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Cymbalta Withdrawal

Nov 16, 2008 - 8 comments

So, they say that you do not actually go through 'withdrawal' from SSRI's because they are not addicting. Instead they like to call it a discontinuation syndrome. Most of the times, doctors don't like to even recognize this discontinuation syndrome and like to tell you that it is your old symptoms of depression and anxiety coming back. Well I beg to differ.

I have been on anti-depressants for 4 years now. I had anxiety issues which I was controlling on my own and only using Lorazepam when I desperately needed (like once every 2 months). Then I had post-pardom depression and it has been downhill. They put me on Zoloft for two months and then the doctors just assumed that because I had anxiety issues and got depression from having my baby, I must be a manic depressive and have to stay on these meds. Rather than keep me on Zoloft, they felt the need to change me to Paxil.

At first I thought they were great. I felt well. But anything was better than what I felt after having my daughter. After the first 10 months, of Paxil, I gained 55lbs (while still having 9 left to lose from my pregnancy). Turns out it was the meds so they took me off. With in three days I was in hell.

Awful, vivid, lucid nightmares I couldn't wake myself from. The type where I was witnessing gross murders and mutilations and many times committing them myself. Nausea, brain zaps, tremors, fatigue, cold sweats... you name it I had it. So they put me on Prozac. It took about another 2 weeks but finally the symptoms subsided and I was feeling great. Apparently I was very ill and had to be on medication to regulate those symptoms. They were certainly not discontinuation symptoms (or so they told me).

Prozac was great and I was able to lose 35lbs of the total 64 I needed to lose and then I had a reaction. I started having a lot of heart palpatations. So off the meds I went, cold turkey, and off to the cardiologist I went to rule out my heart and confirm is was a medication reaction. Luckily Prozac has a longer half-life limiting the stressful and dibilitating symptoms.

After ruling out the heart, it was confirmed that Prozac was causing the problems. After a month of being off it and only experiencing tingling through-out my body (like my limbs were going numb) and slight anxiety because of it, I was given a new medication. This time we were going to try Effexor. We started on a higher dose which made me wake every hour on the hour, feel gittery and terribly ill. They lowered the dose and I still couldn't handle it. After 3 weeks of suffer on that, they switched me again.

This time they thought they would prescribe me buspar and amatryptalin (because I was having increased stomach pain from my gastritis & gerd - apparently it helps with pain as well as depression???). After a month of that ****, being tired all the time and still feeling horribly anxious, I was taken off them completely. Mind you, this was the third set of medications in 4 months that they just completely stopped me from - cold turkey!! This was just after Christmas of last year.

By the second week of January I should have been sent to the loony bin. I thought the world would be a better place with out me. I felt gittery, shaky (like I had too much coffee), body tingling and limbs feeling as though they were going to go numb. I had headaches, nausea, upset stomach, severe anxiety (especially health), every muscle in my body - from head to toe- was involuntarily twitching. I felt fatigued to the point that I didn't want to get out of bed. I was light-headed, dizzy, my gait was off. I felt worthless, cried all the time, feared being away from people in case something seriously wrong happened to me but didn't want to be around anyone because they annoyed me and made me nervous. I had serious heart palpatations and difficulty breathing. And the 'ZAPS'. I would have, out of no where, awful zaps in my brain that would render me helpless for seconds and then disappear. I would get similar zaps throughout my body but they were no where near as painful. My vision was off and it hurt when ever I would move my eyes and I could also hear myself blink.

After suffering for 3 weeks with this, I went back to the doctors and got more help. I was told this was my depression resurfacing and had to be on new meds. I was put on Xanax XR for the anxiety and Cymbalta for all the pain I was experiencing and my depression. With in two weeks I was feeling great again. This time, the only side effect I had, almost immediately, was being very lethargic in the mornings and that is from the Xanax XR (because I take it at night). But after a couple months, I started gaining weight again - packing on the 1-2 lbs per week despite a vigorous workout 5 days a week, weightlifting, and cutting calories back to 1200/1300 a day.

This time I got smart. I started seeing a therapist and switched doctors. Under their supervision I started to ween off of Cymbalta, something I have never done before (my experience was always cold turkey). I was on 60mg for 8 months when we reduced me to 30mg. 4 days after my reduction, the symptoms started. I got a couple headaches, was pretty nauseous, and felt gittery. This only lasted for about 5/6 days, until my body got use to the 30mg. 3 weeks later they reduced me to 20mg (the lowest does Cymbalta has). 4 days after reduction I got a headache for like a day and then it was over. 3 weeks later it was the end - no more Cymbalta - and that was 9 days ago (11/7/08). Like clockwork, 4 days after reduction, it started...

The lucid, vivid nightmares. The headaches. The nausea. The tingling throughout my body and sensation of numbness. The feeling of an irregular heartbeat. The 'ZAPS'. Stomach cramping and major changes in bowel movements. Vertigo. Pain when moving eyes. Fullness in head. Every muscle, tendon, ligament, joint and bone hurts in my body. I feel like someone who has Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, GERD, Asthma, The Flu, Sinus Infection, Ear Infections, Anxiety, Depression ......and the list goes on.

