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Cymbalta’s Withdrawal Symptoms Prompt Lawsuits

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By Donna Gregory Burch

When Lori Peterson’s doctor decided to switch her fibromyalgia medication from Cymbalta to Savella, she trustingly followed his instructions – a move that would land her on the couch for a week as she experienced Cymbalta’s withdrawal symptoms.

Diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2007, Peterson had been using Cymbalta for three years and was taking 60 mg twice a day. While Cymbalta eased her symptoms for a while, it had stopped working, and Peterson was hoping Savella would finally bring some relief from the pain and fatigue of fibromyalgia.

“[My doctor] actually told me that I didn’t need to wean off of the Cymbalta as Savella was similar,” Peterson recalls. “I reduced the dosage of Cymbalta and then stopped. I then started the smallest dose of the Savella. After a couple of days, I could not sit up.”

For the next week, Peterson was so dizzy that she couldn’t go to work. She laid on her couch, unable to stand on her own.

“If I tried to sit up, my head was spinning so bad that I would just fall over,” she recalls. “I needed help getting to the bathroom and back.”

Peterson is just one of thousands of Cymbalta users affected by the drug’s high rate of withdrawal symptoms. A study by drug maker Eli Lilly and Company found 44 percent of patients experienced withdrawal symptoms, such as dizziness, nausea, headache, paresthesia, vomiting, irritability, nightmares and others, when they suddenly stopped taking Cymbalta. A larger, subsequent trial involving more than 1,200 patients found 50 percent of patients have withdrawal symptoms.

Since up to half of patients may experience these symptoms, physicians should know to wean patients off of Cymbalta slowly, but many, like Peterson’s doctor, aren’t aware of the drug’s risks.

And there’s a reason for that.

In Eli Lilly’s physicians’ prescribing guide for Cymbalta under the “discontinuation of treatment with Cymbalta section,” it reads, “Following abrupt or tapered discontinuation in adult placebo-controlled clinical trials, the following symptoms occurred at 1 percent or greater and at a significantly higher rate in Cymbalta-treated patients compared to those discontinuing from placebo: dizziness, headache, nausea, diarrhea, paresthesia, irritability, vomiting, insomnia, anxiety, hyperhidrosis and fatigue.”

Catch the discrepancy? Trials indicate 44-50 percent of patients have withdrawals. Eli Lilly’s prescribing guide says 1 percent or higher. Technically, it’s accurate, but it’s not the full story, and some doctors could infer from that 1 percent figure that withdrawal symptoms aren’t common.

This discrepancy between Eli Lilly’s prescribing literature and its actual research findings has prompted hundreds of former Cymbalta users to file suit against the drug maker, claiming the company didn’t fully disclose the severity or frequency of Cymbalta’s withdrawal symptoms. Thousands more cases are in the pipeline for filing, according to Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman, PC, one of the law firms involved in the legal action.

“The label gives the impression that withdrawal is a rare event (somewhere around 1 percent) when in fact it is common,” writes the law firm in a recent statement. “We think Lilly played with semantics and the system in choosing its wording; it chose wording to minimize the risk while at the same time using language such as ‘or greater’ as a CYA [cover your ass] measure. We believe the label is misleading, plain and simple. The testimony of the prescribing doctors in these cases proves it; they believed the risk was rare.”

It seems like a valid argument, but so far attorneys have been unsuccessful at convincing a judge or jury. The first three cases heard in federal court last year ended in verdicts for Eli Lilly.

Last August, plaintiff Claudia Herrera told California jurors that she felt “desperate” for months after she stopped taking Cymbalta. Her withdrawal symptoms included anxiety, dizziness, insomnia and brain zaps (which are described as feeling like a lightning bolt going off inside the head).

Eli Lilly’s attorneys argued it’s common knowledge that antidepressants cause withdrawal symptoms when stopped suddenly, and it’s standard practice for doctors to wean patients off of them. The jury bought Lilly’s argument and ruled in the company’s favor.

Later in August, plaintiff Erin Hexum’s trial was cut short by a California federal judge who ruled in Eli Lilly’s favor after Hexum’s physician testified that he couldn’t remember if he had read the physicians’ prescribing guide. The judge reasoned that if the physician couldn’t recall the guide, then how could Hexum’s attorneys argue that misleading information contained within it was responsible for her symptoms.

