I vow to never take another SSRI, no matter what! I will handle my chronic pain and depression/ anxiety in other ways. In my opinion, Cymbalta, and the withdrawal, is worse than the disease for which I took it.


I have a chronic pain condition. It came out of nowhere. I didn’t even know the condition existed. Similar to fibromyalgia, it is specific to certain parts of the body instead of widespread. I was prescribed Cymbalta by a doctor at a prestigious Pain Management Clinic. Cymbalta worked immediately. I was happy to resume a normal life, pain-free.

A few months later I began to feel dizzy. Then weak. There was a constant low-grade headache. (We won’t even talk about constipation.) I ignored the malaise until one day when I nearly ended up in the hospital. I had been working hard, exerting myself, something I don’t usually do. I thought I was having a heart attack. I could not carry on what I was doing and felt terrible throughout the next day. I went to my doctor and had a battery of tests, all normal. She suggested it might be side effects of Cymbalta.

It was decided that I would discontinue Cymbalta to see if the malaise resolved. Since I was on the lowest dose of a time-release capsule, there were 2 choices: taper to one every other day or quit cold turkey. I chose to quit. When I asked the prescribing doctor if the withdrawal from Cymbalta was difficult, she said it was not that bad.*

*To my doctor’s defense, I understand that different people come off drugs with different experiences, some worse than others.


Monday, I quit taking Cymbalta. By Tuesday, I could barely function. The brain zaps* and dizziness were terrible. I went home from work and looked it up on the internet. That was when I found out I wasn’t alone.

*Brain zaps: Electrical shock sensations in the head and brain caused by discontinuation of SSRI drugs and often accompanied by sensations of dizziness, vertigo, nausea, and/or tinnitus.


Tuesday: Cymbalta Discontinuation Syndrome. The severe withdrawal symptoms I am experiencing from stopping Cymbalta are not only real, they are so debilitating as to be designated a syndrome. There is even a lawsuit against the drug company for understating the severity of withdrawal. If anyone has experienced withdrawal from a SSRI, you know what I’m talking about. Apparently the withdrawal from Cymbalta is 3 times as severe as other SSRIs. Shit.

Thursday: After missing 3 days of work and canceling all appointments, I got it figured out. I’m just going to sleep until it goes away. Kidding. Sort of. It’s better today, though I still don’t feel I could safely drive. The zaps are a little better, but now I have nausea. My doctors are helping me through it, and I learned 8 years ago to live “one day at a time.”

Saturday (today): I am better, if you consider better still feeling like a dizzy piece of crap. Sleeping does help. I have a writers class this morning and then plan to come home for a nap with several cats on me.

This journey will be ongoing. I discontinued another SSRI some time ago and remember it lasting a full month before I was back to normal. So far, this feels worse, but maybe won’t last as long. I can hope.

Moral of this story: Please be careful when choosing to take a prescription drug, even when promoted by your doctor. Certainly don’t believe everything you read on the internet, or even half of it, but it does give a powerful overview when used wisely. Learn everything you can about what your doctors are asking you to do. They aren’t infallible and, bottom line, it’s your body.


I had a hard time choosing between the websites that talk about Cymbalta withdrawal because they are numerous. They all list a nightmarish collection of symptoms that can continue for up to several months. I chose Drugwatch because they had a simple and concise description of the hell I am going through.

“What Happens When You Stop Using Cymbalta:

Cymbalta users experienced severe withdrawal symptoms after discontinuing use, including mood swings, neurological problems and brain zaps. Patients describe these zaps as excruciating headaches that occur alongside bouts of nausea and dizziness. Some are so severe that patients cannot go to work.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has a name for these symptoms: Cymbalta discontinuation syndrome. According to data collected by the agency, more patients who stopped use of Cymbalta suffered from these sometimes debilitating effects than on other drugs in the same class.

Common symptoms of Cymbalta discontinuation syndrome include:
Paresthesia (brain zaps) Dizziness
Black Box Warning for Suicide Risk: Some patients also report that discontinuing Cymbalta has led to developing suicidal thoughts.”

fat cat on my lap by wolfie chama

fat cat on my lap by wolfie chama





About Mollie Hunt

Loves cats. Writes books.
This entry was posted in Health, Wellness, Lifestyle, mental illness and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


    • Mollie Hunt says:

      Thank you for sharing.

