Coming off Cymbalta (duloxetine) safely means slowly tapering the dose with the help of your doctor or a trained recovery center to avoid severe withdrawal symptoms.

Duloxetine, sold under the brand names Cymbalta and Drizalma, is a common antidepressant. It is a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor or SNRI. Duloxetine is FDA-approved for medical conditions including depression, generalized anxiety disorder, diabetic nerve pain, musculoskeletal pain and fibromyalgia.

Over time, your brain can get used to the presence of Cymbalta, meaning you can become physically dependent on the drug. If you suddenly stop taking it, you may experience withdrawal symptoms.

Cymbalta Discontinuation Syndrome – Severe Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms from duloxetine are so common and severe that Cymbalta Discontinuation Syndrome is a well-documented issue. A 2005 study on generic duloxetine found that 44% of people experienced withdrawal symptoms. In 2016 Eli Lilly settled lawsuits from people who claim that the severity of the withdrawal effects had been misrepresented to them.

The drug’s label states that the following symptoms may be experienced when discontinuing the drug:

  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Paresthesia, a burning or prickling sensation, particularly in the limbs
  • Irritability
  • Vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating
  • Fatigue

Cymbalta Withdrawal Timeline and Symptom Durations

In one study, 65% of patients who experienced withdrawal symptoms saw their symptoms resolve within a week. Further, most people who experienced withdrawal symptoms stated they were mild or moderate.

Managing Withdrawal Symptoms of Duloxetine

  • Taper schedule: The main way to manage Cymbalta discontinuation syndrome is by slowly tapering the dose with the help of your doctor. Generally, duloxetine tapers last around two weeks. The dose may be halved in the first week, and then halved again in the second week before discontinuing the drug.
  • Detox medications: It is usually not necessary to take medication to resolve duloxetine withdrawal symptoms. If a duloxetine taper results in uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, the FDA recommends going back to the previous duloxetine dose and trying a slower taper.
  • Professional care: Coming off duloxetine can be difficult, and it is essential to do so under the supervision of a doctor. Because duloxetine is not a common addictive substance — despite the risk of withdrawal symptoms — you should make sure any recovery center you seek help from has a specific program to assist with withdrawal from antidepressants.
  • Support groups: Finally, it is not uncommon to feel alone when you are going through duloxetine withdrawal. Luckily, there are online forums dedicated to Cymbalta withdrawal where you can connect and share with people going through the same thing as well as those who have now recovered. Use these resources for comfort and communication, but do not take direct action or advice without consulting a doctor; what might have worked for someone else will not necessarily work for you.
Melissa Carmona
Editor – Melissa Carmona
As the content manager at Advanced Recovery Systems, Melissa Carmona puts years of writing and editing experience to work helping people understand substance abuse, addiction and mental health disorders. Read more
Jessica Pyhtila
Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Jessica Pyhtila, PharmD
Dr. Jessica Pyhtila is a Clinical Pharmacy Specialist based in Baltimore, Maryland with practice sites in inpatient palliative care and outpatient primary care at the Department of Veteran Affairs. Read more
Sources

Perahia, David D; Kajdasz, Daniel K; Desaiah, Durisala; et al. “Symptoms Following Abrupt Discontinuation of Duloxetine Treatment in Patients With Major Depressive Disorder.” Journal of Affective Disorders, November 2005. Accessed June 30, 2020.

Burch, Donna Gregory. “Eli Lilly Settles Cymbalta Withdrawal Lawsuits.” National Pain Report, October 6, 2016. Accessed June 30, 2020.

Tanzi, Maria G. “Stopping antidepressants: Clinical considerations.” Pharmacy Today, May 2016. Accessed June 30, 2020.

U.S. National Library of Medicine. “Cymbalta.” May 21, 2020. Accessed June 30, 2020.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.