Hexum said she experienced severe cramping, requiring an emergency room visit, after she stopped taking Cymbalta for fibromyalgia. She has since been diagnosed with a seizure disorder and has lost her driving privileges.

Both Herrera and Hexum are appealing their cases.

In early September, a Virginia jury ruled against plaintiffs Gilda Hagan-Brown and Janine Ali, who claimed Eli Lilly was negligent in not fully disclosing Cymbalta’s withdrawal symptoms. Both women said they experienced depression, migraines, pain, fatigue and brain zaps after stopping Cymbalta in 2012.

To date, more than 200 plaintiffs have filed lawsuits against Eli Lilly. Attorneys have been unsuccessful in their attempts to consolidate these cases into a class-action lawsuit. Understandably, Eli Lilly’s attorneys have fought class-action status because it increases the chances of the company eventually having to pay compensation to thousands of affected patients.

The next Cymbalta case isn’t expected to be heard until late this year.

Have you been affected by Cymbalta’s withdrawal symptoms? Share your experience in the comments section!

About the Author:  Donna Gregory Burch was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2014 after several years of unexplained symptoms. She’s written extensively about the Cymbalta withdrawal lawsuits on her fibromyalgia blog, including a helpful resources page at www.fedupwithfatigue.com/cymbalta-withdrawal-lawsuits. Donna is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared online and in newspapers and magazines throughout Virginia, Delaware and Pennsylvania. She lives in Delaware with her husband and their many fur babies.

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89 thoughts on “Cymbalta’s Withdrawal Symptoms Prompt Lawsuits”

  1. Paints13 says:

    I tried to come off of Cymbalta to go on savella but the side effects were so horrible for me that I had to go back on Cymbalta. I don’t think I will ever be able to be weaned off of Cymbalta. I didn’t make it far into the weaning stage before I had to go back on Cymbalta. So I don’t think it matters if people were weaned off of it or just stopped it. I think it’s the medication itself. What a horrific experience it was. I’m still fighting a lot of pain and I take 60 mg twice a day along with other meds. But as I said, I don’t think I could ever come off of it and if they ever make me I hope they put me in a comma because I don’t want to feel it or go start to go through that again.

  2. kittycat62 says:

    Withdrawal from this drug took nearly three weeks and I still would get the stabbing head pains. I had nightmares that terrified me and cannot remember at least a weeks worth of days. I slept in my living room when I could sleep because I was afraid. I have no idea where that fear came from except that many times I thought I was going to die. That drug is poison.

  3. tate_462002 says:

    I have fibromyalgia and depression and have been taking Cymbalta now for several years. I tried to take myself off of it a few years back as I had researched the side effects and was afraid to continue taking it. I had some of my doctors tell me I could just stop taking it so I tried. The second day I began getting sick and nauseated along with other symptoms. By the third day I thought I was dying and went to see my doctor who treats me for Sleep Apnea. I told him about it and he explained to me that he had other patients who had ended up in the hospital from coming off of cymbalta. I now have cirrhosis of the liver in which was the initial reason I tried getting off because I had heard ads on tv from attorneys that indicated cymbalta would cause harmful affects on the liver. I now still continue to take it as my primary doctor feels I should stay on it. My insurance is giving me issues regarding the price and I am stuck in between. I really am stressed about my situation and pray that I can get some help from someone regarding this killer prescription.

  4. curecfs says:

    Pristiq is an SNRI like Cymbalta and formulated in a time-released coating you are not supposed to cut. The normal dose is 50mg, and they just released a “step down” dose of 25mg. What a joke! You can’t go from 50 to 25 to 0! You will go out of your mind! Even if you do attempt to cut them, there is no way to accurately do it because the pills are small and square and not scored. I have been contacting various lawyers about this with no luck. I guess I am stuck on this. My only option would be to switch to Effexor and try to taper that, although I’m sure that wouldn’t be a cake walk either.

    1. MarcieRose says:

      Effexor is an SNRI just like Cymbalta with the same debilitating side effects. It took me six months of brain zaps, dizziness and nausea to wean off of Effexor and that was with it coupled with Prozac to reduce the side effects. Even now if I lose more than 4 pounds in any one week, I get brain zaps. I don’t know about Cymbalta but the active components of Efexor are lipophilic meaning the are stored in fat. If you are overweight and plan to lose, you could be experiencing a milder but still sometimes debilitating recurrence of withdrawal symptoms as you lose.

