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Doctor is shocked at severe Cymbalta withdrawal symptoms

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"Doctors need to know that this syndrome can last for months." http://www.healthcentral.com/chronic-pain/c/27148/146506/cymbalta

Cymbalta Discontinuation Syndrome

By Christina Lasich, MD, HealthCentral.com November 07, 2011

 

Using an antidepressant for chronic pain might seem simple enough, but did you know that getting off an antidepressant can be a horrific experience?....Many are finding out the hard way that Cymbalta is extremely difficult to stop using. Yes, it may be "simple to use" like Eli-Lilly says in the packaging material; but some people are getting very sick from trying to discontinue using Cymbalta.

 

Recently, one of my patients and I discussed her use of Cymbalta and the fact that she was working towards her goal of getting off all of her medications because she was experiencing side effects with very little benefits. She had been on Cymbalta for five years since her primary doctor suggested it for the treatment of lower back pain. Neither she nor I realized how tremendously difficult it actually is to wean off Cymbalta. After dropping her dose from 60 mg per day to the next lower dose of 30mg per day, the nightmare began. The severe mood swings started. Her legs became increasingly restless. And she could not sleep. At first, I did not know what was happening to her. All of her blood tests were normal. But when she stopped the Cymbalta all together, WOW! She really started to go through hell. She began experiencing severe nausea, headaches, and an assortment of cognitive problems. That's when I knew that she was experiencing Cymbalta Discontinuation Syndrome.

 

A recent FDA advisory committee report about Cymbalta Discontinuation Syndrome states that there is "much anecdotal evidence" similar to this experience regarding the withdrawal syndrome that people experience when trying to get off of Cymbalta....

 

Antidepressant Withdrawal Syndrome is not new. All antidepressants have the potential to cause this after six weeks of use. However, no one has seen this type of severity until now. These newer antidepressant medications like Cymbalta are potent and have short half-lives. The primary reason people get sick when getting off these drugs is because they are left with too little serotonin. Without enough serotonin in the nervous system messaging system, everything goes haywire and the patient goes through hell.

 

Because many doctors and patients are unaware of these dangers, the diagnosis of Cymbalta Discontinuation Syndrome can be overlooked. Doctors need to get detailed medication histories and know that this syndrome can last for months. Once the diagnosis is made, then the doctor and the patient can try to treat the problem. In the above example, instead of restarting the Cymbalta, I elected to place the patient on an alternative antidepressant, Prozac. This medication replaces the Cymbalta and is easier to discontinue because it stays in the system longer (longer half-life). I treated her symptoms with an antiemetic and an antihistamine. Hopefully, we can eventually get her off of antidepressants all together. For now, I am primarily concerned about getting her through the withdrawals alive. But, I am not sure that this is the best way to go about it.

 

Avoiding the Cymbalta Discontinuation Syndrome altogether might be a better route. The company does not make a slow weaning process easy because only two doses are available, 30mg and 60mg. Some patients and doctors have resorted to breaking the capsules open and giving partial doses over a long period of time - often over several months. Bottom line is that Eli-Lilly needs to address this problem and help people get off of the medication when it is no longer necessary. Right now, they seem to be more concerned with getting as many people on Cymbalta as possible. Shame on them; the new packaging should read: "Simple to use; nearly impossible to stop." It is like having a hotel that everyone can check in to but cannot check out.

 

If you already are using Cymbalta, do not suddenly discontinue this medication. Talk to your doctor. If you are contemplating whether or not to start this medication, please be warned that this medication can put you in harm's way. The benefits from this antidepressant may not be worth the risk. Nothing is a simple as it seems.

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"Bottom line is that Eli-Lilly needs to address this problem and help people get off of the medication when it is no longer necessary. Right now, they seem to be more concerned with getting as many people on Cymbalta as possible."

 

DOH

hello? LAST thing they want is to help people get off a drug.

 

(I'm just a leeeeetle bit cynical about Eli Lilly, can you tell?)

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I still amazes me that after all these years, websites, lawsuits and patients tellin their physicians that they are in WD - the doctors are "shocked."

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At least this doctor is showing a lot of concern.

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I hate how they refer to it as "discontinuation syndrome"! Just call it for what it is - withdrawal! Of course, withdrawal implies addiction, and we can't have that now can we?

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Alto,

 

In the quote below, it talks about the depletion of serotonin. How do we built the serotonin back as we are weaning?

 

 

"The primary reason people get sick when getting off these drugs is because they are left with too little serotonin. Without enough serotonin in the nervous system messaging system, everything goes haywire and the patient goes through hell."

 

Thanks,

 

Rosie

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I hate how they refer to it as "discontinuation syndrome"! Just call it for what it is - withdrawal! Of course, withdrawal implies addiction, and we can't have that now can we?

 

Need a LIKE button! Thumbs up... +3....

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Alto,

 

In the quote below, it talks about the depletion of serotonin. How do we built the serotonin back as we are weaning?

 

 

"The primary reason people get sick when getting off these drugs is because they are left with too little serotonin. Without enough serotonin in the nervous system messaging system, everything goes haywire and the patient goes through hell."

 

Thanks,

 

Rosie

 

This explanation by Christina Lasich, MD, is incorrect, but typical of the simplistic thinking encouraged by the "chemical imbalance" theory.

 

The problem is serotonin receptors are downregulated. There may be plenty of serotonin in the system, but they cannot sense it and correctly engage in feedback operations with other hormonal systems.

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Whenever I read of attempts to explain withdrawal in simplified and reductionist terms, I think of the chart in this article about A Unified Concept of Endocrine Withdrawal: http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/1586-endocrine-withdrawal-syndromes-a-unified-concept/page__pid__14972#entry14972

No, I don't understand the chart, but it represents the complexity of the situation we are dealing with.

 

I, too, find myself attempting to unravel the unravelable in hope of finding the key to feeling better after years of assault by drugs. Nobody really knows what these drugs do as is stated upfront in the prescribing info.

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Well, I just learn allot from this site. I was on Celexa for 2 years then my Doc switched me onto Cymbalta because of pain in my thigh (she thought it was in my head but was actually a torn ligament). So I wanted to stop cymbalta and asked her to switch me to something else. She got me on cipralex which I took for 4 weeks before stopping completely.

 

 

I now realize that I probably made things worse for myself. As I understand it, cipralex is not really a substitute for cymbalta. It will not prevent the withdrawal symptom from cymbalta to show up.

 

 

What should I do. Restart cymbalta or cipralex and start a very gradual phasing out. Like so many of you have said, family doctors or not the most knowledgeable when it comes to getting of SSRI or SNRI.

 

 

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

 

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I am completely convinced Cymbalta was manufactured expressly with the purpose of being addictive.  They might be able to claim they had no idea Prozac was addictive, but when the same company manufactures a very similar drug with a much shorter half-life after tons of people complained and sued over the first and longer acting drug then it becomes rather obvious the drug is designed not to be stopped.

 

All the more reason not to buy into their marketing pitch to start with.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Testimony regarding Cymbalta withdrawal syndrome:

 

Just found this legal document by Dr. Glenmullen. It really made me sit up and go "Whoa!"

 

I'm going to give it to my psychiatrist and my therapist. Even though they are going along with my whole antidepressant withdrawal claim, I don't feel that they really take it seriously or really believe me. Also my therapist is totally not equipped to handle what it is that I'm experiencing. Will attempt to educate them. Again. Sighhhh.....

 

http://www.baumhedlundlaw.com/pdf/DrGlenmullenDeclarationSupportofCymbaltaClassCert.pdf

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BRILLIANT! Thank you for posting that Alto, I'm going to print it and keep it as evidence. 

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