on several SSRIs before, but none of them kicked me as much as Cymbata. I know there's a thread for various Cymbalta withdrawal symptoms, but I feel like my experience warrants more than a "me too".

I had been on 60mg, then 30 for a long time, then I decided that the side effects were too much and I quit. If there is a 15mg capsule I haven't seen it; I figured that since I was on 30 for awhile, and since my pdoc did not object, I could handle dropping to zero. I have done much the same with Wellbutrin, Celexa, Lexapro, and Fluoxetine. After a day or two of minor discomfort, I was OK from ending those other drugs.

This one is a lot tougher. The whole 'brain zaps' thing -- I was never sure I knew what people were talking about, but now I suddenly have them. Every time I glance in one direction or the other, or swivel my head too fast, it's like a pressure drop and momentary, barely audible effect -- yes, like an electrical zap in my ears. It's accompanied by a slight dislocated feeling, like what you get in your stomach when you're falling -- but in your head.

I'm irritable and angry. One of the reasons I'm dropping Cymbalta is because it kills my energy; now I'm more energetic, all right, but want to fight someone.

I'm alternately hot and cold; I find myself changing clothes a lot.

I alternate quite rapidly between feeling like doing something productive, and feeling like it's not really worth it. This last bit is actually not that worrisome; it seems like a normal result of dropping an antidepressant. It doesn't bother me like the zaps.

Anyway... it's day 5 and I find myself nervous. I have read horror stories about people stopping this drug and having withdrawal effects go on long after they're off. (The fear is, they will never go away.) I will stop short of making any predictions about my long-term condition, as 5 days isn't much time, but it's longer and more severe than any withdrawal I've experienced. I admit it has me worried that the drug has done something to damage me permanently. The 'brain zaps' are the most clear-cut example of something I have never, ever experienced before going off Cymbalta, and I am frightened by them. At the same time I am reluctant to go back on any amount of the drug, as I want this to be done with this as soon as possible. I will talk to my pdoc on Monday and hopefully decide on a course of action.

For anyone else wanting to get off Cymbalta -- my advice is to taper like mad. Find out if splitting capsules is safe, and do it if it is. Take it slowly. I have the luxury of an on-again, off-again job that's currently off, so I had the luxury of going into a shell and not having my life fall apart because I couldn't deal with work. (Hopefully I can get myself together again before I'm once again busy.) If your situation is different, ramping down slowly is doubly important.

For those who are not on Cymbalta but are considering starting the drug -- well, again, I don't want to be the guy who runs in and says the sky is falling, but I've used a lot of antidepressants in my life and this is the only one with a withdrawal that has me scared. I just hope that in a month or two I will feel more like myself again, and that the decision to use this drug isn't one that haunts me in later years.

If anyone else has had a particularly rough time getting off Cymbalta, I'd love to hear from you. (It would help if your story has a happy ending, of course -- but I'll take any sort of information I can get!)

Thanks
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#2 leslie8247

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Posted 20 May 2007 - 01:28 PM

I've been on several SSRIs before, but none of them kicked me as much as Cymbata. I know there's a thread for various Cymbalta withdrawal symptoms, but I feel like my experience warrants more than a "me too".

I had been on 60mg, then 30 for a long time, then I decided that the side effects were too much and I quit. If there is a 15mg capsule I haven't seen it; I figured that since I was on 30 for awhile, and since my pdoc did not object, I could handle dropping to zero. I have done much the same with Wellbutrin, Celexa, Lexapro, and Fluoxetine. After a day or two of minor discomfort, I was OK from ending those other drugs.

This one is a lot tougher. The whole 'brain zaps' thing -- I was never sure I knew what people were talking about, but now I suddenly have them. Every time I glance in one direction or the other, or swivel my head too fast, it's like a pressure drop and momentary, barely audible effect -- yes, like an electrical zap in my ears. It's accompanied by a slight dislocated feeling, like what you get in your stomach when you're falling -- but in your head.

I'm irritable and angry. One of the reasons I'm dropping Cymbalta is because it kills my energy; now I'm more energetic, all right, but want to fight someone.

I'm alternately hot and cold; I find myself changing clothes a lot.

I alternate quite rapidly between feeling like doing something productive, and feeling like it's not really worth it. This last bit is actually not that worrisome; it seems like a normal result of dropping an antidepressant. It doesn't bother me like the zaps.

Anyway... it's day 5 and I find myself nervous. I have read horror stories about people stopping this drug and having withdrawal effects go on long after they're off. (The fear is, they will never go away.) I will stop short of making any predictions about my long-term condition, as 5 days isn't much time, but it's longer and more severe than any withdrawal I've experienced. I admit it has me worried that the drug has done something to damage me permanently. The 'brain zaps' are the most clear-cut example of something I have never, ever experienced before going off Cymbalta, and I am frightened by them. At the same time I am reluctant to go back on any amount of the drug, as I want this to be done with this as soon as possible. I will talk to my pdoc on Monday and hopefully decide on a course of action.

For anyone else wanting to get off Cymbalta -- my advice is to taper like mad. Find out if splitting capsules is safe, and do it if it is. Take it slowly. I have the luxury of an on-again, off-again job that's currently off, so I had the luxury of going into a shell and not having my life fall apart because I couldn't deal with work. (Hopefully I can get myself together again before I'm once again busy.) If your situation is different, ramping down slowly is doubly important.

For those who are not on Cymbalta but are considering starting the drug -- well, again, I don't want to be the guy who runs in and says the sky is falling, but I've used a lot of antidepressants in my life and this is the only one with a withdrawal that has me scared. I just hope that in a month or two I will feel more like myself again, and that the decision to use this drug isn't one that haunts me in later years.

If anyone else has had a particularly rough time getting off Cymbalta, I'd love to hear from you. (It would help if your story has a happy ending, of course -- but I'll take any sort of information I can get!)