  5. dawdaw says:

    Hi I just wanted to say that
    I have been on Cymbalta for only 1 month but the positive results I have experienced have been amazing. I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia nearly 25 years ago and the pain sometimes puts me in bed for a week. But in the last month the pain is not only bearable it is hardly there… incredible although the fatigue hasn’t reduced much. I haven’t experienced any bad side effects so regardless of the withdrawal symptoms in this article if you are suffering the pain of fibro I would still try it. I’m only taking 30g a day in the morning.

    1. dopsal says:

      I agree that it works. But if you ever need to stop taking it or forget it when you are on vacation it is very,very horrible if you have withdrawal symptoms. I hope you stash some away in your travel bag. It is great when you are on it. I have used it for over 10 years. But if I had the choice I don’t know if I would go on it again. It is like a bad illegal drug to get off of. Good luck to you.

    2. Ashen says:

      I just hope you never run out, you’ll be a slave to cymbalta from now on, just as you were a slave to your fibro before that.. there are better ways.. cutting out as many toxins from your lifestyle as possible, reducing GMO consumption, going natural with cleaning products etc.. I used to think it was all hogwash, but it’s really not, it’s just common sense.

      Back to the cymbalta, I think the issue is lack of information. If you have all this info and know what to expect when you go on the drug, then you’ve made an informative decision, you go in with your eyes wide open,. For most of us, we did not know what we were getting into. I was prescribed cymbalta for pain and depression and I’ve had a whack of symptoms as described by others, both on the drug and then those experienced by others coming off it.. for me, each time I tried to come off it, I made a serious suicide attempt, but I never really made the connection.. I thought it was because I needed the drug to help with my depression, but my depression had never caused me to make such serious attempts before.. I think the more likely explanation is, that the attempts were a symptom of withdrawal.. I tried to hang myself and my partner at the time had to cut me down.. 2 years later, when trying to come off to try to conceive, I ate several bottles of pills and cut my wrists and ended up in icu for several days with a 2 week psychiatric stay after that. The drug is poison imho, but I hope it continues to help you and that you don’t ever need to come off it for some reason. Good luck to you.

    3. endfatigue says:

      The issue is not simply that it causes withdrawal. Many meds do. The issue is that they made it with large warnings saying “DO NOT BREAK OR CRUSH” implying it can kill you. Then they failed to make a pill lower than the 20 mg dose–making it dangerous to stop the med as it could not be weaned. So they made an inherently unsafe product, when they could have made it much safer by maker lower dose “weaning “pills.
      The solution, taught to me by a pharmacist? If one carefully peels of the pill coating, they will find small beads inside (of 1 or 5 mg, depending on the form). Each bead can be used like a lower dose pill to allow weaning. Just don’t crush or break the beads

    4. babylx50 says:

      I am currently taking the generic version of Cymbalta. I didn’t think it was really working any longer for my pain so I abruptly stopped taking it. I got an intense headache that lasted days, I aswan super dizzy, began throwing up and would suddenly get feverish. It was awful!! I googled it after someone mentioned that you can’t quit taking it suddenly and as soon as I took one I began feeling better within probably an hour. Honestly I think I’m sticking with it because the side effects of Lyrica and the sorts sounds scarier to me! Feeling stuck 🙁

    5. DrAnne says:

      My husband takes care of sorting my meds once a week into containers telling what day and time to take what. He forgot to refill my generic cymbalta several weeks ago and I was in very severe pain and extremely depressed (I was originally put on it for depression). He finally realized what had happened and refilled the prescription three days ago. I’m feeling somewhat better, but I read the pharmacy’s information sheet that always comes with any med including refills, and it specifically warns NOT to go off it suddenly. I should hope most pharmacies would include such sheets. Also, it is possible to look up your meds online and find out any warnings. I usually do that when I am prescribed a new med. So I’m afraid I don’t think these people have much of a case. The information was available. Why didn’t they avail themselves of it?

    6. Robertaglick says:

      I am a member of the class action suit against Eli Lilly for failure to disclose the horrific side effects if SLOWLY weaning off Cymbalta. I am sorry to report the the courts are siding with Lilly who has agreed to minimum payouts for those who can, to their satisfaction, prove they suffered as a result. They require mountains of documentation that can cost each plaintiff hundreds of dollars to secure and then the payout is between $1,000-$2,500. This is hardly worth the time and expense given the circumstances.