      • Carrie says:

        I’m on Day 7 right now. I finally got some sleep with Benadryl. 🤕

        I hope I can eventually manage these symptoms.

      • Mollie Hunt says:

        Carrie, you absolutely can eventually manage the side effects. Have faith, especially when it seems they will last forever. They won’t. My advice is to work closely with your mental health team and always be honest with them about what’s happening with you. Push something if you don’t think they are taking it seriously enough. Sometimes it’s even necessary to change doctors, but give them a chance; establishing a long term relationship with your team is the greatest advantage you can have for mental health. Luck and love.

  1. Hmn, I got brainzaps from clomipramine..
    and from doing too much MDMA, so I assume its like an overabundance or lack of serotonin,
    Its rather annoying but harmless.
    Tbh. I still would start taking my AD should I get worse because that side effect only was there for a week and I was warned. I’m rather zapped than dead :3

    tho my cats stabilize me AND dont zap me. so win win

    • Mollie Hunt says:

      Different people react differently, definitely, and zaps are better than death anytime. Mine were far more than annoying though; they gave me nausea, dizziness and anxiety. It was intolerable, and I just wished my doctor would have told me of that possibility before I began taking Cymbalta.

  2. Darcy says:

    I just can not understand people that are so ungrateful with Cymbalta, how they could feel worse than with major Depression?, I mean it is true that the withdraw symptoms are terrible. I am trying to stop for a while now in my second week and I have been very sick and dizzy, but nothing compared with the despair that I use to have when very depressed. I was really bad back on october-november, then I started Cymbalta and realised life would no have to be so crap, I realised my depression as physical and curable. Once when I was on my country with my love ones, I tried to stop it cause some other problems and I return to my depressive and suicidal stage. Wouldn’t be possible that the people who suffer this withdraw symptoms as catastrophic, where prescribed when not really in major depression and therefore can no understand that the withdraw physical symptoms are not comparable with the Major depression melancholy?.. Seriously, do you think that being dizzy, anxious and vomiting is comparable to the MD illness? For start a person with major depression would not have the energy to complain in this foros.

    • Mollie Hunt says:

      I agree, Darcy, there is nothing much worse than depression. Though I do suffer from depression, I was given Cymbalta for pain. My depression is controlled by another medication. Drugs work differently for different people. I’m glad you’re getting the help you need.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Darcy, the difference in you and many others is that you were given Cymbalta for depression. I was given Cymbalta for pain and Dysautonomia. The pain increased and the Dysautonomia worsened. I was never dressed before SNRI’s and SSRI’s. If it were only prescribed for depression perhaps it would work, but thousands of people have been given this drug as a ‘catch all’ drug, and tapering from this med has been one if the worst experiences of my life.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I was put on Cymbalta in 2008 with no black box warning came off of it in 2016 I think I should be compensated for the absolute hell is an understatement 3 years later I am still going through it brain zaps head pain a year I laid on the couch

    • Mollie Hunt says:

      I’m so sorry you have to go through that. It seems no matter how hard we try to be well-informed, stuff slips by, and we are the ones who pay. I agree we should get compensation, but I doubt that will happen.

  5. Mollie–so sorry you went through all that! Thank you for sharing–this sort of information. Personally, I don’t trust pharma. They are in it more for the bucks than healing. I always try an alternative natural route. There’s got to be herbal and/or nutritional remedies that can help your pain. Sending healing vibes….

  6. nyc300 says:

    Thank you for providing a straightforward and encouraging description of what it is like to quit instead of tapering. We all know tapering is “recommended” but there are very few resources out there for those that don’t follow that route. Yours helps.

  7. KathyMandell says:

    Wow, Mollie I just saw this. I had a very similar experience with Cymbalta. I swore off all prescription meds altogether. I refuse to take, especially, SSRIs. With Cymbalta I gained an “instant” 30 pounds, and then was unable to lose that weight for years — over a decade. That was just ONE side effect. I have issues with “Big Pharma” after this and some other medication debacles. I just wanted to share my comments. Thanks so much for putting this out there. More people need to know about these awful drugs. I use all natural methods for my pain now (including having a chiropractor for a husband, which is pretty handy!).

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