Thanks


I know what you're going through!!! My doctor didn't say anything about tapering off, and I stopped the 30 mg. dose of Cymbalta--which I'd been on for a month and I hated it, as I flew off the handle all the time and just felt lousy--cold turkey last Wednesday. By Friday I felt like my head was going to shatter into little pieces, or like I left my brain back there somewhere every time I moved. Today, Sunday, I feel no better. I can't do anything--I've been sleeping a lot and don't want to exert myself because I'm afraid my brain will explode or something horrible. I've been crying at the drop of a hat, and anything my husband says to me makes me burst into tears.
Fortunately, I asked a friend the other day who his pdoc was, and he gave me the name of someone I called right away. She saw me the very next day (yesterday)--I think she's going to save my life! She said the doctor never should have let me go off the Cymbalta cold turkey--there are a zillion of those quacks out there, and they should all be shot. But she's having me get blood work tomorrow and is monitoring me very closely--said I can call her any time of the day or night. She has prescribed a patch called Emsam, which I can start on the eighth day after I'm off Cymbalta. I can't find a lot about it, but she seems to be very up on things, and I trust her more than the other no-good loser I'd been entrusting my brain to for so long. I mean, this is serious stuff we're dealing with here!!! It's our brains!!!
So I'll let you know how things go--if I get through this withdrawal. It IS total h***, no doubt about it. Someone told me to drink LOTS of water. Wouldn't it be nice if that gave me some relief...

#3 grapeape

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Posted 21 May 2007 - 04:50 AM

I'll be seeing my pdoc today -- or at least trying to. I'll update how my situation progresses.

#4 Jkm

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Posted 21 May 2007 - 07:37 AM

From what I've read about tapering off Cymbalta the idea makes me shutter. I've been on it for just about three years and know that even if I'm a couple of hours late taking the dose I get the zappers. I imagine if I ever decide to get off for any reason, I'll probably ask for another med to cross taper on and then taper off the second med. I know when I tapered off Paxil, I didn't have any problems, so that will probably be the med I ask for. Something like 10 or 5mg., of Paxil would probably work for me as I was really doing well on 10mg. I just keep my fingers crossed that this would work.

Be careful about the pills if you are splitting them. I hear that if you get the pill dissolving in your mouth, it can burn your throat. I guess the time released balls are really caustic on mucus membranes.

I don't know why docs try to do this without telling us what to expect. You never see anything on the website about how difficult it is to get off these meds. We all know how difficult it was to get on this one as it's hard on your stomach.

Are you planning on going on another antidepressant? If so, now would be the time to start, as it might take the zaps away.

Jackie
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#5 leslie8247

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Posted 21 May 2007 - 08:50 AM

Today is day 5 for me off Cymbalta. It's been a long, strange trip so far. I have no energy, the zaps are still happening, and I have SO much to do today. I just finished watching a movie on TV and cried all the way through it. I am scheduled to start Emsam on Thursday if my bloodwork is okay... I'm trying to hang in there, but my motivation to do any little thing is zilch. It's like something is totally shut down somewhere inside me.

What a relief to be able to write about this and know there are people out there who understand. My husband has no idea--and it's better that he's out of the house for the day, because I feel guilty and apologetic for being this way around him. My self-esteem is in the pits, too, so all I do is beat myself up when I'm around him. I wish I could talk myself out of this, but it hasn't worked so far.

I have to keep reminding myself that this too shall pass. But will it...? :hearts:

#6 grapeape

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Posted 23 May 2007 - 02:33 AM

Thanks all who posted... keep us informed. Leslie, do you generally talk with your husband about your issues? I always keep my wife informed, and it helps to have someone else (with a more objective viewpoint) keeping track of me. This is useful both for mental support and for getting a second opinion on whether I'm, say, being a jerk to someone, or whether I'm justified in taking issue with them.

OK, so I called the pdoc and... frankly... I'm going to look for a new one. Unfortunately pdocs are not as plentiful as therapists, and it's a pain to get the paperwork done so I can look for a new one, but I will try. My current guy is OK, but not good or great. He listens to me, but he's very poor at giving me full info on potential negative effects. Example: cymbalta. :) Also, he gave me seroquel when I had a sleeping problem, and it works for that -- but then I have been reading about people who develop the shakes -- permanently, even after they stop the drug -- from seoquel. This is not a phantom effect, it seems pretty well documented. Probably very low risk, but enough to make the drug not for me; I try to avoid drugs with side effects that last forever. (Obviously there's some risk with everything, but I like to know about the worst possible side effects *before* I start a drug.)

So, my pdoc recommended that I start taking 30mg of cymbalta every *other* day, thus effectively making it a 15mg dose. And maybe that works for some people, but to me that sounds like a *terrible* idea, as I can tell when I miss a day, so I'd effectively be speedballing (up one day, down the next).

So here's what I'm doing, in case it's helpful to others. (And no I'm not a doctor, so consider the following just informational, not a recommendation to follow my example. I am insane and should not be listened to, under any circumstances.)

I opened a 30mg capsule and found it much easier to deal with than I expected. The drug inside is not powder, but a bunch of micro-balls, like tiny ball bearings. The capsules come apart very easily, and fit back together very easily as well.

It's therefore a simple task to turn 30mg pills into 15mg pills, or 10mg, or whatever. Open the pill, making sure that the white end is down (because that's the longer part of the capsule). Look inside. Note that the micro-balls fill the white part of the capsule almost up to the top. Get a small, easy-to-manage container (I use the dry cap from a disposable water bottle) and start pouring excess micro-balls out. Do this until the white half is just under half-full. (Hold it up to the light if necessary, so the light shines through and you can see how much is in there.) When it's just under half full you have about a 15mg pill. Try to be as precise as possible.