      After being on Cymbalta, 60 mg 2xdaily for several years as well as other drugs for chronic pain due to Fibromyalgia, Euler – Danlos, spinal stenosis, and multiple spinal surgeries, in Nov 2015I entered SierraTucsobn Treatment Center’ s inpatient chronic pain program with the expressed purpose if detoxing from Fentanyl and supervised withdrawal from Cymbalta. At that time I was unaware that there was a class action lawsuit pending re Withdrawal from Cymbalta. I was warned that reactions could be ” bothersome” and very uncomfortable and could include such things as hallucinations, vomiting, brain zaps, increased brain fog, etc. I first detoxed from Fentanyl. It took 7 days and was not fun, but then I didn’t expect it to be. Once that was done, they started me on a slow withdrawal from Cymbalta. I remained in the hospital for 23 more days while doing this. It was horrible. I had ongoing hallucinations, vomiting, brain zaps, confusion, depression and so on. Since I was told all of this could happen, I ” took it like a trooper”. I didn’t complain, I often didn’t report what was happening. I participated fully in all the treatments to help me get through this. I was discharged on December 28, 2015, having spent 40 days as an inpatient. I was still having withdrawal symptoms including hallucinations, confusion, extreme constipation, brain fog, etc. these continued for roughly another 6-8 months.

      When I learned there was a class action law suit, I joined it. My Dr. Supplied records, there was info re my 40 days at SierraTucson, but nothing was enough….especially since I was a ” non- complainer” in the hospital. Therefore there wasn’t a sufficient trail of evidence. I gave up. Continuing to fight was wearing on my very being. I couldn’t undo having been a ” good” patient. Lilly s settlement seemed to have quelled anything reasonable from moving forward. There is more, much more, but the pharmaceutical system and the judicial system were too powerful. As far as I now know, Eli Lilly, despite all evidence to the contrary, is virtually held harmless. In exchange for no real guilty verdict and token payouts, they are off the hook. Cymbalta is still on the market. And those of us who suffered bebause of this drug are plumb out of luck.

      Cymbalta may have prompted lawsuits, but what good did they do???

  6. dawdaw says:

    Hi I just wanted to say that
    I have been on Cymbalta for only 1 month but the positive results I have experienced have been amazing. I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia nearly 25 years ago and the pain sometimes puts me in bed for a week. But in the last month the pain is not only bearable it is hardly there… incredible although the fatigue hasn’t reduced much. I haven’t experienced any bad side effects so regardless of the withdrawal symptoms in this article if you are suffering the pain of fibro I would still try it. I’m only taking 30g a day in the morning.

  7. stoneturner says:

    I was Cymbalta for 4 months for Fibromyalgia. When I was laid off from my job and my insurance benefits ended 2 weeks later I was left to go cold turkey. A month supply of the Cymbalta I was on was $600 at the time. My unemployment didn’t cover my rent, let alone, try to pay for a prescription. (I made $100 to much a month on unemployment to get medical assistance).

    I had panic attacks, paranoia, hallucinations, brain zaps, excessive fatigue, muscle spasms/cramps, nausea, loss of appetite and difficulty sleeping due to sweating and manic dreaming.

    I’ve told everyone about my experience with Cymbalta and highly recommended that they never accept it from their doctor.

    I’ve never in my life had an experience like that. Cold Turkey even after 4 months of being on Cymbalta is dangerous. The withdrawals last approximately 6 weeks before those close to me thought I was back to normal in my behavior, moods, and sleeping patterns.

  8. spencer says:

    I have been taking anti-depressants for many years. Back in 2006 I had been taking both Wellbutrin XL and Nefazadone, and my psychiatrist at the time knew I had fibromyalgia and suggested I switch to Cymbalta to help with both my fibromyalgia pain and depression.

    Basically what I remember is that Cymbalta did nothing to help with either and my psychiatrist switched me back onto the Wellbutrin XL (I had never stopped taking Nefazadone at that time). I can’t recall how long I was on the Cymbalta, but it was for a relatively short amount of time. He told me to get off the Cymbalta completely and resume taking Wellbutrin XL.

    What had happened to me at that point was just awful. My depression went to an all-time low and my anxiety became out of control. In fact it was so bad, that I could no longer concentrate at work and suffered from agitation and worsening depression… eventually having to stop working.

    Ten years ago, I just thought my depression and anxiety had worsened, but now I do wonder if, in fact, it was due to abruptly going off the Cymbalta!!