This is truly hell. I know this is not depression or anxiety. This is WITHDRAWAL from the medication. I don't care if technically it is not withdrawal because you can't get addicted to Cymbalta but I tell ya I sure feel like going back on it to make the suffering stop. In my eyes, that is being addicted. Unlike those who withdraw from alcohol, crack and whatever else - these people get to go to these weekly spas to recover in. I get to work, go to school, take care of my daughter, take care of my home and hope to hell that I can survive. There is nothing to ease my pain or make it better. Plus, I have no idea when this misery is going to end. I have to smile and pray to god that it will be over soon. I feel so horrible that I am not even sure if this is the 'discontinuation syndrome' or if there is something really wrong with me. I could I tell when I feel like sh*t all the time?!

When will it end and when can I go back to being normal? When can I live the life that I remember from 4 years ago? AAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. If you can help it, never go on Cymbalata, or any other SSRI for that matter, unless you are 100% positive that the benefits will outweight the negatives. Make sure to get a second or even third opinion about whether or not SSRI's are good for you!

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Avatar universal
by Sdragonfly, Nov 16, 2008
I had been on paxil...for 2 years...
My neuro told me that it was no problem to come off it...when I went to see him after I took myself off it..

I went off it and 2 months later was totally not able to eat nor even dress myself
from depression and anxiety...I was in  bad shape...

He put me on cymbalta 20 mg which after 3 months of getting used to it
seemed great for me...WEll I gained weight..they all make me gain weight and swell  
then the heart palpations started and nightmares...and pacing..I could not sit down...

I tapered off that over a period of  3 months by opening the capsule 20 mg and counting down on it.
That was the roller coaster out of hell to get off it..
I was all over the place...mentally...terrible feelings of panic, and depression and anxiety

So...I continued to stay off any antideppresant....until this month..
I was not any better so I have gone on luvox 25 mg in the am..
will have to wait to see if it helps me..

If it does. I will stay on it..and not plan  to ever come off a SSRI or SNRI again...
Maybe I need them...I hate the side effects of all of them...but if they do some
good I have to stay with one...

Some of us have a need for more serotonin..in our body...maybe I do..
S.

Avatar universal
by breasmommy, Nov 16, 2008
S.,

I agree that some people need to be on these medications and the benefits from them completely outweight the negatives. But, in my case, they were not right. After second and third opinions, getting a Psychiatrist, Therapist and new General Physician, it was determined that the bouncing from medication to medication was not proper use of these medicines. The way they took me off them was quite dangerous and I should be lucky that I didn't have further complications. They also decided, between the three of them, I have never displayed depressive symptoms until the post-pardom and should have only been on medications for a short-time (not 4 years). I should have been taken off them after a few months and re-evaluated to see if I had further problems.

Because of the poor judgements of my doctor, and my lack of knowledge on depression and depression medication, I have gone through a rollercoaster ride for 4 years. I haven't even been able to enjoy my daughter. My husband says that, on these medications, I am not the woman that he married and had a child with. I have been emotionless and felt worthless while being on these things because I was gaining weight and battling so many physical symptoms from the medications.

If you need to be on them, stay on them. If you don't need to be on them, don't. Just make sure you get professional opinions from the right doctors. If you are unsure of their decision, get another opinion. These medications are no joke and will change your life (in either a good way or bad way). I don't want to see anyone go through what I have been through if they don't need to.

I am always here if you would like to talk or just need someone to listen. One of my biggest problems through all of this was that no one understood what I was going through. I was on this journey by myself. My husband tried, and still does, to be as supportive as he possibly can and to understand. He has even been to therapy sessions and done research so he can help get me through this.

Just so you, and anyone else, can know... sometimes the symptoms of discontinuation syndrome do not present until weeks after stopping medicines and sometimes they last for weeks or months. It is all dependant on the half-life of the medication and the length of time you have been on them. If you seriously want to see if you really need these medications or not and want to get off them, make sure that you have a therapist who can help you weekly, a doctor that knows about the medications and the patience and will-power to do it. I'm told I have a long and bumpy road ahead of me. Honestly, at least have of the discontinuation symptoms I had have disappeared but I am still suffering with the other 1/2. That tells me that I am getting this out of my system and my brain is starting to readjust to the new serotonin levels and my doctors all agree.

Again, if you need to talk or just rant, I am here. We all need support whether we are on these medications or if we are coming off them. It is the only way we can get through this.

Avatar universal
by Brenndy, Nov 16, 2008
"I could also hear myself blink" ---- you pretty much summed it up right there. its all synthetic poison. with cos making a very large sum of $. huge huge industry. i'd put it right up there with the top 10. you?

Avatar universal
by breasmommy, Nov 16, 2008
Brenndy,

Absolutely. I've known so many people who have been helped by these medications; but, the number of people who are being misdiagnosed and put on this stuff or who are told the improper way to use them is getting quite large! It's definately synthetic poison. I've known people who have gone through rehab for recreational drugs and they didn't have it half as bad as I have, either.