If you pour out too much, take a small piece of paper and fold it into quarters so it will hold micro-balls. Then pour a few micro-balls into this paper container. Using one of the folds so you can pour precisely, refill the capsule until it reaches that just-under-half-full mark.

Close the capsule by putting the blue half back on.

Go down to the drugstore and buy some small, empty gelatin capsules. Use these to make more 15mg pills from the micro-balls that are left over. Since these gelatin capsules are likely *not* the same size as the original cymbalta capsules, the safest way to get a 15mg pill is to do the aforementioned procedure to make a 15mg pill from the original capsule, and then take all the remaining micro-balls from that capsule (which should be 15mg) and just pour it all into the gelatin capsule. Since the gelatin capsule holds an unknown capacity, I would not attempt to eyeball it.

My plan is to go on 15mg for a week or so to stabilize myself, and then take it from there. If I can get to a point where I feel OK, I will try to make 10mg capsules, and ramp down to those.

#7 grapeape

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Posted 26 May 2007 - 12:58 AM

I have been taking my homemade 15mg pills for several days now. The brain zaps went away literally within 12 hours of taking the first one. I continued to feel pretty crappy overall -- possibly worse in some respects, probably because I was getting some start-up effects again -- but that's subsided.

I feel like I'm probably doing the right thing. I will continue at 15mg for awhile and then ramp down to a homemade 10mg, and then 5. I'll continue to post my progress for the benefit of anyone trying to deal with the same issues.

#8 greenloon

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Posted 29 May 2007 - 03:29 PM

This is all so frightening to me....hearing the horror of quitting this drug. :(

#9 gregory71

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Posted 29 May 2007 - 03:44 PM

Ok all, Can we get some sort of idea of how long the withdrawals are from this drug? It's been over a week and the brain zaps are in full force. My body is also aching and I feel like I'm coming down with the flu.

One good thing? I got my sex drive back! Thank God.

My question now is....How long is this hellish withdrawal going to last. Weeks, Months, a year? Please get back those of you that have got over these nasty withdrawals.

Best,

G

#10 grapeape

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Posted 29 May 2007 - 04:09 PM

I'll check in. I'm currently on about a 10mg homemade pill (as described in my previous posts) and feel pretty good. Not great, mind you, but no brain zaps, no obvious headaches (maybe minor ones), etc. I plan to stay at this level for a few more days and then continue to taper down toward zero.

As for the duration of withdrawal if you go cold turkey, I cannot say anything definite. I went for about a week with the brain zaps still in full effect before deciding to jump back on and then taper down more slowly, in hopes of dealing with the side effects better.

Some of the more alarmist web sites out there suggest that the brain zaps can be permanent. I don't see a lot to support a thesis one way or the other right now; obviously I prefer to think that they are temporary. :)

I will continue to post as I taper down, and let people know how it's going. Anyone who stopped cold and feels the withdrawal effects are too harsh could possibly emulate my technique.

Edited by grapeape, 29 May 2007 - 04:09 PM.


#11 gregory71

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Posted 29 May 2007 - 04:19 PM

I'll check in. I'm currently on about a 10mg homemade pill (as described in my previous posts) and feel pretty good. Not great, mind you, but no brain zaps, no obvious headaches (maybe minor ones), etc. I plan to stay at this level for a few more days and then continue to taper down toward zero.

As for the duration of withdrawal if you go cold turkey, I cannot say anything definite. I went for about a week with the brain zaps still in full effect before deciding to jump back on and then taper down more slowly, in hopes of dealing with the side effects better.

Some of the more alarmist web sites out there suggest that the brain zaps can be permanent. I don't see a lot to support a thesis one way or the other right now; obviously I prefer to think that they are temporary. :)

I will continue to post as I taper down, and let people know how it's going. Anyone who stopped cold and feels the withdrawal effects are too harsh could possibly emulate my technique.



Whoa.....permanant brain zaps? I'm pretty sure that woulnd't happen. I'd be suing Lilly big time if that was the case as I'm sure others would as well. You'd think however that we could get something out of them for the weeks of pain we are going through. I already titrated down from the 60mg per day. I'm now at zero and will keep you updated. It's been about a week now. A funny story to share however is that my daughter rented a movie called "Stick it". It's about Gymnastics and "bad" parents. I think I cried about 3 times? Not balling, but just emotional. The funny thing however was that it felt "good" to "feel" again. I've lacked emotions for over 10 years now due to SSRI's. I hope to feel again without these crazy side effects.

Best,

G

#12 grapeape

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Posted 29 May 2007 - 11:02 PM

Yeah, you definitely feel less when on these drugs. That's both good and bad. I feel like when I'm off them the stakes are simply higher. I can either feel much better or much worse when I'm off the drugs than I can while on the drugs. My emotional range is simply wider.

That's part of the reason I'm coming off them. I start to feel, sometimes, like I'm cheating myself of the experience of living by being on this stuff. Ideally I could focus on managing the down times better, rather than trying to obliterate them completely with medication.

But both ways have their benefits and drawbacks, and it seems like I go on and off the meds based on my needs at any given time.

BTW I'm somewhere under 10mg now, and will see if I can get that closer to 5 in the next couple of days.

Edited by grapeape, 29 May 2007 - 11:04 PM.


#13 gregory71

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Posted 31 May 2007 - 05:22 AM

It's been a week and a half and still having the brain zaps associated with looking in a different direction. Some kind of veritgo issue. I do get the feeling that they are less bothersome, but this is something that must go away. I'm a photographer and don't need this on my shoots.

I'm working out everyday with a personal trainer and the money spent on this is far and above better than cognitive therapy coupled with drug. I'm feeling super motivated and optimistic about the future. I'm also eating much better. Raw food diet for another week to detox and then on to a more doable routine.

I'll post again in a few days.