  9. donnabo says:

    Hi I’m Donna I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2009 at some point I was given Cymbalta and I took it for a couple of years and gained 60 lbs. Along with my doctor we decided to wean me off Cymbalta and start taking Savella.. Cymbalta is an awful dangerous drug. As I was weaning off I had severe hallucinations and head zaps like someone had a taser in my head. These head zaps lasted a very long time and I still get them occasionally. During the withdrawal process I seriously considered suicide. I took off one day and wanted to drive into a tree. Thank God I stopped myself. When I was thinking logically( which at this time wasn’t too often ) I knew in my heart it was the meds making me feel that way.I just couldn’t control it. I even jumped on my husbands back and started to punch and slap him. This kind of behavior is not who I am. I have a very loving relationship with my husband and would NEVER in my right mind do such a thing. When I went to my primary physician at the time his response was. “You are broken, may I pray with you”. That was it I needed help and I knew it.. I am happy to say Cymbalta and Savella are out of my life for good. I just learned other ways to cope with the pain. Its not easy at all,but nothing in this world will ever make me take Cymbalta again.. I am willing to share this with whoever will listen. I do not want anyone else to go thru what I went thru.. It’s time to take this poison off the market.

  10. endfatigue says:

    A larger issue is that the company does not make a low enough strength to allow withdrawal safely, and has big warnings against breaking the caps (as one normally would do to get a lower dose)–making coming off their medication impossible for many. A trick? If carefully opened, the caps will have small beads inside. By having my patients slowly lower the # of these beads, I have been able to withdraw people I treat from the medication

  11. Failidh says:

    I have both Fibromyalgia and ME. My doctor prescribed Cymbalta but I used it for only a short period of time as I experienced most of the withdrawal symptoms that this article identifies while I was taking it -it made me feel quite insane, as well, and it gave me no pain relief at all. A horrible drug. Co-incidentally, the drug Lyrica had the same effect.

  12. cjdevries says:

    I took Cymbalta for CFS because I had been in severe pain and my doctor said Cymbalta could ease the pain. After taking one tablet, I woke up the next morning nearly unable to move my mouth, extremely dizzy and terrified. The drug seemed to stiffen my body but the worst thing was that I had a strong sense of dissociation, feeling that nothing was real- but not in a positive spiritual way of life as a play or illusion. It is hard to describe other than to say that it was not fun. I think it can be a dangerous drug to give to sick people because it can just make everything worse and I would guess there has to be a big potential suicide risk. Then again, I talked to a friend with bipolar disorder and she said it had been a really great drug. So I guess that shows the polarizing nature of antidepressants?

  13. GeekyGranny says:

    The first time I went cold turkey on Cymbalta. I felt so much sicker and dizzy and just out of it. I went right back on it and the symptoms abated.

    But then I told my doctor I wanted to quit Cymbalta, and she had me first cut down from 60mg twice a day to 30mg twice a day. Did this for about three weeks. Then she had me go to one 30mg a day. Did this for another three or more weeks. Finally, I was able to use it every other day for the final three+ weeks. So when I quit completely it took nearly three months to do it!!

  14. Leandak says:

    I took Cymbalta for 3 years and had developed a very sensitive skin problem where I’d break out in hives and itches for no apparent reason. I had tried eliminating foods and other potential triggers but had not found what was triggering the response. Then I read the Cymbalta fine print again. Here’s my Facebook post from that day in January 2015:
    ‘Whilst researching withdrawal from Cymbalta, I came across the ‘consult your doctor immediately if any of the following occur’ side effects of skin rash, welts, hives. Why has my own doctor not considered Cymbalta as the cause of my skin problem?
    I’ve developed a theory that because I’ve cleaned up my diet considerably over the past 12 months, my gut absorption has improved and sensitivity to toxins has increased. My skin is attempting to detox the Cymbalta.
    I started the taper off from the Cymbalta yesterday. Went from 60 to 30mg without symptoms. Took 30mg again this morning, and am really short-fused and cranky today. Also feeling on the verge of tears.
    I haven’t noticed any change in my skin yet, but hoping that dropping my dose will improve it.’
    I continued to post about my withdrawal experience from time to time. Here’s more from the following day:
    ‘Decided once the body tremors started to split open a 60mg capsule and divide it into thirds. That’s 20mg and takes my dose to 50mg. What a pain-staking (and painful) job. There are around 550 tiny poppy-seed size balls in a 60mg capsule. I counted them. They move around much like beanbag beans – very hard to pin ’em down. Anyway, it was worth the effort. The top up dose has settled my symptoms down, and my family is safe from Mrs Crankypants for the moment.’
    It took me over 6 months moving down by around 10mg each few weeks. The brain zaps were awful. I used these as my indication that I was weaning too fast.

