Cymbalta, or duloxetine, is a prescription medication that belongs to a class of drugs known as serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). Cymbalta is primarily prescribed for major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, fibromyalgia, and chronic pain conditions like osteoarthritis and neuropathic pain. These medications work by increasing the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain, which helps regulate mood and alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Cymbalta has been a lifeline for many suffering from depression and anxiety. However, for some individuals, the side effects of this medication can be devastating, leading to a downward spiral that feels impossible to escape. This article chronicles one such story of how Cymbalta ruined my life, detailing the physical, mental, and emotional impact, as well as the journey to recovery.
What are the Side Effects of Cymbalta
1. Hard to leave
Antidepressants serve the purpose of alleviating the primary symptoms of depression and anxiety. However, quitting Cymbalta can prove to be challenging due to the withdrawal symptoms that manifest when trying to do so. You may feel a sensation of electric shock in the brain such as vertigo, nausea, headaches, and paresthesia, or, frequently emerge when the drug was discontinued. Withdrawal symptoms, on average, may continue to persist for about two weeks. The longer one continues taking Cymbalta, the more problematic the withdrawal symptoms. You should be tapering off gradually under the doctor’s supervision and emphasizes that abruptly ceasing the medication is more likely to produce symptoms.
2. May exacerbate anxiety
Individuals aged 18 to 24 or younger may encounter suicidal ideation while taking Cymbalta. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has found that the risk is highest in individuals under the age of 18 and heightened in those between the ages of 18 and 24. This phenomenon could be due to the fact that Cymbalta may exacerbate or cause symptoms such as anxiety, agitation, panic attacks, insomnia, irritability, hostility, aggressiveness, impulsivity, hypomania, and mania. On the other hand, the risk of suicide actually decreases in individuals aged 25 and over, particularly those over the age of 65.
3. Negative Effect on Sex Drive
It is a well-known fact that nearly all antidepressants have the ability to negatively affect your sex drive. a diminished libido could be the effect of Prolonged use of this medication although not everyone experiences it. If this side effect does arise, your physician may try reducing your dosage, and/or your therapist may suggest behavioral techniques to overcome it.
4. Uncontrolled Blood Pressure
Cymbalta belongs to the serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) class of antidepressants. SNRIs work by increasing the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that affects mood, while norepinephrine affects blood pressure and heart rate.
When the levels of norepinephrine increase, it can cause constriction of blood vessels, leading to increased blood pressure. This is how Cymbalta may contribute to the development of high blood pressure in some individuals, particularly those who already have borderline or high blood pressure.
5. Increased Fatigue
One potential side effect of Cymbalta is increased fatigue or drowsiness. If you experience significant fatigue while taking Cymbalta, your doctor may recommend taking it at night before bed when drowsiness is less of an issue. Alternatively, your doctor may suggest a divided dose. It is important to consult with your healthcare provider to determine the best course of action if you are experiencing excessive fatigue while taking Cymbalta.
6. Increased Dizziness
It is not uncommon for some individuals to experience light-headedness or dizziness, particularly when first beginning Cymbalta. This is due to a shift in blood pressure. To prevent these symptoms, it is recommended that you rise slowly from a lying position. If these symptoms persist or significantly bother you, it is advisable to consult with your healthcare provider.
7. Complications with Alcohol
If you drink alcohol while taking Cymbalta, the risk of liver problems increases. Both medications and alcohol are metabolized, or processed, by the liver. High levels of either substance can cause liver problems, including jaundice, although these are relatively rare.
Additionally, certain over-the-counter drugs and other prescription medications may potentially interact with Cymbalta and place additional strain on your liver. Therefore, it is crucial to discuss all medications you are taking, including OTC drugs, with your doctor.
8. Excessive Bleeding
In extremely rare cases, taking medications such as aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), warfarin, and other anticoagulants while also taking Cymbalta may lead to excessive bleeding.