So, have you been fortunate to get off this stuff? Any good suggestions on how to make it throug if you have?

553995 tn?1332022440
by Phtartist, Nov 17, 2008
I'm supposed to be finding myself a new psychiatrist to moderate my meds because I fired my last one, but I am so afraid of getting a medication freak.

The last one I had just never heard me when I told her that I had a headache every day. She did not associate it with the Effexor she put me on, she thought it was the Fibromyalgia I had. I still had an undertow of depression also, despite the fact that I also was on Wellbutrin.

I finally woke up her brain one day and she realized that since I still had some depression she should do something. She told me to take Pristiq. She said all I had to do was take one a day and to take one right there in her office.

So I was on Wellbutrin a NDRI, Effexor a SNRI 200mg and Pristiq SNRI 50mg. which is equal to approx. 200mg Effexor.  Four nights later, I got up to go to the bathroom and my husband heard me stumbling got up and caught me before I fainted.

Long story short, the dr. forgot to tell me to go off of Effexor.  I had Serotonin Saturation Syndrome.  All of the symptoms that  Breasmommy has I had.  I slept the whole next day and for over a month I had all those symptoms especiall the BRAIN ZAPS and the eyes feeling like they were floating in my sockets, not moving with my head.  The Dr. did not even know what I was talking about when I said brain zaps.  She told me to drink water to feel better!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I do not know how you work and take care of your child.  The Dr. is a big Butt Hole that is not acknowledging your symptoms.  
There are Serotonin receptors in our intestines which is why people like myself get constipated on SSRI's.  Cymbalta was accepted as treatment for Fibromyalgia by the FDA.  On 20 mg. it helped my neurological pain quickly but at 40 I cannot go to the bathroom, I know, thanks for sharing ha ha .  Ironically, I was thinking of lowering it now because I just started it on the 12th and thought its now or never to keep it low. You see, SSRI's and I don't mix well.  Just like you girls.  But then I woke up this morning feeling positive, looking forward to doing stuff today.  That is a memory long lost for me. I have to ride this out.  Only other problem is I'm not sleeping at night.  I will cut out caffiene first and see.  That is today.

Thanks girls

Avatar universal
by freemist, Dec 05, 2008
OMG I never knew that my weight gain, my recent  gait imbalance in my yoga practice was due to the Cymbalta !  What was I thinking trusting a male doctor.  I've had chest pain, been to a heart doc for heart palpitation.  Now have mitral valve prolapse with regurgitation.  All the doctors know my medications and even my gyn told me that my urinary issues were due to the Cymbalta. My PCP also knows that bruising is a real issue with me too.Now i now it is the Cymbalta.  Hey all meds have side effects. He insists that I see a psychiatrist but after reading these postings, I think not.  Too many men involved in medicating women. I'll pass.

I've started to work myself off the 60mg of the drug.  On one day and off the next.  I'll do this for one week, then off for two for another week and three etc. until I'm done.  Then No More Drugs for me.

I hope to drug free on my 56 birthday in eight weeks.  Wish me luck.

Trust no one but yourself.

Avatar universal
by breasmommy, Dec 05, 2008
freemist,

I do wish you the best of luck. This stuff is rough. Don't get me wrong, it really works if you really need it; but, I didn't. I got a new doctor, which is female, and she has been wonderful. She, along with my female therapist, agreed I needed to come off the medication and worked out a schedule to ween me off. I dropped from 60mg to 30 and stayed there for 3 weeks. I dropped down to 20mg and stayed there for 3 weeks. This is the safest way to do it as Cymbalta has a very short half-life (meaning if you miss a dose, you can start to have withdrawal with in 24 hours).

I have now been off this stuff for a month and I have never felt better!!! I suffered a lot during each reduction in doses but not nearly as much as when I came completely off. I just had to keep telling myself that nothing is really wrong and this was just the withdrawal. I certainly wouldn't recommend coming off the medication, even tapering, without constant supervison by a doctor. I had my doctor following up with me with at every reduction and I was (and still am) seeing a therapist every week. They were able to monitor me and my symptoms. Suicidal (and homocidal) thoughts do sometimes occur during tapering as well as the presence of depression (with out having a depression issue). These things have to be watched. Even though you think you might know exactly what is going on with you you really don't. My therapist was seeing things that I couldn't and we were able to work through it, finding ways to cope.

It is a hard battle and anyone trying to quit needs all the support they can get. My husband has been my lifeline through all of this. If it weren't for him, I probably would have given up and gone back on Cymbalta (that is how bad withdrawal gets)!!! Good luck to you and I do hope that you can live medication-free. If you do not absolutely need to then you shouldn't be on these things. I believe that doctors are just a little too easy going when it comes to prescribing medications. Seems like many will just prescribe you something to get you out of their office with out really trying to figure out what is wrong. Then the next thing you know, you have been medicated for 4 years when there was absolutely no need for it.

Again good luck and keep me posted. I am always here if you need to talk.

Avatar universal
by GirlBeingMe, Aug 07, 2017
This is so helpful. Please keep posting.

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