Best,

Greg

#14 grapeape

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Posted 02 June 2007 - 01:32 AM

I'm down to what looks like 5mg (I have to eyeball it, so that's approximate). Feeling relatively OK and no real brain zaps at this point, though if I move my eyes rapidly I can get a little of the effect. I plan to go at least a week on this very minimal level before trying to taper down yet further.

#15 Jkm

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Posted 02 June 2007 - 10:05 AM

Geesh! To think of all the energy it takes to get off this med! Who'da thunk??

I don't know how you determine what's in that pill as it's a time released med, but who cares? I heard they made a 20mg. pill, but I have never seen it advertised. I'm just waiting for all this to come out in the medical news one of these days. Docs act like you have lost it when you tell them about the zaps, and no one has been able to explain it to me except to guess that it's from lack of chemicals in your brain that the meds we're producing.

I still like the med, whatever the side effects are at this point. I think coming off it would be difficult on top of managing all the things that are going on for me at this point. I only got a stomach ache going on, but coming off is going to be a real chore.

Jackie

Hats off to you guys!!!!
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#16 gregory71

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Posted 05 June 2007 - 02:02 AM

Geesh! To think of all the energy it takes to get off this med! Who'da thunk??

I don't know how you determine what's in that pill as it's a time released med, but who cares? I heard they made a 20mg. pill, but I have never seen it advertised. I'm just waiting for all this to come out in the medical news one of these days. Docs act like you have lost it when you tell them about the zaps, and no one has been able to explain it to me except to guess that it's from lack of chemicals in your brain that the meds we're producing.

I still like the med, whatever the side effects are at this point. I think coming off it would be difficult on top of managing all the things that are going on for me at this point. I only got a stomach ache going on, but coming off is going to be a real chore.

Jackie

Hats off to you guys!!!!



Well it's week two now and the brain zaps/vertigo are still there but have calmed down a bit. They usually come on when I'm sitting still for awhile. I am crossing my fingers they go away when I'm at week 3.

I have not felt depressed at all which is good. Just very emotional. Today I was watching another kid movie called "She's the man", and I teared up a bit. When this happens I usually laugh to myself and smile afterwards. So this is what it means to feel "human" again! Kinda like it. I really miss my emotions of years gone by.

I'll update you all for week 3.

Best,

Greg

#17 Jkm

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Posted 06 June 2007 - 06:26 AM

I'm glad you got back to tell us how you're feeling. I hope your emotions calm down. I know I lost all mine for months when I first went on meds and worried that they'd never come back, but they did; all except for crying. I don't...... Chemical restraints, I guess... I wasn't crying when the symptoms hit, either. Oh boy!!

Jackie
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I have GAD. I worry about everything, lol!

#18 grapeape

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Posted 06 June 2007 - 04:40 PM

Still on what seems like about 5mg. When I make a conscious effort to whip my eyes back and forth to test for brain zaps, I get a little of the unpleasant feeling, but not a ton. I'm hoping that my current ramp-down strategy will help keep the zaps at an acceptable level.

In the next few days I will be going down to an even smaller amount of Cymbalta -- probably about 3mg, and that will probably be my last stop before trying to cut it out completely. I anticipate about another week, total, of taking the drug.

Interestingly, when I first tried to get off it (cold turkey) the brain zaps were awful and I had a lot of anger, but I also had great energy. Going back on the drug (even at these lower levels) in order to try a more gradual taper-off has taken away that energy. It will be interesting to see whether I regain it again when I come off the drug fully for the second time, or whether it was just a side effect of the cold turkey approach. I know that right now my ability to run and participate in athletics is somewhat compromised.

Side note -- sometimes I notice people suggesting that SSRIs help athletes because it makes them less nervous. I always laugh when I see that. I guess it's possible that they help for some people, but for me, SSRIs have always completely destroyed my desire to run or participate in any athletic endeavor.

#19 Jkm

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Posted 08 June 2007 - 08:00 AM

I guess it would depend on which ssri they're talking about as there are ones for depression with anxiety and ones for people who get lethargic when depressed and have stimulating factors. I've been on both sides of the coin, and the ones for anxiety work best for me. Otherwise, I'd be swing off the walls with anxiety!

Keep me informed. Interesting!!!

Jackie
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#20 Nopawn

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Posted 11 June 2007 - 10:32 AM

I have been taking Cymbalta for about 11 months, for depression and major anxiety. It was a good drug for me, but I've found that 60 mgs is too strong, and 30 mgs is now more of an annoyance than a help. So for a while now I've been trying to taper off by an every other day dose at 30 mgs. This was okay, in that the day I didn't take it, I felt fine. But the day I did take the 30 mgs., I felt drugged, had less ability to concentrate and organize my life. So now I'm on my third day of not taking the med, and I'm feeling really dizzy--the vertigo thing, that others have mentioned. So far I haven't had brain zaps...but who knows? I may have to try to split the 30 mgs into half, as some have mentioned. I haven't discussed this with my M.D., which is probably not a good thing. But he'll probably want to keep me on the Cymbalta, which I don't want to be on if I can now handle life without it. I am a writer and I need to have some emotions in order to create--Cymbalta slows down my thinking process.

#21 gregory71

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Posted 13 June 2007 - 08:42 PM

I have been taking Cymbalta for about 11 months, for depression and major anxiety. It was a good drug for me, but I've found that 60 mgs is too strong, and 30 mgs is now more of an annoyance than a help. So for a while now I've been trying to taper off by an every other day dose at 30 mgs. This was okay, in that the day I didn't take it, I felt fine. But the day I did take the 30 mgs., I felt drugged, had less ability to concentrate and organize my life. So now I'm on my third day of not taking the med, and I'm feeling really dizzy--the vertigo thing, that others have mentioned. So far I haven't had brain zaps...but who knows? I may have to try to split the 30 mgs into half, as some have mentioned. I haven't discussed this with my M.D., which is probably not a good thing. But he'll probably want to keep me on the Cymbalta, which I don't want to be on if I can now handle life without it. I am a writer and I need to have some emotions in order to create--Cymbalta slows down my thinking process.