9. Other Side effects
Gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, constipation, and heartburn are relatively common side effects of Cymbalta. Individuals with a personal or family history of bipolar disorder should inform their doctor prior to beginning treatment with antidepressants.
Serotonin syndrome is a rare but potentially life-threatening side effect of taking Cymbalta and other antidepressants. while moderate increases in serotonin levels can be beneficial, excessive levels can cause toxicity and even death. If you experience symptoms such as a rapid heartbeat, loss of coordination, extreme restlessness, agitation, and/or hallucinations, it is crucial to inform your doctor immediately.
How Cymbalta ruined my life
While Cymbalta has helped countless people manage their mental health issues, my experience was far from positive. The side effects impacted every aspect of my life, from physical health to relationships and careers.
Cymbalta took a significant toll on my physical health, causing chronic fatigue, dizziness, and gastrointestinal issues that made it difficult to function on a daily basis. The constant discomfort made it nearly impossible to maintain a healthy, active lifestyle.
Ironically, Cymbalta only seemed to exacerbate my mental health issues. Instead of alleviating my depression and anxiety, the medication left me feeling numb and disconnected, causing mood swings and suicidal thoughts.
The combined effect of my deteriorating physical and mental health put a strain on my relationships. My irritability and emotional instability made it difficult to connect with friends and family, and I found myself increasingly isolated.
Other People’s Personal Experience Using This Medication
Case Study 1
Some individuals may have a negative experience while taking Cymbalta. Despite trying various doses, they did not find relief from their depression or anxiety, and intrusive thoughts returned. They feel worse while taking the medication, experiencing constant crying and panic over anticipated events. Additionally, they describe the withdrawal process as sickeningly unpleasant.
Case Study 2
This individual was initially taking 100mg of Pristiq for depression, but it was not effective. They stopped taking the medication and began experiencing suicidal thoughts. His friend recommended Cymbalta, so they consulted with a doctor and began taking 30mg. Within a month, their depression had significantly improved, although they still had occasional off days. However, as time passed, they began feeling down and irritable towards the end of the day. Their dose was increased to 60mg, and they report feeling happier and calmer than they have in several years. While they have experienced positive effects from Cymbalta, they also note some side effects, such as extremely vivid dreams and loss of appetite.
Case Study 3:
Cymbalta was a transformative medication for this individual, who had tried various antidepressants before finding success with it in 2006 during a major depressive episode that required inpatient hospitalization. They experienced a notable improvement in mood regulation and a reduction in negative rumination within 24 hours of beginning the medication. Additionally, Cymbalta was helpful in addressing binge eating behaviors, as it suppressed their appetite and made it easier to control portion sizes and lose weight.
After taking Cymbalta for two years, the individual only experienced afternoon and evening tiredness as a lasting side effect. They were able to successfully taper off the medication, though they did experience some nausea during the process. Overall, Cymbalta was a game changer for this person, providing significant relief from depression and binge eating.
Cymbalta may be an effective treatment for many, but my experience serves as a reminder that every individual’s response to medication can vary greatly. If you or someone you know is struggling with the side effects of Cymbalta or any other medication, it’s essential to reach out for help and explore alternative treatment options. Recovery is possible, and with the right support, you can overcome the challenges and regain control of your life.
Are the side effects of Cymbalta common?
While some side effects are common, the severity of the symptoms experienced can vary greatly from person to person.
Is it safe to stop taking Cymbalta abruptly?
Stopping Cymbalta abruptly can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms. It’s crucial to taper off the medication gradually under a doctor’s supervision.
What are some alternative treatments for depression and anxiety?
Alternatives to Cymbalta include therapy, lifestyle changes, and other medications with different mechanisms of action.
How long does it take to recover from Cymbalta withdrawal?
The duration of withdrawal symptoms varies widely, but it’s essential to be patient and give your body time to heal.
Where can I find support during the withdrawal and recovery process?
Support groups, both online and in-person, as well as mental health professionals, can provide valuable guidance and support during this challenging time.