Cymbalta (duloxetine) is a type of medication called a serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, or SNRI.
Like other SNRIs, Cymbalta works by increasing the amount of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain to improve mood, decrease anxiety, and reduce pain perception.
Cymbalta may not work well for everyone, though.
As with other antidepressants, it can take some time to find the right medication that works for you and your symptoms.
This trial and error process can be frustrating, but it can be essential to finding the right treatment.
You should not stop taking Cymbalta or any other antidepressant suddenly.
Doing so can cause uncomfortable withdrawal side effects.
Working with your provider when switching or stopping medication is the best way to avoid symptoms of Cymbalta withdrawal and ensure that you’re stopping the medication as safely as possible.
In this article, I’ll talk more about Cymbalta withdrawal, its side effects, and tapering off the medication to avoid these effects.
I’ll also outline some strategies for coping with withdrawal side effects, and tell you when to talk to your healthcare provider.
What is Cymbalta Withdrawal?
Stopping Cymbalta abruptly and without the guidance of a healthcare provider can cause withdrawal, a series of uncomfortable symptoms that occur when you don’t wean off of the medication appropriately.
When used as prescribed, Cymbalta can safely and effectively treat:
- Major depressive disorder (MDD)
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
- Chronic pain, including fibromyalgia, arthritis, and diabetic neuropathy
Even when taken as directed by your provider, Cymbalta may not work for you.
Finding the right antidepressant medication and dosage can take some trial and error with your healthcare provider.
If Cymbalta does not work to relieve your symptoms, there may be another medication that can help.
Keep in mind that it can take a few weeks for Cymbalta to take effect.
If you haven’t noticed an improvement after the initial introductory period, talk with your provider to see if you should continue taking the medication.
Do not stop taking the medication on your own without your provider’s guidance.
What are the Side Effects of Cymbalta Withdrawal?
When stopping Cymbalta to discontinue use or switch to another medication, it’s essential that you taper off of the medication as directed by your provider.
Tapering off means reducing your dosage slowly according to your provider’s instructions, rather than stopping the medication suddenly.
If you do not taper off the medication, symptoms of Cymbalta withdrawal can occur (especially if you’ve been using the medication for an extended period of time).
Stopping the medication too quickly or suddenly can cause symptoms including:
- Pain, burning, or numbness in the hands or feet
- Headache and shock-like symptoms in the head
- Prickling or tingling sensation on the skin called paresthesias
Withdrawal symptoms can begin as early as several hours after reducing or stopping an antidepressant.
Symptoms more commonly begin within a few days of dose reduction.
While many people will not find withdrawal symptoms to be bothersome, others report withdrawal symptoms as severe or disabling.
What are the Best Ways to Taper Off of Cymbalta?
Your healthcare provider will determine the best way to taper off of Cymbalta.
It is important that you follow their instructions exactly.
Timing and tapering instructions will vary depending on several individual factors, including the dose you’re tapering off of, your personal medical history, and how long you’ve been taking Cymbalta.
Your provider will likely recommend a tapering off period of a few weeks.
During this time, your provider will guide you in slowly reducing your dosage until you are completely off of the medication.
If you’re tapering off of Cymbalta, your symptoms of depression, anxiety, or chronic pain may resurface.
If the symptoms are bothersome or start to worsen, contact your healthcare provider.
If you experience any thoughts of hurting yourself or someone else, go to the nearest healthcare facility for immediate medical care.
Coping With Cymbalta Withdrawal
Stopping Cymbalta or another antidepressant medication can be anxiety-inducing for some people, even when done appropriately and under the guidance of a healthcare professional.
Whether you’re switching to a new antidepressant or stopping medication completely, there are some strategies that can help you cope during this transition period:
- Keep in close contact with your provider: Even when following the instructions given by your provider, you may experience some withdrawal symptoms. If you ever feel uncomfortable or are experiencing severe or bothersome symptoms, reach out to your provider immediately.
- Reach out to friends and family: Give your close friends and loved ones a heads-up that you may need some extra TLC in the weeks ahead. If you feel comfortable doing so, be open with them about any feelings that come up during this process.
- Take good care of yourself: If you do experience some withdrawal symptoms, like headache or anxiety, you can use over-the-counter medications or other self-care practices to self-soothe your symptoms. When in doubt, reach out to your provider for recommendations.
When to See a Doctor
When deciding whether or not to discontinue Cymbalta as a treatment for depression, anxiety, or chronic pain, talk to your provider first.
Letting your provider know your reasons for wanting to stop Cymbalta or switch to another medication can help them provide the best tapering plan for you.
In addition to speaking with your provider about stopping Cymbalta, reach out to them if you experience any of these rare, but serious, symptoms:
Additionally, reach out to your provider immediately if you experience any of the following:
- Panic attacks
- Worsening mood
- Feeling agitated, impulsive, aggressive, restless, or hyperactive
If you’re having a mental health emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. You can also get free 24/7 support from a suicide and crisis expert by calling or texting 988. If you’d prefer to chat online, you can chat with a suicide and crisis expert by visiting the Lifeline Chat.
How K Health Can Help
Think you might need a prescription for Cymbalta (Duloxetine)?
K Health has clinicians standing by 24/7 to evaluate your symptoms and determine if Cymbalta is right for you.
Get started with our free assessment, which will tell you in minutes if treatment could be a good fit. If yes, we’ll connect you right to a clinician who can prescribe medication and have it shipped right to your door.
Frequently Asked Questions
K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.
K Health has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.
Duloxetine Withdrawal Seizure. (2006).
Switching and stopping antidepressants. (2016).
Symptoms following abrupt discontinuation of duloxetine treatment in patients with major depressive disorder. (2005).