Not sure why I can't start a new topic, so I'm replying.

I'm getting into week 3 now of this and it's up and down. The brain zaps are still there, but usually in the evening when I sit down on the couch and move my eyes from one side to the other. The zaps also come with a rush of sound in my ears. It really is bothersome. I do think they are getting less severe. One a good note, my sex drive is back and that's a good thing since I'm dating.

Concentration and memory have been a bit of an issue lately and that did bring some depressing thoughts. I get scared to think if I'll never rebound to my full health and if I'll need to go back on meds for the rest of my life. Hopefully that's not the case. Oh.....Insomnia has been a problem as well along with some restless legs. It's the feeling like your legs nervous system is just out of control and you want to cut them off.

All sounds pretty bad huh. Well it is, but I'm still in this to stay off medication utilizing exercise, meditation, and a little faith. We'll just have to wait and see.

I'll keep posting until I either have to go back on meds or come around to full health without them.

Thanks for reading,

Best,

Greg

PS. Hopefully this log will help others in the future that are wondering if it's just them that experience these type of symtoms. I've been looking all over the web to see a success story and have not found on.

#22 grapeape

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Posted 18 June 2007 - 09:50 PM

Update...

I had been on about 5 mg (my estimate) for at least a week or two before I tried (once again) to stop entirely. Brain zaps reappeared the very night I tried to stop. Even at that low dosage, taking a pill made a difference.

I have now resorted to counting individual granules and preparing pills with them. That's right -- I count individual granules. And the amazing thing is that a 15-granule pill (not 15mg, I'm talking about 15 individual grains of the med) makes the difference between brain zaps and no brain zaps, for me. This is a bit frightening, to realize that such a minuscule dose can have such a profound effect -- and then to think that I was taking 60mg for awhile.

So, what now? I continue my somewhat ludicrous process of ramping down, and am now taking pills with merely 10 grains of medication. I will be tapering down to about 5 grains by Friday.

In the meantime, my sex drive and some energy has returned, but I feel anxious and bad overall. I don't blame the latter on withdrawal; I felt anxious and bad before. I do think there may be a difference of degree; hopefully in time I will improve somewhat, though again, since my emotions were problematic before I started the drug, I don't expect them to be perfect now. I am, however, still concerned about brain zaps, as I get them a little on these low doses, and expect to have still more problems when I finally get off this med completely. I hope they are not permanent.

#23 gregory71

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Posted 19 June 2007 - 03:09 AM

Update...

I had been on about 5 mg (my estimate) for at least a week or two before I tried (once again) to stop entirely. Brain zaps reappeared the very night I tried to stop. Even at that low dosage, taking a pill made a difference.

I have now resorted to counting individual granules and preparing pills with them. That's right -- I count individual granules. And the amazing thing is that a 15-granule pill (not 15mg, I'm talking about 15 individual grains of the med) makes the difference between brain zaps and no brain zaps, for me. This is a bit frightening, to realize that such a minuscule dose can have such a profound effect -- and then to think that I was taking 60mg for awhile.

So, what now? I continue my somewhat ludicrous process of ramping down, and am now taking pills with merely 10 grains of medication. I will be tapering down to about 5 grains by Friday.

In the meantime, my sex drive and some energy has returned, but I feel anxious and bad overall. I don't blame the latter on withdrawal; I felt anxious and bad before. I do think there may be a difference of degree; hopefully in time I will improve somewhat, though again, since my emotions were problematic before I started the drug, I don't expect them to be perfect now. I am, however, still concerned about brain zaps, as I get them a little on these low doses, and expect to have still more problems when I finally get off this med completely. I hope they are not permanent.


Grape,

Those zaps won't be permanent. Otherwise I'd start a coalition to sue Lilly. It's getting better for me. Less and less each day.

Again, it's mostly at night now. In fact I just looked up from the computer quickly and "yep" there they are. It's not as intense however.

I remember looking off the porch today and just feeling a flood of emotion over looking at the sky. A sense of feeling "alive" as opposed to drugged. A sense of just feeling human again. And that's even feeling bad. It's amazing when you understand that feeling bad can be a good thing. It means something is important to you. And that's great.

Anyway, I'll be posting again at the end of the week on my progress.

Hang in there Grape, we are in this together right now. I'm so glad to not be alone in this.

Best,

Greg

#24 terrifictuesdays47

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Posted 19 June 2007 - 03:14 AM

Should be careful dropping with any medication. I tapered zoloft too fast, which lead to nasty side effects, horrible depression, and I tried ******* myself. Praying for you, good luck with everything.

#25 flathorse

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Posted 19 June 2007 - 12:37 PM

Hi there, Newbie here. I've been on Cymbalta for a little over a year now. It helped me when I needed it. Just wish I'd known what was awaiting me on the backend now that I want to get off the drug.

This seems to be the most helpful forum yet. I'm getting ready to begin my journey through this withdrawal process and opening up the capsule sounds like a great idea that I will try. Thank you for the specifics and which end to hold down and which to remove. Haven't seen my pdoc and discussed this with him. I only see him for meds anyway, as I was seeing a counselor for "talk therapy" which I haven't seen in a while either, and feel that I am through my issues and doing way better on that front. By pdoc, I'm assuming you guys mean the Psychologist prescribing the meds. My insurance doesn't cover him at $100 per 20 minute med check so it's been out of pocket!

