The antidepressant Cymbalta (generic: duloxetine) has recently been linked to severe withdrawal episodes when patients attempt to quit taking the drug. Also known as Cymbalta Discontinuation Syndrome, symptoms of the condition include seizures, burning or itching skin, blurry vision and “brain zaps” (electric shock sensations in the brain).




What is Cymbalta?

Manufactured by Eli Lilly & Co., Cymbalta is a widely-prescribed selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) antidepressant. The medication works by regulating neurotransmitters in the brain that may become unbalanced due to a number of factors. Cymbalta has been approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to treat:

  • Major depressive disorder
  • General anxiety disorder
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic muscle pain
  • Joint pain
  • Nerve damage in patients with diabetes (diabetic neuropathy)

Cymbalta and Withdrawal

Unfortunately, Cymbalta has been reported to cause severe withdrawal symptoms when patients attempt to quit taking the drug abruptly. Although the Cymbalta Warning Label states that these symptoms “occurred at a rate greater than or equal to 1%”, recent studies have found them to be far more frequent (up to 51% of users).

Withdrawal Symptoms

Symptoms of Cymbalta withdrawal may include:

  • Dizziness
  • Vertigo
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Blurry vision
  • Paresthesia (“brain zaps”, or electric shock sensations in the brain)
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Nightmare
  • Suicidal thoughts, behaviors

These symptoms may be so severe that patients have to keep taking Cymbalta simply to lessen the effects of the withdrawal, causing a person to become completely dependent on the drug. The duration of withdrawal varies from patient to patient, but can last for three months or more. Symptoms may appear after Cymbalta is discontinued or the dosage is lowered.

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