  15. Iamnatam136 says:

    I will have to agree with the person that said they need to make a dosage that is in smaller mgs. to help with the weaning process. I have been on Cymbalta for probably about six years now and it was prescribed originally for depression. Then they realized it was good for fibromyalgia so my doctors felt that made it even better for me to take. I started on 30 mg and then went to 60 then 90 and all the way to 120 and then I asked to drop back down to 60. The problem I have had is getting my behavioral health doctors to get my prescriptions refilled timely and I have had to do without Cymbalta for up to nine days. I start getting sick after I miss one day and by the time I am at three days I am very sick to my stomach, have a bad headache and severe pain everywhere. I can’t think and start crying all the time and feel suicidal. The warnings Eli Lilly gives doesn’t say that this is going to happen and yet it has since I started taking it. I now am going to ask my doctor to wean me off of it because I don’t want to face these withdrawal symptoms anymore when my providers can’t get my refills done in time. I can’t say it helps my fibro at all but without it, I have some severe neuropathy and had to go to the hospital for pain medication injections.

  16. zsazsa50 says:

    I was on Cymbalta for less than 9 mos. My doctor told me to stop taking the Cymbalta because it was causing me to gain weight (50 lbs.!!). I was never told to work my way off. And I had a lot of the systems listed. After reading this, I believe now that this is the reason I ended up in the ER, in July 2015. My whole body had been having severely body cramps, but that night in July (2015), it was so bad, that I was screaming and crying. Of course the ER could not find anything to cause my cramping. After getting 2 dosage of Morphine. I was released and told that I had an unknown verse. It’s been 6 months and I’m just start to feel a bit better.

  17. Grannyberd says:

    I was on Cymbalta for about 5 years for Fibromyalgia and it worked very well for my pain. I was asked to lower my dosage if I could by my GP because she believed I was taking the highest dose allowed leaving no room for adjustment if my depression worsened. I was given no instructions on how to reduce the dosage so I started a gradual decrease. I was reducing from 90mg daily to 60 mg daily. The gradual decrease started well but depression and extreme fatigue took over. I missed a dose here and there because I was sleeping into the afternoon so I stopped taking them altogether. I ended up in a clinic for severe depression. I would happily go onto Cymbalta again but I would recommend that if you are coming off it, it needs to be gradual and supervised, even if only by a friend or spouse. Personally, I would not be interested in participating in a civil lawsuit. The medication worked extremely well for me for some time. Most medication has some side effects and it depends on the individual as to what side effects if any are experienced. The severity of the symptoms also varies according to the individual. Cymbalta was a life saver for me whilst it worked.

  18. sarmacost says:

    I have been taking both of these medicines for several years. I tried to go off Lyrica last year and I got hot flashes, chills headaches, chest pains. I have since been put back on Lyrica. I have several problems with my feet but one being neuropathy that has taken over my life and I need pain meds along with Lyrica to stop the pain. But lyrica caused me to gain 40 pounds and I do not need any extra weight. They have not taken me off Cymbalta yet but I do not now how long they can leave me on it. I believe these companies do not tell us how adictive these pills are and what we will have to go through to get off of them. They should have to pay us because we have paid a fortune to take these pills, they should for painand suffering to get off of them