I figure summer is a good time since there's lots of sun and things to do and I have a new interest in my life that I'm diving into. As a women, I'm also getting ready to start on the womens nutritional program offered at womentowomen.com website. Us women need hormonal/endocrine support. I will be starting that program at the same time as I start tapering off the Cymbalta. I'm hoping that will help offset some of the symptoms.

Please tell me more about the raw food/detox plan. I'd love to hear more about natural ways to combat this withdrawal thing.

What exactly is this "zap" thing? Can you describe it fully other than it seems to happen upon quick eye movement?

Thanks for being here. :hearts:

#26 gregory71

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Posted 21 June 2007 - 12:38 AM

Hi there, Newbie here. I've been on Cymbalta for a little over a year now. It helped me when I needed it. Just wish I'd known what was awaiting me on the backend now that I want to get off the drug.

This seems to be the most helpful forum yet. I'm getting ready to begin my journey through this withdrawal process and opening up the capsule sounds like a great idea that I will try. Thank you for the specifics and which end to hold down and which to remove. Haven't seen my pdoc and discussed this with him. I only see him for meds anyway, as I was seeing a counselor for "talk therapy" which I haven't seen in a while either, and feel that I am through my issues and doing way better on that front. By pdoc, I'm assuming you guys mean the Psychologist prescribing the meds. My insurance doesn't cover him at $100 per 20 minute med check so it's been out of pocket!

I figure summer is a good time since there's lots of sun and things to do and I have a new interest in my life that I'm diving into. As a women, I'm also getting ready to start on the womens nutritional program offered at womentowomen.com website. Us women need hormonal/endocrine support. I will be starting that program at the same time as I start tapering off the Cymbalta. I'm hoping that will help offset some of the symptoms.

Please tell me more about the raw food/detox plan. I'd love to hear more about natural ways to combat this withdrawal thing.

What exactly is this "zap" thing? Can you describe it fully other than it seems to happen upon quick eye movement?

Thanks for being here. :hearts:


Hi,

Brain zaps are very uncomfortable. It's hard to explain. It feels like electricity that "zaps" you for a second. There is also a sense of "vertigo" and a "rushing" sound. It may also have to do with adrenal issues. You don't just feel it in your brain, but your body as well. That's my experience only however.

Exercise helps quite a bit. Not just walking, but running. And that's running hard and long. It's something all humans should be doing anyway to keep us healthy.

I'm off the Raw Food diet. Just way to difficult to maintain. Now, just simply eating healthy. Lot's of greens!

Hope this helps,

Greg

#27 Lionheart

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Posted 22 June 2007 - 03:29 AM

Wow, easily the best thread i've ever read.

I have a question though. I've just graduated college and am fixing to start a new job.

How does the "taking apart the capsule" method effect your everyday life and work? I'm definately going to try this.

It's been over a year since i've started. I started this med because I wanted help to stay focused on school, rather than always being down all the time.

Now I think it's time to go off.... Currently my emotons have been deadened for a while.

#28 grapeape

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Posted 22 June 2007 - 05:51 PM

Thanks Greg for keeping in the loop. I'm doing a little better this last week. I'm approaching 5 granules of medication. I'm hoping that I'll be off fully by next week, though as always, I may continue for a bit longer if things get super-ugly. Agreed about the brain zaps coming mostly at night. I suspect the fact that I tend to make my meds at night may play into this, as I'd be lowest on the med right before taking the next dose. But there could be other reasons as well. I'll continue to post. And yes, I agree that the zaps are less then before. Here's hoping that they do eventually go completely away.

telephofee - thanks for the support

flathorse -- I agree with Greg's assessment of brain zaps. It's really a "you'll know em when you get em" thing; if you don't know what we're taking about, consider yourself lucky, you don't currently have them. :) I find that a twinging feeling right behind my eyes, and a slight feeling as if I've gone over a crest on a roller coaster, are the best way to describe them. There's also an almost-audible pop, as you sometimes get in your ears when the pressure outside has changed.

Lionheart -- taking apart the capsules works fine, it's just a painstaking process to get the dosages right. If you have the patience, it may be best to start counting individual granules right away, as this way you will be sure not to give yourself an uneven dose (10 mg one day, 12 the next, 9 the next). I find you have to set aside a little time to make a batch; I make a week at a time.

As far as your mood, etc., I won't lie -- for me, at least, it's been hard. I've had some days when I cannot stop thinking about something silly that bothers me, and days when I have no specific negative thought, but I have the same mental weight that I usually get when I *do* have something really on my mind. On those days I keep thinking: what is it that I'm unhappy about, again? And I can't think of anything, but I am unhappy all the same.

But there are also good days. I have some of my sex drive back, and some of my lost athletic desire and ability is returning. I also know from experience that I will lose weight soon, and my hair seems to grow in better when I am off SSRIs. There are moments when things really seem meaningful or beautiful to me, whereas on the cymbalta I do really lose that sort of emotion, along with the negative stuff; it all goes out the window, both good and bad, when I'm on the meds -- along with my desire to accomplish things.

In short, tapering off Cymbalta is an uneven process. And so, to a somewhat lesser degree, is going without meds in general -- if your brain's chemistry is screwed up, as many of ours are. But for me, right now, it's worth it to be nearly off the drug. I say this knowing that in the future I may change my mind again.

For what it's worth, I am also on Omega 3 pills (both for mental health and cardiac benefits) and SAMe supplements (which seem to give me a little energy). I also take a multivitamin daily. These things may not have a profound effect, but I think as a whole they help a bit.

Edited by grapeape, 22 June 2007 - 05:53 PM.


#29 OCDRunner

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Posted 26 June 2007 - 07:38 AM

Where is everyone? I want to hear how this works out. I missed a couple of doses this weekend and was paying the price with the dreaded brain ZAPs! Excellent description.

I would like to taper off of Cymbalta. Last night I tossed and turned for hours trying to get to sleep. Obviously, this is a major issue.

