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Cymbalta to Zoloft- big mess

I went happily to my psychiatrist thinking my Cymbalta (60mg) might be pooping out. I certainly wasn't having any major issues with anxiety or depression ON Cymbalta (loved it- been on 5 1/2 yrs for a depression episode in 2008). Worked great. I just thought it could be tweaked a bit bc I was having some issues w/hypochondria after some medical stuff last year (that wasn't affecting me THAT bad & frankly I am confident I could have worked harder in therapy to deal with it but I thought maybe the Cymbalta might be pooping out and maybe a change was needed).

Fast forward to Jan 7, 2014. Appt w/psychiatrist. The NP switched me to Zoloft. Low dose of Zoloft for a week(50mg) while taking low dose Cymbalta for a week(30mg). Week 2- stop Cymbalta and start 100mg Zoloft. Appx Feb 8, I had a horrible panic attack (hadn't had one in YEARS). Then everything snowballed- anxiety, agitation, feeling crazy, disconnected, frightened.

Called Psych & got in. Apparently Zoloft not a good med for me. I said I wanted the Cymbalta back (she suggested Cymbalta, Pristiq, Effexor- all SNRI's which maybe my body likes? Side bar- I took Prozac yrs ago (20 yrs) in college and it worked like a charm. Tried again in 2008 & sadly it wasn't working so they upped my dose from 20mg to 40mg & that sent me right over the edge like the Zoloft did this time!  Both SSRI's- apparently I can't take those)?! :(

I digress- Feb 14, 2014 I stopped Zoloft completely & started low dose Cymbalta (30mg) for 1 week then week 2 and after, my old dose of 60mg Cymbalta. I've been back on Cymbalta for 18 days. Full dose for 1 week & 4 days. I'm having better "normal" days most if the time but it seems at least once a day or every other day, I feel that weird, creepy crazy anxiety feeling and I feel it's like a step back and really distresses me. I have Xanax as needed and I'll take one & it helps, as does the treadmill for 30 minutes (I didn't exercise before this now I'm walking like Forrest Gump effortlessly?! Blessing in disguise?! Hehe)!  

My question finally is- are these "step backs" normal part of what I've gone through and since most days have been better or good, does that mean my Cymbalta is working again but just takes more time to settle in and get my chemicals right again?! I'm so fearful the Cymbalta won't or isn't working again when I have these setbacks and worry I've "screwed" myself by switching meds. My psychiatrist NP assures me these reactions, while crappy, aren't uncommon and that I haven't "ruined Cymbalta" for myself bc I was off of it for 6 weeks. She said sometimes AD's will often work better after a little break?!

I guess I want to know how long til I get better?! Truth is, I know it takes time but I'm looking for reassurance. And I'm feeling guilty for even messing w/it in the first place. I have no issues in my mental health history other than appx 2-3 depressions I was treated for. Twice in college for situational stuff and now this "breakdown" (I'm calling it mental flu!), from switching meds.

Any kind, encouraging or helpful advice would be appreciated!!!!
11 Responses
Avatar universal
You have been on the Cymbalta for 2.5 weeks. I do not think you should be worrying about it failing at this point - so I would find a mantra to focus on that avoids worrying about med failure. When I was on anti-anx meds, I used to say "I am on a powerful med which will push me through any obstacles that arise" every time I had a fright. That is just my example.

"— It is generally agreed that episodes of generalized anxiety disorder require
several months or longer of sustained pharmacological therapy. Maintenance of efficacy in GAD was demonstrated with
Cymbalta as monotherapy. Cymbalta should be administered in a dose range of 60-120 mg once daily."
Avatar universal
Thank-you birdie!  I was on the Cymbalta for 5.5 yrs until Jan 7 of this yr. I guess re-starting it is just that - re-starting. I was assuming I'd feel back to normal w/in a week or so. You're so right abt a mantra. I just told someone wake my new mantra is going to be "this too shall pass." I'm in therapy too and exercising which absolutely helps. I didn't exercise before but I'd do almost anything that made me feel happy and normal again. I guess the adrenaline has some use :-)

Thank-you again. I can tell you're a kind soul and I appreciate it.
Avatar universal
Coincidentally, this article today was about a person suffering from anx who didn't exercise either.
Avatar universal
Your profile, which helps to know, isn't filled in. Where do you live?
Avatar universal
I'll go fill that out now. I'm in Ft Wayne, IN. 42 yrs old, married female.
Avatar universal
My own opinion, and it's only that, is that you suffered one of the big drawbacks of snris, which is a wallop of a withdrawal when you try to stop taking it.  You stopped almost cold turkey, two weeks being a very short time to stop taking these drugs.  The Zoloft doesn't substitute for Cymbalta -- no drug would, really -- and the symptoms you describe are classic withdrawal symptoms.  Because of the short period of time you were on Zoloft I'd say there's no way to know at this point if it would work for you or not since any benefit would be lost in the withdrawal you were suffering from not first slowly slowly tapering off the Cymbalta.  On the other hand, given that Cymbalta works for you, there really isn't any reason to make a change unless you feel you've solved your underlying problem somehow and don't need any drug anymore.  I think what you're feeling now is the lingering withdrawal from abruptly quitting the Cymbalta, and now that you're back on it hopefully you will go back to "normal."  But it is sometimes difficult with the stronger antidepressants like the snris and Paxil to go back on the drug and have it work the same.  Hopefully you did this quickly enough, and I think you did, to avoid this problem, so I think your brain should re-adapt to Cymbalta soon.  Hope it all works out, and if you ever decide you want  to make this kind of change first quit the Cymbalta as slowly as you need to before moving to another drug so you can sort out whether the problem is the old drug or the new one.  
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