  19. BrianFuseSchell says:

    I too was on Cymbalta for a good 5 or 6 months then had Lyrica added, neither of which did much for my fibromyalgia pain at all. After another 5 month of taking both, my doctor and I agreed that stopping the Cymbalta was a good idea, as taking less drugs (especially non effective ones) was a good idea. I had been reading about people having many different side effects from Cymbalta, including loss of sexual desire, which I had definitely been experiencing. Being I was in my early 30s I really didn’t like that side effect and was experiencing some depression. I was told to quickly ween off Cymbalta as the Lyrica should make it a smooth transition. I had a horrible next two weeks, feeling all types of withdrawal symptoms. As many have said the brain zaps or “glitches” as I called them were one of the worst. My flares increased triple fold at least; had dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, cognitive problems, fatigue and many other w/d symptoms. The Lyrica did NOTHING to smooth the transition, and continued to give me NO relief at all for the next pointless year and a half I was taking it. For that year and a half I experiences worsening cognitive issues including a lot if short term memory loss/priblems. I then weeded myself of of the Lyrica. A few weeks of more “glitches” or zaps I finally felt more normal, since then I have noticed a huge recovery in memory. Both drugs were ridiculously expensive, luckily I was on an indigent care program and patient assistance. I strongly urge fibro patience to not take either especially Cymbalta, unless you like taking a drug that has no benefit and destroys your sex drive! Finally a few months ago I was offered Savella… if course I was sceptical but had heard of way more success stories. I am glad to say I have been feeling better than I have in years because of the Savella. I still suffer from tons if pain and flare ups but they are less common. My restless legs are much better, have improved my cold intolerance immensely, have been sleeping way better/mire and feel all around better. Still, the narcotic pain meds are by far the best for the day to day pain but u am very glad to have started the Savella… even though it’s roughly $400 a month with no insurance (thank God for patient assistance). The SSNRI’s make the most sense to me for relieving fibro, but Cymbalta definitely did not compare to Savella, which makes me wonder what is going on with it. Fibro patients beware, we ate basically just ginnea pigs so do your research and Def ween of slowly if taking Cymbalta and plan to stop.

  20. MelindaS says:

    I have been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia since 1989 and have been on many medications throughout the years to attempt to manage my pain. I have been on Cymbalta since 2010 and the medication has helped somewhat. I had just changed my insurance in 2014 and was in between doctors when I ran out of medication. It was 9 days of “hell” before I could refill my prescription. My most severe symptom was depression, which I have never experienced depression like this before.I felt extreme anxiety the first 2 days, then began having crying fits (for no good reason)then after about the fifth day I began having suicidal thoughts constantly (which I had never had before) I truly felt that I was losing my mind! If it were not the amazing support of my husband I would not be here today. All the other symptoms,headache,insomnia,nausea and cramps throughout my body …seemed small compared to my depression.I did tell my new Doctor about my symptoms and she did not seem to be concerned about my continuing Cymbalta and my symptoms seemed to go away when I began taking it again. After reading this I really would like to get off of Cymbalta…but personally I’m afraid of the consequences. In my opinion,medication lapse should effect anyone so severely.


  21. dlucilled says:

    I have taken Cymbalta 60 mg daily for FM for several years. It has made life so much better for me in terms of decreased pain and fatigue. I tried the generic and after several months the severe fatigue and pain slowly came back. I have missed a day at times, and I do get severe dizziness. While I acknowledge debilitating side effects occur, I really hope to still be able to take this medication. I believe I am still able to work because of it.

  22. HeidiD says:

    My husband had a complex case of Spinal Cord compression requiring surgery, and post-op was in severe chronic pain, which was very depressing, so his doctor put him on Cymbalta (instead of dealing with the underlying inflammation naturally). Over time, he developed overall body pain, later diagnosed as fibromyalgia. When we realized his medications caused his fibro, we began weaning him slowly. We had already weaned his Gabapentin, then his Cymbalta. Boy was it hard to get off Cymbalta! Thankfully there was a good support forum online, that advised slow weaning and what supplements to take – mainly amino acids and fish oils. I then counted out “beads” of Cymbalta, gradually weaning, until he was off them. He did get brain zaps twice, despite his very gradual weaning. He never wants antidepressants ever again. Getting adequate nutrition for brain health is far more effective to control depression than any medicine.

  23. SamMoore says:

    After being on Cymbalta for over a year my doctor switched my meds. I was in shock that I would experience trembling, fatigue, severe pain, and nausea. I went on the meds prescribed which I thought was the side affects which wasn’t the case. I switched back to Cymbalta the following month, this time on Cymbalta I experience disturbing thoughts about hurting myself and others. I went off the meds again to experience all the same withdrawals again.