I'm sure my GP would balk at the idea of me going off of it. However, I'd like to have "relations" :hearts: with my wife where I could actually feel it. (That is another entirely different issue.)

Has anyone checked the manufacturer's website? They shoud darn well take this withdrawal thing into account. I work for a big Pharmaceutical company. We are sued on a regular basis for this type of thing.

#30 SummerHeart25

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Posted 26 June 2007 - 10:35 AM

Has anyone else had some weird sleep disturbances?
When taking Cymbalta, I had night sweats, always tired, difficulty sleeping, etc. I'm trying to get off it now (i'm not a big meds fan) and have been having the STRANGEST and most VIVID dreams, including occasional somniloquoy(sp?).
I hate going to sleep, because I usually wake up in quite a screwed up mood. I've been very moody since I've tried to stop too but that's not as surprising. I hate my "biological defect" and I hate when people say "If you had diabetes you wouldn't feel bad about needing to take insulin would you?" Sorry a bit off topic but had to get that out there.


#31 OCDRunner

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Posted 26 June 2007 - 02:16 PM

Has anyone else had some weird sleep disturbances?
When taking Cymbalta, I had night sweats, always tired, difficulty sleeping, etc. I'm trying to get off it now (i'm not a big meds fan) and have been having the STRANGEST and most VIVID dreams, including occasional somniloquoy(sp?).
I hate going to sleep, because I usually wake up in quite a screwed up mood. I've been very moody since I've tried to stop too but that's not as surprising. I hate my "biological defect" and I hate when people say "If you had diabetes you wouldn't feel bad about needing to take insulin would you?" Sorry a bit off topic but had to get that out there.



Yeah, it's alwyas to give advice when your not wearing that person's shoes. Your statement about being born like "this" truly hits home.

I haven't noticed the dreams but can't stop my mind for running very fast in a million different directions.

#32 Kanyon

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Posted 26 June 2007 - 07:38 PM

Hi

I have just read this topic and now am a bit frightened by the prospect of going off of Cymbalta. I have been taking Cymbalta 60mg for a little over 2 years.

I missed my dose yesterday and started thinking that I should get off of it. I spoke with my doc today and he gave me two weeks worth of 30mg to taper myself off of it. After reading the thread and the helpful advice I think I am going to do a more gradual taper.

Obviously the people who have posted to the topic have experienced some pretty bad withdrawal symptoms, but does everyone experience this? Do you know of anyone who has had less severe or no withdrawal symptoms?

As I point of reference I also take Adderall XR. I will keep you posted on how I am doing and would appreciate any insight that you all have. Many thanks.

#33 lovesranchlife

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Posted 29 June 2007 - 09:58 PM

:hearts: I am so glad I found this site and message board. Right now I am mad and scared and all because of Cymbalta. I guess I mad that my dr. that I had trusted for the past two years with my meds after being diagnosed with depression, anxiety and post traumatic stress, put me on the stupid stuff. After a little over 2 months of using it, it was just making things worse. I had been taking Lexapro for a year and a half and it just wasn't doing the job anymore. She she tapered me off of the Lexapro and put me on Cymbalta. So here I am two months later tapering off of Cymbalta and being use of Wellburtrin. She never told me any of the horrible side effects when using Cymbalta or withdrawing from it. I asked her when starting the drug and when she decided to switch me. Her response was" Oh, you might have some nausea, constipation and fatigue but that is it." Well.......that hasn't been it.

It was so reassuring to read your posts and have you describe the same things I am feeling. The scariest part for me is when I move my eyes or head and get that "funny" feeling. Thank God, I have the most understanding husband that has walked every step of this horrible trail with me. I could not imagine going thru this alone. I thought I had been battling the flu, a bacterial thing or heaven-forbid parasites! Have had diarhhea for 5 weeks, about the time I was finishing up the Lexapro, and really getting going with the Cymbalta. Even had samples sent to the lab. Nothing.
After reading more about this horrible stuff I know my nausea and other icky stuff was the Cymbalta.

I have not been able to see my therapist to see what he thought since all of this got so bad or my regular dr. (They are really good and always booked.) So I was patient and am sneaking in with my husband to when he goes in for a diabetes follow-up. Had been concerned about the things I described and wanted her diagnosis and thoughts.

Any advice for me out there to help me deal with this? I have to drag myself thru the day, cry, get mad, have the funny feeling described when moving eyes, etc. I have spent so much time in my bathroom lately, it is driving me to have thoughts of redecorating it, something that I did not long ago!

The dr. prescribing my meds is actually a psychiatrist that I had lots of faith in when it came to my meds and any help with them. Guess the search begins for a new one. My family practice dr. is great, but I want someone who really knows about this fun stuff we live with.

Sorry for being so long winded, but needed to vent. Thanks for listening. Will keep an eye out here for your thoughts.
Bless you all.

Edited by lovesranchlife, 30 June 2007 - 10:35 AM.


#34 lovesranchlife

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Posted 01 July 2007 - 11:13 AM

Does anyone ever post on here as their withdrawl from Cymbalta progesses? Or afterwards with good results? I would love to hear some thing positive on this.

#35 elvenman

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Posted 01 July 2007 - 11:40 PM

I have found this thread really helpfull . My thanks goes out to everyone one here who has told their story . I'm trying to get off of Cymbalta too . I am currently taking 60mg . I have been wanting to stop for a while now and for the last week I have not taken any and trying to quit cold turkey. I thought that the withdrawl symptoms would lessen as time went on and much to my suprise they have gotten worse . I get the brain zaps couple times an hour. I decided I can't handle this anymore and decided to take half of a pill (as close as I can tell ). As far as I can tell it has not taken affect yet because im still quite dissoriented. I have read through this thread from the begining. If any one could suggest something to help with this I would appreciate it , I am going to see if I can get on a lower dosage to try and get off of this . I wouldn't wish this on my worse enemy it's horrible . When I got on this 6 months ago I was never told about any of the negative side effect if I ever had to stop taking this or chose to stop


P.S. I have been trying to find info about any lawsuits against Lilly on Cymbalta, so far nothing. Has anyone given serious thought into a lawsuit . It should be criminal for them to make drugs like this.

