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Sunday, April 15, 2012

My Cymbalta Withdrawal - The Syndrome Strikes Back

Man, this has been a really difficult post for me to write.  I have been going through severe withdrawal symptoms (a.k.a. discontinuation syndrome by the medical community) from Cymbalta.  

The depression symptoms I experience keep me from writing.  My mind is dull and slowed with significant cognitive impacts.  Concentration, working memory, and attention is really messed up.  

I'm getting the “impending doom” type of anxiety.  It comes and goes.  I struggle to fight the barrage of negative thoughts.  Those suckers make the depression seem permanent, like it will never subside.  Fatigue, hypersomnia, and anhedonia (lack of interest, motivation, pleasure from normally enjoyable activities) are pervasive when my depression symptoms are this strong. 

The Situation

I have mentioned before that I am in the process of getting off Cymbalta.  It is the second of my two antidepressants.  I have been on Cymbalta for around six years.  It was added to Wellbutrin, my primary antidepressant, to help relieve lingering depression symptoms.

Although it helped my bipolar depression for several years, Cymbalta is no longer effective for me as an antidepressant.  It's well known that antidepressants can be effective for a long period of time and then stop working.  Unfortunately, it's not fully understood what causes the so-called "poop-out" effect, or why it occurs in some people and not in others.


I discussed going off of Cymbalta with my psychiatrist, Dr. G.  She agreed and planned for me to taper off 20 mg/day each week from 120 mg/day (starting point) to 60 mg/day.  We would evaluate things at 60 mg/day and proceed accordingly.   

1st week (3/20-3/26).  Lowered dose from 120 to 100 mg/day.  Not much change except a little nausea.  Depression was similar to the week prior.  Depression was mostly mild during the week with a couple of moderate depression states.  

2nd Week (3/27 – 4/2).  Dose lowered from 100 to 80 mg/day.  Mood started okay but depression became severe by the second day (3/28).  Depression is moderate to severe for about two and half days at the beginning and mostly moderate to mild for the rest of week.

3rd Week (4/2 – 4/8).  Stayed at 80 mg/day.  This week was worse than the prior week.  I was severely depressed for four days in a row.  Depression began lifting on Friday night (4/6).  Certain symptoms are becoming stronger, like sadness and worthlessness.  Yuck. 


I’m near the end of my fourth week.  The dose remains at 80 mg/day.  Like the two weeks prior I continue to experience days of severe depression.  This time it was five straight days for most or all of the day.  Today is Sunday and it seems like it finally lifting again.  I’m going backwards!   

Now What?

I’m sure glad we stayed at 80 mg/day.  It’s very likely the withdrawal effects would be worse if I had continued to lower the dose.   

I will email my doctor Monday with an update.  I’m not sure what she will say.  She may want me to go back up to 100 mg/day.

I’m going to bring up the idea of taking Prozac to control these Cymbalta withdrawal symptoms.  I’ve read this online in forums and articles.

One article I read today reports that Benadryl (dipenhydramine) helps with withdrawal symtoms.  I just started taking that today.

Summing It Up

Well, withdrawal from Cymbalta is not going as I'd expected.  I thought it was going to be without problems since I tolerate antidepressants well overall and I successfully got off Abilify several months ago.

Now I’m not sure what’s going on.  I just keep moving along.  I feel like Frosty the snowman when I tell myself “I’ll be back again someday.”  I will keep you posted as this perilous journey to de-Cymbaltanize myself continues.


  1. Hi Jeff,

    Hang in are a survivor and you will come out of this transitional period. We love you Bro!!
    Your friend

    1. Hey thanks Luis! You da man. Call me, let's do lunch. - J

  2. I have never experienced withdraw symptons like i have with cymbalta, I have managed to escape from all the illegal drugs i had done through out my teen and early 20's without rehab or doctors care, the withdraw from cymbalta is more extreme than the anything i ever experinced in my life. I still felt like doing nothing it made me not care about the important things in life i couldnt even cry at my uncles funeral, I had no drive even to get up to take a shower or do anything constructive. My thought on this drug it is nasty and the brain zaps im experiencing and being out in left field is not for me.I recommend doing some research before u start this med

  3. Yep, this Cymbalta withdrawal thing has me concerned. I hope your withdrawl symptoms subside soon.

    Maybe I should start picking on Cymbalta like Electroboy does to Abilify. Well, let me think about that.