  24. NotaFan says:

    I, too, suffer from Fibromyalgia, plus 24/7 headaches. My experience with Cymbalta continues to be awful as I struggle to taper off the damn stuff. Because being on it wasn’t helping reduce my FM or headache symptoms, with the help of my doctor, I started tapering from 100 mg. very gradually, stepping down one month at a time, to where I’m at now, to 20 mg. Unfortunately, I’ve been at 20 mg. now for 3 months unable to get completely off. Every time I try to skip a day (one day off/two days on), the electrical jolts become so severe they result in a migraine that lasts for up to 5 days. By day 4 I’m a crying mess, unable to function, and my entire body and head hurt so bad I can’t function. I’ve had to go into my neurologist office to have nerve block injections to halt the migraine because the other two migraine medications weren’t working.

    Any suggestions, please? I desperately want to get off this crap but am stuck at 20 mg.


    1. cme@ says:

      Please read my post-Getting off the Rollercoaster. I hope it helps!

    2. harboreen says:

      Horrific brain zaps!! This feels as though someone is flicking their fingers directly on my brain..this is the best I can describe this feeling.
      There’s more!
      Dizzininess so badly I cannot move my head even a little! Along with that dizziness there’s a sinking type feeling in my head, liking to falling in ones sleep.
      This happens if I forget one dose! It is TOTALLY incapacitating.
      I cannot get off this medication!


  25. cme@ says:

    Slowly and carefully is the key. I tried just stopping but couldn’t and my doctor gave me a lower dose Rx. I felt bad but I was taking half of my previous dose. I then tried taking it every other day but that didn’t work. Luckily I found advice online from former users. I opened each capsule and removed 7 grains and each week removed 7 more. There were a few weeks where I couldn’t step down because of the headaches and brain zaps. Someone figured out that 7 grains approximated a 10% decrease. It took almost 6 months but it was tolerable. I was surprised that the last 7 grains was even difficult to eliminate! The only other drug I’ve had problems stopping was Paxil. I think it’s well known now but in 1997 my doctor was unaware. Drug companies are not motivated to inform the public or doctors. Profits over people! What a shame!

    1. TBay says:

      I was out on cymbalta for facial pain following a screwed up jaw surgery. Cymbalta gave me no relief and was followed by an increase in pain (though the two may be unrelated). When I tried to stop taking it (dropping from 60mg to 50mg (20mg+30mg)) The discontinuation symptoms were so bad I had to give up. I was filled with anxiet and rage accompanied by a complete departure from rational thought. I couldn’t leave my bed. The room was spinning and I felt sicker than I’ve ever felt. When the next dosage came around, I went back to 60mg. It still took me 3 days to become functional again.

      I was eventually able to go off of it by adding in another antidepressant every time I lowered the Cymbalta dosage. This mitigated the side effects well. I feel much better and have much more energy without Cymbalte. I’ve done a fair bit of research since then and found studies indicating that Cymbalta has little to no effect for nerve pain over placebo. I believe they put you on this useless expensive drug knowing you can’t stop taking it when you realize it doesn’t work.

      What Eli Lilly is doing isn’t just wrong, it’s criminal.

    2. harboreen says:

      I’m going to try your way…
      Just fyi
      I too was on Paxil with same withdrawl symptoms. I recall telling my-then- doctor of my symptoms.. his reply was.. Oh that can’t happen! Ha!
      My new Dr put me I Cymbalta.

      Class action law suit for Paxil was a WIN

    3. MarcieRose says:

      Thank you for tracking this. My gut level response to the news was that some judge was in Lilly’s pocket. Of course this should be a class-action but more than that it should be a media and social media action. Sometimes mass shame can work where the legal system has failed. Has anyone thought of trying congressional hearings?

    4. NotaFan says:

      Thank you, Rollercoaster. This is very helpful. Question…how did you take the remaining pellets? Just toss them in your mouth and wash down with water?

      Thanks again.

    5. Linz4562 says:

      I have been on cymbalta for years for fibro all-over body pain. I reached my highest dose at 90mgs and was eventually able to get down to a stable dose of 60mgs. Since starting Benlysta infusions for co-occuring lupus and hormone therapy for fibro, I have attempted to get off the drug completely. Due to the dosing available for this drug (20mgs, 40mgs), I used my compounding pharmacist to make small increment pills. This was due to the severe side effects experienced when attmpting a weaning from 60mgs to 40mgs. As stated by many others, I experienced dizzy/balance issues, brain zaps, eye discomfort, and irritability. I would be unable to work or drive as the symptoms came in strong waves. The only way to solve the issue was to return to the usual dose. Within an hour of taking the cymbalta, symptoms ceased. The problem with the compounding is two-fold….it is expensive. The pharmacist actually had to count each grain