#36 OCDRunner

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 07:41 AM

I agree with lovesranchlife. I want to hear from soneone who has successfully weaned themselves from Cymbalta. I was on Zoloft for years and was able to stop without too much difficulty. Pfizer actually produced a blister pack that contained pills of varying doses. The first week started at a lower dose than normal, and the pills decreased in drug concentration over time. After you completed the blister pack, it was no longer necessary to take the drug. I think the entire process took a month?.

Please post any information you may find about getting off of this stuff.

#37 Kanyon

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Posted 03 July 2007 - 07:54 PM

Does anyone ever post on here as their withdrawl from Cymbalta progesses? Or afterwards with good results? I would love to hear some thing positive on this.


Hi

I am about a week into my move off of Cymbalta. As I stated before I had been on 60mg for a little over 2 years. I have been gradually reducing my dosage and took about 35mg today.

So far (knock on wood) I haven't experienced any serious discomfort from the reduction in dosage. In fact, I have actually enjoyed far fewer nightmares and frustrating dreams since the reduction. I can't say for sure that the reduction in dosage has caused this, but any reprieve from my daily unpleasant dreams is a major positive for me.

Good luck everyone. I will keep you posted on my situation.

#38 grapeape

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Posted 06 July 2007 - 12:19 AM

Checking in...

I'm glad that some are finding this thread helpful. It has been useful for me to list my problems (cheap therapy, I suppose). I would be keeping notes anyway, as I find it's important to keep notes with dated entries when you're on these meds. Periodically write down the date, your dosage, and your current state in a Word document or some such; it is useful to refer to it later if necessary, and see where you were (mentally) before. I make a note of side effects and general mood, and thereby can compare previous times with my current state, and more easily figure out whether my drugs are or are not working.

I have now come completely off the drug. I believe most of the side effects are largely gone, though some may be lingering. (It is difficult, sometimes, to know what causes some of the more subtle problems I have.) Brain zaps are largely gone, though I do get brief periods of them sometimes, mainly at night. As noted before, I think this is because my dosage always was at night, and my brain "remembers" that it's supposed to get its drug them. Regardless, I find that I don't notice them much anymore; I usually notice them when I am testing for them by flicking my eyes back and forth rapidly.

Other issues I still have, that may or may not be related: I've had some "stuffiness" in one ear during most of the time I came off the drug, a condition that sounds unrelated but corresponds very closely to my withdrawal, so I suspect the drug. I've had some bouts of stomach upset and general gastrointestinal distress -- but it is not persistent. Like the zaps, this comes and goes. And I've had a few headaches and some serious mood changes.

The last part (the mood changes), I anticipate from any drug. But even this has been much more pronounced with Cymbalta. I have times when I get this awful feeling -- the same feeling I always get when some problem is really eating at me, and I cannot stop turning it over in my head -- but there is no problem at all; I am not actually thinking any specific negative thoughts. This is when I know I'm having withdrawal issues.

By and large I do believe the severity and incidence of side effects are lessening. I do feel like I'm mostly (thought not completely) done with this drug. I think anyone worried about the withdrawal can take some comfort in my case, as I do seem to be getting better. At the moment I do believe I will make a full recovery from it. The process of withdrawal is just so amazingly slow... It was a truly painstaking process of tapering down; at the end of the ramp-down I was literally taking capsules with two grains of the drug inside. And yet whenever I tried to speed things up I ended up feeling terrible. The ramp-down of somewhat over two months was completely necessary. And even then it was a difficult process. I am fortunate to have a job that gives me whole months off; I needed them.

I do feel like my pdoc threw a grenade at me without even knowing it. I think many of them are equally oblivious; only the truly caring ones really research the side effects. If a major study or a class action lawsuit gets their attention, they'll stop prescribing a drug -- but short of that, they are not out there collecting data.

My best advice, again, it to take your taper-down as slowly as you can. I am glad that I bought the the empty gelatin capsules and made batches of homemade pills. And I think what I was doing at the end -- counting individual granules -- was the best route, even though it takes time. t's the only way to keep your dosage consistent, and ever-shrinking. If you eyeball it you'll probably end up jumping up and down in dose, and making things harder than they need to be.

Beyond that, I am taking Omega 3 capsules and SAMe pills. I cannot say whether either truly helps, though I would be taking the Omega 3 anyway because it has well-proven heart benefits. If I were to guess, I think they may provide some small mental health benefit.

And finally -- some of you may not have the problems I have had when it comes time to get off the drug. I just know that for whatever reason, this drug is a lot more toxic to me than any of the other SSRIs I have taken. It certainly adds weight to the idea of living drug-free, at least as much as possible. ;)
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#39 grapeape

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Posted 16 July 2007 - 12:36 AM

Just a quick update for anyone interested... I have had a period of more brain zaps for the past week or so. This is distressing because I've been completely off the drug for a few weeks now (after the long discontinuation process detailed in this thread). Obviously, I am concerned about this and hope very much to put all the side effects behind me in time. If the side effects continue for weeks or even months after discontinuation... well, let's just say that I hope not to face a life of permanent brain zaps.

#40 Jkm

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Posted 16 July 2007 - 10:47 AM

I think this is just a discontinuation effect that I've read about when other people go off different ad's. I'm hoping that this quits soon for you as I know how unnerving this is especially when you're driving or doing anything that requires concentration.

Love, Jackie
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I have GAD. I worry about everything, lol!




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